Rob Hughes considers the often over-looked topic of camouflage and concealment...
Speak to any hunter who stalks his prey and he will tell you that camouflage and concealment are two of the most important aspects to success.
Sometimes as carp anglers we lose sight of this fact, either through the disturbance we make on the bank or the lack of concealment of our rigs in the water.
You can be as quiet as a church mouse but still catch nothing if your rig and line are standing out like a sore thumb, and particularly when it comes to your end tackle it is important to get it right.
Using colours that match the lakebed is one way of hiding line and leaders, while another way to hide components is by sinking them on to the lakebed. Get it right and the presentation is a natural one. Get it wrong and you put the fish on guard and are relying on either their greed or a competitive feeding situation to trip them up.
In my mind the lay of the line is incredibly important. For a start it has a big effect on indication, but also an incorrect line lay can determine whether the fish come into your target area and also whether they pick up your hookbait. It’s fair to say the more your line is hidden the better the chance you have of getting the fish to feed confidently on your spot.
The last few feet are vital and one of the things we need to look at is how much line is off the bottom close to the rig. That depends on three main factors. Water depth, the distance you are fishing and also whether you are fishing tight lines.
Obviously the deeper the water and tighter the line the more there will be off the bottom, particularly at short range, and this has an effect on the type of leader that you should use, or indeed if you should use one at all.
Leadcore is a favourite choice for a lot of anglers as it acts as a protective leader and should, in theory, sink to the lakebed and lie out of harm’s way disguised on the bottom. It follows therefore that if you are fishing leadcore you should do so with a slack or semi-slack line so the core has the opportunity to sink and do its job properly. Tight lines and leadcore are a no go, as if you tighten up the line it will lift the core off the bottom making it very obvious to the fish.
There are very few straight lines in nature and if you are fishing for wary carp, a straight line of leadcore fished tight and rising up in the water is like an arrow pointing out the danger to the fish.
The other issue is colour. Nylon and fluorocarbon line is significantly less visible than the solid material of leadcore as light passes through it. Leadcore doesn’t have that property so it is important to make sure the colour of your leadcore matches the colour of the bottom of the lake you are fishing over. And herein lies the problem. Some leadcores are a solid colour. Others have different colours woven in to them to give them a disruptive pattern and break up the straight line. However, the wrong choice of colour can mean that you are achieving the opposite of what you actually want to achieve.
The problem we face is knowing what we are fishing over, as products that are labelled ‘gravel’ may not be a match for the same colour gravel that you are fishing over. Different parts of the country have different types of stone.
Essex has more of an orange clay type colour whereas the Cotswolds and Oxfordshire lean towards yellow. Gravel can also vary in colour within the same lake and the main picture here illustrates that perfectly. It was taken on top of the bar in front of swim three on the road bank of Manor at Linear fisheries in Oxfordshire. The depth was 7ft and you can see immediately that there is a gravel area with light weed in the background. The whole area is mottled as a result of weed and silt settling on top of it, and it shows why a single colour would not be the best choice in this situation.
The leadcore in question in this shot is Fox Edges Camo Leadcore in the dark version, which is a great match for the spot and is fished slack just as leadcore should be.
Matching a colour perfectly is the best way to hide something, but in the angling world it is nigh on impossible for us to do that. We have to settle for getting as close as we possibly can, and breaking up any solid shape, particularly over the top of something that is already mottled, is the key to disguising our end tackle to the best of our ability and reaping the rewards of our labour.
As with all aspects of our angling it’s important to give that little bit of extra thought to what we are doing. It’s what puts the great anglers ahead of the good ones.