This year, on the waters I’ve fished, weed growth has been a real issue. Even though there’s a definite feeling of autumn in the air, dense visible surface weed is still commonplace on some waters. With this in mind, it’s no wonder that I’ve received a lot of questions on both the social media sites as well as at the Nash indoor shows and fishery roadshows on how to tackle the dreaded green stuff.
Although many anglers prefer to avoid weed, it's worth remembering that carp are drawn to it like a magnet and learning to angle effectively in and around weed is a vital skill.
We need to approach weedy waters with confidence
FEEL THE DONK
When I’m looking for a fishable spot on a weedy venue, I need to feel the lead hitting the bottom. If possible, I prefer to achieve this with my marker rod. But in extreme weed, the marker can be more of a hindrance than a help and in these situations a simple lead on a braided mainline can be the best option. Although ‘the donk’ doesn’t necessarily indicate a clean weed free bottom, for me it does indicate a fishable spot that provides a good chance of hooking and landing a carp.
I’m a bit of a perfectionist, so if I’m leading about and find a potential spot, I will clip up, attach my Weed Marker and explore the spot in more detail. My preferred choice is the ultra buoyant Nash Weed Marker, which can usually be teased to the surface even in the thickest of jungles.
THE RIGHT TACKLE
Obviously ‘Fish where they are’ is one of the golden rules of carp fishing and if I see signs of carp I will usually chuck a bait at it. But on weedy waters it’s worth remembering that the closer in you fish, the more chance there is of landing a hooked fish.
Once I’ve located a fishable spot the next part of the puzzle is to create a feeding situation, but we’ll come back to that shortly. First let’s talk about tackle. Strong line is essential and for me it has to be NXT D-CAM in 18lb, but whatever brand you favour, choose wisely. Also make sure you test a sample and make sure it meets your expectations, believe me, not all lines live up to the manufacturer’s claims.
At 0.43 mm diameter, the 18lb De-Cam may seem extreme but its very supple and virtually invisible in weed and the extra diameter provides exceptional abrasion resistance.
As well as a seriously strong line, an equally dependable leader is also important to me, as the weed will often contain mussels and snails, both of which have the potential to damage or even cut through the strongest of line. The Diffusion Camo Leaders I use are rated at 40lb breaking strain, but my bench tests have shown them to be even stronger. They also provide almost unbreakable abrasion resistance. Again, they are virtually invisible so that’s a few more bonus points in my favour.
Strong tackle, critically balanced hook bait and a hooklink slightly longer than the weed – simple but very effective
Slack lines are very much in vogue these days and they can provide stealth and a serious edge in specific situations, but in weedy situations I don’t believe slack lines provide much of an advantage. A tight line is my preferred option; it doesn’t seem to spook fish in a weedy environment and it also maximises bite indication, which is crucial. The moment a carp picks up my hook bait in or amongst weed, I want to know about it in order to get the fish under control and away from the stuff as soon as possible.
LOSE THE LEAD
Chod rigs are the first choice for many anglers fishing in weed. It’s an easy option and, although if set up correctly chods do ensure that the hook bait is accessible in weed, I don’t think they are the most reliable hookers. And chods don’t always provide the best chance of extracting a carp in weedy conditions.
There’s a safety aspect to this, too; if a carp was to get snagged and the weed prevents the bead from passing over the end of the leader, you may unintentionally have created a death rig!
Obviously, the Naked Chod is another popular option, but it doesn’t guarantee complete safety and there is a line of thought that suggests that fishing a naked line with no leader or tubing in thick weed can increase the chance of scale lift and damage.
Some kind of reliable lead release system is, in my view, important, as it minimizes the chance of the fish becoming completely snagged in weed. With the lead gone, usually the fish will rise quickly to the surface, often immediately on the take, which helps the angler to quickly gain control of the fight. Whether you prefer an in line drop off or Weed Safe Bolt Bead, once tried I’m sure you’ll be sold on the idea.
GET THEM FEEDING
The baiting situation is also important. In my experience, a small quantity of 15mm boilies can prove next to useless in weed. I’ve no doubt they do get eaten at some point, but being a short session angler I need to get the fish focused on my baits quickly.
Regardless of the quantities used, I find a scattering of small baits is the best method, and my current mix consists of ‘Hooked On Baits hemp chilli maize’ mixed 50/50 with Nash Monster Carp Pellets and 10mm Monster Squid and Scopex Squid freezer baits. The Matching Food Dip is also added to the mix, being a ‘natural product’ you can’t really over do this stuff, the boosted food signals really do maximise instant attraction. The feeding can be intensive and prolonged, so it’s also a very effective weed clearer too.
The Sirens soon let me know when fish are investigating a baited spot, takes usually come quickly, but if I’m struggling for a bite, changing to a matching Hi-Viz pop up will usually produce some action.
Hi-Viz can speed up the bites on short sessions
If the spot feels fairly clean, by this I mean I can move the lead without it snagging, then I would without a doubt opt for my usual snowman rig. But if there’s weed present but I still feel it’s a fishable spot, I’ll try to drag a few strands in.
Once I have a fairly good idea of the length of the weed, I will then create a simple pop up rig that is 6 inches longer than the longest strand. I can then fish confidently without those nagging doubts creeping into my mind. We’ve all been there I’m sure.
Having 'Weed Confidence' is crucial, so I hope you’ve found my thoughts on the subject of some help.
Remember, don’t avoid the weed this autumn, the carp certainly won’t. Instead, look for it and fish with confidence.
If you have any more questions - catch me on Facebook and ask away!
Extracted safely from the weed