Know your stuff | How to deal with being snagged!

Question 1. What’s the best thing to do when a big fish swims into an overhanging tree and snags you up?

When a fish snags you, several options are open to you. The first is to wind down and, provided you are using strong enough tackle, pull hard to see if force will get the fish out. 

If not, the next thing to do is to change the angle you are pulling from. This might mean walking above or below the snag and pulling another way. If this fails, it’s worth slackening off the line and giving the fish time to find its way out of its own accord – that could take a good 20 minutes to happen! 

If you have no joy with any of the above, the only other option is to pull for a break. The rig may fly back towards you at high speed, so take care. Tighten up and point the rod at the snag, grab the line below the rod tip and pull hard to break the line. 

Wrap a towel around your hands for protection in case the rig hits you or, better still, bring the line around something like a bankstick pushed into the ground, stand to one side and pull. There’s then no chance of the rig causing you damage.

Question 2. I struggle to see bites on a quivertip, and often get chewed maggots. What can I do?

Using the lightest tip possible will give you the best chance of spotting delicate knocks from roach and bream. These tips are usually made out of glass fibre, compared to stiffer tops that tend to be of carbon.

Start with a 1oz tip and only step it up if, when the rig is cast into the swim, the tip is bent round too much by tow or wind to show bites. For flat-calm conditions you can get away with as fine a tip as your rod comes with.Tension the tip to leave just a slight bend in it, giving fish plenty of opportunity to pull it right round. 

Many anglers use a paternoster set-up for bream but a running loop (if fishery rules allow) is better as this is a self-hooking rig. Give the bite time to develop. Ignore the knocks and plucks and wait for a positive pull round on the tip before striking.

Set the tip with just a slight tension. The only time it should show a curve like this is when a fish has taken the bait and pulled it right round!

Set the tip with just a slight tension. The only time it should show a curve like this is when a fish has taken the bait and pulled it right round!

Question 3. Is it always necessary to feed groundbait for skimmers on canals?

Canals can be tricky at this time of year and even when the water is coloured and the weather mild, skimmers don’t always want to feed over a ball of groundbait. 

Presumably, you’ve not had a lot of success feeding groundbait so far, but that doesn’t mean that you should give up on it entirely. Conduct an experiment the next time you fish by feeding one line with groundbait and another completely separate and well away from the first swim with loosefeed such as casters or finely-chopped worm. 

One ball of groundbait the size of an apple should be ample to get them going, adding a few casters or pinkies to the mix. On the no-groundbait line, give the fish half a pole cup of casters or chopped worm. The fish’s response will soon tell you which is best!