There are two hook link materials I never leave home without; Edge 2000 Hutchy Braid and ESP Ghost. I don’t know what it is about the ESP fluorocarbon, but for me it works better than any other brand or type I’ve tried. My success on this product has been sustained over many years and at times has been quite astonishing. So much so that it’s become part of my standard set-up. Whenever I’m on a new water, a new swim or if I’m faced with a situation I’m not sure how to approach, the first hook link material I’ll turn to will be my ESP Ghost.
I always fish it as a standard stiff link • nothing fancy, just a simple knotless knot and a length anywhere between four and ten inches. I don’t know how it does it, but it seems to fool the fish time and time again. ESP inform us that Ghost is a pure 100% fluorocarbon containing the same refractive index as water, which in essence means that once submerged it becomes almost invisible. After several years of observations at close quarters watching wary carp feeding in clear water, I have to say that they are not too far off the mark. I would not say that it is invisible, however, what I would say is that more often than not, the carp really do struggle to suss out the hook bait amongst a patch of free bait.
I remember a few years back watching a group of mid-twenty carp feeding over a margin presented ESP Ghost rig. They were cautious throughout and kept circling the patch, aware that there was a hook bait down there, but they seemed agitated as they could not suss out which one. I watched intently from a tree a few feet above them as they kept sampling the odd bait, blowing it back out, then finally taking one before shooting back under the pads. Quite often this will continue until all the free baits are gone and you are left behind idle buzzers none the wiser; however, with the ghost they often fail to pick out the danger hook bait, as was the case on this occasion. With half a dozen baits still available to it; a much observed 26lb leather that did not ‘come to the party’ very often slipped up and gulped the hook bait straight in – Game Over. In addition, I have watched on many occasions as fish have moved in to my baited area, gone straight down, and picked up the hook bait at the first time of asking • which is always nice!
There are a few things to bear in mind with fluorocarbons. Firstly it will scratch, kink and fray quite easily. When this occurs its refractive qualities are greatly reduced so it’s important to check your rigs after each cast/fish. I get through quite a lot of the stuff and on long sessions can get through several rigs but I don’t mind as it puts so many fish on the bank. When I tie up a rig I also find it helps to pre-stretch it a bit. To do this just hold each end of the rig (safely!) and take up the slack and then gently stretch the rig. If I’m fishing on wooden boards or if there is a log or something close by I will often pin them down (stretched) for a while. This means they are nice and straight when you come to use them and the pre-stretching helps the material to perform better when under stress.
Knots can be another issue when using fluorocarbon, which is notoriously difficult to tie. I’ve tried several different techniques and found that a knotless knot at one end with a simple overhand loop knot at the other gives me the best results. Just be aware that depending on how you tie a rig, the stated breaking strain of the material will be reduced so it’s worth doing a little bit of bench testing beforehand so you know what you are working with.
I use the Ghost ESP in several sizes but find the 15lb and 12lb versions suit most situations I’m faced with. At around £3.99 for twenty metres some might say it’s a little expensive, as there are many others out there which you can buy much cheaper like Stren for example. However, my personal view (having tried many others) is that I’m happy to pay a few quid more if it gives me complete confidence and continually puts fish on the bank.
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