Drop 'Em - Effective Lead Clip Discharge While Carp Fishing.
by Lewis Read
Getting rid of the lead during a fight is often critical; it can mean the difference between landing a prize fish or a blank session…a good day or a bad day! So how do you ensure your lead stays on when you need it, and drops off when you don’t? Here Lewis Read takes us through the how’s and why’s of effective lead clip discharge.
Some situations in which dropping the lead helps enormously include fishing in heavy weed, in the vicinity of snags, or over particularly harsh features like steep sided bars or the sides of plateau. Losing the lead removes the risk of it acting as a point on your terminal setup that can snag causing excessive pressure on your hook hold, enabling a hard fighting big fish to rid itself of the hook (not good!). Another very helpful benefit of losing the lead is that the hooked fish will often rise up in the water column towards the surface and away from snags and weed when it is not carrying the weight around.
Lead ClipsThere are several popular tried and tested methods of setting up your terminal tackle to lose the lead. By far the most popular - and arguably the easiest and most ecient - is using one of the wide varieties of lead clips that have been popularised over the last decade.
Lead Clips offer the convenience of being able to change to dierent sizes to suit dierent ranges, and dierent shapes to suit the many dierent types of fishing that we are likely to encounter. They work with a diverse array of terminal setups such as PVA bags and ground bait sticks, right the way through to the ‘zig’ rigs.
Lead Clip systems give excellent presentations over light weed and silt, because the lead doesn’t drag the hook link down in the same way as an inline lead would - which always plummet to the lake bed ‘nose first’. In fact, the Lead Clip’s capacity for presenting a bait over a multitude of lake beds is second only to the helicopter rig!
In nearly all instances, the amount of pull required to discharge the lead from the clip is controlled by pushing the tail rubber onto the back end of the Lead Clip. The simplest way to make sure the lead comes off is to reduce the distance the tail rubber is pushed onto the rear of the clip. Alternatively, for very quick lead ejection, by trimming the back of the retaining arm, the lead can then pull out of the tail rubber and come off easily.
The easiest clips to use incorporate a ridge that retains the swivel in position, such as the Gardner Covert Lead Clips. With this style the Swivel must be pulled into the clip until you hear an audible click. It is vital that the lead clip stays attached to the swivel when the lead is pulled. This test should be carried out with all Lead Clip set ups to make sure that they function correctly – you don’t want the lead clip running up the line and never detaching.
A key design attribute of the Gardner Lead Clip design is the combination of a smooth barrel with serrations only on the lead retaining arm. In-depth tests have shown that clips with fully ribbed barrels and lead arms create far too much grip, and always require major surgery to make them drop the leads at all!
If you are using the lead clip with PVA bags, or have trimmed the clip right back, it may be necessary to tie a loop of PVA around the clip as shown in the picture to make sure that the lead isn’t ejected as the terminal tackle hits the water. I recommend the use of a braided PVA product like ‘G-String’ or ‘Fishnet PVA’ instead of a standard PVA tape as these dissolve quickly and tend to be much stronger and less stretchy, taking the strain of a cast a lot more effectively.
The effective function of the system also relies on us checking the Lead Clip and the Tail Rubber’s condition. If your Lead Clip has been used for a while and has been repeatedly pulled on and off the Swivel, it is deffnitely worth making sure that the lead clip still grips firmly and your Tail Rubbers are free from any tears or imperfections that may cause tangles. It always pays to look after your equipment, no matter how small the components.
Apart from lead clips, what alternative ways are there to set up a rig that will discharge the lead when needed?
A Rotten Bottom!
When you want to use a helicopter or chod rig, the lead clip systems simply don’t work! The best way to get around this is to incorporate a ‘Rotten Bottom’ into the rig. The lead is attached to the terminal tackle by means of a section of lighter breaking strain line that acts as a weak link that will easily break should the lead become snagged or snared. This weak link is normally 3 or 4Ib (1.4-1.8kg) breaking strain nylon. You shouldfi nd that in practice the link will only break when necessary, and more importantly will give before your hook hold on a big fish.
Perhaps the best method I have seen is to simply attach the lead to the bottom of your mainline or lead core leader material, by means of the large ring taken from a Flexi Ring Swivel (simply removed by snipping the swivel). For a really tidy setup, cover the connection with a trimmed down Tail Rubber or section of a Silicone Sleeve.
When you are using large leads or casting any significant range you will need to reinforce the weak link with PVA to stop the lead breaking ffo on the cast. The setup will normally withstand a gentle lob with a small lead without this reinforcement, but take care to avoid overloading the weak link, and if in doubt reinforce the connection to avoid the risk of the lead becoming a hostile projectile!
The improved presentation that the helicopter style rigs offer when fishing in thick silt are enormous. Despite the small amount of extra effort required to reinforce the link with PVA, you will find that the benefit in terms of fish caught may well be enough to convert you. Another great benefit is that the rotten bottom rig allows you to land fish like bream without losing leads unnecessarily.
You can incorporate the rotten bottom principle with other more conventional pendant lead set ups, and with a bit of experimentation you may find a way of using them that means that you can adapt your own favourite rig to be safer when fishing in weed or near snags.
Unlike a Rotten Bottom principle, Inline leads may not be the best choice for presentation on scruffy or silty lake beds, but they have clear benets for fishing on hard bottoms when you want the lead to give the most effective bolt rig effect possible. Until fairly recently the use of discharging inline lead setups was a secret kept by some of the specialists, as this meant they could fish in a safer manner in more challenging scenarios.
Discharging inline leads that have the leader and swivel tucked in the nose of the inline lead has seen a great deal of recent publicity. This set up ensures that when the fish picks up the hook bait and bolts away, the swivel is pulled out of the nose and the lead is instantly discharged. This occurs whether it is a Bream, Tench or Carp, or even when retrieving the terminal tackle through weed!
It’s a setup that is useful in extreme circumstances such as stalking in the edge near very thick weed and snags. It is often better where the obstacles to landing a fish are not so severe – and the lead doesn’t need to be discharged the instant that the bite occurs.
I prefer a slightly different arrangement that is broadly similar, except that the leader is attached to the same end of the swivel as the hook link (which I always attach by means of a ‘Q-Ring’ now, as they reduce tangles like a Flexi-Ring and also allow quick change of the rig when necessary). By pushing the other end of the swivel into the lead, this improved lead arrangement can be cast without fear of the lead ejecting. More often than not the lead isn’t discharged when a Bream or a Tench picks up the hook bait and certainly not when just retrieving!
If you find that the insert on the lead is offering too much grip, it’s simply a case of squeezing the swivel eye that is being pushed into the lead so that it is narrower, or opening out the insert with scissors to make the diameter slightly larger.
Carefully consider your lead arrangement and what type of terminal arrangement is best for your fishing situation. In these environmentally conscious times, when it comes to dropping leads it’s up to individual anglers to carefully consider whether using an automatically-discharging setup is necessary, a decision that can only be made on the day. Assess what will be the best lead arrangement for your presentation as well. Is it an inline (for hard gravel and sand), helicopter (a great all rounder) or pendant lead (for exibility and use over light bottom debris)? They all have their merits.
Also ask whether you really need to drop the lead at all. Perhaps it is best to balance the benefits of any lead eject system against factors like angling efficiency, fish welfare, cost and - dare I even suggest - reducing the weight of your tackle, particularly if you have a monster trek to your venue or want to remain as mobile as possible during your session...
Whatever you decide, there’s no doubt that different lead arrangements can strongly affect your chances of a catch in various conditions. There are lots of excellent books on this subject and you can check the internet for some useful demo videos, explaining in full detail everything you need to know. It’s well worth some experimentation.