Method, pack, or straight lead...for quite some time there has been a lot of debate with regards to which technique is better. Recently, I played around with a couple of ideas to try and answer this question. All are effective and, at times, equally ineffective. There are certainly times when one will outperform another, yet times when a straight lead will be more effective.
On a recent trip, I tried a recommended pack bait, a very simple groundbait mix, and the straight lead. Over the session, we banked a lot of fish, 20 in total, and the results were interesting. The first fish fell to a straight lead, and after that, the majority came to the pack or method mix. However, the straight lead then picked up a couple of extra fish: a 36lb Smallmouth Buffalo, a 25lb common , and a cracking 32lb common. What made this situation interesting was that out of six rods in the water, only one had a straight lead on it. It was obvious to those present that all the bigger fish came to the straight, plain old sinker.
Now what can we learn from this? Plain lead is better than a method technique? No, not at all. It shows to me that whilst the other techniques caught a lot of fish, the bigger ones gave me the impression they were getting cautious with regards to pack or method. Sure we had some nice fish on it, several high 20s to low 30lb Smallmouth Buffs, but none of the bigger carp really seemed interested in taking a method or packbait this way.
Another lake that I periodically fish works normally in the opposite way. Typically, one can catch a large number of fish, but the key is to use the method. This lake is very windy, even when there is no wind, so tactics have to be different. On such cases, a Gardner Bait Bomb is an excellent approach, and so is a method feeder weighing 2 oz or more. The straight lead does catch, but your method will out-fish it in the region of 5-1. We’ve experimented with baits a lot too, but it is really an odd lake to predict.
As this body of water can be weedy, you really need to think about rigs and the effects of vegetation. Lead clips are better for fish safety, and as far as method rigs are concerned, cast out, and do not move the feeder at all. If you start to drag the feeder, it will clog up with weed in a second. The simplest way is just to take in the slack line using a swinger or hanger, and not to worry about a bow in the line; the fish don’t seem to mind one bit. We often become overwhelmed with the thought of having a nice clean bait presentation, yet we seem to forget carp love to be nose down in the weeds, munching on snails and such. Now we are looking at things from the human point of view far too much and not that of a fish. Remember fish dig out grubs, snails and slimy things out of weed all the time, so a hook-bait sitting in or on weed is not an issue for them.
After returning from a quick over-nighter on a different lake, we put seven carp on the bank. I had six, my friend Keith, had one. What was the major difference? I used the method on two rods, he didn’t use any. Pretty obvious after a few fish what was going on to me, and guess which one produced the biggest fish? The straight lead again.
So far this year, I have been out about five times. Pretty sad really, but my work takes me all over the country, so I have to make the most of my chances on the water. Since the beginning of the year, I have used in-line method leads on two rods normally with a plain lead on the remaining. My catch rate has gone up without a shadow of a doubt, and coupled with a better rig presentation, has made a tremendous difference. In those five sessions, there has been around 27 fish, and a couple of thirties. Now for a surprising statistic; both thirties were caught on a straight lead presentation.
And the conclusion? From what I’ve witnessed, having a couple of methods out there certainly brings in more fish, even more than chumming alone with a straight lead. However, the kicker is in using a normal, plain Jane lead in the vicinity. Two thirty pound carp, a couple of high twenties, and some nice buffalo cannot be wrong, right? My humble opinion on this is simple: The fish get drawn into the general area with the method, they get spooked after sometime with getting caught on the feeder, so they move on to the less obvious trap, the plain lead. Next time you are out, give it a try; a couple of methods and straight lead. See if it makes a difference to you, like it did for me.
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