Com­bine the best as­sets of rod and pole to bag up

If not, now’s the per­fect time says Paul Garner, who demon­strates how com­bin­ing rod and pole tac­tics can un­lock the mar­gin po­ten­tial of your lo­cal still­wa­ter

Improve Your Coarse Fishing (UK) - - Contents -

MIL­TON Lake on Sur­rey’s fa­mous Old Bury Hill com­plex is a plea­sure an­gler’s par­adise filled with a mix­ture of species that re­spond to float tac­tics. Many fish grow to spec­i­men sizes with roach top­ping 2lb, tench and cru­cians aplenty and some huge perch. Ev­ery put-in is a lucky dip. You may then as­sume that this is the ideal place for the del­i­cate pre­sen­ta­tion of the pole but, with the fish rang­ing in size and species, and of­ten catch­able in the mar­gins, a grow­ing num­ber of an­glers are adopt­ing a dif­fer­ent ap­proach. Dust­ing off long float rods, mea­sur­ing any­thing from 15ft-17ft and matched with the sen­si­tive drag of a mod­ern fixed spool reel, big fish can eas­ily be sub­dued on bal­anced tackle. At the top end of the pic­turesque pool, the wind is blow­ing first in one direc­tion and then the other and it is ob­vi­ous that pre­sent­ing a bait cor­rectly is go­ing to be a chal­lenge to­day, par­tic­u­larly with any de­gree of sub­tlety. Paul rigs up his trusty long flfloat rod and, af­ter care­fully plumb­ing the mar­gins, he fifinds an al­most level 4ft of wa­ter just a rodlength from the bank. The added bonus of a small reedbed ex­tend­ing out from the mar­gins will hope­fully hold fi­fish and give them more con­fi­dence to feed. “I love the del­i­cate pre­sen­ta­tion of a pole flfloat, but I fifind the pole it­self quite un­wieldy. In con­trast, a long float rod en­ables me to drop the rig ex­actly where I want it, but en­ables me to play any big­ger fish off the reel’s drag. One of the prob­lems with us­ing a pole is that it en­cour­ages you to fish too far out. With my float rod I can’t add ex­tra sec­tions, and I need to fish with the float un­der the rod tip for con­trol. This forces me to fish the mar­gins, which is where most of the fish are likely to be any­way,” ex­plained Paul.

Pole float re­places wag­gler

In­stead of rig­ging up with a wag­gler float, Paul fixes a dumpy-bod­ied pole float to his line, fol­lowed by an olivette set just a foot from the hook. Two tiny dust shot set­tle the float so that only the mer­est dim­ple of the tip is pro­trud­ing above the sur­face. “My aim is to fish as sen­si­tively as pos­si­ble and the fine ny­lon bris­tle on a pole float def­i­nitely helps make bites not only more vis­i­ble, but also cre­ates less re­sis­tance. Us­ing a float that is too small can cause prob­lems though. A min­i­mum of 1g gives enough weight to en­able me to swing the rig out straight with­out it tan­gling. In deeper wa­ter I would be happy to dou­ble the size of float. “Be­cause I am mainly in­ter­ested in tench and cru­cians to­day, with perhaps a few bonus roach, I want to get the hook­bait down quickly and an­chor it in po­si­tion. To do this, most of the weight is in the form of an olivette. These in­line weights are held in po­si­tion with a dust shot and, be­cause of their stream­lined shape, they sink fast and are un­likely to tan­gle. My sim­ple rig is com­pleted with a size 18 hook and 0.11mm hook­length, slightly lighter than the main­line. “I choose a float with a long ny­lon stem and dot it right down so that only the barest dim­ple is left show­ing. While tench and roach will of­ten give you sail-away bites, the cru­cians are a dif­fer­ent an­i­mal al­to­gether and the bites are of­ten just the mer­est dip on the float. Shot­ting the float right down also means it is less af­fected by wind and tow, use­ful on a blus­tery day like this,” added Paul. Be­cause the wa­ter is still cold at this time of the year, Paul be­gins with a very light bait­ing ap­proach. He mixes half a bag of Swim Stim green ground­bait to which he adds about half this amount of cray­fish meal. The ground­bait is mixed quite dry, so that it will hold to­gether when thrown out, but will break up quickly on the bot­tom. Two sat­suma-sized balls are in­tro­duced at the start, with fur­ther small balls added af­ter ev­ery few bites. “This is the best ground­bait mix for tench and cru­cians. The green Swim Stim breaks down quickly and will hold the fish, while the cray­fish meal helps to pull them in. I won’t add any pel­lets or other feed to the ground­bait un­til the wa­ter warms up in a few weeks. This way I don’t have to worry about over­feed­ing,” ad­vised Paul. Paul has a range of hook­baits and starts with some ready-pre­pared 6mm ex­pander pel­lets. These bring a few early fish, but soon the bites

be­come much faster and im­pos­si­ble to hit, even though Paul is hold­ing his rod and watch­ing in­tently. Af­ter a frus­trat­ing few min­utes he searches through his bag and pro­duces a pump, to use to pre­pare some fresh 6mm ex­pander pel­lets, to which he adds Cap­puc­cino flavour­ing. “The fast bites are of­ten a re­sult of us­ing hard baits, just like the fast bites you get from roach when fish­ing hemp on the hook. I am go­ing to switch to pel­lets that have been pumped for longer, al­low­ing more wa­ter to be taken up and the baits to be much softer, so they only just stay on the hook. Of­ten this small change is enough to bring bet­ter bites,” rea­sons Paul. Af­ter adding another small help­ing of ground­bait, Paul hooks on a fresh pel­let and, within sec­onds, the float dips and he is connected to another feisty cru­cian. As mid­day ap­proaches, Paul has put to­gether a de­cent catch of the but­tery lit­tle carp, along with a tench and some crack­ing roach to 1lb 8oz. “It’s been a lovely ses­sion. The big­ger tench have failed to show, but ev­ery time the float dipped I had no idea what would be on the end. A few sim­ple bait tricks and my sen­si­tive fu­sion set-up have worked re­ally well on a day when I felt the fish were not feed­ing strongly. It just shows what can be achieved us­ing this sim­ple tac­tic,” he con­cluded.

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