Posted: 2nd Jul 2013
As promised this update is all about Rigs with the Pro's & Con's of Rig choice at the Fishery.This is not about "Teaching your gran how to suck eggs" but the information has been gathered from careful observation over the last 7 years of running the Fishery. My main worry with hookpulls is the mouth damage more than the reduced catch rate, or anglers potentially losing the fish of a lifetime. I think more damage is caused to the Carps mouth in this way more than anglers realise, because the hook on many occasions does not just "Ping" out, but more tears out. If a good soild hookhold is achieved in the centre of the bottom lip it is very difficult to remove the hook even when landed, with the telltale "pop" sound heard as pressure is applied to the hookeye to release the hook. This area is where we should be trying to hook the carp every time when fishing ledger tactics, excluding surface or float fishing where the upper mouth is the only area possible.
The strip of flesh that lies either side of the bottom lip (ie the corner of the mouth) is made up of just skin and some muscle, but no cartilage or bone is present. This area becomes repeatedly damaged until the area becomes a so called "Parrot Mouth". To elminate mouth damage completely is impossible on a commercial fishery, but we can go a long way to reducing the damage, & allowing the Carp time to rest over the closed season, helping the hook marks to heal again to their maximum potential.
Nearly all the fish that are lost over the course of a season are down to hook pulls, other loses can be reduced massively by just simple care over the week. I know it seems obvious but checking all knots, stripping a couple of rod lengths off the reel when the line is looking kinked after a few fish. Standing on the mainline while the rod is on the floor I have seen a few times, resulting in nicks in the main line from the gravel under foot, then causing the mainline to part on a "take"
The other issue is snags causing line parts but that's down to myself to keep these to a minimum for the anglers. Being "On The Rods" can reduce this issue too and we all know the safe limit to be away from the rods without myself forcing it down your throat, talking to your mate in the next Peg, etc we all do, but walking around the far bank or going to the toilet block, they should be reeled in or someone watching them.
All the above is just common sense which will reduce these issues to near zero.
Now with hookpulls, the test curve of the rods can be another issue if the side of the mouth area is where the fish has been hooked. So many anglers these days see that a 3-3.5TC rod as standard and with so few people even having the ability to compress a rod of that TC makes me wonder why they bought them. For myself fishing close to medium range a 2.75 TC rod is more than capable of punching a PVA bag out, or a 3.5 oz lead. In the right hands you can cast to the moon with a good blank of 2.75 TC, as well as feeling every lunge and turn of the fish under the tip, reduced hookpulls, and plenty of backbone in the lower section of the rod to deal with any Carp. Same again I know there are fashions and fads in angling like any sport, but if your considering buying a new set of rods just give some careful consideration to where you fish most, and what you want the rods to do. I have never used a 3.5 TC rod in my life and could not compress one if I tried, and that's fishing waters over 2000 acres and ranges of 220 yards+, so please give it some thought.
Anyway enough of me preaching and back to hookpulls. I have attached a picture of two rigs that will explain a little why so many hookpulls happened last week. I can only vouch for what happens here at the Sanctuary Fishery because a lot of anglers use hooks and rigs that I'm against to good effect, but the fish here do have soft mouths due to the clay based lake, and the shape of the Carp plays a role in their feeding behaviour.
The rig on the left was the style all the boys were using due to fishing elsewhere and having results. Tom lost 2 fish on the first night, followed by Steve pulling out of 3 fish one after the other early in the week, which got me thinking. Now you could say well that's just fishing, but with a few simple tweaks it was all turned around which is what I guess we would all like to aim for? The Rig on the left was made from a 20lb stiff link type nylon/fluorocarbon with a small piece of braid next to the hook end. This could also be acheived with any kind of coated braid, stripped back. The problem for me was with the rubber sleave over the quicklink at the end of the stiff boom, the movement was very minimal when the fish tries to suck the bait into it's mouth. Great for not tangling on the cast but that's about it. With the very soft, supple nylon on the right hand side of the picture, the range of movement for the rig when the fish are trying to draw the bait into their mouth is far higher. Also this can be achieved with braids and other supple hooklink type materials.
The next issue for me with the Rig on the left was the very small hair, and in some cases the bait was tight to the hookshank, this leaves no element of movement when the fish are sucking and blowing the bait in and out, so instead of the hook potentially staying in the mouth while the bait is ejected, more than likely the fish will blow the hookbait out with the hook following the bait right behind on the ejection. As a rough guide and I know this is all basic knowledge around 10mm+ is about right for the hair length between the boilie and the point where the hair meets the hookshank, as can be seen from the picture on the right. It amazes me how few anglers know this and getting the basics right is more important than an over complicated Rig than is being shown on the "So Called DVD's" that seem to be more about selling products than anything else these days.
When the Rig on the right is taken into the mouth as the fish tries to blow the Rig out of it's mouth there is a higher chance of the fine hair allowing the bait to freely move and be ejected over the top of the hook forcing the hookpoint down while the tubing brings it around the bottom lip.
For me this is one of the most important parts of any bottombait Rig and I would NEVER fish a standard bottom bait(excluding pop-ups and balanced baits) without a longish length of shrink tubing coming off the eye of the hook. I think more than the sucking and blowing action of carp feeding resulting in a "take" I think most Carp are hooked when the bait goes in the mouth and the Carp either moves away tightening the hooklink to the lead, or when they upright themselves to crunch the bait with their ferangeal teeth once the hookbait is in the mouth, this is when the hook moves along the base of the mouth, slowly been drawn out as the hooklink tightens, driving the hook point into the sweet spot in the centre of the bottom lip. I cannot stress how effective this is.
Last but not least is hook pattern, and one that has so many variables and personal preference. Once again I will only talk about the picture below to keep it as simple as possible. The curved type style hook that is available at the moment is not the old style long curved shank that is banned here. I have noticed more than any other style/shape of hook, this pattern causes lots of hookpulls here, maybe elsewhere they are effective, but I have seen far too many related issues to this pattern to be a coincidence. I'm not sure that the angle of the point to the eye, or the curve in the shank to be the issue, but it seems that once pressure is applied to the hook from the rod it seems it wants to turn the hook out on itself, or for want of a better word almost extracting/pinging the hook out after the point has gone in. I'm not 100% of the mechanics of why this happens, but rest assured it does. With a good quality wide gape style hook like the ESP Raptor, once the hook comes around the bottom lip with the aid of the tubing the slightly inturned hook point and wide gape, this wraps around the bottom lip & once the hook point goes in producing the take, when you lift the rod the increased pressure just drives the hook point futher home!! Also in sizes of 4,5,6 balanced out with the right hookbait seem to give a better hook hold too.
I know this blog is a little long winded, and with so many variables I cannot record everything related to this topic, but with the info above you WILL REDUCE hookpulls and hopefully land 100% of the takes you create while on the bank!!!
I hope this is of use wherever you fish, and more than anything else just a little thought, combined with a simple effective Rig, good water craft and baiting technique is the basis for most good anglers.
Be lucky and make every run count!!!
Over & Out