If you want to become a fully-rounded carp angler, one thing you can do to broaden your horizons and boost your catch rate is perfect your long-range skills. Ken Townley shows how.
T humping out a 3oz (85g) lead beyond the 100m (110yd) mark into the middle of a large lake can be a satisfying experience for a carp angler. It’s a challenging technique to master in its own right, but it’s not just a macho way of testing your strength and skill. Once you can make your presence felt in the big casting zone more fish are within your range.
On some waters angling pressure has pushed the fish out into the middle – well away from their usual haunts in the margins. On these waters you’re stymied unless you can call on long-range tactics. This doesn’t just mean building up your muscles for big casts. Going for carp at a distance is a specialized branch of the sport, requiring a new overall approach.
Rods with backbone
For casting long distances look for a rod that’s strong and tough – and capable of handling at least 3oz (85g) of lead. Ideally you need a rod to match your own stature, strength and casting capabilities. A 15 stone man might be able to put baits over the horizon with one type of rod, but the same rod may be totally useless in the hands of an 8 stone string bean standing 5ft tall in his socks.
The market for long-range carp rods is huge, so it’s a good idea to canvass the opinions of experienced anglers before making any decision about buying one.
Powerful fast taper rods are among the best for the job because they can cope with the heavy leads needed to cast long distances. However, if you are not familiar with this type of rod the stiffness of the lower section can cause a few problems when playing a strong fish under the tip.
Hooks can pull out and hooklinks can break as you try to keep a constant, even pressure on the fish. The unwary angler unaccustomed to playing fish on fast taper rods can come a cropper. But if you want to cast a long way you have to make sacrifices in the rod’s action and there is no doubt that fast taper rods are the best for distance.
Since you want to cast a long way out and, with luck, play fish at remote distances, you need a large reel with a long, tapered spool capable of holding a lot of line. An equally important feature is a two-speed oscillation retrieve and a cross-line lay system. This prevents line on the spool bedding in on itself when you retrieve. The Shimano Biomaster range is well suited to the job.
Choose line that is strong enough to cast big weights and play fish safely. On the other hand, lighter line can help your casting. As a guide, 6lb (2.7kg) line is adequate on waters with few underwater snags. When you have to deal with underwater bars, plateaus and snags it might be safer to use a really tough line such as Berkley Big Game line in 12lb (5.4kg) or 15lb (6.8kg) b.s.
Take the sting out of it
Remember that for really long distances you may have to lower the breaking strain of your main line and attach a powerful shock leader. This is a length of heavier line designed to absorb the strain of casting 2/4-3/4oz (80-100g) of lead and to prevent crack-offs which can be very dangerous and frustrating to say the least. It must be of at least 15-20lb (6.8-9. lkg) b.s.
Since you’re dealing with powerful forces the shock leader is no good unless it’s tied to the main line with a reliable knot that can withstand considerable strain. Spend a bit of time learning to tie a suitable knot.
Ken Townley recommends you try a version of a double blood knot which he finds extremely reliable. He ties it with the lighter test nylon doubled over . If tied correctly it is a very strong knot, but it takes a bit of practice to get it right every time. Alternatively you could try a four turn water knot or any other strong knot capable of doing the same job.
Most distance casters aim for the shortest length of shock leader they can get away with in order to achieve maximum distance. Modern practice tends towards using a shock leader with only five turns of line on the spool – perhaps 5m (16ft) overall. Ken prefers to use longer leaders, of about 10m (33ft). The extra length not only acts as a safety cushion for really beefy casts, but it is also pleasant to hear the ‘click, click, click’ as the leader knot comes through the rod rings and on to the reel. Then the extra long leader performs yet another task — allowing the full power of heavier nylon to be brought to bear upon the tiring fish.
Aerodynamics and rigs
The last thingyou want going through your mind when you’ve just made that magic 140m (150yd) is… ‘I wonder if it’s tangled?’ It is all too easy to listen to nagging voices shredding your confidence. What you really want is 100% confidence in your end tackle – so keep it simple and tangle free. ger on the reel spool and feathering straightens the line before the bomb splashes in.
Loose feeding Without doubt the King Cobra throwing stick is the best tool for shooting free offerings out a long way with precision. It’s a hollow length of metal tube with a hand grip at one end and a curved spout at the other. You put boilies in the stick and launch them a few at a time with a throwing action. With practice you can throw 20mm boilies up to 130m (142yd).
Long-range carp fishing can be highly effective, especially on waters where the fish have become suspicious of the margins because of bankside disturbance, and where they are wary from being caught. Mastery of long-range tactics adds another string to your bow. But don’t make the mistake of relying on distance on every water at all times. It is pointless casting to the far horizon when the fish are under your feet. Be prepared to adapt your tactics and alter your casting range to suit the conditions.
You can also incorporate anti-tangle tubing in the rig to help reduce problems. A helicopter rig, keeps the hooklength safely away from the main line.
Hooks When you strike at range your power is diluted by the distance – hooking the fish properly is harder. Make sure your hook is sharp. Barbless hooks are kinder and may penetrate more easily. Fishing with hair-rigged baits means the hook is fully exposed, making hooking easier. Drift and drag Wind can put an unwanted belly in the line on the cast. Placing your fin