Mid-thirty Oxfordhire mirror – one of eight thirties caught during the spring

Jensen Mannings has found success by turning his back on A boilie-only approach.

This spring went better than I had planned, banking eight thirties and around a dozen fish to just below 30lb. It was a good start to the year to say the least and everything seemed to fall into place. Time is a massive factor in carp fishing; whether you have a lot of it or just get the occasional window, you must use it effectively. Time hasn’t been on my side so far this year, however, and I have only done single nights or the odd 48-hour session when I’ve had the chance. My success wasn’t just down to luck, though; it was a different approach and fine-tuned adjustments that made the difference for me this spring.

A small PVA bag is hooked on before every cast

I like to keep the PVA bags small – sometimes as small as 18mm

Hookbaits are usually picked out of the mix

Over the last few years the boilie approach has been my favourite, as it has been for a lot of anglers. However, it has been so overused and carp must see it a mile away and avoid it like the plague. I decided to go the opposite way and use small baits, and a variety of them. I decided to go with a mix full of different things to give the carp options and some variety, hoping that something would make them slip up and end up in my net. Small particles like hemp, corn and tares are well-known carp catching favourites and also have a track record of catching big carp for over 50 years, including some of the biggest and most sought after carp in the UK. Along with a few tigers and some smaller 10mm boilies it gives a mix that no carp can resist, even when they don’t really feel like feeding.

Baiting an area as tightly as possible and presenting all three rigs on it sounds like a hard task and a problem waiting to happen, but if it is done correctly the outcome can be devastating. Using this method you are giving yourself three chances instead of one when the fish are feeding in the zone. When I say a small area I literally mean something in the region of one metre square – the tighter the better! As long as I get a drop on the lead I know I’m fishing and that the rig has presented itself.

As well as fine tuning my bait, my rigs have also had a makeover, making everything on the rig less visible and as close to the lakebed as possible. Avid Carp’s Flat Clips coupled with Flat Sleeves are a mega advance for this and help you make your rig less visible, especially when fishing over gravel or hard ground. The rig itself is very basic, but extremely effective: a simple hair rig but with a larger amount of shrink tubing to widen the gape of the hook. Size 4 WGP hooks are my preferred choice for this rig and are green coated, which takes away the glare and gives them a dull finish.

A simple rig with extra-long shrink tube

Avid Flat Clips really help to keep everything as close as possible to the lakebed

Low-thirty fully scaled

This one is over 40 years old

My hookbaits are usually pulled out of the mix I’m using, so a tiger nut or a small boilie is usually my favourite. When using a big hook I like to use a small hookbait, so when a carp picks up my rig there is as little resistance as possible. Making my hookbaits stand out can be done by using a few different things, but personally I like to use bright imitation corn to catch the eye of any feeding carp. Once it goes in, it rarely comes out!

Before casting out I like to attach a small PVA ‘hooker bag’ where possible. This really gives the carp something to home in on when they are mooching through the spot and looking for grub. Remember, though, you do not want the bag too big, as you want the carp to find your hookbait in amongst it too. For anything up to 50-60 yards this is a very effective method, but if I was fishing a touch longer I would either use a very small PVA hooker bag, almost the size of an 18mm boilie, or simply two pieces of PVA foam. This is because the resistance of the PVA bag against the lead clip can cause the lead to eject. I’ve used this rig and method this year and, like I said before, it has been extremely effective. It’s all about the percentages!

Back she goes

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