Today’s wide range of specialist ledger rods have evolved from—but are quite dissimilar to—the built-cane rods designed by Richard Walker, inventor of the Arlesey bomb.
The term ledgering is applied to the style of fishing where the bait is allowed to rest on the bed of the river or lake and a float is not used for bite indication. Rods specially designed to be used for ledgering are comparative newcomers to the angling scene.
Until quite recently, the art of ledgering was undeveloped and a fairly heavy rod was commonly used. Probably the earliest rod which was used for ledgering was the traditional Avon-type rod used for fishing the Hampshire Avon and other fast flowing rivers. It has a length of lift, is in three pieces with a built-cane middle section and top with a tonkin cane butt. It was followed by the built cane MK IV Avon and MK IV Carp designs by Richard Walker.
The carp rod was obviously designed for carp fishing but found ready acceptance by the specimen barbel hunters. The lighter MK IV Avon was a scaleddown version suitable for general fishing for tench, chub, barbel and perch in flowing or stillwaters. Both were very successful designs from which have evolved today’s wide range of specialist ledger rods.
Types of rod
Today these rods are manufactured mainly of tubular glassfibre, although a few rods in built-cane of the MK IV type are still made and no doubt carbonfibre rods will be further developed.
Present-day ledger rods vary from 9ft to llHft, the longer rods being used more by the specimen hunter and the shorter kinds usually by the competition angler. They are also used with various types of bite in-dicators, although some rods have a built-in bite indicator called a quivertip, which consists of a finely tapered piece of solid glass which, because of its small diameter, is very sensitive. This type, known as a quivertip rod, is usually between 9Vfc and 10ft in length.
Swimfeeders and bite indicators
Rods of 9ft to 10ft long are usually employed by match anglers for ledgering in conjunction with a swimfeeder. This is a weighted, perforated container used for holding groundbait of some form, which gradually disperses in the water to attract fish into the swim. Because of the weight of the swimfeeder, rods of this type are usually fairly stiff to aid casting. This necessitates some form of bite indicator to show the takes of the feeding fish.
The longer type of ledgering rod is more often used by specimen hunters who usually rely on fine tips and bite indicators on the line to hook fish. Quiver tip rods are used for shy-biting fish such as roach, while the longer rods are used to cast and to strike at fish at long range. A rod with a test curve of ap-proximately 1 to lV4lb is necessary due to the drag and stretch of the line, but with steep-taper rods the test curve can be less to give better bite indication, while the relatively strong butt and middle will pick up a line rapidly.
The best length
For general purposes a rod of 10-1 lft is suitable for swimfeeding or match ledgering. A stiff rod of 9Vift is the best all-round length. The rod should be fitted with graduated stand-off rings with a screw-in tip ring which will accommodate any of the various attachments for bite in-dication—swingtip, quivertip, springtip and others. With this type of rod, lines of 2-4lb b.s. Are normally used, while the larger rods used by specimen hunters can require the use of lines up to 10lb b.s.
Many of the lighter carp rods made today can make excellent ledgering rods, as they are primarily designed for fishing on the bottom of the lake or gravel pit for carp, unlike specially designed ledgering rods. The tips are rarely used, however, for bite indication, and this should be considered when selecting a ledger rod.
For some aspects of ledgering, where dead fish are used as ledgered baits for eels and pike, stepped-up versions of ledgering rods are made. These are capable of casting heavy baits up to 3oz and coupled with lines of breaking strains 12-15lb have sufficient power to fight large, powerful pike and eels.
Float ledgering rods
Many float rods today have screw-in tip rings to take a bite indicator, which enables the rod to be used for ledgering. Usually, however, if they have fine tips for float fishing, they should not be used for heavy ledgering with swimfeeders, which may damage the rod.
Rods used for float ledgering are usually standard float rods. These use the float as a bite indicator, which means the float is usually well under the rod top. Here, a fairly long rod is required.
When choosing a ledgering rod, the main points to be considered are: weight to be cast, whether it be a lead of some sort on a loaded swimfeeder; breaking strain of lines to be used and rod length required. For instance the match angler, due to the limitations of his swim by the match rules, would not cover the same area of water in casting as a specimen hunter. The ability to cast 30 yards and strike fish at this range is probably all the matchman needs to do. But the specimen hunter may need to cast and strike fish up to 70 yards, calling for a much longer rod to have the necessary control.