It can be proper action stations when a big carp is hooked on rod and line gear, and I’m sure we’ve all got tales to tell down the years of an unseen monster seeing us off.
Yet there’s no reason, given the quality of tackle we have today, why even 20lb fish cannot be landed safely on standard float or feeder kit.
Every bit of your set-up needs to be right, of course, but just as important is how you actually play the fish.
Winding hard and pulling hard will only result in the hook springing free or, worse still, the line breaking, often on that first run as soon as a carp is hooked.
Your best friend in this situation is your reel, more especially the clutch and backwind facilities. These allow line to be released under control, yet lots of anglers shy away from using either, reasoning that they let the fish, not them, dictate the battle.
Backwind, especially, is a must and is the route I take for most of my rod fishing on commercials. It lets me release line quickly and with the minimum of fuss.
Tension the clutch
The key with any clutch is to get the tension right. Too tight and you’ll not give any line, too slack and you’ll never be in control. I’d begin with medium tension on the clutch and alter it once I’ve caught a few fish and know what I can get away with.
Backwinding is my preferred way of playing fish. I simply pop my finger over the lip of the spool to trap line when required and release it when line needs to be given. When fishing I’ll have the backwind off, bringing it into play the moment I hook a fish.
Use the line clip
Many anglers are frightened to use the line clip, but there’s no need to be. Just keep the rod vertical after casting, then put it in the rest. You’ll then have a few turns of line to get back on the reel before the rod-tip tightens as a fish runs.
Short rods are best
The shorter the rod, the better. A 10ft rod will get fish closer to the bank at netting time. For standard feeder casts (up to 40m) a 10ft rod is fine, while for the pellet waggler, 11ft is enough, as most of this type of fishing is done at fairly close range.