Quite a paddle on this 'old strain' common!
Creaking cane in the shade of ancient trees


The Gnome with a lovely Leney common from a water off the beaten track.


"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 disappears. 

The 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; a prime example of this was Redmire Pool, 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. Many other anglers, I am certain, will hold rather similar views.                                                                            

Gary Bills.





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 or to a swivel, I would recommend the single looped, five turn, tucked half-blood knot, and nothing else. It's a clinch knot and really shouldn't work with fluoro, but it does! For mono, double loop it.

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. 

The 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!  




WELCOME to the Carping Gnome, an eccentric site, which is dedicated to all things carpy.

Gnomes are lovers of secretive, quiet places where they try out their own peculiar methods to land, they hope, bigger fish than they have caught before.

Not for them, the banks of mushrooming bivvies, but instead they seek out the half-forgotten farm ponds and moody lakes, those waters often reachable by foot or bike or local train. After all, you don’t find many gnomes that drive a car.

Not for them the devious, modern techniques, that hook a fish before the angler can even reach for his rod.

Instead, gnomes rely on gnomish instincts and cunning and ancient lore, to outwit carp that, in all probability, have greater brain power than the gnomes themselves.

We gnomes are fond of old, favourite rods, and we have even been known to brandish cane on occasions. Venerable, trusty reels, such as cranky Mitchells, fill us with unreasonable delight.

In public places, such as real ale hostelries, our tatty tweed jackets may repel other imbibers, due to the clinging odours of elderly cat or wet Labrador.

But, there, settled by the fireside, our talk will be of gnomish fables; of haunted ponds and great deeds of the past, accomplished by our angling heroes of yesteryear, all gnomes to a man.

Yes, - welcome to my site. It’s lovely that you could join me.

Now, pull up a comfy chair...


Ashperton Moat - an Elegy for a Carp Pond.

SHALL  I take you to Ashperton Moat? We’ll fish for the carp there, with floating bread, and worms and sweetcorn too.
We’ll park by the squat medieval church then follow the narrow path, through the ancient leaning gravestones.
We mind our rods beneath the looming yew, until we reach the simple wooden gate.
It is truly astonishing how few local people realise there is actually a pool just yards beyond this point . It is an enchanting and a secretive place, and to approach it gives the curious sense of entering a wooded valley, down a slope.
Look to your right, through the hawthorns and the hazel trees. You will observe the unmistakable shiver of dark water.
The pool is narrow at first, rather like a canal. But it soon widens out to a rippling frown, - too wide, perhaps, for float or crust to reach the other side.
All sense of the village and modern life has vanished. We stand in a hollow of rolling fields and woodland, facing the island where once a castle stood. Now the island is the home of owls and herons, and strictly off limits for anglers.
The water that remains of the moat is our pond, and we must make do with this bank, for rules are rules.
See how the pool widens out? - here where we stand in tree shadows, and also further on: where the water lilies are in flower. The yellow blooms are shining in the dawn light.
Several fish are already clooping in the pads, as they suck down juicy water snails.
I decide to try crust: running stout line through the rings of my old split cane carp rod and attaching a size six hook.
The fish are not large here, but they are wary. Redmire is just thirty miles away or so, and local legend has it that the pool was stocked by Donald Leney on the very same stocking run. That would be back in 1934.
The moat would have had its deep, unsilted places in those days.
Now it is shallow: too shallow some fishermen say.
Local rumour has it that the severe winter of 1963 saw off the larger fish.
The corpses of forty pounders were removed from the thawing margins.
Today, we shall not expect a double.
If we land any carp it will be old, with its own true dignity and status.
But isn’t that a decent fish? - there, in the shadow of the yews, close to the lily beds?
I flick out a chuck of floating crust. It lands just a yard away from the drifting blue shape. Oh will it rise?
I close my bail arm manually, to make sure I send no shock waves down the line.
The carp approaches slowly, it’s body taking on details as the fins beat.
It is a mirror carp. I can see the charcoal outlines of its big plate scales.
But, with a single flick of its tail, the fish has gone, leaving the crust bobbing foolishly over deep green ripples. Did the fish see my line?
Perhaps I should reel in now, and try for a carp with float tackle?
I tell myself, be patient, and my inner voice is right.
The carp is back, making a crooked orbit round the crust.
I see the India rubber lips break surface then watch the line trail after my fish, down into a gentle swirl.
Who can remember striking at moments like this?
I only know the rod is hooped over as the carp dives deep for the roots of a yew.
The clutch is still complaining and I’m yielding too much line.
You’ve come with the net at last. You took your time! But the fight is far from over.
Now the carp is running straight towards us, skirting the lilies then swinging away into a narrow channel. I reel as quickly as I can, to keep a tight link to the hook. But now the fish has seen the roots of an overhanging ash, just yards along the bank.
The carp takes line again.
But the clutch is only talking to me in snatches. Then suddenly, almost miraculously, our carp rolls before us and you only need one chance with net.
In the cool damp grass we lay down our prize: admire its fully-scaled body, where browny-grey shoulders slant down to squiggled signatures of gold, before the Trojan shields from gill to tail.
But its belly is surely its glory, almost dazzling with amber and butter-yellow tints; all this set off with pearl and amber fins.
Please, let’s not weigh her.
I remove the big hook from the corner of her mouth then, with the chance of a photo taken and a few more admiring glances, I lower her to the water and release her. She sinks from view, her paddles beating softly.
We fish on through the morning, but no other opportunities are forthcoming.
I’m sorry that you failed to catch a fish! Still, there’s always another day.
Only, there will be no other days quite like this.
I want to find someone to blame, to point my finger.
Yet perhaps is nobody’s fault, that the pool is almost devoid of carp this year.
I heard rumours that the club, which holds the lease, had taken to removing the better fish: to stock another lake nearby.
But perhaps its members were concerned about the falling water levels in the shallow, spring-fed pond.
The water levels have indeed been low. Was a farmer taking too much for his fields, or is the dam leaking?
The presence of mink was probably the final blow.
Permission for traps, so I heard, was sought and obtained.
But what chance of escape could any old carp have, in a pool that had lost half its water?
Cheshunt, Croxby and Dagenham: to write the history of carp pools is often to write an elegy. It seems to be the melancholy way of things.
Now, at least the memories remain, and a clutch of cherished photographs.
Ashperton Moat was an obscure pond that never raised the eyebrows of the angling world; but to me, and a handful of others, it was carping heaven as it should be, and we shall miss it.

By Gary Bills. Article first published in Waterlog 72.


Gary 17.12.2019 16:40

Lovely to hear from you Klaus - and Happy Christmas, with dreams of tree-girt lakes!

Klaus 08.12.2019 13:45

Bloke from Austria, not having any old, overgrown, mystic, romantic waters and therefore gobbling up words like these. Love the nightingale song!

Gary 26.10.2017 19:37

Nets in those days were not always so great!

Steve 24.10.2017 21:22

I and a friend had aluminium nets both had bent arms mine by acarp his by a lawnmower strange world isn't it?

Gary 22.10.2017 16:00

Hi Steven, - many thanks for your comment - that's what this site is really about, hopefully - getting up close and personal with carp and having fun!

Steven cooper 22.10.2017 12:41

Your website brought back many happy memories of my stalking carp years with a 9ft rod crusty loaf and tin of spam on holiday in Gloucestershire.thanks Coops

John 05.05.2017 08:09

Hi Gary! As discussed on the train! https://www.greatestreviews.co.uk is my website!

Gary 18.07.2016 09:04

Dear Terry - that is most kind of you, and much appreciated. Thank you.

Terry (Bobthefloat ) 17.07.2016 14:40

Hi Gary I've only just stumbled across your website by following a link from the Tff and I think it's great.
Very informative and very interesting.

Nik from greece 21.12.2015 19:00

lover of secretive, quiet and unknown places also myself, i have read some of the articles with great plessure.

gary 22.12.2015 11:39

That's lovely, Nik - and your words are much appreciated.

Paul 23.11.2014 15:30

Really good to have shared my Redmire expierence with you Mr gnome, I take my hat off to you for your passion and different way of fishing,the tightest of lines

Gary 24.11.2014 10:03

I really look forward to that, Paul. Yes, Redmire is a special place, no doubt about it!

Paul 23.11.2014 16:59

Im sat here now still blown away Gary-I would recomend it to anybody,Ill keep in touch and hopefully join you on a farm pond adventure katystokes@msn.com

Gary 23.11.2014 16:17

Lovely to meet you too, Paul, and Derek and Daryl- I'm missing the place already! My email - garibills@yahoo.com

Best - Gary

Gary 19.12.2013 20:25

May I just say - a very happy Christmas to you all!

Best seasonal salutations from, "The Carping Gnome".

Gary 11.08.2013 13:19

I'm inclined to agree, JAA. I think rules should only exist for the purposes of fish welfare; other rules just make angling artificial, IMO.

Gary 27.05.2013 14:09

As well as posting articles, I'll be regularly updating my fishing blog, The Gnome's Diary, also on this site, from now on...

JAA 16.04.2013 23:43

I wonder if the profile of a 'regular float' alerts fish caught repeatedly and that contributes to the bob's success?

Gary 16.04.2013 23:53

I think that's probably true, JAA, and of course, a vertical float stirs the line and bait, whereas a horizontal bob "wafts" - a more natural presentation

Gary 16.04.2013 09:03

Matchmen do "bobbing" with little polystyrene balls - it's just a technique that many people seem to have found for themselves in recent years.

JAA 16.04.2013 08:10

I think of "bobbing" as assisted freelining myself. I use a 10mm cork ball, red permanent marker and stick it on a link swivel.

gary 15.04.2013 09:33

Nice to find another "bob" enthusiast, JAA.

JAA 15.04.2013 08:27

What ho FB, I've just found the Nome (correct spelling please). Nice accounts, you're right about the bob being a shallow water technique btw. JAA

Gary 14.04.2013 15:22

Many thanks, David - your kind words are much appreciated.

Gary 12.04.2013 16:16

Thank you Richard C - it makes it all worthwhile!

Richard C 12.04.2013 15:45

Wonderful read Gary. Thoroughly enjoyed it. Your inspiration and enthusiasm leaps from the page and incites us all to get out there. Well done Sir!

Mark from the TFF 12.04.2013 13:22

Very nice Gary, well done.

Gary 12.04.2013 13:24

Thank you Mark, from the bottom of my heart; - I've just stuck a few more pics on - one of St John and one of Dave...

Gary 09.04.2013 22:35

Thank you very much, The Bishop, - much appreciated!

The Bishop 09.04.2013 20:34

Superb !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Gary 09.04.2013 14:48

Many, many thanks SK - and for your helpful advice.

SK 09.04.2013 14:17

Super page, will be keenly following sir.....

Gary 08.04.2013 08:50

Many thanks, Estaban, - much appreciated!

Estaban 08.04.2013 02:27

Off to a great start FB

| Reply

Latest comments

27.11 | 23:05

We missed you, dear nephew, we missed you...x

27.11 | 19:45

It's Ok, you guys just keep enjoying your little fishing sessions without me...we all know why

07.09 | 20:31

Yes Dave, I look forward to a Three Amigos' reunion at a carp pool. Our fishing sessions together are always a great joy.

07.09 | 19:49

Lovely account of a most enjoyable day Gary.Lets hope that Steven can join us next time.David

27.11 | 23:05

We missed you, dear nephew, we missed you...x

27.11 | 19:45

It's Ok, you guys just keep enjoying your little fishing sessions without me...we all know why

07.09 | 20:31

Yes Dave, I look forward to a Three Amigos' reunion at a carp pool. Our fishing sessions together are always a great joy.

07.09 | 19:49

Lovely account of a most enjoyable day Gary.Lets hope that Steven can join us next time.David