How to cast a carp rod accurately

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Technique in carp fishing is as crucial as in any sport. Here’s how to master the casting basics for distance and accuracy

It's a compliment often paid to footballers: “He does the simple things well.” A good midfielder might not win adulation for his five-yard passes, but you’d soon notice if they started going awry.

The same can be said of top anglers and casting. If you ever get to watch a talented carper in session – and plenty of venue open days make this a possibility – then pay attention to their basic skills. A good angler makes casting look so effortless you can’t help but wonder if their overall talent goes hand in hand with their lead-chucking ability.

Nash employee Mike Wilson is just such a carper and his tips are well worth heeding.

On the banks of the beautiful Chigboro Fisheries in Essex, Mike explains: “Casting is all about balance and feel. I used to really take my time – I would stand there for ages before I cast. In fact, once you know what you’re doing, it’s best just to swing the lead behind you and go for it. Don’t tink too hard about it. If you wait for ages then that’s when things can go wrong.”

Like all sporting techniques, constant repetition improves performance.

Mike continues: “Practice. Go to a field and, if there are people around, then cast a dog ball so it’s perfectly safe.

“Or, if you’re not catching fish, don’t be afraid to pack up an hour early and have a casting competition with your friends. Obviously, make sure you are not disturbing anyone else’s fishing.”

Underarm casting

Almost all carp casts are overhead ones, but underarm lobs should not be ignored.

Mike says: “It’s all about balance and rhythm. With practice you will just ‘feel’ when it’s right to let go. Don’t rush it.”

Find your footing

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The main image shows the stance you need to adopt for a stable, powerful cast.

Point your leading leg in the direction you want your rig to go and ‘brace’ the back leg at right angles to this. The power in the cast comes from transferring your weight from your back foot to the front one. On a long-distance cast you can rock back on your back foot and stamp your front foot forward as you release the line.

The image above shows Mike scuffing a mark in the ground so he is able to cast from the same point each time.

Get maximum leverage

 How not to cast

How not to cast

 How to cast

How to cast

Carp rods have relatively long handles for a reason.

Think back to your school science lessons and you’ll remember that a longer lever is capable of exerting more force through the pivot point.

If the bottom hand grips the rod butt as shown in the top diagram you are vastly reducing the power you can generate in the cast.

Grip the bottom of the rod and pull down with this hand during the cast.

The key to smooth and powerful casting is getting both your arms to work in harmony with each other. One pulls as the other one pushes.

As with all sporting techniques, practice makes perfect, so don’t just cast when you’re on a fishing trip.

Get a grip!

 How not to cast

How not to cast

 How to cast

How to cast

The point at which you grip the rod and reel is your pivot point, so it’s vitally important it is both comfortable and secure.

As you can see from the photographs above, a balanced approach is what’s needed.

With your thumb on the top of the reel seat, wrap two fingers around each side of the reel stem.

Use just one finger to pluck the line from the spool – don’t clutch at it with a fist. This aids control when it comes to releasing the line during the cast.

Line up to your target

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All far banks have some kind of feature that you can line up your cast with. Remember that what is easily visible in daylight may be quite the opposite once the sun goes down. It’s worth noting the tallest tree for use as a silhouette marker in darkness. You could even temporarily place tinfoil in a branch to reflect torchlight.

Get your cast right

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1. When lining up your cast take a moment to visualise your rig’s landing zone and the force you think you’ll need to get it there.

Once you are happy that everything is in place, just go for it. Yes, crack-offs and tangles can be embarrassing but if you think about the worst-case scenario as you are about to whip the rod through the air then mistakes are bound to happen. Relax and, to borrow a sporting slogan, just do it.

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2. When the lead is in flight, relax and keep your movements to a minimum. Watch the rig’s progress and be aware of anything untoward like a wind knot or tangles. If you react to these early enough and put the brakes on the cast you can avert crack- offs and serious tangles.

Another point worth noting is not to settle for second best. If your first cast was ‘nearly there’, reel in and get it ‘spot on’. This extra effort separates good anglers from poor ones.

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3. If you’re using a line clip to get better accuracy (and the line hitting the clip also helps straighten your rig as it pierces the water surface) then use your fingers to ‘feather’ and slow down the last few metres of line before it hits the buffer.

In conjunction with this, bring the rod tip back in the air and cushion the impact on the clip by pushing the rod forward again. If you hit the clip abruptly, the line’s elasticity can make the rig spring back towards you.

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Give yourself enough line

How much line you have from the rod tip to your lead priot to casting is known as the ‘drop’.

Again, it’s all about the science of leverage and momentum, but a fail-safe rule is to line up your lead with the spigot (or join) in your rod. Obviously this only works if it’s a two-piece model!

Check for tangles

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It might seem simple, but we have all seen or done it – wound up a big cast only to realise the line is tangled around the rod tip just milliseconds before you hear a sickening crack and see an unattached rig sailing into the water. Get into the habit of checking the tip ring for tangles on every cast. It takes no time at all to double and triple check.

How to make wire traces

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Whenever you are fishing for pike or zander you simply must use a wire trace, and here we show you how to make your own wire traces for lure fishing and bait fishing in easy to follow steps...

Using a wire trace when either lure or bait fishing shows that you care about the fish you are trying to catch. If you simply tied your treble hooks or lure directly on to your monofilament mainline, you are taking a big risk as both pike and zander have such sharp teeth they will cut straight through it. And what will happen next?

The fish won’t be able to shed the hooks, the fish will suffer as a result and possibly even die as it may not be able to continue feeding due to the obstruction in its mouth or throat. So please, always use a wire trace when tackling those toothed predators.

You can buy ready-tied traces for lure fishing and snap tackle for bait fishing – and reliable they are too – but there’s nothing like catching a fish on a trace you have made yourself, plus DIY trace making is the cheaper option in the long term. Here’s how to make both, using a variety of methods, plus detailed info on common mistakes…

Tying a wire trace for lure fishing

This method involves twisting the wire around itself to lock the swivels directly onto the trace wire.

  1.  You will need 18 inches of wire, a swivel, a snap link swivel, wire cutters and a pair of forceps.

1. You will need 18 inches of wire, a swivel, a snap link swivel, wire cutters and a pair of forceps.

  2.  Bend an inch of wire and pass the formed loop through the eye of your swivel.

2. Bend an inch of wire and pass the formed loop through the eye of your swivel.

  3.  Now pass the wire loop back over the swivel and pull it tight. Forceps will help you tighten the loop.

3. Now pass the wire loop back over the swivel and pull it tight. Forceps will help you tighten the loop.

  4.  Clamp your forceps onto the tag end of wire and spin it around the main length of wire at least six times.

4. Clamp your forceps onto the tag end of wire and spin it around the main length of wire at least six times.

  5.  Trim off the tag end as close as you can to the whippings using sharp, reliable wire cutters.

5. Trim off the tag end as close as you can to the whippings using sharp, reliable wire cutters.

  6.  Now lock a snap link swivel to the other end of wire using steps 2 to 5 to complete the trace.

6. Now lock a snap link swivel to the other end of wire using steps 2 to 5 to complete the trace.

Tying a wire trace for live and dead bait fishing

 You don't have to use crimps to create a wire trace for your dead or live baits - you could use the twisted wire technique shown above to lock your swivel and bottom-most treble onto your wire.

  1.  You will need some wire, two treble hooks, a swivel, some crimps, crimping pliers and sharp wire cutters.

1. You will need some wire, two treble hooks, a swivel, some crimps, crimping pliers and sharp wire cutters.

  2.  Cut off 18 inches of wire, thread on a crimp, pass the wire through a treble hook and thread it back, well inside the crimp.

2. Cut off 18 inches of wire, thread on a crimp, pass the wire through a treble hook and thread it back, well inside the crimp.

  3.  Position the crimp around 5mm from the hook and squeeze it tightly using the crimping pliers.

3. Position the crimp around 5mm from the hook and squeeze it tightly using the crimping pliers.

  4.  The crimp should be squeezed three times, making sure each of the depressions line up like this.

4. The crimp should be squeezed three times, making sure each of the depressions line up like this.

 5. Thread on your second hook and position it 2 to 3 inches from the first. This gap depends upon the size of bait to be used.

5. Thread on your second hook and position it 2 to 3 inches from the first. This gap depends upon the size of bait to be used.

  6.  Hold the second treble in place and carefully wrap the wire around the base of the hook like this.

6. Hold the second treble in place and carefully wrap the wire around the base of the hook like this.

  7.  Now tightly wrap the wire around the hook’s shank three times and then thread it back through the eye.

7. Now tightly wrap the wire around the hook’s shank three times and then thread it back through the eye.

  8.  Complete the snap tackle by crimping a strong swivel on to the other end of the wire.

8. Complete the snap tackle by crimping a strong swivel on to the other end of the wire.

 

 

Top tips for trace making

Cut the wire cleanly

It’s worth investing in sharp wire cutters as the end of the wire you are working with must be cut cleanly. A frayed section of wire can damage your main line and also prove extremely difficult to tie or crimp.

When to replace your trace

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If the wire of your trace becomes twisted or kinked cut it off and discard it at home - not on the bank. Tie on another fresh one. If you do make your own traces and snap tackle remember to cut off the swivels and hooks. If they are still in good condition you will be able to use them again.

Incorrect crimping

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The crimped trace pictured is a disaster waiting to happen! Firstly the crimp is too close to the hook therefore the hook has no freedom of movement. The wire tag end protrudes from the crimp and this could cause tangles or it may cut your main line. The crimp has been squeezed only twice – it should be crimped three times. And finally the crimp has been squeezed too close to the

edge and too hard (the wire can be seen through it). If any of these faults occur when you crimp your traces throw it away and do it again or you’re asking for trouble!

How far apart should the hooks be?

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The distance between the treble hooks depends upon the bait you are fishing. The larger the bait the further apart the hooks need to be. Take a half mackerel for example. This bait may be 6in or 7in long and ideally the second treble should be positioned midway along the bait, therefore the trebles should be positioned about three inches apart. When fishing small baits like sprats or eel sections, the trebles can be 2in apart.

How to control a stick float

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Fishing a ‘stick’ on a river is all about float control. With practice and patience you’ll find it one of the most thrilling methods of catching a wide variety of river species.

To successfully fish the various types of stick float you’ll need a crisp-action rod to quickly pick up lots of stretchy line on the strike, but with shock-absorbtion to cushion fragile hooklengths and keep tiny hooks in place.

In the old days, the best stick float rods had a long length of slim, solid glassfibre spliced into the tip. Today, modern technology means most hollow tip carbon match rods will fit the bill.

As long as it is light and balanced enough to be held comfortably for five hours or more, the longer the rod the better. Far Eastern-built rods of 14ft to 17ft are now common and reasonably priced. A longer rod gives greater float control and makes stick float fishing significantly easier.

You can often run the float straight off the end of the rod, almost doing away with the need to ‘mend’ the line – the stick angler’s most important job while fishing.

Mending the line involves eliminating the ‘bow’ or ‘belly’ of line that can form in front or to one side of the float as it trots down the swim. (See picture sequence, below.) This extra line can pull the float out of position, or make it act unnaturally. It also prevents a direct strike when you get a bite.

You must keep a straight, tight line between rod tip and float to trot a stick float successfully. To do this, your reel line must float. A sinking line will drag the float under and you will be unable to strike cleanly.

You can fish a normal fixed spool reel with the bail arm open and use your finger to trap and release line from the spool to allow the float to travel down the swim at the pace of the river. Some anglers favour closed-face reels, which tend to tangle the line less in wind.

On faster rivers the ultimate trotting tool is a centrepin. The power of the current is enough to pull line off a good quality, smooth-running ‘pin. Slight thumb pressure on the edge of the drum can slow the float down, ensuring a tight line between rod tip and float. Correct feeding is also vital. Aim to feed six to a dozen maggots twice during each trot down the swim.

One really handy item of equipment is a bait bib. Big pouches on the front of the bibs can hold a couple of pints of maggots that you can easily and conveniently feed without having to keep bending down to pick up bait.

If you can run a stick float through at the pace of the current, you’ll catch fish but one trick to prompt a bite is to hold the float back hard every now and again. This causes the hookbait to waft enticingly up in the water. And that can lead to a fish grabbing the bait.

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'MENDING' THE LINE

 1. Keep a constant lookout for ‘bellies’ forming in the line and act immediately

1. Keep a constant lookout for ‘bellies’ forming in the line and act immediately

 2. Lift the rod up and away from the float to gather the excess line causing the bow

2. Lift the rod up and away from the float to gather the excess line causing the bow

 3. With the line straightened, reel in the excess and continue on your ‘trot’

3. With the line straightened, reel in the excess and continue on your ‘trot’