Words and pics: Alex Grice
SAM MEE reveals his secrets to successful long-range fishing, catching an incredible brace in the process.
Loading Sam’s distance Spomb
Add a handful of damp stick mix. A combination of the Pacific Tuna bag mix and chilli hemp oil is perfect!
Pull the mix down to the head of the Spomb and compact it to make a dense, weighted lip at the front.
Follow this up with a mixture of your chosen baits. Sam’s preferred choice is Pacific Tuna.
With an enviable list of big carp falling to Sam’s long-range tactics, I decided to head south to get the lowdown from the man himself but little did I know what was in store. Knowing that I had stayed the night in a nearby B&B for the feature, Sam had excitedly called to inform me of the events that had just unfolded and what was waiting patiently for me. I wasted no time at all, shovelled down my cornflakes and heading to the lake.
Upon arrival, Sam showed me to his swim where two retainer slings were nestled in the margin. One by one they were hoisted ashore to have their pictures taken. Both fish looked absolutely immaculate and at a combined weight of over 82lb they made a pretty impressive brace. A good morning’s angling in anyone’s books!
Bringing the big girl ashore
After all the commotion had died down we sat back to enjoy a good cup of tea. I was eager to find out a little more about the venue, beyond the huge sheet of water that lay in front.
“It’s certainly a big expanse of water, but it’s quite misleading. The lake itself is typically very shallow, with depths of around five to six feet throughout. I feel this is one of the main reasons the fish tend to spend a lot of time out at range, along with the huge amount of angling pressure. Over the years anglers have pushed distance fishing to the limits and as a result the carp have been pushed further into the central zone. They’ve certainly become cute to lines and there seems to be a boundary behind which the carp feed confidently. When fishing at these great distances, accurate rig and bait placement is difficult but crucial. If the rigs are a rod length short of the bait you simply won’t get a bite. They have no reason to feed beyond the baited boundary.”
It was interesting to hear Sam’s views on why the fish spend much of their time out at range and with the lake being relatively shallow, I was curious as to what type of spots he placed his confidence in.
The bigger half of the brace. We are blown away by her sheer size and immaculate condition.
“Fishing effectively at long range is difficult by any stretch of the imagination, largely due to the fact that big casts (over 160 yards) are hugely affected by factors such as wind speed and direction, which are completely out of our control. At these ranges, the smallest amount of wind can have a massive effect on accuracy and distance achieved.
“A bigger bow in the line also makes feeling for a drop much harder, which is certainly not helped by the shallow depths. I usually target the backs of weed beds; the fish feed confidently close to the weed and it also allows me to determine whether I am presented on the firmer bottom more easily. If I fall short into the weed I will get a much softer drop or none at all, so a firm drop means I can be confident that I’m on the spot. Beyond that, it’s extremely difficult to differentiate between types of bottom at long range, even with braid, so ensuring a reasonably firm drop is key to being presented. I will always make the effort to get that drop, even if it’s landed in the right area – I want 100 per cent peace of mind.”
I was also keen to know how Sam went about baiting accurately at these crazy distances.
Sam finds a short drop helps achieve a crisper cast, increasing accuracy at range
A fingerstall is an absolute must when fishing at range especially when using braid
“I use a Spomb for all of my baiting over here and, having fished here for a while, I have picked up a few tricks from other anglers who have come and gone.
“Interestingly, one of the biggest elements of long-range baiting is actually timing. To ensure ultimate accuracy, conditions need to be calm and this often only occurs in the evening, as the light begins to fade.
“Another real eye-opener is loading the Spomb correctly. Making the nose as heavy as possible allows it to remain more stable in flight. I use a dry bag mix, such as the Pacific Tuna, and add chilli hemp oil to bind the mix. I compress a handful of mix into the front of the Spomb, which increases the nose weight and leaves room for loading boilies behind it. I typically bait a short line across three rods, all fished at the same range.”
Despite having been out with many anglers, that’s one tip I had never seen with a Spomb and certainly something I will be using in my fishing.
A few technical changes and tweaks to your tackle will certainly help gain those crucial extra yards
After watching Sam put a couple of Spombs out to his clipped mark, it became apparent that he used no ordinary casting style.
“Like most successful distance techniques, my casting style relies on weight transfer and rod compression. With the rig behind me I take a few steps forward before transferring my full weight into the cast. I find this ‘run up’ provides momentum that I can carry through the cast more easily. I then keep the rod tip high and straight to avoid unnecessary friction on the line.
“I also find that a shorter drop helps me to compress the rod easier, leading to a crisper cast. When using a run-up, it’s important to finish the cast at the same point to maintain accuracy when hitting the clip on my fishing rods and Spomb rod. Finding a casting style that suits you is important and this technique allows me to accurately deliver my rigs and bait at range.”
Having watched the last of the Spombs fly out, we decided to look at Sam’s long-distance-rig setup. While I had hoped to see one of the rigs he was using at the time, this simply wasn’t an option. With the wind beginning to pick up, getting it back into the area would have been extremely difficult. However, Sam quickly tied a rig up to show me what he had been having his success on.
“It might look simple but each aspect has been finely tuned to remain effective even when punched out to my desired mark. “Presentation is always a concern when fishing far out, so this rig’s anti-tangle properties were a huge draw for me. You may also notice that I am using a boilie hook bait to match those I’ve introduced with the Spomb, but I top this with a piece of yellow plastic corn to provide a visual stimulant. I also like to harden my hook baits, creating an extremely resilient bait that can withstand the pressure of the cast. This is crucial if it takes a few attempts to hit the mark because the last thing you want is your bait splitting and coming off the hair on the perfect cast!
Sam’s go-to choice for range work are 41/2oz distance leads. Their aerodynamic, nose-heavy shape cuts through the air without much wobble, which aids distance and accuracy.
“As you can see, I use a very short hair because this seems to be less prone to tangling in flight. I use a semi-stiff coated hook link material in conjunction with an anti-tangle sleeve and a small piece of tungsten putty on the link. This all helps the rig separate from the leadcore leader when the lead has touched down. I then couple this with a lead clip and big 41/2oz distance lead. I always place greater emphasis getting the rig positioned over the baited area than I do on a complicated rig.”
After witnessing the simple, no-nonsense rig that Sam uses, we take a look at the tackle he puts under enormous amounts of pressure on every trip and how he goes about setting the rods up for the best possible bite indication.
“I have been using the 13ft Fox Horizon rods because, despite being a fairly short guy, I find I can still compress them easily, aiding my casting ability twofold! Braid is another important part of the armoury. Being exceptionally thin and supple, braid simply flies off the spool. The lack of stretch also aids bite indication, which is even more important at these ranges.
One last look at the 39-pounder before she goes home
“For this reason, it’s also necessary to fish the main line ping tight. I also like to set the clutches fairly tight, so when a fish does take, the strain of the braid guarantees good hook-holds. The takes are often screamers!”
On many waters, such as the southern syndicate that Sam has been targeting, being able to fish at extreme range can be a real edge. In many cases this can be the difference between success and failure. A few technical changes and tweaks to your tackle will certainly help gain those crucial extra yards. By fine-tuning his approach, Sam has had a fantastic year, catching a host of mirrors and commons over the magical 40lb mark.