Fishing to Weed and Snags
It was one of those trips when everything seemed to go right, and along with my fishing mate Graham Drewery we had 10 takes, landing carp to over twenty pounds. Interestingly 8 of them came to the same spot, a bait carefully lowered into a small clearing on the edge of a large weed bed.
With spring hopefully with us, weed beds are starting to grow back, and the fish will start to frequent their summer haunts rather than their winter comfort zones. They will naturally spend a lot of their time in the weed or retreat to snaggy areas as the angling pressure increases. Fishing to weed or snags can be very productive but it does require careful fishing so you safely land any fish hooked.
Basically the theory is you hit the take quickly, before the fish has chance to gather momentum and move off, but there is more to it than that. What is often seen as the normal carp fishing style is not the right style for weed/snag fishing. Slack clutches, screaming runs whilst you are zipped up in the sleeping bag or just chilling in the bivvy metres away from the rods is not part of weed/snag fishing, by the time you get to the rod the fish is stuck, and you end up losing it.
My best fish caught from very close to a snag was well over 50lbs and was caught using a 2 ¾ lb Black Widow rod and a Regal RGZ4000 reel. It’s about balance and rod action, rather than all out power. Ideally you want a rod that has a forgiving action so you can pile on the power without risking a hook pull. It’s amazing how much you can control a big fish providing you don’t let it build up speed. I like to fish a reasonably tight clutch, and a short drop on the hanger so I get a couple of bleeps from the buzzer, as an early warning to grab the rod. Using this system it is important to make sure the rod is well secured in the rests, because takes can be sudden and violent.
Rig wise it is important to make sure any rig you use is completely safe. I prefer the Korda lead clip system but only push the tail rubber on very lightly.
Playing fish close to snags or in weed could be a feature in itself, but for now just think control and movement. Control, you have to stay in control and not allow the fish to recover from the shock of being hooked. If it gets its head down and can move in a coordinated way it can bring its full power into play. In weed it’s all about keeping steady pressure on and keeping the fish moving. If it does slow to a stop, keep the pressure on and be patient. I’ve had fish come free from weed after many minutes of just holding and waiting.
So my top tips for weed/snag fishing.
1) Make sure the rod is secure, and if possible pointing directly at the area being fished.
2) Set the reel’s clutch so that it doesn’t give line too easily, then position yourself next to the rods.
3) Think safe rigs, and if using a tail rubber don’t push it on too far.
4) Hit the take quickly and then keep steady pressure on until the fish is clear of the snag or moving through the weed. If you can, walk back rather than pump the rod.
5) It is not necessary to use poker stiff powerful rods, A rod with a forgiving action means you can apply the power without risking hook pulls.
So back to the session with Graham. Fish were in a large weed bed to Graham’s left, and he hit on a perfect tactic to trap them. He gently swung a snowman presentation into a small clear spot in the weed bed, and scattered about a dozen free baits around it. Some time later the rod bent round and Graham piled on the pressure. The result, a lovely mirror. This tactic was repeated several times, whilst our other rods stayed motionless. I had a rod to open water and a second to the edge of a weed bed and that was the rod that produced for me. That day the fish were in and around the weed beds so bait positioning was critical. We’d had a brilliant day, staying alert for the next adrenalin surge as the water exploded, the magic of snag/weed fishing.