I’ve been meaning to sit down and write a blog entry about leadcore and carp fishing for some time now, literally since this blog started in fact. To be honest, I’ve ducked out of doing it far too often so it‘s time I had my say.
Why have I ducked writing about leadcore and leaders?. Quite simply because I can’t stand them!. I don’t think there are many things in carp fishing that present such a danger to our carp but leadcore leaders are right up there at the top of my ‘most dangerous’ list. I don’t believe leadcore is being used safely and I’m not sure it actually can be!, although some ways are safer than others.
I’m an old school angler and when I learnt to carp fish I learned to follow some simple rules, always find the carp being one, keep quiet and keep your movements to a minimum being another. Simple common sense things that all anglers should strive to do. Another simple rule I learnt fairly quickly was the simple rule of thumb for shock leaders and that is….if you don’t need one, don’t use one!.
The thinking behind the old school leader rule was safety, even back in the late 80’s intelligent carp anglers knew that shock leaders could cause problems in the event of the anglers main line breaking. So where did we go wrong?. Knowing that shock leaders had the potential to cause trouble, how did carp fishing end up down the leadcore leaders route and why do anglers think they are actually safe to use?.
I’ve seen many arguments about leadcore on the fishing forums and not once has a leadcore user actually put up a reasonable argument for using them. The only advantage in using leadcore is that it’s weight keeps the last 2-4ft of your line/rig on the bottom, that’s it, it serves no other purpose than to try and conceal your rig.
So we know the one advantage of leadcore but why is it so dangerous?. In order to understand what makes leadcore so deadly, you have to think ahead in your rig tying and question what you are doing, why you are doing it and what effect your rig might have in the event of your main line breaking?. After all, its when your mainline breaks that the dangers start.
Below is a picture of the instructions inside a gravel / khaki leadcore leader packet. As you can see, the leader is spliced into a loop and the angler is supposed to pass the leadcore through the hooklink swivel then pass the end of the hooklink back through the larger loop. This is then fished with a safety clip or inline lead but both ways of setting up the rig mean that the carp will still be left towing the leadcore round in the event of the main line breaking?. In my view, this is simply not acceptable and the red 'x' marks are the instructions I firmly disagree with!.
Given that leadcore is heavy and usually around 35-45lb in breaking strain, ask yourself if a carp can break free from this setup should it ever get snagged?. What will a carp do when it’s hooked and lost? The simple answer is that it will head for a ‘safe’ area of the lake which will usually be the snaggiest area it can find!. It doesn’t take a genius to work out that a fish in a snaggy area towing round a 3ft length of 35/45lb leadcore is potentially at risk, even if the lead weight is lost from the set up, that 3ft or so of leadcore is still there and if a carp does get tethered the chances are it will die of starvation. As an angler, do you really want to put the carp you fish for at risk like this?.
No angler should ever use leadcore that’s attached direct to the swivel of a rig as per the instructions above!. When your mainline breaks, the carp should be left with nothing more than the hooklink and as responsible anglers, it’s our duty to fish our rigs as safely as we can. With leadcore, the only way this can be achieved to any degree is with the use of a helicopter rig, specifically the old CV safety rigs that were designed for safe shock leader use in the early 1990’s. At least with a CV safety rig the carp has half a chance of getting rid of the lead and the leadcore but if I’m honest, even this rig has the potential to cause problems if its used on a choddy bottom or in weed.
As you can see from the pictures above the CV Safety rig can leave your carp with just the hooklink in the event of your main line breaking, providing your lake bottom is firm and clean.
I’ve read the comments of pro leadcore users saying leadcore is safe if it’s tied up correctly, others have said their rigs are ok because they use a low breaking strain of hooklink or a barbless hook and that education is better than an outright leadcore ban. Come on guys get real!, barbless hooks have their own mouth damage problems and low breaking strain hooklengths are only really usable in open water fishing situations. Even then, they may still be strong enough to stop a carp from breaking free if it gets tethered.
Leadcore causing carp deaths really came to light in the early to mid 1990’s when the very high profile ‘arnie’ the 40lb common from orchid lake in Oxfordshire was found dead tethered to some reeds, it’s now 2008 and just recently the high profile Chilham Mill in Kent has just joined a growing list of fisheries that have banned leadcore after two of their precious carp were found dead tethered to snags. Clearly education doesn’t work and why would it when the instructions in the packet say its ok to leave your carp trailing a leader when your main line breaks?!. People come and go from carp fishing and education is always ongoing, in the meantime, carp like arnie the orchid common and the Chilham fish will continue to be lost!. Education is really just a lousy excuse for anglers to keep using leadcore in the mistaken belief that what they’re doing safe. Well it’s not and if you’re pro leadcore please think long and hard about using it because it’s simply not necessary in the modern carp world.
So if leadcore isn’t safe to use what do you do?. Well the daft thing is leadcore itself has been redundant in carp fishing for some time now, rig tubing has advanced to the stage where it’s now several times heavier than leadcore so it sinks like a brick and keeps your line on the bottom better than leadcore itself. Sure you have to go to the trouble of threading rig tubing onto your main line but isn‘t that better than risking another Chilham or an Orchid lake scenario?. Rig tubing also comes in a variety of colours too, black, clear and a whole host of different shades of green make it easy to conceal your rig from shy feeding carp.
Please ask yourself the old school question next time you go fishing, do you really need to use a leadcore leader?. I think any intelligent reader already knows the answer to that question. You don’t need a leadcore leader, so please don’t use one.
Thanks for reading.