Tackling the Fens

Here's the gear I use most of the time, with slight variations depending on the type of venue, whether there's a walk and whether I plan on staying put or moving around a bit.


I use Fox Predator Elites for both float-legering and straight lead rigs, in 2.75 and 3.25 test curves respectively.  My love affair with these began when I was given one to review a few years back, and told the hybrid spigot/overfit joint was unbreakable. Being me, I had to try and break one and got the chance when I hooked into a big pike on a boat on a deep section of river. The rod went round and round as the fish dived beneath the boat, and even swirled behind me on the other side at one point. Rod intact, twenty in the net, I decided these were the rods and invested in another three. The 2.75 version has a lovely action, while the heavier build will cast baits as big as I want to use, along with a heavy lead. I also like the full duplon handles.

I also still own a few of the old Marvic Pike Rods, which I use for lighter fishing on drains and rivers - especially free-roaming lives. They're more than 10 years old but still a lovely rod to play fish on. One drawback is the rings - they've got too many and they're too small for casting any distance with braid. If they ever make an updated version, with better rings, they'd be an ideal drain rod.


I use Shimano GTE 10000C reels for most float fishing on rivers, drains and pits. I prefer the larger-sized Baitrunners to the 8000GT-sized reels we all used 10 years ago, though I still have the smaller-sized reels on a couple of rods. Some people don't get on with the double handles, but I've never had a problem beyond the odd bruised knuckle when I've let go to allow the reel to backwind when a fish surges off. I don't use the drag, because I prefer to play fish by back-winding.

I still have a few of the 5000-sized Daiwa Emblems which I use for legering. These are metal and completely bomb proof, with a big cranking handle. They feel like coffee grinders to use, but they'll never let you down.


I use Powerpro, usually the 65lbs for most fishing. I've never broken on a fish using this and it will straighten the hooks out of most snags. I've also got the 50lbs on a couple of reels and have tried other braids like 30lbs Fireline, which is also reliable but does go furry after a season or two.


I use cheap alarms, because it's no big deal if it goes in the river or gets left behind packing up after dark. They're just an insurance policy for float fishing, ie it'll go if a bung goes while you're having a wee, having a mardle with your mate or reading the paper. For legering, I use a weighted home-made drop off built from Solar parts.


Usually Masons Multistrand, in 30lbs or 40lbs, because it's so cheap. I also use ET Mr Softee, Bleeding Leader for uptraces and Middy 28lbs when I want a bit of finesse, or a wire which will cut through weed.


Usually Owner 36BC, in sizes Four and Two. They're sharp, micro-barbed hooks which are as good as anything else out there. I also buy VMC round-bends or Drennan Extra-Strong whenever I come across them, as I've used both for years without any problems.


I've got a 52-inch North Western net, which is too deep for my liking and a 42-inch net which I got for a tenner which is a bit too shallow. C'est la vie.


I use a large mat, with long forceps and long-nosed pliers to hand. I also have hook cutters to hand, though these tend to get used more for cutting hooks out of the net than out of fish.


Avon scales, which weigh a couple of ounces light, with an ET sling.


Korum Rucksack, cheapo quiver. Click here for rucksack review.


I don't bother with chairs, preferring to sit on the bank or on the mat if on the boat or it's cold.


Sundridge bib n' brace/jacket, with thermal bunny suit underneath. Skeetex socks. Skeetex boots or walking boots, depending how cold or wet it is and whether I have to walk any distance.

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