End tackle according to Danny Fairbrass
The terminal tackle designer, TV presenter and general prolific carp-catcher on where the carp jewellery journey is heading
What’s your view on rigs right now: are we hitting the mark or are we a long way off?
There is still a lot that can be done. They are making fools of us more than we know.
What’s your thoughts on hooklink length? Shorter the better or do you favour a longer link?
Personally I favour as short as I can get away with. One of the things we notice from all of the underwater filming is that the length of the hooklink is critical. It has to be dead right for the particular spot you are fishing, along with your chosen baiting situation. It was the key to getting a bite or not getting a bite. For hard gravel bottoms the shorter the hooklink the more times you convert a pick up to a hooked fish. I rarely use a hooklink longer than 12-inches and on places like Sandhurst in Yateley I've used two-inch hooklinks! The link is that short the Stick bag is resting up against the lead.
What about hooklink materials – braid, coated, stiff – what do you favour and which do you think the carp finds harder to deal with?
I think the hardest one for them to deal with is the Chod rig – so a stiff material. But that needs to be fished somewhere where they will take a pop-up or somewhere where there is loads of weed on the bottom and the fish are used to sieving through that weed and debris. Next to that is a stiff coated hooklink with only a tiny bit stripped back so it’s entirely straight from the lead to the hook so when the fish picks the bait up it’s feeling the lead as quickly as humanly possible.
Everyone’s obsessed with lightening the hookbait. What’s your thoughts on going the other way and making it heavier? Do you see any advantage to doing this?
I have tried this myself a couple of times and it does seem like it’s going to be hard for the fish to deal with, but I’ve only used it a couple of times and I haven’t caught anything on it yet. I think the major issue with heavy hookbaits is if it has something inside which isn’t edible, than you could kill that fish. I ensure the heavy part is fixed to the Hair and can never come off. I know of dead fish which have been cut open and the small split shot from a balanced bait made the lining of the gut all infected and eventually killed the fish. As far as hook holds go, a standard boilie out of the bag is more likely to end up in the bottom lip as opposed to a lighter bait which could end up anywhere in their mouth.
What are your views on Hair length? Should we revert back to the old school way of super long, super supple Hairs?
I’m not one for super long Hairs. I do like there to be a separation between the bait and the hook with the Hair coming off the hook down near the bend. I like to drop the rig in my hand and see if it turns over and takes hold. I’m trying to catch the fish that sucks the bait in, tightens everything up, pricks itself, thinks ‘oh dear, something’s wrong’ and shoots off.
On the Underwater films we tried a long two-inch supple Hair tied to the bend of the hook and the whole thing went into the fish’s mouth and back out again three times. That says to me that a long Hair isn’t necessarily the answer. The advantage of a long Hair is if the hook and bait are further apart, while the fish is feeding visually there is more chance of it picking up that bait as it’s not right next to the hook.
Given the choice, what do you prefer to use: a pop-up rig or a bottom bait rig? What hooks better in your opinion?
If I can, I’ll use a bottom bait, but when I’m fishing lakes like Welly which have silkweed almost everywhere and it’s so shallow you can’t keep casting all the time, so I generally favour a pop-up or a Chod which seems to be most effective on that lake. When I’m fishing places like Gigantic where there isn’t an inch of weed I’ll get a bottom bait on, because I want my hookbait where all the other ones are. You can’t fish one way everywhere and expect it to work, you have to adjust what you’re doing to suit the situation in front of you or you just become too one-dimensional.
The Underwater films were an amazing eye-opener to the stuff we can’t see and obviously we seem to ‘get done’ more than we realise. What have you learnt and how do you try and stop them getting away with it?
We saw how the length of the hooklink is absolutely critical and getting it right for the situation you’re fishing in. The sharpness of the hooks too. A major change to my fishing is that, where possible, I now use running rigs in my set-up as opposed to semi-fixed. I think a running rig is much harder to get rid of once they have picked it up. Slack lining was another major change; I now use fluorocarbon and let it sink right down so it’s totally flush to the lakebed.
Above the lead what do you favour? Do you go for a pre-tied leader, leadcore tubing or fluoro?
I always have something behind the lead because I’ve seen the line flick scales off whilst being played. For everything bar Chod rigs, I use a short SafeZone leader. For my Chod rig fishing I use leadcore.
Are we at the peak of tackle development or is there more out there? Where can you see end tackle products progressing?
I could tell you, but then I’d have to kill you! In the next ten years there will be jumps forward beyond our comprehension. Everything will improve: hooks will get sharper, harder to see, less corrosion and lighter. Lines will get thinner and stronger and baits will become even more attractive. High competition in the industry is good, as it’s always forcing people to do better, pushing for new ideas and innovation.
Personally I think the next ‘Hair’ is still out there! The Choddy has been a very significant advance, but I bet there are still fish which swim round that and think, ‘no chance’.