A clas­sic bait combo with a twist – Sam Col­lett

Hemp and corn, hemp and meat and hemp and cast­ers are proven com­bi­na­tions. But, as Sam Col­lett proves, there’s a new part­ner­ship that carp can’t re­sist…

Improve Your Coarse Fishing (UK) - - Front Page - Words & Pho­tog­ra­phy Mark Parker

HEMP is one of those baits that com­ple­ments many other of­fer­ings. Clas­sic com­bos in­clude hemp and meat, hemp and cast­ers or hemp and corn. But there is a new part­ner­ship that one an­gler has been us­ing with great suc­cess on both nat­u­ral and com­mer­cial carp wa­ters. So what is it? “Hemp and snails,” re­vealed 2015 Ju­nior Fish O’Ma­nia cham­pion Sam Col­lett. “The pair­ing sounds rather bizarre at first, but it is es­sen­tially meat and hemp, only Dy­na­mite has given this clas­sic combo a new twist. At this time of year, most species, es­pe­cially carp, will have ve­ra­cious ap­petites and of­fer­ings such as lun­cheon meat rise to the top of Sam’s baits list.

A nat­u­ral al­ter­na­tive

How­ever, on venues that have seen lots of meat, or on the oc­ca­sional com­mer­cial where it is banned, snails make a su­perb al­ter­na­tive and of­fer a host of other ad­van­tages. Cooked in the tin with the hemp, the snails ab­sorb all the flavour, oils and good­ness from the magic seed as well as the hemp tak­ing on the scent of the snail. Se­condly, un­like meat that is cut into uni­form cubes us­ing a meat cut­ter, snails are nat­u­ral and of­fered as they come from the shell. Avail­able in two sizes – 4mm and the Spec­i­men 14mm – they all dif­fer slightly in size and fea­ture a lot of curves and folds in their skin. This gives them a much larger sur­face area for at­trac­tion to leak into the wa­ter when com­pared to a per­fectly cut cube of meat. “The beauty of this is that the fish find it dif­fi­cult to pick out what is safe and what is dan­ger­ous to eat,” ex­plained Sam. “With 6mm meat cubes or sweet­corn – a bait I am also fish­ing to­day – fished over a bed of hemp, they can soon wise up and be­come pre­oc­cu­pied with the smaller food items. The dis­tinc­tive shape of the snails means that ev­ery one of them is unique. “Think of it as a cake. The con­trast of the two in­gre­di­ents ac­tu­ally helps to get more bites as the fish look upon the larger food items as the cherry on the top, which of­ten trips up the larger, warier fish that have seen it all be­fore.” The third plus point is their ro­bust but still rel­a­tively soft tex­ture en­ables them to be side hooked or hair-rigged. This ver­sa­til­ity makes them suit­able for use on a wide va­ri­ety of rigs.

Loose­feed ad­van­tages

Like many com­mer­cials, The Glebe in Peck­le­ton vil­lage, Le­ices­ter­shire, is dom­i­nated by pel­lets and ground­bait. But fish­ing on the com­plex’s Lake Five, Sam demon­strated the nu­mer­ous ad­van­tages that hemp has over these com­monly used baits. “In many re­spects, hemp is a bet­ter car­pet feed than pel­lets. It re­leases oils and flavours quicker than pel­lets which need time to break­down,” he said. Also, be­ing heav­ier than a mi­cro pel­let, it won’t get wafted off the lakebed when a carp comes into the swim. This of­ten re­sults in foul­hook­ing or the loose­feed be­ing dis­persed. Hemp will re­main in the swim un­til it is all eaten. “The fi­nal big plus point of hemp is that it is very rarely used on com­mer­cial fish­eries. The fish there­fore have no fear of it be­cause it never leads to their cap­ture.”

Avoid sus­pi­cion

Hemp and corn is clas­sic combo. But the bites are of­ten much more del­i­cate as the larger fish have been caught on corn count­less times. “When I put a snail on the hook, the bites

are much quicker and a lot more pos­i­tive. Fish nat­u­rally eat snails so rather than treat them with cau­tion they ac­tively seek them out. “You could fish hemp on the hook, but it is quite fid­dly and you will prob­a­bly get bit­ted out by sil­ver fish. The snails, be­ing cooked in the tin, are soft yet very ro­bust so they can be side hooked or hair-rigged with ease.”

Look for a firm lakebed

“For to­day’s ses­sion, I’m fish­ing short just where the soft stuff meets a hard bot­tom. “When fish­ing with hemp I al­ways lo­cate a hard clay area to fish over. Be­cause it is so good the fish rapidly dig up the bot­tom so if you are fish­ing over silt they can make the swim slightly deeper which can cause foul-hook­ing.” To find the firm ar­eas Sam drops a 21g plum­met into the swim to see if it sinks into the silt. “In this sit­u­a­tion the lakebed make-up is more im­por­tant than the length or depth at which I’m fish­ing the rig.” If you do start to get lots of fizzing in the swim and foul-hooked fish, sim­ply plumb a new area a me­tre to the left or right and start the ses­sion from scratch.

Sim­ple shot­ting

“The float I’m us­ing is a di­a­mond-shaped pro­to­type Guru float. These are quite long floats, which I pre­fer as they are more sta­ble in the wa­ter. The ex­tra length also keeps the line straighter in the swim.” Sam’s shot­ting pat­tern is a sim­ple strung out bulk of seven No.8s, which start at the top of the hook­link and are spread ev­ery two inches. “This en­ables me to flick out the rig be­fore slightly draw­ing it up the shelf, which gives me the pre­fect pre­sen­ta­tion ev­ery time. “Fi­nally, I plumb to the bot­tom of the float’s body, around two inches overdepth. With hemp, fish feed hard on the deck, so this gives a nat­u­ral pre­sen­ta­tion but it is still very pos­i­tive.

Feed­ing hemp and snails

“To start the ses­sion I feed 30 grains of Hemp and Snails and four ker­nels of corn with a pole cup. Cup­ping in loads at the start can draw in too many fish at once which leads to false bites and foul-hook­ers. Hemp fish­ing is very much a case of softly, softly. Af­ter this I will then see how the day goes. “If I get a few quick bites I will top up but, if things are slow, I throw a few grains over the top to help draw the fish in quickly. You need to be care­ful with this though as feed­ing too much by hand can en­cour­age the fish to come up in the wa­ter, which again will lead to prob­lems. “Once the bites are com­ing steadily, I swap over to a pole pot, cup­ping Hemp and Snails and a cou­ple of grains of corn ev­ery cast. I keep feed­ing the corn but have a snail on the hook. The bright colour helps to draw fish in the coloured wa­ter, but they can be a bit wary of it hav­ing been caught many times on the ker­nels. But they aren’t ex­pect­ing one of the snails to have a hook in it! “The rest of the ses­sion should progress on a lit­tle-and-of­ten ba­sis. But, if you do feed too much and ruin the swim, like I said ear­lier, sim­ply plumb a new area.” Snails might be a new bait to you – the an­gler – but to the carp they are just part of their nat­u­ral sur­round­ings. They eat mil­lions of them, so why wouldn’t they take one with a hook in it? The an­swer is, they will – ev­ery time and with great rel­ish!

Sam favours a long float for sta­bil­ity and to keep the line straight in the wa­ter A strung out bulk of No.8 shot helps the hook­bait fall at a nat­u­ral rate Hook a snail on a size 16 and make sure the point is show­ing to help hit bites

It’s not only carp that love snails as this skim­mer proved

Hemp and corn were the only items on Sam’s bait tray

A small amount of hemp and corn is fed in a cup to start the ses­siom

Hemp is fed via a pole pot af­ter each fish once the bites start com­ing

Sam’s tackle: Elas­tic: Black Hy­dro Main­line: 0.19mm (7lb) Guru N-Gauge Hook­link: 6in Guru 0.17mm (6lb) N-Gauge Hook: Size 16 Guru Su­per LWG Float: 0.5g Guru pro­to­type float Just a small part of Sam’s haul thanks to snails!

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