Before you run for the hills, it’s not how it sounds! Instead, Lewis Porter reveals why he’s ditched leadcore and other leaders for a stealthier, straight-through main line approach.
For as long as I can remember, lead-free leaders, and before that leadcore, formed my standard armoury on pretty much every water I fished. However, more recently, and after listening to Rob Hughes’ accounts of underwater filming, I’ve gone in a different direction all together.
Rob told me that, in absolutely every case of his underwater dives, the hardest material to see was either fluorocarbon or simple monofilament lines. When we were filming he’d tell me that he could usually find a rig straight away by first spotting the leader material. However, with fluoro or mono he had to actively search it out.
I was fishing at Bundy’s during this time and, while there was no leader ban per se, leadcore was banned. I started using a 30lb Illusion fluorocarbon leader, which was nice and heavy as well as being invisible, or as near as. When looking at my setup in the margins it was perfect and, usually, the only thing I could see would be my hook bait. However, there was a slight issue, especially when fishing one or two specific swims. Because there was a knot joining the leader to my main line, weed would often catch and gather on it and, when playing a fish, would get jammed in the tip ring. This obviously made landing the fish very difficult.
I spoke to Rob about it and he said that the solution was a simple, straight-through mono, preferably the thickest I could get away with in a casting sense. I soon started fishing the caravan lake for the linear and had loaded my reels with 23lb Exocet anyway because of the weed in that lake. I decided on fishing it straight through with no leader of any description, but with just a couple of blobs of tungsten putty rolled on to the last 6-7ft of line just to ensure it’s pinned down in this vital area.I was happy casting the 23lb Exocet up to around 80 yards but anything past that saw me switch to the Tapered Exocet Line, which tapers down from 35lb to 15lb and, without any knots, it’s effectively like fishing a thick mono leader but with the added casting ability. The 0.50 diameter line would be just like having the old fluorocarbon at the business end.I’ve fished this way now ever since and no longer incorporate leaders unless I really need something to behave as an abrasion leader, in which case I use the lead-free.
It’s been said that fishing without a leader or tubing is bad for the fish, but I disagree. I can only speak from my own findings and experience and I have honestly never lifted a scale when using the 23lb, 0.40 diameter mono or the tapered leader line. Think about it, what’s the difference between this and zig fishing, for example, where there is similarly no leader and there are far finer lines being used. If I landed a carp and found that my tactics had damaged it I any way then I would obviously reconsider, but it simply hasn’t been the case thus far. What other people do and how they approach their fishing is their business, but in my opinion there’s no issue.Most of my fishing is done with a lead-clip setup, usually with a hinged stiff rig incorporating a supple or semi stiff boom section. Even the firmest feeling spots often have some sort of detritus on so I find these materials sit far better on the bottom than something really stiff.
If I’m fishing at maximum range then I’d switch to a helicopter setup with what some people call the MK2 chod rig, but which is essentially a short stiff hinged rig. This time I use the 30lb Rigidity as the short boom section.Even with the helicopter arrangement I still fish the tapered line straight through, with a Tungsten Main Line Sinker and 5mm bead above the rig, not too far, but enough to stop it flying up the line. At the lead end I use a Drop-Off Heli Buffer Sleeve which has got a short, tapered rubber head which protects the line from any potential damage from the swivel when playing a fish. The chances of the 0.50 tapered line breaking due to the swivel rubbing is unlikely, but this offers absolute peace of mind, especially when using the same line over a period of time. You can also fish this system to drop the lead on the take if you want to, with the addition of a PVA stop, but there’s still enough resistance to hold the lead on a normal retrieve.
I will drop the lead if it’s at all weedy or snaggy but in open-water situations I won’t bother. With the short rig I don’t really think that the carp can use the lead to their advantage in working the hook out, so it just doesn’t come into my thinking. I see people trying to demonstrate this by shaking a lead around in the air, but with the water resistance added to the equation I honestly don’t think this happens. Anyway, I digress…
Getting back the naked fishing, there’s an issue that some people may query and that’s the potential for tangles, given the lack of tubing or a leader material. With the helicopter setup, the rotational element of the rig means that it’s very rarely going to tangle, even when just using the main line. However, there might be a little more potential for tangles with the lead clip arrangement, but I use two PVA foam nuggets in a mesh bag and nick it on to the hook before casting. This gives the separation through the air and I can also physically watch it for any signs of a potential tangle. Feathering the cast and hitting the clip to straighten everything out also helps avoid tangles and, of course, the foam nuggets delay the rig settling on the lake bed so work to aid presentation too.
One last thing I do to help avoid tangles is to replace my tail rubber with a Naked Line Tail Rubber from the Edges range. This is longer than a usual tail rubber but is also specially tapered so that it’s really narrow at the line end. I used to cut the ends of anti tangle sleeves and jam them into a tail rubber in order to create this but when I showed it to Scott and Shaun at Fox and explained why I did it – basically the line could catch round the back of a standard tail rubber when fishing naked – they took it on board and produced the new Naked Line versions. These are also great when zig fishing.
That’s me nearly done but I want to just outline a potential pitfall when using rig tubing, for any of you who have read this and thought I’ve not made much mention of it.
With a lead clip setup, if you eject the lead (which is the main reason to use one) then the tail rubber gets pushed off the clip itself when the lead leaves the retaining arm. Now you have a situation where the tubing, which, remember, is attached to the tail rubber and not the lead clip, becomes detached from the clip and can then travel freely up the line. This is a disaster when fishing anywhere weedy and will lead to you having al sorts of problems when playing the fish. I just wanted to add that so that you can read this with an open mind and be aware of the good and the bad points of leaders and, now, tubing. Ultimately it’s down to your own preference and, to a large degree, the type of carp fishing you enjoy, but I hope I’ve given you at least some food for thought when it comes to this all-important area of our tackle arrangement.