Crucians are one of my favourite species to target during the spring. For me their golden scales glistening in the sun, are hard to beat. Crucians have traditionally been known as a tentative feeder, and sensitive float fishing tactics at dawn and dusk have been the accepted textbook way to target this species.
I think that it would be fair to say that as specimen fishing has moved forward, tackle, techniques and rigs have become more refined. Yes, there is a big part in crucian fishing, watching a float with pin prick bubbles surfacing around a sensitively cocked float, pitting your wits against this supposed wily creature. Yet, sometimes these methods don’t suit the venue or style of fishing needed to catch big crucians. Imagine sitting by a lake all day waiting for that one all-important bite, the float disappears and a strike is met with thin air. Frustrating indeed!
When it comes to venues for catching a big true crucian, look no further than the Marsh Farm complex run by Godalming Angling Society. This ticket has been widely known for its massive crucian carp for a number of years now and many anglers have walked away with a big smile on their face after netting a personal best. Yes, other venues do exist but, for the sheer number of big crucians, it’s hard to beat.
As with all fishing, location is everything. Crucians will often tell you where to fish and will give away their presence at dawn and dusk by rolling in their favorite haunts. A few evenings spent at your chosen venue are never wasted. Look for any areas that have depth and features close to the margins, these will often be a winner.
If I cant find depth close in, I like to fish at range during the daytime. I find an acceptable range of 20-30 yards is about right. This makes baiting and accurate casting very comfortable. However, as soon as darkness descends I like to position a rod very close in, even in a foot or two or water. Crucians love the margins and as long as there is enough water to cover their back, depth almost becomes irrelevant. Ignore this advice at your peril! This can also be a great way to separate tench if they are causing problems of your carefully baited area. Tench are a lot more spooky feeding shallow water.
Hook baits and loose feeding
When it comes to hook baits look no further than small hookable or Imitation pellets. I base my feed around a fine groundbait mix consisting of Sonubaits F1 Dark and Supercrush Green mixed 50/50. This creates a lovely dark coloured mix. I add very little feed to this, just a sprinkling of 2mm S pellets. I like to rely heavily on the strong sweet fishmeal of this mix to attract crucians into the swim to feed.
My preferred hook bait are small hookable pellets such a Sonubaits 6mm S Pellets or small 6mm Imitation Pellets from Enterprise Tackle. These two baits have accounted for 95% of my crucians over the last two years. I always take a few change baits with me such as corn and small 10mm boilies as change baits, just in case.
Feeding is very important when crucian fishing, many anglers rely on a light baiting approach. I prefer the complete opposite with a more positive approach and feed heavily in a bid to attract the cucians to dine. Using a little feed but lots of attraction in my groundbait mix allows me to do this, and this approach throws what has been written in the crucian textbook completely out of the window. Due to the range I fish at, commonly 25-30 yards, I use a spod to introduce my groundbait. There is no doubt crucians are attracted to the sound of a spod hitting the water. Many times I have had received bites in shallow water whilst spodding directly over the top of a hookbait. Often when a swim goes quiet, a few spods of bait will see the action continue. Ring the dinner bell and the results will follow!
Time to tackle up
When it comes to rigs simplicity is the key, there is no need for complicated setups when crucian fishing. Although traditional float fishing tactics can score well, when circumstances determine I prefer a more 21st century approach. Small flatbed method feeders have revolutionised crucian carp fishing. Combined with a short hook length, this approach turns twitches and dips on a float fishing set up to more confident and hittable bites. Taking the self hooking aspect away, fishing the method also allows the angler to disguise the last few inches of the terminal tackle. The hook bait is also positioned in a tight pile of feed every cast. As with all feeder fishing accuracy is paramount. Stops knots used in conjunction with a line clip are paramount. The more accurate you are, the more bites you will get.
A reliable mainline able to deal with the stresses and strains of casting feeders regularly, not to mention handling tench and carp is paramount. 6lb Hydro Flo from Gardner Tackle is my favourite. This sinks well allowing me to do away with heavy tubing or flying backleads that some anglers favour. When it comes to feeders, I find a weight around 25-30grams ideal, there are many good designs on the market these days and most fit the bill perfectly. When it comes to hook length I prefer Gardner Target fluorocarbon in 5lb breaking strain. A short length of around three to four inches is ideal.
Whilst shooting this feature, I put the tactics and baits I have mentioned into practice. I bagged 15 crucians for the camera the best, just short of the magical four pound barrier, weighing 3lb 14oz. This just goes to show that refining your tactics and adopting a positive approach will often pay dividends.