How to fish the washing line method

How to fish the washing line method

Alex Lister shows you how to fish the far margins with your line above the water...

Simply trap a loop of line in a rubber band

Simply trap a loop of line in a rubber band

With carp getting more and more wary over rigs, bait and lines in the water, it seems everyone is looking for that edge over the guy in the next swim. Rig concealment and the ‘tight line vs slack line’ debate have always been hot topics, but one thing most people haven’t thought about is fishing with the line above the water.

You might be reading this with a puzzled look on your face, but this technique is nothing new.

Alex Lister has used the method known as the ‘washing line’ to great success over the years, but unlike most other anglers that have used it in the past and then forgotten about it, Alex has kept it in his armoury.

It’s not a method that can be used on every venue but it can definitely give you an edge over other anglers.

Tight line to your rod, slack line to your rig.

Tight line to your rod, slack line to your rig.

The washing line method is used mainly to fish the far margin with great accuracy. The trouble when fishing the far margins in a conventional way is the line running straight through the swim. If we were fishing the the near margin, we would generally fish with slack lines so as not to spook any fish that might happen to visit that area. This is not always possible when fishing the margins on the other side of the lake. This is where the washing line comes into its own.

For this technique to work, you must choose a swim that has a clear bank on the other side of the lake. The reason for this is you will need to cast your lead onto the far bank. 

On our day with Alex at RH Fisheries’ Weston Park he chose a nice-looking swim with a clearing on the far bank and a bush just to one side that dropped into a deep marginal area. The perfect spot to drop a rig, right on the carp’s patrol route. It would be a very difficult cast to make from the swim due to the bush hanging over the water by a rod length or so.

You need a clear far bank to cast a lead to

You need a clear far bank to cast a lead to

Alex first cast his bare lead, attached to a lead clip, onto the far bank, then put the rod on the buzzer bar with the bail arm open. Taking his rig with him, he then walked round to where he had cast. He also took a bankstick with an elastic band around the top end, a baiting spoon on a long landing-net handle and a handful of Sonubaits 24/7 boilies to put around the rig.

Alex pushed the bankstick into the ground at the water’s edge close to the marginal spot where the rig will sit. The rig was then attached to the lead system and placed on the baiting spoon along with a few broken boilies and some small pellets. Before shipping out the rig, Alex pulled the mainline out of the water and wrapped it around the back of the bankstick to make life easier for dropping the rig from the spoon. Once the rig was dropped in the right place, a loop of the mainline is then tucked underneath the elastic band on the top of the bankstick, leaving the line to the rig slack, just like you would if you were fishing under your rod tips.

Once satisfied with the stealthy trap, Alex threw in a little more bait over the rig and made the short walk back to his swim. The only thing left to do is close the bail arm on the reel and tighten up the line.

The view from the rod end

The view from the rod end

It’s important to fish with the rod tips high when using the washing line method and it’s not unusual for Alex to have his rods at a 45-degree angle. This will help to keep the line from touching the water when the rig is in position. If the line does happen to touch the water, then increase the angle on the rods to combat this. The line on the water can sometimes cause the loop to be pulled out of the elastic band on the Bank stick. This is due to the tow on the surface of the water.

We have all suffered from the birds eating our bait, especially when fishing in the margins, but the washing line has knack of eliminating this. The birds are much more wary about coming close to your spot when the line is out of the water, meaning those shallow marginal spots that you would love to fish but simply can’t because the birds are too much of an issue are now back in play!

With the line from the rod tip to the bankstick fished tight, it’s important to use a bobbin with some weight to it. Alex uses an Avid bobbin with a drag weight attached. When a carp picks up the rig, the loop of line will pull out from under the elastic band, resulting in a big drop back on the bobbin, which is why it’s important to use a weighted one.

Fish on!

Fish on!

Alex’s rig had only been in the water for around 20 minutes before the bobbin dropped to the floor and the line from the bankstick to the rod tip went slack. A few minutes later he had a lovely 24lb common in the net!

With the fish released, the rig was reset in the same position. Forty minutes later and Alex was into another hard-fighting fish. This time, a fin-perfect 18lb 10oz mirror.

By the time we left Alex, he had landed three carp using this method. He also stayed on and fished for the night after the feature and managed another two carp.

Alex said us that on lakes where the carp have seen it all, this way of fishing can be devastating. Yes, it’s not as easy as casting from your swim and requires a little more effort, but this tactic ensures your rig is exactly where you want it and virtually eliminates the chance of the line spooking the fish away from the spot. On venues with wary carp and suitable margin spots, the washing line can leave the carp hung out to dry.