Go With The Grain!

Fishery rules. We all have to abide by them, and sometimes that means that we have to adapt if they include certain bans on baits and tactics. For example, the Garbolino Winter Festival held at White Acres in Cornwall at the back end of each year is float only, and natural baits only, which means the tip rods and pellets stay at home.

It’s a similar scenario at Viaduct Fishery in Somerset, where between November and March there is a ban on the use of pellets and you cannot use any type/style of Method feeder, so to target the carp and skimmers beyond the pole line it’s either bomb/feeder or waggler.

It’s a fair bet to assume that the majority of anglers would go for the tip option, but they could be missing a trick, and to explain more about how fishing the waggler can give you an advantage we joined Maver’s Callum Dicks for a session on a windswept Campbell Lake.
“Don’t get the wrong idea that you cannot catch well on the tip,” Callum commented, as he started to set up on the lake’s Peg 131. “You will, but the waggler gives a different bait presentation, especially when the water isn’t coloured, and a much better bite indication when you are targeting skimmers as well as carp.

“Often the carp feed later in a match, so the chance of putting 20lb of skimmers in the net early on can make a big difference to your final weight.”

Two of the more popular hook baits for the waggler at the venue are corn and bread, but the conditions that greeted Callum – winds gusting to 40mph – meant that he would concentrate on fishing corn. “This wind has been blowing all night, so I expect there to be a bit of tow on the water, which would make fishing the bread ‘dead still’ impossible. Corn is the better option today as I’m looking for skimmers on the deck, as well as carp.”

Callum’s setup for the session is all about strength, as the carp in Campbell are all in excess of 6lb-plus, so it was no surprise that he had 0.17mm reel line loaded on his reel. However, there was also a little bit of finesse as he would be fishing with a 13ft waggler rod, not one of the commercial-type tools that you would normally associate when targeting carp.
“If you look at the setup I’m fishing, you will see that it’s tailored so that I can see the delicate bites from the skimmers. If I struck with a meaty pellet-waggler rod, I would most likely pull the hook out, so the cushioning effect of the rod top stops that. Also, you get a much faster line pickup on the strike with a 13ft rod, and it’s so much easier to cast lighter floats.”

The setup Callum referred to consisted of a 5g Maver Finesse insert loaded waggler, which was trapped on the line with line stops for easy depth adjustment. Down the line, he had three No8 droppers spread out above the hook link. The hooklength, which was attached to a small swivel, was 12 inches of 0.16mm Maver MV-R hooklength mono with a size 16 Maver MV-R Power Carp hook. “A 5g float might seem a little heavy, but it enables me to punch the rig out to the line clip so that everything straightens out, which in turn allows me to quickly sink the line before the wind can affect it.

“On the subject of which float to use, and this is my preference, the one I’m using today has a hollow insert that allows the light to penetrate, which in turn makes it highly visible at distance when it’s dotted down in the water. It’s a loaded waggler, which makes it easy to cast even in this strong wind, but the loading is adjustable. There are a number of brass washers that you can remove if you want the bristle to sit higher in the water. It’s also very buoyant, so it allows you to fish a bait overdepth with the tow, without the float getting pulled under as it drags along the deck. The buoyancy also helps to establish tension between the float and hook bait, so that you will see the shyest of bites.”

With the plan to fish on the bottom, Callum had to ensure that his rig was set to fish dead depth, so it was essential that he plumbed up his waggler setup accurately. To do this he had a second, identical float that he had removed the brass washers from.

“By removing some of the weight the float sits up in the water, so that the loading doesn’t govern how it sits it the water. This allows me to adjust the depth using the plummet to get an accurate setting. Once I’m happy, I’ll mark the depth on my rod and switch back to a fully loaded float.

“With the added No8s the bristle will sit with around half a centimetre showing above the water, which is fine with the breeze on the water today. If it was flat calm, then I’d add another washer to the loading, so just a blip of bristle showed.”

To ensure that he had the depth spot on, Callum had clipped up to ensure he hit the same mark every time, and after a number of adjustments he had his depth and was ready to kick off the session. “Before I start I’m going to fire out around 15 grains to put something visual falling through the water. Hopefully, if there are any carp around they will see them and I might get an early bonus. Once it settles, the corn will get the skimmers’ attention. Well, that’s the theory.

“Because I’m looking for skimmers as well as carp, I’m hooking my bait directly on the hook. It if was carp only, then I would hair rig the hook bait. Another advantage with corn is it is heavy, so it will sink nicely and its weight helps to keep it down and less affected by the tow, unlike maggots.”

Soon after the first cast it became clear that there was a heavy right-to-left pull on the water, and so to try and ‘lock down’ the bait Callum reset his depth to fish six inches over. It was then a case of waiting for the bites to come. “It’s no different whether you fish a tip or a float, you always have to try and make something happen, especially during the early stages of a match, when bites might be at a premium. I’m recasting every three minutes or so and pinging a few grains over the top, just to keep something falling through the water. Once the fish turn up, I’ll back off the amount I feed.”