Saturday, 17 September 2016

Time for touchy knots and sinking tools

Saturday morning and it has been over a week since I bothered any fish, live ones that is. I did get to flake the cod for our fisherman's pie last night.

A typical radio controlled wall clock
As I sit here watching the world slowly emerge from the dark, the only sound is that of the clock ticking away the seconds as all modern digital clocks do. Taking it's time signal from the atomic clock at the National Physical Laboratory (NPL) in Teddington the time signal is transmitted to the whole of the UK from Cumbria. The atomic clock is so accurate that it is claimed it would lose or gain less than a second in some 138 million years. Fascinating modern technology being of use to everybody and available for very little money. A wall clock capable of receiving the signal can be bought for as little as ten or eleven pounds.

What a contrast to our simple hobby. It is so easy to spend lots of money on all sorts of tackle and to dial into the latest 'must-have' piece of kit. I am no different to a lot of anglers, keen to own and try the latest gizmo, well some of them. But, to quote a football phrase "at the end of the day" it all boils down to getting a fish to take a bait, be hooked and landed. We all have hundreds (if not thousands, but don't tell the wife) of pounds worth of gear. Some of it is essential, like hooks, line and a camouflage hat, but most of it is obviously there just for show. It is used to intimidate a fellow match angler or to make it look as if you really do know what you are doing.

Why am I sounding so scathing of our beloved tackle? Well, This week I was watching a video about fishing with one of those novelty pen rods that are sold in vast numbers on eBay. I have always thought of these things as gimmicks designed for wives and children to buy dad on Fathers Day. That may be the case and I am sure that most of them never see the bank-side. On the video, this myth was dispelled by the presenters landing several good sized fish. Fascinating as that was it was the tackle that intrigued me, or should I say the lack of it. They were touch ledgering.

If like me you are relatively new to fishing, you may not have understood this term either. I have heard the term being used before but I had not understood exactly what it meant. It is not talked about too much in the angling press and the cynic in me might think that is because it is not something that will sell tackle. It is so simple and apparently effective that I have to give it a go.

The video mentioned it in passing, assuming everybody would know what 'touch ledgering' was. Maybe most people watching it did, but I was confused. All that appeared to be happening was that the main line was tied to a hook. The hook was baited and dropped (not cast) into the margin to be taken by a big fish. I though I had missed something but after posting the question on the Maggot Drowning forum  I discovered that it was really that simple. The bait is cast and the line is held between the finger and thumb of the right hand, or what ever is comfortable, and the slightest movement can be detected. It is said to be much more sensitive than quiver tipping. The other advice is always hold on to the rod as bites can be sudden and  furious.

I have yet to try this but judging by the feedback on the forum it is most rewarding and very easy. I am now wondering if all that tackle is the result of very successful marketing and appealing to the desire to own nice things. This is an extreme case of keeping it simple and I can't wait to give it a go, but first I have to master the art of tying a hook to the main line. Although I could use a hooklength that is sort of stepping up a gear and I want to keep this simple and that means tying the hook directly to the main line or 'freelining' as it is apparently called.

Hook tying

I have now been fishing for a couple of years, and although I tie all my own hooklengths, I have not used many knots and never tied a hook directly to the line. It is all these basic skills that I have missed out on by not fishing as a kid. I suspect that most seasoned anglers reading this may find it strange that something so basic has passed me by. I have managed to get by with a handful of simple knots. My spade hooks are tied  using a hook tyer and my eyed hooks have all been tied using the knotless knot. I now needed a knot to tie the hook directly to the line and the most obvious choice is the Grinner or Uni-knot.

My little yellow knot book
Referring to my little yellow book of knots, I set about practising the knot with some 0.22 (5lb) monofilament line and a Guru MWG size 12 hook. It looks so simple in the book, and I am sure it is, but the first few attempts just look a mess. After several attempts without a neat result I refereed to the internet and found several videos showing how simple it really is. This is where the power of video really pays off, compared to pictures and drawings in a book. It shows the whole process and even if the narrator does not explain everything the moving pictures tell the whole story, provided the tyer keeps his (or her) hands out of the way. I found looking at several videos of people tying the same knot showed that there are more than one ways to do it and it is a case of finding the method that suits.

A much enlarged picture of my best attempt at a four-turn uni-knot. I suspect they will get better in time.
click on image to enlarge even further!


How many times have you dropped something and it has bounced straight into the water? I know I have a few times and it is such a relief to discover the said item floats. Disgorgers are a prime candidate for being dropped in the drink. This week I was disappointed to discover that my new, expensive, Guru disgorgers sink. I, like most of us, have amassed a huge supply of disgorgers from give-aways, and in my case, a couple of bulk lots of used tackle. Throwing them all in a bowl of water revealed that about half of them sunk. Even more surprising was that it was the cheaper unbranded ones that tend to float. 

The two Guru 'slammo' style disgorgers
 I bought the Guru disgorgers because they are of the 'slammo' design that I like. the Guru versions are round in cross section and collect the hook very well, masking the point and enabling it to be withdrawn easily without catching the inside of the fish's mouth or lips on the way out. I am still happy with them but it is a mistake not to make them buoyant. They do have a hole in the handle to attach a piece of line or a lanyard, although I am not keen on this option. I am surprised as I do like a lot of the stuff made by Guru. I know I could add something to them to make them float but that would detract from the ergonomics of the design which is nice to use.