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I cannot remember a time when we have had such little rain over such a long time. The rivers are having a real struggle, and the little ponds and lakes I like to fish are almost empty. The Trent never seems to change much, but it does slow down. You can see this by being able to hold mid-river with such light weights as 25/30 grams in parts. Once place I fish on the Trent now has a large slack on the inside of a bend that was never there before? It holds some good Bream now that clearly like the new slow flow as they can feed without their food being moved all over the place.
The Roach are still in mid-river well away for the anglers bank. The water is very clear and you can see well down in the river depths. It’s why you have to fish very fine right now for them. The old style of fishing with hemp and tares using ultra light tackle works well if you can get the fish feeding, often its well down stream of you and after feeding for an hour or so. I tried the other day and to my regret used casters in with the hemp and tares. Big mistake as the bleak, and small dace just would not give the roach a chance. Next time I’ll just use hemp with the odd tare, that should work to keep the bleak away, but feed the roach. Hemp sinks almost on the spot, but caster stays high in the water attracting all the small stuff. We live and learn by our mistakes, I’m learning as I said before?
Anyone living in the UK will know just how hot it’s been over the last few months. The rivers are exceptionally low and clear, and even evening sessions are humid and testing. So much so that I’ve had a little break for over a week, not touching the rods at all. The last trip was for Roach, trotting with hemp and tares and taking a few nice Roach to 8oz.
Instead I’ve been looking at videos online and buying a little bit of new tackle for the coming winter and next summer. I’ve brought two Daiwa whips, one 3 meters and the other 4.5 meters. Whip fishing really appeals in the simplicity of the method, I’ve always said I’d never buy a pole, but a whip is different.
I didn’t want a pole as all that shipping back and forward would drive me mad, but a whip in a short length is all done in one hand, and as Roach are my current in-fish they will be ideal for super light presentations I have in mind. Speaking about Roach I also needed a dedicated feeder rod for my Roach fishing. Again it had to be light in the hand and capable of taking very light hook-links down to a .10 with size 20 hooks.
Cadence CR10 Wand No 1. At 10 feet this rod will be ideal for rivers, and commercials where some good Roach exist. With 4lb main line I can fish light 2lb hook-links knowing the rod will help me land fish. It’s very light pencil thin and comes with 3 tips from 1/2 ounce to 3/4. This is a link to a video on the rod; The Cadence wand. I’m told it would land some much bigger fish, but I’ll just be looking for Roach this winter. On the plus side this company give back to fishing, and I support that. I brought a Cadence reel a few weeks back and it’s proved itself wonderful for the river.
I don’t know what effect all this drought will have on the fishing this year, but I’m sure it won’t be good. With new home building and abstraction for more water, we need more storage and reservoirs though expensive seem the only way, but will the water companies invest in the future before it’s too late, I doubt it?
If I said I’m in favour of these types of fishing waters you may be surprised. I’ve thought about them for a long time, and on the whole come down on the side they are good for our future fishing. However you may be surprised when I tell you why I think that way?
On the selfish side, it keeps the Match angler off the wild waters. I really hate the way our fish are treated by the majority of these anglers, during and after the matches. I’ve witnesses the “way-in’s” after a match, and the fish treatment is shocking. During Matches fish treatment is not much better, fish being thrown, dropped into the keep-nets because speed is of the utmost importance. On wild waters that fish damage affects me, on Commercials it doesn’t, simple. Watch the way in river match? Could we not improve this system of weighing in? I think we could.
On Commercials they have keep-net limit rules that are not in-forced, so carp (mostly carp) are damaged in the crowded net. I’ve fished a few Commercials and the fish quality is abysmal. Broken fins, damaged mouths, open sores, missing scales, if they were humans it would be called torture. I know for a fact that several Match-men really do care about the fish they catch, but they are in the minority, and when they speak out, they get lambasted. There will come a time when all anglers will be judged by their (match-man) actions by the fishing hating community, and we will all deserve it, as we do nothing to educate people to better understand fish handling.
If you click on You-Tube coarse fishing, 90% of the videos are now about dozens of blokes sat around a little pond catching carp. They teach you how to cast, set up a feeder rod, float rods, pellet wagglers, reviews on poles, reels, seats everything apart from fish care. For my self I cannot see any enjoyment in fishing a puddle stuffed full of fish, it’s just too easy. But that’s what these people want, easy fishing, so it works for me as most of them stay away from my spots, as they cannot catch wild fish.
Good handling means this little Commercial Carp goes back with little trouble. A decent net, and weigh mat.
If you think I’m angry about this subject your right. Too many good ponds, and lakes have been stocked with Carp that could not normally support them-selves without anglers baits. The fish are hungry all the time, having to feed regardless of the cost to their well-being. This artificial stocking has ruined true fishing for many, knowing you will always catch regardless of how inept you are, sad isn’t it?
So a nice week just gone with a few Bream to 8lb, not bad, I’ve really enjoyed it. Now that’s what its all about really, finding new places on the River and next week will be no different. I’m planning to visit Clifton Bridge, another beat on my new ticket. I’m told the water is a little shallower than East Stoke, so the float will see more outings. The Bolo float is something I’m looking to master, fishing the middle river with a top and bottom float should be interesting. But I also have a good range of Dave Harrell’s Truncheon floats that I’ve taken Barbel on before, simply I must get better at using them, answer? Dave’s Floats. Use them more often in the right conditions, with big baits. Dead maggots are deadly, as are small pellets, bread, corn, even the big Roach will take these baits in Mid-River.
We have a had around eight weeks of rain-less weather. I bet the commercial carp waters owners are pulling their hair out right now. Any thunder storms can see many carp lost due to oxygen levels being too low, hundreds of fish can be lost in a few hours. Ive seen this before in my own Koi pond years ago, fortunately we only lost a few fish rather than the whole lot. Putting in excess ground bait, plus loose feed not being eaten only exacerbates the problem, it decomposes on the lake bed.
The river is clear and low, any Barbel caught take a long time to recover, so much so I don’t deliberately fish for them during such conditions. Any caught are held in the net for a long time, any that look too tired are put in a Carp recovery keep net ( I keep in the boot of the car) on their own to recuperate. I don’t like keep-nets for Carp, or Barbel but these are exceptional conditions.
Once we get some rain (maybe Friday according to the forecast) the rivers will come back on my radar. I’d also like to do you a review of a new rod and reel I’ve just taken charge of for my light trotting. Were talking about light-weight and the total is under 14 ounces for both a 14′ rod and fixed spool 4000 reel, interested? Cause you are!
A lot of people fish the Stick float well, but just as many fish it poorly. I’m going to try to explain exactly what the stick float should be doing, and why, when you’re fishing it. I’ll mention again, I’m no expert, I’m still learning, trying to understand why these floats are so deadly in the right conditions and right hands.
The River Match-man of old had to build a net of fish from any peg, often during times of the day not conducive for fishing. He would know the venue often and if he had a winning peg, that held Bream or Chub say. But if he didn’t draw a top peg, then mostly it was all about scratching. Building a bag of little fish like Roach, Chub, Bleak, Dace, trying to catch quickly on every cast. The Stick float gave them this opportunity and this is why. It allowed very delicate presentation for well-educated fish. Often lines as low as .08 ounce, with size 24s hooks were used. (Nowadays Hi-Tec lines with such low diameters, finer lines can be used with a greater breaking strain.)
“Angling Times Picture showing what and what not to do when using a Stick.”
The Stick Float shotted correctly catches fish at all depths as it falls through the water column. When you hold it back (and you should) it rises and falls enticingly for the fish, exactly like the loose feed. You hold back, let it go, hold back, let it go, all the way down the swim, importantly you’re fishing over depth most of the time. If the swim is 6′ deep you’re fishing at 7′ with the bottom hook-length 10”/16” Un-shotted. It allows wonderful presentation and un-missable bites if you’re keeping a tight line to the float. Most bites come on or after the stop, as the float moved down the swim bit by bit. The trot could be relatively short overall, six or ten yards as the fish moved up-stream to intercept the then revolutionary bait the Caster! The Stick and Caster were a match made in heaven for the Trent Angler of old, as it is still today.
On waters like the Trent you would use 2 pints of Casters typically in a match or pleasure session, loose feeding so the fish are taking them at all levels. The stop and start checking of the float would ensure the bait and float were always in contact with the angler giving good solid bites.
The downside of the Stick was it could only be fished in the best of conditions. A slight up-stream wind, smooth top water, and less than six feet of depth on average. Any rough water, or downstream wind and the Avon float would fish much better, but that’s for another time. Many anglers fish a Stick in conditions were another float would give them a much better chance (myself included) such is the lure of the Stick.
Finally the rods used for this method (Stick float fishing) were also very special to cope with the ultra fine tackle. Anglers with famous names in the day started to endorse such rods, today these antiques sell for good money on E-Bay, Tom Pickering rods are a fine example. However we have some great Stick float rods today made from much better and lighter materials. The Acolyte Ultra and Daiwa Connoisseur range for example allow very fine lines to be used. But whatever you choose it must have a soft tip, but quick action to hit sharp bites at distance.
Old reels (as I mentioned before) like the Abu 501-506-506 are still up to the job, and great fun to use.
On various fishing forums I visit, this has to be one of the most often questions asked and a difficult on to answer. Firstly rods have move on in the last few years (5-10) as at one time the big fish trotting angler had to make do with rods not specifically designed for the job. I see a lot of suggestions for the Drennan 12’9 Tench rod, well it’s a rod, about the right length but it’s got Tench on in for a reason, and it’s designed to sit in a rest most of the time. Will it do, yes but you could do better.
Angling Times Picture, Barbel on the Acolyte Plus.
I’ve not tried every rod available, few have, but during my search in 2015/16 I did a lot of looking, speaking to those in the know, holding and swishing rods. Lets look at what you need in a big fish trotting rod. First it has to be able to take a main-line of at least 6lb breaking strain. It has to bend right through the blank, not just the tip, or two-thirds, down below is where the power is.
There are plenty of rods designed for river fishing, even float fishing, but most are too light. Hence were the suggestion for something like a Tench rod comes in, it does all the above. But it lacks any finesse, or a quick but softish tip. I tried a Tench rod myself and just found it dull, it didn’t pick up line at distance quickly, or with any authority. I don’t think it’s until you have tried a proper float Barbel rod, that you would know any difference.
I mentioned earlier that rods have come on recently, due I think to the modern carp commercials. These places have a lot to do with new rod designs, specifically for pulling big carp out on light lines. These float rods are very light, as thin as a pencil and bend right through. One pellet waggler I own is the perfect small river float rod, its light super quick, ultra slim and takes 6 lb main-line. If I was a small river Barbel trotter I’d look no further. However it is too short for bigger river applications, where the 13′ rod rules. Sadly most of these pellet waggler rods are too short and 9′-11′ seems to be the ideal size as the carp anglers can net carp quicker with this length.
So as you can see the right design is the key, after much looking I’ve fund just a handful of rods up to the job. Remember these are rods I’ve tried myself and still own.
The Acolyte Plus range from Drennan. In my humble view these rods are perfect, they have all the traits I look for. Some say they are too light for big Barbel, but most people who say that don’t ever test their tackle to the full. Look at; You-Tube epic fishing fight on 1lb hook link. (Have you ever watched anglers with strong carp rods and 15 lb line fish for Barbel. With modest fish they haul them in super fast trying to keep them from snags, nothing wrong with that, but where is the fun, fight?) I don’t float fish near snags, full stop, so my tackle is appropriate. I also bend into my fish and with a float rod, that’s nothing like bending into a fish with a carp rod and 15lb believe me. Mostly my Barbel move toward the middle of the river, then sulk, until I move them again.
It’s worth a test if you still unsure, try breaking 6lb line on a straight pull when attached to one of these rods. Then imagine trying to break it on a big fish, almost impossible, the hook-link goes first, and at 4/5 pound that too takes some breaking. A long float rod is an impressive tool, and can exert real power on a big Barbel.
You can pick these up now for bargain prices. Google Acolyte plus. 14′ my favourite.
The Daiwa Tournament. I’ve been a big Daiwa rod fan for years. The blanks are so high quality, and they last. Most have been good investments for me, but they come at a price. I bit heavier than the Acolyte, but the feel is very steely if you know what I mean. Mine is rated 2-8 pound and is stronger than the Acolyte, just. My choice is the 13’/15′ at 15′ with a light balanced reel the rod is a delight to use, is a Barbel rod killer without compromise. I often lay-on with this length in the evenings, hooking Barbel as they pull against the rod top, no buzzer required thank God, but do hang on! Maybe because of the quality these rods go for a good price second-hand.
That’s it, just two rods I would choose from. Their must be others, I’m told some of the old Normark are good, and Harrison does one as well as do Free-Spirit. Daiwa also do a Spectron thats almost as good as the Tourny. But you will have to do your research like I did. Finally forums are a good source, but only listen to those that really do trot for Barbel, and not those ones that wish they did?
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.
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.
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.