Category Archives: Tackle

Tinca Time

With spring upon is, there is only one thing on my mind and that is the tench will be waking up from their winter slumber and soon be getting their heads down and feeding themselves up. With such a short season to fish for the big ones, I like to be properly organised for the months ahead and have everything carefully prepped.

I initially try to make a firm plan on where I will be fishing over the season and see if these spots need some work done with them. I have an early season water that I fish and this usually gets my tench head on as it’s quite an easy lake for small to medium fun sized tench. It’s a lovely little lake that sort of eases me into the season, a place where I can get my eye in and iron out any changes I need to make with my tackle. I do make fleeting visits back over the season too when I need a boost of confidence if things get tough, but I do tend to get easily distracted from it very quickly when the urge of bigger fish from the lower stock waters arise.

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Although I may not fish some of the harder waters for a few weeks, this does not mean I forget about them. Clearing a suitable swim and getting some feed in is just as important as fishing them I find. As some of the lakes I fish see no angling pressure, it is imperative to get the fish feeding in your desired area on a regular basis with some free grub if you want to stand a chance of catching them later in the season. My first port of call is to decide on which swim i fancy and give it a rake. Having stupidly lost my old rake through negligence, it was recently time to rustle a new one together.

They are not too complicated to make and with the help of a mate (thanks Ollie), some scrap metal and a soldering kit we managed to piece together a rather barbaric looking contraption with ease. Although it may look a bit medieval, I can confirm it does work a treat and with a decent knot on the rope this time, will hopefully come back to me every time its thrown into the wet stuff.

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Next on the list is to get some prebait on the go. Unlike Bream fishing where sacks of stuff is used to lure the slabs into your swim, I find the little and often approach for tench is by far the best. The feed I use is not expensive and is readily available in most pet stores or co-ops. Having had quite a bit of uncooked pigeon conditioner along with a sack of wheat left over from last year helped the cause and a big bag of uncooked hemp along with another bag of red dari seed, both of which are cheap were added to the arsenal. I will also use quite a bit of sweetcorn, pellet and dead maggot in my baiting approach but these can be picked up as needed.

The pigeon mix really is a good one to use and doesn’t need much preparation. I have a few different buckets filled with water and seed mix going in the shed and these are soaked for a minimum of 24-48 hours, but can be left longer. After a soak they go into my big boiling pot which was masterfully pinched off the wife a couple of years ago and is unfit for human use at this stage so is a full-time member of the bait club. I cook the mix off for around an hour as the bigger maize particles do need a good zap. When they are cooked I then add in some more liquid which is usually watered down molasses (also cheap from the co-op) or a bottle of cream soda fizzy drink, which has a real scopexy smell and taste to it. Popping in a litre of this to the particles when cooked seems like a lot, but overnight night the mix will continue to absorb the flavour and in the morning will have swelled even more and smell delicious.

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As long as the particles are kept airtight and covered in liquid, you can keep these buckets in a cool area of the shed for a few weeks or more if you are brave and they will mature nicely. Some baits that have been left a little longer than planned and can nearly climb out of the buckets on their own accord can sometimes prove even more irresistible to fish, but then again, they don’t look out for a best before date.

Other cheap baits I have picked up recently that work great for prebaiting have included some Turkey finisher from the local pet shop. At 6 euro for a 20 sack, this is real value and a couple of sacks kept in a bait bin will last a season when used with other feed. It comes in pellet form and takes little to no time to prepare. Whack a couple of kilo into some buckets and add some water and particles, and you have some great bulk feed which can be moulded into balls and applied to you chosen swims. Another great particle bait which the tench seem to love is wheat. This can also be bought in bulk and I still have half a sack left over from last year. This is prepared the same way as the pigeon mix, but doesn’t take as long to boil. Loose fed into your swim with other baits and the tench really home in on it and I find it doesn’t fill then up as much as stuff like halibut pellets or make them get preoccupied with smaller seeds like hemp. There are no hard and fast rules though and half the fun is finding your own winning combination and messing around with the various different ingredients.

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Getting down to the nitty-gritty of fishing, I will turn to the more specialised baits available in the tackle shops but this is just a confidence thing. Early in the season, feeder fishing is my preference for tench. My two main methods would be using an inline maggot feeder with a couple of fake grubs on the hair. The other is the method feeder approach using a fairly active mix which can get the inquisitive tench really rooting around and if they are in a hungry mood competing for the feed. My favourite mix to use at this time of year is the ‘Bloodworm and maggot crush method mix’ from Pallatrax. This really is an active mix with all sorts of mini particles and natural invertebrates that won’t over feed the tench. The dried maggots and bloodworm along with other goodies will rise up of the method ball even in colder temperatures whilst it breaks down and form an attractive cloud which the tench can home in on.

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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GTP3ASJsveA

A quick video on how the method mix works

Hookbaits I tend to use in the early months don’t differ too much from later in the season, but I find you can get away with a lot more when they first go on the feed and prespawning. After tench have gone through their spawning ritual and the summer really kicks on we all know scaling down everything is the key to finicky fish. However, as I have already mentioned, early season fish will take much larger foods and when they are really on the feed will hoover up quite a wide selection baits if they are presented correctly. Natural favourites like worms and especially lobworms really do turn the tench on and whilst other favourites like corn, maggots and castor are all in my armoury. These days though more and more of my fishing will see me using plastic imitation baits. When I first delved into the world of plastics maybe ten years ago I was usually just tipping off other baits like stacks of corn or boilies. As my confidence grew through the years with them, I found myself using them more or less exclusively on the hair and with really good results. With such an array of imitations to choose from the possibilities are endless.

My three favourites are maybe the most obvious but none the less they do seem to really work. Fake maggots can be used in so many ways, but are lethal in conjunction with maggot feeders both inline and the popular blacktop which I fish helicopter style. Along the same lines are fake castors and these are another killer tench bait. Three stacked sideways on the hair with a pva bag of real ones fished on an inline set-up can snare the wariest of tench. I have in the past always used the floating ones made by Enterprise and these pop up nicely leaving the hook just hovering on the lake bed. I recently got some sinking ones which have just been released and I am looking forward to using these with the floating ones to critically balance my set-up and vary the way they fish at different heights on the lakebed.

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The last and probably the most commonly used are the plastic corn and larger maize. These will always be fished on one of my rods and have accounted in a lot of tench and other species. They come in a wide range of colours these days and I have had great results on both the yellow white and pink ones. I have dabbled in the flouro ones too at night and these have produced some results too but who’s to say if they did give an edge or not. I have messed about with flavouring them over the years and always have some glugged in various scents with my favourite three being pineapple, esterberry or winter almond.

On the subject of end tackle I will always have a selection of hook lengths made up ready on the bank so I can chop and change as quickly as possible if I am faced with different situations on the lake bed. When I am fishing a lake I know quite well, I will already know exactly how to approach it and have already decided on which hooklengths to use. But when fishing a new water or even a different swim, the make-up of the bottom can vary drastically and I might need to changes tactics completely. 80% of my hook lengths these days are braided ones and I find the various Kryston braids can cover most of my needs be it a soft supple braid like Silkworm or a coated material like Super Mantis. I have also been dabbling with the steamlink which Pallatrax do and have been very impressed with the many applications the one material can do.

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On a more traditional front, I have been getting some floats together for the coming season. I find floats quite a personal thing and everyone has their own favoured types for different situations. On wild Irish loughs it is quite hard to use very delicate floats with a lot of finesse and I for one have never been one for using really small patterns. Whether this has caused me to miss out on fish, I don’t really know. There have been some situations again later in the season when I have had to really scale down to connect with a bite and I have adapted to the situation to the best of my ability, but my main floats of choice when tench fishing are quite bulky things. Just recently I got some floats made by a gentleman in the UK called Robert Lancastor and they really are things of beauty. I asked for a range of floats ranging from 9 inch up to 12 inches as they suited what I needed for a couple of swims. They will work well for the lift method but also for laying on but while have enough to hold station in a big wave. I plan to get a few more done in the coming weeks in different patterns with his giant onion floats really catching my eye.

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Well this is just a part of my pre-tench yearly ritual, and in between getting all my bits and bobs together I did manage to get some time on the water. My first session was not for the tench but for roach on a local lake. Although I plan to do some proper roach fishing in the coming weeks on the rivers, I thought i would try to winkle a few out on the feeder as I know the lake in question has seen them increasing in number and size. I hoped to get anything over 1lb in weight but was secretly hoping for a 2lber. Well I wasn’t that lucky but did catch a few ranging from 1lb up to 1lb 8ozs in amongst a smattering of hybrids and perch. Tactics consisted of using a large black cap maggot feeder fished helicopter style in conjunction with a longer than usual flouro hooklength and a size 14 ‘the hook’ pattern. It took a while to get the bites going as I hadn’t done any prebaiting and I was fishing on a hunch but the fish seemed to be in the area and after half an hour or so of recasting to the same spot at 60 yards I started picking up a few decent fish. I was using a 12 foot Shimano Stradic heavy feeder rod as I wanted to try out some new braid for distance fishing and it was probably not the best rod to use in the situation as I did bump a few fish off, but it was good to see I could get some distance into a serious headwind that nearly blew me off my chair.

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I plan to do my first proper tench this evening and will employ both feeder tactics and possibly try out one of my new floats. Hopefully the warmer weather of the past week will have them on the move and I will have something to report in the next blog. To all you tench anglers out there, I hope you have a cracking season and bag some crackers.

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In The Red Corner

As the fishing has been slow this past week or two, I would look at some tackle I have been meaning to review for the past while and in particular some reels. I really like to put my tackle through its paces before making judgement and over the past 12 months I have certainly done that.

The reel I am going to look at is the Spro Red Arc 10400. I got a pair of these at the start of the season after hearing numerous good reports from UK match anglers along with spinning enthusiasts from the continent. I wanted a reel that I could use for a multitude of fishing situations from float fishing to spinning and jigging.

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I have been a shimano user for as long as I can remember and always looked on with scepticism at other brands. With that in mind, it was a bit of a leap of faith for me to buy these bright red shiny reels from a company I had no prior dealings with. There was no real logic behind heading off in a different direction, however every time I read another glowing report on the reel the closer I was drawn into getting one.

First impressions when they arrived were that they were a lot more compact than my 4000 Stradics and I did doubt they would have the same Shimano toughness to them. My worries were short-lived though when I gave one its first work out feeder fishing on my local lough. Whacking out decent sized feeders and cranking them in from distance was a doddle and it balanced up nicely with a 12 foot feeder rod. There was no wobble or looseness and it felt really solid and robust.

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They would not be my first choice for heavier feeder fishing at distance as I feel more comfortable with a 5000 sized reel, but this isn’t a problem as I have specific tools for that job. My primary use for them was to be float fishing for tench, and I was looking forward to seeing how the clutch coped with some angry tincas ram-raiding through dense beds of lilies and potamogeton.

I managed to get four spare spools with them which was important to me as I don’t have the luxury of owning an army of reels, and this meant I could chop and change their uses in a heart beat. I decided to match them up with 4lb, 6lb, 8lb and 10lb mono and fill the other two spools with braid and nanofil.

Float fishing for general coarse fish with lighter strength lines is a delight as the excellent line lay means casting smaller floats is effortless. I am really looking forward to using it stick float fishing for roach in the coming months as it should be perfect for controlling line coming off the spool with my finger. It’s lightness should also work in my favour when holding a long trotting`rod for the day.

My float fishing for tench does not include too much finesse and would shock most match anglers. I use 8 or 10lb mono with a beefy power float rod and a decent size waggler depending on weather conditions. The main task is to get the fish turned and up in the water before it smashes head first into the nearest weedbed. When fishing tight swims surrounded by lilies it can be quite precarious and believe me tench know every trick in the book.

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A decent drag is a must and the Spro has one of the best I have used and matches reels of twice the price. I don’t like to give much line away in a fight but when needs must you want it to come off as effortlessly and controlled as possible so not to give your opponent the upper hand. The front drag on the Red Arc is silky smooth and has not let me down so far after some proper epic tussles.

I have also put the reel through its paces for various spinning scenarios. I matched it up with a light Abu Vendetta rod for sea trout fishing down the estuary and the smooth retrieve and casting ability made handy work of flicking out small Tasmanian Devils. It also helped with my light plastic jig work for perch and getting small baits out good distances was a walk in the park.

Are there any downsides to the reels ? Well yes, the colour is a bit garish for my liking, however this problem can be negated and you can quell your inner tackle tart by choosing one of its sister reels like the Gold Arc or the Zalt Arc. Another gripe I have is with the measly line clip on the spool which isn’t up to much. Although I don’t use the reel so much for feeder fishing, I would like something a bit more robust and line friendly.

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Weighing up the pros and cons of the Spro Red Arc after taking the plunge with it last year, I have to say I am mightily impressed with the little red reel. It packs a lot more punch that its looks give it credit for and still feels as tight as when I first took it out of the box. I have abused it in saltwater and bashed it around many a bankside and it shows no signs of wear and tear.

If you fancy something a little different then I would suggest having a look at the range. At a cost of around €100/£90 depending where you shop I think it is as good as any mid priced Daiwa or Shimano reel in its class.

If you want to check out more about these reels you can find more details on their website : http://www.spro.eu/nl_nl.aspx

I am not sure what shops stock them in Ireland, but Fishing-Mart do a wide range of them and postage is reasonably priced. http://www.fishing-mart.eu/sklep/en/spro-red-arc-tuff-body-g3-a17-p250-k1149.html

Here is the tech spec from the side of the box:

  • 9 Ball bearings + 1 needle bearing
  • One-way clutch anti-reverse system
  • TuffBody aluminum design
  • Wormshaft oscillation system
  • Extra strong bail system
  • Super stable support for the Twist-free line roller
  • 2 Aluminum spools with line clip
  • Balanced rotor
  • CNC aluminum handle with aluminum handle knob
  • Finely adjustable multi-disc Front drag system
  • Special protection cover for the dragwashers
  • Comfi-cover for handle knob

Wet Wet Wet

Well what a grueling winter we are having weather wise. The rain has not stopped here in Sligo for it seems an eternity but I have to spare a thought for those in some other areas of the country who seem to have been hit a lot worse with major flooding and damage done to property and businesses.

Although the weather has been atrocious here, it has only really affected me on the fishing side of things luckily with rivers looking like something out of Charlie And The Chocolate Factory and lakes doubling in size in some cases. I have never really been too worried about arctic conditions when winter fishing as I luckily don’t feel the cold too much but this extra water has really slowed the pike down considerably on the few venues I can actually get near. I have made it out twice in the past fortnight and it has been very slow going. The deadbaits have not been touched at all and I have had to turn to doing some lure fishing to pick up the odd fish here and there.

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My first trip was to a backwater on the Shannon and I planned to mix the fishing up a bit with one rod out for pike whilst doing some feeder fishing for some perch. My hope was that the perch would like the shelter of the backwater and would probably be quite happy to follow the bait fish there whilst in turn the pike would not be too far behind. The theory was good but the conditions just wouldn’t allow for proper fishing with 60-70mph winds causing mayhem all around me. I had just purchased a Fox Supa Brolly as I felt it would be useful for the winter pike sessions plus be handy for the overnighters I would start in spring. If nothing else was gleaned from the session, at least I got to test the brolly out in some serious conditions and it held up admirably thank god. It fits nicely into my quiver and will be a godsend for my tench fishing as I really am sick of dragging the bivvy out for short sessions. I didn’t bother going for the overwrap or choose the  brolly system as I don’t think they were necessary, but have got a mozzi panel for it to get away from the biting midges we get here in Ireland on certain waters when the weather warms up that can really be a pain the arse.

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I managed another short afternoon session at the weekend and decided to head to a local enough lake that usually produces a fish or two for me when the going is tough. On arrival I was met by high water levels and a muddy bankside, but not so bad that I couldn’t set up and get the rods into a suitable area. I decided to mix it up a bit with deadbaits both popped up and on the bottom and chopped and changed with a variety of baits. After a fruitless couple of hours I changed my set up to a drifter float, as the wind was coming from behind me and I could get the bait into some fishy looking areas. This along with some sink and draw with a smelt didn’t even get a sniff. The sight of my second otter this winter was a bit of a surprise. It spent the afternoon working the lake in search of its lunch and was soon joined by a cormorant who seemed to be faring better on the hunting front, popping up with small roach and rudd every few minutes. Knowing that there were some decent perch in the lake I decided to give the rubber jigs ago before darkness fell but to my dismay I had left my lure boxes back at the house…. clutz.

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Rooting through my ruck bag I did find an unopened lure still in its box under all the unnecessary clutter I had brought with me. It was another of the lures I had won in a competition early last year with the fishingtackleireland.com crew but had not had a chance to use yet. On having a look at it, I remembered I had seen it before in one of Dermot Ogle’s excellent posts on his Lureguide.net blog. He seemed to really rate it and the guy knows his stuff, so I made up a wire trace and put the Iron Claw – Phanto Glide through its paces.

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First cast and I had a delicate take which let go almost immediately. Having not lure fished for a while I got my head back into it and told myself to strike at the next bit of interest. A couple of casts later and I got another opportunity and this time made no mistake hooking up to a feisty wee pike. Although it was under 10lb, it was more than welcome and gave a good account of its self on the light gear. With darkness nearing I decided to cover another bit of water with the lure which I noticed had a number of ball bearings in its body. Was this what was rousing the pike to have a snack ? After another few casts I got a take right at the margin and it was a much better fish but as quick as you like it let go and sunk back to the depths. I gave her a number of casts in the same area but she seemed put off by my presence. Once bitten, twice shy.

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Walking back to my gear I gave the lure a couple of casts along the way and did manage one more jack of about 8lbs  which felt like he was on steroids. I reckoned if I had got the lure out earlier I could have had a few more fish on the bank and it gave me something to ponder. How many fish have I missed out on whilst sitting behind my deadbait rods enjoying a coffee and catching up on some books when I could have been working harder for the fish. I do not do much lure fishing for pike apart from early in the season and maybe a bit in the spring. I seemed to have got myself into a rut of fishing with baits in the depths of winter as it has always been the way I had structured my pike season. Of course a lure angler is severely restricted when he fishes from the bank but quite a few of the waters I fish have some good depths close to the shore with quite a lot of bank space for lure fishing so there really is no excuse. It’s something I will definitely be doing more of in the coming weeks before I finish up my piking.

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Next weekend sees the National Angling Show taking place in Dublin at the Swords exhibition centre. I will hopefully be heading up for the event as it will be nice to catch up with a few fishing pals and also see what the show has to offer as I haven’t been to it since 2007. The same day sees the Irish Specimen Awards taking place too and I am due to collect an award for a tench I caught this year. I haven’t claimed a specimen for donkeys years as the whole process of getting scales certified and calibrated along with filling in all the paperwork never really interested me. However I have been fishing with my mate Craig Murphy who has the scales done and is a dab hand at going after specimens of a wide variety of species and as he was with me the day I caught the tench he said I should enter it in. It will be nice to get out for the day at the event and see some fellow fishermen and trade tales of fish caught and lost. A special congratulations must go out to Jason Dingle who broke the roach/bream hybrid record with a fine fish of 7.44lb which was caught in May of last year at the famous Monalty Lough in Monaghan.

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I received some tasty products from Pallatrax in the post this week and can’t wait for the weather to warm to try them out. I had asked Simon at head office to send on some of their pastes as I had quite a bit of success last year using some homemades ones for the tench and they got me some bonus fish when everything else failed. I had always associated paste with fishing at commercials or using it to boost my carp baits, but was really impressed with the way tench took my homemade concoctions when float fishing last summer. On one evening I had not had a touch on my usual maggot and castor hookbait and switching to a fishy pellet based mix I had made and landed four nice fish in the last hours of light. Since then I always carry some in my bait bag when going after the tench and it has proved to be succesful on a number of lakes that I am sure have never seen paste or pellets in any great numbers before.

I got a nice variety of flavours to try including the very aromatic ‘Crave’, and the ‘Jungle’ which has a nice nutty biscuit twang to it. The ‘Winter Almond’ flavour has been really producing this winter in the UK for carp and it is another which I think the tench might have a liking for whilst some old faithfuls like Scopex, Strawberry and Pineapple should also work a treat. The texture is such that it will definitely stay on the hook well enough to fish the margins and I have also made up some coil rigs to try on the feeder rods which should be interesting. Before the tench do walk up from their slumber though I hope to hit the Lough in Cork for some early season carping and I will certainly incorporate the them on one of my bottom baits.

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On a final note, I sent Korum a mail last week asking if they sold the locking nuts for the accessory chair attachments separately as I couldn’t find any online. I had lost a few on my travels last year somewhere along the line which rendered my attachments useless. I had tried with some bolts I got in the local hardware store but they didn’t work out. They asked my for my address and said they would send some of free of charge. The post man arrived to the door this morning with a pair of them in a jiffy bag which has saved me having to go out and buy new attachments for the chair. Big thumbs up to whoever it was in the Korum office who sorted that out for me. Cheers…

As I am writing this the forecast snow has just started and the temperatures have really dropped in the last 24 hours. This might slow the fishing down even further but as long as the rain stays away I don’t mind too much at all. I think we just need a week or two of dry weather and this could improve prospects no end.  At least my wee girl Pippa is happy at the sight of it arriving..

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2014, A Fresh Start

Well a new year is upon us and with that come new goals and targets for the coming season. 2013 was a better year for me fishing wise. I had some very enjoyable sessions on the bank and although some targets were not achieved others were and I had some great days out with some good fishing buddies along the way with a new personal best to show for it.

The highlight of the year for me was my new personal best tench, however as a result my other fishing suffered somewhat from my blinkered approach to the species. Not that I am compaining, as at the start of the year I had set my goal out to catch a seven pound fish and feel that if I was to gain my goal, I had to put the hours in. This did however see me not trying for other species as much as I wanted too. I also felt that once I had caught my target fish I took my foot off the gas a little fishing wise, and maybe this was because I was exhausted after trying to juggle early mornings and late evenings and all the driving that goes with it, with work and family commitments. I also think that I lost my mojo for a few weeks which is never a good thing for an angler who is trying to hunt for bigger fish.

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Other highlights of the year were getting to fish some new spots that I had earmarked for quite some time and although some of these excursions weren’t as fruitful as I would have liked some of the places will certainly be revisited this year with the hope that I can crack them.

For this season I have as always made a plan for my fishing and if I keep to it which isn’t always the case, then hopefully some more cracking fish will grace my landing net. The year has started off slowly for me with a culmination of adverse weather conditions and household chores and family matters that had to come first before I could continue with my search of some big pike. I have managed to get on the bank a couple of times but my camera has seen more action than my rods, after some breathtaking dawn and dusk scenes.

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My plan is to keep on hounding the pike until the cut off point which is usually around St Patrick’s day as it’s generally then the fish are spawning and other species start to make an appearance. I also plan to try and catch an elusive 2lb roach this winter/spring. This is a project that really does excite me as I will be planning some sessions on two new waters, that rarely see a coarse angler but definitely hold some absolute clonkers, and from what I have heard could do fish a lot bigger than my target. As with most fishing in Ireland, weather and water levels will dictate to when I get to approach these red finned beauties and all the action could come within a small window, so I plan to have everything packed and ready for them as I await a phone call to tell me they are on and I should get myself off down to the river for what could be all or bust.

Come spring I also hope to catch up with some specimen bream and hybrids which have eluded me for the past couple of years. If you have read previous blog posts, you will know it was not from a lack of effort but more – wrong place wrong time. Prebaiting is the name of the game here and a lot of it, which isn’t easy when some of the venues are not too close to home. However, if I keep an eye on the conditions and see a good opportunity coming my way, one big hit of bait and then fishing at the right time could see me hit the jackpot.

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All this comes from reading some really interesting theories about big bream and their feeding habits a few years ago on some Irish fishing forums where people like Bill Collins have really opened the eyes to a lot of anglers on how to approach these fish. Keeping an eye out just for weather conditions alone is not enough, there is a lot more involved and learning to watch how air pressure rises and fall on a barometer and how it effects fish will certainly put you in with a better chance being on the bank when the fish are actually feeding. If you have the chance you should certainly do some googleing on the subject and you should come across the posts which are on certain forums and the information written in them is like gold dust for the serious angler.

As soon as the bream will have gone to their spawning grounds it should hopefully be time for the tincas to come out to play if winter doesn’t continue on until June like last year. Having noted a lake or two with some really good fish in I plan to carry on targeting these with the hope I can add to my pb from last year. It may sound like a cliche but it really is a joy sitting in a swim with the mist coming off the lake in the early morning in the hope that when your float next dips you will be attached to an angry tench bolting for the nearest reed bed. Although my target is to beat my pb, I don’t think it is beyond the realms of possibility that I could come a across an Irish 8lber and it is this incentive that will keep me plugging away.

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Although I will continue to fish for tench throughout the summer once the prime months of May and June have passed I will not be putting in the same amount of time for them as I hope to really try and get back into some proper carp fishing this year. Location really is my main pit fall when it come to my carping as most of the north west of Ireland is barren of decent waters, but there are a couple of ultra low stock lakes that I have been fishing this past year or so with not much to show for. A handful fish in ten acres really is a challenge but they are catchable and if I do manage to land one, it will really make my year. I do however plan to do some travelling this season to some more productive fisheries both in Ireland and hopefully the UK to help put the odds in my favour.

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One of the fun things about writing a blog is it tends to kick my arse into diversifying somewhat to make it more interesting to read, and I will certainly be back out trying for some salmon and sea trout this year as it would be a sin not to target them when they are so plentiful in the waters where I live. But as with everything there is so much to do and so little time. If I manage to crack even a few of my targets this year then I certainly won’t be disappointed.

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On a different note, I am delighted to have been asked to join the Pallatrax team this year. Pallatrax are one of the most innovative and forward thinking fishing companies out there as far as I can see and 2014 really is going to be a busy year for us. If you have not come across them , they are responsible for products like the ‘Stonze’ range of weights which are patented worldwide and really are a one off system which are environmentally friendly. Their ‘The hook’ range have been a favourite of mine for quite a few years and is a pattern that has put a lot of fish on the bank for me and one I have complete faith in.

It is not just their end tackle they have become well known for though, their bait range is also one of a kind. Their ‘naturals’ range really caught my eye when I was doing my fisheries management course a couple of years ago and was learning about invertebrates and fly life which fish naturally feed on. The range includes a plethora of naturals like gammarus, daphnia, bloodworm which I am really looking forward to trying out this year in certain angling situations.

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Pallatrax also do a wide range of boilies, squabs, pellets, method mixes and quality glugs which have been responsible for some big catches all over Europe. For a full look at their range and to check out how some of their products work, check out their website at: http://pallatrax.co.uk as well as their facebook page for up to the minute reports at: https://www.facebook.com/pallatrax

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Pallatrax also expanded last year with the launch of their sister company ‘Lone Angler’. The company is fronted by barbel angling legend Trefor West and they do a great range of quality rods and luggage as well as some other interesting baits concepts. For a full low down on what ‘Lone Angler’ has to offer you can see their products on the website: http://www.loneangler.co.uk/

I would like to thank company head honcho Simon ‘Pom’ Pomeroy for asking me to join the team as well as big fish guru Jez Brown for his help and look forward to seeing how this exciting range of products work in my angling situations here in Ireland.

Well that’s it for today, I would just like to wish you all a happy new year and hope that you enjoy your fishing as much as possible and catch some whackers along the way.

A Pod For Your Rod

Cygnet Quicklock D/L Pod 26” – 45”

Since I have nothing to report on the fishing front in the past few days, this is the first of many reviews I will be including in my blog over the next while. I aim to give an honest opinion on what I review be it good, bad or damn ugly.

Not far into this season I decided I had to do something about my rod pod situation. It was during a March carp session in horrendous conditions that the true colours of my last pod came to head. Although I was fishing in a mini hurricane Charlie, the fact that I had to take pegs off my bivvy to hold the thing down set the wheels in motion. The final straw was in the middle of the night the whole thing nearly took off across the lake, rods and all.

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I know rod pods are not everyone’s cup of tea, but on a few locations I fish, they are a must as bank sticks just wont cut the cheese. Some of the lakes have jettys and wooden stands and although I have used stage stands before, when I am not settling in for a couple of days, I find a decent pod does the trick. My main criteria was for something very stable, not too heavy, easy to erect and transport.

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After spending a week or two looking at all the options I decided to take a chance on Cygnet. Well chance is not really the word having  had reports from some mates who have all recommended their pods and other tackle. Their new enough range carry a selection of pods aimed at different styles of fishing. The big daddy is the grand sniper which is geared towards the continental carp angler fishing vast waters with a need to keep the rods high up to negate tow or flow on some of Europe’s big waters along with keeping things stable.

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My choice was the less salubrious Quicklock version which seemed to tick all the boxes. I could have written this review a week or two after getting the pod but I really think you need to give your tackle a good work out in all conditions through the season to see if it does what it says on the tin or falls short.

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The pod comes in a handy carry case that is great for protection during transportation and storage and also allows you to keep your alarms set up on the buzz bars. The quicklok name really does carry some weight due to the ease and speed it can be put together. From opening up the case I can realistically have it up on the bank with the rods set up in under two minutes.  This is a definate plus compared to other pods I have owned which are like assembling a flat pack wardrobe with dodgy Chinese instructions and missing screws.

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For my normal fishing I leave the hockey sticks on the buzz bars and this keeps time down too, as I just have to screw on the indicators. I tried the pod out yesterday for a quick pike session and was delighted to find that it is suitable to use for a two rod set-up with drop back indicators which can be attached to the support bars that connect the buzz bars to the main frame.

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My first overnight session with the pod saw the worst that Irish weather has to offer hitting the lake and although it was a wet one, I got the chance to see if the pod was up to the job. The lake in question is fished off wooden stands that leave you a good 20 yards into the lake so you are really exposed to the elements. There was a force 8 gale blowing into my face with waves ripping over the stand and I was somewhat hesitant about leaving my gear perched there for the night while I was snug in my bivvy. I needn’t have worried however as when I got up after a biteless night at 4am my gear was where it was meant to be.

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I have used it in various situations over the summer and thus far it has stood up to everything with no problems. Next up is a season of pike fishing and a winter of Ireland’s finest weather. Although I prefer to use single sticks when pike fishing, there will definitely be situations when the pod will be needed. This is when any weak spots on the pod will show up as when fishing in temperatures up to minus 5c or so, connections and screw points can become brittle in severe cold and I suspect fail.

The pod has adjustable legs so you can have your rods pointed in the air to some extent if you need to and on the other end of the spectrum, have your rods submerged in the water on somewhere like the lough in Cork if you need to keep line away from birdlife.

If I had one gripe it would its length when packed down. The case won’t fit into any luggage I have so it is an extra to carry which can be a pain if traipsing through fields or hiking over hills to remote spots. This is just a personal thing though and not really been a major problem. The powder coated aluminium finish on the pod is good and I have not had too many chips or scratches which can be a defect of similar products out there.

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It is very well priced too for what you get it fits into the market alongside the likes of the Fox X-Pod, Nash 4-play, Gardner Panther and Taska Nanga Pod at €105 or £89 depending where you shop.

It comes in two sizes , the 26in-45in which I picked up and a slightly bigger one to accomadate the increasingly popular 13ft rods which is 32in-57in.

All in all I would certainly recommend it to anyone who is not looking for a long stay blinged up stainless monster of a thing. This is more a practical pod which is handy in so many ways. Whether it will last as long as something like a sod pod is questionable, but from talking to people who got Cygnet’s first Quicklock pod many years ago, they do last which is what you want.

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If you want to check out more of their products, their website is http://www.cygnettackle.co.uk/