When I first started out carp fishing in the late 70’s, most of today’s gear didn’t exist, I used to walk around the lake with every bit of carp gear I owned in a green army surplus rucksack, with my rods & brolly in a roll-up holdall and a sun-lounger to sit & sleep on. If I planned to stay a night I’d add a blanket. How things have changed these days! I see guys bringing so much gear if defies belief.
I spend a lot of my time travelling around France. Every summer I’m out on the road shooting the lake videos for three months or so solid. The amount of gear I have to cart around both photographic and fishing is ridiculous. Over the last couple of years I have made a concerted effort to reduce the amount of fishing tackle I take with me. It all started when I had to go to the Canaries to fish on Lake Chira. I hadn’t planed to night fish, and my rods & landing net were supplied
As many people will know your luggage weight is severely restricted, so with my clothes and personal effects, I basically had room for my tackle box, two reels, two buzzers, a light pod and a couple of kilos of bait. When you actually do a stock check and look at what we take fishing, you soon realise that you don’t use half of it. The Chira trip saw me catch fish to over 30lb on next to no gear at all.
So what have I done to take less with me but still be operational?
1. Firstly I bought a medium sized fishing holdall and basically any item of tackle I can’t get in this bag, doesn’t go with me. Every thing is stripped back to the bear minimum. One hook pattern, (in my case Drennan Continental Boilie hooks), one rig material, safety clips, etc. All fits in a large Fox box.
France generally lets you use four rods, but I personally don’t like using that many, so why take four? I don’t feel it costs me any fish, and my Free Spirit five rod holdall is then fine for my three main rods, my marker and my spod rod.
2. I don’t use a pod. Three small bank-sticks do the job fine. I can point my rods in the alignment of my cast for better bite detection. You don’t need a rear rest, I just put the rod butt on the floor. Ok it looks less cool than three perfectly parallel rods.. But it’s not a fashion show! Right?
3. I use one bucket for my bait: I have one of these green buckets with a tray in it. In this I place a few kilos of boilies, I use the Quest Baits ready-mades supplied by Shaun Harrison. I find these excellent fish catchers, my current favourite is the Rahja Spice. They keep well and avoid problems associated with frozen baits. The tray takes some pop ups, PVA bags, boilie stops, dips, scissors, Swiss army knife etc. Anything I may need to actually get a bait on the rig and cast out. I have found when you have limited bait, you learn to use it wisely, taking more time to put it in the right spot, and not wasting it by baiting too heavily. I set a trap for one fish at a time. If I can pick up a bag of pellets in a local grain merchant I’ll do this, or a lot of the time the venues can supply particles and pellets.
4. You can use a lilo of small inflatable dingy as a mat.. These fold down really small.
5. Cooking gear takes up a lot of space as does food. Since fishing with Shaun Harrison we have basically taken to eating out. France is renowned for its food, so around 11am we reel in, and go and find a local restaurant to eat in. One decent meal a day id enough for fishing, and the evening pangs are filled with a stick of bread, some paté and a few glasses of vino.
6. The best piece of kit I’ve bought in recent years and has helped me fish more comfortably and therefore more efficiently is a small compact Campervan. These vehicles may not generally be considered fishing tackle but this has been a huge advantage for me. It has saved me taking bed chair, bivvy, cooker and extra cooking gear in my fishing tackle. It has a fridge and heater and basically is a home from home. If I place my rods close the door I can be into a fish as quickly as if I was in a conventional bivvy. All this has helped me catch more fish. I can hear you saying ‘What if you can’t get your vehicle to the swim? Well most venues I have fished in the last few years have presented no problem. Should I know ahead of time I will add a brolly and bed chair. But this could easily be reduced to a small green tent and camping mat. (I saw Shaun H fishing the Mangrove like this, as getting a bed chair in a boat took too much space)
7. One item I’ve been looking at has been three or four piece rods. I spoke to Simeon Bond at Free Spirit and he does a four piece and I believe Fox does a traveller rods. When I fished with Tony Davies-Patrick he had rod she does that were three piece I believe. I’ll be looking more closely at the subject of travel rods soon, and will post my findings in a future article.