Launching leads-Extreme range carping
5-4-3-2-1 BLAST OFF!
The body flexes and, after all your might,
the rod surges forward and away the terminal tackle goes, like a bullet, towards it’s target way off in the distance.
Well, in theory, that’s what’s suppose to happen.
Extreme range carp fishing is certainly not everyone’s cup of tea, but it’s one area of carp fishing which I really enjoy and, nowadays, on many of the bigger venues, a method which is becoming increasingly necessary as fish are driven further away from the banks by disturbance or whatever, to areas of ‘supposed’ sanctuary.
Before I go too much further, I ought to clarify exactly what I mean by the term ‘extreme range’.
This is possibly an area where I risk a slagging, as everyone seems to have their own ideas about what is, and what isn’t, extreme range, and whether or not it is necessary. For someone used to fishing a 5 or 6 acre pond, then a big chuck might be 60 yards and any further seem quite daunting, but for many of the anglers currently fishing a place like, say, Harefield, a cast of 130 yards plus is fairly routine stuff. Get my drift?
Anyway, for the record, in my opinion, I consider that extreme range is anything over 120 yards.
I ought also to say that this piece is about casting your baits out, not using a boat. I confess that when fishing at mega distances on several of the huge reservoirs I often fish in France and other parts of Europe, I use a boat to drop the baits.
I know a few people don’t agree with this, well, that’s your choice and you are entitled to your opinions which, if sensible, I respect.
OK back to the point.
Fishing at extreme range is obviously a pretty specialised thing requiring specialist tools. It is not for the faint-hearted and you have to be 110% confident in your tackle.
This article is not aimed at the complete novice, as it were, even though there is possibly a thing or two to be gleaned from what follows. I have deliberately skipped over the very basics, as these things, hopefully, we’ve learned during our carp fishing apprenticeships.
I have also quoted extracts of technical articles, written by me that have either been or are due to be published, rather than rewriting relevant pieces for the sake of it.
Right, down to business. Extreme range carp fishing: the key points
Extreme Range Rods
The piece which follows is a small extract from my article ‘In Pursuit of Excellence’, a detailed, technical piece on the creation of a specialist extreme range rod, with contributions from Dr. Steve Harrison of Harrison Advanced Rods, and Vic Gibson of rod building fame.
It will give you a good idea of what to look for when selecting a rod for extreme range work.
‘Personally, I don’t believe that there is such a thing as one rod which will effectively cover all aspects of modern-day carp fishing.
I consider that different types of rods are required for different jobs. After all, you wouldn’t use a bread knife to chop a log in half, or an axe to slice a loaf of bread, would you? I suppose you could, but it would obviously be far better to use the axe for the log and vice-versa.
For a good number of years, for all my extreme range fishing I was using 13ft long Armalite ‘Top Gun’ rods 3.5lb test curve, made up for me by Vic Gibson with 5 Silicon carbide rings plus tip and Fuji reel fittings. They performed extremely well, are capable of really hurling out a 4oz lead, and play fish well under the tip.
In my opinion, their only drawback is that in terms of weight they are heavy in relation to a lot of the newer models on the market and they are quite ‘tip heavy’ resulting in sluggish line ‘pick-up’ at the big range.
Now, rods seem to be a very personal thing; if you asked a dozen top anglers their preferred rod for extreme range work, you’d probably get 8 to 10 different answers!
I wanted to make my own decisions, avoiding the distractions of the glossy colour adverts in the monthly carp magazines with the ‘average casting distances’ and ‘prodigious casting abilities’. I’m sure these rods are very good, but I wanted to make up my own mind.
I looked at a large proportion of the top end of the market in extreme range rods before finally settling on a blank which I felt almost entirely comfortable with. The rod I had selected is manufactured by Harrison Advanced Rods of Liverpool, being their 12.5ft 3.5lb test curve model.
I explained to my local Harrison agent the specification I required and also the exact job I wanted the rod to do. This meant the agent had to speak direct to Harrison Advanced Rods as I was requesting the test curve be stepped up to 4lb and a change in colour.
Harissons immediately agreed that it would be absolutely no problem, which was tremendous.
The final specification was as follows:
Length – 12.5ft, 2 section with overfit joint.
Test Curve – 4lb.
Job – Capable of casting a 4 or 5oz lead to extreme range, have a very fast line ‘pick-up’, maintain its balance / feel and be able to play a fish under the tip.
Colour – Anything other than black or grey.
I opted for a 12.5ft long rod as opposed to a 13ft as I am quite short and feel more comfortable ‘hitting the horizon’ with a slightly shorter rod.
The reason I wanted to have the blanks coloured was so that they would be a little different from the standard black or grey blanks which are so abundant on most carp lakes.
These rods were ringed up for me by Vic Gibson for extreme range work with 5 Titanium silicon carbide rings plus tip and Fuji reel attachments.
Now, these rods can really hurl a lead out. They are not ‘broom handles’ by any means, maintaining their feel when playing big fish under the tip.
There are several good, proven extreme range rods on the market in addition to the Harrison versions which I’ve mentioned, such as:
The Jim Gibbinson Eclipse 13ft 3.25TC manufactured by Simpsons of Turnford.
The Insight 13ft 3.5TC manufactured by Leslies of Luton.
The Rod Hutchinson IMX / Dream Maker 13ft 3.5TC SU manufactured by Rod Hutchinson
The Orient Power Plus 3.5 to 5TC manufactured by Leon Hoogendijk (not readily available in the UK as far as I know).
All these rods, in the right hands, with the correct reel etc., will cast a lead a very, very long way.
Make your decision wisely before forking out, remember, these are specialist tools for a specific job and they won’t be much use on your local 5 or 6 acre pod.
Big casting, big reels or, should I say, big spools.
A fixed spool reel with a small spool is not the best to use when considering extreme range work using lines of 10lb plus breaking strain.
For all my extreme range work I use line between 10 and 14lb breaking strain in conjunction with a shock leader (we’ll look at shockleaders/lines in a minute).
When fishing at extreme range, using heavier lines as I’ve mentioned, I use Daiwa’s SS9000 with baitrunner conversion (Daiwa Infinities are their 2001 offering, with baitrunner now of course!). I have used Diawa’s SS3000 prior to this in the past, the reason for choosing the SS9000 is because they hold a massive amount of line, which is essential when I need to row baits up to 300 yards and more on the continent.
Both the SS9000 and SS3000 have very deep, conical shaped spools which allow the line to flow off the spool freely with an absolute minimum of friction, as the larger diameter line leaves on the cast. In addition to this, they have incredibly smooth clutch systems, which makes playing big fish a much safer/pleasanter experience.
Let’s diversify a bit here, because this an important point.
I still see people, when playing a big fish on a short line, BACKWINDING. I fail to understand why. With today’s smooth clutch systems being common on most carp fishing reels, what is the need to backwind? If a clutch is set properly before you cast out, once a fish is hooked, it’s all very easy. If you need to exert more pressure whilst playing a fish away from a snag or something, just tighten it a couple of notches; most clutches nowadays are numbered, so it can be reset immediately once the fish is out of danger.
Surely, backwinding is as out of date a ‘churner’ now? Remember them?
Back to the point. These reels will certainly add distance to your cast but are also expensive.
For extreme range work shockleaders are essential, to ensure you don’t crack off every time you really heave into a cast.
There are several types of shockleader on the market; my own personal favourite is Kryston Quicksliver 35lb breaking strain. This stuff is ace; it is incredibly abrasion resistant and has a very low memory, thus ensuring it doesn’t clatter through your rings.
A heavier line will also suffice as a shockleader, such as 20lb breaking strain leader to 10lb mainline.
There are also available now tapered leaders which are well worth investigating.
If you want to make the leader really abrasion resistant, you can add Kryston Granite Juice to the leader which, according to Kryston, will increase its abrasion resistant by as much as 300%!
All these and more are available from any good tackle dealer.
Shockleaders need to be kept as short as possible, with just a maximum of 2 or 3 turns on your spool, or they will reduce your cast.
The shockleader knot is also something which needs to be tied correctly and seems to stump a lot of people. Below is a small extract and sketch from an article entitled ‘Get Knotted’ which is a technical piece on knots.
‘I use shockleaders a lot, not only for casting, but as an abrasion resistance for some of the horrendously snaggy, rocky, waters when in France.
I used to hate tying shockleader knots and came up with some weird concoctions before getting to grips with it.
I must confess, I do not know the ‘proper’ name for this knot so, for argument’s sake, let’s just call it the shockleader knot.
It’s simple to tie and very reliable (as shown in the sketch).
It’s worth mentioning at this point that, after tying the knot, when cutting off the loose ends to leave them a quarter of an inch or they will become stiff and hinder the cast as the knot goes through the rings.
After a capture this, a with all other knots, should be meticulously inspected and tied again if necessary (see diagram below).
Main lines are really down to personal preference, I use Berkeley Big Game line and Berkeley Ultra – Thin as well as old favourites, such as Sylcast and Maxima.
Most monofilament lines nowadays are pretty similar, so there is not really any point me labouring this.
Unless you are fishing with a single hookbait or a smaller stringer, the only way you are going to get your free offerings out anywhere near extreme range is either using remote control boat, a normal boat or by using a throwing stick.
Let’s assume, for the purpose of this article, that boats of any description are banned as, indeed, they are on a large proportion of UK waters.
Using a throwing stick or boilie stick as they’re called, manufactured by Cobra Advanced Baiting is one of the few ways of getting your free offerings out 120yards plus in favourite conditions.
The Cobra range of throwing sticks is simple to use and, to quote Cobra, “Once you’ve mastered it, it’s like riding a bike; the ability is with you for life.”
I would suggest that the best Cobras for extreme range baiting are the King Mega and Ace Ultralite versions.
You will find that adding a heavy ingredient to your base mix, such as DT Baits’ ‘Heavy Additive’ will give you those vital extra yards. Keeping the baits big, such as 25mm will also help greatly.
It should also be mentioned that you need to keep the inside of your Cobra clean and free from any dirt or grit etc., that may obstruct the boilie’s flight path.
The five steps to putting a bait out to extreme range using a boilie stick, which I’m sure Cobra won’t mind me quoting, are as follows:
Stand facing your baiting area using a similar stance to that used for normal casting.
Use the Cobra boilie stick as an extension of your arm.
For long distance baiting, more power is required and you will feel the boilie accelerating up the tube as your arm extends fully forward.
Stop the Cobra at the 10 o’clock position to get maximum distance.
Finally, remember that successful use of the Cobra is down to technique, not strength.
Cobras are obviously available from all good tackle shops.
Bait missiles, rockets, or whatever you choose to call them have been around for a few a seasons now. Before that, of course, it was the good old ‘Steradent tube’ style spods!
These plastic, torpedo shaped items are certainly able to put free offerings of bait 120yards plus, in the right hands. I have even seen reports that certain varieties can reach 150yards and more. This kind of range is beyond my abilities; god luck to those who can do it.
Generally, your missile will come equipped with a loop of heavy line and swivel or a plastic fitting at the ‘open’ end and attach your main line to. It is then a case of filling the missile with boilies, particles or whatever and launching it to its destination, using the same casting technique as you’d use when really whacking out your hookbait.
Now, this is easier said than done, as these things are fairly hefty and bulky in comparison to a normal terminal tackle arrangement. I would suggest that using a strong shockleader in conjunction with a heavy rod is a must if you really want to chuck it a big distance.
When the missile hits the water, it tips up and releases its contents into the water and can be easily retrieved by winding in. The same procedure can then be repeated, if required, until the swim is sufficiently baited.
The version I use is sold by Trev’s of Wilmslow; has a buoyant nose cone enabling it to float.
I recently read a review of a new version on the market which sinks (Gardners, I think). I would suggest if going for this type that you are very careful to retrieve it quickly after casting, to avoid any chance of picking up your hooklinks / mainline on the retrieve.
Bait missiles should definitely be part of your extreme range kit and are available from all good tackle dealers.
The Terminal Tackle
Generally, this is pretty much the same as any rig you’d use for medium to long range work. Helicopter style rigs are an excellent option, keeping the hooklink as short as possible. I like to have the rig set-up as simple as possible to avoid any chance of a tangle. Keep anti – tangle tubing to the absolute minimum, keep things as finely tuned as possible.
There are loads of rigs well documented throughout the monthlies and we all know which rigs we are confident in, so I don’t really need to go into any more detail on this point.
I prefer the ‘zipp’ style lead as opposed to in-lines, especially those manufactured by Korda Developments; they don’t wobble in flight and fly really well.
I use 4oz minimum. I understand Korda are in the throes of manufacturing a 5 and 6oz version, which I am anxious to try.
The Cast Itself
There are several methods of casting, from resting your end tackle on pieces of drainpipe to 6ft run ups!
My preference is to have the lead hanging about halfway down (6 feet) the rod whilst I am standing at a 12 to 6 o’clock position (sideways) to the water.
I keep my eyes firmly on the target (obviously after making sure there’s no one anywhere near me), swing the lead back and forth and when it’s nearest the rod, with all my might, push the rod forward, releasing the line when the rod hits 10 o’clock position. I try to take full advantage of the rod’s tip speed and test curve to really get some power into the cast.
I choose to remove the spool prior to casting and put it back on with the bail arm close, rather than having the bail arm open – you never know when these thing might get knocked or just shut accidentally, but it’s possibly being over cautious, so it’s your decision.
There are obviously a few items I’ve either missed or just glossed over but my intention was just to cover what I consider to be the key points.
I hope this piece has been of some interest and that it will be some interest and that it will be of some use next time you are trying to ‘hit the horizon’.
Extreme range fishing is one of the many forms of modern day carping, certainly one which took me a long time and considerable expense to get to grips with, bit I feel the rewards have made it truly worthwhile and it is now one of my favorite forms of fishing.