Next to presenting bread crusts on a greased line, perhaps the most effec-tive of all carping methods – and there are many – is to ‘freeline’. The secret behind this most sensitive presentation is to choose a bait large and heavy enough to be cast accurately without the addition of shots or float, and simply to offer it on the bottom on a completely ‘freeline’.
Good freelining swims are close to beds of surface weed such as broad leaf potamogeton or lilies, alongside fallen trees or where brambles trail into the water, on the top of a shallow, gravel bar, or wherever carp have been seen moving even very close in alongside marginal rushes or sedges. In short, almostany area within 20 to 30 yards of the bank. Beyond that distance freelining techniques can cause problems to the inexperienced.
Care must be taken to ensure that most of the line lies perfectly flat along the bottom, or ‘line bites’, where a fish swims into a ‘hanging’ line, might occur.
Good, heavy, baits are lobworms (try two on the hook), breadflake, luncheon meat, small whole freshwater mussels straight out of the shell, and various pastes such as tinned cat food, or sausage meat stiffened with wholemeal flour. Use hook sizes 2 to 6 depending on baits, and tie direct to 8-10 lb b.s. Line. Where there are no weeds or snags or where the carp average on the small side, line strength can be reduced to 6-7lbs. In each case use an ‘all through action’ rod.
Bites are usually bold when free-lining because the carp simply feels minimum resistance as it sucks in and makes off with the bait, so allow some ‘slack’ or a ‘bow’ in the line to hang down from the rod tip and watch it carefully where it enters the water. Alternatively, and especially
in windy conditions, use a foil indicator between reel and butt ring. After a preliminary ‘twitch’ or sometimes without any prior warning the line will suddenly and confidently rise up through the water. Wait for it to fully tighten before striking hard and far back. This is most important when using big hooks which do not penetrate the carp’s rubbery mouth easily. To help penetration, crunch down the barb flat with a pair of forceps and really sharpen the outside edge between point and barb with a carbrundum stone. It is worth the extra few minutes, because a carp is often lost within seconds.
Learn to walk slowly, quietly, and not to make any sudden arm movements around a carp water, and you will even hook fish which confidently swim into within mere feet of where you sit.