Iain Macmillan – His Secrets in Carp Fishing

 

The chod rig has transformed the way I fish and how I approach situations, but they have to be perfect or you’ll lose fish

Ting Tong answers the regular questions he gets asked on the bank.

Rigs

It’s such a wide topic that I could write the whole piece just on rigs, but my main outlook always depends on what I know about the chosen venue, what the make-up of the lakebed is like, and the size of fish I’m actually angling for. For weedy or cluttered bottoms I tend to use two rigs. I won’t go into massive detail as I’m sure you know what they are: the chod and the solid bag. Both of these rigs give me everything I need whilst in or around the green stuff. Firstly, none of them tangle, which for me is a massive YES! The last thing I want is to reel in a rig that I thought should have produced a bite, only for it to be in a tangled mess. These rigs are my first choice for a hell of a lot of my angling, as all the venues I fish are weedy. I’m very mobile so when I move on to showing fish, I know I’m in with a shout, my confidence in them is so high. I think they both put the fish in trouble once taken in, so another massive plus on that front. Whilst the chod is now massively overused, I know mine are tied to perfection, so I’m not worried in the slightest about aborted takes or dropped fish.

A lot of anglers’ problems come because there’s almost too much information on what rig they should be using. Opinions will always vary, and everyone in a magazine or on social media has their own favourites. That’s why there’s confusion if you’re new to the sport. However, once you’ve found a couple of rigs that suit a few different situations, stick to them. If you’re continually swapping and changing rigs then you won’t know why you’ve caught, should a few bites occur – or indeed if it was the change that incurred the success! I sometimes wonder if I should be trying the latest all-singing rig to improve my catch rate, but I know what I use works and, more to the point, I’m super confident in it. Sure they get ejected with ease, but in my opinion so does every rig. Sometimes you’ve just got to play the percentage game and trust your own instincts that you’re angling with a rig you know is tried and tested for you – not because you’ve seen something that looks good so surely will equal more carp on the bank. All that will do is cause more confusion, as opposed to giving you the answers you’re after.

The solid bag is still a massively underused approach – ignore these bad boys at your peril
The key with any bait is confidence (I really should use the Source more, as each time I smell a bag, it simply oozes carpyness)

Bait

Let’s get this straight from the off: I know practically nothing about what makes a good or bad bait! This isn’t about comparing any particular companies out there, and I’m not going to list masses of ingredients. It’s all a bit over my head, if I’m honest. However, I’ve been privileged over the last 15 years to use bait that’s been tested and served its apprenticeship from people who really do know their onions.

Again, to the newcomer to carp angling, bait must be a massive head-battering process: which company, which mix, which colour, etc? Whether it’s peer pressure to actually act like you know every little ingredient that constitutes a good bait, I don’t know, but you can clearly see why the big bait outfits are so successful. They literally sell confidence in a bag with their endless lists of top quality baits that really do produce the goods for anglers all over the world.

The end goal, but it’s understanding the journey and sticking to what you know that breeds longevity and consistency

I’m a bit of a stickler for a nut bait. At times I do think that maybe a change would do me good, but like the rigs, if it isn’t broken, then why try fixing it? I’m luckier than most because at Dynamite I have two great nut-based baits to choose from, and I have total faith in both. These are the Monster Tiger Nut and the Red-Amo. Both have caught me massive fish from all over Europe, not just the UK, and I never doubt either of these baits in any situation whatsoever. Don’t ask me what’s in them, as I don’t have a clue; I leave all that to the experts in the bait lab at the factory. All I know is if I fish well and apply the bait in the correct manner, I catch carp.

On the flipside, if I do need to call upon a fishmeal-based bait, I have the equally amazing Crave to go at, which I believe is one of Terry Hearn’s recipes. I think it’s a blend of some of Terry’s all-time favourite fishmeal combinations and attractors. Well, anything that Terry vouches for is good enough for anyone, let alone me! I do like to have a nut and a fishmeal bait at my disposal, as certain waters respond better to certain types of bait. Take Wellington, for example, which was totally dominated by various nut-based baits. The lads that refused to change from their fishmeals (and good ones at that) struggled in comparison to the nut lads. The only water where I found both the Monster Tiger Nut and the Crave to be on equal terms was Farriers, but I was careful on how much of the Crave I introduced during the cooler times in the spring.

I’ve always worked on the principle that if a bait smells good to me, then I can almost visualise it working for me out in the pond, and the three Dynamite baits I use do just that. The Crave quickly goes a very washed-out, dull pink, whereas the Monster Tiger Nut is a pale cream to start with, so again washes out in a very short space of time. One of the key factors when the lab produced the Red-Amo was its colour; it’s rolled as a dull pink, so as soon as it’s under the surface it doesn’t draw any warning vibes about being too overpowering or high in colour.

The Red-Amo was always going to be compared to the original Tiger Nut, such was the original’s huge popularity, so only subtle changes were needed in order to raise the profile of the Amo – which I must say the bait barons did perfectly. I’ve already mentioned the colour, which I really like, but the other noticeable change is the sweet palatant added. I’m told the rest of the make-up of the Amo is exactly the same as its brothers. From my findings, it’s starting to produce in a similar manner to my all-time favourite Tiger Nut.

Tackle.

It’s fair to say that an angler’s rods and reels are simply an extension of their arms. When I’m casting I like to imagine continuing through the water and laying my trap exactly where I’d ideally place it by hand, so a smooth and accurate style is always called for. I have a couple of different setups to suit all situations. For example, I wouldn’t use my 3-5oz Intensity rods for fishing 15 yards from the bank; I’d opt for a well balanced, small-water setup like an X-Aero Baitrunner twinned with a soft actioned 2¾lb XS1.

My boyhood has been restored with my smaller water setup – it’s an absolute joy to play fish on and you really do get so much more ‘feel’
Line can be a personal thing – I stick to something I know won’t let me down

All too often I see anglers rushing out to buy massive test curved rods, thinking it will make them the next Terry Edmonds, Mark Hutchinson or Mike Dagnall, when in truth they only need to cast 80 yards. Big casting is all about weight distribution and getting the blank to take the load before unleashing. If you don’t have the technique to compress it, a stiffer rod will only hinder you. The last 12 months have seen me use my smaller water setup for a lot of my personal angling, and even with fluorocarbon main line on, I can still cast a 2½oz lead over 100 yards. Also the softer blank makes for a lovely tussle with the fish as the rod bends double. Just visualise where you’ll be fishing for the coming year and don’t use something that is going to create you problems with lack of compression or hook pulls further down the line. Likewise, if you’re on a big water where you need to be fishing at maximum range then use appropriate gear that’s made for the job in hand.

Line is another thing that anglers swap and change more times than their hookbaits, yet for years I’ve used just two types of mono and fluorocarbon. I think line is as personal as bait, but it needs to be above everything else in priority – for the obvious reasons. If you use a substandard line, then expect substandard results, it’s as simple as that. At times line has to go to hell and back in use, and any blemishes will result in a breakage for sure. I’ve used Shimano lines for as long as I can remember, and my favourite is Tribal Carp Mono. I know this line won’t let me down in any situation, and like the rigs and bait, I’m so confident in it that it would take something very special to make me change. That’s the same for anglers everywhere; they get to trust certain things in their fishing that really do matter to them.

I’m not saying my approach is the only way to be, but it’s one I know works in my world. What I try to do is remove any doubt whatsoever when I’m chasing big fish, then all I have to do on the bank is find some carp to have a go for. I don’t have to worry about my rigs, bait, or any of my kit, as it’s all stood the test of time, year in, year out. When you put it in simple terms like that, this carp fishing lark doesn’t have to be as technical as some would have you believe.

I can cast a flurocarbon main line 100 yards with my X-Aero Baitrunners, so it’s not all about big pit reels
What you should be doing on the bank: watching and listening – nine times out of 10 the carp will tell you where you need to be
If you’re fishing a bigger pit then you’ll need kit to suit the distances required, but you don’t need 3¾lb rods unless you’re casting over 150 yards
Try to eliminate all doubt from your mind, then all you have to do is find some carp!
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