|The best fish from my first season back. She weighed 19lbs 5oz (the third time of capture) and was catalyst to|
a number tackle changes, all of which were aimed at improving my bait presentation and bite indication.
|One of my favourite pike - a superbly marked individual from the small drain.|
It weighed in at 14lbs 10oz and fought like a tiger (Feb 2012)
So what am I doing? Firstly, and in my mind a major difference from all my other pike angling mates, I don't use treble hooks! I used to be a Luton PAC member, way back in the 1980's, when Andy Windmill was the R/O. He and Alan Beat had developed a twin single rig, which they used free-lined, with amazing results. I used this set-up, but knew that free-lined dead baits were not particularly pike friendly and deep hooked fish could occur because of the lack of bite indication. It was, therefore, a great coincidence that Vic Bellars designed, and marketed (via Partridge Hooks) a double hook. A Japan Black finish, they were barbed and strong - with a couple of strokes of a file became razor sharp - perfect for casting baits with a lead attached. Hence much better bite indication, so it was this hook design that has shaped much of my current thinking. In 2010, I was unable to replace my VB doubles - I no longer lived near Amersham where a certain Fred Buller had his gun shop and these hooks were readily available. My brother Simon was to come to my assistance by purchasing some Pete Drennan "which-way" doubles in a size 6. Very similar to the VB, they are a barbless pattern - something that I was a little uneasy about. When I stick a hook in a fish, I don't want it dropping back out because it lacks a barb! (Shouldn't have worried - it doesn't happen if you keep a tight line)
|A Duncan Kay 1lbs 10oz T.C rod doing its' stuff out on the Worth Marshes|
The second thing which I feel has some bearing on my results is the use of very soft, through action, rods. As the majority of my pike angling has been on rather intimate venues, I don't see any point in using powerful rods, i.e. 2 1/2lbs T.C and above. The maximum cast is less than 20m and setting hooks at that range is simple. Pick up the rod, let the line tighten - wind down if you need to, then strike, job's a good-un! My rods are 1lbs 10oz T.C Duncan Kay carp rods. With these I have landed Pike to 23lbs+ and Catfish to 25lbs 2oz, plus a few Carp to boot. I have never had hooks pull because my gear was over-gunned; something that Benno experienced earlier in 2013 using Hyperloops on the RMC - he also used braid, which couldn't have aided his cause.
So this, quite neatly, brings me to another factor that I think makes a difference. I use mono for this short range stuff. 12lbs b.s. is perfectly adequate for most of the venues I fish; I would have no problem stepping up to 15lbs b.s. if the swim/snags dictated it. As mono has that elasticity, my soft action rods are never likely to exert the force to pull hooks out of a fish, should they make a powerful surge.
|Primitive, yet perfectly functional, one of my, 95 decibel,|
"home made" back-biter alarms
Bite indication is always best if a float is used - I will not argue against that. However, my concentration span is limited and therefore I rely on technology to replace my failing eyesight and lack of attention (plus the fact that I'd rather look at the birds and bugs than a silly orange float!).
The two types of alarm that I use are very basic models of "Back Biter-type" or "Front Runner" design. Both have their faults, yet are certainly effective on these smaller venues. My confidence in my ability to remove any hook from a pike is a factor in my angling - it is something that comes with teaching and the reason why every angler who wishes to fish for pike should become a PAC member. You should have the confidence to take charge of the situation and not be afraid of the fish, teeth, trebles and all!
|Not neccessarily the "perfect bait" but a factor in my confidence and that is a key factor.|
My final thoughts are with my bait choice. I have made mention, many times previously, that I buy my bait from the Westwood Cross Tesco's fresh fish counter. That's all I'm prepared to tell you - that I then colour and flavour, prior to freezing, my Herring, Mackerel and Sardine baits (individually wrapped in cling film) is a factor in my success. There are very few other anglers prepared to go to this length of preparation. Those that do deserve their rewards; I'd like to feel that I'm one of them.
|The best, so far, my RMC 20lbs 9oz pike taken on a dyed & flavoured 1/2 Herring.|