Catch fish with Mike Ladle.

Catch Fish with
Mike Ladle

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Freshwater Fishing

For anyone unfamiliar with the site always check the FRESHWATER, SALTWATER and TACK-TICS pages. The Saltwater page now extends back as a record of over several years of (mostly) sea fishing and may be a useful guide as to when to fish. The Freshwater stuff is also up to date now. I keep adding to both. These pages are effectively my diary and the latest will usually be about fishing in the previous day or two. As you see I also add the odd piece from my friends and correspondents if I've not been doing much. The Tactics pages which are chiefly 'how I do it' plus a bit of science are also updated regularly and (I think) worth a read (the earlier ones are mostly tackle and 'how to do it' stuff).

Why use strong line?

Anyone who follows my blog will know that I've done most of my river fishing in the past year with 25lb Nanofil braid, a Teklon rod and Rapala J9f black and silver plugs. It's a nice little set up. I had a couple of minor tangles at first but once the line had bedded down and I'd got accustomed to fishing with it I've had no trouble. In fact I've caught plenty of good fish and find that I can cover any of my local rivers with ease using the fine braid and the 7g (roughly quarter-ounce) lure. I was fishing like this simply because I was interested in the possibilities of catching fish on this sort of gear. Of course it would be possible to use much lighter braid but I don't see the point. You're unlikely to catch many (if any) more fish and however skillful you are there's always the risk of being broken and leaving hooks in fish. If you feel that you don't get the same fight as on light line loosen the clutch and pretend that it's two pound nylon. This braid is incredibly thin - roughly the same as the 5lb Maxima that I used to use for coarse fishing. I generally have a nylon trace and often a short wire trace (anti-pike) so the braid is much thinner and less conspicuous than either of these.

I said on my last freshwater page that I'd only managed to catch a particular chub because I was fishing with my son's 15lb Nanofil but I normally catch plenty of these fish on my usual 25lb stuff. Why am I using Nanofil? No particular reason other than the fact that I'd been told it was thin and casts well (both appear to be true). I've no link to this particular brand or its manufacturer and I'm sure that there are quite a number of other braids with similar properties these days. Anyway, I've seen a few comments on the pros and cons of these fine braided lines but they seem OK to me.

To get to the nub of the matter, I've just had a couple of emails from my pal Dave Little. I'll copy our exchange, Dave first -

Dear Mike,

I have been using Nanofil for the best part of a year now and am very impressed with its casting properties, however, I remain more than a little sceptical regarding its knotting capacity.

I only use an albright knot to attach the Nanofil to my leader material and despite doubling the Nanofil and using an overhand knot in the leader I find that nearly half of all such knots fail on the initial test. Once past the initial test though, the knot seems to be reliable and long lasting so that I tend to attach my leader at home and, after proper testing keep the same leader on for the session except for mishaps ( breakoffs ). I cannot get the Nanofil to attach direct to a hook, wire trace or lure, despite using the knot recommended on the spool (but this is not a huge handicap). My friend, Paul, has more trouble than I do, to the extent that he gets me to attach a new leader when Iím there!

I think that the Nanofil is, apart from this problem, every bit as good as the Varivas Sea Bass Max Power, but at a more reasonable price. What is your experience of the knotting of this otherwise excellent line? Do you have any recommendations?

I was well impressed with your latest report of mullet fishing. Are you using a mini Delta eel for maggot feeding mullet? I guess that it is fished in the surface film but what is the rate of retrieve? My thought is that sufficient speed to make the tail wag would be on the fast side for maggot feeders, am I being silly? I am going to try for the maggot feeders with some buoyant plastic maggots at my next opportunity but will give the Delta a whirl as well.

Regards,

Dave Little

Hi Dave,

Good to hear from you. I know bugger all about knots and am very conservative. I tie my (15-20lb Memorex/Amnesia) trace to the (25lb?) Nanofil with what I think is a surgeon's knot using about half a dozen turns. It's a bit of a pain because you have to tie it before attaching a lure or clip (at home in other words), so it can be a bit fiddly if you have to tie a new one when your fishing. I used to use an albright but it is subject to failure (with any type of braid) as you suggest. The knot was fine when my son used it last week on his new 7.5kg Nanofil so it's probably universal.

Yes, they were nice mullet. I think that they only take the little Deltas/Redgills well when it's rough in the Autumn. The fish are actually maggot feeding in the dirty water. At this time of the year I've had the mullet actively chasing fry and being caught on big plugs so it may be a seasonal behaviour pattern. At most other times it is probably useless.

Keep in touch.

Regards,

Mike

Mike,

Thank you for you email.

I looked up a surgeonís knot and it appears to me to be the knot I have always known as a water knot (Walker) and I have always regarded it as useful for joining lines of vaguely similar diameter. Iíve tried it with six turns on 25lb Nanofil to 25lb fluorocarbon and, despite plenty of lubrication and care in snugging up it has failed every time against my usual albright knot. Clearly I am doing something wrong. Sorry to be a pain but can you explain a little more about your procedure as it obviously works for you.

Regards,

Dave.

Hi Dave,

I don't understand what's wrong. I'm attaching four pictures (sorry about the quality - it's not easy to hold the camera and the knot at the same time and I'm not the tidiest person). Numbers 1 and 2 are the key I think. I simply overlap the nylon and braid by about 8 inches (better too much than too little), form a decent sized loop of both, twist the tag ends of both braid and trace through the loop half-a-dozen times, pull both pairs of ends simultaneously and steadily to tighten the knot, pull the single trace and reel line ends to make sure it's secure, snip the tags of nylon and braid off reasonably close, give it a few good pulls to make sure it's OK. BINGO!

I expect that this is exactly what you've been doing. My Nanofil/Memorex knot has, this season, withstood countless casts, two twenty pound pike, double figure salmon and seatrout and a long battle with a monster salmon which eventually straightened my J9 Rapala hook and escaped (I've replaced all the hooks with 2x now). I have to say that I find braids generally don't like sudden impact pulls or yanks with no spring (wrapped round an arm when pulling for a break) but for playing fish on a springy rod and slipping clutch - magic!

Hope this helps. If not let me know and we'll get to the bottom of the matter.

Regards,

Mike

Mike,

Bingo! I donít really understand what I am doing differently today to what I did yesterday ( except that today I didnít moisten the knot before drawing tight ) but it works now.

Thank you for your patience.

Dave.

Anyway, enough about knots. I took a couple of pals to the river this week and typically the fishing was rubbish. Why is it so often the case that 'they should have been here yesterday'???? They both spun with small plugs (as I often do myself) and for a change I wobbled an eight inch deadbait (I used my Surepopper and 30lb Whiplash this time). The plugs only produced one small trout and one other bite. The deadbait tempted a reasonable pike to my circle hook. I couldn't believe that it was so bad after my recent results so I went out the next evening for an hour. I used the J9 as usual and although I only had a couple of trout I missed four other fish including a couple of big ones during the session. I've asked them to come and have another go sometime soon.

If you have any comments or questions about fish, methods, tactics or 'what have you!' get in touch with me by sending an E-MAIL to - docladle@hotmail.com

My pike.

No monster but a nice fish.

Circle.

For my first go with a circle hook since last winter it was good to see that it 'still works'.

Self portrait.

I think I'd forgotten to reset the camera after the hook close-up.

Trout.

This was the smaller of my two trout.