The Need for Change: How I Learnt to Continuously Improve My Fishing Game

by | Advanced, Carp |

I was a few weeks into trying out a new syndicate water not far from Merseyside but something didn’t quite make sense… I’d only had a couple of bites and nothing on the bank yet. At this point into a new water I was expecting more. Whilst my limited success had both resulted from adjustable zigs, something was telling me I was barking up the wrong tree with bottom fishing.

A few of the other regulars were getting bites using choddies. When I initially saw this, I instantly wrote it off as an approach which I could ever use, I’ve always been a huge lead clip fan. At this stage of my angling journey, I also hardly ever used pop ups, so you can probably see why I quickly disregarded the chod rig. However, as the faddy zig period started to fade and I bore witness to more results by angling on the deck, I started to rethink my strategy.

On my first few sessions, I’d had a couple of visits from a close friend of mine, Mark. Mark is not only a charming bloke, he’s also a fantastic angler, so when he gives advice, I listen. During one of our trips, I began to complain about the vast expanses of sticky silk weed, covering the entire bottom of the lake, and the pain I was experiencing when reeling in my rig, only to find it plastered in disgusting green slime.

Mark was resolute in his opinion that a chod would work here, and seeing as I’d already witnessed other anglers reaping the benefits, I started putting together my first choddie.

Always match your pop-ups to your freebies


Before I dived in with my new plan, I scaled a huge tree positioned just to the left of the swim, to see the that route the carp were taking the swim. Carp on this venue are very easy to spook, they endure a large amount of angling pressure for the majority of the year and they’re able to quickly suss out anything unseemly that they encounter. There’s no doubt about it, they’re even aware of rod tips sticking out from the bank; from up high it is possible to watch them actually deviate around them. As you can imagine, this is not the place for inexperienced anglers.

I immediately knew that this was one for me

I was using 16lb X-Line for maximum concealment – it sinks so quickly but casts like a bag of coal – here that wasn’t an issue as I wanted to fish the marginal shelf for as long as the fish would accept it. My new masterpiece was dangling from the rod tip, prepared for action, but for some reason (to this day I don’t know what it was), I removed the leadcore and threaded the hooklink directly onto the X-Line. Finally, I moulded a small amount of rig putty around the ring swivel, so that the pop-up sank almost in slow motion. I immediately knew that this was one for me.

I even dropped the rig in the midst of the silkweed around the edge to see how it would sit. To put it simply, it was almost unfair to cast it out! The rig was flicked underarm down the margin on my right, where the fish seemed to be constantly wandering around in their bid to stay away from my rod tips. I dropped a few pouchfuls of 10mm boilies on top of the rig and boiled the kettle for almost the 20th time that day.

A choddie ready to go

Broken duck

I couldn’t sit still, persistently pacing up and down the bank and clambering back up the tree for another view of the area. In an attempt to focus, I decided to practice my chod tying skills. At first I found them a real challenge to tie correctly, but after completing a few, I was almost doing them with my eyes shut, like my choddie mentor, Mark.

My self-prescribed rig therapy had calmed the nerves somewhat, but as I was about to blob another stiff bristle to form on the ‘D’, a clutch started to go – and it was shifting! As I’d hoped, it was the chod which was causing the disturbance in an otherwise peaceful autumnal scene. Whatever was on the end was trying its absolute best to get rid of the rig, that’s for sure.

The peaceful autumn scene was about to be ruined

The fish battled extremely hard, violent lunges and head shaking meant I was praying that the hook would remain settled. In this moment, I recalled Mark stating that losses on the chod were normally in the first ten seconds of the fight. At this point the ten second time limit was well and truly over, so my confidence started to grow and I actually began to enjoy the skirmish that was unfolding. The brute on the line continued to shake its head with such power that each time the X-Line rattled off its fins, my heart was beating out of my chest – this is what us carp anglers find so addictive!

Confirmation that it was indeed a tremendous fish

I caught first sight of my prize in the margins and it looked like a special beast. By now a fellow angler had come over to see what the commotion was all about and was happy to man the waiting net. The carp went in first time and I’d done it. I’d broken my duck not only on a new lake, but with a completely fresh approach. Once the initial celebrations were over, we got her ready for weighing. 29lb 6oz was read out, confirmation that it was indeed a tremendous fish.

A wonderful first catch on a new water

Gift horse

With the pictures out of the way, I got another chod positioned back in the margin with a few 10mm boilies, the same set up as before and activated the brew kit yet again. This time the kettle hadn’t even boiled before the same rod was away again. I thought I was dreaming. Whilst the same swashbuckling fight didn’t ensue, I was able to return a banger of a mid-twenty carp to her watery home. A fresh rig was back on the line yet again, this time in record time. After the experience I’d just been through, I was prepared to make the switch and get all three rods fishing chod rigs, after all, I wasn’t about to look a gift horse in the mouth.

As the darkness began to creep in, the bites were no more, but I was still sat very smug. The following morning, as sunlight returned, the very same rod flew off again. I remember thinking to myself if violent head shaking was a trait of all carp here, as once again this fish fought as though its life depended on it. A few minutes later and a low twenty was in the camera’s eye, a lovely scaley number this time. As is usually the case, all too soon it was time to head back home. Three fish in a single session is an impressive feat on this lake and the smile on my face remained there for at least a week.

The lesson I learnt here is that results come to those who are willing to adapt and embrace new tactics. A principle I still try and employ in my angling to this day.