We’ve all been there. You haven’t had a bite for half an hour and decide it’s time for a bait change. You pick up the rod, wind down to the lead and raise the tip. Everything goes solid. Grrrrrrrr! It’s a frustrating situation but one that over time you come to accept as part and parcel of fishing over what has been historically referred to as ‘rough ground’. But what are the options when it comes to tackling up and are there ways to keep tackle loss down to a bare minimum?
Thankfully, the answer is yes. When I am guiding on some of the snaggier marks here on the Bristol Channel, my clients often enquire as to what is the preferred end tackle arrangement when it comes to a rotten bottom. I do provide rigs within the cost of my guided sessions but understandably, many anglers would like to tie their own. Hopefully this blog post will give them an idea to work with. Of course, it’s not just about losing tackle, but potentially a fish too. If the lead weight becomes snagged and is not attached to some form of weak link system, chances are that it will remain wedged in its crevice which ultimately will see the unfortunate angler pulling for a break, losing a rig, shock leader and potentially a fish.
It’s worth remembering that a snagged line may remain in place for some time and will subsequently snag further tackle, occasionally rendering a particular mark un-fishable. So just how can we do something practical to reduce the chances of this happening? My preferred weak link system (or rotten bottom) is very simple to tie and incorporates idea’s taken from other anglers over the years, so I won’t claim it as my own. A lead incorporating a bait clip is the first thing you will need. Shop bought Breakaway Impact Leads are expensive to lose, but there are plenty of lead makers out there who produce excellent examples for a fraction of the cost of the shop bought alternative. A bait clip is obviously a must if any casting distance is required, but to add one into the rig itself only adds to the list of components that could possibly snag. On top of this, if you’re making a large batch of rigs, keeping the hardware to a minimum will reduce time spent tying each one. Rather than attach the lead directly onto the rig link at the bottom of the rig, clip on an inverted Gemini Genie Rig Clip. Attach the lead to an oval split ring and tie this to a six-inch length of 15lb monofilament. Tie the other end of the ‘weak’ line to the rig link.
When you’re done, it should look something like this.....
Once the rig has been cast, allow time for it to hit the sea bed. The action of this will reject the oval split ring from the inverted clip allowing the weak line to be the only connection between lead and rig.
It really is that simple.
It’s a concept that I use with total faith when I’m fishing anywhere that may otherwise claim a rig or six throughout the course of a session.
From a casting perspective, I will at this stage point out the safety aspect of using the rig in question. The lead and clipped hook(s) all have their pivot points and providing a smooth cast is used, there is no reason for the lead to leave the security of the clip. To do so, it would have to jump erratically at some point through the cast which should in theory be impossible given the centrifugal force that the travelling lead would be under. That said, I would advise against using this set up in a crowded situation, or if you feel that your casting is slightly erratic at times. As always, take heed of your surroundings when casting and ask any fellow anglers in the immediate vicinity to step back out of the line of fire when using this kind of tackle. Of course, an over head cast will totally remove this element of danger. Although I have yet to see a crack off as a direct result of this system, precautions should be taken all the same and safety should always be key.
There are numerous shop bought alternatives that are entirely safe to cast at full power, but they are costly, which kind of defeats the object to a degree. I have also seen some intriguing ideas involving panel pins and foam, double eyed leads and other creations designed to keep the lead attached in flight but release it when it hits the water. I understand this concept, but at the same time have yet to have an issue with my preferred method. I guess the jury is still out on what is the perfect rotten bottom system, but this is what works for me and I’ll continue to use it until I am persuaded otherwise. But how do you do it? I keep an open mind on anything fishing and will always listen to a good idea!