How big is your tackle?
Do we really need heavy-duty gear for big carp, when it’s the smaller fish THAT INVARIABLY FIGHT HARDER...
Do we really need heavy-duty gear for big carp, when it’s the smaller fish that invariably fight harder...
It is impossible for carp fishing to mean exactly the same thing to everyone. It’s the direction our lives have taken us, and the circumstances we find ourselves in, that ultimately dictate what we can and cannot do. At the end of the day, thankfully, we are individuals and are mostly driven by different things. There are some very familiar subjects, which mean that often we all feel exactly the same about certain situations. However, the flashier the car, the more we rather strangely perceive we are taken seriously. The same can be said about the pretty chick with whom we spend our time with, and how interested people can become about us the larger the wad of cash we extract from our pocket to buy the next round. Much of what we perceive is all about the size of the things that we use, and employ, in our lives. There can be no denying some things are better off being big, but very often subtlety is the key. Brute force and ignorance rarely catches carp, but making fine adjustments to the more crucial items of tackle we use, may just turn the tide in our favour.
The size of your tackle... Now there’s a topic of conversation! Thankfully, we are discussing something which could only appear in a fishingrelated publication. We’re not talking about a biological profile here, but more about what people think about the size of the gear an angler uses to catch a fish that is, in essence, a gentle, omnivorous creature. And one, when all is said and done, that doesn’t fight too hard. Let’s face it, for donkeys years I have rarely heard people talk about the fight they had with a carp; just how much it weighed, what it won them in catch competitions in magazines, and how much of a hero they will become. For me, it’s a sad situation where some people catch carp to get their ego massaged, and simply forget that we actually go fishing to enjoy the experience, to escape from the rigours of everyday life and share our time with nature. A part of that escape, of course, is to catch a fish which justifies the time we spend doing it, and to ensure we get the most from the tackle we invest much of our wages on. It’s the icing on the cake – but do we really get the most out of the most exciting and rewarding part of what we are trying to achieve?
Many moons ago I spent huge parts of my life travelling around the world. It wasn’t always the case that I could fish in the places I visited, but whenever I could, I would. Much of my downtime was spent fishing with any gear that I could get my hands on, and in many far flung places, the equipment wasn’t up to much. As you may possibly be thinking, didn’t that make things just a little bit difficult? In fact, it did nothing of the sort. Indeed, the battles with tuna, barracuda and dorado amongst others, became epic as my Army, hard- bottomed, inflatable Buzzard was
towed around the oceans and rivers of this planet! What it taught me was that a battle with a fish is a massive part of the adventure, and I guess it’s something that still dominates my thoughts to this day. Probably one of the most surprising points to note, is that the gear very often didn’t cost more than a few dollars. I used spark plugs nicked from the vehicle mechanics to use as leads, and wire traces normally came from the same source. It never had to be how much money I spent on things, more about the joy I got for free, from all those experiences... Just the way it should be!
Bringing it a little nearer to home, a few years ago I decided to take things to the limit. On the trip home from a few days in Holland with Fox, we decided we would take the new rods and reels to the limit by trying to catch a conger eel from a wreck midway across the English Channel. Crazy! Now a conger is a little like having about ten carp attached to your line at the same time, and when you throw in the fact that we were going to have the Tight Lines’ cameras and Keith Arthur on board, it took the task to a whole new level. It was probably one of the most painful experiences of my life, but when the 50lb eel was brought over the side after the most brutal 20 minutes imaginable, it proved that just maybe we outgun the carp occasionally, when we fish for them.
Probably one of the most expensive if not the most expensive things, especially when you consider we can use three of them at times, are the rods. To some they seem to be simply a means to an end, the tool with which to winch the fish toward the net. But shouldn’t there be more to it than that? Like most things in life, I have taken things much too far at times, and hooking a 20lb common one day on a light fly rod may have been as far as we can go. The fight itself was incredible, and the flexibility of the rod meant I didn’t have to give it too much line. It simply soaked up the lunges and surges without pulling the hook, and it was the flexibility which made it so good. The only problem I could see was trying to recover the fish from a fight that lasted over an hour! To that end I never did it again, however, it certainly underlined just how much a rod can add to the experience. There are three reasons, I feel, why some believe big is best, and probably the most important one is looking good. For me, looking good is only done when you are holding a carp up for a picture, but hey, maybe I’m missing the point? Secondly, the power of a 3½lb TC rod appears to be the only option when trying to steer carp away from snags and dangerous areas. I have found this never to be the case, as a lighter rod soaks up those lunges with little risk of pulling the hook. The third point is probably the only reason when I want to use a stronger rod, and that is the casting of big leads. If the water is huge, and I need to fish at distance, then a 3½lb rod will ensure I can get to those ranges. There is also the plus point that if they are hooked at range, they are more often than not, too tired to cause problems under the rod tip. Rods add to the excitement of it all, and it only gets better the lower the test curve. Some may think a big powerful rod satisfies all their
Taking it to the limit! Playing conger eels on standard carp tackle... Crazy!