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MATCHING THE SCENARIO
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MATCHING THE SCENARIO Posted by ,

John Kneebone takes a look at choosing the right hookbait for the fishing situation - in this case weed...

There are so many factors that go into generating a bite, and even more that go into making them count that for me I think you need to try and optimise as many of these elements as you possible can. Especially when fishing low-stock waters, pressured fish or tricky situations, but… this attention to details is equally as important when fishing a prolific venue when you want to keep the action going.

It’s then obviously vitally important to apply an approach that best matches the fishing situation, with a suitable rig, feed of bait, as well as one thing that needs to complement all these things – your hookbait. Venture onto a lake that contains any manor or amount of weed and straightaway you can take this hookbait importance up a level…

In any weedy situation, there is one single, primary thing to do – make sure the fish can find your hookbait. Yes, I know, sounds like I’m stating the obvious, and I suppose I am to a certain extent, but actually achieving this plain and simple objective is often far more difficult that you’d think.

So when it comes to the hookbait the first port of call has to be pop-ups, and pop-ups that are reliably buoyant. Ones that can maintain the performance of what will often be ‘heavy’ rigs such as the Chod Rig for long periods if needed. On occasion, such has been the difficulty in presenting the pop-up in the first place that I’ve left hookbaits in-situ for two days or more.

Over a long period of time such as this, your pop-up may also need to withstand the constant attentions of nuisance fish. So for me I much prefer a solid pop-up rather than cork ball version with a thin skin of paste that softens in the water. To preserve my hookbait confidence further I also like to try and not scale down from a 15mm pop-up wherever possible.

15mm to 18mm baits have less chance of being taken by an unwanted roach etc. and with more mass couple one of my favoured rigs for fishing in and around weed: The Hinge Rig.

There are stacks of different weeds, but they all attract carp
There are stacks of different weeds, but they all attract carp
Weedy waters are tricky, but not impossible
Weedy waters are tricky, but not impossible

As I’ve said, my main objective where weed is concerned is making sure carp can find the hookbait. So all I’m really bothered about is that the pop-up is above the weed and the hook isn’t masked. The Hinge Rig does this perfectly. When the pop-up is balanced to sink slowly, the ‘hinge’ and break I the hooklink means that the ‘boom’ section of the hooklink may be swallowed by weed, but the two to three-inch shorter, stiff section below the hook will remain above. In fact I’m really not too bothered at what angle the boom section sits in the weed. It could be at 45 degrees or even vertical, just as long as the hook and pop-up remain clear of weed. What’s more the Hinge Rig will reset itself if disturbed by nuisance species.

Many anglers will favour the Chod Rig where weed is a problem, and I will use it myself from time to time. Again the qualities of this rig are very similar to that of the Hinge Rig. Although in my experience, especially where I’ve had opportunity to view my Choddy through an Aqua-scope after casting - the Chod can have a habit of ‘hanging-up’ in the weed or in mid water when large undulations between the top of the weedbeds and the lakebed are present.

The Hinge Rig on the other hand presents the hookbait below the lead and not above it. So as long as you can feel the lead down onto the bottom with a single donk, your pop-up will most like settle nicely into position – well presented within the weed, which where possible is most certainly an edge. After all, the weedbeds will hold a massive amount of natural foods for the carp to gorge upon. It therefore stands to reason that carp living within a weedy home will predominantly feed and feel safest doing so in the weed. Yes finding clear spots can often be necessary and should not be ignored, but being able to actually fish within weed is the perfect situation.

Some weeds are more suitable to fishing in than others: onion weed is top of my list – soft, weak and fibrous, you can pretty much cast into the middle of it. Even weeds such as silkweed, which again will be home to masses of natural carp tucker, can be good areas to target. The long strands of silkweed will lay flat on the deck and move with the undertow of water present in every lake, which is generally where the problems begin with hookbaits and rigs literally being swallowed-up.

As is the case with the Hinge Rig I’m happy for the main boom section of hooklink that is engulfed, just as long as the hookbait remains ‘take-able’. Slow sinking Balanced Wafters are ideal for this and have become a firm favourite of mine since they’re release. When fished with a long hooklink of 14-inches or more, they rest nicely on the weed despite it covering the hook length.

From pop-ups to balanced wafting hookbaits, the one common factor here is hookbait buoyancy. This is absolutely crucial, because free food will be readily available and easily found by the carp in weed and so must your hookbait.

Bright pop-ups: making it easier for the fish to find
Bright pop-ups: making it easier for the fish to find
The Hinge Rig: one of favoured ways of presenting a hookbait in weed
The Hinge Rig: one of favoured ways of presenting a hookbait in weed

Some weeds are more suitable to fishing in than others: onion weed is top of my list – soft, weak and fibrous, you can pretty much cast into the middle of it. Even weeds such as silkweed, which again will be home to masses of natural carp tucker, can be good areas to target. The long strands of silkweed will lay flat on the deck and move with the undertow of water present in every lake, which is generally where the problems begin with hookbaits and rigs literally being swallowed-up.

Feel the lead down to the bottom and it’s often possible to fish within the weed instead of the obvious clear areas
Feel the lead down to the bottom and it’s often possible to fish within the weed instead of the obvious clear areas
The easiest way to find your spots and fish safely – a single lead mounted on a lead clip
The easiest way to find your spots and fish safely – a single lead mounted on a lead clip
The Chod Rig has its place for fishing in weed, but it does have its drawbacks
The Chod Rig has its place for fishing in weed, but it does have its drawbacks

As is the case with the Hinge Rig I’m happy for the main boom section of hooklink that is engulfed, just as long as the hookbait remains ‘take-able’. Slow sinking Balanced Wafters are ideal for this and have become a firm favourite of mine since they’re release. When fished with a long hooklink of 14-inches or more, they rest nicely on the weed despite it covering the hook length.

From pop-ups to balanced wafting hookbaits, the one common factor here is hookbait buoyancy. This is absolutely crucial, because free food will be readily available and easily found by the carp in weed and so must your hookbait.

Balanced Wafters and long rigs are great for taking on low-lying weeds such as silkweed
Balanced Wafters and long rigs are great for taking on low-lying weeds such as silkweed

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