As the weather warms up, the weed life soon starts to grow in abundance. With weed of varying kinds there’s no shortage of natural insects and larvae that call this green mass home. In turn, carp often frequent weed beds in order to fill themselves on naturals, which means it’s a great place to find fish, but fishing in and around weed can be very testing; here are a few tips to help you, and hopefully allow you to conquer those weedy venues near you…
Make yourself, or buy yourself, a weed rake. Simply chuck it out on your spot and rake the channel back to your rods clean. Not only will this free the insects and naturals in the weed, but it will expose the lush fertile silt which you have ripped the weed from. This is perfect if you are targeting tench on the float, as not only is your presentation sorted on your spot, but you have a nice clear channel to play fish back to your waiting net, too. It's best to check the fishery is happy with you doing this before you start, however. If you are fishing further out, you can buy castable weed rakes that do the same job but can simply be cast in like a normal lead. Either way, clear the weed and give yourself the best presentation possible, no chance of your hook or bait being snagged up.
Longer is Better
Combine a longer hooklength with a slow sinking, buoyant bait, like a pop up, this is a deadly combo for weed fishing. Fish will swim just above the weed as they move to pick off naturals; if you can present a pop up which is super slow sinking and rests on top of the weed, you're in for a winner. Make sure your hooklength is long enough so that as your lead or feeder buries into the weed it can still present the pop up on top, and doesn’t get dragged down too. You can get an indication as to the length and type of the weed by bringing some out and measuring it from the tip to the white root and then making your hooklength even longer to be safe. A piece of buoyant dissolving rig foam can help this presentation too.
Cast around and feel for you lead to donk, or at least give you a sense it's landed in a slightly clearer, less weedy part of the lake. Learn to feel for what the donk of your lead tells you. The areas that give you more of a feel on the lead are often clearer areas that have been fed on, and are much better to present your bait on; by adjusting your setup, you can be sure that you are fishing in a good area and your rig is primed, ready for a fish to take it.
Chods and Helicopters
Fishing with a chod rig or helicopter running on either leadcore or a leader is a brilliant way of ensuring you are well presented, even when fishing in weed. The development of drop of systems (such as the Korda Heli Safe) for both these rigs means that you can drop your lead if it gets jammed in the weed, and thus hopefully have a better chance of landing each fish. Next time you see a fish show, have one of these set up, and cast
to it with the peace of mind that you have perfect presentation; just make sure there’s plenty of space between the bottom bead and top bead for your hooklength to find its place in front of the fish's mouth.
Zigs & Surface
As there's so many naturals in weed beds, fishing a zig above them or over depth on the surface can be totally deadly. Use a weed lead clip to make sure the lead is dropped on the take and you can play the fish freely back to your landing net. Try fishing on the surface on warmer days near weed beds, as fish use them to patrol, and feed confidently around them.