How to catch more fish up in the water

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Shallow fishing master, Andy Power explains the ins and outs of how to catch more fish up in the water

Carp spend a lot of their time up in the water throughout the year, so why not catch them where they want to be! All anglers can catch a few fish shallow, but by following my tips you can significantly increase your catch rate!

During the warmer months carp spend a lot of time feeding on, or just under, the surface. Shallow fishing is one of my strongest methods and targeting these fish is a no brainer. The idea is to make the fish compete for the trickle of pellets falling through the water column, making them confident and before long amassing a large weight of fish.

Depending on how big the fish are will depend on what tackle I choose. For F1’s I’ll always fish as light as possible, low diameter lines and small hooks are essential for these shy-biting fish. For big carp I’ll need strength and durability so thicker lines and bigger hooks are needed. Then there’s a long-line shallow rig, perfect for spooky fish or swinging to reach cruising carp. Whatever rig you choose to use the number one thing you need to remember is to keep working your rig. You are trying to make your hookbait look like one of your loose fed pellets. Leaving the rig sat still for five minutes at a time isn’t going to put more fish in your net, by simply lifting and dropping the rig, or slapping it onto the surface, you may kick some life into the hookbait.

The venue you choose should determine what size of fish you will be catching, therefore allowing you to make an easy decision on which rigs to put on your kits.

My three rigs for shallow fishing and why I use them:

F1 Rig

These extremely quick and often shy-biting fish can make a mockery of you if you’re not careful. I like to fish as light as possible when fishing for F1’s. The lighter your line and smaller the hook will make your pellet act much more naturally when falling through the water. I like to use small compact floats when fishing for F1’s. Sometimes you’ll find that the fish will be confident feeding only 6 inches deep, so long stems and bristles are no use. The Tyson 7 Dibber is perfect for this. The tiny float is extremely robust and it’s size allows you to fish with extremely shallow rigs. I’ll fish this on 0.13mm Reflo Power with an 0.11mm Reflo Power hooklength. Hooks also need to be small and unobtrusive, a size 18 or 20 PR 36 is my first choice, with a bait band on the hair.

Above the float is around 2ft of line to the pole tip. Short enough to hit the fast bites, but not having the tip right over the float helps to keep the fish confident when fishing extremely shallow. The short float can easily be ‘slapped’ on the surface of the water two or three times in a row, which imitates the sound of loose fed pellets hitting the water’s surface, thus bringing the fish up-in-the water actively looking for food. When they do find a pellet, it will have a hook attached!

Light elastics are a must when doing any type of shallow fishing. For F1’s, size 10 Dura Hollo Elastic is perfect. As soon as the fish is hooked it will bolt off, away from the area you are fishing, reducing the chances of spooking the fish in your swim.

Big Carp Rig

This is a rig that I use when I know I’m going to be catching fish over the 3-8lb bracket. These fish require stronger rigs and beefier tackle. Most of the time these bigger fish won’t feed as shallow as the smaller F1’s, so I’ll swap the small float for a PB Carp 1. These compact floats have a short bristle and a short stem, giving greater stability when fishing deeper at 2-3ft, they are also very strong.

These are tied on 0.17mm Reflo Power down to a short 0.15mm hooklength. These rigs need to be much more durable as the bigger fish fight much harder, and the rigs will take more damage. 0.15mm Reflo Power is incredibly tough stuff and used as part of a balanced set up will last for a very long time. I opt for size 16 
PR 36 hooks on a banded hooklength, the size 16 is perfect when using a 6mm pellet on the hook.

I’ll usually leave 12-18 inches between the pole tip and the float; I find this is a good distance when fishing just that little bit deeper, allowing the fish to stay confident. As with the F1 rigs the pellet needs to be worked, once you think the pellet has reached the end of its fall, lift it and drop it again, to keep imitating the loose fed pellets falling through the water.

if it’s not your strongest method, get out there and practice, feed little and often, keep working your rig and before long you should be bagging!

Long Line Rig

This is a rig that has played an important part in a lot of my matches in the warmer months. Often the fish are happier to sit on the surface of the water, some will feed and others seem to spend most of their time frustrating the angler by cruising around and not following the feed on your normal shallow line. This is where the long line rig comes in. The great thing about this rig is that I can fish anywhere from 9 inches to 3 foot deep, and reach those cruising fish that before I might not have been able to reach. It can also be used when the fish are being a bit spooky, and by changing the hooklength I can even use it for F1’s.

My favourite float for this is the PB Carp 1, it is compact and has great stability. A 4x12 float is the perfect size, tied on 0.17mm Reflo Power. Underneath the float is a 0.3g Inline Olivette, sliding on the line. This is stopped by a Micro Float Stop, giving me the ability to move the olivette up and down the line, depending on how deep I’m fishing and also not damaging the line. Underneath the float stop is a small no.10 dropper shot. If I’m fishing for F1’s, this can be placed just above the hooklength. It makes three different splashes on the surface, imitating more pellets falling through the water. The hooklength is made from 0.13mm Reflo Power and a size 16 PR 36 hook.

I leave a long 3ft length of line between my pole tip and float, allowing me to swing the rig out to cruising fish in the hope that some of these generally bigger fish will add extra weight into my net.

That’s my three top shallow rigs explained. Fishing shallow is a great way of catching fish, especially carp and F1’s.