Friday, 22 May 2015

Pole Fishing the Bridgewater Canal - What Tackle To Use

A warm welcome to this weeks blog update i hope i find you all well and your nets wet.  I start this weeks update by again saying how well it has been getting such great feedback to these canal blogs.  This week i have received quite a few messages and emails saying that the previous two blogs have really helped them out in tackling the canal.  Feedback like this is like a big boost in the arm when writing blogs as there is no better feeling than someone letting you know that your writings have in some way helped them.

The previous two updates are listed here:

WHERE TO FISH ON A CANAL - Canals roots dating back to the industrial times can look quite featureless places and as such we have to take advantage of any features we find.  This blog shows how i go about picking out places to fish on the Canal and it also crosses over to my river exploration.

WHAT BAITS I USE FOR CANALS - This blog update covers all the baits i use on canal fishing sessions from the tiny pinkie through to corn.  This update also includes a small video on how i mix my ground bait for canals.  The session is an in depth look at how i use different baits to figure out my approach for waters.

This weeks blog update See's me looking at the tackle i use for fishing the canal and a simple rig i use for fishing the canal.  A look forward to this weekends bank holiday and my plans and the introduction finishes with a look at the upcoming river season.  The fishing is a session on the Bridgewater Canal where i have a play round with a few baits in preparation for a big hit session the next weekend.

On with the Update-

Tackle To Use For Fishing A Canal -

In this part i will try and share how i fish the local canal and i will break it down into two sub headings.  The first will cover the pole top kits i use and the second i will cover the terminal tackle with the current rig I'm using.

Top Kits For Fishing The Canal -

Number 6 Elastic - Pinkie/squatt line mainly - I have one pole kit fitted with really light elastic which is so soft you need to net every fish basically you catch it is so fine.  This is the first elastic i use when fishing a new section as you can hook and not bump every fish you strike into as it is so soft.  This i use mainly on my pinkie and squatt line as generally the fish you catch are smaller roach and skimmers.  A great place to start when wanting to judge what fish are in the section.

Blue Hydro Elastic - All Lines - This is probably my favourite elastic to use out of them all as it is soft enough for you to catch most silvers but also gives you a chance if you hit a bream, tench or big perch.  The elastic does have a lot of stretch in it so i find it lacks the back bone to ease fish like perch, tench and bream away from snaggy swims like reeds etc if you are fishing near them.  A great all round elastic for open water and my normal far bank maggot and castor top kit.

White Hydro Fitted with Puller - Castor/maggot/corn line - This elastic only comes out when i know there is a high chance of catching better fish and if i am hitting fish regular on the other elastics but either not getting them in or it being a real struggle.  I use this elastic mainly when i go all out for better fish on castor and hemp.  My though here are that in know i will bump some smaller fish but if i do i work on the mentality that if i did bump it, it was probably not a stamp of fish i am targeting any way.  As strong as i go on the canal and an elastic you should get most fish in on a canal barring big carp.  Probably the most exciting fishing is when i use this as i know i am going all out for bigger fish.

Terminal Tackle I Use For Canal Fishing -

There is no doubting that when fishing a canal our approach has to be more refined than fishing any other type of water.  In summer the canal is more coloured than winter so you can get away with the rigs i am using at the moment but come October to winter you will have to really refine right down sometimes to tiny size 22 hooks and one pound breaking strain hook lengths for bites.  The main thinking here is that summer and winter fishing on a canal are two completely different animals all together.

Canal Floats - 12x 4 floats
To be honest this is an area i am completely lost on and there are so many different weights of floats which just confuse anglers i think.  I go into the shop and i pick a float that looks light with a nice long bristle.  If i am looking at weights along the side i normally go for a 12x4 float.  I don't really look at this in to finer detail as i know when it comes to fishing with it i will have the weight shotted so the bristle is a mere pin prick.

Line - Bayer Perlon 1.7lb or 2lb1oz -
At this time of year i will fish my line straight through on 1lb 7oz line.  I find this line is fine enough to get bites all day along and catch small and big fish alike.  A lot of anglers use hook lengths but with tench around i work on the mind set that i don't want any breaks in the line that will create a weak point.  On the far bank line and when using a bigger hook like a 18 or 16 hook i will up to 2lb1oz line.

Hooks - B525 size 20 or 18 hook
On the canal i rarely go above a 18 hook unless i am using a bait like worm of corn.  Fishing rivers for chub has taught me that hook size does not necessarily equate to increased chances of getting a
fish in.  I regularly fish the river with a size 20 or 18 hook and even with the pressure of the river you find the hook well in the lips of the fish and not going any where.  Hooks i have ultimate confidence in and catching all the fish you see in my blog for the past few years.  Be prepared in winter though to tie up a few rigs at home with size 22 or even 24 hooks.

Weights -
 Probably the most important item of tackle behind the plummet shown in the picture for me.  You would be amazed how a weight pinging off your line can change how your float behaves and fishes.  When you get on the canal the first thing is do is plum up then set my use the shots to set the float.  This where your smaller shots like number 12, 11 shots can be the difference between a full bristle showing and a sensitive rig to just the tip of the bristle showing and a ultra sensitive rig.  Little difference like that make a huge difference.

My Current Rig Setup -
I always set up a few rigs at home as it saves so much time on the bank.  Tie the hook on using your favourite knott, i use a Palomar.  Then spool off enough line for the swim you are going to fish, you will find most will be covered by your top two sections. Slide on your float and pole rubbers to attach the float to the line and tie a overhand loop in the top to attach the rig yo your pole.  Set the float about the depth you are going to fish and add a bulk shot half way down the rig, for me its normally 2 to three number 8 then attach two number 12 shots equal distant apart form the bulk shot down to the hook.  One pole rig made and ready to go, it is a simple as that.

Well that's tackle covered next weeks update will cover where i fish my lines on the canal and why i fish there.

Bank Holiday Circus

In fishing you are always learning that goes without saying but i also think you have to also learn from past experiences and that is so true when it comes to Bank Holiday weekends.  They are always very appetising to me as an angler, what with 3 whole days to go at and the high chance in May of warm sunny weather.  Experience has taught me to think other wise though.

Bank holidays are a great time to go fishing but picking your right venue is a must and taking time to make sure you have chosen well is essential.  time has taught me to avoid places like canals, club waters and commercials as major hot spots for instance.  The weather and bank holidays seems to mix together to encourage all types of idiots to emerge from winter hiding and converge on waterways in the hope of either exploring the outside world of going fishing.

One example that springs to mind is a trip a few years ago on Flushing meadows fishery.  I arrived as the gates opened and enjoyed a good half an hour of peace and quiet before it happened, an idiot arrived.  A few lads spread evenly round the pool i was fishing a margin line on big pieces of meat, minimal feed, you don't need it on here when after the carp.  A whole bank to set up on he pegs in 7 maybe 8 yards up the bank.  So scene set picture this, he then opens a whole tin of sweetcorn, the big tins, then proceeds to hand full by hand full lob in the whole tin of corn.  To my amazement he then picks up another big tin of corn out of his box and begins fishing.  I just shook my head in shock at first but i must admit it was funny seeing his swim like a Jacuzzi of bubbles as the bream had a feast while he sat without a bite all day watching me catching fish in the margin.  By midday he was over asking questions and i helped him out but it just shows what it can be like had he fished the margin and put that in none of us would have caught! 

Canals avoided for the obvious regatta of boats that will be out in force come the weekend and on most canals they start quite early on compared to normal weekends out.   This weekend i am planning on getting some decorating done although i do have a pint of maggots so i might get out for one of two.

River Season Round The Corner

Where has the time gone it seems only yesterday we wrapped up the pike season and the river season and now its only just over 20 days till we will be back on the banks of the river.  Personally i have enjoyed the challenge the canals have brought me this closed season.  Working out a new stretch and then it all coming good has been a great achievement for me and i have also enjoyed writing theses blogs.

It has also been a time of great change for me both with two children under three and moving into a new house that needs decorating head to toe it has meant fishing has really been an as and when affair.  My plans for the early season are to explore the places we found chub last year and see if the warm weather brings in other species like roach and dace so that is something i am really looking forward too.  The new river season is certainly on my mind a lot now and that will only increase as we get closer.  I might run a small series in the introductions of my favourite sessions on the river as we draw close as i think that would be fun so look out for that.

On to this weeks update

Mixing It Up On The Bridgewater...

Sometimes in angling i think you have those moment where your head is full if that many ideas on what you want to do on a session you end up not giving your all to one particular plan and not getting the best from that scenario but on the other hand i also feel you need to have sessions where you try new things because if you don't how will you ever know the reaction of the fish to another bait?

The previous session i went with a game plan of fishing caster over the far side and this worked really well but i was yet to settle on a set game plan for the big hit session i had planned for this venue before the rivers opened again.  This bit hit i was hoping would be a Nice round off to the canal sessions but before i committed and drew up a final game plan for that session i needed to explore all possibilities and i think this shown in my bait tray.

As you can see it contains almost all the baits mentioned in last weeks blog with Castor, hemp, maggot, pinkie, ground bait and pellet all on show.  To gauge the reaction to the baits from the fish i fed two short lines down the shelf, one on maggot ground bait and one on pinkie and ground bait.  I also fed a line on the far shelf base and one  right over on the shallow far shelf.

Fishing 4 lines is never easy and it involves a lot of feeding and topping up of these lines and i knew concentration was the key and i also knew mine would drop as i caught fish so i set myself a short window to fish and was to be packed in for 11am. 

The conditions on the day looked perfect with a cool day planned with plenty of cloud cover i expected the middle lines to produce well early on and the far bank lines to also benefit as the fish do seem to spook on that far shelf in the sun.  Both lines fed on the near shelf with two balls of ground bait on each one laced with pinkie and one with maggot.

I started over my pinkie line and was straight into fish.

This line was providing plenty of bites but all seemed to be of this stamp or smaller so i fed one more ball of ground bait and went over to my maggot line.  The fish on the maggot line where noticeably bigger and by a good way with some nice skimmers mixed in to boot.

This in my eyes was showing me that maggot might just be the way to go down the track for the slightly better fish and this was proved even more when i moved back onto the pinkie line and picked up another small roach.  The maggot was picking up better fish but i was still picking up some of the smaller ones as well.   While messing around on these lines i was flicking the odd few casters over my far bank line whilst also stopping in between to feed the bottom of the far bank shelf line with castor and hemp.

I have to admit it was hard work juggling 4 swims while trying to concentrate on fishing the swim i was in at the moment.  I fished the inside line till bites dried up and knowing that boat traffic may hamper my chances on the 3/4 line i went over this first on castor.  The bite took me by surprise as it was quite quickly i was into a fish and as i expected the castor was picking out a better stamp of fish on a consistent basis.

On this line i expected it to be quite an unknown as it is a line i really don't fish when on the canal so it was a great discovery for me as better fish after better skimmer kept coming to the net and the session was really coming together to show me some new stuff about canal fishing.  It was then the bites died completely so i went over the far bank line as surely there would be fish waiting but no nothing at all.  I went round all three lines again down the middle but nothing, you could say big fish moved in but on all three lines at the same time? Not a chance and i knew that i had a pike in my area and it was on the hunt.

This was confirmed by the fish in my keep net all coming up to the top as if there only chance of survival was to get out of that keep net.  As with all my sessions i had a pike rod to hand so i reached over for it and put it together and readied it for action.  Eventually i managed to catch a fish on the pole and bringing it in resulted in the normal bow wave behind the fish, this pike was only small but certainly on the feed.  The fish i was bringing in had been grabbed and had a deep laceration down its flank so it was on the hooks he went.  It didn't take long before the pike claimed its meal and was having its picture taken before being released away from the swim.

It always amazes me how silver fish know a pike is on the feed and it is still quite surprising to me how quickly they settle into feeding again once the pike has gone.  Swims that hadn't produced a fish 10 minutes ago now alive with bites and this is the reason i take the pike rod as you could literally be waiting ages for the pike to move non otherwise.

I went over the far bank line as i hit the pike down the middle so i guessed it would be best to rest the lines.  The fish over the far side where OK fish but not as good as down the shelf where the better bream seemed to be.  I settled down back on my castor line down the middle and after a few bream i hit into a real bonus fish in a 4 1/2lb tench which really showed the benefit of castor.

To be honest i stuck on this line for the remainder of the session as i was intrigued as to how it would fish and learn from it.  It fished well all the way till 11am and the quality of fish coming on this line went from strength to strength with some really nice roach showing as well.

I called it a day as a load of boats trundled right through the swim.  It also felt like the right time to call it a day as i had learnt a good lesson fishing a new line and had something to build on.  A 10lb8oz net in only a few hours i was made up.

Well that sums up another blog update i hope this weekend is kind to you all,

till next time

tight lines



  1. Wow. Awesome article. Please do more articles like this in the future. Very informational and knowledgeable. I will expect more from you in the future. For now i will just bookmark your page and surely I'm gonna come back later to read more. Thank you to the writer!


  2. Hi Danny. I notice you mentioned using the palomar knot for attaching your hooks. A very strong and simple knot, for sure. I use it for most of my fishing when going through an "eye" such as eyed hooks, swivels etc. Do you use eyed hooks or spade end with the palomar? I have never seen it used on spade end hooks.

    1. Hi Peter, Its a great knot isn't it. I use it for my hooks and for my pike fishing as well when using braid, never lets me down. I use eyed hooks mate for my fishing, I do own a hook tie but never can master it to the point i can with palomar when i can tie a hook on in the dark with a size 20!!. My uncle uses spade ends and ties them on by hand which is a sight to see i can tell you.