A Few Things about Silkweed

Here is a question Shaun Harrison received about silkweed which he thought would be of benefit to share…

Shaun, I’ve got a question about silkweed which I’d be very grateful if you could answer when you have a spare moment as I’m sure you’re a very busy man. 
In your opinion how do you think silkweed lies on the lake bed? For instance, let’s say the silkweed is a foot long, do you think it lies fairly flat and sways around steadily depending on wind/tow etc or does would it stick up quite a bit?

I’ve placed extracted silkweed in the margins to see how this behaves but I don’t think it its anything like that out in the pond. I am trying to get a better understanding of it so I know which rig or tweaks I can make to a rig to be more effective. 

Silkweed moves – presumably towards the sun like other plants and certainly whilst carp are near to it due to water movement from simply swimming and stopping.

It also appears to drop when the light levels drop. I have had experiences with perfectly clean areas being less so at differing times of the day, also hand placed baits being covered when I have retrieved them so these days when wading baits out I try and give a bit of space away from weed rather than using it to hide the end gear.

Carp Fishing Tips Silkweed

Barbed hooks make it very difficult for a carp to actually pick a bait out of silkweed

The water I served my main carp fishing apprenticeship on was totally covered in very thick silkweed and there was no such thing as clear areas other than the margins and under the pads. I am fortunate that this was the case as I learned a fair bit about fishing in it and soon realised that the carp are quite happy digging away in it for heavy baits. I remember in the 80’s going the opposite way to most and purposely making my baits as heavy as I could at the time and had a great period catching loads on them – I truly believe they get less hook link conscious when ripping baits from weed.

Carp Fishing Blog Tips

The Leicester fish loved to feed in the silkweed

I find a lot more ‘natural food’ in silkweed than any other type of weed and I’m quite happy fishing in it rather than trying to land on the barren areas with no weed – there has to be a reason for the weed not growing in those seams so I would guess the carp aren’t naturally attracted to them. It is a bit like walking up your garden path looking for creepy crawlies (food). You won’t find much out in the clear in the daylight but look at the side of the path amongst the plants and grass and there will be plenty of life.

Carp Fishing Blog Shaun Harrison

Caught from silkweed in 1982

As regards to rigs and presentations in silkweed the only thing I insist upon is barbless hooks and a soft type hook link material. Now anyone knowing me will vouch for the fact that I am not a lover of barbless hooks but find them essential for efficient fishing in silk weed. A barbed hook gets stuck by the barb as a fish tries to take a bait where as a barbless hook releases from the weed effortlessly.

Ignore silkweed at your peril – the carp love to graze amongst it. Silkweed harbours so much food so is and attractive larder in its own right.


4 thoughts on “A Few Things about Silkweed

  1. Paul Cooper says:

    Hi Shaun
    More and more lakes are now becoming victim to silkweed due to long drawn out summers. My lake in particular suffers with it on quite a large scale, but only during the warmer months from mid-June to the end of September. Generally you will find that the lakes that are suffering with silkweed, are shallow and silty, although some of the deeper clear waters of some gravel pits can also grow it in abundance.
    One of the best ways that I have found to fish into silkweed, is to have my rod tips as high as possible so that the minimal amount of line is in contact with the water, hence avoiding the silkweed.
    Also, as you mentioned, barbless hooks are a must and it is important to drop the lead on every take if possible. I have witnessed anglers fishing silkweed and back leading. Disaster!
    Common sense really, but I would not avoid fishing near to it as silkweed as it can contain an abundance of naturals, consequently attracting feeding carp.
    Nice result on Castle Lake.

  2. Shaun Harrison says:

    Thanks Paul, castle lake is really special as you know.

    One thing I should perhaps have mentioned about fishing over silkweed too is that I prefer to fish it with semi slack lines so the bobbins sit at half mast. Tight lines through silkweed flattens a tram line into it which gives the carp a perfect ‘arrow’ towards the area to avoid. You may as well add a little flag to the rig saying ‘dangerous’ as to tight line it through silk weed.

  3. Paul Cooper says:

    Out of all the weeds that cause problems for an angler, silkweed must come very close to the top. When the weed is heavy and has hit the surface and is drifting, sometimes for the welfare of the fish, it is best to bow out and move onto another lake. Easy to say, as I often fish in these conditions. One of my best methods to over come problems, is wading out the baits and placing the hook bait in a clear spot. Walk back the line to the bank keeping it high and resting on the top of the weed, slack line or cause. I have caught dozens of carp last year fishing this method, it does work but if the wind picks up and moves the weed beds, I will move or go home.

  4. Shaun Harrison says:

    One little tip which may help a few when weed is moving lines.

    I used to fish Murphy’s a fair bit in Leicestershire and we used to share the lake with a Jet Ski Club.

    The swell on there used to be quite dramatic when the skiers were on and many struggled to fish with the weed grabbing the lines and moving in the swell.

    I got around this problem after casting by adding a back lead and throwing it at right angles to the rig. The result of this was the back lead would trundle around but the rig would remain in place. I hasten toi add I used back leads that would dislodge from my line easily should they need to – I made my own.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

− seven = one