"The real carp angler, in my book, is he who consistently catches carp. How big they are is largely irrelevant." Richard Walker. 1975.
What, in my view, is the true appeal of carp fishing? The appeal lies in the nature of the water. The deepest appeal derives from a heady combination of atmosphere,
mystery and heritage.
The atmosphere arises from age, even antiquity: a certain mood which is cast over a lake or pond whenever there is a long-established colony
of carp. The mystery lies with the unknown. After all, the moment an angler can quote the weight of the largest carp in any given lake, the mystery dissappears.
heritage arises through the voices of the past: though anecdotes, spoken and published. These voices help to elevate a water to a mythical level in one's imagination, until there is an "otherness" associated with its name and a hushed, awed tone whenever that
name is mentioned; the prime example of this being Redmire, of course.
It can be seen, then, that the majority of modern waters usually fail to satisfy on any of these
points: atmosphere, mystery and heritage, and therefore their appeal, at best, is limited to me.
Many other anglers, I am certain, will hold rather similar views.
Gary Bills. 2016.
STRANGE TECHNIQUES PART I: Sight-bobbing....
IF I'd been a better float angler, I would never have discovered the joys of sight-bobbing in the first place Yes, I know, the "bob" is a fly-fishing technique, right? Well, that depends on how you use one.
When I resumed half-serious carp fishing, about five years ago, I thought that the lift method with the peacock quill waggler was the only
way to get a carp on a float, down the side. The problem was, I kept missing bites - not every take, but enough to make me tear my hat off in frustration and throw it into the bushes. I was fishing a pretty little water, one I call "Clay
Farm Pond", and on the the day I kept missing 'em, I'd brought a few bobs along, as make-shift surface controllers. What would happen, I wondered, if I used one as a float? I was in a little bay called "The Dead Arm", for some reason, and the margins
were absolutely fizzing with bubbles... I was sick of being "done" and so I ripped off the normal float rig and decided to effectively free-line, only using the sight-bob as an indicator. The bait, as I recall, was ordinary sweetcorn. I cast
the bob in, among the bubblers and, within seconds, it shot away. "Oh God," I thought, "it must be foul hooked..." But I struck all the same and was glad I did, because it was a plump mirror, just a few ounces short of ten pounds, and nicely hooked in the
top lip. Since then, I've had hundreds of carp on the bob, literally hundreds, and for close range carping in shallow water, between 2ft and 6ft, I am convinced it will always outfish conventional floats. I tend to use fluorocarbon line
- ( Yep, I must be a noddy!) - my favourite brand is Spiderwire, 12lb, and I can tell you that it casts well and, when attrached to a bob, it doesn't sink immediately. If a section does sink above the float, it helps to keep
the bob in place when there is a chop - much as a matchman might put a small shot above his waggler, for the same reason. To return to fluoro, I am sure it gives me a real edge at times. Why so?
Well, in May 2012 I was fishing a Shropshire pond and I'd had two
carp, to 9lbs or so, on a mono rig with a braid bottom - similar to the float rig recommended by Rod Hutchinson in "Carp Inspirations". Again, the carp were down the side, fizzing away; but my bites had died. I took off the porcupine quill, reeled
in and set up the bob and fluoro rig - and the takes were immediate and positive. I caught seven more carp that day, into double figures, and I was a very pleased and convinced gnome, I can tell you!
One troubling caveat, however, is the tendency for fluorocarbon to go "brittle" with time and use, and this affects the wet knot strength in particular, no matter how excellent
the knot. My own recent tests indicate that a reduction in knot strength of 20 per cent or more can occur, which is alarming. The advantages of fluoro are manifiold, but it is also important to see and treat it as a new material, which it is, really, and to
accept that it is not perfect. Regular tests of line strength are, therefore, highly recommended.
On the subject of knots: for fluorocarbon
tied direct to the hook, I would recommend the double-looped, four turn or five turn, tucked half-blood knot, and nothing else. The double loop acts as a shock buffer and stops the knot exploding.
Where a water is particularly snaggy, such as "The Other Pool," I use a modern "floater" line for sight-bobbing, and I recommend Korda Cruiser Control. This, of course, is designed for surface
work, but it's an excellent float fishing and freelining line as well. It will sink, slowly, if the bait sinks, and I think that its bouyant qualities make it "critically balanced," once it gets below the surface. It's a mono line, but almost as invisible
as fluoro below the surface, and it's a thin but incredibly strong mono. It usually breaks somewhat above its given rating, so that's a big bonus.
The depth you set the sight-bob is important, for sensitivity. I recommend putting between four and six inches on the bottom - drawing back the bob a little, after casting, so that everything lines up nice and straight. Where the bottom has
weed, however, you may just have to cast and not draw back at all.
Another refinement I've started to use lately (2016-2018), as standard,
is to place a small rubber float stop immediately beneath and up against the sight-bob. This is because, sometimes, the bob will slip on the strike and, if that happens, the hook will not set properly, if at all. The slippage, from what I can tell, is down
to the kind of line being used - some lines are "slippier" than others: but the rubber float stop below the bob is the perfect answer.
takes are interesting and illuminating. Usually, the start of a take is indicated by a slight "drifting" of the bob, to the right or left, and sometimes a miniscule ripple can be seen around the bob. This is caused by the carp sucking the bait in. As the carp's
head lifts, the bob will shoot one or two inches across the surface. Once the carp begins to move away, as it usually does - feeling absolutely no resistance and being unable to see the fluorocarbon line, the bob will disappear at a slight slant below the
surface. This is the time to strike!
Try it, - it often works really well!