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Features
02 Feb 2015
by Nigel Sharp
Nigel Sharp's 'How To' Guide
Seasoned carp angler, Nigel Sharp gives you a rundown of his finest 'how to' edges...

How to... Maximise your bait's impact

“Like the vast majority of anglers in the UK, I tend to use a lot less bait in the winter months, but with what I do use I want to be massively attractive. "

1 TOP GLAZE
“To achieve the most attraction from my bait, I’ll often dilute a small amount of the flavour that’s in my bait with water and ‘glaze’ my free offerings – not just my hookbaits like most other anglers will do.”

2 CRUSHED UP
Nige points out that thanks to items like Mini Spombs, you can now deliver crumbed baits around your area with total precision. Small amounts of very attractive food – with nothing to fill them up – is a real edge.

3 WINNER
“I don’t tend to glug my fake baits, but if I do it’s without doubt with Nashbait’s Sweetcorn Extract. That’s not a plug, it’s fact. Tiger nut juice is also another winner as it’s sweet and sticky and adheres well.”

4 DULL IT DOWN
“I’m not a great lover of really bright fluoro pop-ups – the ones which every man and his dog opt for in as soon as it gets cold. When you have a high-pressure front in the winter, that’s the time to target the shallows and with lakes becoming clearer in winter, fluoros stand out like a sore thumb, so much so I have seen fish approach these hookbaits, pause and then swim off. Slightly duller colours, especially yellow or orange, and they seem a lot happier to take.”

How to: Find the perfect winter spot

“Normally the perfect winter spot is near a major feature, such as an island or a set of snags and most of my recent captures on Frimley’s Pit 3 have come from the main island bar which is a consistently productive area year in, year out.”

1. RULE BREAKER: FOLLOW THE FREEZING COLD WIND…
Until recently and thanks to Richard Chapman’s underwater camera (ROV), it was always recommended to fish on the back of a cold wind. But thanks to his sub and GoPro he didn’t find any carp in a sheltered, snaggy tree-lined bank (read: what we all thought was the ideal place to find them). However, he did find them in some snags but these were right in the teeth of a freezing cold wind…

2. WEEDBEDS
Although they’re often touted as a winter winner, according to Nige, if you fish a line-dragged gravel pit, try and avoid dying weedbeds like the plague.

3. HOLDING HEAT
Reedbeds and dead lily pads are two of the best places to find carp during the winter months as they offer warmth, protection and food.

How to: get super organised

“I take the following: a pair of salopettes and a jacket to keep warm; a low chair and a tea making kit, although if you really want to strip back on weight, you could actually take a small vacuum flask. In my rucksack I have a small tackle box, camera equipment, a weigh/retaining sling just in case you need to put the fish in the margins while you sort out your camera equipment. An extra jacket, head torch to walk around the lake at night. Unhooking mat and a small bucket that I keep my baiting needles, bit of bait just so I don’t have to pull my rucksack apart to get the rods out.

“Short session fishing is all about getting those rods out quickly. I don’t normally take my umbrella either; I just check the weather forecast before I go. My rods are always banded together and made up. When I get home if I need to put on a new hook before the next session, I can do that while I have my dinner. I also tie up my baits with dental floss before I go; it all saves time when you get to the lake.”

How to: keep warm when it's freezing

30 winters have taught him the following...

“It may sound obvious, but the best way to keep warm is to keep dry. The human body sweats to cool itself down so you don’t want to build up too much heat. You don’t want to be walking around the lake in all your heavy gear, as by the time you settle down you’ll have sweated and all your clothes will be damp and you’ll get cold. “Wear the bare minimum when moving your kit around and once you’re settled, start to build your layers up – and the more layers you have, the warmer you’ll be. In terms of food and drink, hot liquids are very important – a flask of soup or coffee/tea will help no end.”

How to: work out the feeding times

The textbook says get to the lake when it’s getting light to watch the water. But is that really necessary?

“Normally when the frosts start at the end of October, start of November, is when I start to knock the overnighters on the head and fully focus on day trips. I’ve noticed over the years that the best bite time at this time of year is between 1 and 2pm and then from late afternoon up to 8 o’clock in the evening, so why bother sitting it out in the less productive times?
“One of the first things I do when I have had a bite and gained some control over the fish is to check the time it rattled off. If I was coming back the next day or later that week I would make sure that I had my rods in position well in advance of that time.

“As I have already said, I literally did a handful of day sessions on my target winter water this year – Frimley’s Pit 3 – amounting to no more than 30hrs and so far I’ve had six fish, with most of those fish coming between 1pm and 3pm. Once you know the feeding time you can almost become lazy, because as long as you have your baits in the water before 12pm, you’re all set and ready.”

“When I used to do removal work, I would have my gear ready so if I had an early finish I could get a few hours in. Quite often you could have two or three bites and be done by 9pm. I would set a rule that I go home by 8pm if nothing has happened, but if I got a liner I will give it to 9pm – and I pretty much still stand by that today.”

How to: make your Mag-Aligners more effective

Nigel doesn’t work on ten-per-cents – he works on half-a-per-cent and here’s how he’s perfected the Mag-Aligner

“First off, the shorter the hooklink the better. If you’re fishing a PVA bag with 100 food items inside, they are not going to move too far from the lead – especially in the cold water, so a shorter hooklink is going to prick them quicker. Secondly – and very importantly – the more supple the hooklink the better. For this, I either use a full braid, something like ESP’s Sink Link or I remove all the coating from a hooklink material. Whichever you choose, make sure it’s light and supple, because the key is to make that hook turn over extremely easily, which given that there is no weight on the hook (a standard boilie bottom bait rig has), can be hard with a stiff material.

“Hook sizing, I use either a size 8 or 10; I don’t go much bigger if I’m using the Mag-Aligner. However, if I do want to use a bigger hook I will move over to the Medusa Rig. When it comes to “edges” for this presentation, I either add a piece of maize or a fake maggot to the Hair, as this keeps the hook and ball of maggots separated, plus it knocks a bit of weight off the hook as well.”

1. Take a fake maggot and using a sharp blade, cut a slit in the fat end of the maggot.

2. Tie (Five-Turn Grinner) a small rig ring onto the end of your hooklink material.

3. Thread your hooklink material through a needle and then push it through the maggot.

4. Then exiting the maggot, make sure the needle comes out bang in the middle.

5. By making the slit in the maggot, it means the rig ring will pull into it.

6. Whip on your hook KD Rig style (three turns, lift Hair and another seven turns).

How to: work your Zigs better

1. ADD RESISTANCE
“To make my Zigs more effective in slightly deeper water I use a sub-float as this knocks out a bit of slack from the hooklink so when the fish hits the hookbait there’s more resistance.”

2. FLAVOURING…
“Some people flavour their Zig hookbaits but I’m a firm believer it’s just a visual thing, even at night and it’s for this very reason why I think Zig Bugs work so well.”

3. ZIG BUGS
“Talking to Zig expert, Chris Boyda, he reckons most Zig Bugs glow like a silver bubble underwater as they attract oxygen around them, and this makes them look like a bug that’s hatched.”

4. COLOUR CHOICE
“Like my fluoro, I prefer to dull down my Zig hookbaits, which is often a piece of yellow foam which I rub in the mud before casting out. Don’t ask me why, but ‘dull’ works better for me.”

How to: finally bin the Chods!

Whilst everyone else is using Choddies, Nigel is more than happy to stick to his stiff bottom bait rig

“It’s a conversation Terry Hearn and I have had on numerous occasions; everyone is fishing the same these days: the same spots, the same baiting patterns and most of all, the same rig: the Chod. That rig’s lost the edge it once had, so having done so well on my stiff bottom bait rig in 2013, I’m going to carry on using it. Only when I wind in and retrieve a leaf or some other debris on the hook, will I think about changing over to a Hinged Stiff Link. It’s the old adage: why change something if it’s not broken?’

How to: get more from maggots

Three pointers which have help Nige when it comes to ‘germ’ fishing…

1 GET THEM CLEAN
“First off, make sure they are kept clean. To do this, I always carry a riddle and regularly change the sawdust or breadcrumb they are in.”

2 ADD BOILIE CRUMB
“If I’m fishing a water that has a bit of colour to it, I simply crumb-up some boilies and mix them up with the maggots which go in my PVA stocking bags.”

3 CURRY POWDER
“You can give them a glug in something but I then find them hard to work with, so try adding curry powder – this gives them a real good kick and works well.”

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