Harry Pratt reveals how the right choice of kit and tactics can help you outwit wary, line-shy carp…
You rarely see or hear anything about back leads these days, but in the right situation they can be a godsend. Okay, so on gravel pits which have wildly undulating bottoms, a back lead is either pointless or, sometimes, a hindrance. However, on waters with more uniform lakebeds they can still play a huge role in concealing your line. There are two types of back lead which live in my tackle box. First, the traditional back lead which is attached after casting and slid down the main line to somewhere a rod length or two out and, secondly, flying back leads. These are placed on the line prior to casting and, as the name suggests, they fly up the line to settle somewhere behind your leader, therefore pinning the last few yards of line to the lake bed. As well as the larger versions of traditional back lead, I favour the Edges Multi-Purpose varieties as these can be used as both a standard and flying back lead with the addition or removal of the clip section. They’re really easy to attach and can be added and removed in seconds.
SLACK VS TIGHT
Okay, so most anglers will tell you that the best way to conceal your main line is by fishing it slack. This means having the bobbin almost on the floor and allowing the majority of the main line to sit flush on the bottom. Slack lining has its advantages and disadvantages, but it certainly isn’t the most efficient when it comes to bite indication.If you are using a back lead, then fishing with a slack line is pointless. In fact, especially when using the traditional type of back lead, a tighter line is far better. Just be sure that it isn’t so tight that it lifts the back lead of the bottom!
MAIN LINE CHOICE
Unless you are fishing at ultra long range and, therefore require something with a thin diameter, and maybe even braid, a sinking main line is a must. Most monofilaments these days sink, but it’s worth checking. I use Fox Torque, a really good value line that is strong, durable and, importantly, sinks. If you’re trying to keep everything as stealthy as possible, it’s no good having to constantly fight to sink your main line. Far better to use one that sinks of its own accord. You may even go the whole hog and use fluorocarbon, which sinks like the proverbial brick. You’ll know how well your line is sinking as, when you retrieve it, you literally feel it lifting up through the water with a fair bit of resistance.
There are two elements to being stealthy when it comes to hook link material: does it sink and is it well camouflaged? The last ting you want is a hook link that stands out like a sore thumb on the lake bed, regardless of how good you think carp’s eyesight is. Even more importantly, your hook link should sink under its own weight, just like your main line. I think that carp will shy off feeling your hook link long before they will do so from seeing it. I use Camo-Tex Semi-Stiff, not only because the two camo versions cover all situations, but it sinks really well too. I don’t mind adding a little blob of putty to the line, especially on longer hook links, but I’d sooner not have to.
Trust me, I honestly believe that your hook link sinking well is a must, after all this is the bit that carp hopefully gets closest to!
I’ve saved the most important element here until last, and that is the leader material. Provided the fishery rules allow, I have always used a leadcore leader above my lead setup. However, more recently, with the advent of lead-free leaders I have opted to use Submerge, Fox’s own version. The camo finish on this is excellent, but that’s not the main reason why I use it. Submerge scores brilliantly compared to leadcore when it comes to how supple the material is. Naturally, the lead wire inside leadcore makes it inherently stiffer than a material which doesn’t have it in. Remove the lead and you have a material far more supple than any leadcore. Why is this important, you might ask? Well, it’s quite simple. The more supple the leader the better it will hug the contours of the lake bed, as well as sit better over any debris and obstructions on the bottom.
If you take a length of leadcore and a similar length of lead-free leader and hold it between two hands, you will see that the lead-free hangs down far more limply. To better demonstrate this, lay the two materials side by side on the floor, but over a few stones or a twig. The lead-free leader hugs the floor and the gaps between the obstructions, whereas leadcore will rise up it a greater angle. You might think that this isn’t going to make a huge difference, but carp fishing is all about percentages, remember. Any gains you can make in the stealth of your end tackle might just be the difference between a bite and a blank. The only thing to perhaps bear in mind is that lead free leaders are a little lighter compared to leadcore. This isn’t an issue when using lead clips or inline presentations, but may require a little more putty on your swivel when fishing a chod rig.Other than that, use Submerge exactly how you would use leadcore. It splices the same, casts as well if not better, and sinks extremely well. However, unlike leadcore, remember, it hugs the lake bed perfectly.