Having written about a few things I make or use and tips & tricks a few years ago I thought do should do an update.
Although I find that for 99% of my fishing a red or yellow bristle on my pole floats is fine there are those rare occasions when a black tip will show up better. But I find it annoying when the sun shifts, clouds appear or something else changes and the black may not then be the right colour. Obviously the simple answer is to have two rigs made up with different colour bristles. This though is possibly not practical or something that someone with a limited number of topkits can do.
My simple answer is to only black the top half of the bristle. This means the base colour can still be seen if you remove some shot and thus more bristle is out of the water.
Despite having more bristle out of the water when the red is showing this does not affect bites as you are looking to react when the red disappears, not the whole bristle.
Too Many Expanders?
How many of us are guilty of preparing too many expanders for a day's fishing? OK, I know you can argue that they don't cost much and I admit to being, let's say prudent with money. But I hate waste. So I sorted out a simple method to prepare enough but no too many for a session.
Elsewhere ( http://neilofthenene.blogspot.com/2014_06_01_archive.html) I explain that I prepare my expanders at home in batches, with gelatine and keep them in the freezer. I have worked out that 50 expanders, of one size, are plenty for a day's fishing, sometimes even two. Though I always take a full pot to matches (just in case I have a stellar day), leftovers get re-frozen for pleasure sessions.
Counting out pellets each time you want to prepare some is a pain. So I stole an idea from The Boss's occasional job as a dispenser of medicines, specifically pills. Dispensers use a triangular tray marked so that without counting you know how many pills are on the tray. I just used an old cereal box, cut the corner out to produce a triangular tray with a lip round two sides. I then counted out 50 four mil expanders and arranged them in a one layer quadrant in the corner of the tray and drew a line around. I did the same with 6mils.
This means that when filled to the appropriate line, one layer deep, I know I have 50 pellets.
For Summer I will take 50 each of 4 & 6 mil as a mixture in one tub. Winter it will be 2s & 4s.
One of the odd non-angling things I carry is a 4 ½ inch spring clamp. Cheap as chips from Wilkinsons and has a few uses. Its main use is as a rod rest either on the edge of a platform, bucket or even top of a keepnet.
As I don't use a footplate or feeder arm I needed something simple to carry that would enable the rod to rest up against and realised this style of clamp fitted the bill. I always have my bucket with me, I find it useful for carrying odd bits and pieces and throwing things like litter into. The clamp sits on the edge of the bucket most of the time so it is easily to hand.
The pictures below show how I use it. And just for interest I have also included a picture showing how I occasionally use a pair of pole over/under rests for a feeder rod.
Note my watch under the rod, I talk about that later.
I only use dead maggots on the hook and so don't freeze in large numbers. The following is about what I do to get a good result when defrosting.
People sometimes complain about their defrosted maggots turning black quickly. To understand why that happens I need to explain a bit of the science of freezing. Essentially you are freezing the water in whatever it is you are freezing. The slower the freezing process the larger the ice crystals that will form, the opposite of course being that faster equals smaller crystals. Large crystals destroy the internal structures of whatever you are freezing, small crystals do less damage. This is why you cannot normally freeze strawberries successfully in a home freezer.
If it takes too long for our maggots to freeze then their internal structures will be destroyed by the large ice crystals that will form and thus turn black on defrosting. The answer to successfully freezing maggots is therefore to get them to freeze quickly. To achieve that I do two things.
First is to freeze in small batches and by that I mean enough for a day's hookbait so in volume terms no more than 100mil. Second is to use either the fast freeze drawer if your freezer has one or place the maggots directly on the coolant channels at the bottom of the freezer.
This way I have never had maggots go black and I don't need to store them in water on my side tray. In fact I will re-freeze the leftovers and they are fine for another session.
I used to put my “daypack” of maggots in small foodbags. Then I realised that the small pots I get mayonnaise in when I order a pizza are the ideal size for a day's fishing.
I fished a match a couple of days before writing this and it demonstrated, to good effect, the advice about feeders I was intending to write.
I have noticed on more than a few occasions how using the right feeder can make a huge difference to your catch. In the match I fished I started on a hybrid feeder and had no bites. I switched to a pellet feeder and had one fish. I then tried a banjo feeder and that transformed my match. I started to pick up fish regularly and clawed my way to third. Had I stubbornly stuck to one type of feeder I doubt I would have framed.
So to me it is important to carry a range of feeders both in size and type and be prepared to switch around if you are not catching.
The easiest way to do this is have two feeder rods. You can be changing feeder on one while the other is in the water. In one of my other blog posts I have described my quick change system (http://neilofthenene.blogspot.com/2014/11/tips-tricks-hints.html) or you can invest in one of the now readily available systems from the major manufacturers. Changing feeders or even to a straight lead takes less than a minute and is well worth the effort.
These are the range of feeders I have in my box at the moment. I really need to get the other two sizes of hybrid feeders. Of course really dedicated feeder anglers will carry a wider selection.
Continuing on the legering theme. I always time my leger casts as demonstrated in the earlier picture and having recently heard Steve Ringer (feeder World Champion) say he does the same. Not only do I then know how long my feeder has been in the water but I can also spot if bites come after a particular length of time. For example, in the match I referred to above bites were coming at around four minutes after casting.
Why is knowing this important? In that match I knew I was wasting time if I had not had a bite after five minutes. It was more efficient to re-cast after five minutes and get a bite some nine to ten minutes after the first cast rather than leave the first cast out biteless for fifteen minutes. If I had not had a bite in this time I had to suspect something was wrong with the feeder or hookbait preventing a bite, so best to re-cast rather than fish on with a poorly presented bait.
Once you have established if there is a timing pattern to your bites you can adjust your casting frequency accordingly. Similarly, if the water has a strong tow then it is pointless fishing beyond five minutes as the groundbait or pellets will have been washed away from your hookbait.
In Winter I like to leave the first couple of casts fifteen minutes and often find bites come between 12 & 14 minutes. But time seems to drag for me when legering and I can quite easily think that a real elapsed time of five minutes feels like 15. By using a watch I can leave the cast for a true 15 minutes before recasting.
I became frustrated with my Stotz holder sliding around in my seatbox drawer and somehow always ending up at the back of the drawer. I came up with a simple solution.
From eBay I got a length of self adhesive flexible magnetic strip. By sticking one part to two sides of the box in a corner and another two to the Stotz holder the holder now stays in place unless I want to remove it.
I did find the original adhesive didn't do the job and so both sets of strips on the holder and drawer have been superglued in place. This stuff comes in various widths, I would recommend something around 12mm. This gives a stronger hold between the two strips than the thinner 10mm version.
Also be careful when fitting. The strips, if lined up against each other can offset slightly due to the arrangement of the magnetic poles in the strip. So I glued one strip to the Stotz holder then offered up the strip that would go on the drawer, got that positioned correctly then with the strips sticking together on the holder applied the glue and used the holder to press the drawer strips into place. This gives a perfect alignment and the strongest attraction between the two strips.