Specimen Angling. Where do I start?
As most anglers know in South Africa we have 2 dominant forms of Carp Fishing. One is the age old and trusted method of Papgooi (feeder or conventional angling) where quantity of fish is considered a better result as quality of fish. And then there is the relatively new and increasingly popular style of carp fishing which we call Specimen Angling. This form of carp fishing is much more popular overseas especially European countries and dominates every online platform outside of South Africa.
Lets be honest: Almost every “Specimen” Carp Angler have grown up in a “Papgooi” background where you can quickly slap together a mieliebomb and tie up 2 hooks to your main line, hook up 2 koo mielies, Cast in and attach a policeman to your line and bam! your fishing. Whilst this method has worked for so many of us in the past to get a bite, the size of fish can never really be controlled and we spend our hours catching fish of 1kg and if we lucky 2kg in size…which can be fun but what if you want to catch a really big one.
Thats where many anglers (myself included) have discovered the style of Specimen Angling where European tactics are applied to target the really big ones in the dam. This style sounds daunting for some and many anglers think that this is Style of fishing is too far out of reach for them. BUT this article is to help you transition your style of fishing in a cost effective way and will ultimately help you become a more conscious angler in every sense. Carp Care are 2 words that some anglers frown upon but if you understand the reasoning behind it, it will change your heart and overall thinking at the dam and in the long term will leave a legacy for our sons to enjoy.
How to start?
The following points are just a basic guidelines to help you get started – considering that you already have fishing rods and reels to fish with
Many guys who start out like to buy ready made rigs which is absolutely fine (a bit costly) but…. One of the best investments I ever made was to buy the Docks Starter kit box – Available at most Tackle shops in SA (try Allout Angling or Fishing Pro shop)
This little box contains all the “Specimen” elements you need to build rigs, leaders, etc. But the best part of this box is the Rig guide that is inside it with step by step instructions explaining the components and teaches you how to tie most popular rigs and leader systems. Once you learn how to tie a hair rig and drop off lead system you will probably never go back to conventional rigs. Nothing beats its effectivity and strength. And the Docks Starter kit is really reasonably priced at around R250.00 – R299.00 (a good investment)
One is the most exciting things when fishing for carp is that sound of the bite alarm screaming away as a monster takes your bait. (which is something a police man cant give you). Yes it serves the same purpose as a police man but believe me, the sound of a bit alarm becomes addictive and really adds excitement on the bank. So a cheap and quick way to set up with Alarms is to get a small pod or banksticks
Prologic has single bankies for R70 each – Get some cheap hangers (Mias in Joburg has predator hangers for R90 each) and a good Bite Alarm (Jackel has good alarms for around R100 each) if you want to have 2 or 3 alarms next to each other you can simply add a Buzzbar (has 2 or more sockets to attach your alarms)
Having your first Specimen setup has to include a carp unhooking mat on which to lay the Big Specimen carp on once you have landed your specimen. Carp and most other species of fresh water fish has a protective slime layer over their scales which keeps bacteria from attaching to its scales and causing infection. Once this protective slime comes off the fish is almost certain to get attacked by bacteria in the water. This can cause entire populations of carp to die once an infection becomes a disease.
So get yourself a landing mat asap. A quick and simple mat costs about R100 – R200 and should also be available in any tackle shop. And if you happen to catch a big one in the middel of the night and like to keep it until sunrise for photos then you need a Carp Sack – which is a soft and keeps the carp calm and protected until you are ready for the photos. A Carp Sack will cost around R80 – R150 for a normal size sack.
Spend some time watching videos that will help you understand the hows and why’s. One brand that has certainly made as great impact in most carp anglers lives is Korda who bring out free tutorial videos every year. Do yourself a favour and subscribe to the Korda youtube channel https://www.youtube.com/channel/UContEaeqonv1e131k03FyMA
And ask for free Korda DVD’s when you visit your local tackle shop.
If you learn from these videos, find a rig that works for you and practice the basic tactics you will sooner or later find yourself holding a giant carp in your arms. I know that the transition to Specimen Angling does not always happen overnight (sometimes it does) but once you have these items in your armoury then you are certainly on your way to becoming a Specimen Angler.
Hope this helps – Enjoy your fishing and look after the dams and the fish inside them.