Carp Fishing Tactics For Wary Fish - Hiding Your Line!
by: Tim Richardson
On many carp waters the fish are well aware of fishermen’s lines passing through the water. This can impact so much on fish that in some swims fish will not feed until the swim appears safe and clear of lines. They have associated lines with danger often from many years of angling pressure. But what can you do about it?
Seeing your line passing through water can really hit your confidence. If you can see it, the fish certainly can. Carp eyesight is not to be underestimated! How often have you observed fish heading for your swim, only to see your line and turn around? Heavy lines are often required in many situations, so trying to use ‘invisible’ like very fine ones or certain ones with less abrasion resistance makes things hard. There are a couple of new lines that claim to be invisible in water. The trouble is that even these can go along the lake bed and form a barrier of line across the water, where the bottom dips and rises, or where going over weed beds.
The last 5 metres of line to your hook rig is the area that usually matters the most. Here fish often bump into lines in their search for food or bait and the first obvious mistake many anglers make is ensuring fish get spooked by their lines by baiting-up between their hook and rig and their rod, the very side where line is most apparent. Only baiting-up the opposite side can make a dramatic difference!
Of course, lots of methods have evolved to try to avoid spooking fish out of your swim or even stop them from stopping feeding in the possible case of some line shy fish, and having them leave your swim. Your line also helps fish to locate your hook rig which is not favourable for bites! The days when fish feed avidly while navigating a network of lines stretched across the water in full view are fading on so many waters these days. The use of back leads and flying back leads to pin the line to the lake bed are good. But on weedy waters and those with lots of rises and falls as in gravel pits for example, they are not really the solution.
Lead core spiced to the line and heavy dense tubing on the line helps to some degree with this problem, but are not perfect, no matter if their colour matches the lake bed or has been marked so that it forms a ‘broken disjointed line’ or a ‘camouflaged’ one. Often the fish just learn that these are extra thick lines which are also dangerous. Ordinary plastic tubing is still sold for use as anti-tangle tubing but often is used fresh from the packet which means it still forms bends and loops on the lake bed!
The best way I found to use heavy dense tubing like the ‘ESP’ range, was to find the thinnest one possible I could fit over my line, slide it onto the line and then stretch it out as long as possible. I even used multiple lengths of it as I found multiple lengths hugged the bottom even better than just using the thinner more flexible stretched tube. Gluing tiny pieces of shot or lead putty materials to these really made a massive difference to results. If I could, I’d use a 4 metre length of tubing to pin the line down; combined with as many back leads I could add practically along the length of the line. Pressured smaller water fish are often even more spooked by lines and these tricks have proven the difference between catching nothing at all and catching forties with regularity.
Not many anglers realise that if you fish a tight line pinned very effectively to the lake bed with multiple back leads on the line as far down as possible teamed with a heavy sinker lead on the line, your initial deep hooking potential can be hugely improved. Your combined resistance of weight on the line might be nearer 6 ounces often tripping-up and converting a single bleep on the alarm to full blooded runs or at least a couple more tell-tale bleeps as fish struggled to rid the hook. I sharpen my hooks literally beyond needle sharp spending hours on this task. A few times I lost some very big fish as the points bent out with the pressure, but I’m certain these might not have been hooked without this preparation anyway.
I also choose the longest point hooks from a packet because these gain the fast deepest hook-hold initially. Those hooks with a long straight point, in turned eye and a penetration angle of 26 degrees have been exceptionally effective for gaining good deep very reliable hook holds anywhere in the mouth. I have used heavy wire Kamasan models of this type in size 4 for years with great success. (I subsequently discovered another angler found the same positive results with hooks with these characteristics as was written in the spring 2007 B.C.S.G. magazine.
I always scrap off all the golden covering and soak hooks in water in advance. I’m sure this helps not just visually, but help the hook ‘blend’ in the water electrically better... (Covering the hook in paste is an accidental edge which is great for wary fish; most anglers coat the bait only.) Some Ashima hooks have virtually identical characteristics in a thinner wire but are much harder to sharpen and tend to be brittle.
Years ago, before lines like “Big Game” became fashionable I remember fishing using sea line as leaders. The logic was that if fish spooked off the slim 8 pound German line I was using at the time because they could feel it but not see it so well, then why not use a thick line they can see? The point is that no-one else was doing this on waters I fished, so the fish had no reason to fear a thick 60 pound line passing through the water! It really multiplied catches over-night too! I made sure the fish could see this line which was brown.
It was a method which worked well wherever I fished at that time in the late eighties. I went onto using heavy braid as leaders as I noticed that some thicker cheaper ones absorbed the silt of the bottom and ‘disappeared’ as it were. On clearer weedy lakes, using braid which was marked in browns, greens, and black to break up its appearance worked very well, when everyone else was using that horrible shocking white “Big Game” line, usually in 15 pound strength. A tight line was used with my very heavy monofilament leaders and a slack line approach with braid leaders.
Braid worked even better with shot pinched onto the line at 6 inch intervals for a distance of at least 8 feet from the rig. Fixed leads were used and 2 ounce leads were tied to a rig swivel using 2 pound line and round eyed bombs and Arlesey leads were used. Results noticeably improved using leads which were flattened with a hammer to make them grip the bottom better to secure a better hook hold. This was prior to the square leads becoming popular.
Often a spot in a swim is the only place that fish will feed and take a bait, but fish may not feed or spook out if lines are detected. Often changing the angle and direction your line enters the swim can make all the difference. Sometimes it even means using a float to get your line right out of the water a few feet from your rig. Even a stick with float rubbers to attach the line can be used. Sometimes free-lining with nothing but a hook on your line is very useful too. A very light running link ledger is an almost forgotten method in these days of so-called wonder ‘anti-eject, self-hooking’ rigs, but can produce extremely satisfying confident takes where heavy 4 or even 5 ounce leads are being used by carp as the pivot or fulcrum to rid themselves of hooks repeatedly every day!
Carp may or may not have long memories or attention spans but they can certainly learn fast. I’ve done well at long range using a 3 foot long ‘confidence rig’ on a light running lead with a short back-stop. The 6 or 8 inch standard rig is so often used by the average angler that it can becomes anti-productive, especially for the warier fish, especially where an angler is using a popular commercial boilie or pellet bait they have been hooked on previously. It so pays to be different and work at it.
I tried soaking my leads and tubing in attractors which helped results. I’m sure tubing has negative chemicals it gives off when first used, so why not do something to make it attractive instead. Tying flavour capsules full of attractors to your leads works too. I started doing this in the winter especially, but carried on doing it regardless of season. Using a large PVA bag of baits to gain distance when fishing very light leads works well too. The use of method mixes and floats to hold and deposit attractive ground bait which accurately feeds your bait from above is a very effective one but not just limited to fishing ‘zig-rig’ style either. How many anglers have tried fishing a sinking ground bait and a buoyant ground bait rising from below simultaneously with a buoyant paste hook bait?
As an aside, small PVA net stockings with micro pellets and crumbled baits soaked in oil based attractors are plastered all over the magazines and this now an old method on many pressured waters. But how many anglers tie up multiple bags and tie them 2 or 3 to the hook and lead? You can even do this with solid bags and exploit more buoyant ingredients like prawn and krill meal to produce a surface baiting effect as you bags rise in the water and melt so releasing their ground bait type contents in a more scattered way over your rig... (The possibilities and potential here are rarely used!)
Tubing often has the added benefit of protecting your line against snags and abrasive things like sharp gravel bars, mussels and any rough branches or any nasty surprises like metal snags in the water etc. Sometimes rope is what is really needed, so why not use it.
I saw an article recently where someone was using thick string or thin rope as a leader specifically because it was supple and absorbed the materials and sediments of the lake bed, so rendering the ‘line’ far less likely to be associated with a rig and danger by fish. Of course, soaking your ‘rope leader’ preferably in amino acid based additives, betaine and salt before casting, makes it sink immediately and actually helps draw fish to your hook bait. There are other very exciting options for hiding your line which involve line absorbing the materials on the bottom and doing this is extremely effective. See if you can think of some; you might want to keep them to yourself!
The author has many more fishing and bait ‘edges’ any of which can have a huge impact on your catches.
By Tim Richardson.