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.
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.
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 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!