Fox Warrior Plus – Rod, Spod & Marker, Net Review

Rod’s aren’t something I’ve written about on the blog before. I’ve covered barrows, bait, line and bite alarms but somehow, haven’t got around to covering rods.

When Tackle Fanatics got in touch to see if I was interested in trying out their Warrior Plus range, it was the prompt I needed so I jumped at the chance.

As an avid fan of the budget Fox Warrior range, a ‘pimped up’ version using the same blank but with full cork handles and a 50mm butt ring sounded like a big plus (no pun intended of course…) I also had the chance to try the 4.5lb TC Spod & Marker rod and the Warrior+ net which are both part of the same range.

Here’s a quick video I put together highlighting some of the features of the fishing rod:

 

My old Warrior S rods are 3lb TC. At the time of buying them I was debating whether to go for the 2.75lb or the 3lb TC. I soon found that heavier leads and PVA bags were becoming more prominent in my fishing and I was glad I didn’t go for the 2.75lb version as I’d have felt rather undergunned.

The 3lb rods just about managed to deliver what I was asking of them but I did consider buying a new set of 3.5lb TC rods. In the end I didn’t bother as the Warrior S 3.5lb rods only came in a 13′ version which for a start wouldn’t have fit in my rod bag! My other issue with a 3.5lb TC rod is the feel when playing a fish, I worried that I wouldn’t feel in contact and the rod would be too stiff.

When I received The Warrior Plus rods, I was really pleased to see that they were 12′ long with a test curve of 3.25lb. For me, this is absolutely perfect and ticks multiple boxes for my fishing.

SS1

Being a fly fisherman before I got into carp fishing, I was used to rods with cork handles. I found it strange that cork seemed to be a luxury on carp rods as opposed to a standard feature. It never caused me any issues with my Warrior S rods but the feel of cork on a rod is much nicer and the quality of cork used on the Warrior+ rods is good.

Yes, some filler seems to have been used but this is pretty standard practise and a lot of my fly rods (I have far too many of course) are the same – you only really find limited use of filler on really expensive rods. I think for the money, the guys at Fox and Tackle Fanatics have done a fantastic job of the handles, they feel great.

SS3

Another difference with the Plus rods is the 50mm butt ring. For those big caster’s (unfortunately I’m not in that club…), a 50mm ring will give you a bit more distance everything else being equal. They do look nice too. I’m not a big caster but I am a tackle tart!

Some of the other features of the rod:

  • Fox Warrior S blank
  • 12′ long
  • 3.25lb TC
  • Low rein carbon composition matt black blank with gloss whippings
  • Anti frap tip ring
  • 50mm butt ring
  • Full cork handles
  • Butt cap with fox logo
  • Line friendly line clip

SS4

So, how did the rod perform out in the wild? Remarkably. I mentioned above that I’m not a big caster but was able to use the powerful backbone of this rod to punch my leads a pleasing distance. The recovery of the blank was good and there was still plenty of feel when playing fish.

For the price (£209.99 for a set of 3 at the time of writing), these rods are amazing value. They are exclusive to Tackle Fanatics and you can buy from their website.

Screen Shot 2017-08-12 at 22.15.54

I mentioned above that I also had the chance to test out what Tackle Fanatics have called the Spod & Marker Duo or S&M rod. I think this is good idea to combine the two – although I own both a spod and a marker rod, the marker rod is barely used as I do everything with my spod rod.

The S&M rod performed well with good vibration transmission through the blank for feature finding and an action perfectly suited to casting out a loaded Spomb or Impact Spod.

The rod is 12′ in length with a 4.5lb TC blank. It features a 50mm butt ring and a full shrink wrap handle. The only addition I’d like to have seen is a 12″ mark on the blank for measuring water depth but if I really felt like I needed one, I’d add my own mark to it and as mentioned above, I do all my marker work with my spod rod anyway which doesn’t have a 12″ mark and I get on fine so I really am nit picking here!

Like the fishing rods, this is a fantastic tool and represents great value for money at £74.99 at the time of writing. You can buy one here.

SS5

SS6

The last item I tried out was the Warrior+ net.

The first thing I tend to look at when assessing the usability of a net is the weight of the handle. When I first started carp fishing, I made the mistake of buying a cheap net and the handle was so heavy that it made the process of playing a netting a fish a complete nightmare.

The handle of the Warrior+ net weighs in at just 274g. That’s nice and light which meant picking up and using the net whilst playing a fish nice and straight forward.

The net its self is soft and fish friendly which is really important and it’s 95cm deep which is reassuring for when a fish is in it.

The arms are 42″ long which is a really nice balance between fitting in decent sized fish and fitting in your peg! The spreader block is made from a plastic moulding which feels really solid but as the same time light weight which is a big win.

Other features of the net include carbon fibre arms with metal connectors and mesh-saving angled ends and a stink bag to store it in.

Like the rest of the Warrior+ range, the net is a solid people of tackle and represents fantastic value for money. At the time of writing, one can be yours for only £39.99 – click here to buy.

SS7

SS8

To read more about the Warrior+ range, visit the Tackle Fanatics website.

Until next time, tight lines…

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Best Carp Fishing Barrow – A Review of the Most Popular Models

Other parts of the NCA carp fishing tackle buying guide:

Part 1: Line

Part 2: Bite alarms

Part 3: Bait

Part 4: Barrows

If there’s one downside to carp fishing it’s the amount of gear involved.

If you’re sick of feeling like you have run a marathon every time you get to your peg and you’re looking to buy a barrow to help, this roundup is for you.

These days I try to travel as light as possible so I can move easily when required but even though I fish light, a barrow is still absolutely essential.

On some lakes you’ll fish, the car park can be pretty close to some of the pegs so you might get away with it in this situation but in most cases, a bit of a walk is required and it can be back breaking work without a barrow.

You also want to be able to move quickly when you see fish at the other end of the lake and you’re less likely to make the move if you need to carry it all on your back and/or make multiple trips.

You might think that a barrow is a barrow but from first-hand experience I can tell you that’s not the case! A friend of mine bought a cheap one off eBay a couple of years ago and used it for the first time on a weekend session we did at Stanwick Lakes. Can you guess what happened? Yep, the handle snapped and it ended up in the bin!

You don’t have to pay through the nose for a good barrow though and in this post I’ll talk about 4 popular models that all have their own different features so you can choose which one is most suited to your individual requirements.

Carp Zone Barrow

This is the barrow I use and I’ve been delighted with it. As a tight fisted Yorkshireman I like to get value for money and before buying this, did some extensive research and found out that this barrow has a LOT of fans in the carp fishing community.

There are no bells and whistles with this so things like rod rests are not present but what you do get is a well built barrow for not a lot of money.

Here are some of the features at a glance:

    • Compact when folded
    • Chunky front wheel which is placed strategically to take as much weight as possible off your arms
    • Extending side and front bars
    • Height Adjustable legs with mud feet
    • Removable handles
    • Under bag
    • 2 x cords with grab hooks to secure your gear

Carp Porter Mk2 Fat Boy

The Carp Porter is probably the most well known barrow in the UK. This barrow is very well reviewed and has stood the test of time. It’s based on the standard Mk2 but has a chunkier wheel and a frame with additional reinforcing.

The beauty about investing in the Carp Porter system is that there are plenty of add ons available should you think you need them. The products are also well supported with spare parts available.

The Mk2 Fat Boy comes with a bag, bungees, a spares kit and unlike the Carp Zone barrow, a Y bar to rest your rods on.

Other features include:

  • Corner locking handle which increases stability when lifting
  • Height adjustable Y bar to rest your rod bag on
  • Extending front and side bars to take larger bed chairs
  • Flat folding design with removable wheel
  • Compatible with the range of Carp Porter accessories (including the a motor to give you a hand pushing it!)

Although more expensive than the Carp Zone, I still feel like this barrow offers excellent value for money.

TF Gear Juggernaut

The Juggernaut is the only three wheeled barrow in this roundup. It’s aimed at those who carry a lot of kit and/or need to travel a fair distance to their peg and I’ve seen it described as the 4×4 of carp fishing barrows!

Because of the fact that it has three chunky wheels, there is no lifting involved – you simply push it along. Turning is easy with this barrow as slight downward pressure on the handles will lift the front wheel, you then just point it in the direction you want to go.

What you gain in size and ease of pushing though you lose in weight and setup time. The barrow is quite heavy and with three wheels to attach, it takes a few extra minutes to build up but if you can live with that and want an easy life getting to your peg then this could be the perfect barrow for you.

Here are some of the features:

  • Chunky wheels
  • A lower set of handles attached to the standard ones for picking up the back wheels when required over less even terrain
  • Foot brake to stop the barrow from moving

Fox Specimen Explorer Barrow

In complete contrast to the Juggernaut, this barrow by Fox is built for those anglers who are always  on the move and like to fish from the barrow.

Although primarily designer for the day session angler, the barrow can be converted to ‘session mode’ and will take a bedchair thanks to the extendable front barrow bag rack.

There is a large, removable bag which has top and side access meaning that even when the barrow is fully loaded, you can access the items inside the bag.

There are also two mesh side side pockets which will each hold a 5 litre water container or items of tackle around the same size. Again, these pockets have both top and side access.

I have to say, I REALLY like this barrow – the design really has been thought out. Another feature I like are the four welded loops which you clip the barrow straps to and the straps aren’t the usual bungee type material so should be more solid as a result.

Until next time, tight lines…

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Best Carp Fishing Baits 2017 – There’s More Choice Than You Think…

Other parts of the NCA carp fishing tackle buying guide:

Part 1: Line

Part 2: Bite alarms

Part 3: Bait

Part 4: Barrows

Coming from a predominantly fly fishing background, bait was something that I needed to thoroughly research and get my head around before being able to use it properly. I’m glad I persisted though because with the right bait, your job as a carp angler gets a whole lot easier.

A Mixture of Different Coloured Boilies

I think there’s something of an art to baiting well and your learning will never stop. Because there are so many baits available to the carper, I wanted to put this guide together to help you make the right choice for a variety of situations and times of year. Some of this comes from experience but some I’ve learnt from some exceptional anglers such as Tom Maker, Mark Pitchers and Nick Burrage who I’ve been fortunate enough to fish with.

At the end of the guide I reveal some of the different baiting strategies I’ve picked up along the way – this is going to be an in-depth guide so hats off to those who make it that far, you deserve a nice scaly 30lb’er if you do!

Without further ado, let’s crack on – if you want to read about a specific bait, feel free to jump straight to that section using the links below.

Bait delivery methods and tools you mustn’t be without

Boilies

Particles

Live baits (maggots, worms)

Plastics & foam

Pellets

Baiting strategies

Bait Delivery Methods and Tools

An important part of baiting is accuracy and distance and there are various tools to help you achieve that. Here is a list of what I consider to be essential pieces of tackle along with a link for you to have a look at some of the products on offer from Amazon – a site I find myself buying fishing tackle from all the time these days as all the main tackle brands are available there and the prices are great.

  • Throwing stick – if you fish with boilies a throwing stick is absolutely essential. You can achieve a great distance with a good stick but it should be used when you’re looking to achieve a spread of bait over a wider area (a popular approach). If you’re looking for accuracy, a spod or catapult might be a better option
  • Spod/spomb – as mentioned above, if you can cast accurately then with a spod or a spomb, you’ll be able to bait accurately. Have a look at the link below to see what Amazon have but also checkout my review of the Fox Impact Spod too.
  • Catapult – ah, the trusty ‘catty’! With a good catapult you can achieve good distance as well as accuracy. I find myself carrying a number of different ones and some are made for different distances as well as bait types (you can get boilie ‘pults and particle ‘pults) There is plenty of choice on the market but be careful about buying the cheapest you can find – the elastic won’t last two minutes

Boilies

Boilies have become the most popular carp bait on the planet (I personally use them more than any other bait). Here’s why I think why:

  1. They’re convenient – shelf life versions super convenient and even frozen boilies don’t need much management, stick them in an air dry bag and hang them from the nearest tree for the duration of your session. Easy
  2. They’re good for the fish – OK OK, I accept that there are still some low quality, shelf life boilies on the market but generally they’re much better than they used to be. The frozen variety doesn’t contain any preservatives and modern day shelf life baits from the big companies have just as much nutritional value than their frozen counterparts. I use shelf life boilies exclusively (mainly Stickybaits Krill in 12mm)
  3. They’re not messy – admit it, none of us like sticky sweetcorn hands
  4. They need zero preparation and last for a long time
  5. They are easy to bait over your spot
  6. They can be adapted and altered in any way you like if you have some basic gear
  7. They are versatile – grind them, chop them, crumb them or use them whole. Use them in a spod mix, a PVA bag or fire them out whole
  8. They catch fish – boy do they do this well

Sizes

The standard size for a boilie is 14/15mm with 10mm and 18mm also being quite common. My favourite? 12mm. I like boilies this size because 1) it’s a less popular size 2) I don’t fish in France for 60b monsters so feel no need whatsoever to fish with a gobstopper on my rig and also it’s just that bit bigger than a 10mm’er meaning it’s fine to use as a hook bait and tubs of popups are readily available in that size.

I choose Sticky’s Krill boilies because they come in 12mm shelf life, have matching 12mm popups but also have pink and white popups in 12mm that are a different colour but the same flavour – something that I’ve found works quite well.

Don’t be afraid of mixing up your sizes when baiting, I regularly fish 12mm and 10mm together. I use Sticky’s 12mm Krill with the Nash Crab & Krill 10mm red boilies. These come with a small pack of popups so I’ll bait the 12mm and 10mm together giving a different size and colour combination and then the hook bait is a snowman style rig with a 12mm bottom bait and a 10mm red popup so both baits match my freebies.

Flavours & Smell

Flavours and smell in a boilie is a funny thing, some people insist on one type of flavour/smell combo and other on something completely different. I personally like a fishmeal based boilie and the associated smell and flavour as opposed to the sweater baits that might smell great to us but we’re not carp. You see so many people sniffing their baits with a smile on their face because it smells like Baileys or some other human associated thing! Fish might like it too of course but I’ve always had more success with the stinkier fishmeal based stuff so I’ve stuck with it – confidence is a wonderful thing.

You can always alter the flavour and smell of your boilies of course with the various dips and sprays that are on the market. In all honesty I have never really taken to using them – I just haven’t seen a noticeable difference in my catch rate to warrant spending any more time with them. I do know people who use them religiously though and that’s fine, whatever works for you is always there best option.

Colours

This is another personal thing! There are various theories about what carp can and can’t see. I remember a talk I saw by Rob Hughes who was talking about the visibility of certain colours deteriorating when certain depths are reached – red was one that you had to be careful with when fishing at depth. From that talk, I seem to remember that pink was a good option from a visibility point of view.

I personally like a bait somewhere in the middle – not too bright and not too dark. Carp have a great sense of smell so I’m more bothered about getting that element right. Let’s also be clear – carp are aquatic hoovers and pure eating machines so if it’s there, they’ll know about it. Whether they eat it or not in a completely different matter!

Time of Year

There are different types of boilies designed to be used at different times of the year. In a nutshell, winter boilies will be made with a milk based base as opposed to a fishmeal one meaning that there will be much less oil content. In cold water, the oil in bait can congeal and put the fish off feeding hard. Baits like Mainline’s Cell doesn’t use a fishmeal base so can be used all year round which has probably contributed to its popularity but there are plenty of other baits that fit in the all year round bucket.

Some anglers will continue to use the same boilie all year round, the theory being that if it’s worked well through the spring and summer and the fish like it then why stop using it for the winter. My view on this is that confidence is massive in fishing and can give you a real edge so if changing boilies in preparation for the winter will knock your confidence, it probably make sense to stick with what’s been working for you regardless of whether it’s a milk based on fishmeal based bait.

One thing you do need to think about when using boilies in the winter is your baiting strategy – I’ll cover this later in the section about bait application but you need to remember that fish hold up in certain areas and feed much less in the winter so piling in kilos of bait on a spot isn’t the one when temperatures are low.

Which Boilies are Best?

In my freezer/fishing cupboard at the moment are bags of Sticky Baits Krill and Mainline Cell. These are proven baits and used by some of the best anglers across the country. I have a lot of confidence in both. Outside of the two big bait makers, there are also great baits available from companies such as Nutrabaits, Trent Baits and Active Bait Solutions just to name a few. As I say though you won’t go far wrong with anything from Sticky Baits or Mainline. You can find a great selection of their products on Amazon using the links below – there are some great deals to be had.

Browse Mainline’s product range

Browse Sticky Baits’ product range

Particles

Particles have been used to catch carp since the beginning of the sport. The name ‘particles’ is a catch all for any sort of natural, food bait. Examples include:

  • Sweetcorn
  • Maize
  • Chickpeas
  • Hempseed
  • Groats
  • Maple peas
  • Tares
  • Tiger nuts

Particle baits can be very cost effective especially if you’re happy to put the work into preparing them yourself. Preparation is key because for most particle baits, they can be used in their raw state – some form of soaking and boiling is required. Different baits require different preparation required so please do your research first. To give you an idea of what’s involved though, here’s a video by Hinders detailing how to prepare hempseed. I’ve done this before and you end up with a lovely bait that carp adore.

Preparing your own bait also enables you to add things to it – flavours, colours, salt etc which can make your bait stand out on the lake bed.

Mixing different particles together is always a good idea – I like the analogy of the buffet, if there’s only pork pies there and you happen not to like pork pies you’re going to go hungry. If though there’s also some pizza, sandwich, crisps and buns you’re much more likely to like something and have a munch – it’s the same with fish, offer them a few different things and increase your chances of getting them feeding! It’s also a good idea to mix up colours and sizes and I always try to match my hook bait with something in the mix. If I have two rods over a spot, I’ll have a different hook bait on each rod but again each will match something in the mix. Don’t be afraid to mix other types of baits with your particles too – a mixture of boilies, hemp and sweetcorn is super simple and massively effective.

It’s probably worth keeping in mind that if you’re baiting a spot with a lot of particle to attract fish into the area, keep your rigs short as the fish will be moving slowly across the spot.

If you don’t want the hassle of having to prepare your particles, there are ready made bait available off the shelf but you’ll pay more for them. I find myself though sticking with sweetcorn these days, it’s cheap, all carp love it and there are some excellent plastic baits available to fish over the top of it. I buy frozen bags from the supermarket which are around £1 and contain 1kg of sweetcorn. Where else can you get a kilo of bait for a quid!?

Here is the rig I fish over the top of sweetcorn, shown to me by Mark Pitchers. It’s super simple, well balanced, requires no putty to anchor down the corn (the a size 4 SSBP hook is just right to balance two pieces of the plastic) and it massively effective. The plastic used is the Evolution Plastic Corn Stack. Simply cut off one of the ‘grains’ for a size 4 or use all three for a size 2 hook.

Sweetcorn Carp Rig

Live Baits

No post about bait would ever complete without mentioning live baits i.e. maggots and worms. I personally think both are underused, particularly worms – doing things different in carp fishing can be a serious edge. I’m not actually going to talk too much about them though. Why? Because I came across this Carp TV video on YouTube where Joe Morgan talks all about carp fishing with worms and he does a better job than I ever could so, over to Joe…

Maggots do tend to be used more than worms but mainly in winter when they’re particularly effective. It’s worth pointing out at this point that if the lake you’re fishing contains a lot of smaller fish of any species, you might want to think twice about fishing with maggots as it will attract every fish in the lake and could ruin your chances of carp bite. If though the lake contains mainly carp, maggots could be a great bet.

There are various different things you can do with maggots including:

  • Flavour them (turmeric is good!)
  • Use them in your spod mix (dead or alive)
  • Put them inside a PVA bag
  • Use them in combination with other things as hook bait e.g. side hook a couple of maggots onto a corn rig if you have both corn and maggots in your mix
  • Use a maggot clip to bunch up a good number of maggots on your rig

I mentioned earlier using maggots dead or alive. Both can be advantageous in different situations – sometimes, a pile of wriggling maggots can be irresistible to fish but if you’re fishing a lake in which the bed is made up of deep silt, live maggots can bury themselves in it. Carp do of course feed in silt but you lose some visual impact.

Should you go for red or white maggots? Well, I have always fared better with red so stick with them. That doesn’t mean that white won’t work and I’d still fish with white maggots over some other baits but again it’s your choice – whichever you have more confidence in is likely to yield better results for you.

Plastics & Foam

Why would a fish possibly try to eat a plastic piece of sweetcorn!? Well, they do and I’m a big fan of the benefits that plastic baits bring to the table.

First of all you can get sinking or floating versions. Secondly, they come in all sort of shapes, sizes, colours and flavours. Some of them even glow in the dark! Thirdly you can flavour them how you wish (try Hinders Betalin & Black).

Here is a list of my favourite uses of plastic baits:

  • Use popup plastic (such as a sweetcorn imitation) to tip off a boilie and negate the weight of the hook
  • Fish a corn stack mentioned above over a simple spod mix containing sweetcorn or just sweetcorn on its own which is still massively effective
  • Use Korda’s plastic popup maize critically balanced with a PVA stick of sweetcorn
    • Have a look at the video below for how to make your sweetcorn PVA friendly – pretty neat and you don’t see many anglers doing it which can give you a nice edge

As well as the more obvious plastic corn and maize you can also get plastic maggots, casters, bread, pellets, hemp, tiger nuts, luncheon meat, worms, dog biscuit and even mussels!

You can also get selection boxes containing different plastic baits – have a look here to see what’s available.

So, we’ve covered plastic so onto foam baits. Foam like plastic soaks up flavour well and comes in all sorts of shapes, sizes and colours. You can also cut it to suit your requirements. The most common uses of foam baits are:

  • Zig rigs – foam is massively buoyant so is perfect for fishing zigs
  • To critically balance a rig – that might be by drilling out a boilie and inserting some foam or using a piece of yellow foam on the hair of a sweetcorn rig
  • To tie flies or ‘zig bugs’ as they’re known in the carp fishing world
    • Look out for a future blog post where I’ll be tying my own zig bugs and showing you how to do the same – its cheap to get started, doesn’t require masses of skill and is very rewarding

Pellets

How could I write a piece about the best carp fishing bait without covering pellets?! Along with sweetcorn, this is one bait that all fish just seem to love. When fishing for stocked fish, the likelihood is that they have been raised on pellets so that goes some way to explaining it.

Pellets are produced by a huge range of companies and are available in a whole host of size from 1mm to 20mm. There are oily version, flavoured versions, soft and hard versions – basically, if you know what size, consistency and make up you want, you’re likely to find a pellet to match your requirements.

With pellets, I also like the fact that you can get them with different breakdown speeds which is great for a spod mix as you can have a mixture of crunch and slop in there.

Large Fishing Pellets

My favourite uses for pellets in fishing are:

  • Mixing different micro pellets and fishing them in a solid PVA bag
  • As mentioned above, using them as part of a spod mix
  • Using a chunky pellet on the hair – this isn’t done often so again can be a nice edge
  • Using micro pellets on a method feeder (what, you don’t fish the method for big carp?!)
  • Using a mixture of sizes and breakdowns for margin spot feeding

The most common pellets you will come across are halibut, carp, trout, expanders, hemp, soft feed and CSL.

You can find a good selection of pellets here.

Baiting Strategies

Now that you have a good idea about what baits are available, it’s now time to talk about some of the ways you can use them. I’m going to use boilies in these examples but most strategies aren’t bait specific so pellets, particles, naturals etc would work equally as well.

Strategy 1 – the ‘greedy guts’ method

There is generally always one to two fish in every lake that like a good old feast. When they come across a dirty great plate of food they just have to eat it. It’s those fish we are targeting with the greedy guts strategy.

The mechanics are very simple – find your spot and pile a couple of kilos of boilies (or your preferred alternative bait) on it. If you’re spodding, you need to be accurate here as the effect we’re looking for is as if you’d just tipped the bait over the edge of a boat in one go onto the spot. Clearly the easiest way or achieving this is with a boat but that’s not always possible. Get your rig in the middle of the pile and sit back and wait for the big lad to come along and find it.

Strategy 2 – catch out the careful ones

This is in some ways opposite to strategy 1. What we’re looking to do here is catch out those cautious fish who are holding back from the main pack in a feeding situation. These fish tend to ‘snatch’ at the edges of the spot so bait up, get one rod in the middle of the spot and then a second at the edge with the straggler baits ready to surprise Mr Careful Carp.

Strategy 3 – give them a snack, not a feast

I like to fish for one bite at a time and I prefer to do that with a small amount of bait. That could be anything from a couple of broken up boilies in a PVA bag next to my rig or a couple of spods over the top. What it’s definitely not is filling in a spot and then sitting on it for days – that’s definitely not my kind of fishing.

It might sound like a complete contradiction to strategy 1 but it’s important to have different tactics in your armoury to suit the lake you’re fishing on and the conditions on the day.

I hope you enjoyed this overview of carp fishing bait and it’s given you a few ideas to apply to your own fishing.

Until next time, tight lines…

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What are the Best Bite Alarms? A Review of the Best Sets 2017

Other parts of the NCA carp fishing tackle buying guide:

Part 1: Line

Part 2: Bite alarms

Part 3: Bait

Part 4: Barrows

Choosing the right bite alarm can be a tricky affair – I know, I’ve been there. Not only is there lots of technology to try and understand but the models on offer can be quite overwhelming and with the price of a quality alarm set, you need to get it right or it could be a costly mistake.

In a hurry? To see our recommendations at a glance, here’s a handy comparison chart along with a link to where you can buy each one. For more detail about the alarms and why they’ve made it into this roundup, keep reading…

 Delkim TXi PlusFox NTX-RAce i3Steve Neville mk3
BUY HEREBUY HEREBUY HEREBUY HERE
Roller/Vibration SensorVibrationRollerVibration & rollerRoller
Tone Control?YesYesYesNo
Volume Control?YesYesYesYes
Sensitivity Control?YesYesYesYes
Selectable LED Colour?NoYesYesNo
Receiver Range200 metres500 metres500 metres500 metres
Battery Type Alarms1 x 9v2 x AA1 x 9v1 x LRV08
Battery Type Receiver1 x 9v3 X AA1 x 9v1 x 9v

Bite alarms are an absolute must in carp fishing, not only do they let you know when a fish has taken the bait but they also alert you to activity in the area in the form of line bites. Also, there’s nothing more special than hearing the sound of your buzzers going into overdrive as a fish rips off with your rig!

4 of the Best Bite Alarms

The focus of this roundup will be on the premium end of the scale, models that have stood the test of time. I truly believe this is the only way to go with bite alarms – ever heard the expression ‘buy cheap buy twice’? Well, I bought cheap and bought 3 times. I started with a budget set, then replaced that with a mid-range set and ended up replacing that with a premium set. It was a false economy, I should have just bought what I always knew I’d end up with right at the beginning. I recommend that you do the same.

So, what is the difference between a budget and a premium set of alarms? Well, in the main it’s the quality of the components and resulting reliability. You’re also buying into the technology. When you buy a set of alarms, you’re also paying for all the R&D that went into bringing the product to market. The production cost per unit is likely to be quite low but the proprietary features generally aren’t which is why good quality sets can be expensive.

Hopefully by the end of this post you’ll have all the information you need to make your decision. I’ve put a lot of work into finding and comparing different parts of each set being reviewed. So, without further ado, let’s get into the first bite alarm and the one I ended up investing in, the Delkim TXi Plus.

Delkim TXi Plus Review

This alarm is probably the most well known and talked about bite alarm on the market. Founded in the 1970’s by Del Romang and Kim Donaldson, the company is still very much a family affair who’s sole focus is around bite alarms. Their product range includes alarms, indicators, cases and snag bars. Technology used in their alarms includes the Delkim Radio system and a unique, Piezo vibration sensing system. The benefits of this over a roller based system is that the line doesn’t have to actually move for the unit to indicate activity.

Features of the TXi

2 x sensitivity ranges (high and low)
Anti theft alarm – should somebody turn the unit of in an attempt to steal it, a loud siren sound should alert you to it
Variable tone range allowing you plenty of choice (I personally have it on around number 4!)
Wide volume range – from number 1 to number 6, believe me these things go loud should you wish to set them that way
6 LED colour options – purple, red, white, blue, green, yellow – ensure you match the colour to your bobbins for maximum carpiness and bank-side respect
LED night mode – these look super cool when it’s pitch black outside
Good weatherproofing
2 year guarantee

Whilst I was researching this alarm prior to me actually investing in a set, I came across a couple of negatives. A few people mentioned that you can get false bleeps when it’s raining and the alarms can actually be TOO sensitive. I have experienced some false bleeps when it’s pouring it down but it doesn’t happen all the time and it’s never bothered me in the slightest. I’ve also managed to avoid the alarms being too sensitive, there’s a high and low sensitivity setting along with a 1- 6 dial to turn up or down the sensitivity within the high or low setting you’re in. A quick tweak to those settings and no false bleeps regardless of the weather. I want my alarms to be sensitive though, I like to know when things are happening in the swim.

The units feel well made, the battery life is superb, the multi-tone sounds beautiful and they look the business. Syncing up with the RX Plus Pro receiver is really easy too.

You can buy a set of 3 alarms with a receiver here.

Fox NTX-R Alarms

The NTX-R alarms are Fox’s top spec bite alarms. I’ve been on tutorials with a couple of the Fox consultants (Mark Pitchers and Tom Maker) and both used and rated these alarms. The main piece of technology used in this unit is the D-Tec Sensing System (DTSS) which do away with the need for reed switches, these parts are normally the first to break in other alarms.

A particularly cool feature for the tackle tarts amongst us is Colour Sync meaning that the LED on each unit can be set to whatever colour you wish. Got a new set of shiny bobbins? No problem, simply change the colour on the NTX-R and boom, they match! This might sound like a trivial thing but with the Delkims, once bought into a colour scheme you’re stuck with it so choose wisely. FYI I went for green Delks and yes, I also have green bobbins – it’s a must!

Other features include:

Drop back differential
Volume control with silent mode
Tone control
Anti-theft system
Intelligent Sensitivity Control
Power out socket
Range test facility
Auto night light
1mm weather resistant seal

Unlike the Delkim alarm, the Fox NTX-R uses a roller wheel containing 4 magnets to detect line movement. Some people are sceptical about roller wheels in general because they can freeze in super cold conditions but in reality, this is rare.

The receiver used with this alarm is the Fox NTX Receiver and you can buy either 3 or 4 rod sets which come with the receiver and a hard case.

The more common 3 rod set can be purchased here.

Ace i3

Less popular than the Delks or NTX-R’s but still top end bite alarms and those who use them rarely move away from them which speaks volumes about the quality of the units. A lot of thought has gone into these alarms. As well as all the things you’d expect like volume, tone and sensitivity adjustment, there are some unique features such as a light to indicator to signal a low battery and a mute button on the side which will give you 30 seconds to get your bobbins set without annoying everybody else on the lake – brilliant!

Like the NTX-R’s, you can select what colour you want the LED to be which is nice.

One of the major stand out feature of this alarm is that it has a vibration sensor as well as a roller wheel giving you the best of both worlds. Simply switch to the one you want to use and away you go – the vibration is better for snag fishing or fishing in really cold conditions to avoid any missed takes if the roller wheel freezes up.

Early models had a nylon locking collar which was prone to breaking but Ace fixed this and now use a stainless steel locking nut and stud.

The RX One is the receiver Ace have produced to pair up with this alarm.

Steve Neville mk3 Bite Alarms

These alarms are a bit of a carp fishing icon and almost have a cult following. That’s not to say that it’s simply nostalgia that sells these units because it’s not – they’re well built, reliable and have some good features but you’ll find less bells and whistles than on the alarms reviewed above.

Working on a roller wheel system and bite indication is highly sensitive because of the 4 magnets used in the wheel. The range is particularly impressive with a 500m maximum range (although you should never be this far from your rods!) The alarms have a built in receiver so can be used with the Steve Neville receiver and you also get an adjustable volume control, silent mode and a system to avoid false bleeps.

Which Bite Alarm?

So, having heard about some of the high-end alarms on the market, which one is for you? Well, I’d say that all the units featured in this roundup are in a similar price bracket and reliability should be a given. The Ace i3 has the most features but can be hard to get hold of. The Neville’s have less shiny features but look great. It depends what’s most important to you. As I mentioned earlier, I ended up buying the Delkim TXi plus’. Why? Because Delkim have a great reputation, they are a bite alarm specialist, look great, have plenty of features and have you ever heard a screaming, dual tone run of a Delk? It’s better than the most beautiful music you have ever heard. Have a listen…

See what I mean? Beautiful!

To help you make up your mind, I’ve put together the following comparison table.

Until next time, tight lines…

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Reflecting on 2015 and Plans for 2016

Welcome to 2016. I hope everybody had a good Christmas and New Year with plenty of food and drink! This is my first blog post of the new year, and I just wanted to go back and reflect on what happened in 2015 (which as you’ll see wasn’t much!) and also discuss what my plans are for 2016.

So, going back to 2015, I wrote a blog post similar to this right at the beginning of the year called 2015: The Year of the Carp. Well, it didn’t quite work out how I thought it might do when I wrote that post. My fishing time was severely limited – I have a busy job and a young family so my free time is somewhat limited and at a premium. I also have other hobbies that need to share any free time I do get. So my carp angling was limited, and I only managed two sessions all year. Those sessions were 48-hour sessions though so decent length sessions, and both were quite productive.

Both sessions were at Brandesburton 3&4, a venue I’ve spoken at length about on this blog. 2014 was out first ‘year’ on there and in all honesty we struggled – we didn’t have night permits so were fishing days only. Last year though we decided to put our hands in our pockets and get night permits and I’m glad we did as the two sessions we did manage to squeeze in ended up being very productive indeed. Between the 2 of us over the 2 session we managed about 30 bites (not all landed unfortunately) compared with a single bite across more (day only) sessions the year before. We shared the same peg in both sessions which allowed us to figure a few things out like when the bite times were. Once we figured that out, the penny dropped why we didn’t catch much the year before – we were always there at the wrong time of day!

We also found some good spots so when we’re fishing that peg next, we know exactly where to be casting to. We got takes from multiple spots, which is really good. They were marked down in my diary and pictures taken. So those sessions were good to us, but if you read the blog post from last year, I said that I had certain targets that I wanted to achieve this year, and only one of those has been ticked off.

Those targets included catching a bigger fish than what I previously caught at Brandesburton, that was the one that I ticked off. I did that in the first of those two sessions. One of the other targets was to catch a 20lb fish from a local day ticket venue. I didn’t get the opportunity to fish that venue last year, so unfortunately I didn’t manage to achieve that.

I also wanted to catch a fish on the fly which should be straightforward as I fly fish for trout and grayline so I kind of know what I’m doing when it comes to fly fishing, although I need to do a little bit of research into how to catch carp on the fly. But I think I could have done that if, again, I’d have had the opportunity which unfortunately I didn’t get.

The other thing that I wanted to do was start rolling my own boilies and catch a fish on them. Again, I didn’t manage to do that. I fell into the trap of not preparing properly for sessions and the day before going to the local tackle shop and picking up the boilies that I always use, which are the 12mm Sticky Baits Krill which I am a big fan of. When something works, it’s hard to change but I did want to start rolling my own bait. I was going to use the DIY packs from DNA Baits but I never ended up investing in the equipment and due to my poor organisation I carried on buying last minute shelf life boilies.

So I did manage to tick off one of the four, but to be honest I’m still happy that I had a good couple of sessions at Brandesburton and caught some nice fish, not huge fish but nice. There’s not really any huge fish in there, they only go to mid-20s. I still haven’t caught a 20lb’er from there, but I want to to carry on trying to do that, and I won’t stop until I do. I’ve had a few nice mid-doubles which have all been really nice-looking fish but I do still want that elusive 20.

So that was last year. Going into 2016, some of the same targets apply really. Because I’ve increased my PB at Brandesburton, I do want to catch that magical 20-pound fish from there, which if I manage to get more sessions in this year, which I’m hoping to do, should be a realistic target. There are though people on there that have been fishing the venue for a few years that haven’t managed to catch a 20-pound fish yet. On the other side of the coin though there are also some people who will go there and catch more than one 20lb fish in a single session so it’s absolutely realistic if we put the work in.

The day ticket lake, I don’t think that I’ll be able to fish again this year. To be fair, there’s a booking system in place, and the way I plan my free time is not that much in advance, so it’s hard to work around that sort of system. I don’t really want to be ringing up on the first day of the month to book for the following month. That doesn’t really work for me so I probably won’t carry that target into this year. But certainly the one around Brandesburton, I will.

Regarding the bait, I’m not sure about that yet. I need to think about it. It would be nice to start rolling my own bait so I could customise it and all that kind of thing, but in all honesty I’m happy with the Sticky Baits Krill. I’ve got confidence in it. It works for me, so I’ll probably continue to use that. And I like using shelf-life baits as well, whereas if I roll my own, that will more than likely be freezer bait.

One target that I will carry from last year into this year is capturing a carp on the fly. I really do want to do that. Like I said, I fly fish already, and that’s another passion of mine so I’m sure with a bit of researc, I’ll be able to figure out what they’re likely to take on the surface. I tie my own flies as well so I’ll be able to tie something up that’s suitable for carp. So that target will be carried into this year and I’ll report back once I’ve managed to achieve it (if I manage to achieve it, hopefully I will but we’ll see!)

So that’s it. That’s a reflection of last year and a brief plan of this year. My night permit is about to come through for Brandesburton. Hopefully, from spring time onwards we’ll be getting back up there. It’s a three-hour round trip, so normally, we do slightly longer sessions. Hopefully, we’ll get a decent amount of weekend sessions and full weekend sessions this year. We’ll see if we can catch that magic 20lb’er.

The club that own the fishery, Hull and District Angling Association have done quite a lot of work on it recently. It’s now got an otter fence and I believe that they’re doing some work on the path around the lake this year, because sometimes it can be quite hard to push a barrel around. So the venue is improving all the time. There’s a waiting list for permits and so it’s becoming a bit of a popular venue. It can be busy on a weekend, but still, the lake is absolutely stunning, and I’m still massively in love with it and until I achieve what I want to achieve on there I’ll continue to fish it. It might take me another year, it might take me another 10 years, I don’t really care! As long as I’ve still got a passion for it, and I’m still chasing something, then I’ll continue visiting and writing about it. If I do catch it this year, we’ll see what happens. Hull and District have other waters that I can potentially look at a night permit for.

Syndicates are another option but because of the amount of time that I do have free to fish, it probably wouldn’t be financially viable for me to join a £500-a-year syndicate. But that is an option. It might be that I’ll start traveling further afield to look at certain day ticket lakes going into 2017 if I achieve everything I want to achieve in 2016 in Brandesburton. But I’m not sure yet.

We need to see all this new pans out. If it goes to plan, then next year could look very different. If it doesn’t go to plan, then so be it. 2015 didn’t really go to plan. I’m not too concerned about that. I’m still having fun, which is ultimately what it’s all about. And hopefully, it will be a good year. And of course, I’ll be keeping you up to date on the progress in blog.

Regarding the blog, content-wise, I want to continue to write about my ups and downs and carry on being completely open and honest about my angling. I do want to start doing some different types of content, so reviews are one thing I want to focus on. As a good Yorkshireman, I research products in depth before I buy them – I want to make sure I’m getting value for money! I always appreciate reviews from bloggers as well as people on social media and forums etc… so I think that type of post offers a lot of value to readers of a blog. If there is anything in particular that you want me to review, then let me know, and I’ll try and do that but also, if you have got any suggestions for the type of content that you want to see on the blog, then please let me know. I want to make sure that I’m producing content that resonates with everybody, that’s on topic, and that’s ultimately valuable, and that can help you in your fishing as well.

I want to increase the emails I send out, so I’ll be looking to send certain pieces of content through email only. So if you haven’t subscribed, please do that. There’s a link at the bottom of this post and also at the top of the right-hand side of the blog. You just need to put your email address in that, and then you’ll get updates when a new blog post goes live plus some additional content that I’ll be sharing via email only. So please do that and good luck in your own fishing for 2016.

Until next time, tight lines…

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Fox Impact Spod Review

The Fox Impact Spod has been one of the most eagerly awaited products of 2015. Ever since the announcement that Fox have designed a bait delivery device which will be sold under license from Spomb, the forums along with various social media platforms have been buzzing in anticipation. The reason that it’s been sold under license is that Spomb have a patent which protects their IP and clearly Fox needed some of those protected features to produce the Impact Spod. It sounds like a deal where everyone’s a winner so hats off to both companies for making it happen. Another winner of course is the carp angler who now has another tool in his/her armoury when it comes to dispensing bait at range.

Fox have released a medium and large version and I finally got my hands on a pair this week (mid-December 2015). In this review I will go into each feature of the Impact Spod in depth, compare them against the Spomb and try to answer as many questions as I can within the content.

First Impressions

When I first picked up the Impact Spods in the shop they looked great but felt quite ‘plasticky’. I know I just made that word up and these things cost between £11 and £13 so were never going to be made from the recycled dashboard of a Mercedes but that was my first impression. In reality I’m sure that the material has been selected carefully and will be fine for the job. The mechanism worked well and the workings of the opening button on the front are covered. Because of this I’m confident that bits of particle won’t get lodged in the button and stop it working which has happened to me with a Spomb before.

Size

As mentioned earlier there are two sizes available – medium and large of which I bought one of each. Maybe Fox are undecided about a small version which is why they haven’t released one but have kept the option open by releasing a medium and large. 

Impact Spod vs Spomb - Sizes

From left to right: mini Spomb, medium Impact Spod, midi Spomb, large Impact Spod, large Spomb.

As you can see by the image above, the large Spod is similar to the large sized Spomb and the medium Spod is similar to the medium sized Spomb with the mini Spomb being somewhat smaller. Capacity wise, the table below shows the difference in how much bait each one can hold compared with the Spombs. 12mm Sticky Baits Krill boilies (shelf-life) were used for this and the weight of the bait compared.

 Bait Capacity (grams)Bait Capacity (ounces)
Mini Spomb37g1.3oz
Medium Impact Spod69g2.43oz
Midi Spomb74g2.61oz
Large Impact Spod125g4.4oz
Large Spomb114g4oz

Weight

This is the bit I was the most interested in as my ‘workflow’ goes like this:

1.) Cast out a lead to find my spot. This is done with my normal fishing rod and monofilament. Yes a marker rod and braid would give me more feel but I can normally find a spot like this and it sets me up nicely for the next step

2.) Clip up so I can hit the spot again

3.) Cast out and ensure that I’m getting a consistent drop

4.) Attach a mini Spomb and put some bait on the spot – because of the size of the mini Spomb it casts fine with my 3lb TC rod

5.) Attach my rig and cast out to the spot

Simple but effective, accurate and suits my style of fishing (I’m not one to be putting kilos and kilos on a spot). Can the medium Impact Spod be cast with my rods like the mini Spomb can? I don’t like my workflow being messed with! Here’s a comparison table of the weights of each fully loaded Spod/Spomb, again Krill boilies were used for this test.

 Loaded Weight (grams)Loaded Weight (ounces)
Mini Spomb61g2.15oz
Medium Impact Spod106g3.74oz
Midi Spomb113g4oz
Large Impact Spod177g6.24oz
Large Spomb172g6.1oz

So, my mini Spomb will definitely still get some use although the medium Impact Spod loaded with boilies is only 3.74oz so should still be fine to cast with my 3lb TC fishing rods, just…

Bait Delivery Bag

Plenty of options!

Ergonomics

One of the design features of the Impact Spod is the one handed operation and yes I can confirm that it’s much easier to do anything with one hand than the Spomb is. Another feature is a larger swivel which might make it slightly easier to loop/tie onto the line but I’ve never had an issue with the smaller swivel on a Spomb. Fox say that they are ‘intrinsically buoyant’ so will float into the margins should you crack off during a cast – I’ve only just got these so was limited to a test in the kitchen sink but it did seem very buoyant whereas the Spomb immersed with water almost immediately and ended up with the majority of the body under the water. I filled the Impact Spod with water too (it was good that this didn’t happen without my intervention) to see if it would sink. As you would expect it was nowhere near as buoyant but did still float. In reality this won’t be an issue of course as they would be open after dispensing the bait but I wanted to push them and see what would happen and the Impact Spod stood up to the test. As far as casting goes I’ll have to update this post once I get out with them but talking to Mark Pitchers on a recent tutorial, he said they fly great.

One of the things I saw a couple of people online say when they first got hold of the product was that the springs seemed a bit lightweight. I didn’t notice to be honest and only time will tell how robust they actually are. They don’t need to do much though so I’m sure they’ll be fine.

Spod Spring

Fox Impact Spod vs Spomb

All in all I think this product is great but will I be throwing away my Spombs any time soon? No, not only will I still use the mini one as already discussed but also both Fox and Spomb have said that they can give very different results in terms of the spread of bait that can be achieved. The Spomb is said to be better for tighter baiting and the Impact Spod for a slightly wider spread – this was pointed out in the joint press release. Do I think the Impact Spod will be a hit? Absolutely, the guy in the tackle shop told me they’d been selling like hot cakes and based on what I’ve seen so far, I’m not surprised. If want to buy one or two of your own you can get them here.

Other useful links:

Fox Impact Spod (Fox website)

Spomb (Spomb website)

Until next time, tight lines…

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Best Carp Fishing Line – My Top 5

Other parts of the NCA carp fishing tackle buying guide:

Part 1: Line

Part 2: Bite alarms

Part 3: Bait

Part 4: Barrows

When fishing for specimen sized carp, the line you use is of the upmost importance. You must have confidence in your line when casting and playing fish. Whilst there are some great lines on the market, there are also some which you want to avoid. In this roundup of the top 5 carp fishing lines we will compare diameters, breaking strains, suppleness, durability, visibility and how well each one sinks. All of these lines are very popular and are made by top brands – most are monofilaments as opposed to fluorocarbon, I may do a round up of fluorocarbon lines in a future post.

A common question that people seem to ask is what breaking strain should they go for. For me the answer to this question is the heaviest you can get away with. If you’re casting short distances, a 20lb+ breaking strain line would be my first choice – when I fish heavy I’m more confident. If you’re casting a fair distance then you’ll probably need a thinner diameter line so going down to a 15b or even 12b line may be required. When using a thin diameter/low breaking strain line with a heavy led casting big distances you should think about using a shock leader – the last thing you want is a 4.5oz lead breaking the like and flying backwards during your cast. It’s worth noting that most venues state in their rules a minimum of 12lb breaking strain line but where I can I always try to fish much heavier than this.

For this roundup we’re going to compare 15lb breaking strain versions of each line where possible although some lines like the first one are slightly higher than this.

Fox Exocet

The Fox Exocet line is used by top anglers such as Tom Maker, Adam Penning and Mark Pitchers. I’ve spoken with Mark and Tom personally about this line and both have said that it’s strong, hard to see in the water and sinks like a brick. Available in breaking strains from 13b to 23b there’s a line to suit every occasion. Fox pitch this as a distance casting line which is especially true at the thinner end of the diameter scale. I personally use the 23b version, like I said above I like to fish strong.

Exocet is green in colour, is highly abrasion resistant and is very supple. You also get 1,000m to a spool and it comes in a nice presentation tin.

ESP Syncro XT

This is another favourite of mine and I currently have it spooled up on 3 of my reels. It’s quite supple, sinks well and is very strong especially in the knot strength department – I use it in the 18lb version. ESP have this year released a new version of this line which I’m yet to try out but I head good things about it and the likes of Gaz Farnham, Kev Hewitt and Martin Bowler have all been involved in the testing of it, not bad eh! They claim that the loaded version is a better colour, sinks faster and is harder to see sub-surface.

Korda Touchdown

A recent addition to Korda’s range of lines and one that I’m particularly excited about. The name touchdown came about because of the low stretch properties of the line – the theory being that it’s easier to feel the lead down because of the low stretch in the line. In all honesty I’ve never had trouble feeling down the lead with a normal mono but I do fish tight up against islands and far margins at some of the venues I fish so a line with not a lot of stretch helps with accuracy. I also like using a mini Spomb which I can cast with my fishing rod and a low stretch line means I can find my spot, bait up and get my rig out with the same rod within 3 or 4 casts – my kind of fishing!

Gardner GT80+

The GT80+ has evolved from the GT80, a very popular line. The line is a copolymer which includes an additive which makes it sink faster. Supple, heavy, smooth and great knot strength is what you get with this line and there are clear and green versions available.

Daiwa Sensor

Being one of the cheapest lines on the market it’s easy to think that Sensor is an inferior product but that’s absolutely not the case. When I first got into carp fishing I used Sensor on all 3 of my reels and found it great. When reading the forums, people generally say good things about it and it’s stood the test of time. It’s available in 2 colours – brown and clear and a range of breaking strains.

An Autumn Weekend at Brandesburton 3&4

Whilst on my tutorial session with Mark Pitchers, I had a text conversation with my carp fishing buddy Gaz about arranging a session at Brandesburton. We last fished it back in May which was a very successful trip so we were itching to get back to make sure that our luck last time wasn’t a one-off! We agreed to take the Friday off work and travel there on the Thursday evening even if it meant setting up in the dark. As it turned out, Gaz also took the Wednesday afternoon and Thursday off so headed to the lake late afternoon on the Wednesday to secure the lake’s only double peg (yes yes I hear you hardcore carpers saying that you shouldn’t pre select your peg before you get to the lake but we fish for enjoyment and there’s a social element to it too, plus we know the spots well in that peg and thought that the fish might be there at this time of year so there was some justification for it!) It turned out that there was nobody else on the lake so Grassy Bank it was and Gaz managed to get his bivvy up and a single rod out before dark. That night there was no moon and not much wind which meant it was pitch black and very quiet – enough to spook any man and Gaz later admitted that it was quite creepy so he got an early night! I’d told him to keep me up to date throughout the next day but I didn’t hear from him until mid-afternoon when a picture came through of a 13b mirror, not a bad start!

IMG_5289.JPG-2

Gaz’s first fish of the session

I was desperate to get to the lake but really didn’t fancy setting up in the dark so I decided that the best plan of action would be to go for a curry and beers with some of my old friends that I don’t see too often and head off on the Friday morning. Naturally, Friday morning turned into Friday afternoon and I arrived at the lake at around 2pm. Gaz hadn’t had any more action but had seem plenty of activity in front of him so I got the gear out of my car and setup next to him in the double peg. I got my first rod out but literally within 2 minutes Gaz had a take and the fish decided to go through my line. After a bit of a panic, we managed to untangle the rods with the fish still on – result! After a short battle Gaz there was a 19lb common sat in the net, Gaz was over the moon as it was his biggest yet from the venue and I was chuffed for him. We did the pictures and slipped her back. I got the rod back out and I couldn’t believe it when just 5 minutes later it ripped off! A short while later I had a lovely 14lb mirror in the net – what a start, a fish each within a few minutes of me being there, that’s no coincidence of course 😉

IMG_1894

 

Over the next few hours I’d had another 2 bites, I lost one of them and the other was a 12lb common which I caught just after it got dark at around 7:30pm. Because I was fishing against the far margin close to overhanging trees I decided not to try and get the rod back on the spot so just fished with 1 rod for the night (I was only fishing with 2 during the day anyway – i figured that 5 rods between us in that swim was pushing it somewhat). We got all the rods sorted for the night and sat back to have some food and chat the night away. Once bed time came I got warm inside my Fox Ventec 5 season bag (it’s soooo warm) while Gaz kept getting liners on the same rod, he was getting that many he ended up winding it in to get some sleep! The last time we fished the lake the bite times were early morning so I was expecting some action, it never came though and we didn’t even see many shows which was surprising as Gaz said they were boshing out all over the place the previous morning.

Gaz was leaving that afternoon and wanted another fish before he started packing away. He got his wish but it wasn’t a carp – yep you guessed it, a bream! Ah well he’d still had a good session so he headed back to Leeds.

As I now had the swim to myself, I decided to put a 3rd rod out so I cast it to where Gaz managed his 19b’er – it would be rude not to! I fired out a few of the Krill boilies over and between each rod and sat back to have some food. The evening was uneventful but I was awakened at around 11:30pm by a screaming take. It didn’t put up much of a fight and I thought it was a bream at first, it turned out to be a single figure carp which was still very welcome as it was over 24hrs since my last fish. I quickly returned it, got back into bed and the next time I woke was when it was light. I got the rod back out straight away so that I was fishing with 3 rods again to give me the best chance of getting another bite before I packed away at mid day. I had a chat with a few of the other anglers on the lake and it turned out that over the last few days we were the only ones catching – I’d love to say that it was down to our ability as anglers but sadly that’s not the case, we were simply in the correct swim for the conditions! Mid day came and it was time to pack up. I did so with a smile on my face as it had been a good session.

We have only fished Brandes twice this year, once in Spring and the other in Autumn. We fished it more last year yet didn’t catch a sausage then yet in just 2 sessions this year we have had 21 bites. A couple of those were bream, a few were lost but a good few of those saw the net too so all in all I’m chuffed to bits with our ‘year’ on there. I’ll be renewing my night permit and hoping to get there a bit more regularly next year. I might even get the odd winter day session in between now and then. You never know, I might even catch that 20lb fish I’m desperate for…

IMG_1887

I love this venue.

Until next time, tight lines…

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A Session at Majestic Pool with Mark Pitchers

Anybody into modern day carp fishing will have heard of Mark Pitchers. He’s the star of Fox’s The Challenge and contributes regularly to various monthly magazines. I’d heard that he offers tutorials so decided to get in touch to discuss various options. His schedule was quite busy but he had a place available on a group session he was running at Majestic Pool near Hull so I put my name down and started to get excited. Between booking it and the day arriving I had a family holiday and a busy time at work so I didn’t get the chance to think much about it, needless to say it came around quite quickly.

The other 3 guys were set to arrive at Majestic around 11am, I had work commitments in the morning but managed to wangle the afternoon off so set off from Leeds at 2:30pm. It was close to where I fish at Brandesburton so the journey was familiar and the weather lovely. I arrived at 4pm and introduced myself to Mark and the other guys. Mark pointed me in the direction of a peg called Sainty’s and told me to get my house in order and he’d be round soon. It was my first outing with the Fox Royale Classic bivvy so I spent some time making sure I put it up properly, after all there was no rush – we had all weekend! If you’re interested I thought the bivvy was great, you get a lot for your money – more information here

Fox Royale Classic Bivvy

I was really impressed with the Fox Royale Classic Bivvy

Not long after getting my bivvy up and my tackle in order, Mark appeared and started to give me some details about the lake, the stock and his recommended approach for the weekend. We set about looking for some spots and before long we’d found 2 clear gravely spots and one close to a snag where a fish had shown as we were looking for the open water spots. We clipped up, put the Spomb on and proceeded to put a bit of sweetcorn on the open water spots. We used the distance sticks to get the rods setup which just left the rigs to decide upon. Mark has had plenty of success using a simple but effective balanced plastic corn rig, the way it sits is lovely as I saw when he showed me in the margin – it’s just like a claw, waiting to take hold. The rods were cast and we discussed the approach for the margin spot. Because it was close to a snag the gear had to be heavy so a hinged stiff rig was selected with a few boilies scattered over the top. We were racing to get sorted before dark but we managed it and were happy with the spots that we’d chosen.

The first night saw me awake for most of it, not because of bites but because of the wind, rain and coots diving on my bait. The Delks are rather sensitive and were beeping regularly. Unfortunately this wasn’t replaced with a roaring take and come the morning my mat was still dry (well it would have been if the rain hadn’t have come down like it did…) I decided to leave things be and lay back down as I’d had a terrible nights sleep. Mark appeared before long though and showed me how to get the sediment off my lines in a morning. I asked if anybody had any luck throughout the night but unfortunately not. I was surprised, the venue holds a good amount of fish and the weather looked right for it. Mark suggested that we sit on our hands and don’t put any more bait out – if the fish had eaten the bait then we should have got a bite so the likelihood was that the bait was still sat out there uneaten. The day passed quietly but for Mark it was all but quiet – he was running around like a madman trying to find fish and get all 4 of us angling for them in the best way possible. It was very weedy so he had to spend a lot of time finding us good spots, especially the guys on the opposite bank to me as that seemed to contain the most of the weed.

My home for the weekend!

My home for the weekend!

Late afternoon and with 24 hours gone, it was time to try some new spots. Mark said that he approaches each 24 hours as a different session and this was no different especially as it had been quiet. One of the rods was left on the same spot but recast and with a bit more bait over the top, one rod was cast further out to see if the carp were sitting close to the middle and the last rod was fished towards the no fishing bank at the bottom of the drop off. Rigs and bait were the same so it was just up to the carp gods now to make something happen. The sensitivity was turned down on the Delks and the rods placed lower to the ground to try and minimise any false bleeps. It worked well and I got a great night of sleep – good for my body but not great for my unhooking mat which was still bone dry. Mark couldn’t understand it, the weather was good, we had found some nice spots, baiting was sensible and rigs more than proven – a combination of these things should have produced fish! We didn’t make any changes for the first part of the morning but by mid morning the water was like glass, completely still. Normally in these conditions you can see signs of fish feeding, the backs of carp just breaking the surface or more visible signs such as a crash. There was absolutely nothing though and it confirmed to us that they just weren’t having it. Mark wasn’t happy, he wanted us all to catch but that’s just fishing and the main purpose attending a tutorial in my eyes is to learn first and catch fish second and boy had I learnt. I’d been taking down notes all weekend and I have plenty to come away and perfect in my own fishing. For the last couple of hours we put zigs on two rods to see if we could get a bite right at the end but it wasn’t to be. Mark worked his socks off for us and if he can’t make it happen, nobody can. If you’re thinking about booking a carp tutorial then definitely consider Mark’s services – he’s such a passionate and knowledgeable angler that you can’t not learn anything from a session with him. He’s a nice and funny guy too so you’ll have plenty of laughs in the process!

I want to end this blog post by not only thanking Mark for a great weekend but by also thanking the guys who run Majestic Pool. I’d never fished there before but will definitely fish there again. Although we didn’t catch, this was out of the norm and I’m sure a return trip applying everything I learnt from Mark would make for an enjoyable and productive trip. Majestic is such a pretty and well thought out place. The owners have clearly put their heart and soul into creating a top class fishery. With over 110 fish in 3 acres it’s well stocked with English carp and 75% of the stock are over 20lb – not bad eh! The swims are great and there’s a path running around the whole of the lake for easy barrow access. You can find out more about the fishery by visiting the Majestic Pool website.

Overall I thoroughly enjoyed the weekend, I learnt an awful lot, fished with the man who makes The Challenge (which I watch religiously) and experienced a new lake. No fish but still, what an absolute result.

Until next time, tight lines…

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A Margin of Error

It’s been two weeks since my last session when I had a successful trip to Brandesburton 3&4 and cabin fever was setting in – a trip to my local syndicate lake was in order. The beauty of this lake is that it’s very close to home and it’s tiny (half an acre) so I only feel the need to fish a single rod. In fact, not only do I only take one rod, I also leave at home a lot of the ‘just in case’ gear and have bought some specific bits of tackle to help me keep the gear to a minimum. A Nash H-Gun Multi Mat can be used as a bag, an unhooking mat and a weigh sling so all of my gear fits in it and then once empty at the lake it becomes my mat and sling. In that goes a Wychwood specimen landing net which folds down nicely, a reel, an NGT 4 piece 9ft Intrepid rod, a Delkim, an indicator, 2 bank sticks, my tackle box, a catapult, a few handfuls of boilies, a pair of foreceps and a set of digital scales. The ‘bag’ goes over my shoulder and all I have to carry is my net pole and chair – no barrow needed for this flavour of carp fishing!

Summer evening carpy goodness!

Summer evening carpy goodness!

The day started with a breakfast at the local pub followed by a few chores around the house so I arrived at the lake around 12:45pm. I had no specific plans about how long I wanted to fish for, I was just going to play it by ear. I started on the opposite bank to the image above and within a couple of hours of casting out I’d managed a small carp and a chub plus another carp that fell off the hook a few seconds after the take. I only took a couple of leads with me and I’d lost them both so to continue fishing I had to put some shot on the line which I wasn’t very confident in. Because of this and the fact that the fish seemed to have gone to sleep I decided to head home and have some food. The beauty of a local lake and minimal kit is that moving swims or nipping off for an hour isn’t a laborious task.

Belly full and leads replenished I arrived back at the lake around 7pm. The temperature had dropped slightly and there were more clouds in the sky. Speaking with the owner before I left I found out that the carp will come into the margins later in the day so I put a bit of bait right in front of my swim on a rock where I could see it. I fished into open water but planned to keep an eye on the margin and if any fish did come in I’d have another option. It didn’t take long before a carp came in and helped its self to the free offerings while I kept as still as I could. I’ve never really done any margin/stalking work so to watch a fish feed right under my feet was fantastic.

Syndi2

Not long after the fish sloped off and I started thinking about how I was going to maximise the opportunity, I had a take out in open water and it felt like a good fish. Before I knew it the line went slack and once again my quarry had given me the V sign. I dropped my rig straight onto the margin spot and dropped a few more boils over the top. I was fishing a foot from the bank, it felt very odd but quite exciting – to watch a fish take my hook bait would be amazing.

Talk about fishing under the rod tip!

Talk about fishing under the rod tip!

I had to be close enough to watch the fish but because of that I managed to spook fish on a couple of occasions, I wasn’t too concerned though because they were the smaller fish and I felt that I still had a chance of a bigger one coming in. As I alluded to in my first blog post about this syndicate lake, the biggest fish swimming around is around 17lb and although that’s not big when it comes to specimen carp fishing, it’s the biggest in the lake and I want to catch it! At about 8:30 a group of 3 bigger fish all came to the spot together, they took a couple of boilies and then seemed to spook. I thought that I’d blown it until one of the fish came back about a minute later to have another look. My heart was pounding, there was only a couple of baits and my hook bait left! A few seconds later and the fish was over the hook bait so I couldn’t see it, there was an almighty explosion when the fish went mad, the Delk screamed and I fell on my backside trying to get to the rod! I had one angry double on the end of my line and it moved up the margin to my right at a pace while I tried to get it under control, all of a sudden it decided to go on a massively powerful run and before I could get to the clutch it snapped me off. I dropped the rod and sat on the grass for a minute to calm down and get my head around what had just happened.

I generally fish strong and use the best knots I can, in this case a palomar to the swivel. The line was 12lb breaking strain which I’ve used at this lake in the past without issue (I use 18lb on my main rods). I hate leaving tackle in fish but I do fish safe so the lead will have dropped easily and the hook was barbless so it should have got rid of it easily enough.

All in all it was an exhilarating yet frustrating day. There’s one thing for sure though, I’ll be back soon to search those margins but with beefed up line – that 12lb stuff is getting replaced ASAP!

Until next time, tight lines…

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