Ask The Ex­perts

Ev­ery month Main­line’s panel of ex­perts an­swer your ques­tions

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This month the team at Main­line an­swer your ques­tions on whether it’s bet­ter to use a clutch or back-wind, the best hook­baits to use in PVA bags dur­ing win­ter, and how much bait is ‘enough’ for a 36-hour ses­sion

What is bet­ter to use, a clutch or to back-wind, and why do peo­ple use the dif­fer­ent meth­ods of play­ing fish? Are there dif­fer­ent sit­u­a­tions to use the dif­fer­ent meth­ods, or is it just a gen­eral pref­er­ence within angling styles?

Thank you,

Dek Car­lyle Hi Dek,

Thank you for your ques­tion. This is an in­ter­est­ing sub­ject, and the an­swer could well be more to do with an in­di­vid­ual an­gler’s taste rather than what is best. In the past, reels were not as re­li­able as they are to­day. Spools might jam and clutches were rarely smooth and of­ten jud­dered. In that era, back-wind­ing was a good idea. An an­gler could give line back dur­ing the fight as they deemed nec­es­sary, depend­ing on how the fight pro­gressed. If the an­gler could ‘read’ the fight well this was/is still a sat­is­fy­ing way of play­ing a fish. If the fight was mis­read and the fish de­cided to take line sud­denly and the an­gler failed to back­wind ac­cord­ingly, it was pos­si­ble that a hook-pull could oc­cur.

It is for this rea­son alone that many an­glers rely on the clutch of the reel to do the work. Mod­ern clutches are smooth, and should pay out line as and when re­quired. This still needs to be set cor­rectly by the an­gler dur­ing the fight, and if not set at the cor­rect ten­sion, hook-pulls can still arise. How­ever, in my opin­ion the clutch is a safer way and it is cer­tainly my pre­ferred choice. For me it’s one less thing to think about. The reel does it’s job and I give my full at­ten­tion to play­ing the fish, of­ten dodg­ing weedbeds and snags, hope­fully steer­ing it in the di­rec­tion of the bot­tom of my wait­ing land­ing net! As is of­ten the case in carp fish­ing, trial and er­ror will guide you to what feels right. Get on the fish, of­fer them an al­lur­ing bait and you should have plenty of op­por­tu­ni­ties to try and see what works for you!

All the best, Adam Clewer

Hi Bai­ley,

PVA bags can be a great ap­proach in win­ter as the carp’s me­tab­o­lism slows down. At this time of year some of my best re­sults have come from min­imis­ing the food lev­els and us­ing highly at­trac­tive baits. Us­ing PVA bags is a tac­tic that can help you achieve this and also will of­fer a small, tight bed of bait around your hook with very lit­tle food value, but full of at­trac­tion – and it also presents well over the lake bed in most sit­u­a­tions too.

In terms of your ques­tion, I would 100% rec­om­mend stay­ing away from high oil baits like trout pel­lets in win­ter – not so much be­cause of the bream, but more so be­cause they don’t seem to be as ef­fec­tive in cold wa­ter and also be­have dif­fer­ently to how they would in warmer weather.

My per­sonal choice of hook­bait for PVA bags in win­ter, is a bright bait, such as a flu­oro pop-up, or bal­anced wafter. The rea­son for this is that the wa­ter tends to be clearer in win­ter and I like a hook­bait that stands out and gives the carp some­thing to home in on. I also up the at­trac­tion lev­els of the hook­bait by soak­ing them in a match­ing liq­uid, which helps boost the bait, in turn en­cour­ag­ing a feed­ing re­sponse from the carp.

In terms of the bag mix­ture, I use the spod and PVA pel­let mix from Main­line, which con­sist of loads of dif­fer­ent pel­lets that have dif­fer­ent break­down times and with the mix­ture of sizes, en­ables you to tie the bag much tighter, which will help with cast­ing.

Good luck with the PVA bag fish­ing this win­ter Bai­ley. It’s a great method and way of lo­cat­ing fish in the win­ter, rather than wait­ing for them to come to you.

Re­gards, Daniel Daneshi

Hi Ge­orgina,

All venues can be dif­fer­ent from one an­other and the an­swer to the ques­tion for me would rather de­pend on a num­ber of fac­tors – like the stock of the venue, the time of year, swim choice and weather.

I have found that the amount of bait carp con­sume de­pends very much on the sit­u­a­tion to hand. If the fish are in the mood, it’s a great spec­ta­cle to watch, and over re­cent years while do­ing a few bits of un­der­wa­ter film­ing at Far­lows Lake, I have wit­nessed that they can eat an aw­ful lot of bait in a short pe­riod of time.

I would per­son­ally al­ways have 10kg to 15kg of bait with me. The last thing I would want is to be hav­ing a great ses­sion and run out of bait and the fish to move off as a re­sult. This does not mean I would start the ses­sion by us­ing it all in one go. In fact I would ex­pect to take a fair amount back home. But, if the fish do show up in num­bers and in the mood, I will have enough food to hold them in my area and hope­fully catch a fair few, in­stead of watch­ing them drift off to pas­tures new.

In terms of how I would ap­proach the ses­sion you de­scribed and pre­sum­ing there is a good stock of carp in the venue and I’m in an area where I feel I will have a good chance of a take, I would start off fish­ing for a bite at a time, bait­ing with 10-15 Spombs over my cho­sen spot, and I’d then top the swim up reg­u­larly after ei­ther get­ting bites, or see­ing signs of feed­ing over my area.

Once you have been to the venue a few times and tried dif­fer­ent ap­proaches, you will start to find out what is work­ing for the other an­glers around you and from your own suc­cess and this you will help you gauge just how much bait you’ll need for fu­ture trips. Good luck on your next trip Ge­orgina.

Yours, Lewis Daneshi

A pow­er­ful carp can cause hook-pulls if you don’t play them right.

Mod­ern reels have su­perb clutches that won’t let you down

A hard fight on a large wa­ter – I let the clutch do the work

Daniel Daneshi

Lewis Daneshi

Adam Clewer

When it all comes to­gether, catch­ing them at their best weights and in their win­ter coats will make it all the more sat­is­fy­ing

As al­ways, lo­ca­tion will play a vi­tal part in your fish­ing. Find­ing the fish first is far more prefer­able than sling­ing a bag out into the abyss and hop­ing for the best

My favoured bits and pieces for PVA bag fish­ing – a low-oil pel­let mix, a bright hook­bait and a liq­uid at­trac­tor to give you that ex­tra pull in the colder months

The re­sult of good bait ap­pli­ca­tion. As the old adage goes: ‘You can put it in but you can’t take it out’

I al­ways carry too much. Bet­ter to have it to hand, than be caught short Hi Team, My ques­tion is how much bait do you think it is rea­son­able to take and use on a busy lake over a 36 hour pe­riod? Many thanks, Ge­orgina Kin­dred

Watch­ing them go about their busi­ness (where pos­si­ble) should tell you just what sort of a mood they’re in

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