Blog Posts

Just-Fish v4.0 is live!

Specialist Angling - Fishing Articles, Specimen Fish, Tips, Blog Posts, Fishng Information

If you’re a new visitor, welcome! If you’re a returning visitor, you may notice a few changes to the looks, layout and functionality. I’ve upgraded to a new theme for the site, so the fourth incarnation of is now live. I have retained the overall looks and colour scheme of the old site, but this new theme has brought with it some improved functionality, speed and better responsive elements. There may be the odd bug or missing element here and there, that I’m not aware of, so if you spot any issues please let me know. Thanks, and enjoy the site! Andrew.

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New PB Zander!

Double figure zander 13lb

The 2021/22 season hasn’t been my best! I haven’t fished as much as I’d like or for the range of species I would have liked, and my results have generally been poor. Far more blanks than usual and a lost Derwent barbel, which still haunts me, that felt huge and snapped me off due to my own stupidity. The one redeeming feature of the season so far has been my relative success with a very unlikely species – one which has probably given me more blank hours than any other – the zander. For whatever reason I’ve been on a bit of a roll with them. As I’ve stated in the past, I love zander but it’s often a one-way relationship – they don’t reciprocate. When I target zander it’s in the hope of a bite. I don’t expect to catch one so it always gives me a boost when I do, even small ones. There are some exceptions, of course – for example: Predator Hat-trick and Zander Saves September – but my blank rate is usually quite high. I think I had only ever caught zander on consecutive sessions once, but I’ve now had a zander in four consecutive trips! First, I had a couple of smaller ones, including this one: Then, during an after-work evening session, I had one just shy of double figures: They’re getting bigger! I went barbel fishing in early January with my good mate Ian Gould, but the barbel weren’t really having it. We slogged it out for most of the day with only a bream and a few silvers to show for it. There was a backup plan though… We had both taken along zander rods and some frozen deadbaits. Ian was first to switch, and his baits were receiving some interest pretty quickly; so – more in hope than expectation – I put out a couple of frozen roach. It proved to be a wise move because within half an hour I had a hesitant run on my downstream rod. After a fight where I couldn’t decide the species or size of fish I …

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Tibshelf Ponds – Tibshelf & Newton Angling Club

Early 1990s crucian carp from Tibshelf Ponds

I grew up in Tibshelf and I learned to fish at Tibshelf Ponds, so I still have a vast amount of affection for the place. I spent many a day there with friends, trying between us to catch something. Then, as I got older I learned how to fish the whip and pole here, then how to target carp (mainly fishing on the surface, which I don’t think is allowed any more). I would spend many a spring evening up at the ponds, feeding and watching fish, anticipating and plotting my attack for the beginning of the season (in those days Tibshelf Ponds were closed from March 14th until June 16th). When the Glorious 16th came around I would have my tackle packed and ready, and would run out of the school gates so I could get to the ponds as early as possible – hopefully before anyone else from school, so I could have a better choice of peg. From mid-June until the end of the school term, throughout the 1990s, I’d spend as many evenings as possible fishing the Ponds. The way I maximised this was to load up my mountain bike – rucksack of tackle & bait on my back, rod or pole and landing net handle bungee-strapped to my crossbar – and cycle up there, as fast as I possibly could. The place always attracted some characters. I remember a bloke who went by the name of “Chunky” who, very successfully, fished for the carp using huge bodied wagglers and the biggest chucks of luncheon meat. Then there was a resident of Stretton Hall (“the naughty boys’ home”, as we knew it), who used to get dropped off to fish on his own all day (which seemed odd to us at the time, but now I would say it was neglectful and irresponsible). He was a nice guy but had a mega-temper on him, so we were all pretty scared of him! I was among many young lads and “noddies” who went there ill equipped, particularly with bait, and would regularly go around the ponds begging, uttering the immortal …

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Leatherman Wave Multi-Tool – Long-term Test Review

Leatherman Wave multi tool long-term use review

I should have written a review for Leatherman multi-tools many years ago! I’ve owned numerous ones over the years, from my first Super Tool in the mid-nineties to the Crunch, Wave and Charge models. The only time I’ve needed to buy a new one is when I’ve lost one (such as when I threw one into the River Don, with a handful of maggots!) or if I quite fancy the features on a new or upgraded model (when they updated the Wave to include interchangeable driver bits, this was a gamechanger I couldn’t miss out on!). Perhaps because a multi-tool isn’t fishing tackle per-se – it’s something that’s just really useful to have with you on fishing trips – I hadn’t thought to review them. Needless to say, after the years of service they’ve given me I’m perhaps a little biased towards Leatherman tools. Just as I am toward Snap-On when it comes to ratchets, spanners & screwdrivers. I can rely on them, so I value them dearly. At work I’m a bit of a Jack of all trades, I’m a glutton for DIY and in general I’m a tinkerer! If something breaks my instinct is to fix it and if something can be improved through a little bit of tinkering, well, it’s going to be! I have one on my belt at work, which I use every day without fail. I have another Leatherman that I take fishing and use every time I go. Of course, I don’t carry one around at home but every week there’s a reason to reach for the multi-tool for tasks around the house – whether it’s repairing something or replacing batteries in the kids’ toys – so I’m rarely far away from one. The sheer versatility of the tool saves me so many unneccessary trips to the tool box. I’m so used to having one on my belt, I reach for it subconciosly as a task appears! I really would be lost without a Leatherman! The Leatherman Wave I use for fishing When fishing I use them for all sorts, including: trimming line, chopping deadbaits, …

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Ultima Power Steel fishing line – Long-term Test Review

Ultima Power Steel copolymer fishing line - breaking strain to diameter chart

I’ve used Ultima Power Steel for 12+ years. In short, I think it’s absolutely fantastic stuff for all legering & feeder fishing, from carp & barbel to predators; by far the best mainline I’ve ever used. It’s clear, very abrasion resistant, has low memory and a very low stretch for nylon line. Power Steel used to be marketed as a coarse & carp mainline but it’s now sold as a sea and predator line. It’s still the same stuff on the spool though! I can’t fathom why it’s no longer pushed towards specimen anglers. With the properties it has, it’s ideal. For the first few years I used Power Steel purely for hooklinks – predominantly for barbel and perch – I was really impressed with how tough it was. I had previously experienced many breakages of mono, braid and fluorocarbon hooklinks when fishing for barbel – especially around snags. It was the part of my set up I had least faith in so I chopped and changed regularly, hoping I’d find something I could trust. After reading good things about Power Steel (back when it was still marketed towards coarse & specimen anglers) and, being familiar with tbe Ultima brand for several years, I gave it a go and haven’t looked back since. In fact it’s the only barbel hooklink material I’ve used in over a decade; such is the confidence it gives me. Power Steel is a copolymer line, which means there are two or more types of different nylon filaments used in the line, which results in a better strength to diameter ratio than monofilament (think braid – numerous woven filaments give a vastly improved strength to diameter ratio). However, copolymers are still regularly referred to as “mono”, so I’ll follow convention in this review. There’s an added bonus in copolymer lines – they don’t absorb anywhere near as much water as mono, which helps retain their wet knot strength. Power Steel is also fluorocarbon coated, which gives it a slight stiffness but primarily a vastly improved abrasion resistance. My previous favourite mainline for predators and barbel was a similar …

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The Angling Trust – Getting Us Fishing in Lockdown

Angling Trust - getting us fishing again during national lockdowns in the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic

I’ve been a paid-up member of the Angling Trust since it formed (by default at first, having had an Anglers Conservation Association membership before it became part of the AT). I’ve never really shouted about it but I’ve always felt it’s valuable to be a part of something which gives anglers a voice in parliament, stands up for conservation efforts & anglers’ interests and takes action against pollution. Events over the past year have affected how I feel about the organisation as a whole and it’s inspired me to be more vocal in my overall support; to do what I can to highlight the good work done by the Trust – in the name of all anglers, whether members or not. Over the years I’ve seen a lot of comments about the AT on social media. This is far from scientific, but I would say a majority of them were derogatory (I’ve also seen plenty of comments which appear to confuse the responsibilities of the AT with those of the EA, and several where the poster appears to think they’re one and the same organisation!). Opinions vary but, as is often the case in life, people are more likely to criticise an organisation than to celebrate it. It’s easier to moan and pick fault than it is to praise success. But I feel that those who regularly criticise the work of the AT perhaps focus on single issues rather than the bigger picture, or fail to grasp the game of politics organisations & governing bodies such as the AT have to play to effect change in the long-term. Of  course there’s the eternally thorny issue of predation, which anglers have always had to deal with and (regardless of what many seem to think) always will, which divides opinion massively. The Angling Trust is in a no-win situation with this. If it takes a lenient stance, which is likely to show angling in a favourable light with the general public and politicians, it’s bemoaned by anglers as not doing enough. If it adopted a more militant stance, akin to that of the Predation …

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DIY Rod Tip Betalite / Starlite / Isotope Sight Adapters – Quivertip / Carp / Barbel Fishing Rod Hack for Night Fishing

Fishing rod tips with night light adapters for betalight, isotope, starlite, etc. Quivertip feeder night fishing - barbel carbelling

Isotopes (also known as betalites, betalights and Starlites/starlights) are an essential item of tackle for night fishing when watching the rod tip for bite indication is required. To attach these to the tips of your rods you’ll need some kind of adapter, or something to attach them to. There are a few products on the market which offer a temporary, removable solution – such as the Korum Starlight & Isotope Holder Kit, Enterprise Tackle’s Avon/Barbel Rod Tip Nightlight Adapter & Quivertip Nightlight Adapter and the Drennan Isotope Kit – but if, like me, you do a lot of fishing in the dark, a permanent holder is a far superior option. If you have the money for a custom-built rod, several rod builders allow you to specify a night light adapter. But if, like most of us, you’re using off-the-shelf rods or if you’d like to retrofit an adapter to your older rods, you can achieve the same thing with a little bit of DIY. I’ve come up with a solution, which I’ve added to several of my barbel rods, zander rods and quivertip rods over the past couple of seasons (they will work for any rods where you may need to watch the rod tips at night – including carp rods & avon rods). They can also be used as sight tips to make your rod tips extra-visible in the daytime. My DIY rod tip adapters for attaching isotopes/glow sticks to your rods for fishing in the dark – also work as sight tips in the daytime I add two adapters to each of my rods. Of course, you don’t have to use 2 adapters per rod but it helps your eyes to focus in the dark and prevent your mind playing tricks. Stare at a solitary bright object in the dark for long enough and your brain will make it move! It’s frustrating when you can’t decide if you missed a bite or witnessed an optical illusion, so in my opinion it’s better for your sanity to use two! My design incorporates sight tips made for floats, cut and glued to …

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Fishing Firestarter!

My last barbel of the 2019-2020 river fishing season - a barbel of 11lb 10oz from the Derbyshire Derwent

Just before the end of the river season (and before the COVID-19 lockdown), I fished a very swollen Derbyshire Derwent for barbel. It was a slow day, but the river was visibly dropping as I was there. I stuck with it, dropping The Hookbait Co’s Garlic Nimrod & Big Squid boilies behind trees and submerged bushes, and eventually my persistence paid off in the form of an 11lb 10oz barbel – a fine finish to my river campaing. I had an issue with my camera flash when I first attempted to take some sef-take photos of the fish (I ended up resting the fish again in the margins, whilst I sorted the camera out), and when I went through the images at home I had several blurry, reject photos. As I flicked through them it looked like I was dancing. It reminded me of the iconic Firestarter video by The Prodigy, so I decided to have a play with making a stop-motion parody of Firestarter by editing together the still photos. The above video from my YouTube channel is the result! It’s just a bit of fun. Enjoy!

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New PB Barbel from the Middle Trent!

Andrew's new personal best barbel from the Middle Trent

With the rain this week I decided to make a rare trip to the Trent after barbel. I knew the river would be high with plenty of colour so I wanted to use the smelliest baits I had. I found half a pot of The Hook Bait Co. Big Squid boilies from 2016 in the garage. They still looked and smelled good as new, so into the bag they went! I only had 5 hours to fish and I knew location would be paramount. I had the stretch to myself, so I baited marginal spots in 3 swims. Four Spoppers of mixed pellets laced with Nimrod oil, garlic oil and hemp oil went into each swim. In these conditions I favour leads & PVA stockings over swim feeders, and I also used back leads to keep debris off the lines. For hook baits I opted for a Garlic Nimrod & The Big Squid combo – one of each on the hair. All was quiet in the first swim, but after an hour in the second swim I had a good take on my downstream rod. After a tough, but thankfully uneventful fight I managed to net the barbel at the first attempt. I was hit by that fantastic feeling when you feel the weight of the net and know you’ve got a good fish! When I saw the size of its mouth & head, and the depth of the fish, I knew it had to be a PB. The weighing confirmed my feelings, with the scales settling on 14lb 12oz – easily beating my old best, caught from the Derwent during the London Olympics! This 14lb 12oz barbel set me a new personal best from the Middle Trent. View my other personal best captures on my PB List page.

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