Without doubt one of the most important skills we carp anglers have to have is the ability to place our hook baits as accurately as possible. It doesn’t matter if we are fishing under our rod tips, a 50-yard chuck or trying to cast to the horizon, if we’re not confident with where our bait has landed we are certain to fail, says Mike Hamer.
I would be very surprised to hear if any anglers fish the exact same range every session, as it doesn’t matter what ideas you have, if the carp aren’t obeying by your rules they could end up being anywhere. For the main part, my preference is definitely margin fishing, but this is by no means something that I will employ every session.
It all very much depends on the water you are fishing and the distance the fish appear to be showing. There is certainly no point whatsoever trying to catch fish from the margins when they are putting on a show out in open water. Obviously a lot will depend on the size of the venue in question, but for the majority of waters you will rarely have the need to put a bait over 100-yards. In situations where you do, however, it can pay to follow a few simple guidelines when trying to accurately place a bait at this sort of range.
One luxury very few anglers will have is owning different set-up’s for all different ranges and situations. This means that it makes sense to look into a set-up which will comfortably cover every eventually across the board other than extreme distance fishing. In extreme distance I am talking about placing baits well in excess of 100-yards accurately. There are, of course, dedicated tools for this sort of work, but they’re generally a little too powerful for doing any margin work.
My weapons of choice have always been rods with a 2.75lb test-curve. The thing to remember is that the test-curve really only makes a massive difference when casting and anything more than this is often unnecessary in most situations. There are times when a heavier rod will allow for increased pressure to be applied to any hooked fish, but I’ve found that most blanks now-a-days can exert more than enough pressure to turn even the biggest of fish – quite often the harder you pull the harder they pull back anyway!
In recent seasons I have moved over from my previous rods to the new Shimano Tribal Supressa’s with a 2.75lb test curve rating. These rods are exceptionally soft on the tip which allows for plenty of ‘give’ when playing fish under the rod tip, but they have more than enough power to chuck leads over 100-yards when needed. As I’m also a huge fan of zig fishing as well, these rods double up perfectly for this job due to the soft tip, as this cushions ponderous head shakes when playing fish on small hooks and light lines.
When employing this sort of rod, you also have to make sure that you pair it up with a reel that is equally up to the job. Monstrous big pit reels aren’t needed in these situations, but the smaller ‘baby’ big pit reels are perfect for the job. I’m currently using my trusty Shimano Ultegra XTC 5500’s for all of my fishing work other than the mega chucks. They have an extremely compact body, but at the same time the larger spool size and tightly coiled line lay makes sure that casting performance is massively increased.
In all honesty, I would definitely be able to use reels of this size to cast much greater distances if it wasn’t for the fact that I much prefer to fish a fluorocarbon mainline. Fluoro definitely reduces the distance you can cast, but with the set-up highlighted I can still easily cast as far as I’ll usually need too. If I was to go back to a standard monofilament mainline, I would definitely be able to comfortably stick at least another 10-yards on my distance casting.
A line such as ACE’s Velocity Slick Tapered Leader Line is an ideal mainline for distance fishing, particularly on waters where shock leaders are banned. This line tapers from a 10m-long double thick section, down to either 10lb, 12lb or 15lb. The thicker tip allows you to power into the cast, while the thinner line below it provides less resistance during the flight.
The main thing to remember is that no matter how far you can cast, you just need to be able to place a bait as accurately as you can where you intend to fish. It is all well and good introducing plenty of feed in a certain area, but if you cannot place your hook bait over the top of it, it becomes pretty irrelevant!
Let’s cover casting at close range first, as this is often where I see people making a few mistakes. As easy as it may sound, casting within the first 20-yards of the bank is something many anglers seem to struggle with. Unlike winding up for the big cast, a shorter cast doesn’t require the angler to bring the rod behind him at all, a simple under arm cast is all that is needed. Overhead casts at such short distances usually mean more water disturbances and also less time to feel the lead down in the ‘usually’ shallower water often found close in.
Under arm casting is pretty straight forward, but there are definitely a few tips for this. The first and quite possibly the most important is the drop between the rod tip and lead. Unlike a normal cast, this wants to be about 10ft long if you’re using a 12ft rod. It is then all about building the momentum by swinging the lead out and back in until it is released with a gentle flick on its way out. Try performing this on a much shorter line and you will find that the lead goes skyward more than outward.
It is also a lot easier to do with a lead that doesn’t overload your rod and I’ll usually opt for a lead no larger than about 1.5oz when fishing so close. The lighter lead also creates a lot less disturbance, which is an added bonus. As with all my casting, I make sure that I have a far bank, or in some case a near bank, marker that I can aim to for repeatedly casting to the same spot.
For the majority of anglers, casts of up to 60-70 yards range will be about the norm, and achieving these distances with 2.75lb test curve rods is very easy. Writing exactly how the cast is made is no easy feat, as it is something that most anglers just do without even thinking about, but there are plenty of little tips to make sure you cast as accurately as you can.
First things first you need to know where you want your hook bait to land! This may sound pretty straight forward, but if you have baited up an area, you need to make sure that you are going to be presenting a bait over it, not 20 yards past it. One thing to bear in mind is that when clipping up to a marker float or other visible marker, when your lead lands on a tight line it will pendulum back towards you, so you need to know the depth of the water you are fishing over. When you know this, you will know roughly how much further past the marker you need to clip up to in order for your rig to swing back down so that it comes to rest over your bait. Once the correct distance has been clipped up, I will mark the line so that I can always clip back up to the same distance. Highly visible marker elastic is the best thing to use for this purpose and the bright orange or neon green ACE Range-It elastic fits the bill perfectly.
Another thing that is very important is your standing position, because if you decided to cast at a clipped up marker from a completely different area in your swim, the chances are that your hook bait is going to land somewhere different. This may not be a big issue if you are fishing over a large area, but I always like to place my rig near enough on the same spot time after time again.
With your standing position and distance marked out, you then need to know where you’re aiming at in relation to the far bank. I always pick a far bank mark such as a large tree, bush, pylon or in my situation at the moment a theme park ride! Whatever you choose, make sure that if you a fishing through the night the marker creates a silhouette that can clearly be seen after dark so that you can continue to fish accurately.
Ready to cast, leave about a 6ft drop and focus hard on your target with the rod out in front of you. As soon as you’re happy you have lined up your target bring the rod back and cast as the lead comes behind you, the momentum of this movement will help to hit much further distances. When fishing in the 60-70 yards range, you won’t need to punch it with all of your might, but if you feel that you have wound it up a bit too much try feathering the line a little sooner than you normally would so that the lead doesn’t hit the clip with quite so much force.
I like to use ACE Stubby Leads around the 2oz mark for this distance, but will up them slightly if the wind is making things awkward. My distance casting routine is exactly the same except I will obviously put a lot more into the cast and use a distance lead. I don’t like to go anything bigger than a 3oz lead with my 2.75’s, and in most situations I will tie on a shock leader just in case a break off occurs.
I have my standard rigs that I use for different distances, with my extreme distance snowman setup being the one that leaves a few anglers scratching their heads! This is a rig that may look a little weird, but believe me it has caught me some serious fish – including a recent unknown 36lb 12oz common from my target water.
No matter where your next fishing session is taking you, try and take with you a few tips from this and hopefully no matter what distance your fishing at you will be able to land you hook bait on the money every time – hopefully it will result in a few fish on the bank as well!
For a full rundown on how to tie my distance casting rig, follow the series of images at this link >>> http://www.acecarp.com/tips/top-casting-tips-for-carp-fishing.
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