CATCH FISH SAFELY FROM SNAGS
Snags and carp go together like peaches and cream, but extracting them from these areas can be a nightmare. Dynamite Baits’ Ross Ryder guides you through this all too common carp fishing dilemma
SNAGS mean the world to carp, providing the food and sanctuary that ensures they’re always nearby. The beauty of a typical snag is that the fish know they are free to swim around between the twisted underwater jungle of branches, roots and undergrowth without the chance of being caught. As a result, a quick recce around your local gravel pit or lake will quickly reveal a few fish sitting in any snaggy areas. Finding the fish is the easy part, it’s enticing them out where the skill comes in.
Fishable and unfishable snags
All snags are different. Some you can fish and some you shouldn’t go anywhere near. For me, snags are very much like icebergs. What you see on the top very often belies what lies beneath. To fish a snaggy swim effectively, you need to know exactly where the branches and roots begin and end. Fish safety should always come first and just because you can see carp in a snag doesn’t mean you should always fish for them. Ask yourself: “Can I effectively get a hooked fish out of there or am I more likely to lose it, possibly damaging or, even worse, tethering it to end tackle in the process?” To fish a snag, the first stage is to get around the back of it and have a look into the water to see where the branches go. If this isn’t possible, I will cast a bare lead – the lightest available for minimum disturbance – then gently pull the rod back to feel where the lead hooks up and where there are clear spots. To inch closer to the snag, let a little line off the reel and then clip up. Retrieve the line and cast again. You’ll be able to creep closer and closer to the snag by repeating this process. This ‘leading around’, will provide you with some understanding of where the snag starts and ends. The lead shouldn’t jam, as there is no hooklength attached. By using a safety clip, if the lead does lock up the safety clip will eject it, enabling you to easily retrieve your mainline.
Snag fishing doesn’t give you a green light to go off-grid regarding the tackle you use. Over the years I have seen some horrendous set-ups. Be sensible, but be carp-safe too. I use 15lb mono mainline which is strong enough to take a bit of ‘teddy’ from the snag, but light enough that if I do lose a fish, they have a good chance of ridding themselves of the line as well. At the terminal end I have a leadcore leader with a quick release safety clip. These have no serrations so regardless of how far you push the tail rubber on to the clip, the lead will still eject incredibly easily. This is one of the most important parts of snag fishing. The same as fishing in weed, once you dump the lead, the carp is so much more controllable. My hooklink comprises 8in of 15lb semi-stiff fluorocarbon, tied German Rig-style. I like a softer fluorocarbon hooklink because it settles over the contours on the lakebed better than a stiff variety. The German is my go-to rig as it enables me to use any size of hookbait as there is no hair. The hookbait is tied to the size 11 ring swivel that is threaded on to the size 4 curved hook’s shank. It’s a rig that works well with small or large boilies, double fake corn, other particles or even tiger nuts. It’s a true go-anywhere rig!
If the fish aren’t already in the snags, they won’t be far away. Therefore there is no need to bait heavily. The other reason is that because you need to fish bow-string tight lines, locked up clutches and heavy bobbins so you get immediate indication of a bite, you will send the fish into a frenzy if you do feed loads. The effect of this is that the fish will be darting around the swim and are more likely to come into contact with the mainline which can spook them. Feeding only a dozen boilies enables me to target one fish at a time. Also, the carp will tend to gently drift between baits, leisurely picking them up, so they are less likely to realise they are being fished for.
The final reason is that after a bite, if you cast back to the same spot it is a bonus like a hole in one in golf. You’re more than likely to need two or more casts to get the rig in the perfect spot and if there are lots of carp in the area feeding on your heavily-baited spot, you will very quickly spook them, ruining any chances for the rest of the session. Bait wise, I use 15mm Dynamite Baits’ CompleX-T or Tiger Nut (if the water has a big head of bream). Initially, I feed no more than a dozen boilies around the rig, but I will scatter a few up and down the snag to entice the fish close by to start feeding. It also gives them more confidence when they encounter a pile of feed around the rig. Snag fishing is very easy on the wallet. The other day, I had two 20lb-plus fish, caught using less than 20 baits! As long as you use a little common sense regarding the area you target, you lock the reel’s clutch so they can’t take line, lose the lead on the take and don’t feed too much, snag fishing is as easy as it gets.
Stealthily creeping into the snags will quickly reveal if carp are present
Ross feeds just a dozen boilies at a time rather than introducing large beds of bait
Don’t cast straight to the snag. It is better to work your way up using a number of casts
A Food Bait Tiger Nut Pop-up is Ross’ hookbait of choice