It's not been happening for me on my last few fishing trips. A trip to the Leam last week after eels yielded just a small one, a few hours on Sunday morning after dace saw me miss more bites than I hit, and last nights attempt at eels on the Warks Avon produced a 7lb 4oz pike. As our fishing challenge continues into the autumnal weather I am bumped further out of my angling comfort zone and find myself chasing ruffe, catfish and eels.
The recent couple of hours after dace was on the top meadow at Wasperton (LAA) before our work party. I used my super-sensitive Shakespeare wand with the finest quiver tip attached hoping the dace would produce wrap around bites and hang themselves in the process. The river was up after recent rain however and that ruled out fishing all but the more sedate nearside water with this rod.
Fishing a smooth channel of water with a light lead down the near edge it was soon apparent that the weight of water on the line from the flow was wiping out valuable sensitivity in the last third of the tip. The tip eye was at forty five degrees to the butt of the rod.
I'm certain this observation - that the flow of a river pulls a quiver tip round - does not provide new insight to all the experienced anglers out there but I'll see the thinking through as it took me to an interesting place.
Because the sensitivity of the tip had been diminished by the flow the bites I was receiving from the dace were sharp, jaggy, over very quickly and difficult to hit. The flow had the effect of making it seem like I was using a much heavier tip and because I was fishing so close in there was no elasticity in the rig. When fishing at even a moderate distance on running water there will be some latent 'give' from the length of nylon line between tip and lead, or slight bow in the line.
Essentially the set up was ineffective for the conditions.
Contrast this scenario with the tips performance in still water where it's only the weight of the line between eye and lead which pulls the tip round. Once the lead is cast it is possible to reduce the line tension to such a degree that the tip is almost straight and I'm sure most of the line is laying on the lake bed. All of the tips sensitivity is then available for bite registration.
The flow on the top meadow at Wasperton is pretty fast compared to slower deeper stretches of the Avon. That's presumably why the Barbel are attracted to it. It's faster still when there's new water in the river like there was on Sunday.
Reflecting on the ineffectiveness of my set up I tried to pick a method which would have been better on the day and found I couldn't positively settle on a favourite.
I ruled the waggler out on grounds of flow speed but thought it might be too turbulent even for a stick float. In hindsight I would go with an 11ft quiver with a slightly beefier tip and fish across and down into one of the far bank glides, keeping the tip high.
I propose the reason why I have such trouble picking between stick and quiver is because the water was roughly suitable for both. In an attempt to describe this intersection of methods and conditions I came up with the graph below.
One line I thought about adding was to represent the tip movement or viciousness of a bite. I would start that line low in the left hand corner rising up in a straight line as the flow increased. The viciousness of a bite is just another way of saying how likely the fish is to hook itself as when your tip is bouncing round or being pulled off the rest that's not a bite it's the first charges of a hooked fish. I think the faster the flow the more likely the fish is to hook itself when it turns with the bait in it's mouth.
What's the upshot of all this cogitation? In fishing you can often learn as much from an unsuccessful session as you can from a successful one.