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Fishing 'naked' needn't mean a bunch of tangles...

Mat Woods explores lead set-ups...

Picture this: you’re walking to the pub, minding your own business. It’s the same route you take to the boozer every Friday, a path you’ve walked many a time, usually with a few mates equally eager to get a gallon down them. In the middle of the path is a thick cable, running across your path. You’re not quite sure what it is, or why it’s there, but you give it a wide berth. Call it a survival instinct, but avoiding things that aren’t normally there is what everyone does. It’s natural.

Now imagine the same scenario, only this time there is no cable. As far as you’re concerned, there’s nothing there. You can’t see anything, and neither can your buddies. As far as you’re concerned, it’s all just the way it’s supposed to be. Do you carry on your journey to the pub? Of course you do.

Now imagine the same scenario, only you’ve got scales, fins, and you’re swimming around your usual patrol route. There’s a big fat cable running through the middle of the silt bed. Meanwhile, over by the gravel seam, the coast is clear. Which way would you turn?

Naked leader
Standing position

I hate to anthropomorphise something as simple as whether to use a leader or not, but that analogy is a good one when you’re thinking about it yourself.

Rod Hutchinson used to say, “Better to use something they can see and avoid, than have the fish bump into something they can’t see” – which is just as valid – but how much thought have you actually put into it?

Most anglers I speak to ask me why I don’t use a leadcore, Pindown or tubing. I tend to use 20ft or so of Outline Fluorocarbon as a leader, with a Line Dropper 5ft from the lead. Since changing to that set-up my results have been too good to change back, but I am wholly aware of the pitfalls. The same anglers ask, “Don’t you experience tangles?” and I have to admit that when I started fishing this way, I did have the odd ‘wrap-up’, especially when Zig fishing. But for the most part, I got my head around how to set the lead up to avoid this happening.

Tangles play on more anglers’ minds than I realised. I’m one of those jammy gits who, over time, has managed to avoid tangles. I fish with guys who could tie a 2cm long Chod Rig in a bow, at times, but I have never really suffered. I was never really sure of why, until I started to really consider what I was doing.

Aim with your left-hand
Let the rod do the work

Initially, I figured it was just down to casting technique. I cast from a ‘standing’ position, I don’t tick the lead back and forth in one motion like a lot of guys. I have to stand there, line myself up, and then cast based on where my left-hand is aimed. (I’ve found that the lead lands wherever my bottom hand is pointing, no matter what. Great for casting in the dark.) I also cast a lot higher than most anglers I see, and I let the rod do all the work. My cast is very much a slow and deliberate cast, letting the rod fully load and concentrating more on a smooth transition than on hand speed and raw power. Those of you who play golf can think of it like ‘The Big Easy’ Ernie Els’ golf swing.

I also don’t put the rod to the side for when the lead hits the clip, like I see many guys do. I hold the rod above my head and lean it backwards, so the tip is behind my head, and as the lead hits the clip, I smoothly bring the rod forwards so the rod tip is back towards the target by the time the lead lands. This way, you don’t get the sudden hard jerk, that allows everything to go slack, or can cause unnecessary ‘bounce-back’ due to the stretch in the main line.

I tend to see three plops when the rig lands: my lead, my hookbait, and the Line Dropper – so I know it’s laid out in a line when it goes in, rather than it all following the lead in a blur.

Hit the clip like this…
…Not like this

Something else I have done since they hit the market is use an anti-tangle sleeve. It was Fox who first brought these to the world, developed with Frank Warwick I believe. I use them fairly long in conjunction with a QC Lead Clip set-up these days, and tend to use one of the longer styles of tail rubber too, as this provides fewer opportunities for the rig to wrap around your main line. What we used to do was use a standard lead clip with a one-inch length of tubing out the back of it – another good option if you’re worried about tangles.

What I don’t do is use PVA nuggets. If I want to avoid lakebed detritus, I’ll use a PVA mesh bag loaded with pop-ups and ensure my pop-up is super balanced, so when the bag melts and the pop-ups clear off, the pop-up sinks down slowly and falls away from the lead, not on top of it.

As always, it’s essential to feel everything down on a tight line to the lakebed. If in doubt, chuck it back out again. For the sake of another splash and thump, it’s worth a re-chuck.

So other than paying attention to your casting technique and streamlining your end tackle with anti-tangle components, how else can you make ‘Naked’ set-ups work for you? Well, the Chod Rig can be fished Naked in any way you desire, but pay attention to what will happen during the fight with a fish. I use a Chod Buffer so I’m playing the fish against the Buffer and not my main line – it prevents the swivel burning the line during the fight.

Anti-tangle sleeves are essential
QC Clip

Naked Chods can be absolutely brilliant in weedier lakes, but be careful as just because you can present a rig somewhere doesn’t mean you should, especially if you’re not dropping the lead. I watched a lad at Baden Hall this year cast a Naked Chod rig into a weedbed so thick, that after he put his rod down and clipped his bobbin on, I noticed a pink thing on the surface. I wandered over and said, “I think your pop-up might have come off mate”, to which he bemoaned the bait screws he’d started using. Only when he reeled in, the pink pop-up disappeared under the surface. Sure enough, he’d cast his Naked Chod into a weedbed 6ft deep in 6ft of water.

The pop-up trick
A winter 34lber