Stillwater carp angling is never going to be easy. Each season brings itís own problems to solve. At this time of year, fishing on some lakes can be especially hard due to the weed growth dying off. In high summer, the weed - especially that awful bane to the carp angler, Canadian pond weed - can at least be seen and so hopefully avoided. By Autumn , that weed has collapsed into heaps that are starting to rot on the bottom. Clear patches become even harder to locate as the weed debris accumulates, sometimes to a depth of several feet.

A good method at this time of year can be to forget finding clear patches and instead, fish with the bait resting on top of the debris. What then happens however, is that all too often the lead will pull the hookbait deep into the debris. Mr carp then comes along and mops up the free samples that have been accurately catapulted to the target area but he ignores the hook bait as itís hard to get at. On a small water this situation can be avoided by using a very, very light lead but when you are fishing at any sort of longish range, the use of a light lead is simply not feasible.

Putting it simply, the problem therefor is how to ensure that the hook-bait rests on top of weed debris, which may be several feet deep, at a distance of, say 70 yards.

The obvious part of the answer is to ensure that your hook-bait is critically balanced, so that it is a negative buoyancy bait, a slow-sinker. There are a lot of ways to achieve this of course, for instance using a floating bait weighted with an exact amount of shot or heavy-metal putty to ensure that it sinks slowly. The real problem though is the lead weight, often consisting of a couple of ounces or more, which is needed to cast the bait to the fish holding area. If you insist on using lead, make the rig up, not as the fashionable in-line affair, but as a weak link leger with a very long link. This will give you a chance of avoiding the lead pulling the bait out of reach. A better idea is - donít use lead!

When I was a boy, there used to be a handy little gadget sold. It was called something like the ĎFledgerí. I donít know if they are still around as I havenít seen one in years. It was a weight made from some exotic wood which sank, very slowly. It was promoted as a floating leger, but more accurately it was a slow-sinking one. I have never used one as I always have made my own from ordinary household candles.

Give it a try. Use a penknife to trim an inch or so of the wax from each end of a 6 inch candle, so that a length of wick protrudes from each end. At one end of the candle, use the wick to tie on a small swivel. At the other end, pinch on a BB shot or two (a twist of lead wire around it has the same effect ) and test it in a bottle. You only need enough lead to make it sink real slow. Do this at home when the candle is warm or at least at room temperature. If you try and do the job on the bank, you will almost certainly snap the wick off, as the wax gets very brittle in the colder weather.

Use the candle as you would an ordinary lead. Despite being not very aerodynamic, it will cast a huge distance, depending on the size of candle used. When it hits the water, it will sink very slowly and stop sinking the second that it rests onto the weed debris. Your critically balanced bait will do the same. Try it in the margins, youíll be impressed. A stiff hooklink of 20lb mono will help this rig resist tangling and will help it to work at its most efficient level.

I have never found the fish to be spooked by the normal white candle, but it might spook your friends! If it bothers you then why not make your own so that you can choose the shape and colour of your weight. Cheap candle making equipment can be bought in almost any toy shop or craft supplies shop.

Oh, by the way - the same candle, minus the lead, makes a good and very cheap controller float for fishing those summer floating baits.

Geoff Maynard