A crucial aspect of catching specimen fish is to ensure you’re fishing and feeding accurately over the right spot.
Last week I showed you how to set up and use a marker float rod to find hidden hotspots and depths in your swim.
Once you’ve found the feature you want to fish, you need to measure the distance from the bank, and then get your baited rods and baiting-up kit (spods, Spombs etc.) to hit the same spot.
This means you’re feeding and fishing in the perfect fish-holding features you’ve found with your marker rod.
Here’s how to do it…
Essential advice for casting accurately
‘Save’ the distance on your marker rod
After you’ve cast out your marker rod and found the ideal hotspot – gravel bar, drop-off, clear patch, depth – start to gently reel in to wind the marker float under the water until it reaches the lead.
It’s vital not to reel too hard as you don’t want to move the lead, and using a really big lead around 4oz will help you achieve this.
When the float is at the lead, ensure the marker rod is in the same position as your rods will be on your pod or banksticks, and place the line under the reel’s line clip. You now have that distance ‘saved’ on the rod and you can use it to mark out your other rods.
Set up other rods
Distance sticks are an invaluable tool in the specimen angler’s armoury. I start by setting my two sticks 12ft apart, the same length as my rods.
I then place the lead and marker float at the base of a marker stick and, letting line off the reel spool, wind the line around the sticks, counting each ‘wrap’ around them until you hit the line clip.
I like to use marker sticks that have toggles on a string running between them, as these allow you to mark the distance precisely.
Once you’ve removed the marker rod you need to do the same thing with your actual fishing rods.
Start by placing your bomb or feeder around the base of one stick and then wind the line around the sticks until you get to the same number of ‘wraps’ as the marker rod.
Instead of clipping up, I prefer to tie a short length of bright elastic to my line which marks the distance to your spot.
You can do the same with your spod or Spomb rods to ensure you’re feeding accurately, although I prefer to clip this rod up using the line clip on my reel.
Mark with elastic
When marking the distance with elastic, I like my line marker to be placed at the tip ring so it’s easy to spot after casting.
If using a marker near the reel, the cast only has to be slightly short for the marker to be on the spool, and there’s also the chance that a marker near the reel can get caught in the bobbin or alarm as the fish takes line on the bite.
The main advantage, though, is that with practice you can stop a cast as you hear the elastic going through the rings.
Tying an elastic marker
I like to use fine pole or marker elastic to mark my lines. I prefer a thin elastic, as this has least impact on the cast.
I use about 5cm of pole elastic and tie it on by creating a loop and passing one end of the elastic through the loop four times. It is just like tying a grinner knot on to the main line.
Pull the ends of the elastic very gently to ensure the knot tightens up neatly. I like to ensure the knot as tight as possible without breaking the elastic – that way it doesn’t move after a few casts. The only way to find out how tight to pull it is by trial and error!
Clip the line up
Although I mark my distance with elastic I also use the line clip on my reel to ensure I’m fishing at the exact range.
Clip up with the line marker about two feet past the tip ring to allow for the slack line that needs to be taken up after casting.
When casting, use the rod to cushion the impact and then follow the end tackle down with the rod-tip until it hits the bottom, then sink the rod tip to help submerge the line as quickly as possible.
Check where the line marker is when the line is tight – if it is short of the tip ring you need the marker further from the rod tip when clipping up, and vice-versa.
Generally, the deeper the water the further the marker needs to be from the tip to ensure that when everything has settled the marker is where you want it – at the tip ring.
Once I’m on my spot I will remove the line from the clip so when I get a run the fish can take line.
Cast at a feature
All the stages so far enable you to cast an exact distance, but the direction of the cast is equally important.
Once you have found the spot you wish to cast to, take note of what is on the far bank as this will be what you need to aim your cast at.
It doesn’t have to be a far-bank marker – a buoy or other floating mark may be better – but beware of relying on anything that can move about!
I like to set my rods up so that they point directly where I am casting. Not only does this improve bite detection, it helps you cast accurately if mist has obscured your chosen mark.