Question: Are we dumping too many leads?
“After thoroughly enjoying the ‘Below The Surface’ features, a worrying thought crossed my mind. The trend of ‘dumping the lead’ on the take has been argued over for a while but I wondered what Hughesy had seen on his dives whilst making the series? Is there a noticeable change or increase in leads spotted on the bottom? I know that it maybe difficult to spot them as a rule but with the majority of lakes surely there are ‘hot’ spots where local knowledge dictates that Spot X is always worth a cast at?
"Recently I have seen arguments both for and against the practice of dumping leads and a number of very interesting points have been raised during these conversations. I would just like to find out yours (and Hughesy’s) opinions or findings about it. Keep up the top work!” Paddy Flint
Rob Hughes "Bearing in mind the number of freshwater dives that I have done on lakes that are quite heavily fished, it’s quite surprising that I don’t find more leads. In fact, the only ones I seem to find are those that have got caught on underwater snags or sunken branches and still have line attached.
"To test the theory for this dive we picked a popular swim: ‘Disabled Point’ on Horseshoe, Lechlade. The swim used to and still does to a certain extent receive a lot of angling pressure to the point where at one stage, before a change in the rules, there were people queuing up at the back of the swim to get in it. Due to Horseshoe’s weedy nature most anglers fish a lead clip so as to eject the lead when needed and for that reason, combined with the fact that there is a popular clear spot at 90yds in front of the swim, means that this is the perfect area to go in search of a mass cluttering of dumped leads.
"Having said this, as hard as I looked in the area where the leads are usually dumped, I couldn’t find one. I think that when leads are discharged they get buried/covered very quickly. My own views on the practice are that it is important to balance carp safety against dropping leads, but you don’t need to drop the lead all of the time. Zigs over mussel covered bars or heavy weed are exceptions where dropping the lead is a necessity. I recall being the first journalist to write about the ‘outline’ way of dropping leads after a friend showed me the original Tom Banks version a good few years ago and it was only meant to be used in difficult circumstances. I find it useful when fishing extreme-range on big waters with 6oz plus leads but other than that, hefty weed is the only other regular reason to lose the lead. It’s important not to be too blasé about dropping leads due to both environmental issues and cost, but there are times when carp safety has to come into play. Ultimately it’s down to the individual to make that choice and the magazines to educate when it might be right to do so.
"Interestingly I do see a lot more cracked-off rigs than leads and you’d think it should be the other way round because the rigs are picked up by fish, but there’s a fair few that aren’t or if they are, they are ejected and left. On both of my feature dives this year, at Brasenose and Horseshoe, I have found discharged rigs but interestingly, on the five that I have found, only one still had a lead attached."