'Legering for Grayling'? Some of you are probably now recoiling in horror. And I largely agree with you. It is not really the way of the enlightened, the path of the Ninja. One of my clubs actually bans legering in their river beats, and I agree entirely with their decision. But elsewhere there are many swims that simply cannot be fished with fly or float. Depths, varying, or too deep, snags, trees and everything else imaginable, can render civilized grayling fishing quite impossible. So what of those swims? Are they to be ignored? The grayling ( and other species) certainly do not ignore them. So we can either treat them as sanctuaries or in some cases, maybe they can be legered.
But what is the problem with legering for grayling? Apart from the aesthetics of it, the grayling is a fish that can be very prone to taking the hookbait deep into its mouth, often so deep as to leave the hook out of sight. Float fishing and fly fishing tends to lead to the fish being lip hooked most of the time. Legering though, can result in 50% of fish, maybe more, being hooked in disgorger territory. Contrary to the strength of their wriggles, as you try to extract the hook, probing deeply into a grayling's digestive tract is fraught with danger to the fish. Even using a slammo disgorger is no guarantee that an unseen hook, deep down, can be extracted. The more caring angler would cut the line sooner rather than later, and pray that the barbless hook he should be using will be dealt with and disposed of naturally by the fish. I do not know how often fish actually dispose of hooks. I don't know how often they die as a consequence of deep hooking.
I do not wish to deep hook fish. and have usually avoided the leger for grayling. In the same way many years ago I stopped fishing for pike when the Jardine snap tackle was ubiquitous, and the advice was to 'strike on the second run'. I did not like the surgical operation needed to extract barbed trebles from deep inside a pike. And at the time no-one had invented the method of slipping the hand into the gill slit to aid and abet unhooking of the fish. Pike fishing is far more acceptable these days with modern methods now in place, and almost all of my pike these days are hooked such that the hook shank is visible outside of the jaw. My pike fishing has become a lot friendlier to the fish, and I enjoy it more.
But could there also be a better method of fishing for grayling? ...and for chub, roach etc of course. In my youth I used to fish for big bream with a paternoster rig. Not the usual rig but a rather extreme version. From the T junction of the paternoster line, one arm was a couple of feet or more of line, with an Arlesey bomb attached to the end of it. Tied on, not sliding. The other T was only an inch or so long, and lead to the hook. This gave a very direct route from hook to bite indicator should a fish swim away from me. I had already concluded that there was nothing to gain from a sliding lead if a fish swam back towards me, the lead would move back towards me at half the speed of the fish, and could easily totally mask out any bite indication at the rod. It worked well for me. It was possibly even working as a bolt rig, something that had not been invented at the time. Hooks then were not nearly as sharp, so that bolt effect may not have been quite so frequently the case. Such a paternoster style was also completely tangle free, and certainly caught fish in stillwaters.
Would such a rig work for grayling, and why would it be an advantage? Well, the line between lead and rod is under a small amount of tension, and only that inch long hooklink is free to move, free to be sucked in by the fish. The tension in the main line to the lead would prevent any of the main line from being sucked into the mouth of the fish. So my theory was that the fish could therefore not take the bait any deeper than an inch into its mouth. Any fish hooked inside the mouth, at only an inch deep is no problem for a disgorger. But would it work, would it catch fish? Yes it did, and to date I have not hooked a single fish deeply when fishing in this way. Was it as efficient a way to catch fish? That I cannot answer easily, and so the conclusion is that it remains a definite maybe. The current and angle of the main line could easily lift the bait off the bottom, although that could be counteracted by a shot somewhere near the T. The method works for both up and downstream legering. I even used it fishing with a maggot feeder for chub, fishing downstream. My bait being a foot upstream of the feeder did not seem to concern the chub, the trail of maggots below the feeder attracted the chub sufficiently close, that they were then able to find my baited hook some distance above the feeder.
A second problem is that the fish might prefer a long length of line, allowing the bait to flow and meander more freely up and down in the current. Clearly the paternoster method is not going to provide that. So here, for the first time in print, I will present to you the JayZS Twig Rig...the result of five minutes of idle thinking during a boring morning when few fish were feeding. Designed for downstream legering for grayling, allowing a longer flowing link and yet, in theory, still preventing deep hooking.
|Caught on a Twig Rig.|
Both methods rely on being able to prevent a fish taking a bait down deep. Both seem to work, and I have not yet had a deep hooked fish on either method. Only a dozen or so fish into the experiments, but with ordinary legering techniques, several of those would have certainly been hooked deeply.
I bought a Berlingo van. For fishing. Something I had promised myself for many years, but four years ago, having had a Saxo written off, I flunked it, and bought a Ford Fusion instead. Worked just fine as a fishing car, but I was always worried that anything inside the car could be seen. So finally I splashed out on a van. Not had a van for many years. Had an HA Bedford ( MK 1 Viva) van and a couple of minivans many years ago, but they were very different. Smaller, and much easier to drive. The new van has no rear windows, and so for the first time I am dependent on the wing mirrors. Had it long enough now to be ignoring the interior mirror, but have no idea why one has been fitted to a vehicle with no rear windows, and which also has a bulkhead immediately behind the driver, doubly blocking the view. Mind you I was still more surprised by a transit van I followed last week. It too had no rear windows, but was fitted with a pair of rear screen wipers. They were both switched on....and it wasn't even raining. They have probably been cleaning the rear paintwork for years, with the driver completely unaware they were switched on. I also need to point out that my van is NOT white. So the "white van man" epithet will not work. I feel I am seated very high up driving it, and it seems huge, although only about 9 inches longer than the Fusion. That said, it feels more secure for stowing the few bits of tackle that I am not carrying as I walk to my swim. Parking is a little more difficult to accomplish with style, without a functional rear view mirror, and some non right-angle junctions can be difficult, there being limited views at 45 degrees to the rear and left of the van. Narrow roads, single track, just the sort of tracks I need to drive down to reach the river will also be problematic at times. Having to reverse, on meeting another vehicle, will be interesting for I cannot now see if there is another car close behind me. Thinking in advance has become more necessary. Maybe I need some sort of 6th sense, to alert me to problems behind me.
But could I trust that 6th sense? Any more than the other senses can be trusted?
Take vision. When watching a stationary float on a lake, with a crosswind, and therefore ripples passing sideways in front of you, something very odd can happen when you look away. Look at vegetation on the bank and it seems to be moving, creeping towards the water, yet getting no closer to the lake. The brain must be filtering out some of the left to right, or right to left, ripple movement whilst watching the float. And it must be doing this by adding in a component of virtual movement automatically. The brain sets up this background moving picture, which it then adds to the real scene. Changing it for God only knows what reason. So, when you stop looking at the ripples, the added on bit of the scene, that generated by the brain, remains for a while, and seemingly causes stationery objects to appear as if moving, trees drifting down the bank. All very strange.
But this added component is not confined to vision. Take hearing. I live a hundred yards or so from a main line railway. It runs in a deep cutting but that is not so deep as to be able to mask out the noise from a Manchester-London Virgin express train, nor even that from the local services. Yet I do not notice them at all, I hear nothing. Not unless I try specifically to hear them. The brain appears to be able to ignore these intermittent chunks of noise, selectively, in the background, only alerting me to them if I am specifically wanting to hear them. Amazing.
Next smell: Houses each have a particular smell. Go into someone else's house and it is often both apparent and detectable. This applies to your own home too. But you smell nothing when you enter it. Again the brain seems to filter out that which it expects. This, I guess, allows it to more readily determine any slight differences from the norm. Useful in this modern age where we have gas fires and the like, all of which might imply danger of some sort. ( I once came home from work and could smell gas in the house. So could the emergency gasman, although his sniffer device failed to find any signs of gas. It turned out that next door had had a visiting plumber, who had completed the job, and left the property, leaving an open gas pipe, and then turned the gas back on. Next door's house was a bomb, waiting for a spark before exploding. Smell saved my property, if not my life.) In the distant past a change of background smell probably also warned of danger or perhaps the nearness of food. Not really a sense we have had to rely on too much, or else evolution might have given us the same sensitivity to smell as it has given to dogs, bears fish and other creatures. Taste is very closely related to smell, and although I guess the brain can detect and ignore a "background" taste, I cannot recall any examples.
Touch, the fifth sense is also intriguing. Sit on a sofa or a chair and you have a large area in contact with the seating. Yet you can largely ignore it, it is not constantly firing messages at you, at least not once the nerves have transmitted those messages to the brain. They are once more ignored. Yet it only takes a minor disturbance to the norm, say, sitting on a sofa with a stray split shot on it, and it immediately tells you, and causes you grief until you remove the shot. Once more the background is being ignored. The unusual being amplified. And I suspect that, like vision, background 'feel' gets ignored by the brain, in that it creates a "negative" of what it feels, thus cancelling out everyday feeling. To support this I recall years when I spent a whole week on a punt, fishing for tench at the start of the coarse fish close season. Even with the punt lashed to some stakes, there was still a small amount of swell, with wave action constantly rocking the boat. It did not take long to ignore, to not notice this rocking motion. I believe that it was ignored by means of the brain generating the inverse of the motion, making the sum total of the rocking experienced by the conscious brain to be effectively zero. How do I justify this statement? Quite simple really. At the end of the week, tired, and fairly happy with my catches, I went home to sleep. And for several hours the bed seemed to be rocking with a wave action. This must have been the brain being quite slow to switch off its compensatory signals. The effect was very noticeable though. Quite astonishing what the unconscious brain is capable of: from diluting the senses, thus ignoring the irrelevant, to solving a sticky crossword clue in the background. Yet it has one hell of a time remembering where I have put my car keys, just moments earlier.