Spinning flights

Whole deadbaits can be hard won or expensive to buy. It’s worth mounting them in such a way as to get the most lively action while protecting your line from kinking and strain A deadbait mounted on to a spinn-ing flight and sensibly fished is every bit as effective and productive as a big, shiny, artificial lure. Add to efficiency versatility and cheapness – most spinning flights can be made

This spinning action can be achieved in three ways: by vanes made from metal, or by plastic set at the head of the fish, or by mounting a series of hooks that will give a twist or kink to the body of a fish, causing it to spin as it is retrieved. The bigger the lure the slower the rate of spin will tend to be, a fact often to the angler’s advantage.

Pickled fish are best

Most small fish can be used with a spinning flight, although anglers usually chose silver coloured varieties, and those with a thin, or torpedo shape. Sprats, herrings and small trout from the fishmongers can be used fresh or from the deepfreeze, as can roach, bleak and dace. But fresh or frozen fish are likely to split and break up with repeated casting, and preserved baits which have been pickled in a formaldehyde solution are tougher and better able to withstand repeated use. Any taint can be concealed with a little pilchard oil wiped on to the mounted bait before spinning commences.

Small bleak, dace and sprats can be mounted on to a sprat flight in a matter of seconds. This flight has a metal pin with a lead weight attach-ed, which is pushed into the mouth of the fish. When it is fully home, the head will rest into the curved vanes which provide the spinning action. The body is held in place by one flight of two treble hooks, which are pushed into the side of the fish. These hooks must be mounted flat against the body, and no attempt should be made to bend the fish in any way – it would prevent spin and produce a wobble instead. The baited flight should be attached to the line by means of a swivel.

If after constant fishing, no response has been observed, then is the time for a little bending. By repositioning the bottom treble an inch or so, the tail of the fish will bend in slightly, and when retrieved a peculiar mixture of spins and wobbles is achieved. However unnatural this may appear to the angler, a predator sees only a fish in distress, often resulting in a savage take. The fine balance between a wobble and a spin may require a little repositioning of the hooks but based on results, it is often time well spent.

If an unweighted flight for a small fish is required, then a prawn flight, used by salmon anglers, is ap-propriate. The flight consists of the same arrangement of vanes and trebles as a sprat flight, but there is no lead attached to the pin.

Both the prawn and sprat flight can easily be made by the enterprising angler . from sheet plastic, Alasticum and brass wire, together with the necessary trebles. Indeed, the rig can be ‘scaled-up’ to suit small roach and herrings. Nevertheless, the prices charged in a tackle shop are not high.

A better rig for larger fish is the Archer flight. At the top of the body pin are two hinged metal vanes that open outwards and clamp back into place once the head of the bait is in position, holding it firmly and pro-viding extra protection against the flesh breaking up during a cast. Two flights of hooks are provided: one flight with two hooks is mounted into the body, the other, designed to lie on the opposite side of the fish, either hanging freely (’a flying tre- ble’) or lightly hooked into the flesh. Archer flights can be purchased in several sizes, and although they are supplied without weight of any sort, it is an easy task to glue an ap-propriate barrel lead (the sort used in ledgering) on to the metal pin.

Alternatively, the angler should carry with him a few coils of lead wire. These provide a much more flexible arrangement than the heavy lead weight that is glued to the barrel. Once a pitch is chosen, the lead wire is wound tightly round the pin until the right weight is reached to obtain the optimum casting range and sinking rate. Naturally there is a fair amount of work involved in making these flights at home, but the angler used to working with metal should find no difficulties. The easiest flight for the angler to make, and one of the oldest in angl-ing history, is the Nottingham flight. This does not have vanes at the head to impart a spin – instead the angler has to mount the fish so that the body has a curve which lends the spinning action. The rig consists of two treble hooks spaced on a length of cabled Alasticum wire, and a single hook that is threaded onto the trace but left free. Several of these flights should be made up with the distance between the two fixed trebles varied so that different-sized baits can be secured. The smaller the fish to be used, the closer the distance between the trebles. Where a full sized herring is to be used in pursuit of specimen sized pike, then a gap greater than three inches between the hooks will be required in order to produce sufficient bend in the fish to impart the necessary spin.

The Nottingham flight

To mount a fish with the Nottingham flight, slide the free end of the trace through the gills of the dead fish and mount two hooks of the second treble firmly into the flesh immediately behind the gill cover. The first, or end, treble is then mounted into the body of the fish after the body has been flexed, so that a distinct curve will be main-tained. The amount of curve governs the rate of spin and only trial and error can show the angler how much this should be. The single hook should now be threaded on to the trace, slid down to the mouth, twisted a few times around the wire and mounted through both lips.

Baits mounted on to a spinning flight are not like the artificial lure that is usually ‘towed’ back to the angler after every cast. The natural bait is quite buoyant, and can be made to work in several different ways. By varying the amount of lead it holds, various depths of water can be fished. The rate of retrieve should be slow, and no effort should be made to produce the maximum revolutions possible. By stopping the retrieve, the bait will slowly sink to the bottom, usually with a slow spin, and the retrieve can then be restarted, giving a swooping action that few fish can resist.

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