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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

Hi Dil­lan,

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

Hi Team,

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

Dear Team,

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? ask­the­ex­perts@main­ Jon at to claim your prize

There is a mas­sive choice of tackle, to suit all bud­gets these days

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