We now expect all fish that look to be on, above or near to fifty pounds to be kept in the water for all unhooking, checking, weighing and photographing. We have been doing this with the new cradles for a while now and it’s the only way to ensure their safety.
NEW Lake Record caught on 26th. April 2017 at 76lb 15oz
I tend to scan the forums and facebook threads and can't help but notice that the vast majority of "experts" suggest that it is necessary, essential or absolutely imperative that we should all use heavy (4 of 5 ounce) leads in order to hook the fish. These leads must also always be attached via a lead clip to make them "semi fixed" and to ensure that they are lost on the take.
Many years ago, through the eighties and into the early nineties I also went down this route and I can remember having a conversation with Joe Taylor in J&K tackle about it. The end of our conversation resulted in us deciding that we were getting less bites but hooking more fish. However, I still couldn't shake off the memories of tench fishing where the lead "needed to be free running" and fishing for cats on Claydon House where the accepted philosophy was that "if they felt any tension they would drop the bait." This latter statement related to a fish which was considered not to be the sharpest tool in the box?
To my chagrin I didn't experiment but allowed myself to be convinced by the magazine articles. However, several of us had been messing around with running rigs .......... but only in the margins? I now ask myself why but there you go. Anyway, in 1995 I was having a fair amount of success on Linear’s's Manor Farm lake and thirties were becoming slightly more common in my net. During a summer evening I found three thirties feeding close in in the back bay. I crept round with my stalking rod, complete with 1 ounce lead on a run ring and, by laying in the grass, managed to present three grains of corn to them without disturbing them. All was going to plan until some heavy footed oaf walked up to where I was laying and asked "any luck mate?" I struggled to keep my calm but needless to say the carp and the intruder were both spooked and left the scene PDQ.
I was gutted and wound in the rod only to notice that the fish had moved to the opposite bank of the bay, a distance of maybe 40 yards from memory. I knew that I didn't have time to change rigs or go back for one of my other rods so flicked out the light lead. Pure luck meant that it landed a couple of yards from the fish and towards the mouth of the bay. I lay the rod on the ground pulled off some line and sat back to see what happened. In fact it was probably twenty minutes later that the rod lurched, the line pinged out of the clip and the reel began to tick. "Bugger me I've hooked one" I thought as I leaned on the fish.
A short scrap later saw a 32lb scaley mirror go in the net. Job done I though and walked confidently back to my bivvy. It still didn't immediately dawn on me what had happened and out went my 4 ounce leads on clips, on lead core and back into the alarms went my rods with the line as tight as possible. I don't think I caught any more that session but I do remember, later, sitting in the living room with Jan and suddenly wondering whether that running rig would work on my "normal" rods. It had to be worth a go and the next session saw me fishing it but still with the lead core and heavy leads.
I probably caught a few carp on that set up but then came the next "step" in the evolution. I was testing my rigs and had lowered one into the shallow bay to the side of my swim. I stood looking down at it, thinking, "that all looks good" when the realisation dawned. I'm six feet plus, the rig was in two feet of water and I could see every inch of it. Eight feet away from my eyes and I can see the bloody knots? And here I am expecting a big carp to "kiss" it without being spooked. Another change was needed.
Pure chance led me to read a fly fishing magazine which extolled the virtues of a new phenomenon; fluorocarbon. Unfortunately the only one that I could find at the time was one called "Vanish" which, quite frankly was dire for tying to hooks or swivels so I had to use much heavier BS than I would have liked. However, it worked. I lowered one into the margins and all that could be seen was the lead and the bait ........... fantastic for the confidence. On top of that it worked on the fish too. On the 5th November of the following year (1996) I banked my first ever English forty in the shape of "Popeye" at 40lb 2oz.
Since than I have continued to use the running rigs and my realisation has been that it doesn't need the heavy leads either. My first forty was whilst using a three ounce lead and I now use 1.5 or 2 ounce leads and have continued to catch many more forty plus carp up to a PB of 66lb 8oz.
The materials have continued to improve and each part of the equation has been amended until I now use big, sharp (size 2) hooks tied "D" rig style with Rig Marole CamH2o fluoro hook links and then through an Enterprise snag safe run ring and onto Gardner Mirage main line.
I would hate anyone to dismiss this as only being suitable for my own shallow estate lake and, while it does work extremely well here, I have used it successfully on gravel pits, weedy conditions, and in heavy silt as well as the tried and tested hard spots over baited areas.
I will end by saying that this isn't an article to show how everyone should switch to light running rigs but more to say "try something different and don't assume that the gospel according to carp magazines is the only (or even the best) way to go carp angling."