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Do you still use braided mainline? I was tempted to switch to Bullet Braid this winter to exaggerate line bites and indications. MALCOLM RAWLINGSON, NORWICH Yes and no. I am a big fan of both fluorocarbon and braid as mainlines resorting only to monofilament in thick weed where I want great abrasion resistance and a degree of stretch when hooking and holding. The benefit of braid is that it has virtually no stretch and whatever moves at the end tackle is reflected almost like for like in movement

and sound at the R3 and Slaphead. At range this is a big advantage as it means you spot carp that are hooked and not bolting off and even carp which do bolt off you can be in immediate contact with, stopping them kiting into snags for example. For its diameter it will also be much stronger than mono which means you can cast long range

without the need for shockleaders. So all good you'd think? Because braid is so vastly different to monofilament it is quite a specialist line and needs some getting used to. You need to load it correctly and also look after it correctly to avoid wind knots which can cost you the entire reel’s worth of braid – expensive! Numbers of fisheries also don't allow braid full stop and finally because it is dark braid can stand out on sandy clean bottoms especially in clear, shallow waters. That said if you want to improve bite registration, are fishing at range and are prepared to get to grips with it Malcolm rather than give up on it after one or two trips then I can thoroughly recommend it!

I be fishing over Q Should silt rather than gravel at this time of year? My mates keep telling me that’s where the natural food is? DEL BRINTON, WINSFORD Without sounding like a broken record, as Tim Paisley famously said they are where they are… to the point and oh so true. If you honestly are not seeing signs of carp and have nothing else to go on then one of the factors to consider is where the remaining stocks of natural food may be. At my lakes it tends to be in dead or dying weedbeds or in the reeds but it may be that your water doesn’t have those features, in which case any remaining natural food will be in the soft silt rather than over hard gravel. I would however avoid dark and smelly silt especially if it has trapped leaf litter in it. That kind of silt in my experience tends to deter rather than attract carp. You are looking for clean soft silt your lead settles in and


as Tim Paisley famously said they are where they are…

does not come back discoloured and smelly. If you bring back a big fat wriggling bloodworm or two on your end tackle or link then you may well have found a productive area.

Also get into the habit of sniffing your lead after you retrieve it, you’ll work out the difference between potentially productive ‘sweet’ silt and the black yucky stuff very quickly!

Ezine January 2017