FL02 PDF (212pp) - Page 188



In Search Of Monster Carp
he had a tiny bite on his rod, picked it
up, and sure enough, reeled it in and
the hook had gone. Obviously the
carp were gorging themselves like
mad on these chickpeas, and so my
brain was ticking over. I asked them if
they’re tried this, or tried that. They
had tried quite a few things, even to
the extent of putting a bit of biro tube
on the hook link, but the carp bit
through that, and I was racking my
brains for what they could try. I said,
“What about tying your bait onto the
bend of the hook so the bait goes past
the teeth but the hook doesn’t?” They
hadn’t tried that. When I went home I
thought about it, and the next day I
went fishing up at Lockwood. I can
remember I caught an 18lb’er, and I
stuck my finger in this carp’s mouth
until I could feel the teeth, and from
memory it was round about 4ins. So I
tied the bait onto the bend of the
hook, and I showed my mate Johnny
Darenth Tip Lake brace.
188 FREE LINE
Caldwell, Taxi John, and we both
laughed about it – bloody ridiculous,
but it might work. He was still fishing
b u t I w a s n ’t , a n d t h e f o l l o w i n g
evening he rang me and said, “I’ve
caught four,” and I said, “What was
the bites like?” He said, “Absolute
b l i s t e r i n g t a k e s .” I n e v e r r e a l l y
thought much about it, but then after
that, John started having problems.
He’d get a bite, then there was nothing on the end, and his boilies had
gone. We never used to call it a hair
rig; we used to call it a tie-on, and we
were completely oblivious to the hair
rig. Obviously it was too long, and the
fish was sucking in the bait and not
getting the hook, so we completely
shelved the idea.
That winter when I went back onto
Darenth, I started messing about with
rigs, and one day I was in the next
swim to Lenny Middleton. When Len
used to cast out, we used to walk
away and let him get on with it; he
didn’t want you to see what he was
doing. But I thought, I’ve got no
secrets from Len, so I’ll cast out
straight in front of him, and I’d got
this bait hanging from the bend in the
hook. I cast it out, looked at Len’s
face, and I don’t know, I can’t explain
his expression; it was a really strange
expression. He said to me, “Lee, what
you’ve cast out there, don’t let anyone
see it,” and I said, “Ok, mate.” I didn’t
really know what he was talking
about, but I thought I must be onto
something, and it must be something
similar to what they were doing. Sure
enough, the hair rig thing came out
fairly soon after that, and suddenly
almost every carp that sucked your
bait in was a fish on the bank. There
were no more headaches trying to
strike the hooks through bait or anything. I think the hair rig, along with
boilies, is the biggest innovation. It
made us think a little bit more about
our end tackle, whereas before, my
number one priority was getting the
bait right. All of a sudden the rigs did
matter; now you couldn’t just use a
link ledger or something like that, you
had to think a little bit more about it.
One thing Len did say, when I got into
conversation with him afterwards,
was, “If everyone uses something like
this, it is going to make fishing so
much harder in the future,” and he
was dead right. At the time it was
new, the carp would pick it up and get
hooked, but obviously in the following
years, they worked their way round it
a little bit.
One thing I will do is backtrack a
little bit, because there’s one quite
important little bit that I have missed
out. Round about 1975, when I was
still at school, one of the lakes I used
to fish was Leisure Sport Sutton, now
known as RMC Sutton, or Cemex Sutton, but I never had a permit for it. I
fished it every Thursday; my dad
would drop me down there at first
light, I would fish it up until it got
dark, and then he came and picked
me up. At that time, we were suffering
with a really bad drought, and there
were bars sticking out of the water
everywhere. A couple of times I was
challenged for a ticket, by a woman
who was a bailiff, but I used to plead
ignorance, and somehow flutter my
eyelids and get away with it. But one
thing that struck me was that I
caught every single time I went, and

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