Long Range Legering and Related Techniques for Perch

ALTHOUGH IT IS true to say that new techniques are a rare commodity in angling, the invention by Dick Walker of the Arlesey Bomb, Fig 26, and long range legering for big perch is certainly one of them. Prior to the use of the bomb, a drilled bullet, , was the usual method of getting distance. This it did quite well; but, with distance, accuracy was lost. The aerodynamic shape of the bomb means that both accuracy and distance can be achieved.

Dick designed this outfit in 1950/ specifically to catch the big perch which then existed in Arlesey Lake in Bedfordshire, but its versatility was such that the tackle then became widely used to catch many other species. It was a particularly favourite rig of specimen hunters for about 20 years and is still extensively used. For perch fishing in large gravel pits, clay pits and even quite shallow lakes of other kinds, the straightforward Arlesey Bomb long range leger rig takes some beating.

Linesoffivetosix pound breaking strain can be used with 1 or 1 1/2 oz: ideally the former is for use with heavier lines but will cope nevertheless). Such a breaking strain is necessary if distances of 50 to 70 yards are to be achieved. Any weaker line would always be likely to snap on the cast while a stronger line knocks yards off the distance achieved.

Thus, while you would perhaps prefer to fish for perch with three to four pound line to get the best battle out of the quarry, such line would not take the strain of casting. Hooked at considerable distance on this tackle few perch put up a great scrap, but a big perch is such a lovely sight to most anglers that they (myself included) are quite prepared to forget the fight itself.

The five to six pound monofil reel line is threaded through the rod rings and then through the swivel eye of the bomb: the bomb then slides freely along the reel line. For large lobworms a number 10. 8 or 6 hook is about right, and an eyed version is tied directly to the reel line. I am not the world’s expert on knots and I simply use a half blood knot, although Eric Hodson of the National Association of Specimen Groups informs me that the now famous half blood knot ought to be replaced by others more efficient in terms of knot strength.

A stop shot, Fig 24, is then squeezed on to the line at the chosen distance from the hook and effectively prevents the leger weight from sliding down to the hook eye. I say ‘effectively prevents’, and while this may be largely true, it is also true that the shot slips often enough to be a nuisance -either during the cast or on the strike. Two smaller shots can be used, the effect being rather like using two locking nuts, and various other efforts have been made to prevent the stop (whatever it consists of) from slipping under pressure, Fig 25. None of them is entirely satisfactory, but it may be that somebody has designed something of which I am unaware.

Of those stops illustrated, the swivel is undoubtedly most effective at preventing the bomb slipping down to the hook, but there are no less than three knots in this arrangement. One knot is enough for me, as a particularly poor tyer of knots, but it should be remembered that three knots, each causing a reduction in strength of say 10 per cent does not in theory at least reduce the overall strength of the tackle by 30 per cent, but still by 10 per cent. In other words, providing one is a consistent tyer of good knots, the swivel is probably the best stop of all.

I have laboured this aspect of the tackle simply because the main features of this type of perching are long, hard casts and a hefty strike at long range once a fish takes. And if the bomb slips during the cast the resulting tackle arrangement on the lake bed looks something like Fig 26: normally this would not inspire either me or the perch with confidence. If the stop slips on the strike the fish is almost always missed: if the stop slips during the playing of the fish the bomb slides quickly down the line and knocks the hook out of the perch’s mouth. I have never yet landed a fish when the stop and bomb have slipped.

Having got the tackle set up, the next thing is to bait up and cast. Personally I hook a lobworm once only since I believe the bait, when in the water, looks more natural7. But if worms are constantly being lost on the cast I suggest a two hook Pennel rig or doubling up the lob7. Alternatively you can use a tougher type of garden worm: those with the dark grey or blackish heads. These worms are not as attractive to perch as lobs but they are reasonably effective.

After the bait and lead hit the water allow the lead to sink on a loose line. This means that maximum distance has been achieved, and the lead need not be moved while the line is gently tightened. Again it is a purely personal foible, but I prefer, having tightened right up to the lead, to slacken off a little so that the line lies along the bottom8. This may not give such a rapid bite indication, but it does mean that the nylon will be less likely to frighten off the perch, and the fish won’t swim into the line and register false bites.

The pick-up of the fixed spool reel is then left in the open position, the rod is placed in two rests and set so that the rod tip is pointing as nearly as possible towards the ledger weight9. Any of the usual bite indicators may be used, including buzzers, lights, silver paper, line spools, sticks, and so on: the most important point is that upon taking the bait the fish can pull line easily through the eye of the leger swivel, smoothly through the rod rest0, and easily off the lip of the spool.

Bites can be indicated in any number of ways. The fish may nibble away for a long time, but much more commonly the line ticks steadily off the spool as the perch swims off with the worm. Richard Walker found that he often had to let the perch run anything up to 20 yards before he could hope to connect on the strike. My own experience is about the same.

Other baits than worms can, of course, be used with this method, and I mention worms only because I usually choose them in preference to fish or maggots. And, as a technique, the long range legering of lobworms is essentially a winter pursuit simply because a worm cast out into the depths of a gravel pit in the summer months will almost certainly catch an eel. Perhaps it is wrong to say ‘simply because’, for it is certain that perch shoal up together in the deeper water during the winter months, whereas in summer they tend to be more scattered, solitary fish often patrolling deep in the weed beds.

Since the winter day is relatively short it may well be asked when the perch feed. The answer seems to be at any time, but most commonly perhaps between about 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. Nevertheless I have known occasions when the first two hours have been the most productive, although this was in the autumn and not in the depths of winter. During the summer, early morning and late evening often seem to be the best times, and good catches of perch have occasionally been taken in the dark of both summer and winter nights. The only way is to fish regularly and find out the best times for your particular water.

Various modifications of the standard Arlesey Bomb rig can be tried. The main advantages of this arrangement are that weights can be added or subtracted, to suit the changing requirements, with great rapidity; and when the leger weight finds a snag the chances of pulling free are far greater. What happens is that the swan shots slip off under pressure and the reel line frequently comes clear of the obstruction. The main drawback to the swan shot leger is that lesser distances are achieved for the same weight of lead.

The paternoster arrangement means that the bait can be presented close to the bottom in deep water; but not actually on the bottom. The lead being at the very end of the line makes for a longer, more tangle-free cast. Personally I do not like my rod sticking up in the air as is usually necessary for this method; and so I prefer to use a sunken float paternoster rig which seems to me to have all the advantages of simple patemostering and none of the disadvantages – such as the perch dropping the bait because he feels the resistance of the rod top. The rod can be placed in the rod rests exactly in the same manner as for straight legering, and the tiny float, of say I in diameter or less, keeps the sunken line well clear of snags near the bottom.

Long range legering then, and its variations, adds a new dimension to the more traditionally float-fished lobworm or livebait, and the barspoon tassled spinner, in that a great deal more water can be covered. Longer casts can be made, and deeper water searched.