The development of the carbon fibre roach pole has arguably been the greatest advance in coarse fish
ing in our time, and for many a season now poles have been easily manageable at 12 metres or more in length. Indeed, on many of today's canal matches its rare to see anyone fishing with a rod and reel!
A long 'rod' and a short line offers one huge advantage over the short (13') rod with rings:
The pole conquers the one thing that can ruin float presentation on the rod: surface drag. If the wind (or flow) moves that float and so pulls your bait off course in a way that looks unnatural to the fish, they will often refuse it. But put an even smaller float on the end of a pole and bingo!
a) you get a more direct strike, and b) there's little line for the wind to interfere with, yet, for all the pole's advantages, the waggler float fished on a rod and reel can still have its day, particularly on lakes and rivers. It is not quite ready to be dumped in a museum's 'history of angling' cabinet.
The waggler puts you in contact with shy fish that warily patrol just beyond the long pole range at 18 metres or more out.
If the pole won't get bites, especially when the water is gin clear, then the waggler could be the answer. A running line approach can also sometimes beat the pole for speed when fish are feeding very well at 14 metres out, but can't be tempted closer.
Here's a few do's and don'ts for the peacock waggler enthusiast when the occasion calls for one...
1. SIZE MATTERS! It's a windy day. You know that a three AAA size waggler will comfortably cast 25 metres. But winds have a habit of changing direction. Fish a four AAA float instead. It is always better to err on the big side because, as all champion anglers will tell you, additional weight is no handicap providing it is balanced with the right shotting.
2. DOT THE FLOAT. Dotting the float down low to the water both helps its sensitivity and keeps the tackle more stable. In all but the roughest conditions in a BIG wave with large troughs, or very bad visibility - about a match head of show (or 1/4'') is adequate ie. when all the shots have loaded the float.
3. BALANCE THE WEIGHT. Most of the float's shotting capacity (80 per cent minimum) needs placing around the float as locking shot. eg. three AAA and one BB shot around the waggler and a BB shot spread out down the line, equivalent to four no. 6 shot. Break this rule and casting gets difficult, but to go the other way with more of the weight locking the float and just two no. 10 shots down the line, is okay (in shallow swims). If a BB or more of shot is needed down the line, then choose a bigger float altogether.
4. TREAT THAT REEL LINE. Always soak the reel line in advance with washing-up liquid. This helps in sinking the line between rod and float tip when its windy. This is done by dipping the rod tip underwater after the cast and winding the reel quickly (this means overcasting slightly - another good reason for a slightly heavier float!). In calm conditions that same reel line can be left on the surface and it should stay there without trouble.
5. FEED, FEED, FEED. Most successful anglers know the importance of feeding. Without putting in a few maggots or casters etc., usually by means of a catapult to the 20-metre mark, there is no reason at all why any fish should enter or stay in your swim. Feeding bait little and often, is the key to keeping a shoal of fish happy in front of you.
6. EXPERIMENT with the depth and shotting until you start hitting more bites than you miss. Plumb the depth and start fishing with the float set as near possible to the exact depth. The general rule is if you can't get a bite move the shots further away from the hook, if you are seeing bites but can't hit them move the shot closer to the hook. If the fish won't take a bait fished just touching or off the bottom (ideal) then the next move is to fish it overdepth.
7. MORE ON SIZE! By all means match the bait size to the target fish, and pick a suitable hook size and strength for that bait, but don't be scared to think small when it comes to hooks. A 22 hook and single maggot generally catches more chub in river matches than an 18 and double maggot. Equally, a 14 might be the 'optimum' size for a grain of sweetcorn, but on cagey fish an 18 might be better.
Losing a prize fish on a too small hook does nothing for the confidence but it can be the only way to get a bite, and its not as bad as breaking a line that's too frail on a prize fish. What you should never do is fish all day with a hook size that the fish won't except and never change it.Tight Lines
Editor - Sheffield Angling Star