How to fish snaggy swims

Carp love snags and Sticky’s Dave Ma­gal­haes ex­plains how to catch them from these tricky spots

Improve Your Coarse Fishing (UK) - - Contents - Words Dave Ma­gal­haes Pho­tog­ra­phy Dan Wild­bore

SNAGS are a great fea­ture to fish to be­cause they of­ten hold carp. They will spend hours feed­ing and lay­ing among them. But to ex­tract carp safely from these ar­eas, you must fish them cor­rectly. Snags come in all dif­fer­ent forms, from over­hang­ing or sub­merged trees, bushes, lily pads and even reeds. All are great hold­ing spots for carp. You only have to pop on a pair of Po­laroid’s dur­ing a warm day and of­ten you find fish sit­ting in amid the tan­gled branches. Even on cold days they are al­ways worth check­ing out, what­ever the time of year.

Set­ting up for snags

First of all, I would make sure that the snag is ac­tu­ally safe to fish. If there are large branches go­ing into the wa­ter and you are fish­ing tight to them, then you could be in for some trou­ble. I would al­ways fish a safe dis­tance away and take pre­cau­tions to make sure that I don’t lose a hooked fish. I have my rod an­gled at 90 de­grees to the snag. This means that when the tip pulls round it is the only ‘give’ that the fish can take ad­van­tage of. It also en­ables me to pull at the same an­gle as the rod is po­si­tioned, which is how you want it. I think that strik­ing or pulling at that an­gle is far bet­ter than lift­ing up. If you do this, the fish will come up in the wa­ter and that runs the risk of your line get­ting caught in the sunken branches. When you fish with your rod in this po­si­tion you must make sure that you have ei­ther a pole or a snag bar at the side of the rod. This will pre­vent it from be­hind dragged off the alarm and into the lake! The reel’s clutch must also be locked up tight. I don’t want the fish to be able to take any line, and the only ‘give’ in the whole setup will be the bend in the rod and the slight stretch in the mono. When fish­ing ‘locked-up’ you must sit by your rods. Un­der no cir­cum­stances should you leave the rod unat­tended. Do­ing so could re­sult in you los­ing the rod and risk­ing a fish be­com­ing snagged up and teth­ered. For this rea­son, I wouldn’t rec­om­mend fish­ing sig­nif­i­cant snags at night. If you are fish­ing close to un­der­wa­ter branches, then I would reel in, plop in some bait dur­ing the night and fish it again in the morn­ing when you are up and alert.

Tough tackle

Strong line is es­sen­tial and 15lb mono would be the min­i­mum I use. This means I can rest as­sured that my tackle won’t let me down when put un­der a lot of pres­sure. When you are ready to fish safe, I would start putting the rigs in po­si­tion. I like to pre­pare the spots but would never ac­tu­ally bait any­where in the snag where I couldn’t place a rig. I don’t want to en­cour­age the fish to stay in safe spots be­cause they will hold sta­tion and not feed out­side the snag where you can safely catch them.

How to bait snags

I keep things re­ally sim­ple when bait­ing snaggy spots. I use a car­pet feed, which won’t be smashed by the birds and also keeps the fish grub­bing around for longer. I cre­ate my mix by, first of all, pour­ing 2.3mm Manilla Pel­lets into a bucket. I then add some sweet­corn which pro­vides me with ex­tra hook­bait op­tions. I then add some of the Manilla Ac­tive Mix which helps to keep the car­pet feed down and puts plenty of smell and taste into the swim with­out adding too much food value. A sprin­kling of be­taine is another great ad­di­tion be­cause it is an ex­cel­lent carp ap­petite stim­u­la­tor and a nat­u­rally sweet prod­uct. I fin­ish off the mix with some Cloudy Manilla, which again adds loads of smell and taste to the swim and pro­duces a hazy cloud over the bait. De­pend­ing on how much the fish are feed­ing, I will also add a few bro­ken boilies or whole 12mm baits. If they are not eat­ing a lot, then I don’t add too many boilies but if they were feed­ing hard, I would re­place the Ac­tive Mix with the boilies.

No place for small hooks!

A dumb­ell, of­ten tipped with a piece of plas­tic corn, is then threaded on to a hair-rig. This mim­ics the bait on the bot­tom but will be heav­ier than most of the other food items on of­fer. This means that the fish has to suck harder to slurp it up, which in turn helps you hook the fish. I like a large hook too, and a size 6 is as small as I would go. Even when fish­ing for dou­ble-fig­ure carp I would still use a big hook. I feel that they give me a much bet­ter chance of land­ing the fish. Once the spot is primed I place my rig with the aid of a bait­ing pole. This tool en­ables me to place it in spots that I wouldn’t be able to cast. Be­neath an over­hang­ing bush, for ex­am­ple, may be to­tally clean with­out any snags to cause prob­lems, but you wouldn’t be

able to cast to it. This is the per­fect op­por­tu­nity to use a spoon. You still have to be safe when us­ing a pole and think about where you po­si­tion the bait. The lake we are fish­ing to­day has a very prom­i­nent, sunken tree. The carp pretty much live un­der there be­cause they are safe. The safe area for them is around eight feet away from the spot that I’m fish­ing, so there won’t be any chance that they can get snagged up as I will be straight on the rod. The spoon also en­ables me to use a rig that I love to fish but which I wouldn’t want to cast. I favour a de­cent length of lead­core, or if banned, tub­ing. This pro­tects the line in case it ends up rub­bing on any­thing. I use a strong hook­link and a lead­clip set-up. I push the tail rub­ber on half­way, so that if the lead does get snagged, it will come off, but it won’t fall off on the bite. I don’t want the fish to come up in the wa­ter, which is what they do if the lead is dropped, be­cause there are branches higher up in the wa­ter. The key is to use some­thing that you are con­fi­dent in and know that it works. It is so im­por­tant to check every­thing is per­fectly ar­ranged, es­pe­cially the main­line. Check­ing for any kinks or weak spots will help you land more fish. As long as you keep these fac­tors in mind when fish­ing around snags you’ll safely hook and land carp.

Tight­en­ing the clutch on your reel is the best way to pre­vent fish from snag­ging them­selves Snag ears and plac­ing the rod at 90 de­grees to where you’re fish­ing is best

Start by pour­ing a bag of 2.3mm Sticky Manilla pel­lets into a large bucket A sprin­kling of be­taine is a great ad­di­tion be­cause it stim­u­lates carp into feed­ing Dip your hook­baits into the glug. This time it is Cloudy Manilla that adds flavour Big, sharp hooks will land more fish so treat your­self to fresh ones on ev­ery ses­sion 118 IYCF Is­sue 323 • A cou­ple of hand­fuls of sweet­corn are then added to pro­vide hook­bait op­tions Manilla Ac­tive Mix is then poured in. This keeps the feed down and introduces smell to the swim A gen­er­ous amount of Cloudy Manilla Liq­uid is the fi­nal ingredient to be added The fin­ished mix will keep the carp grub­bing around in your swim for ages

A stun­ning mir­ror safely ex­tracted from close to a set of snags Only feed spots in snags where you can place a hook­bait

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