Kick-start Your Fishing: Basics of Fishing

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For the novice angler walking into our tackle shop must be a bewildering experience so this new series is designed to help get you started and catching fish. Here Clint deals with the basics of setting up a float rod and reel….


Rods

The rod
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The rod

Rods are fitted with rings or guides through which the line passes, and float rods usually come in three sections mostly 13 ft fully assembled, ideal for casting and controlling the rig and hooked fish. On the handle an attachment retains the fishing reel – a line storage and winding device. It is important when assembling a rod that you line all the guides up so the reel line can pass freely without friction.

Reels

The reel
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The reel

Most reels are open faced which means the spool of line is uncovered, the line being retained on the spool by a bail arm. The bail arm has to be opened to cast but closed to fish, and wind in. With the bail arm closed line can still be released from the spool by use of the drag or backwind system. The reel needs to be loaded with at least 100 metres of a suitable line for float fishing, I recommend 6 lb breaking strain monofilament. You must ensure that the spool is filled to within an eighth of an inch of the rim. Too little line and you will find casting difficult, too much line and it will spill off and tangle.

Drag system

The drag system
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The drag system

The drag system is a slipping clutch which can be adjusted to make it harder or easier to pull line from the spool. The backwind system is activated by flicking the anti-reverse lever to the off position allowing the handle to rotate backwards to ‘unwind’ the line. These systems allow hard fighting fish to take line in a controlled manner, which one use is your choice.

Threading the line

Threading
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Threading

Thread the line over the closed bail arm and through the rod rings – don’t miss any out or it the rod won’t cast! Pull enough line through to attach the rig. The tip end of the rod is quite soft and bendy in comparison to the handle end. This called the action end of the rod and helps to cast, play and land fish – it acts as a cushion and shock absorber.

Attaching the float

The float
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The float

A versatile float on commercial still waters is a 4AAA insert peacock waggler. At the base of the float is the eye which can be used to attach the float to the reel line, however I prefer to use float adapters. These short pieces of silicon sleeve are pushed onto the base of the float, the reel line is then threaded through the eye in the adapter. The advantage is that you can change floats without having to dismantle the rig.

Shotting the float

Shot loading
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Shot loading

The weight that is needed to cock the float (the shot loading), so that only the coloured tip is visible above the water, will be marked on the stem. It is important to shot the float correctly, beacause a under shotted float won’t work – fish will feel too much resistance and drop the bait. The largest shot we use most of the time are Swan shot followed by AAA, AB, then sizes 1, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12 and 13. You can buy them in dispensers containing a range of sizes. I would expect to place four number ten dust shot between the float and the hook length to set the float correctly. This shotting pattern achieves a natural fall of the hook bait through the water.
Hook lengths
Hook lengths
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Hook lengths

For the beginner I recommend buying a packet of hooks to nylon. The hook is at one end of the line and a loop at the other to which you attach the main line with a loop to loop connection. For carp mostly over 3 lb to double figures I would suggest a size 14 for baits like pellet meat and corn and a size 16 for double maggot or caster. For smaller carp you can scale the hook size down and use a 16 for meat and corn and an 18 for maggots and casters.

Test the depth

Test depth
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Test depth

Finally test the depth of the swim so that the float is set with the bait just resting on bottom. Attach a plummet to the hook and adjust the float to the depth of where you intend to fish. Cast out and if the float sinks you have not set the rig deep enough. Adjust the depth so the tip of the float is visible with the plummet on the lake bed. You are now ready to fish with a running line waggler set up!