News

Svartzonker Competition

We are pleased to announce that the winner of the beautiful Svartzonker selection is Conor Lowry

Conor - Please contact us at info@thelurebox.co.uk to claim your prize :)

To thank you all for the continued support to our growing business we will be sending out a discount code to everyone that liked, commented or shared our page. 

Sign up now to receive your discount code within 24 hours. 

www.thelurebox.co.uk/account/register

Thanks again,

The Lure Box Team :)

The science behind the attractant! 

A lot has been written recently in regard to “fish attractants” or otherwise known as “fish scents” and their effectiveness in UK lure fishing.

With the emergence of the dropshot rig, vertical jigging and the neko rig to the UK lure fishing scene, we are using a slower retrieve and even a static approach to presenting lures to our quarry. This leaves us the perfect opportunity to apply a scent and effectively “chum the water” to entice the predator to strike our lures.

Being an inquisitive/scientific style of fisherman, I am not happy with just knowing that scents work and following the crowds in regards to the best product and manufacturers. Therefore, the search commenced for a tried and tested product that could deliver the claims of the marketing jargon.

Having searched through endless bass forums, European predator blogs and Youtube videos, the only product that could deliver the critical requirement of “tried and tested” was Megastrike inc. After a couple of quick emails, I had the name, number and telephone appointment booked with Bobby Uhrig the president of Megastrike Inc.

Here is an email I received from Bobby himself:

After almost 25 years of Research and Development Megastrike Inc. has performed many tests of what fish like to eat and what they don’t like to eat. What stimulates their sensory organs and what does not... Separating fact from fallacy, truth from fiction and working with a great team, we believe that we have a formula that not only stimulates fishes feeding stimuli but also their visual sense as well.

There are many so called “Fish Attractants “ on the market today that claim to be the magic concoction that will put more fish on the end of your line than ever before. Most of them are oil based, which if that is the case basically go undetected by the fishes olfactory senses as well as their chemoreception. Oil molecules tend to bind unless you can break them down on a molecular basis. We know how to do that as well. Oil and water do not mix. The oil  molecules are lighter than water ,therefore separate and float to the surface not being anywhere near the lure or bait once it hits the water. Oils will rapidly disperse off of baits especially if you are applying it to an already wet lure. 

This is what we believe happened in the early non technological era of “fish attractants”. Little did anyone really know about the negative scents that can contaminate baits being handled by humans as well as any other contamination elements that the lures touch in any given environment-while travelling –storage etc.  These negative flavours ,odours or acids such as L-Serine- are detected by the fish and even if the fish strikes a lure by a visual or reactional stimulation ,it will often be expelled by the fishes natural defensive system queuing it that the item it attacked is not real food or has any food value to it. It swims away looking for its next meal.  If a bait is attacked so many times with a similar profile and is rejected so many times, the fish will become what is known as “conditioned” to not strike that profile any longer. Again because it doesn't get rewarded with a food/meal response. So fishermen came up with flavour or scent enhancers that they believe would “trick “ the fish into believing that whatever they are eating is real. Probably every known flavour was tried and used to “trick” the fish into striking or “attracting “ fish to the anglers baits. Anise oil/fruit flavours, dead worms ,dead minnows-everything imaginable .Little did they know that rancid /decaying matter repulsed the fish more than attracting them. As for predatory fish-vegetation based attractants had no value to the fished receptors at all. Most don’t even get received because they are not in the  fishes receptor profiles.

We believe that the oil based “attractants” actually clog the receptors not allowing any taste to be acknowledged by the fish so it will retain the bait for a while until its expelled. Anglers applied the magic formulas to their baits-The visual stimulation caused the fish to attack the bait. The angler  was lucky enough to have the fish hold on or retain the bait long enough to get a hookset and caught the fish. The angler gave all of the credit to the magic potion that helped him catch the fish and the rest was history-Word spread throughout the fishing community that this magic potion will help you catch more fish. Little did they know it had nothing to do with catching the fish except blocking the negative scents or odours. THUS the term “cover up scent “ was born.

Predatory fish attack baits by profile and action. Fish are first and foremost  visual feeders rather than odour or taste feeders.   If it looks like a baitfish swims or acts like a bait fish –IT MUST BE A BAIT FISH CORRECT- yes until the gustation or taste factors come in to play- If it tastes good they eat it if not-expelled. . Scavenger fish such as catfish are odour and taste feeders. Their highly acute  receptors are all over their faces and bodies. Totally different creature than predatory gamefish anglers mostly seek.

What we do here at Megastrike is break down what the fish eat in their daily diets, utilize what they need for producing skin cells ,blood cells, building body mass and muscle, basically the foods, proteins and amino's the fish need as their life yielding provisions. Predatory fish basically eat smaller fish...it's just mother nature’s rule of the food chain. They also eat insects and crustaceans along with other creatures both from land and water. So what we can do is chemically stimulate their searching and feeding responses or modes and heighten their senses to hunt for food. One of the misconceptions of so called “fish attractants” is that they can call fish in from great distances to search or attack  just because the angler applied one to his bait. There are so many variables involved that this really cannot happen. First variable is dispersion rates – the faster the attractants disperse from the lure the faster they are exhausted and have to be reapplied. The lures are usually moving much too fast as well as covering large distances to even be found by the fish. By the time the fish acknowledge the attractant – the lure is nowhere to be found. Slower dispersion rates do not or cannot cover a large area so a visual cue is more in order. Megastrike uses a base, then adds the chemicals to that base (basically micro encapsulating them) that once they contact water-the dispersion rate starts, very much like a time released program. Not too fast and not too slow of a dispersion rate. So Megastrike is not a fast acting “chumming attractant’ but more productive in close proximity. Once we stimulate them visually with a lure, (also enhanced in Megastrike is a UV ADDITIVE  to assist in low light situations) we chemically stimulate with water soluble additives to entice strikes. We also researched natural flavours and incorporated them so that once the fish strike the bait, the receptors recognize them as real food. Retaining the bait is also key. You want the fish to hold on to the bait as long as possible, many times they swallow the baits with Megastrike applied.

Another misconception is that fish attractants need to have a very pungent odour in order to work. This couldn't be further from the truth. While testing different flavours and fragrances/essences over the years we have found that pungent foul smelling odours didn't attract fish at all. Most fisheries biologist agree that these foul smelling ‘attractants' have no bearing on the effectiveness of the attracting qualities of the formula. It is a confidence booster for the fishermen thinking that the stronger it smells, the better and more potent the attractant is. In fact most say that these airborne molecules go undetected by the fish. Certain molecules are not of the fishes world and cannot be comprehended by the fishes chemo and olfactory senses. The fish, through millions of years of evolution, are highly specialized in recognizing familiar flavours and smells. Rancid or decaying matter (earthworms and baitfish) have been tested by us and is quickly shunned, being repulsive to the predatory fish. The predatory fish liked the fresh live food and occasionally ate fresh cut bait. I believe that happened because of chemical stimulation being released from the fish and other foods tested. ANYTHING that started to decay went untouched.

We have a product that works. Many anglers swear by the products and I have done demonstrations all over using baits with Megastrike applied and Megastrike not applied. We have all seen the improvements in retention time. Fish taking baits with Megastrike applied while not interested in them without an application. What I will say is most of the testing has been done in the wild. I believe tank fish become accustomed and conditioned to different ‘controls'. I have also had the honour of working with one of the worlds most renowned underwater photographers for over 22 years.. You can learn more under water in a natural environment in a day than a year above the water. What I have learned as well; THERE ARE NO ABSOLUTES  working with live animals/fish, we need to appreciate, they are products of their environment and through millions of years of evolution, are conditioned to to what they do for a reason. If we can use science to enhance and entice more strikes, producing more caught fish, we can do it. Remember the worst thing we can do as human beings and fishermen is CLOSE OUR MINDS.

Learning to cast a baitcaster

A great article from Wired 2 fish on learning to cast a baitcaster:

Baitcasters continue to get better and better. But the fact remains you can get a professional overrun, a.k.a. a backlash or birds nests on any cast if you don't have the brakes and spool tension adjusted exactly right for the conditions. The more advanced reels have tension control, centrifugal brakes, pinch brakes and magnetic brakes. ...

Baitcasters continue to get better and better. But the fact remains you can get a professional overrun, a.k.a. a backlash or birds nests on any cast if you don't have the brakes and spool tension adjusted exactly right for the conditions. The more advanced reels have tension control, centrifugal brakes, pinch brakes and magnetic brakes. Which if applied together with the magic formula, that super-secret granddaddy recipe, they will improve your casting dramatically.

And no matter what anyone says, most good pros cast further because they don't use any of these precautionary adjustments. Instead, they learn to control with their thumbs better than most, with the brakes off and the tension knob loose.

When I first learned to throw a baitcaster, it was an act of frustration. Either I couldn't cast if far enough, or I cast as far as it would go before a web of overspun monofilament clogged the reel. If you're about to learn to cast a baitcaster or you want to improve specific casts like skipping baits with a baitcaster, there is a way to minimize the frustration during the process.


All you need to do is reduce the amount of overrun. This is easily accomplished with electrical tape and a pair of scissors. Usually about 3 to 4 inches of electrical tape will work. Cut a nice straight piece of tape with the scissors.

Now with the rod and reel in hand in your practice area. Make your longest cast with a practice plug or old lure without hooks. Now pull out another 10 feet or so of line. Then take the piece of tape, and while pushing the end of the line coming off the spool to one side of the spool or the other, place the tape on the line as you turn the spool.


The object is to wrap the tape onto the line in the same direction that it will reel your line up. This will take a little practice to get it right. But once you have the tape properly placed, press it onto your line snugly with your thumb. Then reel up all the line.

The reason a bird's nest is so hard to get out is because it spins line off the spool so deep in a very small space. With the tape, the bird's nest isn't able to go deep into the spool.

Now you're ready to learn to cast your baitcaster like a pro. The thing to remember is that your thumb can work better than any brake system out there because your brain is attached to it. Most braking systems employ centrifugal, pinch, magnetic or some combination of the three.

The pinch and centrifugal brakes function similarly in that the maximum speed on a normal cast is the instant the lure leaves the rod tip. So the centrifugal force is at its greatest and centrifugal brakes spin out to the edge of the spool to keep control of the line as it starts out of the reel. As less centrifugal force is applied as the cast continues the brakes apply less pressure.

Magnetic brakes control the spool speed evenly so as the speed of the lure to the target slows the spool slows down because the lure is applying less force on the spool as the lure slows down.

Now if you turn all of these things off, the spool will spin much faster than the lure is traveling after the initial instant the cast begins. The spool is launched into gear at a rapid pace with nothing to slow it even though the lure is slowing down the entire length of the cast because of gravity and other factors (wind resistance, water resistance while skipping, etc.).

The only thing to keep the spool in check with the lure's decreasing speed is your thumb. So your thumb pressure needs to be applied with the understanding the cast is at maximum force at the beginning of the cast and it minimizes throughout the cast.

This means you need sharp pressure as you start the cast or your reel will instantly over wind its spool. As the lure continues, you back off the pressure with your thumb and feather the line out before stopping it just as it enters the water.

Most pros never let their thumb completely off the line as it unspools on a cast. That's asking for trouble. It's also not something you'll master in 10 casts. But by using the tape, you can quickly pick out a short overrun and make another cast. It takes a lot of the frustration out of learning to cast a baitcaster or mastering more difficult casts like shooting jigs under docks, roll casts to precise targets.


Start slow. Make a short cast under control. Then try to do it again but 5 feet farther. At the end you should be slinging as hard as you can to get that additional 10 feet on your cast before it hits the tape.

One note, I don't recommend this for actually fishing unless you're going to be doing short pitches all day and you have someone who maybe isn't as skilled with a bait caster. That way they can flip and pitch with you all day without backlashes.

The problem anglers will encounter is if you get bit at the end of a cast and the fish pulls drag and takes off, the tape is going to come into play. So just keep that in mind. Also electrical tape gets sticky and gooey in heat, so it can put a residue on your line over time.

But it's a dynamite way to practice your casting without picking backlashes and destroying your line. Once you train yourself on how the line should feel on your thumb throughout each cast, it will soon become second nature. It will also make buying reels easier because all the adjustments seem to be a little different from one maker to the next. When you take the adjustments out of the equation, you can cast far with any good quality reel.

 

Tie Your Own Bauer Pike Rigs

We are pleased to announce that The Lure Box are now stock all of the components of the Bauer Pike Rig that Niklaus uses himself for trying the standard and wiggle tail rigs. 

Check out the "tutorial video" at the bottom of the page. 

Main Hook - Partridge Predator 

 

Stinger Hook - Partridge Intruder

Rattle - Bauer Power Rattles

Titanium Wire - Bauer Pike Wire 

Snaps For Tails - Fly Dressing Snaps For Tails 

Snaps For Hooks - Fly Dressing Snaps For Hooks

Beads - Camo Glass Beads

Wiggle Tails - Bauer Wiggle Tails

 

 

 

Eastfield Wingman Curly Tail Competition!

We are pleased to announce that the winner of the beautiful Eastfield Wingman Curly Tail selection is Graham Barker. 

Graham - Please contact us at info@thelurebox.co.uk to claim your prize :)

To thank you all for the continued support to our growing business we will be sending out a discount code to everyone that liked, commented or shared our page. 

Sign up now to receive your discount code within 24 hours. 

www.thelurebox.co.uk/account/register

Thanks again,

The Lure Box Team :)

 

Haliford Mere Open Day - The Lure Box 14th May 2016

Join The Lure Box and friends on the 14th May at the wonderfully picturesque Halliford Mere fishery in leafy Surrey. With 4 well managed lakes covering 35 acres holding a good head of fish, you can expect to catch pike (up to 30lb) and perch on lures and fly as well as some hard fighting rainbow, brown and blue trout on fly.

We are delighted to announce that professional guide and angling consultant, Gary Palmer will be joining us to help our guests with all things lure fishing related and demonstrate how 'the pro's' do it. Find Gary at: www.river-guide.co.uk
For those interested in trying their hand at, or improving their technique in fly fishing, we are very excited to have professionally qualified fly fishing coach/instructor and environmental expert, Terry Gould present. Find Terry at: http://adiposegameangling.co.uk/ 
Terry and Gary have... many years experience (sorry chaps!) between them that they are going to be sharing with you by way of casting lessons to groups of 3 at a time, demonstrations and invaluable tips, pointers and advice.
 
At The Lure Box we are not only passionate about predator fishing, but the fish we catch and the environment in which they exist. As a result, we believe if we are going to be helping people enjoy our wonderful sport and catch more fish, we are obliged to help them do it in a responsible and sustainable manner. We believed it was very important that our VIP guest instructors shared this passion and in Gary and Terry we have found the perfect ambassadors for allowed stand for at TLB.
 
The day will start at 9am with a bacon and/or sausage roll on the bbq, followed by some expert tuition from our pro's, with a chance for guests to try out some top quality rods, reels and gear and hopefully catch some top quality fish. Lunch will be burgers on the bbq, followed by a brief talk by Terry Gould. With stomachs and minds fed, we will have a small, friendly competition in the afternoon, giving you a chance to put your newly acquired knowledge and skills to the test. We will have prize giving at 4pm, where the winners will receive some wonderful goodies from our sponsors and none of you will leave empty handed!
 
Alcohol will be served at the excellent, fully licenced restaurant on site from 12pm, with fine dining available from 6pm should any wish to stay on and enjoy some of the great food and service that Halliford has become renowned for: http://www.hallifordmere.co.uk/dining.asp
 
It would normally cost you £25 just to fish this exclusive Surrey fishery for the day, but for one day only, you will receive all of the above for just £20. To book your place, please email: Barry@thelurebox.co.uk, or like our Facebook page and message us: https://m.facebook.com/thelurebox.co.uk/?ref=bookmarks. We will send you payment details and any other information you may require.
 
We look forward to welcoming you to one of our favourite fisheries and meeting some of our favourite customers and supporters.
The Lure Box team

Vertical Jigging for Zander in reservoirs - Matt Boast

We have all been there, sat at home on the computer checking wind speed gust strength praying that the fishery staff will let us out. Opportunities have been so scarce this year with the diabolical weather conditions it has taught me that every second counts when you’re eventually afloat. In this article I will be sharing the preparation and tactics I employ on my hunt for big zander on our day ticket reservoirs.

Vertical jigging for zander.

 

Since we spend much time thinking about our next trip, I like to use this time positively, doing all the small tasks that take only a few minutes on the day but can add up to half an hour or so when you look at them as a whole and that half hour at the end of the day in what I refer to as 'the witching hour' is ‘zander gold time’. I always take three rods to cover the following methods/tactics:

Vertical jigging – I prefer a baitcaster combo for this particular method, as it allows me to control the sink rate of my bait and most importantly sit comfortably in my hand for hours on end not having to change my grip to get comfortable and end up missing that one bite. It is essential that the reel is loaded with braid of a low diameter; this reduces the drag on the braid providing a more direct line of contact to the lure. I attach the lure to a short length of fluorocarbon via a snap link the snap link, which allows the changing of lures quickly and easily… even with cold hands. Fishing this method when drifting I will release the spool gently thumbing the braid controlling the descent of the lure. Once it hits the bottom I turn the handle to engage the spool, at this point I will make a mental reference between my rod tip and water surface knowing my lure is hard on the bottom. I find most success is achieved through imparting subtle movement into the soft plastic lure with very short movements upwards and then controlled lowering of the rod tip until the bottom is felt, which should be around that mental point of reference. 

Drop shot - I use a fixed spool for this set up, again spooled with fine braid to minimise drag or bowing of the braid that reduces contact with the lure. I combine it with a tubular tipped rod, and a fluorocarbon leader connected to the hook via a Palomar knot. For all of my drop shotting I favour the VMC 7119 super light drop shot hook, the drop shot weight is as always tied/clipped to the tag end of the knot. I prefer to mount the bait onto the hook as opposed to lip or nose hooking the bait. I always use a stinger, as on some of the venues I fish, you are fishing for just one bite! This rig can either be fished close to the boat or casting to the side if you can see structure on your fish finder.

Dead Rod - This is an identical set up to that of the vertical one, with the only difference being the way it is fished; ‘static’. It is best presented directly under the boat so you can clearly see your jig in the cone of your transducer, the lure can be produced close to the bottom or mid water. I started experimenting with this under the guidance of my long term mentor Andy Lush and it never ceases to amaze me how devastating this method is and the amount of interest it attracts. Looking on the finder screen, shapes detach from the bottom contours and rise to inspect the jig, sometimes instantly returning to the bottom but sometimes tracking for minuets at a time just watching the lure, which can be real heart in mouth stuff! I always have my dead rod to hand when on the drift as it can also come in handy if you see a mid water fish that you can target, commonly referred to as ‘pelagic’.

Lures - this obviously comes down to personal preference, but importantly down to zander preference, taking into account how actively they are feeding. When very active, larger lures with plenty of action work best. When not actively feeding (which is the majority of the time) then subtle lures with little action are best. I have not found colour to be important, but have most success on natural colours, probably due to the fact I favour this colour based on personal experience. Two things I always ensure are: My lures are rigged with stingers ideally pre rigged using a carp type stringer needle to draw the connecting braid or mono through the bait to stop it tangling during the jigging. This is one of those things to do during telly time! The second thing is bait rub I won't go afloat without my scent attractant and regularly reapply between drifts.

Other essentials are: A comfortable boat seat - I use a fly fishing type telescopic bench with a leather swivel seat. This ensures I am sitting parallel to my rod and my spine is not twisting for long periods afloat, which can cause damage and pain to your back. My seat has a channel type tray to the front which accommodates the baits I have selected for the day.

Fish finder - Well that’s a piece for another article…However one of the most important tools is a good transducer mounting. If you have your own boat and are lucky enough to have it permanently mounted, it is not an issue, but on the hire boats you need to mount your transducer in the most secure way possible to give you the best possible reading. It's no good if the finder’s getting pulled at a right angle as you motor to a new drift. I have used many variants, but hands down, my current model is by far my favourite. It is quick to install, sturdy and manoeuvrable even at full speed. Based on a Minn Kota electric engine shaft it has a double screw clamp wide enough to accommodate all gunnels, the composite shaft has a neat block on the end to which you can easily attach a skimmer and structure scan transducer mounted securely at right-angles. Relatively new to the UK these can be hard to obtain, but I got mine from The Lure Box.

Dropshotting for perch on reservoirs - Vidar Thomassen

UK reservoirs can be daunting places if you never fished them before. Even for a fairly experienced angler it isn't always obvious where to start if you are after some of the stunning perch that inhabit these places.

Grafham Reservoir Perch

So where do you start? Well, besides obvious areas containing man-made structures such as causeways, aerator towers, moored boats and jetties you are better off trying to find some underwater features or baitfish shoals. Now, finding these features and/or baitfish shoals on reservoirs that are generally between 20 and 50 feet deep, sometimes more, are virtually impossible without a half descent fish finder, and I would thoroughly recommend anyone who plans to fish these venues to invest in one. Currently, I run a rather high tech Lowrance HDS9 Touch Gen2 unit with standard 2D plus structure and side scan, but that certainly isn’t a requirement for effective reservoir fishing and there are some very good Lowrance units that can be had for a good deal less money. However, if you can stretch to a unit with built-in GPS and mapping function you give yourself a major advantage as you can easily find your way back to a productive spot after the boat’s drift has taken you past it.

Traditionally, based on overseas influences, Stillwater dropshot fishing has been in and around structure or weed lines but contrary to what seems to be popular belief I have at times found it staggeringly efficient to cast and retrieve a dropshot rig, or simply just drag it along the bottom whilst drifting in open water. The techniques ability to keep the lure close to the bottom for virtually the length of your retrieve allows for more water to be covered efficiently, and keeps your lure in the strike zone for longer, generally equates to more fish landed.

After you have decided what area to fish my dropshot cast & retrieve technique really is simplicity itself, you cast you rig out allow it to hit the bottom before you retrieve it slowly whilst ensuring the weight keeps in contact with the bottom. If the perch are feeding the hits are normally very positive indeed and you lose very few fish with this technique.   

Whatever reservoir dropshot technique I choose on the day my favoured weights are normally 7 or 10 grams depending on fishing depth. However, on those days when the wind is stronger and you’re drifting there are occasions when in order to hold bottom 15-20 gram weights are more appropriate.

In order to fish efficiently low line diameter is absolutely crucial and my current favourite is YGK Upgrade PE 0.6, combined with an 8Ib Sunline FC Sniper Fluorocarbon leader connected to the mainline via a back-to-back Uni-knots or a FG knot. Depending on the length and body size/fatness of my chosen lure I tie to my leader a no 2 or 4 quality dropshot hook.

I always use always attractants such Mega Strike or Trigger X on my lures. Now, I can’t say for certain that it attracts fish per say, but what I firmly do believe is that it hides some of the oily 'plasticy smells' that many lures have straight out of the packet, which can only be a good thing.   

Dropshotting in its nature is a very snag proof technique but in order to minimise any downtime I always carry ready tied rigs, with both hook size 2 and 4, in zip lock bags allowing me to be back fishing in less than a minute after any break off. Remember, if you don’t have a lure in the water you are not going to catch a fish.   

Although immensely efficient year round, dropshotting via standard method, casting or drifting really comes into its own when the water temperature is low, and I’ve experienced numerous occasions where it was the only way to get a bite. In the end though I can only recommended you to get out there and try it, practice makes “perfect” and you might well be surprised by what you catch.

An immaculate Pitsford perch caught end of May last year casting and retrieving a dropshot rig.

Pitsford reservoir perch

 

A Grafham perch from last autumn caught during a red-letter day that included five additional specimens over 3Ib plus a great number of high two’s, every single one on dropshot.

Grafham reservoir perch

 

My current favourite reservoir dropshot lures and from left to right you find Fish Arrow Flash-J split-tail 4 and 3”, Fish Arrow Flash-J Huddle 3”, Jackall Pin-tail 4”, Jackall Crosstail 3”, Keitech Live Impact 4”, Westin Mega Teez 3.5” and finally Jackall Flick Shake worm 4,8”

Stepping out of your comfort zone!

Stepping out of your comfort zone!

Having fished a local river for 7 years or so, I 'learned' something recently that quite frankly, I already knew...summer and winter fishing are markedly different. 

The particular river has a decent head of pike, perch and chub, as well as a number of course fish I never bother with, but it can be very challenging lure fishing at times. In spring and autumn particularly, one can go out and expect to catch a couple of perch, the odd pike and a chub or 2 in a good session, but the majority of times, I am just fishing for an hour or so after work, or before the family wakes up on the weekend and it all goes pear shaped and if I get A fish I'm happy. In contrast, traditionally in winter I really have struggled. As a result, I don't ever give it much of a chance, visiting the very specific spots that were good to me the preceding Autumn and losing the will after a few casts as I am usually 'not feeling it'! 

 It was only late this winter when a mate of mine argued that winter lure fishing is not 'crap' and encouraged me to go out that I actually give it a good go. 

Having planned to go out for my typical hour or so at my favourite spot below a weir, I packed my usual drop shot rig, but thought I'd bring a light lure fishing rod too in case the river was too coloured for optimal drop shot results and I opted for a Texas rig or similar.

 Arriving at 'my spot' I found a bait fisherman had beaten me to it... for the second week in a row!! Usually and as with the previous occasion, I would turn around and go home as I couldn't be bothered fishing 'the natural' stretches of river in a short session, that are typically unproductive. But, on this occasion I was not going to be defeated, so greeted my bait fishing friend as I passed by; who turned out to be the same chap who was there the previous time. If I had that man's number I'd call him to say 'thanks', because as a result of him being in my spot, , forcing me to think outside the box a bit, I had my very first river 'slam' of the season, a slam being pike, perch and chub in one session. Only one of each, with a couple of tentative pike lost, but a slam none the less! All fish being caught (and lost) in about a half hour period, on the same 3.5" Keitech Swing Impact that held out really well, rigged on a 1/0 Decoy Decibo Violence 1/8oz jig head. Despite going after perch and chub, I tied on an 11lb AFW Surflon trace, as I know there are pike about, they attack the smallest of lures and will bite straight through my 8lb Seaguar fluorocarbon

 The secret? Well it's no secret really, that in winter, when the rivers are in flow and a little coloured, change your 'usual' tactics. Usually I would fish a natural colour in that particular area, but on that day I opted for black, which is a great lure colour in those water conditions. In addition, instead of targeting the man-made structures as I've become quite predictable with, I took the advice my buddy gave me (and I have known for years but never implemented properly on my river) and targeted the natural eddies and slack waters, catching fish in 3 different spots, in which I had never previously tried, let alone caught a fish. I returned for 3 more short sessions in the days following and caught a number more fish from more 'new' spots, including a brace of chub over 2.5lb... they certainly seemed to love the Keitech Black Shiner! Ps. Photo of one making up slam, not a 2.5lb... before I get told to 'check my scales!' 

The moral? It pays to change your tactics once in a while and step of your comfort zone.

 

 

 

Braid vs Fluorocarbon

To braid or not to braid... that is the question.

 

Since discovering this revolutionary material a few years ago, I had used it exclusively with great satisfaction... UNTIL I learned the art of dropshotting!

Having kitted myself out with a SPRO Insync rod, accompanied by a lovely little Shimano Biomaster, spooled with 0.6PE 9lb braid, I added 5ft of 8lb Seaguar fluorocarbon leader, an Owner Mosquito hook and dropshot weight and was ready. As with any new technique, it's not immediate that you are confident enough to get the results consistently, but it didn't take long at all before I was convinced I was on the right track.

The sensitivity of the setup surprised me, despite having a much softer tipped rod than I am used to. The braid really enables you to feel every movement of the weight bouncing along the bottom, giving you great insight to the strata on the bed. With the pencil weights, you can even feel when the weight is standing up and falls over horizontal. In the beginning, at times I felt it was too sensitive as when I was retrieving, every rock I hit felt like a bite!! Silt has a much softer feel and you can really feel that weight dragging through the mud. Needless to say, when you DO get a bite on the retrieve or a tight line, it is much easier to detect with the braid.

It was only when I went out to the canal on a fairly windy day, fishing crystal clear water that I realised there may be a down side to this amazing new braided line I'd discovered! You don't feel the bites on a slack line! For the first time since learning to dropshot, I had actually seen perch in the water before catching them. Having made a few casts to them and to my surprise catching nothing I went in to closer analyse their behaviour. I stealthily approached the shoal (anyone who's fished with me will know that 'stealth' is not my strong point!!) and instead of casting a distance that made it hard to see my lure, I was able to almost drop it vertically into the shoal I had been targeting. Those who've caught for perch will know that the bites can come in many different forms, depending on their mood on any given day and on this day they were on a 'go slow'.

With a small swing of the weight, I lobbed the rig just a yard or 2 away from me where it dropped tantalisingly down to the waiting shoal. With only a 3g weight, this was a slow and deliberate drop that gave the perch time to see the lure and 'bite' it. To my amazement, 2 or 3 of the fish managed to inhale and spit out the lure without me feeling a thing. Continuing with a few more casts, I was further surprised by the amazing camouflage of the fish, only noticing some bites when the lure disappeared from view and I lifted into a fish without even seeing, let alone feeling it!

After much discussion with a few like minded angler friends, I made the brave decision to remove my beloved braid from one of my reels and spooled it up with a 6.6lb Seaguar/Grand Max Soft fluorocarbon mainline. As another friend who'd recently done likewise put it; "It was like a light being switched on". Because fluoro is a denser material than braid and monofilament, the theory is that it transmits more energy. This certainly seems to be the case, but the most notable difference for me is that it is never entirely 'slack'. Unlike the super fine braid that was blowing about all over the place in the wind, with the additional density/weight offered by the fluoro it seemed to hang in a much neater bow/arch when on the drop or under 'slack'. The weight of the line creates a relative amount of 'tension' between rod tip and lure, so the line is never fully 'slack' as you find with braid, which definitely helps with bite detection. This 'downward arch' that you naturally get with fluoro continues into the water, since fluoro sinks, as opposed to an 'upward arch' that you get from your lure trying to pull the floating braid down. This also enables you to keep the lure tighter to the bottom on the retrieve.
Some people have cited the additional stretch that is characterised by fluoro as a disadvantage, as opposed to braid which has very little to no stretch. To them I would ask how much stretch one can get in a few meters of line, fishing a shallow river or canal at close quarters. I would also offer a positive to any additional stretch in these circumstances when the fish are a little tentative, enabling them to pick up the lure and with the small amount of stretch, coupled with a soft rod tip, feel much less resistance. This results in fish hanging onto the lure a bit longer giving the angler more chance to set the hook and not 'ripping' the hook out of their mouth as over enthusiastic strikers tend to do with braid.

When you take the same setup into deep water or a scenario where there is more movement either through current or boat movement, then braid really comes I to its own. The thinner diameter and lack of stretch enable you to use less weight to keep in touch with the lure and detect bites more easily. In these circumstances, as a result of the aforementioned movement, heavier weight and fishing vertically, your line will be 'slack' for far less time than the canal fishing scenario I have described, the benefits of fluoro are less apparent and the added stretch of fluoro can reduce sensitivity as you have more line out, with more weight on the end.

So the moral of the story is: Every line has its place. Don't get transfixed with any one line material, as they all have their own unique advantages and disadvantages in different circumstances.

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