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Features
24 Jan 2017
by Rob Hughes
8 things we've learnt from Below The Surface
Rob Hughes reveals his most eye-opening findings from our hit magazine series, Below The Surface: Testing The Pros in 2013...

1 Biggest Lessons

“The biggest lesson is always attention to detail when you are plumbing up and feeling down. Make sure that you know exactly what you are angling over and we’ve seen some excellent readings and some appalling guesses this last year. It is vital that you know, as close to exactly as possible, what you are fishing over. This helps no end in the rig choice, bait choice and also bait application.

“The other one is to make sure that the rig is lying correctly. The biggest way you can improve your catch-rate is incredibly simple. Firstly clip your line in to the reel clip and make sure you hit the clip every time, ideally just before the lead hits the water to reduce bounce back. This will ensure the rig is properly laid out when it hits the bottom.

“The second is to feel the lead down so you have a good idea on what you are fishing over as this will let you know what rig you should be using, and the third is that if you think that you should have had a bite but haven’t, reel in and re-cast; even if it’s to the same spot. The carp don’t usually spook if the water’s deep enough, especially in the colder months, and the amount of times I’ve heard people say, “It’s only been out there five minutes” tells me that fish are there but your rig was faulty in some way, either through a tangle, a bad presentation by a rock or in weed, or it had been marked as dangerous by the fish for some reason.”

2 Overlooked gems of information

“The edge! Of almost all of the pros we have tested, most of them wanted to smash it out into the pond and find a spot out there. To be fair that is quite similar to the attitude of most anglers. It works, but so do the margins and there have been numerous times that I have either been going out or coming back in and there have been fish close in when the angler has opted to go further out into the pond.

“The other one is sweetcorn. As we saw with Mr. Tom Maker a few months back, carp love it, and a hemp/corn mix is an incredible bait to get them in and feeding. Be careful how much you use though; little-and-often is the key.”

3 The biggest trends

“The Spomb. Almost everyone seems to be baiting up with a Spomb these days and good they are too. What’s important to realise is that they offer a different method of baiting from a spod and also that different baits discharge differently. The speed the Spomb hits the water has a dramatic effect on how the bait is discharged, and if it bounces back you will get a line of bait whereas if it lands with a boom you will get a cluster. Light baits like maggots behave differently to heavy baits like boilies so once again think what you want to achieve and bait up accordingly otherwise you may be putting your bait in a completely different place to where you think you are.”

“If I am getting picked up by coots, rather than thinking the presentation is fine, I will be tempted to check it after a few pick-ups.”

4 Most common mistakes

“One of the common faults I’ve seen this year is anglers not being as accurate as they think they are. Under casting has been a regular occurrence and we’ve seen a few of the top lads that have been falling short of the spot they think they are on. That’s down to perception over water which is difficult, but can be resolved by using sticks to wrap and also gauging the cast correctly. Wrap to the same distance then add a foot for every three of depth and you’re not far off.

“The other thing is to watch what you do on the cast and be aware of your hand movements. Do you follow through or hold high? If you hold back you probably need to add a little more than a foot per three but there isn’t a scientific answer as there are so many variables. Ultimately you will know whether you have got a good drop and whether you are in the region of your baited patch. If you are, then you should be in with a chance.”

5 The biggest surprise

“It has to be Milky at Cleverly Mere and the coot that picked up his rig, chewed off his boilie and unhooked the corn stop dropping a bare hook back down for him to blank with all night. Quite how it did it is a mystery, but good indication helps to be aware of what is going on so you can judge whether you have been ‘cooted’ just that little bit too much. From now on, if I am getting picked up by coots, rather than thinking the presentation is fine, I will be tempted to check it after a few pick-ups, especially if the coot action stops but they are still in the area. It’s also worth noting they can easily blunt your hook point, so always check them.”

6 Most eye-opening discovery

“Sometimes the most unorthodox methods work – that’s been proving a number of times in 2013. I’m going to go against the grain and most of the advice that I am giving in this piece, but occasionally, something really off the wall will work. For example we saw one on an aborted feature this year with Jed Kent. He was fishing a Choddie buried in weed 4ft deep in 6ft of water and had a pick up off it. Sadly the water was that coloured we couldn’t use the feature but he had the bite from an area you would think would be a no go.

"Also, when we went out with him for our feature last month at Linear Fisheries’ Hardwick/Smiths he was totally unorthodox again but caught fish, which is what angling is about. He broke almost every rule in the book, but it shows that whilst the rulebook is good to follow, being a total maverick occasionally can get results and that there are no hard and fast rules in angling – for sure that’s well worth remembering.”

7 Biggest myth busted

“Not really a fresh myth buster, more of a reinforcement of something that we already knew and one that is worth repeating again. Slack lines are not better than tight lines for indication. Through the middle distances they are similar, but as soon as you fish long, or ultra slack, your sensitivity goes out of the window. If you are going to fish ultra slack then use a running set-up, as bolt rigs fished slack are contradiction of themselves and defeat the object in the first place. Tight lines mean that you get less liners and false indication, and the line is so close to the bottom at the rig end that they make no real difference to your carp scaring potential. This can be cancelled out with the use of a fluorocarbon leader in many case.”

8 The biggest edge our diver's learnt...

“No particular tactic has jumped out at me this year as being a significant edge. I like Makers ‘sweetcorn-little-and-often’ baiting approach and I was very impressed with Dave Levy’s accuracy in plotting his pitch so it has to be attention to detail. The lads that have been accurate, on the ball and tight with everything they do have been the ones that have impressed me the most. This is definitely one of the things that stands out and makes the whole angling experience tighter, neater and generally more impressive.”

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