Be Part Of The Other Crowd
I've fished over 400 venues and this is what I've learn't...
I’ve never been into fashions. I like to think I’m much more practical than that. When I was at school I never had a haircut just because it was the ‘thing’ to do, and I didn’t fancy the girl everyone said I had to. I had my own opinions, and I always will do. It’s the stubborn northerner in me (I’m from Yorkshire stock although I was born in the Midlands).
The Marketing Machine
I actually hate normal society. I shake my head when I’m in the city, watching everyone trying to fit in. You have to be ‘seen’ in something because it’s the way it is. Of course I’ll abide by the rules but copying what others do just for the sake of it doesn’t fit into my logic. It’s not because I’m middle aged, where I’m sensible with my decision making. I’ve always been the same because I don’t care what other people think of me. I’m much more straightforward than that… all I need is a pair of running shoes and a set of rods!
I suppose there’s subconscious things I’m influenced by, like seeing a pair of trainers and wanting to buy them etc. We’re probably all swayed by other people to a certain extent. Some are more vulnerable than others, and this influence exists in all walks of life, even carp fishing. The longer you’ve been around it, the more you notice it. And one thing I’ve learned from fishing so many different lakes is that it’s much better to be a part of the ‘other’ crowd than those following the fashions.
10 Popular Fashions In Carp Fishing
1. Bright singles in winter
Popularised by Frank Warwick in the 90s, and works brilliantly on most lakes.
2. Slack lining
The craze of the early 2010s. It works well in close-quarter situations.
3. Glugged fishmeals
Mega successful in the 80s/90s but fazed out because of health concerns.
4. Needle sharp hooks
Started in the last couple of years; works well but weakens points.
5. The Chod Rig
The ‘chuck it and chance’ rig of the last 20 years, works on all waters.
6. Line clips
Early 90s craze for fishing tight to heavy leads, still works today.
7. Laying rods on the floor
A packing-away craze hoping for that last bite.
8. The bent hook
Late 80s wonder rig but now banned on most lakes because of excess mouth damage.
9. Knitted jumpers
Started by the pioneers of carp fishing, but popularised by Terry Hearn.
10. Folded reel handles
I’ve no idea who started this one but he’s probably in hiding…
It’s been said a million times before that carp learn through association. It therefore makes sense to not use something that has been done ‘to death’ on a water. Unfortunately it’s not quite as simple as that for some people. They need reassurance that what they are doing is going to catch them fish. They may only get one day a month or even less than this to head onto the bank. Lakes are constantly changing, where tactics are working one day and not the other. Unless you fish full-time or are in touch with a lake on a regular basis it’s difficult to keep in-tune. This is where having the advice of others comes in really handy. I talked about this in depth a couple of months ago, where you need to use information as best you can. Some of it is useful but most of it is useless. Working out which is which is hard to do, and this is part of the reason why fashions take a large precedence in carp fishing. Word on the bank takes over, and before you know it, the majority are doing whatever social media tells them to…
We’re actually in a very weird period of carp fishing media. As I grew up, the magazines were the source of news within the sport. They were the go-between the tackle and bait companies and the public. They had to abide by the laws of print media, and they maintained a pretty balanced way of reporting. They pumped out mostly unbiased information. A few mags are still going strong today, like CARPology, Angling Times and Anglers Mail, but it’s fair to say they aren’t as influential as they were in the 90s and Noughties.
The world of social media has taken over the carping grapevine. This is where anyone can talk to everyone, and the public gets the chance to question tackle companies in an open domain. It’s also where the tackle companies get to promote their products, be it via Instagram, Facebook, Twitter or YouTube. They make public announcements, reveal new items of tackle, and basically get to tell the rest of us what’s happening with their brand. Unlike with magazines, this kind of media is unregulated as it hits the market. Words like ‘unrivalled’, ‘legendary’, ‘secret’, and many other very influential statements can be used to assist the selling of items. In the olden days, these words will have been toned down by the magazine editors and independent journalists. Basically, news and information was more regulated a few years back, meaning ‘greatest carp catch ever’ won’t have been included in a story unless it was fact-checked to the best level possible. When Carp-Talk was in circulation, it was considered the bible for fact-checked knowledge. Nowadays such information is as non-existent as Carp-Talk itself! I laugh at some of the reports I read today, and almost choke on the words that some companies use to describe their latest inventions.
If you’re a newcomer to the sport, it’s easy to be drawn in. You lap up whatever you see on screen. Some of the tackle companies have an incredible reach on their platforms too. It’s crazy how big carp fishing is today. When I go on the likes of Instagram, some carp anglers have more followers than house-hold celebrities! I was comparing figures only the other day, and found several that have more followers than Premiership footballers! As for the companies themselves, well, the main players like Fox, Nash, Korda, Avid etc, have huge numbers of followers across the globe. Once a new product is released, it gets seen by thousands almost instantly. If the marketing is good, it then becomes a bestseller, and before you know it, everyone on the bank is talking about it. It then becomes the latest fashion accessory, a bit like handbags do amongst high-flying girls living in the city!
Trying To Catch The Burghfield Common
The carvings in the metaphorical stone tablets went something like this: 1. He will never be caught in the open water. 2. He will never be caught from the deeper areas. 3. He always comes out of the top end of the lake, beyond Barnett’s Point (except once but that was probably a fluke). 4. If you are catching fish, the next bite will never be The Common as he doesn’t feed with the pack.
And how and where did Dave Lane catch it? “I cut out a new swim, back past Barnett’s Point, to give me even more access to the deep open water where The Common never gets caught. I fired in loads of bait to get the pack feeding, the pack that The Common never gets caught with and, on my first session out there, I caught six fish. The fact that one of them was The Burghfield Common at fifty-five-pounds was probably just a fluke!”
I can think of loads of examples to use here to illustrate what I’m getting at. The majority of them involve fancy rigs, because that area of carp fishing is where anglers on limited time think there is an edge to be gained. They believe the latest rig invention might put them in the same league as Terry Hearn. It doesn’t matter how many times you tell people that there isn’t a short cut to success in carp fishing, folk don’t appear to listen. Put a rig clinic at a carp show and it’s inundated. Put a few good catches up on social media stating they were caught on a new rig that’s just been invented and it gets attention. Follow it up with a couple more catches and a statement on the rig, and all of a sudden the ball is rolling. Folk are talking, ears are twitching, and then a few weeks later there’s a new rig revelation that people can buy into. That’s how the industry works, despite common sense showing that every ‘great’ carp angler uses a different rig to the other ‘superstar’. There isn’t such a thing as a ‘wonder rig’, rather just a reinvention of the wheel under a new name.
When the Chod Rig came out, everyone was buying the components and using it. The same with the Multi-Rig and now in more recent times, it’s the Ronnie Rig. These are the rigs that sell, and the more components you need to tie one up, the more people spend in a tackle shop. It’s good for business, which is great for the industry. It’s not all negative, because the more creativity there is in the rig industry, the more anglers think positively about fish welfare and the more we feel confident about what we’re doing. Confidence is the breeding ground of success in carp fishing so I’m not being entirely critical of rig fashions. I’m merely using it to demonstrate how influential fashions can be in the sport.
The best example of fashions taking control has to be the slack-lining craze that swept the industry a few years back. That came about following the marketing of some new indicators that were invented for slack lines close in. Without a doubt, carp are line shy. There’s been too many examples seen on underwater films. But the simple fact is that fishing slack lines in most situations is not necessary. All it does is reduce the effectiveness of your indication.
So successful was the marketing of those indicators, I saw one of my close friends fishing slack lines when he really didn’t need to. He’d been carp fishing longer than me and I walked into his swim and asked why he was slack lining. He had rigs at 150+yards range tight to a marginal shelf. His reply was: “Because it’s better than tight lining.” I asked him why it was, and all I got was a “because it is” explanation. There was no science or anything in what he was saying, clearly just a repetition of whatever he’d heard. I did my best to explain he was talking nonsense but it didn’t work so I walked off shaking my head. An hour later he then had a screaming take so I walked over to see. Lo and behold he was cursing at the slack-lining because when he made contact with the fish, it had moved 150+yards left without giving him any indication at all, only eventually giving him some when the line tightened up! Needless to say, he soon woke up and now only slack lines when fishing in close quarters because it has a negative impact on the sensitivity of the set-up.
‘5 Examples Of Success By Doing My Own Thing’
1. Rainbow Lake, France
“You won’t catch them off the top here” 42lb mirror caught on bread. (2015)
2. Orellana, Spain
“You’ll only catch on Sticky Krill and Goo.” A shedload of fish with Jim Lightfoot to 55lb on DNA SLK. (2019)
3. Every UK carp I’ve caught in the last ten years
“You’re tight-lining! The carp hate tight lines!” I even caught the Wood Common on a bow-string line 30yds out. (2019)
4. Nostell Priory Top Lake, Yorkshire
“Why’s he even fishing there, everyone knows that Biggun is dead?” 43lb 6oz - Yorkshire’s finest carp. (2009)
5. Emmotland’s Big C, Yorkshire
“It only comes out on a Chod Rig.” No it doesn’t, I caught it on a bottom bait braided rig. (2017)
Gain An Edge: Don’t Follow The Crowd
I could go on and on about the effects of following trends in the sport. Thankfully it’s not all negative. There are loads of positives to come out of the fashion victims. Once a good bait becomes the one to use, it gets bought by loads and this in turn benefits the fish. Rig safety is also a massively important topic that has come through fashions. So is fish welfare. I see a lot of old school carpers laughing at the newcomers setting up their weigh stations and slings before they’ve even had a fish, but it’s good that anglers are thinking in such a positive light. Messages like this are absolutely brilliant in lots of different ways.
The way my brain works as a carp angler though is different to how lots of newcomers think. I like seeing the fashions taking over. It brainwashes the majority into fishing in a way that is almost robotic. I know what most anglers are going to be using when they step onto a lake. I know my methods, especially my rigs, are going to be used by only a few. This puts me into a very select group of anglers on a water because the more people use the same styles and methods, the more the carp get used to it. If everyone is using stiff rigs and I’m on supple rigs, there’s more chance of me tripping one up because they won’t be seeing as many rigs like mine. This is a massive advantage, and the perfect example to use when explaining why I much prefer to be a part of ‘the other crowd’ rather than those following the bandwagon.
Anyway, I’ve run out of space to waffle on any longer. I’ll round up this series in the next issue when I’ll look at a cliche that’s never too far away from my angling. I hope to see you then.