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
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.