Fishing in and around weed makes up the majority of my fishing and as a result of this, I’ve decided to give an insight into how I have managed to successfully tackle weedy venues in recent years. I know there are an abundance of weed fishing articles these days, but I have a few hints and tips which have helped me to built total confidence in tackling any weedy water in the country and I plan to share these with you through this article.
Most of my fishing is done locally to my home on short weekday evening sessions. Almost all of these waters are public park lakes and urban venues.
It is a common assumption that weed fishing is most effective during spring and summer months. However, that’s not always the case and I have actually managed some of my best sessions when targeting large weedy waters during autumn and winter.
No matter the time of year, weed presents food, shelter and often increased heat for carp, among other things. It’s always worth remembering that time of year and even the time of day, particularly during spells of bright sunshine, can effect how and where I choose to present baits when fishing in weed.
Where do I position my rigs?
As a general rule of thumb fishing in or on top of weed during the day and fishing clear patches adjacent to weed beds in the night is the go to tactic for most, and for good reason. Weed produces oxygen during daylight hours and emits carbon dioxide during the hours of darkness. I’m not here to give you a science lesson as that’s all been done previously, but that general mindset is certainly worth remembering.
In my experience first light and late evening has undoubtably been the most productive times to target weedy waters, especially on short mid week sessions after work. During these times the carp will tend to become a little more active and seem more confident to venture out from their weedy hiding spots. By fishing over areas of low lying weed or even tight up against weed beds on small clear areas I usually manage to slip the net under a few for my efforts and these are the areas I have come to favour.
My chosen set-ups
When choosing what lead arrangement and rig to use the first hurdle is to find out exactly which type of weed bed you are fishing over. The quickest and most subtle way to do this is to use a Pronged Marker Lead or a small Weed Rake to retrieve some weed for examination. While looking through the samples you retrieve it is important to firstly identify what weed it is but also to determine the condition of the weed with regard to whether it’s fresh growth, old or dying. Fresh weed growth is the best you can hope for as it’s healthy, vibrant, active and usually teaming with all manor of the aquatic life which makes up the carps natural diet. Older weed growth is also ok to fish over. The best way to determine whether weed is old or new growth is to look at the colour and texture. Old weed will be a darker colour and will generally be much tougher than fresh weed. It can often be more difficult to retrieve fish through more mature weed. Dead weed is a no go from my experience and should be avoided whenever possible. It holds no warmth, very little food and due to it breaking down and decaying it actually removes oxygen from the water that surrounds it, not to mention the putrid smell it gives off as it rots away.
Armed with all the info I need about the weed I am fishing over I now make the choice of what rig and bait to use. On the majority of my local waters the weed is mainly Canadian Pond Weed, with small amounts of Milfoil mixed in.
Now most angler will always try to find a clear spot when fishing weedy waters, somewhere where they feel they can present a decent bed of bait and have confidence that their rigs will be sat presented. Although I do fish these areas when I have to, this is never my first choice of spots to fish, I prefer to fish on low lying weed whenever possible. I know it begs the question, “why fish in weed if you don’t need to?” Well my simple answer to that is, “Because fishing clear spots is what everyone else does and I want to catch them where they don’t feel pressured.”
Anyone who has experience fishing weedy waters will know that during day time hours carp will always be found sat in the weed, so why would you not fish for them there?
My chosen tactic of late has been a naked helicopter set up, with a 2-3 inch Chod. I am using a naked setup due to my local waters having leader bans, I would prefer to use a leader if I had the option. Due to my set up being naked I need to up my mainline and I like to use 23lb Exocet. I use two beads when fishing over weed to limit the movement of my Chod when casting and presenting over the weedbed. To work out the distance to set my bottom bead, I examine the weed that I removed from the lake previously and find a full piece which has the roots and top of the shoot still attached. I then position the bottom bead at least 12 inches up from the length of that weed stem. My top bead will then be positioned another 12 inches up from the bottom bead with the Chod rig positioned in the middle. The Chod is sat on a Size 8 Ring Swivel and can move freely between the beads. Light leads are ideal with this set up and i always choose a 2oz Lead for fishing over low lying weed.
I use a Heli-Chod System from Hobo Armour for my naked Heli Setup. Coupled up with a short Chod Rig made using 25lb Armoured Chod, a size 8 SP-Chod hook and a size 8 Ring swivel. I attach the bait on using a Micro-Ring Swivel, bait floss and a Floss Cap.
I will always take the necessary time to ensure that my hookbait is perfectly balanced, so once I cast and the rig lands in the water it will sit high in the water (above the weed) for longer and slowly fall on top of the weed instead of into it, this is very important as it ensures that you are presented perfectly. I will also always choose to fish with a slack line whenever I can when fishing on top of weed. I do this to ensure that I don’t pull my rig into the weed by tightening my mainline up to the lead. That would defeat the whole idea of fishing on the weed and is probably the main cause for most anglers struggling to catch when they try to tackle the weedy areas. If it is ever not possible for me to fish slack due to high winds, bird life or other factors, I will then fish a semi-slack line and I will add a long boom section to my Chod to create a hinged stiff rig.
If it is not possible to present on the weed then that’s when I will search for the clear areas to fish over. When I find a clear area I will always use one of two setups, Lead-clip or a Solid Bag.
I use the lead-clip over a helicopter set up with the thought that having the lead positioned on the floor as well as the rig, my set up will be perfectly presented with no worry of my rig being suspended in the weed that surrounds the clear area as it could be with a helicopter setup. My rig of choice will either be a D’RIG with a balanced wafter on a very clean spot, or a short pop up rig such as a Ronnie Rig with a Balanced Pop up.
I use an 8 inch section of Armoured Chod for the “D” and the Boom section of the rig, paired up with an ultra sharp Size 4 Hobo Original CurveShank Hook. A Micro Rig Ring, Bait Floss and a Floss Cap secure the bait in place.
I use a solid bag when fishing smaller holes in the weed where I am able to feel a drop but feel that there may be a little Chod or debris over the area. A solid bag will present over any small debris and give the best chance of a fish from these tight spots.
How to bait up in weedy waters
Whether I am fishing over weed or on clear spots in the weed my bait mix stays the same, only my baiting approach will differ. I use chopped boilie in 14mm and 18mm mixed with particle and pellet. This is the ideal mix to use in my opinion as the lighter bait particles and chops tend to fall slowly through the water and they sit on top of the weed rather than falling through it.
A decent spread of bait in a general area when fishing over low lying weed has always been the most productive in my fishing. Introduced via the use of a Catapult or Spomb depending on how far I am fishing. The clear patches will always produce better results with a more accurate baiting approach with a spomb.
So, weed at any time of year can provide success for any angler who fishes in and around it effectively with the correct approach. It is a simple case of putting some work in at the start of each session to find out what you are fishing over and working out how you want to fish in or around it. Watercraft is a huge aspect and will always tell you where you should be fishing so don’t ignore it and don’t be afraid of fishing in the weed if that’s where the fish are.