I have emphasised that I preferred a Mk. IV Carp or Avon rod or 10 ft. length for most of my perch fishing, and that of the livebaits available to me I considered minnows, gudgeon and loach to be really first class. In addition to the rod and bait, therefore, all I need is a choice of monofil line – four pound for close range work, snag-free fishing, or small perch and six pound for distance casting – and a hooking system for the live-bait. Logically, following my remarks about spinning I ought to use a wire trace, since minnows are snapped up by pike just as readily as spinners. But I confess I am most unhappy about wire traces for livebaiting since they seem to give a stiffness, even in the finer strengths, that the perch must find unnatural and difficult to mouth. This is not to say that one cannot catch perch on the worst of the hawser-like shop-bought snap tackles, but usually such thick wire is off-putting to anything but a ravenous fish. So for livebaiting I take a chance on pike, and I usually use a single hook through the lip of the bait if the bait is a minnow or stickleback3A. With gudgeon livebaits at close range I’ll use a number eight or 10 treble hook near the dorsal fin3B. And for longer casts the same size treble in the upper lip3C. If the livebaits are larger, say one or two ounce, then a small snap tackle tied on nylon monofil3D, will do for close range work, and a lip-hooked treble for longer casts.
I have tried plaited nylon traces since they are more supple than wire and hopefully less prone to being severed by the teeth of pike, but it is difficult to obtain low breaking strain plaited line of any kind (Black Spider, has, I believe gone out of production). They are also rather conspicuous, and I prefer a monofil line.
Livebaits can be fished in a variety of ways, the simplest being free-line livebaiting using either a single or small treble and a lip-hooked bait. This is used for close range work, and although useful when a finicky shoal has been located, it is not generally as good as its simplicity might suggest. With such small baits one is restricted to a cast of probably less than 10 yds.
The legered livebait technique using an Arlesey Bomb is useful for achieving greater distances, and means that a perch cannot move towards the angler after taking bait without registering on the bite indicator. All the standard methods of bite indication, such as a dough bobbin or piece of silver paper on
A lip-hooked minnow live or deadbait; B, gudgeon with single treble arrangement for live or dead bait; C, lip-hooked gudgeon, treble hook, for fedgered livebait; D, small roach with tiny snap tackle of number 12 or 14 trebles tied to nylon. the line7, are quite adequate for perch legering techniques.
Livebaits cast considerable distances and fished at great depth on Arlesey Lake in Bedfordshire were not found to be very productive when Richard Walker tried them many years ago, but I can imagine that they could be successful on some waters if the livebait survived the cast. I have used legered livebait at distances up to 40 yds., but in quite shallow water, and here the technique certainly worked very well. Most takes were indicated by a twitch or two of the silver paper, followed by a long run: I never really knew when to strike, but achieved moderate success by striking when the long run was well under way.
A technique which might prove successful, but which I only offer as a suggestion since I have not tested it, is that of distance casting using a two ounce weight6. Martin
Gay has used this method with great success for piking and can reach about 70 yards with a small livebait. The two ounce lead is attached to about 18 in. of thick monofil which in turn is attached to a swivel. This then attaches to a further 18 in. of thick monofil which terminates in another swivel. It is the last swivel which runs freely on the reel line over the hook line. The main disadvantage is that to reach such distances a powerful rod and thicker line than one would normally use for perch fishing would have to be used. Nevertheless I can visualise several large gravel pits yielding big perch which might well succumb to this method.
In snaggy waters the swan shot leger can be used, but for the same weight an Arlesey Bomb is naturally a more aerodynamic shape.
Float paternostering and floatless paternostering and free-swimming livebaits, can be regarded as variations on what I regard as a deadly method. Exactly as in pike fishing, a Billy Lane stop knot of four pound b.s. monofil is used to arrest a bead of small diameter, which in turn stops a float with sizeable hole through the middle. The whole rig is scaled down from that used perhaps more commonly in piking: the float should have a maximum diameter of of j in., and the paternoster weight can be one to three swan shots.
Free swimming livebait is best u^ed in calm conditions or with a back wind, bufseems to have little advantage over paternostered live-bait, except that the lead of the latter has a habit of finding snags. If the current or wind drift is too great for free swimming livebait, or for float paternostering rigs involving light leads, then it is probably better either to leger with a running lead or to paternoster without a float, but also using a running lead. The floatless paternoster does tend to keep the livebait up off the bottom, whereas free-lined and legered livebaits take the bait right to the bottom.
A take on livebait is a real headache when perching, because, to me at least, no two days are the same’. On some occasions the line streams off the spool. On other days the line twitches off slowly, and keeps on twitching for what seems like an age. Floats may bob under and come up with infuriating regularity or they may disappear not to be seen until after you strike. Unlike eels they do not seem to run off with the bait, stop and turn it, and then run off again. My technique is to feel for the fish and strike early rather than late: if I miss at that stage with perch I feel I stand a better chance of another run particularly if I have located a shoal.
Small livebaits do not distinguish between big perch and small, and fish down to about 3 to 4 ounces may be taken on minnow. Unhooking livebait-caught fish is less satisfactory in general than, say, unhooking spinner-caught fish, since the hook is often swallowed in spite of all the efforts of the angler to avoid this.
When a small perch gets the hook in the back of its throat, with the hook bend downwards, one might just as well knock the perch on the head as a rule, since its perch die after being hooked in this way. This chance of living is slight. Perhaps there is is as true of worming as it is of livebaiting, some particularly critical structure in that and in this sense, at least, spinning is much position, such as an artery, for many small the more enjoyable method for me.