Why change your fishing tactics?
Now to be clear, I enjoy fishing match venues with plenty of carp, and when I get them competing for food with accurate casting and effective feeding I do really well. But what I don’t really understand is why a 15-year-old fish would take a boilie after it has been caught on the perfectly spherical food item more times than it would care to count.
Let’s take this a bit further, why would a carp continue to feed around a lead method feeder having detected it on previous occasions prior to being caught? The ridges of the feeder, the heavy lead based weight used has a ‘taste’ (don’t believe me? Drink water from the upstairs tap in an old house, you can taste the ‘metal’, carp sensors on the outside of their mouths are infinitely more sensitive than our taste buds).
The reality is that from underwater footage we see that carp are often spooked when they touch the lead weight, they may mouth a boilie and instantly eject it. Watching that bait sat on the bottom, we KNOW that our bait is picked up, or spooks the fish multiple times before circumstance results in a fish actually being hooked.
The result? Being clever primates with apposable thumbs we create new rigs to make hook holds more likely, we change the colour of our rigs…. what most people don’t do is think ‘natural’. We feed aggressively over the top to lull the fish into a false sense of security, we get them competing for food, so they screw up and make a mistake.
What does this mean?
It actually means that on those hard days when the fish won’t compete for food we can blank… they are just not aggressive enough or hungry enough to make such a fundamental mistake.
There is a solution…
Change your fishing tactics and by that I mean stop presenting the same baits, in the same manner, to the same fish. Provide the fish with a nutritious bait, one they are not familiar with, and therefore not wary of and use terminal tackle which does not spook the fish. How? Well, that is the easy part. Here is how I discovered this just a week or two ago!
I am no specimen carp angler, finding myself on an estate lake, which probably contains 20 carp to 25lb I was way out of my depth. My background is fly fishing, with two years of feeder fishing under my belt. So, began my 3-day experiment on changing fishing tactics.
My fishing tactics on the first day – fish with a hybrid lead feeder, and pellet. It’s hot, it’s sunny, and I work my ass off, I feed accurately, and all I get to show for 8 hours fishing is 3 roach and bream. I see lots of bubbles near my feed, but NO carp in the bag…
I change my fishing tactics – hybrid feeder again, but this time half a raw prawn, the result is significant, I fish half the time, and get myself a specimen perch, and loose a carp. Ok so this is not a huge success, and we could chalk this up to luck. But up until I switched to the prawn I had not had a single bite!
Day 3 – the breakthrough
At this point I am pretty much out of ideas. I speak to Simon Pomeroy at Pallatrax about how to fish his system. I have had some success using his ‘Stonze’ system. Basically, the idea is that rather than a lead, you use a stone for the terminal tackle.
This though is the tip of the iceberg, Pallatrax offer a dizzying array of baits, glugs, powders, natural baits and flavours. As a non-carp angler, it’s too much for me take in. So, I asked him directly…. ‘what would you fish today?’
The answer was simple. Use a stone with some small snails on the hair (yes you read it correctly – snails!). Mix the carp crush ground bait into a thick paste and press onto the stone, cast out, wait, recast… feeder style.
When I got to the lake the fish were all on the top, but I still followed Simon’s instructions. I immediately found myself getting regular hits from bream. This was already a big improvement. Almost like clockwork, I would get a good-sized bream every 20 minutes or so.
Not carp though right…
So, I fed dog biscuit (stolen from the beagles). I fed these for a good hour or two before sending out a pellet waggler with a dog biscuit attached. Result? Nothing! They would not come within 10ft of the waggler…
Ok so let’s try something else – using a stone. I setup a zig with a dog biscuit in the hair, the biscuit made more buoyant with a small piece of cork on the hair.
Now this had an effect. Two 6lb plus carp on two successive casts. What was interesting was that the carp were not spooked at all by the stone landing in the water…
That however was all the fun for the afternoon, two fish on the bank, all the fish spooked and headed up the opposite end of the lake, including the bream.
As the day wore on however the fish started to return, then something amazing happened. Casting my stone and snail setup to some tree cover where I had been feeding dog biscuit during the day I had a proper run. Unfortunately for me, not being an equipped carp man, the run hit my clip, and snapped my 8lb nylon in 1/2 a second. That was a BIG fish, 1 hour later fishing the margins the same happened again, this time snapped in the lilies next to my swim.
This was the first time I had ever fished a hard water from my perspective. Out of all the anglers that fished there that week I easily had the most success, but that success only arrived when I presented natural, food based ground bait, and used a terminal setup which they were not so cautious of. You can’t imagine a carp being wary of a stone lying on the lake bed, there must be thousands, and certainly the bream responded well to the mix.
Since my three day experiment I have gone on to see a couple of friends fishing the margins, where they could actually see the fish feeding, we witnessed fish arrowing off spooked by the lead, where placing the stone weight in the margin resulted in some serious hook ups, if you want to see the effect of that take a look in the Finygo App for Alex Miljus’ fishing trip at Holme Grange where she used the stone to devastating effect! She got her top 3 PBs that day! See the full trip in the app here: https://bfvz.app.link/039D47nFvN
The result of this is that my go to bottom rig is now a Pallatrax 1.5oz stone, either fished as a bomb or a method. On some waters where the fish won’t go near small piles of bait I fish without the method. I personally prefer the inline system on offer.
For a method mix the carp crush bait is really effective, but again on waters where the fish won’t go near the method I will feed pellet over the top of a simple bomb with a 15-inch hook length. My next fishing tactics experiment however is to try a shorter hook length of 3 inches close to the stone, the idea being I can get better hook ups, and the fish won’t spook off the stone, and as the stone is porous, soak the stone overnight.
I will let you know how I get on next month!