Ask The Experts
Every month Mainline’s panel of experts answer your questions
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?
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
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
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
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