This experimentation gives me a lot of fun and adds a fascination to my fishing, but for all that, when it comes to catching fish, the right bait(lure), in the right place, at the right time, is the only sure way to consistently catch fish. And the only way you are going to learn this 'what, where and how', is by putting the time in and working it out for yourself.
Listening to those that know, who already have this experience and knowledge is a shortcut which many of todayís fishermen/woman fail to take advantage of - but thatís life today.
Read many books and magazines today and you could be forgiven for thinking that technology is taking over and that some of the complex rigs and methods are the result of a fevered imagination, but each of those rigs is the result of someone, somewhere, working out how to catch fish in places and circumstances where traditional methods are less than effective. Having said that, a hungry fish is going to take a well presented bait no matter what.
After the best part of a lifetime fishing the deep blue waters of the far West English Channel (and other places), the one thing that I talk about to clubs and anglers at shows is the "KISS" principle or "keep it simple, stupid".
A principle which is easily overlooked and often denigrated by the smarties, in todayís hi-tech world.
I am not advocating that we become Luddites rubbishing everything which is new and innovative. It is entirely possible to use the new technology and still keep it simple. For instance I fished deep water on the edge of the Hurd Deep a few weeks ago and caught a few summer cod which seek out these deep waters when the temperatures begin to soar close to land. My pal and I did OK with a few fish each, we fished 30 pounds breaking strain superbraid to a simple running leger and a four foot leader made from 30 pounds fluorocarbon with an 8/0 Gamakatsu Octopus Circle hook baited with a whole Calamari squid.
The reasoning was simple. In 80 metres of water, monofilament would have stretched like a long length of Grannies knicker elastic and any bites would not have been felt until it was too late. The only fish you would have caught would have been the fish that had swallowed the hook down past their belly button! Using Superbraid with its almost complete absence of stretch meant that we were feeling bites that anglers using monofilament had absolutely no idea about. Besides which, instead of a sinker weighing in at over a pound, using the braid meant we could get away with 8 ounces until the tide picked up and then 12 ounces comfortably held bottom.
Experience has shown us that when using superbraid such as Fireline or Power Pro that a monofilament shock leader of maybe three or four rod lengths is a good idea. Couple of practical reasons, the first of which is that I do not believe the advertising blurb about superbraid abrasion resistance. I think monofilament is better able to withstand the occasional brush with a wreck or reef. Besides which it is a lot cheaper to replace a sacrificial length of monofilament than it is to chop the superbraid back ten yards on every trip.
The second reason is closely allied to the first. If you do get hung up in the rusted remains of a deep sunk wreck, then the monofilament will always break before the braid and it is easier to use familiar uni or blood knots tied in monofilament to quickly change your end tackle.
In the past two or three years I have used the Internet to buy fluorocarbon leader line from the USA. It is freely available in the UK up to ten pounds breaking strain because most fly fishermen/women have taken to using fluorocarbon. The reason is that it is demonstrably better than monofilament when used with small nymphs and dry flies because it is virtually invisible in water. This is also true in the sea and we have found that it is possible to use much heavier leader breaking strains with no apparent drop in catch rate. In fact it is usually better than anglers using light breaking strain monofilament leaders. Donít take my word for it, try it yourself. Where previously I would have used a 15lb monofilament leader, I now use 20 or even 30 pounds breaking strain fluorocarbon with an improved catch rate.
Why use Circle hooks in such deep water???
The answer is logical, at least it is to me. In 80 metres of water, even using superbraid, the feel of the bite has to be transmitted along at least 125 metres of line, allowing for the drift of the boat and the effects of the current. So if you were using a conventional "J" hook, by the time you have wound up some slack and struck the bite, the fish has probably finished your bait said "thank you very much" and moved along the self service rail.
With a circle hook it is a bit different. Circle hooks were developed for the commercial fishing industry for use on long lines which were unattended for hours at a time, so the hook was intended to be self setting. The sport fishing versions such as the Eagle Claw, Gamakatsu and VMC circles that I favour retain this self hooking property. Whatís more, ninety percent of the time the hook is set in the scissors of the fish's jaw making it (a) easy to shake the fish off without handling it should you want to return the fish and (b) just as easy to remove the hook if you want to keep the fish, without the need for the "hook removal surgery" so often the case with deep hooked fish when using a conventional "J" hook.
There are problems with circle hooks. Baiting up requires more time and creativity. The use of shirring elastic to tie the bait to the hook, sometimes the use of soft copper wire to mount the hook to baits such as a flapper or whole mackerel bait. Even electrical wire ties and a bit of sewing with a sailmakerís needle might be required, like you sometimes see on a big game fishing boat. But the end result is worth it, because once a circle hook is in, it rarely gives up its fish.
So it is evident that the braided line, the fluorocarbon and circle hooks are all "new technology" but used in a simple straightforward manner. I truly believe in the "new technology" but I also believe in "Keeping it simple".
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