Ask The Experts
Every month Mainline’s panel of experts answer your questions
This month our team of experts answer questions on keeping bait fresh, helicopter rigs and if carp fishing is becoming too expensive for youngsters
I am going to France later in the year and was wondering if you can provide some information regarding bait and what I should be taking and how to keep it fresh. Also do I need to change my tactics and rigs from what I use in the UK? Any advice would be really appreciated. Dillan Walker
Great question, and one I hear a lot of people discussing when travelling abroad. Starting with bait, I like to take a good quality boilie like Activ-8, Cell or The Link, all from Mainline Baits. I like to air-dry it once I arrive at the venue, I personally use an air-dry bag/ tower, or more recently, the Trakker Pureflo Air-dry System.
Although this will air-dry your bait and prevent it from going off, I always like to rehydrate it before I use it. I’ll do this by soaking them in lake water or adding liquids – both absorb into the bait really quickly, helping to preserve it and, further still and more importantly, adding flavour and attraction. The above can be equally as good on short sessions in your general fishing – air-drying before your session and adding the lake water or liquids when you arrive.
On to the rigs and another great question. On a personal note I like to keep things as close to my fishing in this country as I can, this gives me maximum confidence as it’s what I’m using for my weekto-week fishing sessions. One thing I will do, is up my hook size, by one. The reason being, the fishing I do abroad is for large carp up to 80lb in weight, so the mouths are a lot larger and by upping the hook size there’s that little bit more metalwork to take hold in a mouth. Other than that, I just adapt to the environment. I like to use 15lb line as this is strong enough for home and abroad most of the time.
So, in summary, just keep things as close to your normal fishing routine and strategy that you feel most confident with. You’ll fish a lot better and won’t sit behind your rods worrying you’re not fishing effectively, using rigs that are alien to you, that you wouldn’t use at home. I hope some of those tips are useful to you Dillan and the very best of luck for this season...
Regards Adam Reed
I wonder if you could give me your wisdom as regards to helicopter rigs, as I am currently at a loss. I love the idea of helicopter rigs as they can basically fish over any lake bed situation. So if you are not sure then it is a great bet for a lead setup. The problem I have is that I have fished it on three sessions over the last year and then again this year and I cannot get confidence in it, as I have lost every single fish that I had a run on – bearing in mind I have a 95% conversion rate on a normal lead clip set-up. I set the rig up to drop the lead on every take by removing the collar from the Heli-safe. I use brand new Korda Krank Hooks, so they’re always sharp. I catch every time on the same rigs using a normal lead clip presentation without dropping lead. I am using the following end tackle to build my helicopter rigs: Heli-safe Nash Cling-on leader Safety beads The rigs I tend to use are nothing unusual either – namely the stiff-hinge, a choddy, fluorocarbon D-rig, Slip D-rig. I’ve tried to change hook size too, using 8s, 6s, 4s. I have even varied the weight of the lead I am using, from 1½-3oz. All Heli-leads. What am I doing wrong? From the research I have done through magazines and the internet, my presentation is sound. I have lost 10 fish over these sessions, landing none! Everyone else seems to be using these rigs and I can’t find any complaints online with the same problem as me. I am about to give up with the rig. So, hoping you could point me in the right direction... Many thanks, Jason Hunter Hi Jason,
This is a tough question to answer, but I’ll try my best to give you a solution to the issue. First of all you are right in what you say that a Helicopter Rig is great for fishing over different bottoms and by adjusting the distance of the bead away from the lead you can allow for the lead sinking into silt, debris or light weed. But it’s worth pointing out here that it will not present well over high stringy weed, the chod is the only rig that comes close to presenting well in that situation. So I’m wondering if you are having issues with presentation, either fishing in high weed or an issue I have struggled with at times with the Helicopter and that is tangles, where the hooklink has wrapped around the leader, leaving you with a poor presentation so that the rig is less effective and not doing its job properly. In turn, giving poor hookholds.
Sometimes you don’t even realise it is tangled, because it can unfurl on the retrieve. The other issue it could be, is that you might be fishing the top bead too high, resulting in a lot of ‘play’ before the fish hits the full weight of the lead which can result in poor hook-holds.
It sounds like you have a much better hit rate with a lead clip system, so it might be worth reverting back to it. My ‘go to’ rig when fishing in deep silt, light weed or over debris is a hinge rig on a lead clip, but I tend to fish the boom section with a soft-ish coated braid and quite long. The length depends on how deep the substrate I am fishing over is, but it can be anything from 10-18 inches; this allows the lead to hit the deck and the pop-up to come to rest on top. It is important to watch the rig through the air to ensure it doesn’t tangle.
The last thing to look at is are you hooking the fish? A 10 out of 10 loss rate makes me wonder if you have had a few fish trailing line through the swim and this is what is giving you the ‘bites’ and making it seem like you are playing fish before the line pulls free.
I hope that has helped, Ed Betteridge
I have been carp fishing for around 20 of my 30 years, my only gripe is that I didn’t start sooner. I was taught to fish by my dad, and my dad by his dad.
Over the years I have noticed a lot of lakes are now going down the syndicate route, where being a member is the only way you are going to be able to fish them. This means there are probably no day-ticket waters within a bike or bus journey from where I live nowadays, which is exactly how I used to get to and from the bank when I was around 15 or 16 years old.
Are young anglers being priced out of the sport? Is fishing becoming inaccessible to youngsters?
There are lots of free events up and down the country introducing youngsters to fishing which is fantastic, but what are these youngsters going to do next?
These youngsters are being dropped off for their session by the canal/lake/river and then picked up at the end of the session – why are mums/dads not being invited to these events to learn to fish too? When is their next session going to be? Who is going to teach mum/dad?
I used to visit day-ticket waters and it wasn’t uncommon to see three generations sat on the bank. Has life just got too busy?
I suppose my one main question from this is: What can we do to ensure that future generations of anglers are given the opportunity to enjoy the sport and to ensure it doesn’t become too commercialised and inaccessible due to price (even I grimace at the thought of paying close to £3 for some swivels and buffer beads)? Thanks very much,
Ian Marrington Hi Ian, This is a question and a half and I’m not sure I have any answers. It’s interesting though – I have been carp fishing for 30 years this year, but fishing for 50 years and a bit... When I was a boy, I used to go on the weekly club match with my uncle, waiting all day for one possible bite with begged and borrowed tackle.
There is a thought that fishing itself was starting to die out in the 90s and may well have done if not for the commercial fisheries springing up around the country, leading more into carp fishing itself. As far as prices go, I went into my local tackle shop (Eric’s in Leeds) and had a long chat with Mark in there, just to double check some of my thoughts. Prices have gone two ways with tackle over the last 20-30 years. The big end items have dropped in price comparatively. So you can buy a rod, reel, alarm, etc. much cheaper than before due to the competition and companies bringing out lower-end value items that work efficiently, whereas years ago the cheap stuff was just that, cheap. What we have seen though is the expansion of small items that you need to make every new rig going and the marketing behind these, so the small brown bags that used to cost £10 to £15, now cost considerably more! That’s not just fishing is it though? It’s the world we live in. Whatever you do there is a company selling something in a nice little packet.
I personally feel that all fishing is on a decline, not just carp fishing. I used to take my son fishing – he still fishes. I now take my grandson but he hasn’t got the bug, yet, but there are so many other things to do these days.
Various organisations have matches and fish-ins throughout the year. There are the big events like the Carp Academy – but someone has to take them along. Part of this should be educating the youngsters that they don’t need all the heavily-marketed small items as well.
I guess the answer to your question, is we all have to do a bit more than we do, but as with most other things in life, the parents must take some responsibility, putting themselves out as well. This summer I am arranging a fish-in for a few friends and encouraging them to bring along their children to have a go. But if their parents are not anglers, you are right, how do the kids get to go again?
I take your point about syndicates and such – again, they have always been there and expensive. I paid £500 a year, back in the mid-90s to be on a rota. Whilst those expensive waters are still about, there are day-tickets waters and club waters that are accessible to all and at a reasonably price. They may not however, be where we would choose to fish. Although the water I currently fish is day-ticket and anyone can go, it’s not on a bus route. So, my answer is that we should all make a bit more effort into helping a junior, by either taking them along on a trip or two, or helping with a local group fish-in, or with old, used tackle. That’s a start isn’t it?
Sorry I can’t be of more help, Andy Murray
A nice mirror caught from a French trip, where keeping the bait fresh in extreme temperatures was a necessity
Ye olde faithful, air-dry tower. An indispensible item for foreign ventures over the years
But it has just been superseded in my kit by Trakker’s Pureflo System. A neat idea that is (almost) entirely rodent-proof!
A solid hook-hold on a helicopter rig
An upper 30 caught whilst using a long rig, fished over light weed
Longer rigs and softer braid, fished off a lead clip, are my go to items when fishing over debris
My grandson on one of our fishing trips...
£250 W IN NIN G Q U E ST IO N Are you this month’s Contact winner? firstname.lastname@example.org Jon at to claim your prize
There is a massive choice of tackle, to suit all budgets these days