Artificial

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August 2013 - What’s really happening?

I hope that you find my journal interesting and entertaining. If, having read this, you think that I am talking rubbish then at least you have stopped and thought about it long enough to come to that conclusion which is something of a result in my book. If you would like to comment on this article or anything else relating to my website, please feel free to contact me using the adjacent form. Feedback is always greatly appreciated and very helpful when it comes to improving both my site and my angling. Thank you for looking.

 

From the water’s edge

I am sure of one thing and that is that I’m not sure about anything, especially if it’s related to dropshotting. We turned up at the river to find it clear but high. To be honest it looked good, but results didn’t bear that out. I couldn’t get much joy casting and retrieving the usual baits although Pete managed half a dozen. To my mind these were the ideal conditions for drop-shotting to demonstrate its worth. The fish were sitting in the quieter water as usual but this was much reduced due to the pressure of the current. A bait held in there should be a racing certainty I figured. Sure enough first drop in the tip rattled and a half pound perch was scooting around the swim before being lifted to hand. At last the method had an opportunity to demonstrate its worth. With no more takes forthcoming, I moved up river and dropped the rig in the side. Immediately, a decent perch moved up the current and approached the bait. It took a good 15 minutes of jiggling and flicking the rod-tip, with the fish retreating and then coming back for another look before it made the fatal mistake. It was my biggest from this stretch so far at around 1-4.

What disturbed me about this take, was the sheer persistence and effort required to get a fish to take. In this instance I could watch every move the fish made. I tried every variation of lure activation that I could think of but none made any difference. Not shaking the lure, not smoothly lifting the lure or any variation in between. In the end the fish just gave in and took it while I was moving it just the same as I had a dozen times before. There is no way that I would have left that rig there for that long if I had not been able to see that there was a fish sitting right on it. To make matters worse, the next one just hit it as soon as the lead hit the bottom. I don’t need a drop shot rig to get those takes. Any bait cast in and allowed to sink would have done.

A lure fished on the DS rig is clearly very attractive and invariably attracts fish to the spot. But having now watched many fish dealing with it, there is clearly a problem with the presentation. They are very doubtful about it and overcoming their reservations is time consuming and difficult. My blogs on the subject have attracted several e-mails from people having the same problems. Takes tend to be tentative and when fish are visible they seem reluctant to strike. Changing to a straightforward cast and retrieve shad gets instant hits, definite takes and fish.

In its favour, I have never used it and not had at least a couple of takes. On the other hand, I can’t put my hand on my heart and say that standard techniques aren’t better. I want it to work, it would give me an extra option in particular circumstances. Maybe it will be more effective in the dirty water of canals, but I have used it on them a few times now, had a few bites, but never caught. On two of those occasions, chucking a shad out in the normal way, produced immediately. Last week, this zander hit my 2” kopyto hard and I quickly popped it back and put out the DS only to get a couple of tentative indications and no more fish.

It might appear that a 10 gm DS lead hitting the water would be no more scary to the fish than a 3” shad on a 6 gm jighead would be, but it is. Fish will turn and grab the shad, but that lead must give off different signals, maybe because it is so dense, because so far all I have seen are bow waves departing the area.

Nevertheless, I have this uncomfortable feeling that more usual and straightforward methods attract just as much attention from fish that don’t hit and for all the same reasons. Who knows how many fish follow our lures in but don’t and never will take. Sharkey and I once found an area of clear shallow water on a canal in which many perch could clearly be seen sitting randomly around on the silt. Most of them ignored our lures , some of them were panicked by them, but one or two took them with no fuss. I would say that the vast majority just weren’t interested.

The last swim of the day was the most interesting. There were several nice chub there. They kept coming back round to look at the lure, they kept going up to it, interested, not frightened, but then they wouldn’t take it either. Fish to 3 pounds plus actually brushed the lure with their noses but would not open their mouths and take it in. Some perch came by and a pike, but apart from a couple of very tiny perch, they just wouldn’t do the decent thing.

I spent an hour tweeking and jiggling, lifting and dropping the lure until in the end I just rigged the same bait on a 1 gm jighead and dibbled it under the rid tip. Within two minutes one of those better perch was on the bank and we were heading for the pub.

 

 

 

There is one other drawback that makes this method less interesting than I would like. Changing to it is not like changing from a shad to a spinner to a crankbait. You have to swap rigs. You can’t just change the hook size, you have to change rigs. This requires a good system of rig storage or two rods. At the moment I favour two rods, but I am bugged by the feeling that chopping from one method to the other is ruining the chances of both.

Pete had a good idea, put the rigs on pole winders. It would keep them tangle free and easy to access. Swapping is still a pain though however you look at it.

I still have questions: Should I be using only bigger lures? Would a proper paternoster be more effective by moving the running line away from the bait? Should I ignore small indications and wait even longer (Zzzzzz) for the big pull? Should I just accept that I have been had again by the tackle manufacturers and others like me who are running out of things to say about something that is fundamentally easy and straightforward?

I can’t get away from this nagging feeling that this method’s apparent popularity owes more to its novelty value, perceived coolness and the advertising hype which enables manufacturers to re-brand their existing jigging rods as essential additions to the armoury.

I’d just like to finish with this picture which clearly demonstrates something that I think we lure anglers struggle to get to grips with; scale. If you are very small then a tiny lure is very big. We think that they won’t see stuff because it looks small to a 6 ft human, when it can be half the size of a fish’s body. It is easy to think of 8 lb fluoro as subtle but it doesn’t look quiet so subtle at this scale does it. It is not only size that is affected by scale. This fluoro doesn’t quite look so supple any more either. Flexibility means different things to 6ft humans and 3” perch. Distance is a different concept to our finny friends. Our idea of a slow retrieve must seem bizarre to a small fish. Or any fish for that matter. Half a turn of the reel handle can move the lure a foot or more in a split second, when small insects may only move at a fraction of that speed naturally. While fish can move rapidly if they want, they rarely go far. A fish travelling at normal retrieve speed for forty yards is not very realistic is it? I am never surprised when fish don’t take the lure. I am always more surprised when they do, especially when using the drop-shot!

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