Once, ledgering was considered a crude and clumsy way of fishing, only resorted to when float fishing had failed to catch fish. Now, ledgering has a separate and valued status as a means of fishing, and the varied styles and techniques have led to the capture of many large fish.
Basically the method presents the bait on the bottom of a lake, reservoir, stream or river where coarse species such as bream, barbel, carp and tench often feed.
The technique known as linkledgering has become extremely popular in recent years. For this, a 4in length of nylon, doubled, with shots attached and the line passing through the loop is the simplest method to use.
In stillwaters, after the lead has sunk, the line is tightened without moving the lead or bait and the rod placed in two rod rests with about 4in of the rod top submerged (except when a rodtip bite indicator is being used): this counteracts wind, drift, or both. Bites are indicated by one of the indicators available.
Be prepared to strike
In river fishing it is sometimes advisable to hold the rod and so be prepared to strike quickly. The rod can be supported on one knee and the line held between thumb and forefinger so that a bite can be felt. The tip of the rod must be sensitive. With practice, a take by a fish will be distinguished from the natural movement of the tackle with the current.
The tackle can be cast into one spot and anchored there, but it usually pays to cover a larger area, particularly if the water is unfamiliar, by allowing a light rig such as a linkledger (also known as a paternoster link) to roll across the bed. Cast down and across stream and cover a stretch with repeated arcs, moving downstream. The question of bite detection is of prime importance in ledgering. There are various methods of detecting a fish, but, of course, the most important one is the rod tip.
Rigs for ledgering vary according to river conditions and the bait being used. At all times the weight of the lead should be sufficient to do what is required but no more. When ‘rolling the bottom’ the amount of weight should be such that the bait (and lead) will roll but only just, and much experimenting is often necessary to get this right.
For holding the bottom in very fast water—where say, six SSG (swan) shots will not hold bottom—an Arlesey (a pearshaped lead designed by Richard Walker) flattened with a hammer is ideal. Leads like the oldfashioned ‘coffin’ and running bullet set up resistance and should be avoided, although the former has much to recommend it if a swivel is pushed into one end and held in place by flattening the lead at that point. The line is then passed through the swivel.