Wednesday, 16 August 2017 09:26

How To Fish Weedy Lakes

It’s that time of year where the weed in many lakes is at its highest. However, according to KARL PITCHER, it’s easier to overcome than you might think.

Weed! It can be your worst nightmare, but as the water warms up and the summer fast approaches it can be unavoidable at times on certain lakes. With many types often present, it makes knowing where to start a head-banger to say the least. Is my rig presented? What’s my line angle like? These are questions that I hear from time to time in conversation with anglers around the lake, often struggling to find clear areas to present bait and rigs, when sometimes there simply aren’t any.

An important part of angling that you need to understand about fishing in weed is that the carp love it. Albeit, we might struggle to bring ourselves to present our rigs, the carp love feeding in it. Whether it’s low lying silkweed or thick Canadian weed trailing up to the surface, it’s where they live naturally, so they are more than adept at dealing with it.


Karl’s weedy-lake rig

1 Reliable components...

2 ... forming a simple rig...

3 ... all ready for his pva bag. 

3 x pics

These types of weed are a great source of natural food for the carp, especially as the water warms; insects and larvae become more active and the carp will actively seek out this food source.

You join me on an overnight session at one of my syndicate waters. The lake is relatively small and long, with a couple of islands dotted about down its length. The main difficulty factor is the weed. It’s extremely weedy in places, with thick beds of Canadian scattered throughout the entirety of the lake. Between these large beds are lighter strands of candyfloss-type weed and flat, low-lying silkweed. These are the areas that I will be targeting because they are often what I imagine to be a platform of weed that the fish love to graze over during the day.

I have decided to set up in a small, intimate corner of the lake, after seeing a few fish milling about around the island and out into open water when I arrived. I can clearly see clumps of dense weed on the surface, so I want to try and avoid fishing to these because they may hinder the line angle and cause the rig and bait to be non-presented.

To find a presentable area, I have opted to just flick a bare lead around the swim. In this situation a marker is not needed because it might hamper the feeling I get when the lead falls through the water column, plus I know I may struggle to get the marker to rise with the weed that is present.

After a few casts to the right, out in front near the island and to my left where there is a lovely looking reed bed, I have settled on a few spots. I could quite easily be leading about all day to find the clearest possible spot, but this will not only disturb the swim to the point where it may spook the fish off for a good few hours, it is also quite unnecessary. I know by feeling the lead down in different places that the weed covers the majority of the lake bed; the soft but recognisable drop indicates an effective area to present bait, which is over the flat weed tight to the lake bed.


STEP-BY-STEP How to set up Karl’s drop-off inline lead system

1 Karl uses a strong main line to stand up to the weed, plus a Drop-Off Insert and Kwik Change Inline Swivel from Fox.

2 The main line is threaded through the centre of the Drop-Off Insert in the direction Karl is showing here.

3 Next, tie the end of your main line to the largest ring on the swivel. A palomar or grinner knot are ideal.

4 Karl then says remove the insert from a Fox Inline Lead and cut off the entire thin section, to leave just the thicker bit.

5 The piece you are left with is then pushed on to the swivel at the other end to the large ring and quick-change hook.

6 This is then pushed into the bottom of the lead. The line goes over the groove and the Drop-Off Insert in the other end.

6x sequence

A soft drop on the rod doesn’t mean the rig or bait is not presentable, it indicates the lead has been cushioned softly, giving less punitive feedback up to the rod tip when the lead touches down. I am quite happy and also very confident that my rig approach will be well presented effectively over this type of lake bed, so I have clipped up each rod to the areas that I have found by tying red marker elastic around the main line next to the clip. This makes casting back out to the spot a simple case of putting the main line back into the clip when the elastic reaches the bail arm on the reel.

PIC 04

High tips and tight clutches are ideal.


Having found a spot for each of my rods, the left-hand one is going to be placed just off the reed bed, in a reasonably small gap in the surrounding weed. This is a perfect place to intercept any carp moving in and out of the reed bed into the open water during the afternoon. The middle rod is going to be positioned straight out, at the bottom of the island ledge where the lake bed is soft, flat, evenly spread silkweed. I struggled a bit to find an area to safely present a rig to the right of the swim, so I have opted to fish a clearly visible gap in the weed a few rod lengths from the bank. Here I can easily bait by hand. I can now go about getting my rigs sorted.

When weed fishing I always choose the ever-faithful solid-PVA-bag approach. There are a few reasons why I am so confident using a bait and rig setup like this. Firstly, it offers the ultimate in hook protection. Because the rig and lead arrangement are placed inside the solid PVA bag there is no chance of the hook or rig becoming masked in weed when it lands, so you can always fish confidently knowing that your rig is presented well.

A solid bag also offers a greater surface area, meaning it is less likely to plug into the weed like a condensed lead weight because the mass of the bag is spread, meaning it settles efficiently over low- lying weed, perfect for the spots that I have chosen to fish. I prefer a large PVA bag for this type of fishing because it offers a larger surface area to settle over the weed and with also not having to cast far, it provides the optimum choice for presentation. If I were to fish further out, I could simply change the size of the bag.

PIC 02

The perfect solid PVA bag, about to be launched accurately to a hole in the weed.


So having made up three large solid PVA bags using the Fox Rapide Load System, incorporating my short, simple wafter rigs and drop-off inline setup placed neatly inside, it’s time to get the rods out to the clipped marks. The best way of getting these large, quite heavy bags out is to punch them on the cast. These can weigh between 5oz and 10oz when full, so some force is needed to get them out to the spot, even at close range. When the bag is in flight, you want to slow the speed of the cast before it hits the water, ensuring it doesn’t hit the clip too hard and springs back on the monofilament main line.

Touching the spool and feathering the line gently will allow you to control the bag to hit the clip softly before entering the water.

Twenty minutes later, all three rods are positioned accurately on the spots. The middle rod took two casts, but the Rapid Load PVA system made easy work of getting it back out. When fishing into holes in the weed and over surface weed, I prefer to have my rod tips positioned in the air. This ensures that as much line as possible is out of the water and weed free. I use the Black Label snag ears at the back of the alarms because these ensure that the rod remains firmly in place, offering great stability when fishing in weedy situations. You need to ensure that you are on the rods quickly when a bite occurs, so I set up as close as possible to the rods.

A few hours have passed and I have been watching fish milling round the reed bed to my left, with the occasional trail of bubbles making an appearance. There’s no doubt that the fish are feeding on the naturals because huge plumes and disturbances keep appearing from the dense weed beds out in front.

Out of the corner of my eye I see a vortex of disturbed water right over where the left-hand rod is placed and a few seconds later it has tightened up and the alarm has signalled a few bleeps. I’m on it straightaway, holding the rod high to stop the fish burying down into the weed.

PIC 05

Always apply steady pressure when playing one.


The drop-off lead has clearly done its job, with the fish rising to the surface practically on the take. Providing steady pressure I manage to turn it away from a large weed bed to the side of the spot, gradually teasing it back through the weed towards the waiting net. I don’t want to apply too much pressure and risk losing it but I want to ensure that my main line doesn’t catch any of the floating Canadian weed.

Following a few tense moments, the fish slips gracefully over the net and it looks to be a lovely one. 

After securing it in the retainer for a short period, I go about getting the rod clipped back up to the spot and a fresh solid bag tied up ready to go out. The cast lands perfect, hitting the clip softly and going down bang inline with my far-bank marker.

I get the mat and water ready close to where my rods are placed in case I get another take while caring for the fish. The mat allows me to leave the fish safely in the event of another take.

Hoisting the fish up I can tell straightaway that it’s a good size. I give her a good covering with the water because it’s now turning out to be a warm day. A quick weigh confirms that the fish is 31lb on the button, so after a few snaps I carefully return her to fight another day.

I have got one night to go of my session, but I am more than delighted to have caught that lovely fish a few hours after getting a solid PVA bag placed accurately on a spot I found with the lead this morning. I am more than confident that if you are struggling to fish a weedy water effectively, the tactics I have outlined will certainly help you put more fish on the bank.

PIC 06

Karl proves the value of his PVA bag tactics with an absolute cracker from a weedy lake. The rewards can be had for persevering when those around you are too scared of what’s in front of them.



AGE: 32

UK PB: 50lb 4oz

OCCUPATION: Contracts manager

SPONSORS: Fox and CC Moore

INSTAGRAM: @karl_pitcher_carp

FACEBOOK: Karl Pitcher


Like what you see?

Subscribe Now Pink

Or buy a single issue



Click the banner below to check out all of our brilliant subscriptions! 

home body bait tech


Grid view
List view

Bait tech

Buy your magazine locally:
Find a stockist HERE

Other titlesmf magfeedermatch livepf plusthink fishing