Using the lift method for tench

I am writing this post in answer to a comment kindly left by Nigel Punter and I will need more space than is available on the comments page. Nigel asked about fishing for tench using the lift method. Firstly I will explain why the method was developed, then how to implement the method and how it solves the problem.

Often when float fishing for tench you will experience lots of little lifts and dips of the float and sometimes the float will move sideways without either dipping or even tilting. It would be a mistake to try and strike at these small indications and to do so would be likely to frighten any fish in your swim. Often these ditherings of the float are accompanied by strings of tench bubbles and are therefore unlikely to be caused by small fish mouthing the bait.

Many anglers assume that the tench are being finicky and are playing with the bait, perhaps frightened by the weight of the tell-tale shot. So they reduce the size of the tell-tale shot or use a smaller hook and bait and the problem gets worse. The reason for this is that the tench are not being finicky or playing with the bait, but are in fact feeding confidently. To understand what is happening we must look at how the tench feeds. Its mouth is not totally underslung like so many bottom feeding fish and to take food off the bottom the tench must tilt its body into a head down position. To do this the fish fans its pectoral fins to hold it in position and the wash from these fins can blow the baited hook away from the tench’s mouth. The fish will sometimes follow the bait in an attempt to take it and cause the float to move across the surface without tilting or dipping. Eventually if it fails to catch it, the fish will go and find something else to eat.

As you will probably have worked out for yourself by now the solution is not to reduce the weight near the hook but to increase it, to anchor the bait so the fish can catch it. This is what the lift method is designed to do and the way it achieves this will seem a little brutal to some people.

The float I use is a short piece of peacock quill and for those of you learning the method it is best to use an unpainted piece. Attach it to the line by means of a single shot length of silicone tube slipped over the bottom of the quill only so it is fixed waggler fashion. Next, pinch on a swan shot or an AAA shot about three inches from the hook (told you it was brutal didn’t I?) Now, using scissors, trim the top of the quill until it is just sunk by the shot. Then adjust the float so that it is about twenty percent over depth. In five feet it would be set at six feet deep.

Put on your required bait –big baits work best at this time of year– and cast beyond where you want to fish. Put the rod into two rod rests, so that the butt is close to your chair and can be easily reached when you are sitting down. With the tip of the rod just under water, the float should now be laying flat beyond the baited area. Now you gently wind in the line until the float cocks over the area you want to fish and the tip can just be seen.

If the fish is feeding really confidently, it will pick up the bait and tilt its body back to the horizontal to eat it. The fish will not feel very much of the weight of that great big swan shot as most of it is being supported by the buoyancy of the peacock quill but it will cause the quill to rise and often lay flat.Some times the float will just sail away Either indication should be met with a firm strike.

Note that those sail away bites are not caused by a confidently feeding fish but by one in a panic. The confident fish just picks up the bait and eats it, causing very little movement of the float in many cases.

To test this theory, throw some breadcrumbs on your lawn and sit back and watch the birds. The first sparrow will arrive and after making sure it is safe to do so, will fly down and grab a piece of bread and fly away immediately with it. When it has returned a couple of times and done the same thing, it will decide it is safe and will sit on the lawn to eat the bread where it finds it.

The big shot near the hook will have the effect of amplifying the small movements but if you have the float set properly then the fish will never have to lift the full weight of it.

I hope that this is clear, don’t hesitate to leave a comment if you have any questions.