The Carp Fishing Learning Curve- Kev Hewitt
The Spomb- Revolutionised bait accuracy
There have been many inventions in carp fishing over my lifetime but perhaps none more revolutionary than the invention of the spomb way back in 2010. Pre spomb era we used to spend hours trying to build up a bed of bait with a Gardner pocket rocket. They used to fly well and were mega accurate, but they were far from efficient in delivery bait accurately to a spot. First of all, you would lose an amount of bait through spod spill and then once the spod hit the spot, it would take a long period of time for the bait to be despatched from the back of the spod. If there was any wind on the lake, the spod could have drifted a rod length before the bait had even been released.
Then came the Korda Skyliner spods, they were fantastic. They held more bait; they released the bait much quicker but still had the problem of spod spill. In fact, you have to make the spod mix ‘stodgy’ just to keep the mix in the spod.
In 2010 the spomb was released. When I first say it, I was unsure, after all it is human nature to be unsure of change or something new. Then my good friend Dean Goodwill gave me a spomb and told me it would change my angling. I was critical at first but once I had used it for the first time I was sold and never looked back. In fact, many bait application tools have been released in the subsequent decade but still none as effective as the spomb. They simply tick all the boxes and are the most efficient tool for delivering any bait with accuracy to a spot with absolutely zero waste.
The majority of my angling is based on baiting and fishing with accuracy and therefore could go some way to explaining as to why the Spomb has been so important in not only my angling, but for anglers across the globe. I can’t imagine that there are many anglers in the modern era that don’t own a spomb and in all honestly, I can’t see how I could ever fish so effectively without one.
Three on a spot- Early 2000’s- Linear/ Horseshoe 2004
The thing I enjoyed most about growing up carp fishing in the noughties was the relative lack of information out there. The experimental part of my angling was perhaps my most enjoyable in all my angling life. You couldn’t just Google it or watch a video to tell you how to carp fish; you simply went fishing and learnt from investing time on the bank, trial and error. I always enjoyed spodding, right back from when I was a budding teenager.
I even used to go to a local lake after school and practice spodding water with a Gardner pocket rocket, to improve distance and accuracy. On one such sortie I remember a pike nailing my pocket rocket off the top and it bit through my shock leader. I was devastated as it was the only spod I had at the time.
I used to fish a big reservoir in Chard in Somerset, and it did not take me long to realise how effective it was to spod a big bed of bait out onto one spot and fish all rods on it. The lake itself was rather featureless and had no weed so finding a spot wasn’t important but it did not take me long to realise baiting was very important.
Once I had passed my driving licence in 2002, I was straight down to Linear fisheries. Again the lakes were big but now I was up against the weed too. Whilst fishing the complex, I became very good friends with a top angler, Cliff Kemp. Many may not know Cliff himself and he very much keeps himself to himself, but most will know the very big linear in Manor named after him.
Cliff was an Elstow boy and his ‘Elstow’ style of fishing was very similar in the way I was fishing. Of course, I learnt a lot from Kempy as he had far more experience than I did at the time and those early days went on to define the way I have angled in the subsequent 20 or so years since I first set foot on the linear complex.
Finding a clear spod and accurately fishing three on a spot was not common practice back in the day but we refined the way we did it though experimentation, trial and error. We were very successful in those early days and were fortunate to have lots of big hits and some wonderful big fish in amongst them too.
As we moved from venue to venue in the subsequent years, one thing remained a constant and that was that three on a spot is such a deadly way of catching fish. Of course, over the years things like marker sticks have helped us in achieving accuracy but the basic principle has remained the same since our early findings.
Balancing hookbait- NS pop- up slow sinking, better hooking potential!
My next point comes about via a previous point that I had made about fishing three on a spot. One of the great things about this tactic in my early learning period is that I was able to fish with three different presentations or three different baits on one baited area. I experimented greatly with rigs and hookbaits over a dozen or so years and with three different presentations fished on one spot, over time it was possible to determine which presentation caught more fish.
I used to experiment between different hookbaits, the same hookbait but in different colours, different flavours and ultimately, I concluded that the balance or the submerged weight of the bait made a huge amount of difference to my catch rate. You have to remember here that I am pretty much always particle fishing with the hemp, corn and small boilies. Should I be just boilie fishing then the results could well have been different.
The thing I found to be of the most importance was the balance of the bait.
Don’t get me wrong, certain colours were better than others, certain sizes were better than others but without shadow of a doubt, a balanced hookbait out fished a bottom bait by five to one when fishing over a bed of particles. There was no element of doubt in this whatsoever, the results were plain to see.
It makes logical sense that the lighter or more balanced the hookbait is, the easier it will be for a carp to suck up. Another way of looking at it is if a carp uses the same amount of suction to hoover up the free offerings, if you hookbait is lighter or more critically balanced than the rest of the feed items in the swim then the hookbait will be sucked up with far greater ease, therefore creating a much better hooking potential.
Once I had this sussed, I was then able to systematically test three different hookbaits on a spot all with the same presentation or rig. I then started to learn that a Northern special hookbait over the top or particles was a winner. I then progressed into trying different colours of Northerns and I found that the pink and the yellow in particular were absolute bankers. For the majority of my fishing now I stick to double yellow plastic corn and 12mm yellow northern special hookbaits.
I have done so much testing over such a long period of time that I am now 100% confident in using those hookbaits with a balanced presentation for all of my fishing. I really do not see the need to change. If I am not catching on those then I have simply missed another piece of the jigsaw further back down the line.
Bloodworm- Naturals, Autumn Fishing
As much as the importance I place on tactics, of course bait is vitally important as ultimately a carp has to want to eat your bait for you to be able to catch it. The key components to my mix have always pretty much been the same since the early noughties, hemp, sweetcorn and smaller boilies. However, over the years and through the change of the seasons, there are various things that I add to the mix to give myself that little edge. Ten or twelve years ago that edge was maggots followed by casters; but they became banned on many venues due to the excessive use and the worries about the ammonia produced by live maggots that were not looked after correctly.
In recent years I have given myself a huge edge by adding pure frozen bloodworm to my mix. I know that carp will eat hemp, corn and 10mm Live system boilies and probably will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. But when every angler is doing the same sort of thing, we all need little edges in our angling to make a fish feed on our spot as opposed to swimming another thirty yards and eating the bait in the peg next door. I like to see this as swinging the odds in my favour.
My findings over the past few years is that if everyone is fishing in a similar fashion, by adding frozen bloodworm to my mix can give me that edge that I very much need.
You quite often hear about anglers talking about natural baits, some class maggots or even sweetcorn as a natural bait. Let us take a little step back and think about this one.
Is a maggot a natural bait? For me, a maggot does not grow in a lake, it does not naturally occur in a lake and is not a natural part of a carp’s diet so for me a maggot is simply not a natural bait. However, if you were to ask the same questions on Bloodworm and perhaps you will find the answers as the why bloodworm is so effective. In fact, bloodworm is one of the only natural food items that grows on the lakebed which carp eat on a daily basis without danger and without getting caught.
Of course, the addition of pure frozen bloodworm will boost any spod mix at any time of year but in my experience the bait is most effective in autumn when the lakes start to cool down and the carp begin to prepare for winter.
Sea lead/ Grappler- Plumbing it up, a bare lead tells you nothing!
Having fished gravel pits over such a long period of time, plumbing a swim and finding a spot has become second nature to me over the years. I have to say the biggest game changer for me was the addition of a grappler sea fishing lead to my armoury. I’m not really sure where it first came about of where I first began to use a grappler lead to explore a spot, but I guess it was around thirteen years ago when my first memories were on Linch Hill.
I would always search for a clear spot with a marker rod with braid down to a 4oz gripper lead as it used to tell me what I thought was on the bottom. It was only when I started to us a sea fishing grappler lead that I soon realised that some of the spots I thought were clear, actually had a light dusting of weed on and that a normal lead simply wouldn’t pick that up and tell you that information.
This info became vital in my Linch Hill success as I soon figured out that if a spot had light weed on, it meant that the fish had not fed on that spot and less likely to feed on the spot. The spots that were extra polished with absolutely zero weed were the dinner plates that were being fed on more regularly and these were the spots that were easier to get the bites from.
I recall one trip in late summer when I had turned up and set up in a swim called the padded cell were, I had seen a couple of shows. I knew the swim had not done a fish for a couple of months, but I had previously had some very big hits from the swim targeting a snooker table sized clear spot that was previously surrounded by weed. I knew exactly where the spot was and flicked the grappler lead out on to the spot, dragged back a rod length and wound it in to reveal light silkweed.
This instantly signalled to me that the spot was not being fed on. With closer inspection I noticed a rotten boilie and some rotten hemp in amongst the silk weed. Now I don’t know if you have ever smelt a rotten boilie but let me tell you they stink beyond belief and my hands were tainted with that god-awful smell for two days.
I could clearly see that with the weed present and the rotting bait that the fish were simply not feeding on that spot, so I packed up straight away and moved to another swim and bagged one of the big commons along with some nice back up fish. The padded cell that I had initially set up in went another six weeks without doing a bite.