Off The Top with Tony Welch

Off The Top with Tony Welch

I can count on one hand the amount of times I go fishing for carp off the top in a season. Here in the south west opportunities are limited for larger fish due to the size of most of the reservoirs where they live. Trying to surface fish for a handful of carp that live in twenty feet of water on 65 acres, with only a few hours at my disposal would be a tad challenging to say the least!

With the larger carp safely tucked away on the big lakes or in shallow reserves where opportunities would exist I have to aim at smaller carp on the smaller private ponds dotted around the area. I’m not looking to smash any PB’s when fishing in this way, I’m looking to create a situation, get a bend in the rod and have some fun for an hour or two then head home with a smile on my face!

In the south west opportunities are limited for larger fish due to the size of most of the reservoirs where they live.

I like to use a short nine foot purpose built surface/stalking rod and a small reel. This is lightweight and easy to hold as well as being easy to get into tight swims where a 12 foot rod could be awkward. My mainline is 10lb Hydro Tuff, it’s smooth as silk and tough as old boots without looking like tow rope going across the top. At the end of the Hydro Tuff I tie a large figure of eight loop knot and onto the loop I slide on a small Flatliner. The Flatliner adds weight for casting and resistance to help hook a carp taking the hook bait. This is followed by a Covert Buffer Bead and lastly a size 12 Covert Swivel, which is attached loop to loop style. The hooklink is then attached loop to loop style to the other end of the swivel. The eye of the swivel this end is covered with a Covert Anti-Tangle Sleeve. The anti-tangle sleeve keeps things neat and prevents the hook link tangling up with the Flatliner. My favourite hook link material is 8lb Zig Link, approximately 3-4 feet in length and my hook of choice is a size 12 Mugga. The Mugga hook is the biggest edge I can offer you when floater and indeed zig fishing. The Mugga really does turn bites into fish on the bank! I use a bog standard knotless knot with the bait kept tight to the hook.

Gardner Latex Bait Bands are perfect for holding a dog biscuit to the back of the hook.” alt=”Gardner Latex Bait Bands are perfect for holding a dog biscuit to the back of the hook.” width=”776″ height=”683″ class=”aligncenter size-full wp-image-11586″ />

My hookbait would usually be a pop up boilie because of the buoyancy, the robustness, the visual attributes and the attractiveness they possess. However, on some occasions the fish are finicky and shy away from a pop up. In this instance I cut the hair off the hook and attach a Gardner Latex Bait Band. These are perfect for holding a dog biscuit to the back of the hook. Changing hook baits is quick and easy taking away the need of attempting to mount a biscuit on a hair. Believe me, I used to do this and I’d split biscuits for fun and also insert baiting needles in my finger with regularity! I’m sure lots of you can relate to this! In short, buy some Gardner Latex Bait Bands and make life easy! Changing to a dog biscuit as a hook bait will usually trick the fish and start bringing bites, it all depends on how ravenous the fish are on the day.

A Flatliner adds weight for casting and resistance to help hook a carp taking the hook bait.

I always give my bait a dose of liquid to ramp up the attraction and also to give a major edge. Using oils on your bait will create a slick on the surface flattening it off. I am then able to see the fish taking the biscuits and most importantly the hook bait. I use Mainline liquids including Hemp Oil, in my opinion the best all round oil on the market. The carp absolutely love it, whether it’s summer or winter! Depending on the light conditions I normally start with a pink Clockwork Orange or a dark brown Aromatic Fish pop up boilie as hook bait and see what happens from there.

The Gardner dedicated surface tackle is perfect for the job. It makes life easy and is as reliable as it comes. Adding Mainline liquids certainly gets the fish going far more quickly and I’ve found it keeps them interested and feeding in the area for longer.

Give these tips a go next time you go surface fishing and you will be giving yourself the best chance of success.
I'm looking to create a situation, get a bend in the rod and have some fun for an hour or two then head home with a smile on my face!

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