Make Your Own Luck
Mr consistent JACK FUNNELL runs us through how he catches carp wherever he goes, the rules he sticks to and the edges that he uses to guarantee success.
The guys at Total Carp asked me to run through the thinking and tactics I employ that often lead to me banking a number of fish from varying venues around the UK, and how a particular mind-set can also help you too. With this said, it is hard to single out just one particular thing or reveal a certain edge; not because I am a secret squirrel, but because I don’t really know what it is that I do that would be considered different from the norm.
I don’t really pay too much attention to others, but seeing how much information there is on the internet, it would surprise me if most anglers didn’t understand the basics of carp fishing. It often takes an outside eye to identify certain things that stand out and Sticky media guru Dan Wildbore has reminded me of a few things that he has noticed when out on the bank with me. I am not saying I catch every time, far from it. Everyone has his or her blanks, good days and bad days and this is the case for every angler on the planet. One thing I do is pick venues with a good stock of carp. I am not one for fishing the lakes with just a handful of carp and wait all year for a bite; life is too short for that.
I like catching fish and during the winter months especially, I will pick some of the higher-stocked day-ticket waters to fish. Places like Linear Fisheries and Farlows are always good fun, with a big stock of hungry carp.
A stunning Farlows mirror.
Like anywhere, though, you have to get the basics right and execute everything smoothly to the best of your ability. I know it is an obvious one and gets said time and time again, but finding the fish is so important. If they are not there, you won’t catch them and it is as simple as that. I try and get to the lake during the hours of bite time. This could be 2am, first light or evening, whenever it is that they are most active and doing their feeding. There is no point just fishing areas that they use to chill and get away from it all. I want to be where the fish are feeding, not just milling around.
Once I have found the swim that I fancy, the first thing I do is grab the leading rod. I know a lot of people like to get the rods out as quickly and as stealthily as possible, but I don’t really mind how much disturbance I make, as long as I find the spot or area that I am happy to fish too. I use a 3oz lead straight through on braid and will cast around and feel for the cleanest or smoothest bottom I can find. I don’t mind fishing over weed, but if I can find spots that the fish have clearly fed on, I would much prefer to fish on those. Preferably, I want to find something that is fairly small, a spot that others wouldn’t go to the trouble and lengths to find. These are the spots that will get you more bites ahead of the bigger, blatant and heavily fished areas.
With me fishing so many waters, I always carry a couple of sets of rods. I have a setup that will allow me to fish at range and another that is more suited to smaller waters. If I find a spot that is 120 yards out, the last thing I want to be doing is trying to cast soft rods and 15lb fluorocarbon. Equally, if I am fishing 30 yards out, I don’t need 3.5lb rods, 10lb line and leaders.
This leads me on to spare spools. I always carry two spools for each reel, one with 15lb Gardner Mirage fluorocarbon and the other with a lighter line in case I need to go further. It is about being organised and ready to adapt to any situation that you are faced with. It is so important to have everything you need with you, even if you keep it in the motor. The last thing you want to be doing is spooling up lines on the bank or, worse, not fishing to where you want to because you don’t have the gear with you.
After finding where you want to fish, it makes sense to get all your rods clipped up accurately. The wrapping sticks are commonly used by pretty much everyone I know and I couldn’t fish without them. I wrap everything up to the spot and when I am casting, particularly the Spomb, I want everything to be super-tight and accurate. I also make sure that the rigs are never tangled, so add either a PVA bag or foam nugget to the hook. Even if it takes me 10 casts, that lead and rig has to go out to where I want it. Fishing is all about confidence and having it in what you are doing. I couldn’t sit behind rods that I am unsure about.
A small PVA nugget of foam reduces tangles.
Bait is a popular topic and again one that every angler will have his or her own thoughts or opinions on, and that’s fine because it is all about confidence. This is so important and something that many overlook and think very little into. If you are not feeding them what they want to eat, you are not going to catch carp. A single bright pop-up in the vicinity will often nick you the odd bite, but when you are actually fishing over bait for a hit of carp, you have to get it right.
No matter where I go or the time of year, I never leave home without boilies. Just think, with the size and stock of carp in the lakes that I fish, I don’t think there is anything better at getting numbers of them feeding.
I don’t just chuck them in straight out the bag, though. I start by putting a few handfuls in a bucket, then as many chopped and the same level of crumb and dust too. I have been using the Manilla all winter and into spring and it is unreal how much the carp love this stuff. I was supplementing the mix with sweetcorn and the odd handful of maggots in winter, but every fish that I was catching was passing the boilies all over the mat. It was clear what they wanted and this led my hook bait choice straight to the boilies.
I use pop-ups for nearly all of my fishing. The rig I use is one that I have 100 per cent confidence in and, again, this is so important. I with either use a Signature or Manilla pop-up, occasionally dabbling with an orange Peach in the colder months. This coupled with the rig and hook that I use, I know works wherever I go. A size 8 Gardner Mugga is almost indestructible; the hook-holds are fantastic and they remain sharp even after a fish. I do check my points and will give them a tickle with the file should they turn, making sure that the hook point is razor sharp.
I also find myself using leadcore for all of my fishing, unless the rules don’t allow it. It is extremely abrasion resistant, sinks like a brick and camouflages to the lake bed perfectly. I use the Camflex in 35lb, which has broken segments of colours to aid matching it to the colour and tone of the lake bed. With it being in 35lb, it is ridiculously strong too and that word confidence comes back into it again.
In the warmer months, I do try and take hemp with me too. At times the fish can be really having it and it does require using a lot of bait. It isn’t feasible or cost-effective to use boilies exclusively, so I bulk the mix out with hemp. Of course, carp love the stuff too, so it certainly won’t do any harm to have some at your disposal.
A bucket of hemp is always kept in the van!
I also carry my floater kit and the amount of times it has saved a blank is too many to remember. Knowing when and how much to bait is a common question, but it is hard to gauge and talk about it in general, each situation is different. It is up to the angler to assess what is going on and how much you should put out. As far as timings go, I would never wake up first thing in the morning and crack the spod rod out for the sake of it. I saw that a lot on Linear in spring; people piling in the bait even though they had received no action.
If the bite time is early morning, which it often is, leave the rods and see what happens. It will most likely do more harm than good putting, even more, bait out there. If you have seen fish on you, had liners and slicks, then, yes, maybe it is time to put more bait out and have a recast. Try and watch the lake as much as possible and see what is going on in your swim. The more you watch, the more you will learn about the carp’s movements and feeding habits.
On this session, it was light at 4.30am and I was feeding mixers from then on. An hour or so later and there must be good 60 fish scoffing them. I hadn’t seen, heard or caught anything up until then and that bit of opportunist fishing has helped me land a couple of stunning twenties.
Although I stick to the same rig and bait for most of my fishing, I am willing to adapt to the situation I am faced with. It may be prime for a zig, or it may be so weedy that I need to fish a chod. I always make sure I have everything I need, that way I can fish to the best of my ability no matter that the situation is.
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