How to fish snaggy swims
Carp love snags and Sticky’s Dave Magalhaes explains how to catch them from these tricky spots
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.
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