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John Kneebone continues to pose the questions and pick the brains of Colne Valley carper, Kenny Dorset.

Do you think edges still exist?

“Yes, definitely.”

“Even though so much is put out there on Facebook, Twitter etc.?”

“Yeah, you can still have an edge. We’re human, we’re all trying to beat or do the best we can, so I’m absolutely convinced there’s always something around the corner. If there wasn’t, we’d always be doing the same things. You’ve got to keep one jump ahead, and I think there are still edges out there. What they are, I don’t know, but I’m still trying and I’ve been doing this about fifty years.”

1988: 34lb 8oz, my first thirty from an Essex club lake (Not Little Grange)
1988: 34lb 8oz, my first thirty from an Essex club lake (Not Little Grange)
1997: 49lb 4oz from Little Grange, the then Essex record
1997: 49lb 4oz from Little Grange, the then Essex record

“In that time you must have seen some significant changes within carp fishing?”

“God… where do you start? Rods: we used to use ten-footers, now they’re 12ft. We used to use 8lb line and now we’re using 15, 18, 20lb line. You’ve got bigger reels too. We used to be using Mitchells and 55’s, and some people were casting a 100yds with those! How did they do it? I’ve no idea, but they did! I couldn’t cast that far, that’s why most of my fishing was done in the margins and still is today.
“When I started, I was using size 8 Super Specialist; you wouldn’t get 18lb line through the eye once let alone three times for a Knotless Knot! How times have changed, but has it made any difference to the fishing? Yes, it’s got better. We’re using bigger and stronger kit, better hooks and better bait. Although it gives everybody the same opportunity, it mucks it up for people like me, because you’ve not got the edges anymore. Them edges are gone. Sharpening your hooks, I always used to sharpen my hooks, but not now. They’re all chemically sharpened; I sooner change one after catching a fish. In the past I’ve sharpened hooks to such a point that one bump on a stone and they‘ve burred over. Then you get a take but you loose the fish.”

Kenny still uses paste from time to time
Kenny still uses paste from time to time

“You’re giving all my secrets away! Yeah, I love people casting distances; I think the more people casting out to the middle the better for me, because I love fishing in the margins and people give it a big miss. Put some bait in the margins and watch it and you’ll see – there’s nothing better than the margins for the fish to patrol along. Right under your feet they’ll be and people don’t even see them. Of course if I see fish rolling and jumping in the middle, I’ll cast to them, but if I see fish in the margins too I’ll leave those fish in the middle to everyone else. Half the time you spook them with a lead anyway. In the margins you can creep about, watch and wait until fish move off – it gives you loads of edges.”

“Yeah, when you’re on a gin clear pit you can learn so much. People are always just looking out into the lake. If the fish are in the margins, there’ll be fizzing, bubbling and the water will colour up; the fish don’t need to jump to show they’re there. In six-feet of clear water you can see everything; I’ve sat for hours and hours watching fish. Over at LG I’ve sat up in a tree watching fish picking up baits and ‘do’ me over time and time again. You could put a thousand baits in and they’d eat them all and leave yours; ten baits they’d eat them all and leave yours. They’d pick it up, drop it, pick it up, drop it, over an over again. Incredible, and then you’ve got to work out how to catch them!”

“Again, it was a while ago now. One of my friends showed me a pattern of hook which was a fly hook with a slight curve to it. I tried to find a similar pattern but stronger, but no one did one. Then the ‘curves’ came out and I was able to try what I wanted to do. Quite simple really: I went around the hook twice, flicked out the Hair, went around another three times, then back through the eye to form the Knotless Knot and then I add a split shot on the Hair because initially I wanted a pop-up that would be close to the bottom; I didn’t want it two-inches, an inch, half-an-inch off the bottom, I wanted it really close. With the curved hook like it was, if you put the shot right up, really tight against the back of the shank of the hook it kicked it out even more. With that 45-degree angle, I thought ‘surely if they pick that up, I’ve got to be able to catch on that?’ I gave it a try and never looked back.
“I fished a little club water in the winter where I decided to just fish the evenings, no days or nights, just the evenings and had amazing results, catching fish I didn’t even know were in there. Then I gave it a go on a really easy water, I was catching loads of fish and there was this other fella who hadn’t had a bite, so I said, “Go opposite me” because I was catching and cast to the same spot. It was only a small lake, 30-40yds each to the halfway mark. I wanted to know if he would catch on his rigs. He was getting liners like you wouldn’t believe because I’d baited the area but I was catching fish. Then he came round and asked what I was doing, so I showed him. I said, “Here you are, take this” and gave him my rig. He took it around and caught straight away and I thought, ‘yeah, that’d do for me’.

Like I said, at first it was difficult to find the right hook. Those fly hooks were very light in the wire and you had to play fish very carefully. The pattern was brilliant, but they weren’t strong enough, then I believe it was Adam Penning who came up with the curved hooks. They came out in all different sizes and I started using them in size 10 as they were much stronger. Unbeknown to me, I could have used them in eights or sixes and I probably would of done better with them.

It was just luck that it all came about really when I bumped into Max Cottis; he and Adam were working together at Fox and he had five of these hooks in a pack. I said, “I’ve got to have them”, but that’s all there were, just those five, so Max kept one for the pattern and gave me the other four. I’d only got these four hooks and couldn’t afford to lose any, but stupidly I’d cast over to an island and got hooked-up in a tree, so I went and got the boat out and retrieved that hook from the branches so I could reuse it! Those four hooks were so precious to me at the time.”

“That rig has been well publicised since, is that an edge lost or is that still a successful rig for you?”

“Yeah, I still use it, I still use it on the odd occasion, but I like to use it with the Balanced Wafters now instead of a pop-up or a bottom bait just to be a bit different again. That said, my favourite rig at the moment is the Hinge Stiff Rig, it’s just incredible. I’ve used it for the last year, year and a half now and I just love everything about it. It casts like a dream, whichever way you cast it – you could throw it in and it would still sit right. If a fish picks it up and does manage to get rid of it, the rig will always reset itself.”

He’s been on the Hinge Rig for the last 18-months or so
He’s been on the Hinge Rig for the last 18-months or so
Kenny really likes using bait screws on the ‘D’ of the Hinge Rig
Kenny really likes using bait screws on the ‘D’ of the Hinge Rig

“Did you find it difficult to change over from a rig you were so confident in?”

“For sure, 100%, but then I was fishing a Colne Valley water and I had a take, well, I thought it was a liner. The rod tip banged and hooped over and I thought that doesn’t happen with the rigs that I’m using. Then I never got another bit of action at all, not a thing. This fella came along and I told him what had just happened. I said, “I can’t believe it, I must have been done, properly done on my rig.” Anyway, the conversation got around to had I tried the Hinge Rig, I was like no, blimey all that metal and swinging around and stuff that’s not for me I like bog standard stuff – the easier the better for me. I couldn’t bring myself to use it, it was animal – the thickness of the line the size of the hook, but anyway I did try it, even though I thought it was big, cumbersome and awkward. Anyway I caught and I thought that’s enough for me. I’m on it now and have been for the last eighteen months.”

“What sort of fish have you caught on the rig?”

“I’ve had fish up to 44lb and quite a few thirties, but small fish as well. That’s the thing with the rig it works well with fish of all sizes.”

He still uses the KD Rig occasionally
He still uses the KD Rig occasionally
‘I generally use Balanced Wafters with the KD Rig these days’
‘I generally use Balanced Wafters with the KD Rig these days’

“Oh yeah, very much so, you’re talking Colne Valley and you’re not just fishing against the fish, you’re fishing against all the bloody good anglers out there."

“People are going to laugh, because I use tubing, I still use tubing always have done I’ve used it for years and it’s never stopped me catching. I have changed I tried leadcore, it’s not for me, not my cup of tea I don’t like it, don’t ask me for why I just don’t. I love tubing and put a little bit of weight on the end to weigh it down. So 14-inches of tubing down to a lead clip and I do like using big leads – 4oz at least sometimes bigger if I can get away with it. So when the fish pick the bait up they’re nailed. Then for the boom section of the hooklink I use 30lb stiff fluorocarbon with a loop and a small swivel at the end. Onto that I tie stiff bristle filament about two, three-inches long, Mouth-Trap something like that, to a size Korda Choddy hook – a fantastic hook that’s strong in the wire. I’ll put a curve in this short section and have a ring or a screw clip on the ‘D’ it doesn’t matter which, they both work."

“I would say my targets have changed weight-wise, but the my fishing hasn’t changed.”

“Weight-wise why has that changed?”

“Well, years ago a twenty was a good fish, a twenty was like the fish of your dreams. You know the big carp of today weren’t about then. When I first started fishing a twenty was like a fifty today, it’s just incredible the difference now."

“Okay, so what about your fishing now?”

“I’m fishing in the Colne Valley now and won’t fish anywhere else, they’re publicity shy waters so I won’t say what they are, but I’m really lucky to have got the tickets I have. There’s some really nice fish, and lovely waters so I wouldn’t take that chance.”

Reeling in and walking the lake is far from wasted time
Reeling in and walking the lake is far from wasted time
Don’t miss what’s going on in the edge by looking out to the middle
Don’t miss what’s going on in the edge by looking out to the middle

“So how many nights a week are you fishing?”

“Years ago I only used to do one night a week, sometimes not even that, sometimes just a Friday afternoon. Now that I’m sort of semi-retired, I fish three nights a week, in the week, I don’t fish the weekends there’s too many people about. So I’m really lucky at the moment to be able to do what I do and I love it.”

"So do you think that’s an edge fishing in the week?"

“Yeah definitely, without a doubt. Your chances are much, much better. You’ve got all the time in the world to walk round and find the fish with hardly any people about. You know they’re club waters, so most people are weekend anglers, just like I used to be. I still caught my fish, but I had to work twice as hard at it. All the things I’ve learnt over the years are just an added bonus now.

As I’ve said, I’ve taken people with me as guests over there and I’ll walk round what I’m seeing and how I find them. It makes no difference to me they’re only a guest so they’re not going to jump on what I know. When I’m with them, they’re flabbergasted at what I do. I took someone last year for two nights and at the end end of it he said I can’t believe what you do, he’s like you do that everyday? I’m like no, I normally do that three times a day, sometimes four times a day. People think they’re wasting time by reeling in and walking about, but you’re not, you’re gaining information all the time. It’s all a learning curve...”

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