I have just finished reading Chris Yates new book The Lost Diaries, towards the end there is quite an entertaining chapter about fishing with a friend where he talks of ‘foul hooking a carp on a new fangled rig’ this being the hair rig. Chris Yates goes on to describe this rig as unethical to the extent of giving up fishing rather than using such a contraption. I on the other hand have to disagree about Chris Yates and the hair rig. Since I started using it in the 1980’s it has become an essential part to my angling success which leads me on to part II of my 1980’s carp fishing and my early years as a fisher of carp. The counter argument for the hair is that Mr Yates did hold the British Carp record unaided by any hair rig and I with my ‘new fangled hair rigs’ have not, but that’s for another debate on another day. Here is my second personal account on 1980’s carp fishing.
Part I which I wrote back in August, 2012 can be read here.
In the mid eighties carp fishing was becoming quite popular, carp anglers were still quite a secretive bunch, mainly due to the lack of good productive carp waters. Before I got into carp fishing I dabbled in most disciplines but dabbled was the operative word and most of my information came from general ‘how to’ books until the day I ventured into Burgess Hill Angling Centre in around 1987 and found Carp Fever by Kevin Maddocks. Burgess Hill Angling Centre had a different smell and look from my usual and more traditional tackle shops like Penfolds of Cuckfield. Here the smell was sweet and the walls were adorned with stainless steel bank sticks, bite alarms and monkey climbers, things were certainly moving away from displays of floats and the smell of gentles.
Carp Fever was not the most exciting of angling books to read but it was my first specialist book that delved into great detail about bait, rigs and hooks in such a way that it made catching a large carp a real possibility. This book introduced me to the hair rig which I thought was quite an audacious rig, mount the bait away from the hook but still have the confidence to hook a carp, crazy? It was cunning and clever, now your bait was behaving naturally with out the weight of the hook and the hook was completely exposed when a carp sucked in any bait that was attached to a hair. I started using new hook patterns and making up the hair loop, within weeks I was hooking and landing carp with confidence on my club water Haywards Heath & District Angling Society.
Now dressed in a camouflage jacket just like Jim Gibbinson I felt like a specimen hunter but in truth I was still only catching carp around the 3 lbs to 7 lbs mark but I was convinced bigger carp were soon to reside in my landing net.
My own carp career continued with a Marco glass carp rod, a Bob Church float rod, one Optonic, two Mitchell 300a reels, oh and of course two monkey climbers all set up on some rather smart stainless Gardener front and rear bank sticks. The matching pair of rods was still an age away but in a Heath Robinson kind of set up I was a carp angler and targeting the Sussex carp, day and night.
Ironically my first ‘double’ came soon after months of lugging all this gear around, I took a rod out one evening and followed a carp with a piece of floating crust just by a fallen tree. After a short battle a lump of a fish of 11 3/4 lbs came to my net, (this was 1 3/4lbs short of the club record set in the 1950’s) it was a milestone carp for me and I continued on to fish relatively small ponds in Sussex spending many nights under canvas in my fathers old World War II pup tent. My dream was to own two North Western carp rods with Cardinal 55’s and land a twenty, the image that I loved was from the Carp Catchers Book from 1984, it seemed a world away.
Then one day I was invited by a friend who knew about a ‘proper’ carp lake called Shermanberry.