I’m a ‘solar-powered’ carper and as such, from May through to October, you’ll often find me on a lake tempting an average 12 fish per visit off the top. I rarely fish any other way for carp.

A couple of threads on the FM Forum on surface fishing have highlighted the problem of getting a solid take from wary fish.

We’ve all seen the classic mopping up of freebies, the shying away from hookbaits, tentative mouthing of offerings, etc. And we’ve all tried the various methods to combat these problems: float the line, sink the line, sink only the last six inches, use fluorocarbon, use a clear controller or bubble float, get the line off the water (eg, beach-caster or Cakey’s Floater Rig), hair-rig the hook at the back of the bait, under the bait, on top of the bait, bury the hook, give it last rites and a papal blessing. And probably another half-dozen remedies that have fallen through this colander I call a brain!

Even so, notwithstanding all the applied science, angling experience, and hours of dull-witted but determined water-flogging, apart from the odd mug, the little blighters still know which little piggy has a sharp nail in it!

Clive with yet another carp caught on the Bread Roll Rig

It’s a given fact that if the bait has a hook on it and a line coming away from it, in any way that’s obvious, it’s a no-no, keep-off-the-grass, piscatorial-poison.

Or is it?

Because that doesn’t happen to me very much, not any more, and I would like to know why.

I usually fish a whole slice of bread the size and shape of 5 inches of broom-handle, with a size 4 or 6 matt-black hook hanging off the front like a ‘ship’s anchor’, and a length of acid-yellow braid on the back that’s as obvious as a tow-rope, and acts as a duck-scarer. The matt-black hook and the braid eliminate flash which definitely does spook fish.

So why aren’t they line-shy, hook-shy, put off by the obvious?

At first I thought it was the size of the bread. The greed factor overcoming caution. Or even competition, because you often see several fish come to it as it lands from the cast.

But experimenting with a quarter-slice (same hook, same line, but half the size of your little finger) often brought just as many fish to the net.

Turned out to be excellent popped up in the margins as well, late on when the big ‘uns started patrolling.

So was it the bread itself? Warburton’s, superior stuff and all that.No, ‘fraid not. ‘Cos if you fished a crust or flake like you would a Chum Mixer, you got the usual result. The odd mug, and the occasional muse with his mind elsewhere, oops.

And that’s when thoughts like ‘flummoxed’, ‘brick wall’, ‘annual holiday’, etc, started rising. I mean, who cares, right? It catches me between three and four hundred fish a year. So I should care?

Well, unfortunately, I do care. In fact, I care enough that it’s becoming an obsession.

For the last couple of seasons I have been trying to study what happens at the sharp end, when fish bites hook.

I’ve fished closer and closer, I’ve watched with binoculars. I’ve seen them nudge it, bump it, suck it under and let it go, nibble at the wrong end totally ignoring the line sitting on their nose, and finally nibble at the really wrong end, when hook bites fish.

And my conclusions from all this study?

Zilch. Abso-blinking-lutely nothing. In spades!

And then, God Bless Him, May All His Fishes Be Forties, Stu Dennis arose from the ashes of the Carp Forum and gave utterance on a thread, praising the very method I have been using and abusing in these musings. (I just love alliteration, don’t you?).

It seems that Stuart ‘the coiled-spring of carping” Denis, the thinking angler’s crump… er.. hero, has been having a few on The Bread-Roll Rig and is much impressed with it’s qualities. Like what I am!

Surely HE must have seen what I have seen? Noted what I have noted?

Not being one to miss a golden opportunity when it raises it’s head, I immediately saw a possible end to my dilemma. An end to sleepless nights and wine-dulled confusion.

Simple really.

Post a thread. Define the enigma. Let Stu and fellow surfacers ponder a while. Read answer/s. Ride happily off into the sunset.

Job Done.