The 2nd instalment of silver fish fishing by Merce
So the rig works like this. Essentially, you place 2 No9 shot (I use stotz) 1.5 inches away from the hook. You then have the the remainder of your bulk about a foot above this. You set the rig so that the 2 x No9s are just (and only just) off the deck, leaving about an inch of line laying on. When the fish takes the bait and rights itself, it lifts the weight of the 2 x No9s and your float rises like a periscope, indicating it is time to strike. You don’t need to strike particularly quickly, and can therefore afford to have a fair length of line between pole tip and float. You can even get away with a spray bar, in fact I suspect this may help prevent you hitting them too quickly.
When Steve first developed this rig I thought he was nuts. It certainly looks ‘wrong’. Of course, it is simply a more extreme form of the classic ‘double bulk’ rig that has been a long time favourite for skimmer pole fishing. The difference lies in the closeness of the bottom bulk to the hook, and its relative lightness which, combined with a light float, assures a clear lift bite without the skimmer feeling the resistance.
To complete the rest of the picture: hook is a Gama G Pellet Hook to Nylon (HTN) size 20 to 0.10mm line. Mainline is 0.12mm, float is a Hillbilly Billy Bob in either 0.2g or 0.3g depending on depth and wind (although any rugby ball shape float is fine). Elastic is Middy Hi Viz 4-6 (purple) – THE best skimmer elastic ever.
The plummet is your friend
Obviously, for the above rig to work, you need to plumb up accurately. And of course it is no good if you choose to fish on an uneven bottom, as one put-in it will work, whereas the next put-in it will be too shallow or too deep. So you need to find a relatively flat area. That is an absolute must.
Better still is if you can find a slightly raised area, a little (say 4 inches) shallower than the lake bed around it. This means the skimmers can eat off a table rather than eating off the floor, lol.
Worst case scenario is that you have to bring the rig up the shelf a bit towards you and find a line there with a consistent depth left to right. To be clear, time spent with a heavy plummet is an essential investment of time. If you can find a raised, ideally harder area – happy days. Steve will sacrifice distance to find a good spot ie he will fish at only 7 or 8 metres if he finds a nice raised bit. I prefer distance and will rarely come nearer than 12 metres for skimmers, as I believe they like being away from the bank. Yer pays yer money…
A note on HTNs: for top end anglers there is still a level of distrust of HTNs. I think this is based on the fact that some of the early ones had dodgy knots. After that problem was solved, concern swithched to the quality of line they were tied on. For me, those days are gone, and I will use HTNs whenever I can. I will only tie my own if I cant find the right combination of hook size and line diameter (rare). By the way, Gama told me they may be stopping the G Pellet HTNs so I will be swapping to Drennan Silver Fish Barbless, which Pete and Steve use.
A note on elastics: I will also have in my rod bag top kits fitted with Middy Hi-Viz 6-8 (orange). On very occasional days this just seems to work better, especially when it is mega windy (you know, when it is so windy it is actually blowing a bow into your elastic when you are playing a fish!). Bumped fish can be a problem at Stafford Moor (and everywhere else, lol). The rig itself will reduce foul hookers, but you will still bump a few fish. I have a theory (surprise, lol) about why this is…
Strike or lift?
About 20 years ago we were all happily catching fish on White acres festivals when someone called Andy Lloyd came along. He only set up three float rods, each with rigs at different depths, and would drill his pellets, loading them onto the hair jammed with a piece of cocktail stick to counterbalance the weight of the hook. He took the place apart, and the pellet waggler revolution was born. (I know, I know, others may claim to have started it but he was the first I saw). Things have moved on since then, but the West Country remains at the forefront, if you like ‘the spiritual home’ of PW fishing. What is the significance of this? Well I reckon over 80% of the feed the skimmers see at SM is 10mm pellets. Presumably the skimmers either wait for these to dissolve, or mouth them to accelerate this process which makes their mouths hard. Certainly the skimmers at SM have harder mouths than many elsewhere in the country, so don’t be worried to give a fair strike to set the hook.
Skimmers are not the only fruit
The other main rig you will need is for the roach at 5/6m. For this I use a Hillbilly F1 type float (think it might be called a Gazunder – light blue body with mega thin tip), shotted with a strung bulk and a few droppers (max size No 10). Mainline is 0.12 with a Kamasan B510 (this is a maggot hook ie narrower gape) HTN in size 20 tied to 0.08mm line. Elastic is again purple Middy Hi-Viz, with the orange as a back up.
Note on the 5m line: I have observed that more tench tend to show up on this line than on your long swims. Obviously these are vital bonus fish so you need to try and get them in. Where possible therefore, use a slightly heavier hook length (eg size 18 to 0.10mm) if you can get away with it (as ever, lol). Again I use a B510 HTN as hook bait will be maggot or caster, but more of that later.
Ok, that’s it for rigs. This is the first time we have discussed the ‘double 9s’ or ’99’ rig openly, and alongside the ‘leave it to cook’ feeding pattern outlined in the previous instalment, its probably the main differentiator in our approach.
Next time I’ll cover baits. See you then.