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Much ado about carping

The truth of the matter is I am not really qualified to advise anyone on how to fish but I’m going to anyway.

Have you ever had that day when you sat there on the waters edge and tried everything you could but absolutely nothing was caught – not even a bite. To top it all off the guy next to you was landing the big ones one after the other. The next time it happens, and I hope it never does, try going over to the guy who’s nailing them and spend some time with him. Try to see what he is doing differently and I don’t mean what dip or flavour he is using, I mean try to see how he fishes. Over the years I’ve come to realize that the difference between someone who catches regularly and someone who hits a lot of blanks is something I like to call “finesse.” Don’t let the fancy word confuse you. It’s not something you can learn from book or even from this article but here are some finesse tricks you can incorporate into your fishing style.


Traces should be well made and the hook lines should always be of a lesser break strength than the main line. The lighter you make your hook line the more naturally your hook bait will behave in the water (remember that it needs to float around as if it isn’t attached to a line). I like to use 7 to 9 lb hook lines (brown for muddy waters and clear for clean waters). I am currently experimenting with braided lines for this as they are very limp but they only come in white and this is a dead give away. They do work though, but I can’t say for sure that they are better than traditional mono filament lines.

When the bom hits the water it travels some distance before it settles on the bottom. This is the best time to reel in all your slack that resulted from your cast (obviously a lot worst in windy conditions.) Reel in the slack as the bom hits the water and continue to reel till you feel the weight of the bom on the line. Then walk your rod to the stand with a free running ratchet taking care not to drag the bom on the surface. This is the biggest mistake a lot of fisherman make. When you reel in after the bom has settled on the bottom you are actually dragging the bom on the ground and thereby burying it in the mud or silt on the bottom of the dam. It takes a long time for the current, if there is one, to expose your bom so that it can finally start attracting any fish.

In my humble opinion there is no best bom. I think that the best way to choose a bom is to watch the conditions carefully. The new craze of particle distribution and boms that have more drifting parts is all well and good but only if there is little or no current. A strong current will wash away the bom all too quickly and the effect of creating a feeding area with repeated casts in the same zone will be lost. So in short a finer bom will work better in strong current situations (boms such as Blitz Bom) and on low current days a coarser bom will work better (Bom like Supercast and Springbok). Remember that one of the main ideas behind bom is to drop the ground feed in close proximity to each other, thereby bringing fish into your swim. PS : Rainy days are always high current days.

Dips & Sauces:
I am not a fan of Dips and Flavourings – natural is by far the best – Besides my concerns about the harmful unnatural chemicals used in these mixtures, I am adamant that when the fish are on the bite they will take any hook bait. If you have to use them, remember the more natural the scent the better. Avoid using harsh smelling things that obviously don’t belong in the water. And even the pros will tell you using less in better, don’t drown your bom in the dip.

Ground Bait holders:
Try to use as light a bait holder (spring) as possible so you can detect the smallest bite. In other words don’t make your bait too heavy for the fish to swim off with.

Chemically sharpened is the way to go. Daichi No.3’s and Mustad No.8 Skelms (known as Allround) are my favourites. The thing to remember is sharp so that the fish can hook themselves.

When the fish come on the bite, try not to leave your rods out of the water for too long (not longer than a few minutes). Trust me - the fish will leave your swim as quickly as they came into it.

Some more thoughts on Carp fishing…

Deep Lines:
The fish will eat where you feed. If you put the bait 300m offshore the fish will eat it there and if everyone casts from the bank the fish will come eat it closer to shore. So in effect the deep line canoe boys are spoiling the fishing for the other guys. The adage that the bigger fish are in deeper waters is not a proven fact and besides the South African and other record carps were caught in water that was about 5 meters deep. It’s more fun to cast and it’s more sporting.

Feeding Spots:
Don’t like them. If you have to use them make sure you use something natural or else you might end up chasing the fish away rather than attracting them. Also be sure to clean up and take you feeder out of the water when you are done. Pollution destroys future fishing fun. If you want to attract fish to your swim rather use small, free bait balls and biscuits (available in most carp specialty stores) that you can throw or shoot into the water with a Kettie. Your can even drop this type of free bait with a canoe or a remote controlled bait boat.

The Rig:
Use good, tried and tested equipment. The last thing you want is for your reel to breakdown on you when you hook the big one. You don’t have to use the most expensive stuff or the stuff which all the pros are using – they usually plug their sponsors because that’s where they get their stuff for free.

The best way to cast long is to use a thin main line - about a 7 to 10 lb (I like to use a 9 lb main line). The pros use 5 pound, but they are not always looking for big fish, in fact they get more points for catching small fish than for the bigger ones. Since the average weekend angler is looking for the big one you don’t want to loose the fish because of the line breaking. Besides the chances of pulling out a line that is stuck in some obstruction is greater with a stronger line. You will need to attach a leader line about twice the length of your rod to end of your main line. The leader line should be about 15 to 20 pound. The leader line will prevent snapping when you cast so you can put some effort into it. It also lessens the stinging on your index finger at release as the line is considerably thicker and does not cut as easily. Also remember to fill your spool so that the fly out happens more easily and with less resistance. The leader line should give you the freedom to really whip your cast and increase your distance but don’t forget about accuracy. Try to maintain the same line with every cast. Practice makes perfect.

A line is a line is a line. Here again the pros are promoting their sponsors. Whether you pay R150 for a 600m spool of line or R20.00, it will almost certainly have to be replaced at the beginning of each season. With modern technology the differences between manufacturers and there lines are very slight and almost negligible. One other thing to remember, when filling you reel spool, never try to fill your spool with 7lb line, always use a backing line. The best backing line is cotton parcel string (available in most stationery shops). Fill your spool with this string until you are left with about 2 to 5mm to the end of the spool, then attach you main line and fill the remainder of the spool. Ideally you want about 200m of line on your spool (no one casts that far). Besides saving money it will make a line change much, much easier.

For some reason the best time to catch Carp is early morning around sunrise and in the evening around Sunset. But there is no hard and fast rule here, because I’ve caught my biggest fish outside of these times. The frequency of a catch maybe higher in these times but you can catch Carp at just about anytime. Try to remain confident and enjoy yourself. Don’t be afraid to experiment with new ideas – repetition is the key. Remember all the above is only an opinion and could be construed as a whole load of hog wash but throwing some hog wash into the water might just work.

Tight lines and screaming ratchets….



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