So after buying myself a new pair of waders, it was only right that I went and tested them out. I decided to go to one of the small rivers in search of a chub or two on the little Sonik rod. I didn’t have long to fish, so I had to make it count.
This weeks video sees me head out to test some new products I recently purchased. The first being a set of waders I picked up in the Bobco bank holiday sale. Finally no more wet testicles, except for maybe on a Saturday night if I’m lucky!
Secondly I wanted to test out my new microphones. Filming your fishing can be tricky at times and the wind especially can spoil a good bit of footage and so I am always wanting to improve. I had already upgraded to a Rode Videomic Go which is a shotgun mounted microphone and is pretty good with a wind protector on. But I wanted to go one better and so got a set of Boya WM8 wireless lavalier dual channel microphones. The kind where you see TV and YouTube presenters wearing on their shirt.
Anyway, all that aside. Check out the video on Friday as it’s pretty cool and I really enjoyed my short session on a small river. Now I have those waders it opens up a bit of something new and I look forward to some new adventures.
DIY lure bag I just thought I would share this little beauty i’ve discovered. Many of you will know that for years I’ve been using the Aldi fishing bags for most of my lure storage, especially the larger lures. I either would use pipe lagging as hook protectors for the lures or use drain pipe cut up as lure hangers. It wasn’t perfect, but it’s been bang on for years. Well I kept meaning to make another bag and have it as a dedicated boat bag with everything in, so that I can just pick it up and go instead of swapping everything over from one bag to another everytime I go fishing.
So while out shopping recently, doing a bit of DIY at home, I ventured in to a local B&M stores and found this. It’s a tool holdall, sometimes called a tool tote bag. I’ve seen these before elsewhere and they were always a bit big or a bit pricey. But this one seemed to be just about the right size and at £12.99 not too bad a price to take the plunge and see if it was any good for what I wanted. Not got a local B&M or you want to order online? What about this one on Amazon instead? Looks solid to me and the pockets look like they could be useful. Silverline 748091 Heavy Duty Tool Bag Hard Base 400 x 200 x 255 mm More tool holdalls
Once home I quickly put in some of my old cut up pipe and a few boxes and its bloody bob on! Slightly longer than an Aldi bag which means you will get a couple of extra bits of cut up pipe in. At the minute I’ve got it set up for a bit of big pike gear but also a a couple of lure boxes for my smaller soft lures and cranks. There’s an end pouch which fits another smaller lure box in which is a bonus, with various little side pouches, which to be honest I don’t really see much of a use for with the lures. There’s also a handy front zip pocket, which is where I have put all my traces, split rings, clips and so on. Lastly there is a shoulder strap but I have taken this off as I will only use this in the boat so will use the sturdy handle instead. The final bonus is it is bright red, so you might see the bloody thing and not trip up over it. (I said might not!)
As an after thought, I plan on going back to a DIY shop and buying some of the square drain pipe. I’ll cut these new square ones up and stick them together so they don’t fall over when I take the plastic lure boxes out. I will make a couple of glued up sections so that I can have half a bag or a full bag of them. Don’t you just love a bit of DIY!
Beginners guide to small soft lures.
(Please note – Links in bold for some of the products on Amazon)
Soft lures come in many shapes, sizes and styles and the short version is that they all work, there’s none really better than any other and they will all catch you some fish. Ask around which are best to use and you will get so many opinions you really won’t get an answer. What you need is a few lures to get you started and a few more ideas to help you get the best out of them. The more you fish with soft lures, the more you work out what’s right for you or what is missing. Remember as a kid those sweet shops with rows and rows of jars of sweets? That’s soft lure fishing for you.
So where to start? Just keep it simple. Get a small selection of soft shads, such as the Relax Kopyto shad in a couple of sizes. For perch fishing, then two inch and two and half inchsizes are perfect. You want a few jig heads and for these you will want them in sizes 2/0 and 3/0 and these jigheads will be also rated by weight, so choose a light and a slightly heavier weight like 2g and 5g to start and over time a few more. These different weights will help you fish shallow or deeper water. You can now go perch fishing, these lures will catch you perch. Stay mobile, cover lots of features and find some fish.
Is it really that simple? Short version is yes, but you will eventually come across blank sessions, problems that need another way of fishing the lures, a need to try other methods and undoubtedly you will end up with your own little sweet shop of lures. There is so much to soft lure fishing that this little article will not attempt to cover it all, it will just get you started on the right path.
What other lures should I buy?
Have a look at the various styles of soft lure and after the paddle tail shads, you will find split tails, worms, creature baits, grubs and more. So after getting your first bag of paddle tails, try to get something different. I like to have a curly tail grub and stick bait called aZ-Man Finesse TRD fished on a ShroomZ Jighead as my options. The curly tail grub basically has a tail that flutters away even at slow retrieve speeds and just looks a bit different. A TRD is a stick bait that you mostly work along the bottom, sometimes very slowly, and offers you something totally different. So now you have different options on the bank, different styles of lure and lure retrieves and if you also bought them in different colours you now have a nice little bag of tricks that should help you put more fish on the bank.
How do I work these lures? No matter which softie you choose, there’s no one way of using it, so start with the basics. Cast it out and wind it in. If you can, have a look at what your lure is doing in the water so you have an idea what happens when you crank the reel handle. Now try speeding it up and slowing it down. Then try to add a pause so the lure sinks and try to lift the rod so the lure rises. Try a combination of all that and see if anything grabs on to your lure. No matter if its a paddle tail, curly tail, stick bait or creature bait. A bit of all that will work, some better than others and eventually you’ll find which works best for each. Generally paddle and curly tails you would wind in, creature and stick baits you might slowly drag along the bottom but none of this is set in stone, see what the fish want. All these lures you can vertically fish two, by jigging them up and down. So for example, stand beside a canal lock gate and rop the lure in by your feet. Lift and lower the rod tip to make the lure dance, and you are now jigging for perch. Try this around any feature you can find, boats, bridges and so on.
If you would like to see more about soft lures then you can also watch a series of four videos over on the Riverpiker Youtube channel.
So last year I managed to get my first taste of Sweden and what it has to offer. Along with Canada, Sweden is one of those places I’d always fancied fishing but really didn’t know how to go about doing it. Well luckily for me, I’d made a few new friends over there so managed to sort a trip out to meet Gary Benney of American Tackle, who looked after us like kings, and also Alexander Lexen of Leech and Gator. We got the full taste of Sweden with a visit to the awesome tackle shops of Stochholm, such as Soder Sportfiske and Lundgrens where you could easily spend a full day just browsing all the lures on offer. As for the fishing we managed trips on the Baltic, the stunning archipelago fishing for pike and perch and also some of the large Swedish lakes where we witnessed a true Swedish giant landed when Alex landed a monster. That did it for me, Sweden is firmly planted in the head and I’m always wondering when I will be going back next.
Since that trip I have been wanting to go back and on top of this, I am often getting asked how to actually go about doing it. Well it was all so easy for me, because I just had to get my backside over there. All the rest was sorted by Gary. But that’s no good for everyone else, because as nice a bloke as Gary is, I don’t think his settee is big enough for everyone. So that’s how my next Swedish trip has come about. I’m going back in October and I’m staying with a guide for a week. Catchbigger.se has everthing you need for your trip. Lodges, boats, tackle and the all important fishing knowledge. You can cater your week how you wish, full on guiding, part guiding or do it all yourself with boats included in the package. As usual on my trip, I will be doing plenty of filming and I will do my best to show you everything on offer. If you can’t wait for my trip and the videos, then get in touch with the team at Catchbigger.se now and sort it out before the cold winter rolls in.
As most of you might already know, i’m not exactly a zander expert. We don’t have them in my local waters and so I’ve never really fished for them. Over the last year I’ve had about half a dozen attempts at catching zander, with mixed results. Tune in to see the latest video in the series on my hunt for the alien fish. This time, i’m actually catching some!
New stock update.
Last year I introduced a range of Ujka lures to the shop and these proved very popular with you guys. When i tested them out I was excited that i’d found a reasonably priced range of cranks that looked great, were well made and caught fish. So this year I have added to the collection with a wider range of tiny cranks which are perfect for the usual perch and small pike, but also they are brilliant for trout and chub fishing. Available in a few sizes and styles. there is also a really tiny Ujka B0 that is only just bigger than a 1p coin at 2.2cm and a 2.5g.0 This will be perfect for those of you who like to target other fish species on cranks such as grayling, roach, rudd (but not bream, no body wants to catch bream!). There is also So follow this link to the “Tiny Cranks” section and have a browse.
So, the Riverpiker shop has been growing and tonight i’ve just added some cool stuff. Be sure to have a look around and check it out. With more cool products from around the globe lined up in the future, this shop is the place to come for something that little bit different. You might find that some of these products are only available in the UK right here. 😉
First we have the Awesome High 5 Lures, custom made baits from Denmark, which I know a few of you have been waiting for. Hand made by one of Denmark and Europes leading lure anglers. Finn Sloth Hansen catches fish for fun and has had multiple big fish. One of his most noteable captures was a 46lb 8oz pike ON A KAYAK! Man that is insane. Available to buy from the riverpiker shop and the first time ever in the UK are two of his creations, the Shad14 and the Shad18. https://riverpiker.com/product-category/lures/high-5-lures/
Next up we have some BIG soft baits from Finland, with the Wake Lures Hanko Gummi. These big soft lures are catching big pike across Europe. They can be rigged with the shallow screw to fish ultra slow in shallow water or even rigged up with weight to get down deep. The irresistable slow beating paddle tail is sure to trigger a hit. Available in four colours and two sizes, an 8 inch big bait and the massive 10 inch lump.
Finally we have two new braids from American Tackle Company, Bushido Combat Braid and Nano X braid. Bushido Combat Braid is an extremely high quality 8-Strand original ‘Toyobo’ Fibre fishing line produced in Japan. A super thin, slick, smooth and super quiet braid. The Nano-X line is an American made 4-strand braided fishing line. Nano X is coated with a nano coating that repels dirt to ensure smooth cast after smooth cast and is super strong. Both these lines I have been using on a few of my various set ups for a good few months now. Look out for future reviews of the products.
Simple ideas are sometimes the ones that are so brilliant and in this article I show you one of those such things, rod sleeves that help protect your gear when you are storing them or on the move. Now I don’t claim to have invented this idea, I simply stumbled upon it. As usual here in the UK we are so far behind everyone else with tackle, but we are starting to catch up with more and more cool bits of kit hitting our shops, so we are getting there. When we were sent the Gator lure rods months ago they came with these fancy rod sleeves that we thought were just an awesome idea.
Being northern monkeys, our gear tends to get chucked about a bit and I’ll hold my hands up and say I don’t take that much care of any of it. Nothing gets a clean or a service and it all gets chucked about a bit. Now these rods being one piece and 8ft long, transporting them might become an issue. Two piece rods you can break down and chuck in the boot but these things had to be chucked across the seats along the centre console of the car. I only have a tiny Audi A3 but I was suprised to find they actually fit in no bother, boy was that a relief. But constantly in and out of the car for lure fishing trips was going to take it’s toll. In the past I have managed to snap the tip off a rod and knocked an eye out of another while my rods were being rammed in and out of the car. Luckily for me, Gator had provided a super cool answer to my problem and I had some snazzy covers.
Then I started to look for more covers to go with my other rods and that’s where my headache came. I couldn’t find that many at all and then the sizes all were just a bit puzzling, or limited at best. The more I looked the less options I found. I wasn’t sure how wide the covers were and if they would fit all my rods. Did every cover fit a small baitcaster rod? A spinning rod with the larger rings? I had no idea. Next I started getting a few people spotting my photos of the Gator rods and seeing the sleeves, the light bulb had flicked on with those guys also about how good these things are. I couldn’t give them a decent answer as to what size they needed, where they could by these from or the many combinations or rod sizes and styles and again more searching led me to not finding a solution. But what if I could make them in a few sizes and even better, custom make them for people who like me, couldn’t find the size they needed?
So here we have them. Unbranded but they arespecially made by me when the river is raging through, which seems to be every day at the minute. Available in one colour, black, because my white ones are already grubby so I figured I might be able to at least make these ones look a bit cleaner and not show up the grubby finger prints. They are available in three sizes. We have a small diameter cover, which is ideal for the small baitcaster rods like my tiny 3-15g Gunki Iron T that is a really thin rod blank and has small rings. We have the medium diameter cover which fits most larger baitcaster rods like my Gator rods, my BFT roots and so on. We also have a larger diameter sleeve which should fit most spinning rods with their slightly larger protruding eyes, the eye closest to the reel seat is the one to watch out for on spinning rods. That was the one which caused me an issue most but I found the L went over the eye easy, and while the rest of the rod might be a bit baggy, at least my one piece 6ft 3inch Enigma perch rod now had a proper cover to protect it.
Below you have a load of photos as some people weren’t actually too sure about what the sleeves looked like in full and of course you have a link to my stock. If you are not sure about any sizes, just get in touch and I will scratch my head and try to work out which one will be right for you and I should be able to knock it out in no time at all. https://riverpiker.com/product/rod-sleeve/
So as most of you know, Ady and myself got these Gator rods back in around July. As usual, we wanted to give them a good run out before we attempted a review video. Too many reviews come when something is shiny, new and brand new out of the packet. We like to give them a proper run out, get some mud and dirt on them, bang them about a bit, bend in to some snags and throw some big things around with them. Safe to say we are more than happy with these rods. As for the video, well its bloody ace. Spur of the moment thing, I asked Ady to do a review and away he went and he even bags a croc right on cue. Go watch it!
Latest video is out – Back on the boat, me and Ady find a shoal of bait using the Lowrance Elite Ti7 fish finder and and try to catch some perch from around it. Of course, there are also pike to be had. Today is also a milestone day on YouTube with a massive 10k subscribers reached, which is just awesome. Cheers you lot.
I have a few custom weighted Burts available in two styles. If you are quick, you can get one using the link to the shop below. Custom Burts
The two styles are Shallow, and Deep. As you know, Burts come unweighted and weighted and it is this that is the key to whether you have a shallow or deep Burt.
However, all is not as it at first seems, after all you have a Musky Mania Squirrelly Burt and they are notoriously “different” shall we say. For anyone browsing who wishes to modify their own Burts, here is the key info. An original weighted Burt is already heavy and this means you only need to add around/up to/about 14g to make it sit nose down, however it is not perfectly vertical and sits at around 45 degrees. This Burt is also much more noisy than the unweighted version as it has a large ball bearing inside. This Burt is the one which will run at a shallower depth. So, a weighted Burt with about 13g of lead shot added will be shallow and noisy.
The original unweighted Burt is very buoyant and you might need to add around/up to/about 25g to make it sit perfectly vertical. This Burt is the one that on the pause will change its angle and sit vertical, and then when you give the next jerk, the energy is transferred in to the nose which makes the Burt dive rather than just come towards you. Takes time to master this as it is all about keeping a tight line, having a long enough pause and then getting the right jerk. Also, because this Burt comes with no ball bearing, it is quieter than the weighted version but still has a light rattle due to the lead shot used to re-weight. So, an unweighted Burt with about 23g of lead shot added will be deep running and have a pretty quiet rattle.
Yes, even i have to read all that again to make it sink in. These Burts are a bugger to get right. Failing that, be quick and buy one before they are gone.
Massive news for Riverpiker fans across the piking globe. Ady and myself have teamed up with Swedish pike fishing giants Leech/Gator to become ambassadors in the UK and help bring you this quality gear to the UK shores. We have had opportunities before but we feel that Leech/Gator would be the perfect fit. Dedicated Pike fishing and especially lure fishing clothing is thin on the ground in the UK and if the gear we have just received is an example of the quality and style that Leech offer we can see it doing very well in the UK market. We will obviously be testing and reviewing all the new gear we have received and we will keep you all updated on our thoughts which will include polarised sunglasses, clothing, Gator rods and Gator lures so watch this space. If you are eager to get your hands on any of these products then head on over to www.leechstore.com/ and be sure to use the special 20% off Promo code – Riverpiker
I’ve had a couple of efforts at zander. Once on a river that in the end had me chasing everything else but zander and then an effort on a reservoir which after lots of jigging, ended up with me catching a few pike instead. I get easily side tracked and go back to catching pike if the zander fishing isn’t working. I needed to go back to basics, or should I say I needed to start at the basics. I needed to focus on just zander and to do that I needed somewhere with a half decent head of them, I didn’t care what size I just needed to get in among some. There’s no zander in my part of the world so I knew I had to head south, but where? Talking to Ady about it and we decided the best thing to do was to get out with someone who catches a few and Ady knew a man. We met up with two brothers, Rob and Shayne Walker, who took us to a canal where they said we had a very good chance of catching a few. Might be nothing massive in size but for me, a zander virgin, I didn’t care one bit how big it was. I just wanted my first, I would settle at one and so long as I knew that I was fishing the right place and in the right style I would be happy.
But what is the right style for zander fishing? I think i found in my couple of previous attempts that I’m too much of a fast action pike angler and every time I was meant to be slowly jigging I would end up twitching and jerking and trying to make something happen when I should have been taking it nice and steady, low and slow and so on. The zander are more of a bottom feeder for the majority, there are exceptions and they do chase or come up in the water but often you need to get your lure down there, keep it there and also sometimes try not to do too much. That can feel like waiting for paint dry for me at times but this time I was kind of in the zone and I didn’t really think too much about pike, especially after Rob explained that he had hardly ever even caught any pike here. I’d chosen to use my Favorite rod rated 1-8g so that I could use small lures and also have a nice bit of sensitivity to feel what my lure is doing down there. I didn’t have any idea what a zander hit would be like. Would it be a few nibbles, a great big thump? Hopefully I would find out at some point in the day.
I’ve seen a few people catching them on all sorts of softies, simple shads ranging in size from about 2 inch up to 6 inch. Drop shot works, TRDs work and so do little creature baits dragged along the bottom. I didn’t have too many fancy lures with me but Ady had a shad on so I went with the Zman TRD to be different in the hope a bit of variety between us we could figure out what they wanted. Rob and Shayne were on a combination of small creature baits and shads and as the first hour went on we all had a little play with lures to try and get the first fish. I was confident my lure would work, which ever lure it was i had on so i just kept at it. Really slow retrieve, just moving the lure along the bottom a bit at a time. Sometimes flicking it, but making sure i didn’t do it too much and that i kept the lure down there. The water was the colour of mud, so much cloudy silt in it that it looked like nothing could live in it. The boats coming by every now and again did nothing to help this and as they came by they just churned up more silt. Had I been pike or perch fishing in my usual style this would have been an off putting sight and I’d have jacked it in and gone elsewhere. But I’ve heard and I’m told that with zander it isn’t a problem and that too much clarity can be a bad thing. Their big beady eyes mean they like to find somewhere a bit dark and dingy and so that had me casting at every shadow on the near or far bank.
Rob and Shayne were first off the mark with perch and also the target species of zander and so that gave me even more confidence that we were in the right spot and doing the right things. It was just a matter of keeping at it, working the swims and the lures and staying focused on keeping the lure down there, and stopping myself from pike fishing. You have to find the right balance with your tackle I found. Rob and Shayne already had it sorted since they were doing this often. But for me I reckon I needed some lighter braid than the 10lb Bushido braid I was using. I was using 3g Zman Shroomz jig heads and I wanted my line to cut the water easier. Something about 5lb would have been ideal I reckon and that’s exactly what Rob had on his reel. You want to keep your lure down there and if your braid isn’t cutting the water easy enough, all you end up doing is bringing your lure back up off the bottom. It wasn’t so bad it was manageable though i had to work at it, luckily the canal wasn’t too deep. Had that been the case and on top of that a bit of wind or flow and it would make it really difficult. If pike or perch fishing I would just stick a heavier jig head on. It would help cut through the water and keep the braid tight if there was a bit of a breeze but also that usually means you end up working the lure a bit faster too and I wanted a really low and slow approach.
Everyone had a few fish, though it was slow at times and the bites didn’t really come thick and fast, it was just the odd fish here and there. Clear blue skies was good because it meant we had an excuse bagged early in case we didn’t catch any or many at all, but then as I said before I only really wanted the one anyway. Rob was leading the way with his super ultra light finesse tactics and dare I say it, drop shot tactics helping him manage three species on the day with a bream hooked fair and square in the chops. The little creature baits he was using were perfect for crawling along the bottom nice and slow and on his really thin braid it meant he had great control of them and feel of what is happening. A note there for anyone looking at having a go at this or struggling with a set up too heavy. Of course 10lb braid isn’t exactly heavy but it can make all the difference. Then on the other hand, if you cast like a donkey and are in the trees all the time or if your canal is snaggy then you will spend more time tying on new lures or worse still for us northerners, more money replacing lost lures. So I guess it’s a balancing act and every person will have to figure out what suits them best. I know for my northern canal fishing going too light is a bloody nightmare most of the time at least.
Ady went for more of a gung ho kind of approach with a massive 2.5inch shad. Standard lure for us chasing perch and we bag plenty in all sizes, plus pike. He went for those due to a couple of reasons. It’s a trusted lure for him for many species, he’s caught zander on them before and he’s a tight arse and hasn’t bought any lures for years so pretty much all he has left. I noticed he kept having a look in Robs collection and it wouldn’t surprise me if he came home with a couple of extra lures in his pocket plus a wire trace or two, he’s like that you know. Anyway it was good to have variety between us, on some days you will find all predators can be different in what they want. Some days they want big lures and other days tiny lures. We had it all covered anyway. Ady had some perch and his zander with a couple of better fish hit and missed which was a shame.
As for me, I found the buggers a bit tricky to be honest. I found out what the hits were like. No little tippy tapps like a pack of perch or harassing trout. They just seem to dart out and whack the lure. You get a proper little thud on your rod. When you have been fishing hard and concentrating like mad and then that happens out of no where it’s not easy to hook them. I think a big factor is having ultra sharp, thin gauge hooks to help. I was find on the TRD but on some of my softies I didn’t really have what I wanted and I reckon I missed a couple of hits just because my hooks weren’t as sharp as they should have been. A couple of hits came on bigger lures and I saw the tell tale tooth marks of the zander on my brand new Realistic shad lure, but the little bugger had bit behind the hook. I had a proper thud at one point from a zander that might have been a whacker in these parts but didn’t hook in to it. But I bagged a couple in the end and my very first zander. A great little learning curve and loads picked up from Rob and Shayne. Pleased as punch to get off the mark with a couple and finally lose my zander virginity. They are super cool little creatures, those eyes are amazing and the colours along their body really are beautiful. I can see why people might fall in love with these little things and when they get bigger, wow what a fish they must be. Big thanks to Rob and Shayne for the day, really enjoyed it, cheers boys.
Recently Ady and myself took a short trip to Ireland in search of some pike. Ady has been before previously but it was some years ago now and for me it was to be my first time there though not my last. It is always exciting fishing somewhere new and when it’s somewhere as special as Ireland it can only promise to be fantastic. As usual, the cameras were rolling, and so begins our adventure. Join us in the first part of four episodes, where we are on our journey to meet up with Stephen and Gary McGarvey.
A bit of pike fishing. My last crack at the river pike before the season ended and I decided I didn’t fancy hiking miles and miles of river with the lures so just had a steady few hours with some livos out.
Latest video – so the other day I went out with the idea of catching a few fish on the light lures and attempting to make a video. Instead I bumped in to a load of young lads who were fishing and we got chatting. Obviously they were young lads new to fishing and so I offered a few tips and pointers on fishing and making videos and so here’s their efforts of fish, fun and filming. Fishin wit kidz.
With the river season over, Ady and myself often switch off from the pike fishing and turn our attentions to other things. This usually means a mixture of species and mostly on lighter gear. We still may have the odd dabble for pike but mostly for the next few months at least, it will be light lure fishing. It makes a nice relaxing change from the hard graft of pike fishing. Actually it’s not always relaxing as we go a bit hard no matter what we do, and I will explain our approach to perch later in this post.
So first thing up was for us both to sort a new outfit. We get a few offers now and again and we are lucky enough to be able to have a play about with bits of kit. First off a new rod was on the cards. Something with a bit of sensitivity but also a bit of back bone so you could give the fish a bit of hammer or so it would handle the pike we would still no doubt catch. My buddy Martin at Lurelounge suggested we have a look at the Favorite rods he had coming in and we both opted for the Bluebird. At 1.5g-8g it seemed perfect for jigging, should be fine for the smaller trout lures but also importantly for us, be able to handle casting the 5cm Rapala jointed shad rap and X rap shad that we use for big perch.
I switched my new Daiwa Legalis 1500 on to my rod and Ady pulled out an old Shimano Aernos for his, though he soon realized that he needs to treat himself to a new reel as his shimmy has seen better days. Now I’d spooled up my reel with 8lb Suffix nanobraid a few months ago. I’m positive I spooled it up right, but the braid seemed to always be twisting and tangles would arise. On top of that I felt it seemed to break too easily, not anywhere near the 8lb mark. I’ve always pretty much used Power Pro because i’ve never had any issues. Usually I’m reluctant to try new braids and so I thought about putting some Power Pro on the Legalis until I spoke to Gary at American Tackle who suggested I try the Bushido combat braid, so I did.
So that’s the gear sorted, we are ready to fish. For you, well it’s a bit of a guide, you don’t need to have the exact combos, but it gives you an idea of where you want to be. We’ve had umpteen combos over the years, some perfect some a bit of a bodge job but the important thing is to get yourself fishing first and upgrade later or fine tune your gear to suit your preferred way of fishing. The only other bits of kit i’ve not spoken about, a wire trace. I was using knot2kinky wire which you can easily tie by hand and make a trace to suit your set up. I won’t get in to the wire versus fluorocarbon debate and whether wire puts off perch or not. I think the article itself will answer that question as you read on. As for lures, whatever floats your boat really. A selection of soft plastics in sizes that a big perch might want. Say 2 inch up to about 4 inch is good. Yeah 4 inch, you are chasing big perch aren’t you? Not the little wasps, that’s a different ball game all together. All though the approach for most people chasing big perch is soft plastics, for us, they are only there as an option. Our preferred lures are crank baits and as most already know we love to use the Rapalas, jointed shad rap and X rap shad are a great option. Now if you want, you can fill four lure boxes up with a massive selection of softies and hard baits and you can lug them around all day, swapping and changing in an attempt to figure out that one lure they want. Or, you can trust that with just a couple of lures, you have it all covered. You have enough variety to catch fish in various situations and you can trust that it’s not so much about what brand of lure they want but more that you know your lures work and you need to find that big hungry perch, and that if you find that big hungry perch, any of your lures will do the job. I reckon that between me and Ady we had around six or seven different lures and probably twenty lures between us. Let’s go find those perch.
So without trying to seem like I’m having a pop at anyone here, everyone these days seems to go out fishing and have super glue on their feet. How many times do I bump in to people on the bank who have been in the same spot for ages, I can even go off and fish for a couple of hours and come back and they are still there. Some days i see lines of four or five lure anglers covering fifty meters of bank, cast and retrieve, cast and retrieve. Dip in to the four tier lure bag and pull out another lure. Cast and retrieve, cast and retrieve. Now that method is fine if you are catching, but if you are not, why do they carry on at it for the next hour? Unless you are in a well known spot then that is a waste of time, fish do swim about, one minute they are there the next they have moved fifty meters, hundred meters and more. This is probably where the superstar anglers are ready to jump in and tell me that grinding a spot is a great way of catching big perch. Grinding a well known spot with a few fancy techniques and trying to lure that magical stripey to take your lure. Yes it does work, especially if all you ever do is fish those same spots day in and day out, raping the shit out of them. Well done pal, you’re a lure angling superstar. Why don’t you write me an article explaining that it was all down to that special brand of soft lure you’ve attached yourself to that made all the difference? These poor newcomers to the sport are so filled with shite by some of you that they think the only answer to their problems is to go out and buy your lures, cos you said so. >insert rolling eyes emoji<
Ady and myself prefer to stay away from the crowds/circus and as a consequence we have to work our socks off for a fish. That’s why we travel light, because we will cover some amount of canal in search of our fish. Location is key, not all canals will produce the big fish but I do have to say, that every single canal that I have ever fished has produced a perch of 2lb plus and who knows else what lurks? Get out and give them a go for yourself and see what shows up. They don’t come easy and they aren’t as numerous as the little wasps and angry teenage perch that always seem to be everywhere. You’re fishing for one or two small pods of big perch and you have to work out where they might be, or get lucky. The canal we chose we hadn’t even fished for a year. We know it has some nice fish in, but we were aware that the recent rise in popularity of lure fishing means that it will no doubt have been fished most days for that last year. This can mean that the bagging up spots might have moved and the fish broken up, it might mean the perch have moved far away from the features or it might mean that the fish have seen it all. Every combination of lure flying past their noses and we now have a bunch of perch that are lure shy. This could be hard work.
We were joined on our session by a buddy, Drew. We’ve fished a few times together but shifts and such mean organizing a session isn’t always easy. Last time out we were trout fishing and we managed to help him break his pb in spectacular fashion with a proper lump of a brown trout. He already has a superb pb perch under his belt, a couple of notches over the 3lb mark but we quietly whispered to him that there was every chance he could beat that today, if we could find those perch. On these sessions you can easily fish all day and catch nothing and that is the risk you take. Our approach is the slightly larger lures, the noisy cranks and this approach is a searching method and one that will mostly rule out the larger shoals of perch. We’re chasing one fish today but it could be a whacker!
We actually had a bit of a late start, crack of dawn had been and gone and it was well after 8am before we even got to the water. Bit of traveling involved but sometimes you need to have a change of scenery or the fishing can become boring. Canals aren’t my favourite to be honest but early doors in the closed season I’m quite up for it. By about May I’m pulling my hair out and thinking about the rivers again. But the canal is where we were heading and if a few fish are caught then there is a chance that one of us at least will be smiling. Rolling up to the car park, surprisingly not another angler in sight. I wasn’t sure if that would be a good thing or a sign that the fishing on here had been poor recently. Only one way to find out. We all grabbed our gear and had a few chucks in the first spot. Casting around, this bridge used to throw up loads of fun size perch and the chance of something bigger if you were lucky. While the fun size perch were not our intended target it would have been nice to have caught a few here. It didn’t happen, not a nibble or a pluck. Sure sign that this spot has been fished recently and probably hammered over the last twelve months. No bother, we didn’t intend on standing here jigging and drop shotting all day anyway. So off we went, a handful of lures and our trusty feet to help us find some perch.
We explained to Drew that the idea is to leap frog each other, covering loads of water and using noisy cranks to grab the attention of the fish. Hopefully we could cover loads of water between us and find a pod or two of large stripey spikey things. The clarity of the water was ok, enough visibility to see a following perch and enough murkiness to give us some cover and give the perch the confidence to hit the lures rather than just follow. All we had to do is fan cast the water in front of us, and then move on. Quietly leap frogging along the bank, casting up along the edge first and then covering the water in front of us. The plan is a good one, it has worked for me and Ady in the past and we were quietly confident that it would work again. The first canal session I am always switched on, ready for a few fish and the thought of a potential long hard blank don’t really enter my head so much. But that could easily happen.
Drew asked Ady which lure to stick on and after a quick glance in Drew’s lure box, he spotted a Jointed shad rap in hot tiger, “that one pal” he said. Ady put on a smaller 4cm jointed shad rap because he’d brought the wrong bloody lure box and instead of the perch lures he had his trout lures. I stuck on a small Ujka lure thinking we would have a bit of variety between us. After a hundred meters, I could see Ady wasn’t happy as his 4cm lure wasn’t getting down the required depths. He had me digging out my lure box and offering him up a few choices, and he went for one of his favourites, the Rapala X rap shad. Not too much later I was making a switch myself and since Drew had a nice bright shad rap on i went for a more natural looking pattern, an old Walleye pattern. not really natural for these parts but you get the idea. At least me and Ady were happy now, confident in our lures again, that they were getting down to the right depths and we knew we just had to stick to the plan. After about an hour of this and not a fish to be seen, I’m not so sure Drew was happy with our plan. Stick with it, we explained. The fish can come from anywhere. They are not always in the most obvious spots and we have to work and find them. You see this method of fishing isn’t for everyone.
Often in lure fishing you role up to a fishy spot, start off small, catch a few fish and you are enjoying yourself and a bit of sport. The sport dries up, so you change lures, methods or spots and you start to catch some fun size perch again. Nice bit of sport and some good fun. Before you know it, time is ticking on and you’ve caught plenty. But often you do this, and nothing of note shows up. No big stripeys to show for all your effort and when the fishing is tough, you resort to finesse tactics to try and tempt a fish or two. The drop shot comes out, tinniest of movements on the rod tip, keeping the lure in their faces and eventually a fish. But for us, it’s the opposite. Stick to the larger lures, stick to keeping mobile and just keep fishing, moving and hammering away trying to find that one fish. Go big or go home.
Three hours have gone past now and we’ve not had a sniff. We come to a canal narrowing and then finally I manage to catch the first fish of the day, a fun size perch. We’ve kind of reached the wall now, where the enthusiasm is nearly gone and all excitement at the prospect of a big perch are practically gone. So the tiny lures come out and we’re jigging around like loonies for fun size perch. Luckily, i managed to come to my senses and snapped at the lads to pack this in and get moving. “We can catch these anywhere lads, we haven’t come for these” and so off we toddle, plodding on along the canal in our search for the biggest fish of them all.
Within about ten minutes of moving I get the first hit of something decent. A couple of violent shakes and I shout to the lads I have a fish. My heart racing as the rod is bent double and the tell tale fight of a large perch, or so I first thought. The fight changes and the short sudden lunges tell me this is no perch but in fact a pike and by the time the lads get to me we all know it’s a pesky pike. I do love pike, but they are a bugger when you’re heart has just been racing at the thought of a huge perch. At least its a fish and Drew kindly slides his net under and then quickly takes me a photo. Another couple hundred meters of water covered and I think we are nearing four hours of fishing without a single sighting of a chunky perch. Drew is blanking and is starting to doubt there are even any bloody perch in this canal. This kind of fishing is really tough on the body and the mind, its draining and it’s hard to keep your head on the target. You start to doubt your tactics and your mind starts to wonder. You want to try other tactics, you need to catch a fish, you have a bag full of lures and surely there is one in there that will do you a job. We reach a bridge and have a cast around with the softies, but for me and Ady it’s a quick few flicks around and after not so much as a bump we are confident that nothing is here that we want and so off we move yet again. A quick few words from Ady and Drew is back on track, putting the trusty jointed shad rap back on and again we are off leap frogging. We passed a couple of spots where we have previously caught nice perch in the past. The initial excitement of the chance for a large perch comes and then quickly goes and before long we have covered another few hundred meters of water and again, nothing.
The good thing about these days fishing with others is that when the going gets really tough, at least you can still take the piss out of each other. That itself gives you a little bit of an energy boost, raises the spirits and enables you to conquer those nagging thoughts in your head. Soldier on we must and soldier on we will. In front of us is another, boring featureless bit of canal. Nothing to target and nothing standing out that says anything special or points to the potential of a perch holding spot. Though we have to remember that while all above water may not scream fish, we really don’t know what is down there and there could be something somewhere here that holds a few fish. As Ady passes me, casting up the canal I stand just off his shoulder, ready to cast. “I’m going to cast right behind you hear pal when you hook this perch” I explained. We’d explained to Drew before that if one guy catches a perch, first priority is to get that one in the net but then the other lads need to be fishing in the same spot. So often the big perch hang around in small groups and when one large perch is caught, it is the perfect opportunity to bag a couple more. A few cranks of the handle and a few twitches of the X rap later and Ady is calling out, he has a big perch on. The typical jagged fight of a big stripey and I can see his rod rattling away as the perch keeps darting for the bottom. Ady gains control and Drew quickly slips the net under while I’m already casting at the spot where the perch came from. Ady instructs Drew to do the same and we are both casting around, hoping and praying that we can bag another one. Ady unhooks the perch and leaves it to rest safely in the net before joining us casting around the area to try and bag another, and he did. “I’m in” he shouts and again Drew is quick to net the second fish for Ady. Two lovely fish in two casts and finally Drew starts to believe that this method might actually bag him a fish.
Ady and myself set about sorting the fish out and getting some photos while we instruct Drew to keep fishing to see if anything else will show. The immediate area in front of us and where the perch came from doesn’t throw up any more and before long Drew has made his way a little further down the canal away from where the action took place. A few photos are taken and me and Ady have a little chat, full of enthusiasm again and happy that we have managed to bag a couple of nice fish. Ady is beaming with his double capture and i’m just happy one of us has at least caught. These days are tough and if we all blank its a bit of a downer but so long as at least one of us bags a good fish, then it is a result. Drew is a good sixty meters from us now, fishing hard. We ponder on what is going through his head right now. Excited that Ady has caught but at the same time gutted he’s still not had a good fish. “At least they both came to you pal and not one each to both of us mate” I said. That one would be tough on Drew we thought. It’s bad enough not getting in on the fish but if everyone else but you has caught a big perch it’s even tougher. No soon as we have said that, there’s a shout from sixty meters away. “I’m in, I’m in. Get the net, get the net!” Camera still in my hands I set off running down the bank towards Drew. I look up and see his rod bent double, and on the floor at his feet, there lays his own net. but Drew is just too drawn to the huge perch he has on that he doesn’t even realize the net is beside him. I can’t run and talk cos I’m belting down the bank faster than Usain Bolt. Just as I bend down to pick up the net I get my first glimpse of the fish, and its a good un. I slide the net under and Drew is jumping for joy. “What’s your pb again pal?” I ask. With the two perch in the net, plus Drews super pb 3lb 10oz perch we set about getting a few photos. I think Drew is in shock and just can’t believe he’s just bagged such a superb fish. This method of lure fishing takes you from rock bottom to being on top of the world, and all in an instant. From feeling like you are never going to catch, doubting everything you are doing, out of no where it happens and you are left quivering like a little baby at the sight of something magical darting around in front of you. When you lift the thing out of the net it grows again and you just can’t believe what you are seeing. These perch are just something special.
There’s a spring in the step of everyone now and what was turning in to a long hard day is now a splendid result for everyone, except me of course. Ha ha, but that’s the way it is sometimes and to be honest I wasn’t that fussed. These are special moments and next time it will be me with the fish and someone else missing out. Me and Ady have had days where he’s bagged up and i’ve blanked and likewise the other way around. Luckily those days where one of us misses out are rare and usually we both get at least something from the day, even if one of us catches slightly more. Drew suggests now that the only thing missing from the day to make it perfect is for me to get one. “Don’t say that mate” explains Ady, “the spawny bastard will probably bag a bigger one”.
Next cast, a few cranks of the handle, a few twitches and my lure is smacked. Big fish! Ady is next to me with the net and we see this thing coming up and then going back down. “Net this quick Ady” I say in a panicked voice. This thing is massive, deep bellied and potentially a massive fish. Rod bent, i turn the fish and as it comes up Ady slides the net under. “This is huge” he says as I leap for joy. The scales swing round and drop short of the magical figure, but who really cares. At 3lb 15oz it is the biggest of the day and a tremendous fish, truly tremendous. I think by now we are all happy with the result and even though we soldier on for a little while longer, deep down i think we were all ready for a bit of food and drink and a chill out in the car. We fished for a good half an hour or so, leap frogging our way on the trusty method and trying to catch another big perch. Drew is in front and Ady feels it is time to pull a prank. He whispers to me and says, “watch this” then proceeds to wait for the perfect moment and as Drew is winding in his lure he taps the end of his rod butt section. Instinct kicks in as Drew feels the hit, or so he thinks, and he yanks in to thin air nearly pulling his arm out of joint. Ady and myself are chuckling away like little kids at the back, Drew unaware of what just happened and thinking he just missed another big perch is gutted. Again, he gets a twang and quickly reacts “I’m in” he shouts. Wait a minute, Ady didn’t do it a second time. He’s bloody in to a perch again, ha, marvelous. As Ady nets the perch he’s explaining to Drew what the hell just went on and claiming that this 2lb 13oz perch is part his capture too. Super end to the day and another cracking capture.
So there you have it. A little insight in to how we go about targeting the big perch. It’s not an easy method and as described earlier, can be really draining and especially so if you don’t manage to catch one of the dream fish. There are other ways to do it and on other waters this might not work and standard jigging is more suited. We could have jigged for perch but since we didn’t even know where they were we had to go find them. If you are hammering a spot that has perch you can roll up with fancy techniques and try something different to wangle a fish out but to do all that on here would mean you wouldn’t have even got within a mile of the spot we found the perch and you certainly wouldn’t walk the couple of miles to target such a featureless open bit of water with softies.
As for our new combos, we ll we both love the new rod. Really great bit of kit and handled the fish really well. Perfect for the 5cm shad raps and sensitive enough to fish small softies too. I have used one inch lures and 3g jigs to have a bit of sport on the fun size perch already so I know it will do me a good job with those not just chasing the big ones. My reel is bang on though I already knew that as i’ve been using it a few months now. Ady on the other hand is on the lookout for a new shiny reel, no doubt he wants a blue one to match the rod. First impressions of the Bushido braid is really good. It’s silky smooth from the start and doesn’t need three weeks to bed in or soften up like some braids do and we were able to cast a fair distance too. So we are really pleased with our new bits of kit, looking forward to giving them some more time on the bank and catching a few more fish on them.