Stick Float Rods and Reels.

Traditionally if you used a stick float for float fishing you would use either a centrepin, or closed face reel. The Abu Garcia 500 series, all made in Sweden were the closed face reels to own if you were serious about your stick fishing. They were simple in design, and to use, design for spinning they found a niche with the stick float anglers of the day.Being made in Sweden ( now in the far East) the quality was high, even though the mechanics were very simple. The bodies were made of metal and inners with cheap parts that at the time could easily be replaced, once worn. The 501 became a cult reel over the years and many say it’s never been bettered.

Old ones in mint condition fetch between £70-£100 today, when first made they cost around £20. The reel had a few downsides, particularly the clutch system that took some getting use to. However the stick men overcame this by taking out the mechanism so the reel could only back-wind. Remember these anglers were using a method (stick float fishing) designed for quantity, not big fish. So when a big fish did come along the 501 would allow the angler to backwind giving the fish line to avoid breakage. Many of todays big fish anglers still prefer to back-wind over a clutch, even though todays reels have wonderful clutch arrangement.

 

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Abu Garcia in later years (like many UK manufacturers, Hardy for example) move their reel production to the far East, China, Thailand, and the quality metal bodywork was replaced with plastic. Lighter but not as long-lived. I doubt many of todays Abu reels will ever see two decades before they fall apart. The close faced reel had many advantages for the angler, especially in windy conditions. Centrepin reels came without a line guard in those days, so any wind could see the line getting behind the reel, very annoying and time-consuming. They also had the disadvantages of range, you could only cast so far with a pin! I love to use a pin but most of mine have line guards. The one that doesn’t I only use on still days, it’s just not worth the effort. Oddly these days anglers are just as likely to ledger with a pin, Barbel, Carp anglers especially.

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I come back to the 500 series. The Match men of the day would only fill the narrow spools with 50/70 yards of very fine main line 2.6lb typically. This would help stop the bedding in of the line on the spool after a big fish was landed. After all, they were fishing for bites and big fish were the bonus of well thought out feeding tactics, another talent many of those men had. Hook-links could be as fine as 1lb or less, my mind boggles at the finesse. Hooks size 22/24/26 were common. Just recently I managed to pick up a little minter 501 that’s now with  Jim’s reel shop having the anti-reverse pawn put back to its original state. The 501 is the only 500 in the series that this pawn helps the drag, and allows you to backwind with some resistance. A fish runs, the handle backwinds but with some measure of protection of the light hook-link.

The hot weather is still with use and proper fishing is limited for the time being. Stick with use as I’ve still got lots to say.

Records are Broken.

I think this will go down as one of the longest dry spell in a decade. I cannot remember that last time we had some decent rain, March maybe? My garden is dry, the lawns browny/white, and the flowers and shrubs look forlorn.

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Today on the River I basted again, speaking to other anglers the barbel are scarce as are most of the fish, night-time is the main time the fish are feeding it seems. I think if this continues I’ll have to forgo daytime fishing and just have a few hours into darkness. It will mean getting out the quiver tip again, but hopefully it won’t be for long.

I’m wondering if the better Roach would feed late on, and not just the barbel. Thing is I’ve caught plenty of Barbel on bread in the past, and I know they take it on the Trent.

I could compromise and fish a 6lb mainline and 4lb hook link, that way I’d have a good chance if I do hit a Barbel of landing it provided it didn’t snag me. I have a nice Drennan Super feeder that while being tippy, is good with light line hook-links. Sitting touch ledgering is a nice way of passing an evening with a quiver tip rod. Bread, corn, even a small pellet (8 mm) would work on the better Roach. I’ve managed to get a few, small open and close ended feeders for the Roach work, 25-30 grams is ideal at present.

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Currently the Trent is clear and low so maybe a maggot feeder would be better than a cereal feeder. Maybe maggots and hemp on the deck, would be better than trotting when I often spread the bait all over the place.

I’m busy now for the rest of this week, but next week I’ll be out again. By then we may have had some rain, I dearly hope so!

 

The Art of Stick Float Fishing.

Firstly let me say I’m no expert when it comes to the art of stick float fishing (unlike many of the Trent anglers of old). But its something I really love to do whenever I can. The wind and river conditions have to be just right for it to be productive, but sometimes I simply do it when all is against me and a waggler would be a better choice!

King of the stick float, Ivan Marks from Nottingham.

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On super bright sunny days I find a black tip stick float stands out better than almost any other colour. It seems to help the eyes rest on the float, rather than search for it. Stick float fishing is all about finesse, fine lines and small hooks. Designed to catch fish downstream of you in shallow water, up to six feet mostly. It’s not unusual to find stick float experts fishing with 2lb main line and 1.5lb hook links. Hooks size 16s and lower. I compromise however and fish with a 3.4lb main line, and hook links of 2.10lb. It doesn’t seem to make that much difference to me and my catches, but the experts would disagree, saying its far to heavy for the ultra light presentation required of this method?

Now that’s a match-mans approach, but the layman may wish to fish for bigger fish like chub and barbel on the stick, and this does require a different approach. I find my set up with an upped hook-link to (4lb and 5lb)  main line allows me not only to catch small fish like Dace and Roach, but chub and the barbel that the Trent produces in numbers these days. In the older days of the Trent fishing the Barbel just did not appear in catches, now they dominate it, hence the ultra light tackle was more than suitable then.

The traditional way of Stick Float fishing was to use hemp and caster or hemp and tares for the mass of Roach/Dace the river use to hold. These fish have come back but are much harder to catch due to the cleaner river the Trent is now. (More about this in another article). This is still the go-to method, but now it catches big Chub and Barbel for those that know how to go about tackling it, feeding is a vital part of the puzzle.

I’m learning this as I go along, at times I’m successful, so I can only tell you how I go about it. On arrival I put about 3-5 handfuls of hemp in along with 2 of caster. Then I set up, tackle is a Drennan 14′ Power float rod, 4.4lb line and 3.2lb hook link, size 16 forged hook. Once I’m settled I start to feed and continue until I leave, during this time I may only feed 10 grains of hemp and 3 caters, or 30 grains and a dozen caster it will depend on what I’m catching and how the fish respond. If I can give you an example of one good day I had in September 2017.

Big Chub also fall for laid on tactics, this on weighed 5.5oz.

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I’d been feeding cautiously for about 2 hours (as mentioned above) taking a few Roach, Dace, and little Chub. My float was a wide topped stick taking 8 number 4 shot, 4.4lb hook link. Swim was about 7-8 foot deep steady flow coming up slightly towards the end of my run of 30 yards. Around 4pm I hooked a Barbel of just over 11lb on double caster fished just on depth. It run towards the middle of the river and stopped, but steady pressure moved it into my back and after maybe four minutes it was landed in my Gardner barbel net. I baited a little more next run down but had to wait another ten minutes before another Barbel of 8lb followed by another of 9lb came along. All on trotted caster, I did change the hook-link and hook after the first fish, just for safety.

As it was getting towards dark now I picked up my other rod, a 15′ Daiwa loaded with 6lb mainline and 5.5lb bottom. I then laid on with the same 8 number 4 shot stick float but with the shot replaced by a 4 gram olivette. I was fishing only one rod length below me so when the next fish took the triple caster, the rod was off the rest with me hanging on for grim death. Sadly after a great fight the fish was lost, and the hook returned neatly flattened out. After this it was too dark to see a float, so I packed up and headed home. Feeding is the key, prolonged and regular every trot down the swim, its not a lazy mans method.

True Stick men like the great ‘Ivan Marks’ from Nottingham suggested in his book a lot of his success was down to fishing very small hooks, and light lines. In those days as I’ve mention the barbel were just not there. I’ve just watched a great clip form another true great angler John Allerton. Its worth looking on You-Tube to find these rare clips.

Once this amazing hot weather declines a bit, I’ll be fishing again, see you on the bank.

 

 

 

 

 

Black floats and Balloons.

With the sun shining down from a cloudless blue sky, a black tipped 6 number 4 was my choice of weapon today. It would be like war trying to get a fish out of the Trent today, so hot was it. I set up with a 2lb 10oz Preston power line bottom just .10 in diameter then took a fest of little Perch one after the other that seemed to loved my fresh Bronze maggots.

Feeding hemp and caster little and often, the fish came in batches, some small Roach, Chub and Dace among them. Being so hot all fish were released at hand, and not kept for a picture like normal days. Towards evening I set up my longer Daiwa rod 15′ with a J. W. Young’s pin loaded with 6lb  laid on for an evening Barbel.  Its something I often do when evening comes and I’ve been baiting a swim all day with my loose feed. But the sun had given me a bad headache thought the day, and the fishing was half-hearted, so I packed at 7.30 with the best time still to come.

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The Trent is currently low and has little flow, so we need a substantial amount of rain, steady and prolonged to bring the River back to life, a little like my garden currently?

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One person enjoying the evening much more than myself was a balloonist, that had taken his bright red “lightbulb in the sky” for a trip around the Trent Valley. Bet it was a super cool evening up their?

Can it be Too hot for fishing?

We’ll yes and no, yes for consistent sport, and no for the odd bigger fish. I started today on a new stretch for me called the Viaduct on the Notts ticket. It takes a bit of finding, plus two locked gates, but it is worth the effort. It screams big fish, and is also noted for such. Barbel to 18lb, Chub to over 8lb and a host of other big fish. I can only guess why it produces such big fish, apart from anglers high protein baits. Its deep, slow even pace compared to some part of the Trent, very wide and tree-lined all along the beat, meaning lots of insect falls. IMGP0613

Unlike East Stoke the Viaduct has no hand-made swims, so is rather difficult to set up in, but we managed. Starting on a 3AAA waggler I ran through both off the bottom then dragging, caster and feeding hemp. It resulted in just a few small Chub under 6oz a piece. The sun was baking down and I started to count my own sanity of fishing on such a day 30.deg.

A family of ducks paid a visit as well as a pair of young male swans. They in turn were rewarded with some bread slices I’d planned to use if any better Chub appeared.

IMGP0610After lunch I thought I’d try a feeder, with a small pellet. After about 30 minutes I introduced some ground-bait by hand thinking just maybe the fish wanted a static bait.

After another hour the tips pulled round and I hooked a nice fish that fought well in the little flow there was. To be honest I was hoping for a decent Chub, but a near 8lb Bream took its place on the little 16s hook. I should have known, once you introduce any pellet on the Trent, the Bream know!

IMGP0616I packed up knowing I’ll return, but it will be when it’s not so hot. Meanwhile my little fishing dog is also hoping for a trip once its cooler! I can imagine in winter long trotting with bread flake could be the big Chub way, or maggots (plenty) on the milder wetter high pressure days, we’ll see?

Heat and fishing.

I love the hot weather to be honest. This week it’s supposed to get well into the upper 20s and this will have an effect on the Trent fishing. However as it’s still early summer I should be able to winkle a few fish or two out. On just another point, I see far too many other anglers getting sunburn and risking skin cancer. Don’t do it, cream up and wear a wide brimmed hat, cancer can really cut into you’re fishing time.

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If you’re a fishing Naturalist as I am, it’s as much about whats going on around you at this time of year, as the fishing. All the birdlife seems to have paired up and are busy feeding young. The Trent banks have genuine Reed-Mace and Bullrush, often confused with each other. I watched a pair of Reed Warblers just last trip, they decided I was of little threat after half an hour or so, and got closer and closer.

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I was clearly on the flight path to feeding their brood, but they had to reserve as much energy as possible, I just became an object to by-pass. And it’s that, we fishermen love about our sport. We become part of nature as we sit quietly, the environment moves in on us as time passes, we become part of nature itself.

I decided to try a new piece of river for me, it’s on a season ticket I’ve not had before this year, but it’s a noted big fish area. Massive barbel and Chub reside in this part of the Trent, and today I’m going to dip a line, excited, you bet! On the way to the new river beat I happened to pass by East Stoke, and noticed my favourite trotting swim was vacant. I took it as a sigh, well you know? And drove into the fishery. I did have a very pleasant day catching Roach, Dace, Bleak, and a few Perch, maybe 20 fish, but truly it was just too hot.

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Once home I downed two beers without taking a break, then a few cups of tea. I was dehydrated despite drinking 4 litres of water throughout the day. We’ll out again on Thursday all being well.

The Longest Day!

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Feeder fishing at East Stoke, River Trent.

Out again today with both the float and feeder available. Collecting my bait casters for today from the local bait farm. As I’m not fishing until next week, it’s just a pint, I’m lucky having the bait farm on my doorstep. But I do have pellets, that the Trent Roach seem to have taken a liking to according to the Trent anglers?

I had a great swim for long trotting, but again the bloody wind was really difficult. I never drew a bite in two hours, trotting a 14 no 4 Dave Harrell stick through, both off and on the bottom. The water today had a dirty tinge to it, as if we had some rain upstream, and it had only just worked it way down. It was as if it wasn’t enough to clean the river, instead made it unclean?

So I made up some ground-bait, white crumb with .2 mm pellets added, plus some Krill powder, hemp, corn, caster with some sweet Van Den Eynde River ground-bait just to help it bind. I’ve found that if you use a reasonably thin main line, you don’t need anywhere the amount of lead to hold bottom with the feeder.

So I use 6.lb Sensor mainline, with a 2.5 Bayer bottom to start and cast just past the middle into slightly slacker water. I’m fishing an area where the main-flow comes around a large bend into the bank I’m fishing. So the far bank gets less of the flow and it’s a place the better Roach seem to like, or so I think? I did several casts in quick succession to put a bit of bait down.

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A very modest Barbel from the Trent.

It worked, as in the next few minutes I had a succession of little knocks with the 3lb T/C tip on the Drennan Super Feeder. Eventually it dropped back, and a small skimmer came to the net. Then another, then a better fish of around 2lb. With this fish I changed to a 3.6lb Bayer bottom, and was pleased I did, as the next fish was well over 4lb. I had 4 bream, two skimmers, and a few dace and chub. Around 4pm it all went dead and I was just about the call it a day, when the tip flew round.  After a long but careful fight a nice barbel came to the net. I slipped it back right away. (after a long recuperation) I was tired, hot but a happy angler. Not the big Roach I’m after, but a decent days fishing. I’m back again!

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