If I was asked to pass on one piece of angling advice, it would definitely be that fishing as light as you can – both in terms of line diameter and float size – will catch you a lot more fish.
As an angling journalist, I am lucky enough to get out with a lot of the country’s top anglers, and more than any other single theme in the way that they fish – this is the one thing that stands out.
The problem is, it is a very easy rule for mere mortals such as me to forget. In the vast majority of situations, you will find that you get plenty of bites using heavy gear – but the paradox is, you don’t know how many more you would have got if you had fished a grade lighter.
I regard my travelling partner, and Pole Fishing’s Editorial Assistant, Matt Godfrey to be one of the best anglers in the country. He is a massive believer in fishing light, and it is very rare for him to go above 0.14mm diameter line – even when big carp are the target. For standard commercial work 0.12mm line is the heaviest that he will use – and he is rarely out of the money.
I seldom get the chance to go pleasure fishing, but tackle testing days prove a nice opportunity to experiment. Yesterday the Match and Pole Fishing team went to Stockton Reservoir in Warwickshire, a venue I had never fished before.
I set my stall out on two lines – a Method feeder, which I cast to an island in front of me, and a caster line on a top kit, where I hoped to tempt a few of the reservoir's quality roach.
I caught a few fish, but as the session drew to a close, I decided to turn my top kit line into a carp swim! This is where things got interesting.
I was fishing a 3x8 Preston Chianti to 0.11mm Reflo Power, with a 0.08mm hooklength for the roach, but as I was targetting carp, I decided to step it up to an 0.11mm hooklength, and a size 16 Kamasan B911 hook. Elastic was a Preston No9 Hollo. Gear far lighter than I would dare fish in a match on the venue!
In what was something of a reversal of roles, Matt on the end peg next to me was also experimenting – fishing 0.17mm Reflo Power and Black Hydro, and struggling for bites.
I threw in three big handfuls of casters, and after around five minutes, a delicate bite registered on my bristle. To be honest, the take was that shy that I half expected one of the venue's crucians to be responsible. After a firm strike, I realised I was very wrong!
The fish tore off towards the middle of the lake, and after looking at the dangerous reed beds either side of me, I was beginning to wonder whether fishing light gear was such a good idea!
Strangely, the fish soon turned around, and after a 10-minute battle, I slipped the net under a carp somewhere between 12 and 15lb. Result!
Another two handfuls of bait followed, and five minutes later I was attached to another brute. This fish came in easier than the first, and again was estimated at over 12lb! As I slipped it into the keepnet, I looked around to see Matt attached to a carp, which ended up bottoming out his elastic and snapping 0.17mm line!
With time marching on, and a meal booked in the pub next door, I knew I only had time for one more fish, and again after about five minutes carp number three was hooked. This was another double-figure fish, that came in after a five-minute battle.
In the space of about 40 minutes I had landed three fish for almost 40lb – on a line diameter that I wouldn’t have dreamed of using for such work had it been a match. In the same amount of time, Matt on the next peg had landed just one carp about 6lb and been snapped on what many would argue was more appropriate tackle. As we ate our dinner we mused over why this had happened.
Of course, it is impossible to disprove the argument that it is entirely down to chance – the big fish turned up in front of me, and I was just very lucky to land them all.
Or could it be that the lighter line and float fooled the bigger fish in the peg, and the fact that I fished balanced tackle with fairly light elastic meant that the fish were never under any real pressure, and so didn’t fight as hard as they would have if they had been hooked on riot gear?
The session certainly left me with food for thought, and I will make sure I have a girly rig set up in such situations in the future!