IT’S been 10 years since Korda stunned carp anglers across the country with Underwater 7 & 8, in which boss Danny Fairbrass banked two of Linear Fisheries’ biggest carp, while revealing just how much fish actually get away with.
Well, now Korda have finally gone back beneath the surfacce once more, armed with technology that has come on leaps and bounds – but unlike before, not everything fell into place on this occasion.
‘Test Tapes’ catalogues the trials and tribulations of their recent underwater outing at Lac Luna in France. Given the swim, spot and number of fish visiting the cameras, this is arguably the best angling yet on display in an Underwater film.
We recently caught up with one of the stars of the show, Tom Dove, who talked us through what they learned from this tough shoot. His advice may be exactly what you need to get a bite in the toughest of conditions…
FLAVOURS & COLOURS
“Whether you look back at Underwater 7 & 8 or the recent ‘Test Tapes’, I can’t emphasise enough just how important hookbait choice is. In all three films you can clearly see the fish show a preference for different colours and flavours, despite there being loads of free bait in the swim. If you have the right hookbait on they will single that out very quickly.
“For this reason, when we don’t have an underwater camera to observe how the fish are reacting to certain things, I’d suggest starting your session with three different hookbaits and see which the fish prefer on the day. Then, once you’ve had a bite, switch over the others to match it.
“On all our films, the fish have shown a real appetite for a pink Almond Goo-flavoured hookbait. This doesn’t mean this will always be the case, but it could well be a good starting point for clear gravel spots in the spring, which is when these were filmed.
“Flavours are vital too – we have seen fish show little interest in just a washed-out pink, but then a washed-out pink with Almond flavour has got multiple pick-ups. It’s all about experimenting and finding what they want. If you think the fish are around, are keen to feed in your swim and you’ve not caught one, change your hookbait. It’s one of the biggest factors determining if you will get a bite or not.”
“One of the advantages of having an underwater camera in the swim is we can see how much bait is on the bottom and, more importantly, how much and what the fish are eating.
“In a normal fishing situation, Dan and I think around 8-11 Spombs is enough bait to kick off a one-rod spot.
“Obviously, there are some variables to this, namely range and accuracy. If the accuracy isn’t on point, up the amount of bait you introduce. If you can bait with pinpoint accuracy, just three Spombs will be enough to generate a bite.
“From the Underwater films you can see that the fish don’t come and just sit on the spot eating everything. They tend to drift in, have a mouthful and are off again. It’s when they come in together that you often have the biggest chance of getting a take.
“Where Dan and I differ in our angling slightly is that on the Underwater films Dan likes to introduce a mix of bait, so he can see which items the fish pick out – and believe me, some fish can be very picky indeed!
“In my own fishing, however, I like to eliminate this guesswork and just stick to one type of feed on the spot. I might fish three spots, all with different baits on, until I know what works – this could be corn, boilies, maggots, you name it. But at least then I know, if fish are feeding in that area, there’s only one thing my hookbait needs to be.”
ONE RIG TO RULE THEM ALL
“Perhaps one of my favourite all-time underwater filming moments came in our recent ‘Test Tapes’ and that was watching Dan, despite having full confidence in his Combi rig, getting royally mugged off by the fish. This was redemption from when it was happening to my number one rig 10 years ago at Linear too.
“I won’t spoil it too much for those who haven’t seen it yet, but Danny made a switch to what is now the rig I use in some variation in my own fishing all the time, and transformed his results.
“A stiff fluorocarbon boom and Ronnie/Spinner section is almost impossible for the fish to deal with. It’s pretty much the only rig I use now, it’s that good.
“You can make adjustments to length, hook pattern and shape, but the mechanics are the same and that is what nails them – ‘Test Tapes’ once again highlights that point. There may be occasions when they can get away with it, but these are rare.
“It works with bottom baits, wafters, pop-ups, particles, over silt, low-lying weed, gravel, on a lead clip or heli style. It’s just the perfect rig.
“This wasn’t the most prolific underwater outing we have had, but hopefully, in this article and the film itself, we have shown that even if you can’t get on the bulk of the fish or on the best spot, if you get your tactics right you can still catch the few fish that might be in your swim.”
Keep it tight
PVA sticks and groundbait can be good to get a bite quickly without too much bait concentrated in the swim. But if fish are feeding in a picky fashion and are big, we noticed on the underwater cameras that a lot of the groundbait gets wafted off the bottom and all over the place. So be aware of their longevity in terms of effectiveness.
If you think the hookbait is right, scaling up your hook size will help avoid lost fish and dropped takes. Hooks are so good these days that even a size 4 is mega-sharp. Don’t worry about them seeing it, if the hookbait attraction is right, they will take it anyway.
NOT SEEN IT YET? WATCH 'TEST TAPES' HERE.