Few will argue with the effectiveness of the pole for all types of fishing.
It offers pinpoint presentation, feeding and control of the rig at all times – but on commercials, when your target may be fast-biting F1s, it really comes into its own.
So after a good start on the feeder on Decoy Lakes’ Horseshoe Lake, it’s time to switch to the pole in search of the venue’s fast-biting F1s. Averaging 3lb, these are lovely fish to catch but they can be very finicky, which makes using the pole even more of a necessity.
Faced with a lot of open water and a reasonable depth, it can be difficult to know how far out to fish and how exactly to feed. But, as ever in fishing, I like to keep things simple. If I get the basics right, the fish won’t be far behind.
Distance – long or short?
You can fish with up to 16m of pole if you wish but I’d warn against this for a couple of reasons. Your control of the rig at longer distances will not be as good as when fishing closer in, and if the wind does get up during the day, wrestling lots of carbon can be hard work.
With this in mind, I’d recommend fishing 11m out. On every fishery I’ve visited down the years this puts you into the deepest water. This is a comfortable range for rig control and accurate feeding, and it also makes for easy shipping in and out of the pole.
That’s not to say you couldn’t fish closer in than this but, in my experience, the closer to the bank you fish, the longer it will take for the carp and F1s to move here and settle confidently.
I’d reserve fishing just a few metres out for the final hour of a session. Even then, I’d expect only a few bites.
At all times I use two pole rollers. Not only does this make for easier and quicker shipping and unshipping but it is also much safer for your pole. Using one roller can see the pole fall off or tip back and get blown away by a gust of wind.
There’s every chance of hooking a double-figure carp or a big barbel on the pole so I can’t afford to fish too light, even though this will get me more bites in the long run.
That means my rig is made up of 0.16mm Browning Cenex Hybrid Power Mono as mainline, while for the hook I’m happy to use ready-tied varieties. I’ve caught thousands of fish on the Drennan Barbless Carp Maggot pattern. This is coloured red, but it doesn’t seem to matter. It’s a very light hook and so perfect for shy F1s.
These are tied to an 0.14mm hooklength but to my mind the most important part of my set-up is the elastic. Too heavy and you’ll bump fish on the strike, too light and it’ll take ages to land them!
My pick is Browning Xitan Microbore in the 1.9mm grade, which works out at around a No7 to No9 strength in old money. This is set at a soft tension through my pole top kit, and by using a side puller system I can control exactly how much elastic is being used.
Generally I will fish at dead depth with maggots or expander pellets, and the only change to this will be if I switch to a bigger bait such as a grain of corn or a hard banded 6mm pellet in search of a better fish.
In this instance, I’ll go an inch overdepth to play a bit of a waiting game.
Lower the rig in
Chances are that if you lay the rig in and let it fall in an arc, there’s more chance of a roach getting it. By lowering the rig in slowly, as if it were going down a plughole, I know that the bulk of shot will work quicker and bypass any small fish. Be careful to do this gradually, though, otherwise, you may get a few tangles!
Kinder pots rule
If I was fishing for just big carp then I’d definitely feed using a large pole cup to get a lot of bait into the peg. As I’m after predominantly F1s, though, a smaller pot on the end of the pole is much better.
This ensures that just enough micro pellets are going into the swim every drop-in to catch a fish quickly, but leaving enough to keep any other fish in the area on the hunt. If I big-potted, then I’d be giving the fish too much choice as to what to eat, and bites would be slower as a result.
The bait menu
I’m well aware that Horseshoe Lake is full of small roach, so I can instantly discount maggots as a feed from my plans. Although carp and F1s love them, the trouble you’ll get from small fish won’t be worth the hassle, so that means pellets all the way!
However, if the venue had few silver fish in it, I’d probably go for maggots – it’s all about the species of fish you’re expecting to catch.
My feed is made up of Van Den Eynde 2mm micro pellets that I dampen down before fishing to ensure they all sink. For the hook I’ll start on double red maggot but if roach are a problem, I’ll immediately switch to a 4mm Van Den Eynde RS Elite expander pellet – F1s in particular are suckers for an expander.
Floats – it’s like roach fishing
Because F1s are shy-biters you need to think about the float you are using. Obviously the wind strength and any tow on the lake will play a part in this decision but I like to fish as light as I can get away with. For fishing the pole into open water, I’d be thinking of a float taking between 0.3g and 0.7g. It’s a very similar thought process to the one I use when fishing for roach on my beloved drains and rivers.
I’m a big fan of slim pencil floats and although they may not look it, they are very stable and for this session, a 0.3g DT Floats model will be ample. Shotting is made up of a simple bulk of four No 9 shots plus a single No 9 dropper all grouped in the bottom third of the rig. The bulk is important as I suspect that many of the roach will be swimming around off bottom so I need to get through them quickly. The float is always dotted right down so that I can react to every indication – often all you’ll get from an F1 bite is a tiny ‘dink’ on the bristle. My advice is to strike at everything!
Use a solid pole!
I expect a quick response when starting on the pole and so it proves, with four plump F1s in four drops. Marvellous! However, the roach have also clocked on to the pellets being fed and are doing their best to take the double maggot hookbait at every opportunity. The logical step is to change baits so on goes a 4mm expander. There are good and bad aspects to this, the good being that the roach aren’t interested. The bad is that it’s taking much longer to get a bite compared to using maggots. However, when the float does go under it’s an F1 or a carp.
Tempting as it is to want to get bites and catch quickly, the reality is that at this time of year it often isn’t going to happen. If I could catch an F1 or a carp every five or 10 minutes in a pleasure session I’d be perfectly happy, and that seems to be the pattern of the day. It’s a bit of a wait, but eventually an F1 finds that expander too difficult to turn down.A couple of hours’ fishing fly by and before I know it, we’ve reached that magical time on commercial fisheries when the carp begin to move close in.