Cool water carp fishing can be challenging in comparison to other seasons. The fish are generally grouped up in numbers, meaning location becomes even more important in the early spring months. With very few shows or signs of fish, location can become difficult and this is where a mobile approach using very little bait can bring rewards.
Today I’m at Durleigh reservoir to demonstrate the effectiveness of keeping the rods active and finding the fish. Durleigh is an 80 acre venue that has a good stock of doubles and twenties. Being a large reservoir it has depths from two feet to over twenty feet, so location is essential to catching.
The plan is to use a selection of single hookbaits (pop-ups) that have been glugged and try and locate where the fish are held up. If I am lucky enough to catch then I will concentrate the rods in this area. I often add liquids or booster dips to my hookbaits to give them even more pulling power. Today I am using 12mm yellow pineapple juice pop-ups, which are soaked in Mainlines IB liquid. This added flavour gives the bait more attraction and for longer alongside it’s eye catching fluoro colour.
To sweet flavoured pop-ups, I like a sweetener called Betalin from Hinders. This super sweet additive has got to be one of the best carp attractors going. Whether I am using zigs or bottom baits, my hookbait will always be soaked in Betalin. It’s a fantastic additive and some of the biggest names in angling swear by it.
The approach to single hookbaits is key to the success of the approach. Arriving at the start of a session and casting out three singles and leaving them all day is not the most effective way to fish. I will often re-cast and change my hookbait every 30-40mins, searching out the fish in the process.
Today I have chosen to fish the middle area of the venue. The swim allows me to see 60% of the lake, while offering a huge expanse of water which gives me many options. I think people really find the mind-set of fishing a single bait difficult at times. If you have located the carp and they are not feeding heavily, I see little point in feeding lots of bait and cutting down the chance of a fish picking up the hookbait. Carp (as with many coarse fish species) in the winter are less active, so don’t give them kilo’s of boilies when you can offer them a small tasty treat which is a small pop-up.
The morning was uneventful, so I continued to search out the water in front of me. I soon began to receive liners on the middle rod that was positioned at range with a single 14mm Milky Toffee pop-up. Before long the alarm was away and after a short fight I slipped the net under a welcome double figure common. The rod was quickly positioned back to the same area and almost instantly I started to receive more liners. As the fish were obviously in the area, I quickly wound in one of my remaining rods and cast it towards the hot area. After around twenty minutes the middle rod was away again, this time resulting in a cracking upper double mirror.
Casting at range is very demanding on tackle, so it is important to make sure you fish safe with equipment that is up to the job. I use Century FMA 2 with a 3 1/2oz Gardner Distance lead. My favourite main line is 10lb Pro Light Blend from Gardner Tackle. When casting long distances a low diameter line is important to get the distance and should be used in combination with a shock leader to take the initial force of the cast.
There are many ways to present a single hook bait effectively from multi rigs, chod rig, hinged stiff rigs etc. All of which have caught thousands of carp. My favourite presentation is a simple lead clip arrangement incorporating a length of CamFlex leadcore, a Covert Lead Clip and Tail Rubber. If the fish are showing an extreme range then I will change to a helicopter style lead arrangement, which will help gain those extra valuable yards.
Recently I have been having great success using a combi-rig presentation using a stiff boom section called Trick Link and a short supple section tied with Trickster Heavy. The boom section is around 7-8 inches in length and joined to a very short section of supple braid. The hookbait is tied to a size 12 Covert Swivel, which sits on the shank on the hook sandwiched between two Covert Hook Stops. My favourite pattern of hook for this presentation is a Covert Continental Mugga. To finish the rig off I add a Covert Hook Aligner over the eye to enhance the aggressive angle of the hook. A large dollop of Critical Mass Putty covers the Albright knot (the knot used to join the stiff boom section and the supple section of braid) and acts as the weight to hold the pop-up to the lakebed. The pop-up sits less than two inches off the lake bed and is effective as a single bait presentation or over a bed of bait.
Once the fish had been located and all three rods where positioned in the area and the action continued throughout the day. Using single hookbaits is a great method and one that is very under used. Make sure you get out this winter and give it go, you won’t be disappointed.
How to tie Ricky’s single hook bait rig
Step 3 – Connect the Trick Link and the Trickster Heavy braid together using an Albright knot. You should be left with a 6 inch section of Trick Link and a section of braid of around 1/2 inch from the knot.
The Finished Rig – Take a large blob of Critical Mass Putty and neatly mould around the Albright knot making sure you still leave a half an inch of exposed braid. Now simply tie on your chosen pop-up.