Ben Hamilton's Winter Refinement
Here’s how Ben Hamilton goes about his winter angling…
Whatever our quarry, angling in the coldest months of the year almost always requires a different approach to those tactics we employ when the temperature’s in double-figures or more.
CARPology: The Hinged Stiff Rig: is this your go-to rig, regardless of the time of year?
Ben Hamilton: "No, not at all. To be honest, I tend to use bottom baits most of the time. I use a few different rigs throughout the year, but this is a great pop-up presentation for singles during the winter for me. Because there’s very little pre-baiting involved during the colder months, you can cast this out freely, into lots of different areas - and with a variety of coloured hookbaits - and be 100% confident that your rig is fishing, and not tangled.”
CARPology: You seem to have a more traditional, ‘sweeping curve’ in your Chod section. Why do you favour this over a more aggressive curve?
Ben Hamilton: “It’s just how I’ve always used it to be fair… more like a bent hook. It’s always served me well fished like that.”
CARPology: How critically balanced will you have the rig and hookbait?
Ben Hamilton: “I like to balance the hookbait so it sinks nice and slowly, this helps to kick the rig out, away from the lead even more effectively.”
CARPology: Talk us through the components you use and why…
Ben Hamilton: “I’ve always used leadcore and I like the way it pins itself to the bottom nicely. The beads I’ve been using the last few years are very heavy too; they’re made with tungsten and come in a nice matt finish. The top bead is placed over a small piece of silicone, just to make it safe if there’s a crack-off or your line parts in the weed.
“The Thinking Anglers’ Double Ring Swivels are great; they’ve stopped me tying loops and make the rig a little bit more streamlined and tangle-free. I’m still a big Amnesia user as far as the boom section goes; it’s very easy to straighten in-between casts.
“Then it’s a size 11 Ring Swivel, which is nice and small, but extremely strong. I then mould a piece of putty to the swivel’s barrel to help sink the pop-up. These swivels are super smooth and plated in the same PTFE coating as our hooks, so they spin incredibly well, helping the hook turn and catch hold plumb in the bottom part of the carp’s mouth.
“The hooks are our new OE pattern which are super sharp and nice and strong - which is what you want when the lakes are weedy and big carp are involved. The hooks are tied with a bristle-type filament section which has great memory and holds that sweeping curve, so the carp have carp great difficulty trying to eject the rig.
“Finally, the hookbait is attached by blobbing it onto a Hook Ring Swivel, and this again gives the rig a bit more movement.”
CARPology: You tend to use quite light leads; what’s your reasoning behind this?
Ben Hamilton: “I’m really not a massive caster to be honest, so tend to use just the right amount of weight to get me to the area I’ve chosen to fish.”
CARPology: And finally, when it comes to the winter months, what’s your go-to hookbait?
Ben Hamilton: “I like to make a big batch of different coloured hookbaits late in the summer and they’ll be a mixture of fruity types with a few classic spicy ones, normally in white, pink, yellow and orange. You can’t though, ignore the maggots and casters, and if the lakes are getting a lot of the little wrigglers, you’ll often have to follow suit. Again, not to be ignored would have to be Zigs, as the fish can often be up off the bottom for quite long periods of time. Zigs can catch you a few bonus fish… even in the most Baltic of conditions!”
How to splice leadcore
1. Slide back five-inches of sheath and cut the inner lead off from inside, then discard it.
2. Slide the sheath back along so you are left with a five-inch supple section of just the sheath.
3. Take a splicing needle and poke the end into the middle of the empty sheath, where it meets the inner lead.
4. Start to slide the needle along the middle of the hollow sheath up towards the end of the leadcore.
5. When you get halfway, double the sheath back as shown in the picture. This ensures you have a small loop.
6. Push the needle out of the middle of the sheath, hook on the end and gently pull it back through.
7. Put your needle through the loop to make it perfectly round and neat. Then trim off the excess tag.
8. This is what the finished spliced loop should look like. You will tie your main line to this.
9. At the other end, thread on your silicone, beads, swivel and a small piece of 3mm silicone.
10. Ben then attaches his chose lead by splicing it on in the same way as previously outlined above.