In this Q&A, Steve Ringer reveals some of the tricks that he uses to overcome common winter fishing problems...
Question 1. Do you use braid or mono on your reels for bream?
For bream fishing at range, braid is vastly superior to mono. Braid has zero stretch, so bite detection is enhanced. It’s also much thinner than mono, which helps distance casting. Even so, there are a couple of things you need to do when fishing braid to avoid any mishaps.
First, always wet your braid before casting – dry braid is a recipe for a tangle, so I always spray mine with an atomiser full of water before use.
Second, when you do get a bite, all you need to do is pick the rod up to set the hook – don’t strike. This will avoid breakages.
Question 2. What elastics should I be using for winter F1s?
For F1s on the long pole I use pink Hydrolastic. This is soft enough so that I can lift into a fish and ship back without risk of the hook pulling out. I can then use the puller to gain control once the fish is under my feet.When it’s very cold I will drop down to yellow Hydro, because then F1s tend to be quite docile and don’t fight so hard.
For short pole work I use orange Hydro unless the F1s very small. This is a bit more powerful than pink, and allows me to hook a fish and quickly steer it out of the baited area.
Question 3. On commercials in winter I always seem to get my feeding wrong for carp. Any advice?
I always like to target one fish at a time so I will feed accordingly. This usually means feeding multiple lines and rotating them, with just enough bait to catch a carp in each. if I feed a line and get an instant response that tells me that fish are coming to the bait.
On the other hand, if I feed and it takes ages to get a response I know it’s going to be hard, because the fish aren’t responding to the bait. If you are ever in doubt, a little trick I use is to pick a line well out of the way and feed that more aggressively.
If I then get a response I can try upping the amount of bait going in on one of my other lines. You should also try fishing around the bait as well as on it because sometimes, when it’s cold, carp have a habit of sitting a little way off the bait.
Question 4. Can sweetcorn grain size make a difference?
Yes. When I’m targeting carp and the water is cold and clear I always like to fish a big grain of corn. This was first bought home to me when fishing Makin’s on phase 3 a few years back. I was fishing for carp down the track and the difference between getting a bite and not seemed to depend on grain size.
A big grain produced bites and a small grain seemed to go untouched. I can only think this is down to visibility, as in a big grain obviously stands out better.
Question 5. Which rig do you use for dobbing bread?
I’m a big believer in very light floats for bread fishing, as a light float allows a slow fall of the hookbait. For me it’s a 4x8 cut-down Mick Wilkinson Steady, which has a short bristle and a wire stem so that it sits quickly. Bites can come on the drop as well as when the float has settled.
Mainline is 0.15mm Guru N-Gauge to a 4ins hooklength of 0.12mm Pure Fluorocarbon, which is virtually invisible in clear water. Hook choice is a size 16 or 18 Guru F1 pellet hook, size depending on the size of punch I’m using. For 6mm I will opt for the 18, and for anything bigger I prefer a 16.
Bearing in mind I’m looking for a slow-falling hookbait, shotting is a loosely-strung bulk of No11s with the bottom shot 5ins from the hook and the rest of the droppers spaced at 1ins intervals above this. Use 24ins of line between pole float and pole-tip. This has the benefit of allowing me to keep the pole high off the water which helps to prevent the fish being spooked by the tip waving about over their heads. A long line also comes in handy when I want to change the depth to try and find the fish.
Question 6. How do you prepare bread for dobbing?
I use Warburton’s thick and extra-thick-sliced, which stay on the hook well. If the bread is fresh I remove the crusts and lightly compress it to compact it slightly.
Otherwise I will pop it in the microwave for 10 seconds to put a bit of moisture back into it. Then I pop it in a small clear plastic bag to keep fresh until I get it to the bank. Finally I transfer it to my Guru Punch Box ready for use. For most of my bread fishing I start on a 8mm punch, but if no bites come I will switch to 10mm just to try and find the fish.
For F1s 10mm can be a bit too big, so once I find the fish I’ll often drop back down to 8mm, or even 6mm if the fish are biting shyly.
Question 7. Does ‘Goo’ really make a difference to catches?
In winter I find Goo to be at its best as an impact bait. I won’t start off using it, but if I’m struggling it will often produce a bite when all else fails.
Power Smoke flavours are for tagging Method feeders, PVA bags and so on, and Bait Smokes are for soaking hookbaits. One big mistake I see a lot of anglers make with Goo is that they put far too much on. It’s very potent stuff and you don’t need much at all to put a lot of cloud and flavour into the water. As a guide, when fishing the method I find a blob of Goo the size of a pea is plenty.