So, you have finally got yourself onto a water containing fish that will easily beat your personal best, be it in France England or wherever. The last thing you want once you hook a potential P.B.is to risk losing that fish.
The most common cause of lost carp is down to hook pulls and if you look at and analyse that one part of the equation it soon becomes obvious that most hook pulls come either seconds after the initial hook up when the hook hasn’t penetrated decent tissue in order to remain in place, be that someone else’s previous hook hold or possibly the small parts of bony gristle the hook often comes up against. These instances there is little you can do about to avoid, different rigs will hook the fish in different areas of the mouth but you can still come across the same two scenarios.
The other common time for a hook to pull is right at the end of the fight close to the net. During a long drawn out battle the hook hold can obviously start to enlarge a little so it goes without saying that you need to be as careful as ever at the netting stage. I would certainly like a £1.00 for every carp I have seen lost right at the drawstring.
Like everything in angling I like to take a step back and analyse things if there is a common problem. I have no interest at all in doing things and using things simply because that is what everyone uses so it generally becomes accepted that ‘it must be right’.
For years like everyone else I used a standard 6ft landing net handle. This was all that was available to carp anglers up until more recent times. Yes, there were longer handles available but most were too light to be considered for use with the weight of a wet and large landing net head. I myself have lost many fish just as their head was coming over the draw cord and sickeningly I have seen them slide back off the net time and time again even after plunging to try and scoop them back in.
Eventually I made a longer landing net handle out of 2 so that they screwed together making transportation easy. Since using that one it seemed so odd using a short conventional 6ft handle. Suddenly I was able to net fish another few feet further out and the hook pulls reduced dramatically.
Fortunately over the intervening years long and strong landing net handles have become available to buy for all, yet I still see very few using handles longer than 6ft which quite frankly astounds me.
Not only is it easier netting a fish with a longer handle but it also makes playing a very large fish so much easier. With 6ft handles I was forever picking them up then having to drop them again as my hand would be needed for reel duties. The amount of times I have reached back down for the net and it isn’t there as it has drifted off a little way I really don’t want reminding about. With the longer handles even when wading to net a fish I simply prop the end of the handle on my winding arm shoulder and get on with playing the fish. The net is always to hand without having to touch it until the final vital moment.
If you still use a 6ft handle, do yourself a favour and treat yourself to something 8-9ft, you will never go back again when you realise how much easier netting a fish suddenly is. I’m not aiming this at just newcomers to the sport either. Every year I watch anglers with big lists of big fish to their names, stretching and straining to reach fish with 6ft handles, usually caused by having a little too much line out at netting stage. It really does make me wince for when both arms are stretched you have very little control of pressure on that hook. The longer handle always gives you a little more should you get the angles slightly wrong.
Finally, although I do very little of it myself a longer handle certainly comes into its own when trying to net a fish hooked on a long Zig.
Best fishes for now