03 March 2017 19:56
Cork body, Porcupine Quill Stem And Goose Quill Tip Pike Bob! Fab!!!
Here's another pike float Im particularly proud of! I find it hard to go wrong with even the wildest colour combinations but this one really pops and makes me smile every time. Cork is my go to choice for the pike bobs, I like the way the feather inlay becomes transparent revealing the cork beneath and there's little else that looks as good as a porcupine stem threaded with silk. I opted for a goose quill tip on this one as i prefer the larger size. Although its not a big float its ideal for fishing a sprat or small live bait, if you need them for bigger baits I can make them in larger sizes!
Enjoy the pics and if you'd like one just get in touch!
19 February 2017 17:54
Green Harrison 15ft Gti Float Rod
The rod building continues with this rather fab 15 footer! Built on a 15ft green gloss Harrison Gti blank and finished with a full cork handle with Fuji reel seat. Its whipped in green thread and tipped throughout with an emerald metallic! Its waiting on the rack and ready to fish so if anyone has a hankering for a new rod, feel free get in touch.
02 February 2017 15:22
Gazette Doodle Bobbers
Here's a recent set of Gazette floats I just finished for a customer. Finished in different colours and decorated with dip pen ink artwork they are certainly a bit different an guaranteed to turn heads on the bank.
I can do this on just about any float but strangely it doesn't seem to show up well on black!
02 February 2017 13:32
15ft SU Harrison GTI Custom Float Rod Build
Sorry I have been neglecting my blog updates of late but with Christmas, new year and January being particularly busy months I have had little time for anything other than work.
Here's a my latest rod build, its a Harrison 15ft Gti Su built specifically for my Trent barbel fishing. Those fish are absolute animals on regular feeder gear with heavy lines but when your fishing for them on the float and 5lb line with size 14 hooks the rod not only needs to be strong but have the finesse needed to absorb the massive runs from the biggest and strongest of barbel.
In comparison to my other recent builds this rod is somewhat understated being whipped in very fine black thread on to a clear gloss blank. The red tipping gives the blank an almost 80's feel I recall from rods of my youth and the overall look is quite neat and sophisticated.
As the rod is for myself I have threaded the tip in red so I can see it at a glance with ease when playing and landing a big fish, its one of my own little quirks but I feel more comfortable being able to see the tip easily which allows me to gauge the stress on the rod at any time during the often long fight.
This rod is also a little different in that I have fitted a tiny 16mm reel seat and shaved the handle down to the bear minimum. It will easily fit all my pins and fixed spools I use with a float rod and I like a fine cork handle, refining it down not only feels nice in the hand but also saves on al little weight, not a lot but if your holding the rod all day every gram helps and this Su weighs in at only 7.5 ounces.
Its ringed throughout the top two sections with Seymo 241-S single leg stand offs and the two double leg guides are Fuji BNMVAG, they are a good match and look neat too. I can't wait to get on the bank and give it it's first outing, I just know its gonna be an absolute barbel hauling tool!!!!!
20 December 2016 13:56
British Beef!! Harrison GTI 13ft Double SU Brute!
A big float fished fish requires a strong float fishing rod and the GTI SU-SU is an absolute cracker, in my view the best of the bunch!
I made this for a trip to France next year and just know it'll do the business for me. Although i'm not usually drawn to fishing lakes for other than the odd bit of winter pike fishing or perhaps a summer tench session, the French lake in question is not unlike a modern day Redmire Pool!
There's a host of species to fish for and it just happens to hold giant carp to well over 40lb! Such a leviathan would undoubtedly make the fish of a lifetime on the float but I simply didn't have a rod to handle anything that big hence the SU-SU build.
Its a burgundy blank threaded in a contrasting colourfast blue and tipped with metallic silver. It has a full cork handle, fuji soft touch reel seat along with stainless fittings.
Many might scoff at the fore grip I have applied but imagine a 40, 50, 60 or even 70lb carp or a psychotic 5 foot long grassy doing what it does after tasting steel and it begins to make sense. Aptly named "the Sceptre", meaning- An ornamental staff carried by a ruler, this is a rod that will deal with the toughest of fish yet still snatch roach and small bream! Incredible!
The other thing I find quite alluring about the SU-SU is it feels like it might make an ideal rod for trotting some big chunks of meat for barbel so once we get a decent spell of weather i'm straight off to the Trent with a can of bully beef to see if I can't tempt one! I'll be sure to let you know how I get on!
15 December 2016 18:58
Custom Built 12ft Harrison GTI Float Rod
Here's a few detail images of my latest custom build. The Harrison 12ft GTI is possibly the best of the GTI float range, I ordered this blank for trotting the Test and Frome this winter but as usual its been snapped up by an eager customer before I had chance to use it.
The blank is blue and threaded with copper metallic and a rather flamboyant NCP which gives a fantastic contrast of colours. The guides are Fugi's, it has a full hand shaped cork handle and is fitted with a sublime soft touch reel seat (so gentle on my hands).
Its a bold move to use a vibrant colour thread like this but i'm proper pleased with it and its new owner really likes it too! Surely it has to be better than a somber old grey blank and black thread!
I am already working on my next projects, a 15ft GTI float rod which is destined for a salubrious life of sea bream fishing in Greece and a 13ft SU-SU float rod that i'll be taking to France to catch a giant carp with! Anyone for a 50 or 60 or even 70lb'er on the float!! Reckon it'll need a fighting fore-grip fitting!!! Now there's an idea!!
06 December 2016 18:43
December Barbel Quest
My December "barbel on the float" quest took a bit of a twist this today. I arrived on the river greeted by piercing cold and frost covered banks. I don't usually mind cold weather but it slows barbel sport to a crawl and when fishing for one bite I need all the confidence I can get so hoped for more clement conditions! First cast and I was into a chub right away, its not unusual to get a chub first cast although this was only a small one of 4.2 but it boosted morale and lulled me into a false sense of security, another bite wouldn't come for the rest of the morning!
Just after mid day I decided to take a break and get something to eat. I often throw out a feeder if I want to take the weight off my feet or get some chow. It seems daft not to have a rod working all the time and it can also indicate if i'm missing out on feeding fish while trotting and if thats the case I can make changes to the set up and have at em!! The second I picked up the cheese & pickle sarnie the tip lumbered round and stayed there! It wasn't the regular fierce barbel take and once I lifted the rod it was clear my suspicions were correct. Within seconds I saw a swirl on the surface confirming it was likely a carp! Weighing in at 11.7 on the scales, not a giant by any standards but thats not what river carp are about for me. I liken it to mining for diamonds and unearthing a chunk of gold, how could anyone possibly be disappointed. The two fish undoubtedly brightened up an otherwise overcast, cold, miserable, drizzle sodden day!
I had a couple of carp from the river earlier in the season and I have to admit they are absolute crackers and look like a proper old strain. I always suspected these fish were escapees from flooded out lakes and I don't doubt a few of them are but the ones I have been lucky enough to catch look more likely to be Trent born and bred! Anyway, the December barbel quest continues! I'll keep you posted if I manage to get one.
05 December 2016 16:28
Winter Chub and Pike With Josh Fisher
With the woodlands finally turning to a vast array of crimson, umber and deep sienna you can be sure that winter is finally almost upon us. As much as I adore fishing in the warmth of a summer sun, nothing can compare to the cold months once the weed has died back and trotting the rivers can truly come into play. Sticking to my original pledge of enjoying this season and taking full advantage of any opportunities that may arise I have found myself revisiting my roots. Trundeling stickfloats through reed laden runs in search of large residential chub is always my first port of call.
The moment I realised the rivers were clear enough to do this I was there…and with great success, often taking big bags of chub whilst others struggled on the tip. In contrast to my typically dainty tackle I found myself dusting off my heavier outfits and being drawn back towards more predatory species. Throughout my teenage years pike were the only fish that could grasp my interest…ever since I saw my first pike as a child they've always captured my imagination. Those olive speckled flanks combined with a huge crocodile like head are simply magnetic and I can assure you even now I struggle to sleep if I know that big pike are on the cards the following day.
The wonderful thing about old esox is that they are found almost everywhere, one minute I found myself on over a thousand acres of water, the next a small flowing river that was just a few feet deep. Interestingly the latter would prove to be home to a fish that I had heard whispers of, a fish that I was unsure if she was just another fisherman's tale…that was until I saw her of coarse. In all her glory I saw a true donkey, lurking amongst a shallow weed bed in ambush awaiting to devour any passing chub. Unfortunately I didn't have my bait tackle with me at the time and despite a positive follow from her on a lure I was unable to get a strike. Catching fish is an obvious motive for angling yet as iv spoken about many times before, it’s the smaller pleasures that will never cease to make the day enjoyable.
One of the best things about revisiting pike fishing has to of been the fantastic opportunity to crack out some of my favourite floats that Andrew has to offer….the cork pike bob. A true masterpiece, they feature a variety of stems before leading into a beautifully shaped cork body that ends with a large quill insert. Theres many decorative options but my personal favourite is without a doubt the plain cork body with the jay and kingfisher feather inlays! Andy painstakingly ensures every single strand on the feather is inlayed with absolute perfection giving the most impressive finish possible especially when combined with a contrasting colour of thread to surround them. Watching these trot town the river with a nice live bait in tow before burying is something to behold i can assure you! Theres still plenty of the season to come and although i intend to continue targeting chub and pike i can’t help but crave the speckled sail of the lady of the stream or the stripes of the the biggest fish of all…whatever it is I turn to next i can promise you one thing, il have my float tube in my hand selecting the perfect tool for the job
05 December 2016 16:12
Balsa Crucian Quills
Although I call them Crucain quills they can be made in just about any size and also work really well as a tench drifter fitted with a little sight blob.
Its basically a reverse quill with a balsa body, they look great painted and i'm yet to find a colour combination that doesn't suit them. Once inlaid with a hackle, kingfisher and JC feather on a plain balsa body they really do look special.
If your'e looking for light presentation to shy biting fish this is the float for you!
05 December 2016 16:10
Dark Victorian Reed Wagglers
I love reed, its an incredible float making material. I don't mean the sarkanda crap thats soft and a nightmare to work with! This is reed cut from the banks of Fen drains and rivers, its tough, extremely buoyant and can be shaped and fitted into some incredible forms. These are made from floodwater reed, its been under the water for a couple of seasons and has taken on a nice stained and dark mottled hue. Its rests drying out in the roof space of my workshop for two years before I build using it.
05 December 2016 15:56
Balsa Tri fluted Avon
I don't make many of these but when I do they are always breath taking. The contrast between neatly fitted feather around the flutes and topped with a mustard yellow shoulder with bright red tip are sure to raise a smile, specially when it disappears below the surface!!
Who am i kidding, its probably destined for a life in a glass case or on a mantle piece!!
05 December 2016 15:47
Balsa Body Reverse Porcupine Quills
An extremely neat pair of floats. Perfectly proportioned, subtle, distinguished! Lordy lordy!! I wanna keep them!!!!!!!!!
05 December 2016 15:38
Hand Shaped Nottingham Sliders
I have had these on the go for a while, I keep referring back to them filing a little here and a little there. The small one started out as a test piece but once it was shaped nicely I started a bigger one to keep it company.
The plan is to use the bigger to trot big chunks of meat in deep water but i'm guessing it'll end up being sold before I get a chance to try it!! Made from balsa fitted to a swan quill they have a pair of chunky wire eyes and shoulders embellished with arty farty inky worky!!! They're Fabby Dabby!!!
05 December 2016 15:29
Its Time For Pike!!
I love making pike floats, they have a real presence in their size and I like the mass of colour on them. I haven't done enough pike fishing this season but those cork/kingfisher pike bobs just scream "grab a rod and get out after Esox" but i'm too busy making floats!!!!!
05 December 2016 15:20
Perch Bobs, Reed Wagglers and Porcupine quills
Ring Ring, Ring Ring!! Hi Andrew, can you make me 5 basic perch bobs with smallish bodies in black and yellow red tips.
Nothing too elaborate just neat, clean and understated.
Oh, and 5 reed wagglers in a similar theme to go with them, oh and while your'e at it do me 5 small porcupine quills too. Need them asap, hope thats okay!
05 December 2016 15:14
Cork Bodied Reed Waggler
There can be few other combinations that look better when collated together to make a float.
This cork bodied reed waggled has it all! Porcupine quill, reed, cork, walnut and a wonderful hackle feather pattern to set it all off. I feel it unlikely any other float will make a tench bite look better!!
That said, I am working on a set of quill lift floats at the moment so perhaps i might just be wrong!
05 December 2016 15:05
Black Painted Balsa Pacemakers
After starting 10 of these and finishing only 3 they are easily one of the most difficult floats I have ever made. They look pretty simple but believe me when I say theres a lot more that goes onto them that meets the eye. I love the distinctive line of the body and a fine pointed blood red tip thats perfect for trotting a maggot, they cast effortlessly, carry excellent shot for their size and really look the part too!
To make these floats extra special I have taper drilled the centres throughout their length and essentially made the body in two parts! Even the tip is drilled to add buoyancy. Removing as much balsa as possible from the inside creates far more buoyancy than a full balsa float. To keep weight down even further they only have one single coat of paint and varnish too.
This classic float was originally designed by match maestro Ivan Marks and harks back to a golden era of float design, a time when if an angler needed a certain type of float for a particular job he would take to the workshop and make it himself. In the 70's and 80's the float ruled the roost in match fishing and guys like Ivan Marks, John Allerton, Pete Warren and John Dean to name but a few were leading the way with it, not only in its use but more importantly in design!!
With that thought firmly in mind I will take these three floats to the river on Sunday and fish the hell out of them! I like to think Ivan might lift an eye brow or tip his cap if he was around to see them.
05 December 2016 14:58
Balsa Kingfisher Avons
Now and again I like to try something a little different. I'm getting back into using balsa a lot more of late. I like cork but it does carry extra weight and balsa is cleaner and far nicer to finish. These ones are inlaid with kingfisher feathers on a balsa body fitted to a hardwood stem.
They are also threaded neatly in my ever depleting stock of best vintage silk. These little floats will be extra buoyant too as I have hollowed out and impregnated the entire balsa body before fitting the tip. Air is far more buoyant than balsa so I expect these to carry a surprising amount of shot for their size, the more air inside the body means theres less balsa to weigh it down resulting in a small float that carries more shot.
Don't they look great, Its hard to post them away but i'm guessing they'll put a big smile on some lucky guys face come Christmas day! With Christmas in mind be sure to get your orders in quick, these floats don't make themselves and time is running short before the festivities arrive.
05 December 2016 14:50
Balsa Kingfisher Tench Drifters
I have had these on the boil for a while but not had the time to put much thought into them.
The plan was to paint the bodies but I thought it would be nice to fit a few kingfisher feathers and leave the balsa and quill clean.
Tipped with yellow and red then separated by black bands they also have a large wire eye and neat black silk thread work.
If anyone wants them feel free to get in touch, they'd make a fab Christmas gift for a tench angler that has everything!
05 December 2016 14:39
Crucian Crazy!! Miniature Porcupine Sliders
These were a very specific order for a long standing customer.
A very fine slider for Crucian Carp fishing in deeper water. Obviously the eyes needed to be much smaller as large wire ones would unbalance such a tiny float plus they would need to accommodate finer lines used for more shy biting species so I manipulated these from eyes of size 6 barbel hooks.
Each section of porcupine decreases in length and thickness as does the tapered tip. Its a new design for me and I'm confident it'll work with delicate shotting and the new owner promises to keep in touch with me for a performance report on their use and behaviour.
05 December 2016 14:30
Super Six Cork Avon Set!
Made with cork bodies and a variety of stems including carbon, cane, beech, swan and porcupine quill this set will undoubtedly put a smile on someones face come Christmas day.
Turned in 3 sizes there's a pair of floats to cover a few different scenarios on the bank.
Thats if they ever get used, something tells me they'll be too cherished to risk near water!!
05 December 2016 14:22
Black To Black! Painted Black Tri Cut Fluted Avons
After my last trip to the Test I though I ought to make myself a set of flutes just in case there's a need for them! I always try to scale down to a minimum of gear when i'm roving but there's no way I can leave these at home!
They are made from balsa with carbon and tapered hardwood stems. Red tip and yellow shoulder with nicely cut deep flutes! I'm gonna look so posh!! Its a shame there's never a soul on the river to see me use them!!
16 November 2016 20:17
Carbon Stem Classics
After the recent blog update of my river Test roach fishing I was contacted by a customer who fishes the very same stretch. He wanted some suitable floats for trotting bread and wondered what I was using for the job. After a quick discussion an order was confirmed and I was soon looming over my lathe turning the balsa bodies.
His only specifications were green bodies, yellow tips and shotting to match my own floats. Varnishing straight to paint can be problematic and often leaves a lumpy finish so i like to rub down the paint lightly between coats which also gives the varnish a healthy surface key to adhere to.
I never go over the top with varnish, Some believe the more coats applied the more resilient the float will be but a good single coat of the right sealant is more than sufficient, the float will perform better with less weight and will carry more shot too. The finish on these trotters is exceptional and with a good high quality varnish applied correctly a float will easily last a lifetime if taken care of.
I prefer carbon stems for my own floats and I cut them fairly long in comparison to many others you might find, if you'd rather have them shorter they can easily be cut down to size or simply tell me the lengths you like to use. There's a lot more thought that goes into these floats than one might think. They're strong, extremely buoyant, asthecally pleasing and a pleasure to use.
09 November 2016 17:03
Big Trent Barbel!!
The Trent just seems to get better and better for me lately! Yesterday I managed a further 6 barbel and every last one was over 10lb including this absolute steamer which shattered my Trent PB!! Fishing light and feeding maggots seems to be key in low clear water and those guys on the far bank firing out meat, pellets and boilies had a long boring day watching me clean up!
On my last two sessions I have taken 12 fish including 11 doubles! Incredible fishing! Wow!!
09 November 2016 15:16
Floats To The Test!
I'm back from my River Test roach and grayling fishing. Even in winter months the river is possibly one of the most beautiful I have fished and I find trotting bread for its roach absolutely fascinating. River Test roach are all about delicate presentation, careful feeding and generally being at the absolute peak of you're ability, get it wrong and the bites simply won't come.
Float selection is vital and the fishing can change by the hour! Its very easy to make the mistake of over feeding or making the slightest noise on the bank, even the shadow cast by your float can frighten off the bigger fish. I don't profess to be a good bread angler but a brief chat with one of the best, Kevin Grozier helped a lot with the basics and I felt ready to get out on the river and give it a try.
Out of the 3 days spent I got lucky on one and found a few roach including a pair at 1.11 and another of 1.10 along with perhaps 10 others around 1lb. Not giants by any stretch of the imagination but I really do feel I am on a fast track to a 2lb'er on my next trip.
I also had some fun fishing for Grayling. Its still very early in the winter season and the pegs I fished later last year are still choked with weed. The grayling were still there though so I just fished for them much shallower to avoid the streamers.
I lost count of the grayling over 1lb and the largest were probably getting on for 2lb. The Trout were out in force as usual and they really do fight hard on light gear, if the roach or grayling are feeding hard I often try to help trout slip the barbless hook but I have to confess enjoying the fight with a few of them and they are lovely looking fish.
I am back again at the end of the month for another 3 day, big roach are never guaranteed but I am quietly confident of a biggie!!
01 November 2016 19:39
Double Or Nothing! A Red Letter Day On The Trent.
Yesterdays fishing was a surprise. Not only was it a last minute decision to go but the quality and size of fish really caught me off guard too. Its not unusual to get a double off the Trent as i'm sure you all know, but the stretches I fish are blessed more with a volume of barbel rather than size.
11.13 and my biggest of the session
That said a few of those same stretches do offer bigger fish and yesterday I dropped on a ripe seam of them! In a short session I took six barbel five of which were doubles to 11.13! The biggest of them came to trotted maggots and the baby of the bunch 9.14 (let me down by two ounces) on the feeder while i took time to partake in culinary delights (ham Sandwich).
I caught all 6 fish in quick succession and they were gone just as swiftly. I fished until darkness but had nothing in the last two hours apart from a not so unusual maggot munching pike nearing 10lb and a single lone bream.
Being on my own meant there was nobody to take pics if I got lucky so this time I took the self take camera equipment with a view to harvesting images for my website. I fear my choice of lens was less than suitable but I managed to get a few in focus!
The anticipation of the shutter closing was intense and a bit irritating when it didn't work as it should so please forgive the vacant and glazed stares! Try to concentrate purely on the fish and not the grotesque behemoth brandishing them!!
25 October 2016 18:19
Ello John Got A New Motor!!
My old motor was a good car but its milage was astronomical, it struggled with mud and any off road terrain and really wasn't ideal for what I needed it to do. I was absolutely fed up with getting stuck or worrying about getting back to the road if it started raining while fishing those off the beaten track stretches. The other thing that I didn't like was the constant honk of wet nets, bait and other stinky angling paraphernalia that tended to reside in the boot. The question I asked myself was, how serious am I about my fishing and how badly do I need to get to those hard to reach spots where others can't or won't take the family car.
It soon became clear I needed a colossal truck, something that could drive through wet grass, mud, water or, if required, a war zone! A car that was just as happy driving through the river as it is going to it. A motor I could stash ten pints of maggots, wet waders and a bream slime covered landing net in boot and the cab still smell of roses in the morning.
Here it is!! Its got 2wd, 4wd and 4wdL so i'm reasonably confident of getting anywhere I need to go. Fuel consumption is appalling, the Mrs hates it and the neighbours think it takes up too much room on the street so what's not to like!!
Ladies and gentlemen, I give you my new fishing truck!! Sorry about the number plate, I couldn't resist!!
25 October 2016 14:18
All Good Things Come To Those who Wait
The Trent has been driving me mad lately, its my own fault for a number of reasons but needless to say, a set of 3 blanks were hard to take! Its all to easy to give up but considering this time last season I was doing really well on the river I had to get back and try again!
Another steaming Trent double
The plan was to meet up with Chris, feed a few swims with bread and fish them through with a feeder rod for chub. We fished and fished but couldn't get a bite for love nor money! It was like there wasn't a chub in the river! We eventually decided to break out the 15 footers, find a nice looking trot and do what we do best!
The carp were a welcome surprise.
We didn't get started till 1pm but the fish started coming almost immediately! We had numerous fish including a few doubles and a couple of bonus carp too! Chris took the fish of the day, a steaming barbel and his Trent pb of 12.13 which put up the fight of a lifetime!
12.13 and a new pb for Chris!
The carp caught us both by surprise and they were really nice to see, one of them was a proper old soldier and looked like it had perhaps seen some propeller blade action at some point in its life, its dorsal was quite ragged. Time flew by and before we knew it the sun was setting.
An old snub nosed river carp
A final double was the last fish of the day for me and by the time we unhooked and returned it the light had gone! After the really tough morning we were both pretty miserable! Its easy to sit back behind a motionless rod and blame it on the fish but making a move and a few simple changes can really transform your day.
A final double before darkness called time
29 September 2016 15:22
Josh Heads off To Sea For Sneaky Mullet
Anybody who knows me well will often joke about my anti-social habits and recluse like tendencies. Its very rare that I socialise with people outside of work and more often than not I tend to fish alone yet since the start of the year i’ve been getting to know my cousin Paul who is a fantastic predator angler and even more of a loner than myself. The man is more often than not seen bobbing around the Norfolk broads in his boat searching its larger inhabitants (with great success I might add).
After our trip to chew that I mentioned in a previous blog we have maintained regular contact and found ourselves teaming up on many occasions targeting species including one of my new favourites…Mullet.
If you're not familiar with these queer little fish then head to your nearest harbour and look along the wall, hurl some bread in and be patient. Before long grey shadows can often be seen cruising along the walls and feeding along the hulls of boats. Thick lipped mullet are the most incredible looking fish, their pectoral fins resemble little wings more than fins, they sport a near entirely flat head and have lips that even Kim Kardashian would be envious of. Combine these features together and you a bizarre looking beast for sure!
Many will find mullet near impossible to catch due to their incredible shy and finicky feeding habits yet this is all part of their lure. Once hooked their power is simply staggering. Their fight is best described as having the strength and brute force of a barbel yet the erratic and energetic runs of a large trout! Trial and error soon found us contacting Andy to make some small surface controllers allowing us to get a bait to the cruising shadows without spooking them and still fish on the surface. As always he delivered and with excess. Andy made us a couple more “puddle chucker” style floats that we had previously experimented with for rudd. The extra weight that they can take enabled us to remain a fair distance away from the mullet although on several occasions the cheeky blighters would feed along the side of our boat! Despite being a saltwater fish the mouth of the mullet is incredibly soft and the new 1.4 TC rod that Andy build me was perfect for the job, allowing a strong backbone to keep fish out of the endless broken and decaying snags that litter the harbours and creeks yet still soft enough in the tip to prevent the hook from pulling from soft lips.
It was all a very far cry from sneaking around my beloved wensum valley but that was the beauty of the campaign…the shriek of the seagulls, the smell of the sea air and rusting boats all add to a wonderful backdrop to chase new species. Although we never managed to catch any of the larger fish we would occasionally see laying amongst the huge clumps of weed, we did always manage a few nice fish to almost 5lb with the average being around the upper 3lb mark.
Im sure there will be more mullet fishing to come (I know that Mr Field is rather keen to have a go) yet I’m desperate for winter to arrive so myself and Paul can hit the next new species…the zander.
28 September 2016 15:23
Fenland Rudd With Josh Fisher
It would seem that yet again an overwhelming amount of work has seen my time on the bank diminish. I find myself continually torn between fishing, tattooing and getting enough sleep….A balance that I can assure is an absolute nightmare to maintain as work simply never stops, even whilst on the bank I will more often than not be responding to clients at all hours. With winter approaching I hope to be able to find myself finally able to commit to some new campaigns although I have devoted this season to just enjoying my fishing and taking up any opportunities that arise or just whatever I fancy rather than my usual militant scheduled targeting of specific species. I will go into detail about some of the new adventures that include some salty excursions!
As usual my river season began by pestering those wiley fenland rudd, more often than not bumping into our beloved Andy Field along the way. Despite both of us having a fair amount of success and many fish in excess of the 2lb barrier I'm sure that Andy would agree that this year has been a lot tougher than previous years with the behaviour of this fish being far more cautious and scatty. On multiple occasions I would spot the golden glow from hoards of large rudd swimming in my direction yet on the arrival of a bait to the water (all be it at least 20ft in front of them) they would simply turn around and disappear back to the shadows they came from. At times I resorted to literally crawling along my stomach like some crazed lunatic through the dense vegetation, being stung, bitten and generally entangled just to access my quarry with the tiniest waggles that Andy crafted me specifically for these scenarios. Perhaps it's the swarms of cormorants? The increasing number of otters I have noticed present along some stretches? Truthfully I think both of the mentioned are partially responsible but most of all I would say that angling pressure is to blame although I tend to stay away from the usual haunts that all of the “sheep” tend to flock to.
I have a new trick up my sleeve for next year that I'm sure will make all the difference and hopefully cause some of the much larger fish slip up….After all I spotted two fish this year that were well in excess of 3lb…they were simply colossal yet neither fell to my net despite one of them noseing the bread and nearly giving me a heart attack before it frustratingly changed its mind.
10 September 2016 11:27
Should I Stay Or Should I Go?
The Trent is proving difficult for many at the moment with low water levels and a distinct lack of rain its no surprise the fishing is tough. That said, for those willing to put in the extra effort and forget the one dimensional fever of sitting behind a motionless tip the float has continually proved itself as the way to haul barbel in tough times. Yesterday myself and Chris spent the day trotting maggots through a peg that hadn’t been fished all season. I must admit I wasn’t keen on Chris’s choice of swim and it certainly didn't look like a classic float swim I would be looking for. The trot had little pace, the wind was blowing in at a difficult angle, there was little depth throughout and to confound the lot it was a pretty uncomfortable bank to fish!
After getting on for mid day and 3 hours fishing we’d not had a bite between us despite continual feeding! By this time even Chris was beginning to think the swim was dead and we started to discuss our options while I munched into a chocolate muffin. Before I had managed to finish nibbling the icing off the surface I saw his float disappear and his rod hoop to what turned out to be a cracking double of 10.5 which was Chris’s first double of the season and strangely our first double while fishing together ever.
As the day progressed the wind got worse, presenting a bait became more and more difficult, the swim lost even more pace slowing to a crawl but the fish just kept coming! Chris took another double of 10.7 and I got lucky with a scraper of exactly 10.00. We took well over 140lb of barbel with 18 fish in an afternoon including four high 9’s and a couple of 8’s and others ranging from 5lb up.
We took turns fishing which I can’t express enough really makes for very nice fishing with a friend. One of us usually feeds while the other takes the rod and we take a fish each, it saves money by concentrating bait into one swim rather than two plus having a friend onside is a great help when landing fish. It usually works out pretty fair and yesterday Chris and I had 9 barbel each! Chris pipped me on the double count but we are long past caring about who gets the monster and we fish as a team.
I have to say I don’t like moving swims on the Trent once I have started putting significant bait in and If i do move it haunts me and I generally pop back to fish it through later in the day. Sometimes it leads to a blank but on this occasion waiting paid off and the fish moved over the bait in force. Chris and I don’t fish particularly hard favouring a relaxed approach, but I dare say had we been inclined to turn up the tempo we could easily have caught significantly more.
03 September 2016 19:12
Two Days, Two Friends And Two Trent Doubles
I first met Kevin Andrews on the river Cauvery in India when I was trotting for mahseer back in 2013. Kev is a very talented angler catching most British (and Indian) species to specemin sizes but he'd never caught a barbel on the float. Of corse I had to remedy this for him with an invite to fish a couple of my favorite Trent pegs.
So Close! 9lb 14oz
This type of fishing isn't for everyone, centrepins are hard to get used to and negociating the slippery rock margins knee deep in water can be a little daunting but with Kevin's India rock hopping skills and previous pin experience we were up and running in a flash!
10lb 10oz an incredible and hard fighting fish
It sometimes takes an hour or two to get the fish feeding and my concerns were growing by 11.30 when we still hadn't taken a single fish but with constant feed trickling into the swim we started to get a few takes. We bumped a fish or two off as is usual for me but with Kevs advice we tried some new ideas including better knots, bigger hooks and stronger line!
Knee deep in the Trent with a big barbel on the line
I had always shyed away from increasing to more stout terminal tackle but with recent big fish losses I felt in increase was wise and Kevin was totally confident. We still had the same number of takes after the changes so hopefully this will result in a better catch rate in the future, the set up is still reasonably elegant and fine but certainly helps once a bigger barbel takes the bait.
11lb 7oz ready to photograph
By the end of the two day session we'd taken a stack of barbel including one a breath under 10lb for Kev and I got lucky with a blinding 11.7 and 10.10 which are my first two doubles of the season! Thanks to kev for a fantastic couple of days I think we both learned a lot from each other and more importantly had a lot of fun while we did it! Lets get another date in the diary soon chap!
The ultimate test for a float rod, at 11lb 7oz this battle didn't end quickly
25 July 2016 11:49
14 Foot Harrison SU Float Rod Build
Here's some detail images of the latest efforts from my lathe! Brown Gti 14ft Su Harrison blank whipped in brown with gold metallic tipping throughout. Full cork handle with soft touch fugi reel seat and neatly applied fugi match guides!
I have to say I was sorely tempted to keep this one for myself as it would make an absolutely unbeatable barbel trotting rod but a long time customer was in need of a new float rod so through gritted teeth I let it pass on to a new home. I know the new owner will put it to good use and i'm certain he will keep me posted with his catches while using it.
Never liked transfers, a neat signature and details always looks nice.
Fuji Match Guides
Brown Colour Harrison Blank
Full Cork Handles
Soft Touch Fuji Reel Seat
Fuji Match Guides, Cork and hand signed details
Its all in the detail and finish!
Feel free to get in touch and discuss options for your own personal rod build. Whether your'e casting lures, trotting a float or hurling a lead there's a Harrison blank and a rod to suit your needs.
22 July 2016 12:36
Getting In Tune With Rudd and Barbel
16 July 2016 14:10
Custom Rod Building Continues With A Pair Of 2lb T/C Torrix Barbel Rods
Here's the latest from my rod building exploits. The Harrison blanks are brown and whipped in black with silver metallic throughout. I chose to fit titanium SIC K-Series guides with soft touch reel seats along with a traditional style full cork handle. I made them for my floodwater barbel fishing when conditions are unsuitable for the float and I just know they're gonna be spot on for the job! The Harrison range of blanks is absolutely enormous, their attention to detail is second to none and the torrix range has taken more barbel than we've all had hot dinners so there's little that comes out of the Harrison camp that doesn't float my boat!
The next builds will all be float rods in various blanks and thread colours, the lengths will include 12, 13, 13 su su, 14 su and 15 foot, I am itching to get on with them! As always i'll keep you all posted on developments!
Tapered Stainless Butt Cap
Soft Touch Reel Seat With Full Cork Handle
Feel free to get in touch to discuss options.
27 June 2016 09:49
Biggest Rudd Of The Season So far! A 2lb 10oz Giant!!
I decided to try a different river today after being given the nod on some good rudd showing there. Conditions were't great and the rudd certainly weren't on the surface which is not unusual for this river, perhaps cormorants keep them in the depths among the weeds. I thought id give it an hour before moving on somewhere else but first cast with a piece of tightly nipped slow sinking bread and the float dipped straight away.
I connected but bumped the fish off quickly! I Immediately recast but nothing! I sat back in the reeds and intermittently threw in small pieces of bread for about 20 minutes making sure they sank slowly before the next cast. My second cast on a new river and a 2.10 was in the net followed by a 1.14 on cast 3, interestingly the 2.10 was extremely skinny, perhaps not fully recovered from spawning? I imagine fully fit it would be significantly bigger. Bites dried up after the 1.14 and I couldn't provoke another take so contentedly drove home.
I'm absolutely convinced going on the history of this drain that there's some absolutel giants in there but they are scattered and probably few and far between. They also keep away from the surface so i may need to adopt a different technique to get the best out of them. Do I carry on in the hope of a biggie that may not come or get back to my regular haunts where I'm more confident? With a 2.10 on my first attempt perhaps i'll split my time between the two.
I can almost feel the 4lb'er my hands!
24 June 2016 20:56
The Fenland Rudd Saga Continues!! This Time There's 2lb'ers For Me!! At Last!!
They took their time coming but finally I picked up a pair of cracking 2lb rudd today just as the sun came out after days of overcast misery. I was getting a little concerned but the weather really has been poor since the season start and surface rudd fishing is all about sun and warm.
2lb 2oz and looks brand new, a beautiful fish.
The difference sunshine makes is incredible, the second it peeps from behind the clouds the rudd seem to surface, once another cloud arrives to obscure the rays the fish just sink away. Todays rudd weighed in at 2lb 5oz and 2lb 2oz along with a number of other smaller ones to 1.14.
A quick look before the photograph
Hopefully there will be a period of sustained good weather over the next few weeks so I can take full advantage of the Fen drains and rivers, if not I guess it'll be onto the Trent for a giant barbel although, as much as I love trotting a stick for barbel, with gold bars like these on my doorstep it seems a long long drive to the Trent.
2lb 5oz, looks to be an old soldier sporting cormorant or pike damage.
22 June 2016 19:44
Tiny Reed Stalkers a Winner For Shy Biting Tench
Long time customer Gareth Craddock has been catching some cracking tench this season using my Reed Stalker floats. They are perfect combined with a centerpin reel and float rod to delicately present a single grain of corn in the margins. In fact the very same floats have been used to good effect for a host of species including chub, carp and even fishing worms for perch! The tiny wagglers are perhaps the most versatile float in my range offering a minimum of resistance to the most shy biting fish.
Gareth's near 7lb float caught Male Tench
Well done Gareth! Keep the pics coming, its a joy to see the floats working hard for you!
17 June 2016 20:40
Two's Company. Fishing With Friends On The Fens.
The new season is upon us and we can now get out on the rivers at last!
I was hoping the recent sunny weather would hold out until the 16th but typically a bout of heavy rain saw my regular crystal clear rudd fishing haunts tainted with a muddy tinge and with overcast skies and the chance of rain I knew the fishing was gonna be tough specially if we were to catch off the surface. Regardless of weather and conditions I had my good friend Nathan Leney travelling down for a new rudd PB so I had to pull out all the stops and find some fish. Rudd are a rare fish in many parts of the UK and the really big ones are pretty rare here in the Fens. My preferred method of catching them is off the surface with bread, its exhilarating sight fishing, simply walking the banks and casting as soon as a good sized rudd is spotted.
We caught several 1 to 1.5lb rudd
Around midday we bumped into Josh Fisher who had also been struggling but managed a couple of nice fish which inspired us maintain our efforts. Josh proceeded to text me crazy looking pics of his catches after we parted. I'm not sure of sizes but he managed a 1.14 while chatting to us on the bank! I'm certain the guy could catch fish in the car park!! He put us both to shame but i'm not surprised, he's angling talent on another level!! Incredible!!
A Crazy Josh Selfie!
We walked and walked and fished and fished but only managed a few to around 1.5lb, the few bigger rudd we saw were skittish, they would investigate the bait only to shy away at the last second before melting away in the murky water. Knowing the fish were there we persevered to the last when in a brief flash of sunshine between clouds Nathan spotted a monster and was rewarded with a PB shattering 2lb 3oz whopper! What a way to start the season and finish a day. We both couldn't have been happier!
Well done chap! A cracking start the season!
15 June 2016 17:55
Handmade Self Cocking Rudd Floats and Double Ended Swan Quills
With the river season nearing I have rudd on my mind and living in the Fens I have no shortage of Rivers and drains to try for them. With that in mind I have prepared myself a few floats for the job! The bodied ones are self cocking and made from a double ended swan quill but weighted and balanced so they can be fished with zero shot. The Perfect River Rudd Float!!
Some might say they're a little on the bright side for surface feeding rudd but personally I take no notice as I have consistantly caught rudd with even brighter floats! I Can always make a less colourful one if you prefer.
13 June 2016 20:14
handmade Perchfisher Perch Bob Float Inlaid With Kingfisher Feathers
Here's a neat little perch bob made from a champagne cork. Balsa tip, champagne cork body and painted hardwood stem. I usually paint the body but the kingfisher feathers look awesome so thought id add them on this one to make it a little more special. I took the pics with my 60mm macro lens and crudely lit it up with a basic daylight bulb hence the reflections in the varnish. They're still nice pics and its amaizing what can be done with basic lighting. I have never been afraid of taking close up detail images of my work and am yet to find an angle of them I don't like. Enjoy!!
31 May 2016 12:34
Latest Handmade Pike Floats For Little Egret Press
Here's another image of the latest willow pitch 3 Pike floats taken with my SLR. I'm not usually one to blow my own trumpet but these are absolutely splendid and even blew ME away!!
Taking a proper close up look through the macro lens made me realise what I see are years of refining work! The minute details, tiny adjustments, commitment and passion that goes into every turn of thread or drip of varnish! These floats didn't make themselves and I didn't make them alone, they are a culmination of help, advice, inspiration and encouragement received from so many very kind and talented people over many years.
This image epitomises the whole ethos behind my work and what I always wanted it to achieve. Encompassing unique, uniform neat handcrafted fishing tackle with mind blowing high quality in every single product whether it be a tiny reed stalker float or 15ft stepped up float rod you can be assured I always do my utmost to provide fishing tackle that will make you the envy of fellow anglers.
Rather aptly there's a custom build lure rod drying in the background! This rod is bound for the Himalayas in search of a giant mahseer! Its an interesting build too so deserves a post all of its own! Images and details soon.
02 May 2016 16:15
Custom Rod Building By Andrew Field
I have been building fishing rods now for some time now, mainly just for close friends and family. I have rather enjoyed the time spent and extremely pleased to announce I will now be custom building rods on a full time basis! They will be built with the usual "Lure Of The Float" quality with some interesting and unique features which I will be adding to this website soon along with images and a list of custom options. In the meantime feel free to get in touch if you would like me to build you a rod or two or three for you and we can discuss options.
Here's a few detail pics from my latest builds to whet your appetite!
The cork handled 1.5lb TC Torrix Avon in the pics will be available for sale as soon as the plush new bag is prepared for it so if your'e keen to own the first Andrew Field rod for sale just get in touch.
16 March 2016 18:26
My Season Review
At the beginning of this season I promised myself to get out and fish more often and not to limit myself to local waters. I have donated almost all my time to fishing rivers rather than lakes as I find rivers more of a challenge. Here’s a few of the fish I was lucky enough to catch, there have been many more besides but these are the cream, the standout highlights, the most rewarding and the ones that really took my breath away.
The new season started out slowly, in fact I didn’t fish the first couple of weeks due to a busy workload. The Fen rudd had been playing on my mind for a while, it had been years since i’d caught a big one and seeing Josh having such fun the previous season I wanted to have a go myself. It has to be the hardest campaign of my season with endless hot days spent walking the banks searching for flashes of gold. It wasn’t long before a few 2lb’ers were in the net but a 3lb rudd was my target and no way was I calling it a day until id got one.
2.10 Found In A Small Group Of Rudd That Dwarfed It In Size!
I had seen and fished to rudd that were undoubtedly that size but they either refused the bait or smaller fish beat them to it. Eventually, late in the rudd season I saw a group of very large fish deep in the far bank reeds. A do or die cast saw the bait land perfectly among them! The smaller of the fish investigated my float and the biggest took the flake confidently! At just shy of 3lb 1oz it has to be one of my best fish of the season, an absolute giant of a river rudd caught on a little self cocking puddle chucker made just for the job.
A Shade Under 3.1 And Probably My Best Fish Of The Season.
In a few short weeks I had managed over thirty 2lb’ers including several at 2.6, a 2.8, 2.10 and of corse the 3lb’er. In the first month of the season I walked over 50 miles of rivers and drains searching them out and lost over 10lb in weight! The heat was at times intolerable and combined with the million billion nettle stings and insect bites it was easily the most demanding fishing I have done in the UK.
Trotting For Trent Barbel
2015 was my first full season on the Trent. I feel particularly blessed to have been accepted as a Nottingham Piscatorial Society member and have found the river a joy to fish and the society members and bailiffs very friendly and helpful. The Trent is the complete opposite of rivers I usually fish, mainly because its so very big, something I found slightly daunting at first. I was lucky enough to have some help from Chris Knapp. Chris is a great float angler and has fished the Trent for years, luckily for me he was kind enough to take me under his wing, show me the ropes and a few good float friendly barbel stretches.
My Old Friend Adam With a Lovely Trent Double
Stick float fishing for barbel can be spectacular sport and the Trent really lends itself to the method! Needless to say with a few pointers from Chris I found myself doing reasonably well by landing a string of float caught doubles for myself and friends.
My Friend Paul With An 11.10 Barbel, His First On The Float.
I have to admit I bumped a few monsters due to the small hooks but the fish that stands out the most for me was this 12lb 4oz chunk which came on a two day session along with 45 other fish. Look at the size of its tail!! I still can’t believe I tamed it with 4lb line and a size 16 hook!
At 12.4 Its My Biggest On The Float, A Real Show Stopper On Light Gear!
Many would argue 4lb line isn’t strong enough for such hard fighting fish but with the right balanced tackle the line is extremely unlikely to break rather than the small hook pull out, I can honestly say hand on heart I was never snapped up using this set up all season long. Obviously swim choice is key, you must avoid snags at all costs but otherwise its incredibly interesting fishing and great fun.
On the Avon
Few rivers are as beautiful as the Hampshire Avon and this season I was lucky enough to catch a new PB barbel while fishing with one of its best! Kevin Grozier has invited me down to fish with him a few times in recent years and I have seen some cracking barbel including a 14lb’er Kevin took from the Stour and my new PB of 13.7!
At 13.7 This One Was A New PB, Big Thanks To Kevin Grozier!
Okay, it wasn’t float caught but considering how close to the bank it took the bait i’m guessing I could have taken it laying on or similar. Perhaps i’ll give it a try next year.
Colossal River Bream
On a small stretch of river that was once renown for big bream back in the 70’s and 80’s there’s a deep slow pool. I walked by it many times always wondering if there might be one left but everyone I talked to considered them long dead. If there was one left it would be big, I had to try! Only 20 minutes into a short morning session and 13lb 3oz of bream is in the net!
At 13lb 3oz It Was A Struggle To Fit In The Landing Net!
I was told at the time it was the biggest bream ever taken from a river and probably my best fish of the season if not ever. A fish I am extremely proud of and so pleased to have seen.
River Test Grayling and Roach
Its a 300 mile round trip for me but that never keeps me away from the River Test. I have fished 3 different stretches a number of times this season and mostly in adverse conditions due to high water from the wet winter but what fun and great company.
At 2.4 Its Another PB
I caught some cracking roach with angling god “Dave Steuart” in his garden and superb grayling to 2lb 4oz with Richard Hewitt from from Farlows and even meeting with Comic Genius Paul Whitehouse of Fast Show fame who managed a 21lb pike the same day.
A Fine Brace Of Roach With Dave Watching On From The House
Many find the Test’s trout a pain which can be true when trying to search out a shy biting roach but they really fight hard on float gear and are superb looking fish, probably best left for the summer and the upstream dry fly but also good fun on a slow winters day.
River Lea Chub
I fished the Lea for the first time this season and quickly landed a few barbel. Long time angling buddy Nathan Leney and I fished the river hard for chub and Nathan had a couple of monsters at 7.15 and 7.12 but I seemingly struggled and couldn’t get to grips with it.
At Last, Not A Monster but Very Welcome
Late in the season we decided to rove about on a different stretch in a last ditch attempt when i was gifted a lovely chub of 5.8, not one of the monsters but my first lea chub and enough to tide me over till I hit it hard next season for a biggie.
Rudd, barbel and bream have been a major success this season and I find it hard to pick a favourite from the bunch. These are fish that were reasonably local to me that I fished hard for donating significant time, with that in mind its little surprise I did well with them. The fish I struggled with were Roach, tench and pike. River roach are notoriously difficult to catch and rare! I have refined my tecniques for next season and now have access to good roach water thats nearby so hopefully the new season will see that illusive 2lb’er in my net. My tench campaign was short, poorly thought out and to be honest on the wrong venue, next season may be different and I have plans in the pipeline for a new pb so, I confidently say watch this space. I only have myself to blame for the lack of pike, I live in the heart of the Fens and have neglected to make the most of it while hearing whispers of 20lb fish being caught throughout the winter season. It wasn’t laziness, there’s simply not enough time in the week and having caught a belting 28.1 last year I felt I should put my effort into roach and grayling instead.
After Last Years 28.1 I Largely left The Pike Alone This Season
One thing I have learned in recent years is not to sit back and think about it. If you want to catch a big grayling, rudd, roach, barbel or indeed any species simply go out and give it a try. Don’t think these fish are the reserve of top and expert anglers, absolutely anyone can do it! Many of my best fish have come from day ticket stretches or easily accessible season ticket water or even syndicate waters that didn’t cost a bomb or take an age for my name to come round for membership. Just find out where the biggies are, speak and get help and advice from friends, the internet or Facebook etc, hone your craft and go and get one! They're out there waiting, I can’t promise it’ll happen first time out but If you donate time and effort with a smattering of angling prowess anything can happen.
15 March 2016 10:59
You Can't Always Get What You Want!
Well, there you have it!! Another season done and dusted!!
I decided to fish the Trent on the last day hoping to end the river season with a barbel finale. The Trent has been kind to me season and there's simply nowhere better to trot a float for barbel. The river was carrying a little extra water due to recent rains which meant it was also quite pacey, I knew we were in for a tough day on the float or otherwise! The far bank was lined with a legion of ugly bivvies mounted next to feeder rods aimed menacingly to the sky I rarely saw the inhabitants and the rods seemed to lay dormant all day or certainly whenever I glanced over. Personally I was in no mood for pellets, leads or feeders! Armed with my 15 foot Drennan Acolyte, a tube of sticks plus 6 pints of maggots I had no intention of leaving until a barbel was in the net!! The problem was I seemed to catch anything but! Bites were few and far between and many of the significant fish id worked so hard to hook simply came off!!
It was fast becoming a frustrating day but after feeding a little heavier with maggots the float dipped to a very welcome chub that weighed in at 4.6 swiftly followed by a number of bream to 3lb. There were clearly chub and bream in the swim so I made sure maggots, hemp and caster were increased every trot to keep them on the boil but by now it was late afternoon and time was running short.
I decided to rest the swim and have a bite to eat. Resuming after 10 minutes feeling certain a barbel was unlikely I adjusted the set up slightly and my first trot was welcomed with solid resistance! Immediately I knew it was a significant fish! The rod was hooped and the fish thumped hard downstream desperately close to a snag riddled overhanging bush! Initially I thought chub but the longer the fight went on it felt strangely familiar! It was a bream! Another big river bream weighing exactly 7lb.
Okay, you could argue my day was a failure as the barbel didn't show but I how can anyone not be pleased with a cracking chub and big ole slab of a bream!! The fishing had me engrossed all day, I went through all my options, fished hard and it eventually payed off with a PB trent bream!
08 March 2016 15:47
Floats To The Test!!
Here's a few pics from my latest trip to the river Test. This time I was in for a real treat and fished a very exclusive stretch as a guest of Richard Hewitt from Farlows of Pall Mall. The fishing was tough but rewarding and the weather varied from sun baked excellent to hail storm horrendous. We fished hard regardless and caught some superb grayling including a new pb for me of 2lb 4oz!
The hard fighting brown and rainbow trout were on hand for excellent fun on light float tackle and I tried my hardest for a big roach on the run up to sunset before darkeness called time on my day, perhaps I will get lucky with one next time. We had the good fortune to bump into Paul Whitehouse who was on the river fly fishing for pike and managed a proper toothy critter of 21lb!
Perhaps I ought to dig out the fly rod for my last River Test session of the season? A nice fat pike would finish the river season off a treat!! Of corse, I will let you all know how it pans out!
A big thanks to Richard for the excellent company and wonderful fishing.
20 February 2016 12:42
Long Trotting for River Lea Chub
I have made a few unsuccessfull trips to the river Lea this year for its monster chub but never managed to land one. The Lea is a lovely river and I caught a few of its fabulous barbel mid season but the chub have remained illusive. After leaving for another day/evening session a Facebook post reminded me Kings Weir was holding a three day fishing event for 30 anglers, I would have to take my chances and fish further downstream. The unfamiliar surroundings of the new stretch didn't inspire confidence and left me wondering if I should have stayed home but I did notice a few guys fishing which is always promising, i just couldn't find a peg that offered a decent trot. I fished a few spots throughout the morning with no luck and eventually settled in on a nice glide along some overhanging tree's that looked to have the reasonable depth and cover a big ole Chevin might approve of.
Feeding the swim with bread mash for about 20 minutes while setting up a 3aaa bright red loafer style float I foolishly missing a bite on the very first cast! After a quick retrieve and rebating the hook with flake I was primed and gifted a second chance as the float dipped again in the very same place! The result was this cracking chunky chevin of 5lb 8oz! By no means the biggest in the river but it put up one hell of a battle and will always be my first ever river Lea chub.
17 February 2016 09:40
To Die In Glory! Josh Reflects On Lost Floats!
For some time now I have spread the word of the superiority of an Andrew Field float. His craftsmanship is simply unrivalled by any other float builder in the Uk.
It was in the spring while targeting crucians on a small lake when I was approached by a gentleman who had caught a glimpse of my float tube and wished to have a closer inspection of what was within. Once in his hand he was truly fixated upon the pain staking details that Andy had lovingly installed into each float. Ofcoarse it was no surprise that his first two questions were where could a man buy such a thing, followed by curiosity of the price. With my phone to hand I showed him our ever growing ranges on the website. This led to the inevitable statement said by virtually every person I have seen hold one of our floats….That dreaded sentence…”I couldn’t use them, they're far too nice, what if I cast into a tree!?”
I can fully understand this concern when spending £17-40 on a float but surely its better to experience float fishing at its finest rather than just having another dust collector sitting on the shelf….Or even better still, why not do as I do and have your favourites on display yet take them to the riverbank and use them when the opportunity arises?
I would be lying if I said id never lost one of Andy's floats, in fact I have lost a few of them…embarrassingly each with my name displayed down the side for the world to know my shame. Two floats in particular died in glory, one I have mentioned in a previous blog where a 2lb river roach managed to throw my hook and causing the entire rig to hurtle through the air into a tree, the other a more recent event. I was experimenting with our new cormorant quill avons and had been ranting to Andy on the phone about how much I adored it just hours before I lost it. I had hooked into a large chub that inhabits a local wierpool when my line became tangled around my bail arm causing my 3lb line to break and the float to slip off into the gloom.
Photography is an ever growing part of our sport and I cannot help but feel that adding a selection of hand crafted floats to the catch shot instantly adds an element of class. To me bringing back some kind of prestige to angling is a wonderful thing….A two fingers up to the ever growing bivvy boy culture that is destroying all artistry and turning everybody into mindless carp drones fixated on which obese mud pig to catch next.
I don’t regret loosing a single float…some have been with me longer than others, serving their duty before paying the ultimate price and although I have no doubt I will loose more, I'm sure they will give me great pleasure along the way and hopefully some large fish to do them justice.
05 February 2016 16:50
New Float Range Ready To Go!!
A full range is yet to be decided but the ethos behind them is simple. A selection of usable balsa and cork bodied floats that are both functional and aesthetically pleasing. With the usual Lure Of The Float quality and attention to detail and still sporting the A.Field signature this range is still 100% handmade! All the bodies are hand shaped by myself and finished in a variety of styles and colours for both still and running water. With a minimum application of paint, Thread and varnish they are lightweight and perfectly balanced yet robust and hardwearing. In all, a range of floats that fish perfectly for any occasion and compliment any connoisseur float anglers tackle box. So whether your’e trotting the Trent for barbel or stalking shy biting carp in the margins this range of handmade floats will accommodate your every need!
So Far the range consists of-
Cormorant and Crow Quill Avons-
Made with Cormorant (or crow) quills for integral strength and traditionally whipped in vintage silk thread these elegant avons are hard to beat for looks, design and functionality! If needed in larger sizes they can be made on crow or goose quill stems.
Carbon Stem Dome Tip Stick floats-
These tough sticks have a red domed tip painted with a yellow band and black painted body unless the customer specifies otherwise. They are fitted with carbon stems reinforced with hardwood into a balsa body. Larger sizes are available with a thicker grade carbon stem.
Carbon Stem Shouldered Sticks-
These tough sticks have a red shouldered tip painted with a yellow band and black painted body unless the customer specifies otherwise. They are fitted with carbon stems reinforced with hardwood into a balsa body. Larger sizes are available with a thicker grade carbon stem.
Made with a balsa body and tapered hardwood lower stem the pacemaker comes painted in black unless I am instructed otherwise by the customer. This slender iconic trotter is sure to please both visually and functionally.
With their chunky balsa body and excellent buoyancy through to the tip these loafers are ideal for trotting bigger baits for chub or perch but equally at home shotted right down while fishing maggots or bread for roach. An excellent all rounder that can be put to work in most conditions, even for trotting huge chunks of meat for barbel.
Tapered Hardwood Stem Avons-
The avon is the default float for most river anglers! The elegant “Lure Of The Float” shape incorporates a tapered hardwood lower stem and sleek shaped balsa body. The neat red tip and yellow shoulder makes this float ideal for trotting bread or maggots. My Avons are available in various sizes and styles so feel free to get in touch with any of your requirements.
The Antenna is my default float for still water fishing. It offers an exceptionally neat look with excellent bait presentational and bite detection. Fitted with a strong wire eye and slender shaped red tip and yellow band the Antenna float is available in a full range of sizes. These ones are painted in a range of muted colours but feel free to get in touch with your own specifications or if you would prefer something more intense.
A dedicated tench fishing float fitted with a sight blob tip with yellow and black bands. Watching this float in action is sure to make your heart race! Is there anything better than a misty early morning tench fishing session?
Crucian Cormorant/crow quills-
This ultra fine float is made with a reversed cormorant or crow quill fitted with a tiny painted balsa body and neat wire eye. They offer the extremely delicate bite presentation thats needed when fishing for those shy biting crucian carp. The longer tip makes them ideal for shooting right down in windier conditions so its still possible to fish the float while those around you might find it a struggle. These floats can be made smaller or larger and can even be fitted with a sight blob to turn them into an ultralight windbeater tench float.
If you have any idea’s for more designs don’t be afraid to sound up but as all my customers know I have no problem taking bespoke orders. I did make a few inline perch bobs but Josh Fisher ran off with them before I had a chance to get pics taken. There are already plans for more designs, I will keep you all posted on my progress!!
19 January 2016 17:08
Gigantic River Bream On The Float
14 January 2016 11:48
Flooded Rivers and Forgotten Streams
As I'm sure you've seen on the news, much of our countryside is underwater due to extreme flooding. Houses and even entire villages have been lost along with some life sadly. I cannot express my sympathy enough for those who have had everything taken away from them especially over the christmas period.
Where I live in Norfolk we are very lucky in terms of flooding, it is a rare occurrence and other than two freak instances with costal floods over the past century we don’t suffer from such events. Whilst passing my local river wensum last week I was shocked to see that a huge over night down poor had caused the river to rise so dramatically that the surrounding fields were several feet underneath a mass of chocolate water. Im not comparing this in any way to the devastating events that have taken the country by shock, I'm simply going to prove to you that even in these scenarios there are still fish to be caught.
Yet again it’s our tiny tributaries and backwaters that come to the rescue. These too can be unfishable at times and turn into boiling miniature rapids however if you are in tune with local streams theres always one that can be fished and will produce some action.
With a few hours spare in the morning I decided to venture to the tiniest of my streams, so small that my rod can touch the other side and a child could easily leap over it.
Armed with a pouch of maggots and assortment of miniature stick floats created for me by Andy especially for this scenario. I crept and crawled through dense foliage in search of steady glides and slacks where any fish would be attempting to escape the harsh flow.
As always when the rivers colour up wild brown trout were the first to make an appearance with their typical acrobatic display shortly followed by a couple of roach and even dace. I shouldn't of been so surprised when I was met with a strong resistance followed by lunges as a clearly much larger fish headed towards a sunken tree resulting in a hook pull….perhaps it was a stray chub? one of the few remaining large roach? or even just a bigger brownie?….who knows!
My point is simply this…there is always somewhere to catch fish and never neglect the tiniest of waters as these can so easily be fished with light float tackle and I promise it will be some of the most fun fishing you will have experienced in a long time. Perhaps it’s so enjoyable because it casts us back to our childhood days and these mini species are appreciated and marvelled rather than simply snubbed and seen as a nuisance. I for one am just as happy searching out these dismissed places as I am fishing on a 1000 acre reservoir, both contain surprises and can be approached in a multitude of ways but most importantly you must enjoy whatever you are doing.
10 January 2016 21:26
Trotting the Test with Dave Steuart
With increasing regularity I take the long drive South for a break from my usual fishing. The Southern chalk streams are a joy to fish and the trek down always gives me a chance to catch up with old friends. The Hampshire Avon has been kind this year by gifting me a new pb barbel while fishing with Kevin Grozier and I always get excited about fishing the river Test for its roach and dace.
Dropping in on Dave Steuart for a chat is always fun, Dave is one of angling's most colourful characters and just happens to live right on his very own stretch of the legendary river! A 2lb roach is high on my big fish list and the test is perfect for trotting a float so stealing a day fishing with Dave is a must. Over a coffee conversation soon turns to fishing and Dave showed us a copy of his book Minnows to Marlin which happened to be the leather bound No1 Authors copy which was presented to him at the the books launch!
On this occasion I took my Trent barbel trotting Friend Chris (The Pin) Knapp with me as he'd never fished the Test before and really wanted to give it a try. Dave's stretch of river is a dream and offers some lovely trots and opportunities, it feels like a fish is waiting for every cast but unfortunately, on this occasion the river was a little angry from recent rains and a 2lb'er was more than we could muster. Regardless, the fishing was challenging yet interesting, plus with Dave on hand for hints and pointers the fish started coming!
The usual psychotic trout were accompanied by some cracking roach plus dace to 11oz and a few nice grayling and chunky chub to boot! Our excitement was dashed when Chris took several good roach culminating with a fish that was undoubtedly a 2 but once in the net it was clearly a hybrid! Do'h!!!!
When the rods were finally packed away Chris Ball had arrived elated to have found some old video footage of Richard Walker fishing for carp with Fred J Taylor! When Dave and Chris get chatting the conversation is much like a battle, a veritable duel of words! Its a joy to watch and really quite comical but be warned, anyone wishing to get a word in edgeways is unlikely to succeed and its best not to disturb the furore, just sit back and enjoy.
We did have a second day at Timsbury but the weather had done its worse overnight and restricted us to the feeder stream. A few trout and grayling were our best and I foolishly managed to bump off a good sized grayling losing my float in a tree at the same time! Grrr!! We are planning a return trip for later in the season, i'll be sure to keep you posted!
A big thanks to Dave for his hospitality and to Chris for taking a few pics while Chris and I had slimy fish hands.
31 December 2015 19:14
The Best Laid Plans!!!
Networking, it truly does have its benefits! Face to face where you can read a person and engage directly is great for both business and social matters. I met the host of my latest exploit on a "CPD" (continual professional development) course, we were both on a power boat course where I hoped to tick a box for my Dutch fishing and Rob was wanting to broaden the adventures of his two young boys. Conversations of fishing fishing soon came up and I was Intrigued to learn of Rob's family farm which happened to have a private stretch of the Dorset Stour running through it! Business cards were swiftly exchanged and the course completed. The river played on my mind along with the thought of huge chub and the great roach of yester year that the mid stour had produced. I left it a respectable time before contacting Rob but he was pleased to hear from me and sent me a google map screen shot of the river which showed weir pools, long guides and deep pools, I spent many a break plotting a visit however work and family were to conspire against me and the untouched paradise remained untouched. When a window of opportunity finally materialised I contacted Rob who confirmed he would be about to perform the necessary introductions, I booked a local B&B and headed for Dorset. Upon arrival my host was eager to walk me round his land and a tour of the Virgin river which hadn't been fished for at least 10 years!
I spent the rest of the day baiting spots and checking depths but the river level was clearly well up and pushing through, obscuring the swims I had viewed from the summer Google map image which contained gravel runs and mid stream lines of rush's. I knew these needed to be located if I was to be successful! On one bend I could see some dead stems showing mid river however daylight was fading and with a promise of local fishing knowledge from a pub landlord I headed back to the farm. The next day dawned and after toast n marmalade I headed out to the farm yard, donned my chesty's and rucksack. grabbed the float rod and headed for my favoured swim which was a good looking corner point where the landlord talked of a legendary "overhanging tree swim". As I walked the fields to my chosen peg along the swollen river the wind whistled through the power lines and had me checking my sanity for fishing in such poor conditions. Looking at the swim it had several focal points like a far bank bush creating a nice slack and the midwater reeds indicating clean runs between them. There was also another bush to my right on the near bank and a side stream opposite me, it looked perfect for a trot.
I selected a cork bodied Avon to combat the strong flow and bulk shotted it down on 4lb Shimano invisitec to a size 14 VMC 7030 hook. The plan was to wade cautiously to mid river and use the dead reed bed to navigate upstream towards the far bank bush and fish the slack behind it, if this proved uneventful I would work my way downstream hoping my footwork had enticed the fish to feed on any naturals I had dislodged. Upon my arrival as forecast the wind had strengthened to near gale force conditions blowing against the flow. I gently flicked the Avon into the slack and began feeding some free offerings behind it, I repeated the procedure altering the depth and holding the float back as I mapped my swim but seemingly nobody was at home! I negotiated my way back to mid river and down the line of the dead reed bed aiming for a trot into the mouth of the side stream where fish may be sitting out of the main flow.
Now I am unsure what happened next as it all happened so fast I remember a sudden deepening and my hesitation causing the current to catch me broadside however the next second I'm floundering and in panic I turn upstream filling my waders with an unrelenting and perishing cold torrent! After further manly moves worthy of a signet in distress I regained my footing and headed for the bank. Having been in a similar situation some twenty plus years earlier and being fully aware of the pleasures of hypothermia I gathered my kit and hightailed it to my truck to get shot of the wet clothes and find anything to replace with for the long drive home. I also needed to explain the situation to my host and thank him for the opportunity to fish! I stowed the gear, broke down the rods and got a brew on, my hasty explanations at the farm were met with much merriment and I was encouraged to return soon, I departed the farm looking for a suitable location to strip off in some privacy and soon located a small track with a gravel area screened from the road by a line of trees. Despite the gusting wind slamming the doors of the truck at the most inconvenient moments I managed to strip off and decided to work the elements to my advantage looping the drag strap of my cargo pants to my roof bar I sat in the cab nursing a hot tea wearing nothing but a hoody.
To add insult to injury a Shooting party arrived! With no warning they drove up the track like a band of Chinese tourists, straight out there flashy range rovers keen to see who was the poor relation contorted over his hilux steering wheel clutching a cup of tea and smiling strangely back at them hoping his trousers wouldn't blow away! Cursing my luck and praying they would all foxtrot Oscar to chase pheasants I smiled and waved pretending to be talking on my very sodden and very poorly phone. Anyway the gods finally smiled and they marched off leaving me free to retrieve my trousers and head for home, you can rest assured I will return to this river with fellow "lure of the float" member Andy so watch this space. And remember it's not just about the fish it's the experience as a whole!! Even if it does happen to be a miserable, wet, mobile phone wrecking embarrassment!!
22 December 2015 11:08
Floats To The Test
A few days later a pristine set of floats arrived complete with an inscription commemorating my friends 40th written in Andrews creative hand on the side of floats tailor made for the venue! The day could not come soon enough! The venue is a classic English chalk stream with a quintessential feel of English gentry straight out of the pages of Mr Crabtree, I could almost hear Bernard Cribbins dulcet tones whispering in my head as the morning mist rolled off the water.
After a short time on the near bank we moved round to the far bank where my friend chose a fast glide toward the bridge and I settled for a point above him enabling us to share the moment. I opted to bulk shot my float close to the bottom in a bid to avoid the attention of trout and continued feeding mashed bread with flake on the hook. I kept trotting the float through and was getting bites but failing to connect to them, my guide put it down to small dace. Next trot through and I was in, the fish came up relatively quickly and looked to me like a chubblet however as it got closer I was unsure and as it graced my net I couldn't believe my eyes, it was a huge dace! A call to my host confirmed it and both he and our guide witnessed a full 13oz reading from my digital scales as the pristine silver Dart lay in the plastic bag.
I continued the feed and was soon rewarded with another dip of the float, a quick jag jag had my pulse racing and thinking roach however, as my guide saw the fish close to the surface we both thought bream! I steered the fish from the main current into a slack as we prepared to net it, we saw the iconic red fins and my concerns of a hook pull were not eased by his shouts of Steady Steady! A pristine roach slipped in the net and I punched the air in excitement. The Beauty went 1lb 6oz I could not however help to feel sorry for my host who continued to be plagued by psychotic trout! I offered my spot however he declined preferring to return to our original swim. I am so proud to report that his efforts were rewarded, paying off with a magical creature in the form of a 2lb river roach!! Well done my friend and a very happy birthday.
21 December 2015 15:38
No Barbel But December Chub Save The Day
December has been a tough month! I've had little time for fishing due to the festive workload and when i have managed to get on the bank the cooler December weather has made my attempts for a December barbel on the float much more difficult. The nature of trotting maggots with small hooks means barbel are prone to dropping off and the few i have hooked have done exactly that, i have had my chances but blew them! Although barbel aren't easy in winter I am generally always confident of a few bites so when Matt Boast asked to come along for a day of trotting i felt sure, if we were lucky, we could do the business and at least hook a barbel or two.
Matt is an outstanding allround angler with a big fish list that most would be envious of. He's an incredible lure fisherman and above all he's infatuated by float fishing. On arriving at the river the first thing I noticed was a few feet of extra water running through although it didn't prove to be much of a problem in the swim I had chosen and the carbon stem stick float trotted through it with ease. The fishing was tough and after a couple of biteless hours we decided to change tactics and began feeding heavily with maggot and caster. By trotting as far down the run as we could near to an overhanging tree we were at least able to pick off a few obliging chub which turned a difficult barbel day into a fun chubbing session.
If you are a regular to my blog you will be reading more about Matt as we have a few interesting big fish plans for the future! Matt will be the latest angler to join the Lure Of The Float team and will be making regular updates to the our blog.
26 November 2015 14:17
Field at Farlows
I'm really excited to announce that my floats can now be bought in the capital. For a start many of my customers come from abroad and now if they come to london they can pop into Piccadilly, walk two minutes down to Pall Mall and sample that piscatorial paradise that is Farlows.
I have always loved the fishing history that the company represents but in the modern age the staff are getting more and more helpful and inspiring. Any question about anywhere in the fishing world and there will be an answer in this fantastic shop. And of course the tackle to solve any angling challenge..now they have my floats of course.
I've looked at retail partners in the past but nowhere else has come close. That mix of tradition and cutting edge modern development is magically unique I guess. Farlows mirror in this way my own float building philosophy by giving anglers a flavour of the past with all the technology of the future.
So please if you are in London, get to Farlows and feel my floats in the flesh. As time goes by you will see this relationship grow. I honestly believe that if you love your old world coarse fishing brought up to date you will find the gear you want at farlows..Field and Farlows. we are going places together.
24 November 2015 17:02
Anglers Mail Barbel on the Float Feature
John Bailey and I detail the intricacies of float fishing for barbel in this weeks Anglers Mail. The weather had turned, the wind was blowing and the trot was strewn with leaves! Did we catch? Of corse we did! Have a read then go out and give it a try.
27 October 2015 08:34
Pike Fishing With Friends
Pike fishing can be incredible sport and the lure of a big hard fighting pike is hard to resist when the cold winter months roll in. Living in the heart of Fenland with its endless miles of rivers and drains i have always been spoilt for choice on where to catch them. Life long friend Craig Scott and I have been pike fishing the Fen Drains every winter together for over 30 years. Both of us had caught pike in excess of 20lb before the age of 12 and quickly gained the skills to land, unhook and release the toothy critters to fight another day! As kids, Craig would never shy away from removing trebles from a pike and even today he generally takes charge when we land a fish! (Saves me from getting raker rash).
With pike fishing becoming more popular than ever i always recommend, if you're new to pike fishing to get a bit of help from a more experienced friend and make sure you have the right gear to deal with a fish once its on the unhooking mat. The basics are simple and can be bought from any tackle shop. A suitably large enough unhooking matt and landing net is a must! A 20lb pike is often over 40 inches long and its no good hooking a monster if you can't get it to a safe place on the bank. A good strong pair of long nosed pliers and side cutters are an absolute must for removing the hooks! A big pike has a big mouth full of sharp teeth and i'm yet to find anyone willing to put their hand in there in favour of forceps! Remember to strike early rather than leave it late which can easily result in a deep hooked fish. A deep hooked pike makes unhooking so much more difficult and stressful for the fish.
I have to admit i'm not a fan of retaining pike and prefer to get them back in the water as soon as possible. There are various nets and tubes available for retaining fish safely but i favour getting them weighed photographed and released as quickly as possible.
Last week Craig and i took our friend Gareth to the Sixteen Foot drain for one of his first pike sessions. It was a gruelling day with little action when just before dark he landed this cracker!! With a little instruction and a few pointers Gareth unhooked the fish quickly and with confidence before i took this trophy image for him! Well done chap! Beginners luck!!!!!
27 October 2015 08:16
Grayling With Oliver Harper
For many years now, a really big grayling had been high on my list of target fish. Despite the desire to catch large grayling, opportunities in Norfolk are at best, impossible! The River Wensum, being the perfect chalk-stream, once held graying, especially at Costessey and Attlebridge, but today’s grayling population, now much like it’s barbel population, are very thin on the ground, and I wonder if any grayling now exist in the Wensum at all...
Such is the curse of the specimen angler that travelling for better fishing, and locations that hold your desired species, is now a very common occurrence. So after a few likely rivers and locations had been highlighted, Josh Fisher and I soon moved on to sorting out the required gear. Lightweight float rods, loaded with 2 lb mainline, and combined with Andrew’s Wire Stem Stick Floats, would be perfect for gradually working the bait down-river and occasionally holding back in the flow.
With autumn quickly upon us, float-fishing would also allow us to avoid the fallen leaves and small pieces of dying weed that always floats down-river at this time of year, and hinders bites. It’s also the perfect way to present a single red maggot on a size 16 worked slowly through a swim before moving on. Fishing slightly over depth and keeping the bulk shot around two feet away from the size 16, created the most natural presentation and worked instantly. This lightweight approach helped us stay super mobile and held our interest throughout the day. I get totally immersed in this type of fishing, as I stare in anticipation, willing the moving, red-tipped stick float to slide under.
Our first trip of 2015 was a huge success, spending the whole day wandering the banks, fishing any likely-looking glides right up until last-knockings. We only expected two or three bites each but by mid-morning we had actually lost count! Numerous grayling came to net, with an average weight of over 1.5 lbs, and I was thoroughly enjoying this new-found fishing. Waders donned with protruding maggot pouches, Josh and I worked each swim until the bites slowed, occasionally pausing the float downstream and allowing it to continue at a snail’s pace would often extract a few more fish before it was time to move on.
We both hoped it would only be a matter of time before that elusive 2-pounder or even a mythical ‘three’ would show, but as the day wore on, we couldn’t find the better fish. However we had managed to up our best grayling of the day to 1 lb 13 ozs - still a most impressive fish - but hopes began to fade, along with the light. But we couldn’t help ourselves and decided to move down river just one more time before packing away and starting the long drive home.
Rambling through the trees and brambles once more, we approached a lovely looking run. With bushes on either side, it caused the flow to slow, and snake past a deeper hole, which was also over-looked by over-hanging branches. Both baits were trotted simultaneously and bites quickly followed! Unfortunately Josh’s fish managed to shed the hook, but mine was giving a very aggressive account of itself... For the first time that day I was aware that my clutch was a little too tight and I swiftly adjusted it before the fish could clear the water and make for the marginal branches.The fight was on and the chance we’d both been waiting for had finally materialised after all. I quickly went into the ‘please don’t-drop-off' mode, crouching lower and allowing the fish to take line but at the same time, trying to keep things under control. Keeping the rod tip high, away from the over-hanging branches and with Josh poised with the net, I managed to gently bully the fish, as it drifted calmly toward the waiting net.
Peering down, Josh confirmed it was a good 2-pounder, so we let her rest while we readied the cameras and zeroed the lightweight sling. On the scales she went 2 lbs 4 ozs and my new grayling PB was secure. In the water she looked enormous and once the oxygen was back in her gills, that magnificent sail fin bristled upright into life as she pushed and swirled away to the depths.
What a way to sign-off a great day's fishing, however, looking back, even if that 2-pounder hadn’t come our way, I had thoroughly enjoyed this hands-on style of fishing, with the added bonus of using one of the purist forms of the angling arts - the trotted float.
06 October 2015 14:09
Anglers Mail Runs Win a Float Competition!
Anglers Mail Readers will have seen one of my lovely floats on the cover this week!
Have you Caught a notable fish on the float this week? If you have it might be a good idea to send the details off to the lovely chaps at Anglers Mail and if it cuts the Mustard you could win the very float used by John Bailey to catch Barbel from the River Wye!
06 October 2015 11:03
One Lump or Two! Josh Fisher Lands a Brace of Big Chub on the Wensum!
All of us know that sickening, gut wrenching sensation as a large fish pulls the hook and slips away into the abyss. I hate to say it but around six weeks ago i experienced exactly that…A large chub had decided to gatecrash my roach session and there was little I could do to prevent its efforts to seek shelter in a downstream bush. After a series of power lunges it was gone…the blasted hook had pulled from what was clearly a fish exceeding 6lb+. Lets just say that there was some colourful language flowing as i sat illuminated in the moonlight with my head in my hands. To add insult to injury i had slogged through numerous blanks prior to that session but at least i knew the pre baiting was starting to take effect.
Some weeks passed with just the occasional trip yielding little more the chublets, small roach and of coarse the plauge of our rivers- crayfish! With the perfect conditions occurring and the ghostly images of the monster chub haunting me, i decided to head back with confidence that tonight would be the night. The swim was baited with bread mash and left to rest until the edge of darkness. Any effort to fish it prior would simply be in vain as the dace and small roach would be impossible to get a bait through and disturb the swim. I would be lying to you if I said that the feeder had been settled for less than three minutes before tip steadily swung round and i was met with a heavy resistance…this was no gudgeon. After a somewhat nerve wrecking fish an incredibly long 6-8 chub found itself resting along the margin in my net…Another cast was just too much to resist as i gazed at the silhouette of my prize. Despite my scepticism against another fish and against the odds thats exactly what happened. This fish however had succeeded in finding a submerged branch…ten stressful minutes passed of pulling at different angles before I released the bail alarm and the fish swam downstream allowing a better angle and the she came free of the snag to join her sibling in my net.
In pure amazement of another 6+ (this one 6-2) in under half an hours fishing i attempted a rather clumsy brace shot which with two long fish, on your own, in the dark is not easy i can assure you. These short evening sessions of just a couple of hours all add up into some wonderful fish. They allow you to stay in tune with whats occurring down the river and can produce some wonderful surprises. Now I just have to find that elusive 7lb+ that i dream of, perhaps even a recapture of the 6-8 in march could make her the one….theres only one way to find out.
05 October 2015 17:24
Barbel On The Float First Timers Put Me To Shame!! Almost!!
Its been a busy week for me! Four full days of fishing, each with a keen friend desperate for their first barbel on the float. I always relish the opportunity to help friends and customers get to grips with float fishing, the fact that these guys were competent anglers helped but they were more used to sitting behind a feeder or lead than trotting a float.
Both had never used a centrepin or donned chest waders so they would undoubtedly be out of there comfort zone. Being knee deep in water while concentrating on a turning pin and distant float takes some getting used to but the guys soon gained confidence and took it in their stride.
The river was in great form although low and unusually clear the fish didn't seem to mind and soon had their heads down over the bed of hemp i had laid. After a few hints and pointers the float started to dip and the barbel were going wild! Both guys were getting regular bites and soon smashed my PB stick barbel with fish of 10.8 and 11.10, there were smiles were priceless!! Beginners luck!! I just had to retaliate and redeem myself with that illusive stick float double.
I grabbed the rod when opportunity and aching arms allowed. It was clear our swim had a significant number of barbel in it and i soon struck into what was clearly a very respectable fish! It stayed low in the water, wouldn't be rushed and felt heavy through the rod. After a lengthy battle the fish was thumping around in front of me and eventually an absolutely pristine conditioned barbel of 12.4 was in the net!! I was dumfounded!!
It still surprises me that such big fish will take two tiny maggots.
Between the three of us we took well over 30 fish and lost a few to inevitable hook pulls from the light tackle. 4 barbel were over 10lb and many more were nearing the mark.
The final day a took my Dad for his first barbel but after a 9.14 on the first trot while setting up the float we never had another bite despite making a couple of moves to other stretches! My luck had finally ran out! Sorry Pops! I'll get you one next time! Promise!!
26 September 2015 18:08
Barbel on the Stick Float
After my recent 9.6 stick caught barbel i decided to go back and try for the illusive double figure one!! Barbel on the trotted float is certainly a challenge but for me the float approach is so much more interactive than sitting behind feeder rods and watching tips all day.
The set up is pretty simple, on this occasion just a small 4no 4 carbon stem stick float, i usually have a selection and often change if the conditions dictate. A narrow drum 4.5" centrepin with 4lb line to a size 16 hook and 15 foot float rod. I prefer the 15 foot rod as it helps to correct the line and keep control of the float at distance but you can get away with a 14" or even a 13' on shallower swims.
Bait is just as simple, a couple of pints of caster and maggots, a few bags of hemp and perhaps a tin of corn as a change bait if i need to fend off the minnows. Baiting is key, keep feeding the swim regularly! As a rule i feed little and often with maybe a bit from each box every trot through and if the bites and fish start coming just increase the amount of feed.
Yesterdays session started with a 4lb chub on my very first cast followed by what felt like an enormous fish, i was certain my first stick double was on the cards! Unfortunately it turned out to be a near 11lb pike which had taken my two maggots square in the mouth!! You never know what you're gonna catch with maggots!!
Barbel are an extremely hard fighting fish and the nature of small hooks means some barbel simply come off and in turn can easily disturb the swim. The pike had already ran riot plus i managed to lose a couple of barbel right in the baited area and the fish seemingly dispersed. Unsurprisingly a good hour of only small perch and roach followed. The fish usually don't go far so I kept introducing maggots, hemp and caster with every trot through and eventually struck into what was clearly a barbel bite that bumped my rod tip as the float was pulled under. After an arm aching battle a 9.4 barbel was in the net and the very next cast was followed by another of around 6lb just in time for a passing angler to take a pic for me.
Another good few hours of fishing but i still need to get that double, hopefully before winter takes hold. I already have two days planned for next week! I will keep you all posted on developments!
06 September 2015 16:11
Hampshire Avon Barbel
I try to get down to the Southern rivers at least a couple of times a year. The sheer beauty of the chalk streams are worth the long journey alone but the river that i find most alluring is possibly the most difficult to fish! Don't be mislead by its wonderful "full of fish" look, the Hampshire avon is a tough tough river so you will need to do your homework to get the most from it. I have been extremely lucky over the years to fish with some incredible anglers and Kevin Grozier has literally written the book on the Avon and caught hundreds of its double figure barbel! When Kevin invites me down for a couple of days of fishing my confidence levels rocket!
Our session on the river was held off for a week due to heavy rain which would not only have been unpleasant to fish in but meant the river was flooded so we opted to postpone till the weather was better. On arrival the water was incredibly clear and thick with streamer weed running between some nice gravel beds where we planned to place out baits. Avon barbel seem to come in the hours of darkness so the plan was to fish into the night using feeder tactics. It was a significant walk to our chosen stretch of river so i reluctantly scaled down my tackle and left my float gear in the car which is a shame as its always nice to pass the daytime hours trying for roach and dace.
The few hours of light were spent feeding the swim in readiness for the evening but as good as the river looked the tips remained motionless all night! Perhaps a bright moon and clear skies hampered us but i was certain i had kept quiet and well back from the bank so not to disturb any barbel that may have been nearby. The walk back to the car gave us time to chat and discuss the following evening. Many anglers would move to a different swim but both Kevin and i decided to return the following evening, it looked so promising and having already fed the swims it seemed a good choice.
The following day was much more overcast and Kevin seemed to think we would stand a better chance if the cloud cover remained into the night. I went through the same motions of the previous day by baiting the swim intermittently but this time I opted not to recast the rods after sun set. I knew the baits were in the right place and clear of weed so i settled in low down and back from the water. The last half hour of fishing arrived and i was beginning to think perhaps we wouldn't catch when my upstream tip jagged slightly then hooped round and i was into a significant fish. I knew at once it was big fish and after a lengthy battle a new PB of 13lb 7oz was in the net!
A big thanks to Kevin for a great couple of days fishing on a wonderful river!
03 August 2015 18:19
On The Ebro For Catfish, Carp and Roach
Just returned from a splendid week of fishing in Spain with Paul from 'On The Ebro'. Time was short but we saw a lot of the river and caught some big cats and carp too. Paul even managed to put me on to some steaming roach in the weedy shallows. There were upper two's and possibly 3's among the shoal but just as we had them feeding and managed one over 1lb the sun came out in force and the shoal disappeared into deeper water. Well done on finding them Paul, literally first step out of the motor and there they were!!
We gave the Cane rod and mitchell 498 a whirl every day but the fish seemed to come on any rod but that one! We always gave it the best chance but no matter where we cast a bait we couldn't seem to get a take on it! Eventually we took a catfish of around 25lb which was great fun but it was clear it would take much much more and could cast a 6 or 8oz lead 100 yards with ease!
We had one blistering take on it one evening and the spool peeled line off with the strangest single tone duck call sound, unfortunately the fish slipped the hook leaving us laughing and crying in equal measures. Undaunted we trotted livebaits with it, we fished pellets we did everything possible but the fish kept coming to other rods!! But what fish they were!! A pair of really big cats left me aching and bruised! One of them was a particularly long fish measuring 6' 3" and the fight was unbelievable, i didn't think i'd ever get it in!
The good thing about booking with 'On The Ebro" is Paul's intimate knowledge of the river. Paul is a proper coarse angler and its experienced guiding and fishing you get from him! There's no rowing out kilo leads 300 yards and sitting on rods for a week although he can accommodate that and much more.
In many ways i was a problem customer and wanted to see different stretches of the river. I wanted to experience the wildlife and find the more obscure species like roach and rudd. I had counted out night fishing in favour of eating out with Jackie who incidentally had never cast a line in her life! None of it put Paul off and despite the river being continually up and down between unusual hot to cold spells with a few thunder showers in between he still managed to put us on the fish.
At the end of the week we had taken at least 30 fish including two monster cats and carp to 25lb. All that remains now is to get booked in for next season to see if i can settle the score with the cane rod! Perhaps i'll make another so i can fish a pair! Maybe a vintage centrepin would be fun with a 150lb cat on the other end? Now there's a thought.
Thanks Paul for a really fun week!!
09 July 2015 14:09
PAC, Pike Anglers Club Gazette floats
Here they are, finished and ready for Septembers PAC convention!
These were a colossal amount of work and took a long time to finish. A limited edition of 25 numbered and signed Gazette bobs. Each has the PAC logo to the front and reverse side and are made from painted balsa bodies and greenheart stem fitted with a strong gold plated wire eye. They will be available at the PAC convention in September but many are spoken for already so be sure to get your orders in asap to avoid disappointment. This is a one off opportunity for a very spectacular and highly collectible float.. Simply Get in touch to place your order.
06 July 2015 18:26
Mad Dogs and Chub fishermen!!
Its the hottest day of the year, i have just sat through near six hours of Josh tattooing my arm in a bid to appease my mid life crisis! I have to admit i don't deal with the pain well and being one of those people with a phobia to needles and injections in hindsight perhaps a tattoo wasn't the best of ideas! Outside the air conditioned studio the temperature is soaring and in my faint and fragile state naturally we decide to go chubbing on the Wensum!
Hot sunny days are perfect for trotting chunks of crust down the river. Its just the kind of fishing i have grown very fond of and its so simple! Just find a stretch of water that looks like Mr Chevin might frequent, hurl in a few bits of bread crust and watch them glide downstream. Keep a low profile and its generally not long before one is taken and once he's given away his whereabouts simply cast another in the same area, if its presented correctly you should be into a fish!
Small chubber floats are ideal although just about anything will do, we opted for little stick floats this time as thats all we had with us but they worked fine and we had a great afternoon of chub fishing.
Josh is well versed at this method and with the Wensum on his doorstep he's got it off to a tee taking as many as 30 chub in a session! All you need is a bag or two of bread, a float rod and small bag of essentials and your all set!
Get out there while the sun is still shining!! It wont last forever!!
04 July 2015 16:02
Fen Boy Three!! 3.00 Fenland River Rudd
Yesterday i was on the river, i lost two floats, the wind was blowing the fish were skittish and i really really struggled all day. So bad was the session that after retreating for home i decided to call a close to my rudd fishing on that particular stretch of the river and try a few other spots. This morning i was sorting out some floats for Josh Fisher who has helped enormously with my rudd fishing and the design of my new self cocking rudd floats, 3 of which i had just varnished so i opted to get out on the bank and give them a try.
So, new floats in hand i found myself walking along the drains eagle eyed for flashes of gold. The sun was blazing and i was just coming to the end of my first bottle of water having covered a quite some distance. This usually means i turn tail and fish the stretch through on my way back to the car. Just as i slurp the last H20 from my plastic bottle i see three fish near to some reeds on the far bank. I quickly bait the hook with flake and cast the float near to the fish. The second the bait hits the two smaller fish head toward the float and the larger of them took the bread without hesitation.
I can't say rudd put up much of a fight but with 15 foot of float rod and 3lb line i generally try to leave them at distance mid river while i scale the steep bank and extend the landing net to its maximum by the time this is executed most rudd are ready for the net. I immediately knew this one was a special fish so a quick call to my Dad saw him on the bank brandishing his rather expensive scales/tripod. As the scales took the strain of the Sainsbury plastic bag containing the fish we were blown away to see the needle turn to just over 3lb.
How fortunes can change in a day and i have to say i feel particularly blessed, i never for a moment thought id catch a 3lb'er.
These are the latest self cocking Rudd floats which have done the business for me me so far this season. Made from balsa with quill inserts loaded with shot they are perfect for surface fishing for those big beautiful rudd!
02 July 2015 13:57
A Tench Summary.
Before I continue to write I feel that I owe an apology to both the frequent readers of the blog aswell as my fellow team members for my lack of contribution recently. A combination of being very busy tattooing and fanatic fishing are responsible for my absence.
As I'm sure many of you are already aware this spring has been historical for big tench with multiple 14lb fish hitting the banks! I was fortunate enough to experience and incredible campaign in which I landed four doubles, 10-0 (male), 10-02, 11-10 and possibly the largest authentic male of 11-1!
Although these fish feature highly in my prized catches it's not these that I wish to focus on, it is intact the way I caught them….Or more to the point, the way I did not!
I’d like you to imagine an idealic spring dawn, a warm south westerly breeze blowing towards you and that incessant bloody cuckoo that never stops. As the sun breaks over the trees illuminating the water beneath the hordes of freshly hatched insects, the unmissable sight of a paintbrush tail rolls over your bait. Surely a fish would soon be wallowing in the bottom of your net? One hour passes, then another. The fish are still present, by now fizzing and continually rolling all over the place until they gradually fade away again which giving you so much as a line bite.
This exact scenario is what many of us experienced on numerous occasions on my venue of choice which is renowned for being incredibly “moody” and unpredictable. At one point this year there was a period in which a fish did not hit the bank in two weeks despite capable anglers being present the entire time. Its on venues like this where I personally feel that bolt rigs are the only viable option as I simply can not watch a float tip for three days on end.
I fully admit that a screaming alarm has a charm of its own yet nothing can compare to the heart pumping moment when a float rises an inch followed by slowly sliding away. I cannot express to you that superior feeling of catching specimen fish on the float, it's simply unrivalled, there is not a single species that id rather catch another way.
I can only wish that I had of attempted to catch a tench exceeding double figures on the float this year yet the majority of my captures came at 50-80 yards in 12-18ft of water. Had the tincas of moved within distance I would certainly have given them my all.
Now that the river season is open I can whole heartedly promise to make full use of my beautifully crafted floats including some that myself and Andy have been experimenting with. If I'm to be perfectly honest with you I have already had the pleasure of catching numerous large fish on the rivers in the past three weeks including something rather special that I will cover in a separate piece shortly.
I wish both the rest of the team as well as all of our readers the very best in the new season!
29 June 2015 15:43
NPS Cane And Pin Day On The Trent
As a fresh face first season member of the Nottingham Piscatorial Society i was surprised to be invited along to their annual Cane and Pin day. As the name suggests its a day for likeminded society members and guests who have a penchant for the traditional, prime among which are split cane rods and centrepin reels.
The day starts out with everyone meeting for a chat before heading out in pairs to our chosen swims. As luck would have it i buddied up with my old friend Phil Humm who actually helped me to catch my first ever barbel on the river Wye! Phil is a barbel and chub magnet and it wasn't long before he landed a lovely fish of around 9lb just before we left to meet up at a local pub for lunch, beer and mull over the mornings fishing.
The afternoon saw Phil land another barbel of a similar size before he had to make tracks for home leaving me to fend for myself! After hearing reports of the other guys catching i had no intentions of going anywhere until i had a fish in the landing net!
The Trent is a beautiful river and a wonderful place to relax so i kicked back holding the old cane rod and touch legering waiting for a tweak on the line. It was late afternoon before i had my first bite and the rod was near torn from my hands by a very enthusiastic barbel! The power of these Trent fish always catches me by surprise, they are so incredibly strong! Soon a barbel of 8lb 4oz was in the net, admired and swiftly returned! With a sigh of satisfaction i decided to have one final cast before tackling down and going home. Within a minute of the bait settling the cane was bent double again with line being torn off the pin. Another long battle ensued before my new PB barbel of 11lb 7oz was in the net. There was nobody nearby to photograph me with it but what a fish, fin and scale perfect, an absolute beauty of a barbel caught in wonderful surroundings and on the cane and pin!!
The members fishing were: Keith Horsley, Tony Farrar, Harvey Gamble, Gerry Gamble, John Austerfield, John Haynes, Bob Brookes, Garr Wright, David Silcock, David Robinson, Dale Whibaker, Mick Jackson, Andrew Field.
Guests were: Garry Mills, Richard Harrison, Phil Humm, Andy Batchelor, Andrew Davis.
26 June 2015 11:20
Ruddy Hell!! Its River Rudd On The Float!!
I have been meaning to get on the Sixteen Foot drain to try for its Rudd for years and with the weather looking absolutely perfect yesterday i grabbed a rod and went for it! I have to say i think i got lucky with some of these fish, they seemed few and far between on the river but i had the rod baited and ready to cast the second i saw them sunning themselves in the clear water and it payed off! I had 6 over 2lb and had to flag down a car to photograph the biggest! Crazy!
22 June 2015 12:43
A Float On The Fens
The Fen drains are a joy to fish in the summer months and i find it incredible so few anglers venture onto them. This morning i was up and on the banks of the Sixteen Foot drain at first light with a pair of float rods. Fishing was light tench tackle consisting of 4lb line with little wagglers and a couple of maggots on a size 18 hook. All the action comes under the rod tip and this mornings short session saw a bite a cast from rudd, roach, bream, perch and tench topped of with a rather unexpected common carp which took off like a rocket on light tackle!! Even my old Dad managed a bream or two which was great considering he hasn't float fished for 40 years!! Not bad for 4 hours of fishing before work.
31 May 2015 17:12
Hot to Trot!! Looking Forward to a Summer on the Stick Float!
In anticipation of the river season due to open in a couple of weeks i have made a few stick floats in preparation. There's also a set of chubbers in case i fancy trotting a big chunk of meat!! They are made with balsa bodies with walnut and carbon stems and tipped with red and a yellow band i know these are gonna do the business!!
This year i will be spending some time on the Trent to try for its barbel, chub and roach. Last season i had the good fortune to fish the river with one of its best, Chris the Pin! Chris is a regular on the river and as the name suggests he's an absolute genius when armed with a float rod, centrepin and stick float.
Watching a stick float angler is always a joy and Chris is no exception. Its not just about letting the float glide downstream, he's constantly ringing the changes, correcting the line, changing the speed of the float, adjusting shot patterns and depth as well as repeatedly trickle feeding bait until the bites start coming! In the right swim the action can come fast and fishing delicate baits like maggot and caster theres a chance of just about any fish.
If you ever have the opportunity to fish with an angler who has mastered the stick float i advise you jump at the chance! You can learn an awful lot in a short space of time and In my view theres no finer way to fish!
Roll on the 16th!!
22 May 2015 18:29
Handmade PAC Gazette Floats
After recently booking a stand at the forthcoming PAC Convention it was suggested i make some suitable floats to celebrate the event. After a brief chat i was commissioned to make 25 PAC branded Gazette pike floats!
Here's the first of the batch, they are made from a hand turned balsa body fitted with a central stem shaped from a section of vintage greenheart salmon rod. Each float is painted green with a bright red tip then fitted with a neat wire eye and finished with the PAC logo.
These floats are strictly limited to 25 and will be available on the day at the PAC Convention on a first come first served basis so don't be late and miss out!!
08 May 2015 17:20
Tench on the Float with Sky TV's Tight Lines
Tench on the Float with Sky TV's Tight Lines
With Spring in the air JB and I were asked to film a tench float fishing piece for Sky TV's Tight Lines! Its always a little daunting when the cameras are rolling and the pressure to perform is ever present but even under challenging conditions the floats dipped a few times and we managed a nice fish or two.
I'll keep you posted when its due to be aired!!
04 May 2015 17:17
Carp and Coarse Angler, December 2008
Carp and Coarse Angler, December 2008
In 2008 i found a small tin of old fishing floats in my late Grandfathers tackle box. I have always credited repainting and renovating these tatty floats as the start of my float making career but if i am honest making floats from scratch came to me after reading this perch fishing feature by Terry Hearn.
In the pages he explains his favoured perch fishing methods and mentions the slider style of float he found best for trotting livebaits on the tidal Thames. Not only was i interested in perch fishing but his step by step float making guide and his thoughts on catching fish with floats made by your own hand inspired me to have a try!
My initial attempts were reasonable and it soon became clear i would need a lathe and specialist tools to make them with the quality finish i really wanted. By this time i was completely engrossed by float making and donated every spare minute i could to it.
I suppose all that's left to say is thanks Terry, if you would like a float or two making don't hesitate to get in touch.
02 May 2015 13:12
Classic Angling magazine. New Float Sells for £161
Heres a piece from No77 May/June 2012 issue of Classic Angling regarding a float i made. This particular float was a new design for me, it was made from several sections of Balsa and turned down to leave a pattern where the sections were fixed together. Its intricacy pricked the interest of my regular customers and i was inundated with offers for it. Not wanting to cause upset i informed all interested parties it would be listed on Ebay. The result was quite astounding and the float now resides in a tackle collection in Ireland!
If i am honest i wish i hadn't sold it now! The thought of making another makes me cringe as it was so incredibly fiddly and the only survivor of the five i started. The other four all ended up in the bin due to imperfections and glue marks on the joins. I know the article says £161 but if you count the post costs of £11 to Southern Ireland it boosts the overall cost to a staggering £172! Is that a record for a modern handmade float? I have heard some of my other rare floats changing hands for more in the past.
29 April 2015 12:19
Get Ready For Rudd!! New Lure Of The Float Puddle Chuckers.
New Self Cocking Puddle Chuckers
After seeing Josh Fishers success with last seasons rudd fishing we put our heads together to make some suitable floats to try out this summer. The plan was to make a self cocking Puddle Chucker style float incorporating quality materials like balsa and quill rather than the regular, soulless plastic floats found in tackle shops.
Heres the first of the results which i have to say i am over the moon with. They are weighted with split shot fixed inside two sections of quill with the joins obscured with a neatly whipped balsa body. Obviously they can be painted to your own requirements but we chose to keep these ones largely plain in colour apart from the dip pen ink artwork on the upper section.
28 April 2015 16:41
Lure Of The Float Press Updates
I have been lucky enough to be included in a few articles in the angling press over the years and i always keep reference copies as keepsakes. Mostly they have just been added to a pile of magazines and papers in the corner of my office or swiped by friends but a recent flick through some of them has prompted me into adding a press section to the web blog.
Here you can find many of the press articles from myself, JB and the Lure Of The Float team.
12 April 2015 09:54
First Tench Of The Season
With the recent spell of good weather JB and i thought it a good idea to kickstart our Spring tench fishing. Typically the weather turned with high winds and rain in torrents making float fishing difficult and unsurprisingly it was a slow morning. With wind blasting across the lake i found some deep water close in and fished the margins with the smallest tench drifter i had. Fishing remained tough going only managing a single bite and one tench before we made a dash for home. Still it was nice to get out on the bank and try out some new floats.
04 April 2015 15:54
A season Review
As i’m sure you are well aware the river season has come to a close. This offers many anglers including myself a chance to relax and reflect upon the past season as well as catching up on all those odd jobs around the house that we have neglected whilst we have been on the bank.
Over the past year I have fished the Fens of Cambridgeshire and the windswept reservoirs that at times were so rough I have felt nauseous. Lets not forget those small streams I have previously mentioned as well as my beloved Wensum, Yare and Bure. It is this variety of venues and species that keeps angling interesting as it is forever changing. Each month different from the last with new tactics and locations to experimented with.
This time last year I was creating a rough plan of where to be at the right times to catch my targets…a plan that if i’m completely honest changed dramatically due to a mixture of weather and new opportunities arising. The first two campaigns went perfectly to plan, in fact the first far exceeded my wildest dreams as it featured a colossal tench weighing 12lb 7 and my first tench of the year! Late may and early june were nothing short of fantastic as I experienced tench fishing at its very best. Don’t be mistaken, I faced many days blanking but when the fish were located action would follow rapidly. From 3am-9:30am one particular morning that will always remain with me was the final week of May. I had located some fish the previous evening, resulting in a brace of 7s just before dark, a sure sign that the morning would be a winner.
3am soon came around with a fish of 8lb 2oz. Over the next five hours I took 23 tench, using an entire gallon of maggots and desperately calling friends to bring me more bait! The best of that morning were 9-0, 9-3, 9-8, 9-8, 9-9 along with five others that exceeded 8. Once in june the action became even more manic providing you were in the correct swim. On several occasions I had amazing hits of fish yet the person occupying the swim next door would blank! This also happened to myself whilst my friend Darryn Stolworthy had a historic haul of five double figure tench to 12-2 whilst I only had a single bite over three days, an 8-0 male whilst fishing the next swim.
By the second week of june the tench had began to drop their spawn so my attention turned to fenland rudd. The fens are a wonderful yet very confusing at times as they are so barren, exposed and each drain is so similar to the last. Rudd can be incredibly difficult to locate, on more than one occasion I have spent hour after hour walking in unbearable heat without seeing a single fish. A quick word of warning to anybody who plans to fish the fens, you are often miles away from anywhere including your car so take as much water in your bag as possible as well as suncream and sunglasses. One of my friends became so dehydrated that he vomited on arrival back at his car. Despite the uncomfortable summer conditions, fenland rudd fishing is extremely enjoyable and out of all of my trips this year there was only one where I didn't catch a rudd exceeding 2lb!
I guess what I'm rambling about is that each campaign is unique and you will encounter different problems and triumphs within each one. At times moral can run low but you must keep slogging on through those tough days as eventually the rewards will come good. During the low moments your friends will always help to encourage you, help with information and tactics all of which combines to confidence.
The following season is one that I'm most excited by although I have kept my plans extremely flexible, all revolving around my goal of a 3lb rudd. No doubt I will be along side my fellow team members throughout this year especially Oliver Harper who I fish with most weeks. We each have our own plans and agendas but I'm sure we will continue to keep each other confident and motivated throughout our angling lives. One final word from myself, I would like to wish both the team and readers the very best of luck in the forthcoming year and I hope that you enjoy every minute.
25 March 2015 08:33
Early Season Carp
With winter loosening its grip on nature, the middle of March saw sunny conditions with a general upward trend of the thermometer. With thoughts of perch rapidly disappearing and feelings of carp rising I just had to start creeping around a couple of lakes. With only a heron stood sentinel-like for company I strained to see through the coloured water of a smallish lake that sees few anglers. My pellet mixture bucket was full to brimming with fresh supplies and depositing a few handfuls in various close-in spots I waited for the carp to give me a sign. But not on this occasion.
Back the following week and again likely looking spots soon had pellets tumbling down through the water. This time it was different, a little later one spot I looked into had disturbed debris billowing up like mini eruptions and, the dark shape of a least one carp evident.
The trusted worm (from my garden) coupled with an equally trusted Andrew Field ‘CB Margin Master’ float was lowered into the disturbed water. Soon the float was dancing around as fish continually brushed against the line and once was dragged along caught no doubt on a pectoral fin, but after a while you get to know what’s happening when stalking under the rod top. It wasn’t until I saw a momentary flash of a big flank as a carp flapped on its side in the area, that I knew a decent fish was about. Within a few minutes the float registered a proper lift bite as the float momentarily ‘bobbed’ then quickly rose and laid flat all in one swift movement. An upwards flick of the rod brought an almighty downwards yank on the rod top as all hell let loose.
Held hard the fish tried a number of times to vacate the swim and amid anxious moments with huge vortexes under the rod top I eventually managed to bundled the culprit into the net.
For a moment looking down across the back of the mirror made me catch my breath thinking this carp could be knocking on the door of 30lb. However, the scales revealed a grand looking 26lb 12oz mirror.
Placing the fish in a spot next door to recover I went back and peered again into the swim. Another billowing cloud of slit and bottom rubbish mushroomed up and out of this cloud came the big head of a carp, then seconds later the ‘cloud’ caught up with the carp and the head became obscured. So there was another equally big (or maybe larger) carp - which ten minutes later, after the captured mirror was returned - had disappeared from view taking any other carp with it. With the light starting to fade I packed away after ten minutes of intently looking into now vacant water.
24 March 2015 10:04
River Roach Experiences
I can't help but find myself being increasingly drawn towards one of Britain's most under rated fish, Rutilus Rutilus, the humble Roach. Their deep humped bodies lined with mirrored scales marked from many difficult years combined with their gentle nature draw me towards them as one of an anglers most worthy adversaries. Of course it is true that a roach will not present such a violent display of power and aggression as a pike or barbel yet they have a magnetic gravitude of their own. That shy tap tap tap upon the quiver tip and the sharp bobs on the float before it slowly slides away could not possibly be any more exciting when those weary old fish finally make a mistake.
It was John Bailey who wrote Roach-the Gentle Giants in 1987 going into depth with the habits of big roach and his experiences from the heydays, particularly within East Anglian rivers. As some of you may be aware both myself and John are both based in Norfolk in the Wensum valley which has unfortunately suffered badly from a mixture of disease, otter and cormorant predation resulting in the demise of what was some of the most fantastic roach rivers in the country. Im certainly not saying there aren’t any large roach left on the Wensum, they are still present in small isolated pockets and have a nomadic existence, making them increasingly difficult and frustrating to locate.
Within his book John wrote “I believe that a big roach is one of the most beautiful coarse fish. They are also one of the most difficult to catch.They are not greedy and they are constantly alert. A clumsy presentation or heavy approach is more fatal with roach than with almost any other species. In short they are a magnificent and worth while quarry.”
I was to find out exactly what it was that John meant by these wise words whilst trotting on a small crystal clear chalkstream. After what seemed like an eternity starring at endless motorways i had arrived at my chosen destination only to find that rain overnight had caused the river to rise and discolour slightly. More rain was forecast throughout the day inevitably leading to more discolouration therefore making the option of dace fishing difficult yet roach fishing more favourable. From my experience a little colour in the water is always favourable for big roach, easing them into a false sense of security and inevitably to fish on the bank…providing that your presentation is perfect.
On this particular day i had began with a small carbon stemmed stick float, bulk shot of 6 no6 with a further no12 dropper shot just 3 inches away from a tiny size 20. A frustrating biteless hour passed as i trickled maggots downstream with every cast until it dawned on me that the lack of action was due to my shotting pattern, I cannot stress just how much of a difference this can make. I rearranged into “shirt button” style and within just a couple of trots i found that sweet jagged thudding traveling through my rod and into my arm. The next two hours were frantic with both myself and angling partner taking numerous roach between 1-2 & 1-14 along with a smattering of large dace to 12oz! Unfortunately as the weather deteriorated so did the fishing…the river turning into a chocolate mess and the bites sadly ending.
Several more trips resulted into more fantastic fishing with the highlight being a fin perfect fish of 2lb 3oz on a day where the roach seemed to only be present in two tiny pockets hidden between overhanging snags. Interestingly my fish came from a swim that had previously been fished in the session until the action had slowed down and he had moved onto try new areas.
With the end of the river season drawing nearer and March 14th looming overhead i couldn't help but have one final burst at targeting a 2+ Wensum roach. I wont lie by saying i expected to catch such a fish as they are truly a very rare beast now. Yet against all odds during a short evening session i hooked into a fish that plundered downstream; of coarse thoughts of a stray chub corrupted my mind until the head shaking began. A nearside tree being my main concern and of course the fish headed towards it forcing me to apply as much sidestrain as i dare with a 1lb hook link and size 20. The fish turned….perhaps my luck was in…or so i thought. A huge silver back porpoised displaying its blood red dorsal confirming i had finally found my adversary yet with a single lunge my hook lost purchase. The entire rig flew past my head into a nearside tree loosing both fish and float.
Im sure the image of loosing that fish will continue to haunt me for many years to come, or at least until i finally get that Wensum 2. As for the loss of such a superb float, i guess i owe Andrew an apology and hope that he has the sympathy in his heart to continue building them for me.
09 March 2015 18:07
27 Years To Beat My PB!!
At 12 years old i caught my first pike from a Fenland drain. I can remember it well, Dad gave me a bunch of old pike tackle from the shed consisting of rusty snap tackle, tatty rod and reel combo that hadn't seen the light of day for years. Even at the tender age of 12 i was concerned the aging line that spiraled off the spool would be strong enough to cast out the giant half mackerel bait let alone reel in a pike! Once delivered to the river and Dad had made his way back home to a warm lounge i had already landed my first ever pike of 24lb 6oz!! Lucky lad you might imagine, but i can recall thinking it would take a long time to better such a fabulous fish. The years passed and winter weekends consisted of pike fishing those same Fen drains whenever work and family commitments allowed and although i came close i never beat that 24lb prize!
In a flash 27 years have flown by and after chatting with my Dad and long time fishing friend Craig Scott we decided to make a concerted effort to get on the bank to try for that elusive 20lb pike. Craig soon landed a 20 very early in the season and came close with a couple more 19's. Dad managed a pair of 19's and topped off his season with a 28.01 monster! My season was going in the right direction with a number of high doubles but i just couldn't seem to find that 20lb fish.
Dad with his previous PB of 19lb 6oz
Now don't get me wrong, i love fishing the Fens and feel extremely lucky to have so much water on my doorstep. The fens has its own unique beauty of huge skies, incredible sunsets and over the years I have grown very attached to its banks. The downside is the fishing can be particularly hard if you are unwilling to put in serious time and effort and even then it far from guarantee's big fish. The banks of many drains are steep and difficult to negotiate, combine that with a blisteringly cold and unchallenged wind it can be an extremely inhospitable place. My last session resulted in a broken, bent and mangled umbrella as well as rods blown off rests and baits washed into the margins which understandably bought the session to an premature close. Upon returning home despondent and utterly sodden from the nightmare Fen session John Bailey suggested we fish one of his still waters in Essex which held some very very large pike. Having previously fished this water on a number of occasions with little success i knew it wouldn't be easy but with the season drawing to a close i thought it might well be my last real chance of a 20lb'er.
My great friend Craig Scott with a big Fen Croc.
Having the lake to ourselves, as just a small team of three we opted to fish close for company and move swims every hour in a bid to cover as much of the lake as possible. With reasonably warm weather John suspected the pike may have moved into shallower water which suited the new mini pike sliders I specifically made for big shy biting pike! Previous sessions at this venue had seen pike pick up the bait and reject it quickly soon after feeling the slightest of resistance from larger floats so confidently armed with the new mini sliders we were ready to fish. Once settled following our third move the little float began to glide over the surface for about 8 inches then stop! I quickly picked up the rod and felt the line to confirm the fish was still in touch with my bait then lifted into it. I immediately realised it was a significant fish and undoubtedly the 20lb'er i had been so desperate to catch. It fought hard and held low in the water peeling line from the reel with long powerful lunges. Once landed and in the net it became clear how lucky i was, not only was it a gigantic fish but only one single hook from one of the trebles had nicked the fish in its scissors! Nonetheless it was on the banks and weighed in at 28.01!!
Interestingly it was the very same weight as my Dads Fenland pike caught just two weeks previous so now we both have PB pike of 28.01!! What are the odds of that!! In all I think our Fen Pike season has been quite a success! Between the three of us we took a lot of pike including a pair of 20's and numerous high doubles to 19.14. Craig stamped his authority early in the season with a 20lb 6oz fish and I think Dad's 28 took us all by surprise as it was his first full winter of pike fishing! Being on the river 4 to 5 days a week certainly paid dividends for him and nobody deserved it more. Do i wish my 28 had come from the Fens? I certainly wish Dad could have seen it but other than that it hasn't bothered me in the slightest, besides he can see my Fenland 30 i plan to catch next season!!
Not a Fen fish but at 28.01 i was absolutely over the moon!!
26 February 2015 14:39
Forgotten Small Stream Fishing
Meandering their way through both our countryside and towns are streams that we simply pass daily without giving them so much a second glance. Perhaps the only time they are recognised is by small children who terrorise the inhabiting minnows chasing them around with nets and jam jars in those long summer days. I myself was equally as guilty of neglecting these hidden gems until a few months ago whilst exploring the county in hope of some untapped dace potential with my regular angling companion Oliver Harper.
Oliver had mentioned to me that in the late 70s and early 80s many of Norfolks prolific pike anglers regularly visited tiny streams and rivers to obtain a regular source of livebait, something that i believe John Bailey also wrote about within “Chub and Dace”. These days are of coarse now long gone and things may have changed since then. The tails of “dace too large to use as bait” have faded away but this doesn't mean there isn't a world of surprises out there to be discovered.
It was whilst standing apon a bridge peering into what appeared to be a lifeless crystal clear stream no more than 3ft deep (the majority being mearly 6”-2ft in depth) that i foolishly turned to Oliver and uttered the words “Theres nothing in here mate, lets go”…well out of what seemed like pure defiance a small fish surfaced sending ripples across the water…what a fool i looked.
With new found enthusiasm we rapidly retrieved our float tackle from the car and spaced ourselves 30ft apart. On the first trot i took a nice dace followed by a roach, it wasn't long before Oliver brought over a small wild brown trout, something we very rarely encountered previously other than occasional accidental large one whilst chubbing. With light levels against us we soon retired only for me to return the following morning and within minutes found myself playing a series of hard fighting wild browies, this time much larger with fish to over 2lb coming to the net. Now i’m fully aware a 2lb trout is not going to shake the angling scene but you must remember that these streams i’m referring to are so narrow in places that it would be possible to lay across them and equally in parts are no deeper than ankle depth! Trout certainly aren't the only species that put in a surprise appearance, the dace were also of a surprising size with some going to 9oz!
Each of the streams we discovered was a world apart from the last, featuring their own unique charms and of coarse diverse results. Some mearly contained occasional fish where as others held pockets of dace and roach so thick that both myself and Oliver would catch continually for a couple of hours at a time! The amount of trout that put in an appearance is what shocked me the most, as i previously mentioned they are a species that unless on the very upper Wensum i had never caught consistently however every single stream we fished had an abundance of them, all with golden flanks splattered with red and black speckles.
During this mini campaign i contacted Andrew to have a set of small carbon stemmed stick floats made, each one slightly larger than its predecessor to cover the various scenarios that would be encountered. Andy crafted them with absolute perfection before coating the bodys with a nice deep natural brown to remain inconspicuous in such gin clear water. The results far exceeded anything that i had expected and i must say i’m sure it wont be long before i find myself pestering him to build me a larger set for tackling larger rivers such as the wensum.
18 February 2015 16:50
Dads 28.01 Fenland Pike
Andrew!! Get down here quick!! Its a 30!!
Now, I have been here before with Dad and when the call says its a suspected 25lb'er its 19 so i usually don't get too excited but when he called this morning suggesting he'd landed a 30! I thought i ought to get to the river quick sharp!!
The day started with no less that 4 missed runs and a despondent call from Dad telling me all about the tale of woe. The bites had all come form one place so i suggested he group his rods tighter to the area of the missed takes. Within an hour the "Gazette Float" float slid below the surface and after a short battle the fish was in the net. Once i arrived at the river i looked into the net from above and guessed 24lb but when i lifted the net and saw the fish on its side it quickly became clear it was substantially bigger!
He has smashed his personal best by over 8lb with this 28.01 whopper
18 February 2015 11:09
Give It Some Stick!! New Handmade Dome Tip Carbon Stem Stick Floats
Perhaps a little premature but after making a set of stick floats for Josh Fisher i excitably got to work on a comprehensive set for myself in anticipation of the new season! All being well these should cover me for most situations on the Wye, Wensum and Trent and probably any other river i find myself fishing. Made from balsa with carbon stems they are also made with two tip colours. They are strong and resilient floats with minimal thread, paint and varnish giving excellent buoyancy. For added effect and my own personal gratification i made them in 6 different colours.
I can't wait to get on the river and fish them!
If you would like me to make you a float or two don't hesitate to get in touch, i am generally always available via phone or e mail.
07 February 2015 09:08
A Tiny Float for Massive Carp!
I often refer to carp fishing as the Formula 1 of angling and the pinnacle of fishing technology but it seems a few carp anglers are going back to there float angling roots when the alarms aren't beeping! Long time customer and unhinged Norwich City fan Stuart Willimott recently returned a couple of special reed stalkers i made for him painted in the distinctive team colours. Stuart ordered the floats to use on a French carp fishing holiday with incredible success by landing this 42lb 8oz fish!
The tiny reed stalkers are specifically made to fish the margins where these monsters are regularly found to feed. All too often i see anglers casting baits as far as possible when the fish are literally at their feet! My advice is always take a look at whats happening close to the bank and never discount the humble little float for the biggest carp. My reed stalkers have taken numerous 30 and 40lb carp in recent years and have also been used to great effect by John Bailey to catch shy biting chub on the Wensum.
Stuart has returned the float to me so i can inscribe it with the weight of the fish. I am guessing it will then be retired so he can keep it to treasure the memories of its giant catch. Oh! Did i mention it was caught with cane and pin too?
05 February 2015 11:35
The Hunt For A Fenland 20lb'er Continues!
Recently retired, my old Pops has been putting his new found freedom from the daily grind to good use by pike fishing on the Fen Drains. He's putting in the hours and after a series of blanks throughout the recent cold snap he's just been rewarded with this blinder caught this very morning.
I received the call about 10am from a flustered Dad explaining i had to come and photograph a 20lb'er!! I grabbed the camera and was on the bank with him in five minutes to confirm the weight at 19.2! Making it his second biggest pike ever!
Big Smiles all round but after a catalogue of mid to high doubles we are still hunting that illusive Fen 20! With Dad on the bank 4 to 5 days per week i,m guessing it wont take long before he's blessed with the prize.
As you can imagine, Dad is a strong advocate of my floats and favours my Gazette pike bobs! Keep flying the flag Dad!! Surely that 20 is just around the corner!!
03 February 2015 13:13
Fenland Thirties Pike Float. Ltd Edition of 10.
Some months ago Denis Moules asked me to repair some of his old pike floats that had started to decay after years of fishing the Fen Drains. Although they were no longer any good to fish with Denis said he was loathed to bin them because the once readily available cork floats he preferred using had becoming very difficult to acquire in recent years.
Once the floats were ready Denis mentioned he was writing the second edition of The Fenland Thirties so i immediately got to work on the lathe and made up a pair of his favourite pike bobs bearing the name of the new book. He was so pleased with them it was suggested i make a ltd edition of 10 for lucky customers to buy.
If anyone is keen and would like to take one be sure to give me an email or call quickly! 4 of them are already spoken for and i will probably keep one for myself too.
As can be seen from the dimpled finish they are made fully from cork and remain faithful to the same shape and design as Denis's original floats. Numbered 1 to 10 they will make a fabulous addition to any float collection or to use on the Fen Drains. Who knows, perhaps you will land a Fenland Thirty of your own!!
16 January 2015 11:08
A Walk on the Wensum
John Bailey and I are frequently in touch about this and that, most especially Norfolk fishing. I know John is particularly desperate to try and locate some big, preferably two pound roach. He’s already asked me about the stretches of the river closer to the city and on Sunday I decided to walk a few beats just outside the city boundaries. I kicked off at one of the well-known mills and just had a look above the sluices along a stretch of river that is quite slow, deep and wide and has held big roach, chub and bream, too, in the past. I believe John himself fished there during the 1970s and it would be nice if he could pick up a fish from his historical stretches.
I have to say I was really disappointed to find two miles of half-burnt rubbish, discarded fishing gear, beer cans and even an Eastern European porn mag, or at least the remains of it. My fears are obviously that the stretch is being poached and fish that are already facing all manner of problems are being taken away for an easy meal.
Of course, I can’t prove any of this and the last thing I want to do is make unjust accusations. When fish are thin on the ground, though, it’s heartbreaking to think that they are not being protected and being left open to this kind of abuse.
It’s a sad thing to report but it could be that John is better off fishing the upper and middle stretches that he is more expert upon.
25 August 2014 10:40
Handmade Kingfisher and Jay Feather Cork and Fluted Balsa Pike Floats
These are some of my favourites!! These ones have it all, cork bodies, quill tips and split cane stems.
They always look splendid!!