Anniversary Carp Clinic | Julian Cundiff

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Jules digs deep (not into his pockets we hasten to add) and comes up with an anniversary Carp Clinic and answers some questions he’s been recently asked on social media

Could it really be 30 years ago that Carpworld first hit the newsstands and in many ways shaped the course of history for some of us? At the time I was a fresh faced (!) 25-year old still living with mum and dad and closely working with Tim Paisley as the editorial assistant for the Carp Society magazine, Carp Fisher. Tim would have me gather material, both taped and written, and between us we’d get enough content for the bi-annual magazine. Hopefully, elsewhere in this issue Tim will cover the magazine’s beginnings as my reflections are a little confused as it was the era of ‘the apparition in leather’ as Tim called her. I do recall Tim asking me for a piece on starting carping for his ‘new’ carp fishing magazine and the rest as they say is history. What I do recall quite clearly, was the excitement of seeing the first issue in my local Atherton and Lunn newsagent’s shop, picking it up and finding mine was the first ever article in it. Heck, I must have been excited as I bought a copy there and then, although what the apparition thought, I forget, although I fear she was not as impressed.

Over the last 30 years I have contributed hundreds of articles which equates to well over a quarter of a million words plus. From acting as joint editor with Tim, to times in the wilderness, I have always had a strong tie to the magazine in the good times and the bad for both me and the magazine. No matter who else they had writing for them and no matter who else I wrote for, I always felt the two of us were finely intertwined – and even now people who haven’t read a carp magazine for years still ask me if I am in Carpworld? Thankfully, due to Bev, Ru and the gang the answer is yes. From ‘Motorway Madness’ to ‘Carp Thoughts’, ‘A Tale Of Two Churches’ to ‘Success Under Pressure’, I am proud of much of what I wrote but of all my writings the one that still gives me the most pleasure was the Carp Clinic series that was first published in the May ’93 issue and ran for almost eight years.

In my formative years I read every fishing magazine I could get my hands on and one of my favourites was Coarse Angler and in particular the question and answer columns it produced. I even got in the magazine in ’78 with one of my questions (yes I am that old). Fast forward to the early 90s and carp fishing had exploded big-style. A combination of my Angling Times column, my parents address being available for people to write to me, Carpworld getting bigger and bigger, carp conferences catering for the masses, etc, etc. meant a whole new army of carp anglers with a thirst for information was out there. On average I was receiving 30 to 40 letters a week – and answering them all – so it seemed a good idea to devote a column each month in Carpworld to the most oft asked questions. I must have been crazy as not only did I answer them personally to the individual but all the letters were placed in a large box and I’d sort them out once a month to re-answer them in Carpworld.

Clearly I’d edit the question down a bit and remove the person’s last name but I assure you all those questions were asked either via letters, on the bank, at shows, etc. So for this 30th Anniversary Carpworld I am going to do a special Carp Clinic 2018 piece of the most often questions I get now via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and in person. What is apparent is that most questions nowadays are short and quite technical, thank goodness, rather than the ones from the 90s which tended to be four or five hand written pages long and require a similar length of reply, or replies. Enjoy and smile and thanks for 30 years of support. Here’s to the next thirty...

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Question: Hi Jules, now that you have retired are you going to start doing tutorials?

Answer: Hi mate, the answer to that is ‘almost’ certainly a no. There are some excellent tutors out there already: Russell, Penning, Maker, Turnbull, Pitchers and co – who make their livings, in part, from it and no matter how you dress it up, if you do it properly it is work, a job. Having just retired after almost 38 years of work another job is not high on my list of priorities, believe me. However, there are two avenues you may be interested in. Firstly, I do four to six charity tutorials each year where anglers bid to fish with me in aid of a charity. From Jan Porter’s, to those for Macmillan Cancer Relief and the like, these are always advertised on my social media sites so check the feeds out for them. Secondly, I will be running some Carp Schools later this year where 6-8 anglers can join me at a venue for a nominal fee, to get six to eight hours of direct help from me. From location to swim mapping, end tackle to presentations, accurate baiting, to surface fishing, you will get the lot. If that interests you then once again keep a lookout on my social media feeds. There is more about this on a recent YouTube interview I filmed so look for ‘From Rigs To Retirement’ on YouTube and it’s all on there.

Q: Hi Jules, after doing well on (X) bait in 2018 I am thinking of using (Y) bait for 2019 as it seems the business. What do you reckon?

A: Hi mate, the answer is pretty similar to the one I’d have given you in 1993... “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!” A good bait is a good bait and, in all honesty, in 2018 if you buy it from a reputable company it will probably catch and keep catching in 2019 and beyond. That said you should not ignore the obvious, and if others who have been on the same water for a similar amount of time to you are clearly out-fishing you on a new bait, then it may be worth looking at something new. I did this with Nash’s The Key some years ago and never looked back. The Key was certainly catching more than the 4G Squid so the change was made. However for most anglers, if you’ve had a great year on one bait and it didn’t tail off, my advice is not to change baits and undo the good work you’ve already put in. Remember those carp have probably had lots more of your freebies than hooks stuck in them. Stick to your guns, but be open-minded and aware of others and their successes.

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Q: Hi Jules, it may sound daft but why the hell do you wear a beanie hat in the summer?

A: No, it’s a good point but, if you fished with me, you’d know I don’t... Well, not unless I am holding a carp! Not sure about you but when it comes to my fishing it’s all about confidence – be it bait, rig or item of clothing. If it ain’t broke, I tend not to fix it. A creature of habit (that’s me), I tend to wear the same (lucky) clothing all season long – obviously washing them as and when my carp room stinks too much. With regards to the hat, in the early noughties I had a bit of a lean spell in both my private and fishing life but when I joined Messingham Sands for a year, things did start to turn round, and touch wood, are still good now! That coincided with me getting the hat and it is now all of 12-years old and still going strong. Bearing my ECHO, Slash and BCSG badges, it just feels sort of lucky, so for the majority of trophy shots I wear it summer and winter alike. Other than that it stays in the camera bag... So now you know.

Q: Jules I see from your writings, both in print and on social media, that you tend to use a lot of bait? Is that necessary, as I simply don’t have the funds to do that, mate?

A: Hi mate, I guess it’s down to what is regarded as a lot of bait? Remember most of my fishing is short sessions of 4-18 hours and I tend to target waters which can be productive – when you get it all right. Typically, I take 2-4kg of bait and any I don’t use gets put in when I leave. Occasionally, on red letter days I will need more bait and then I use the stabilised bait which I keep in the Jeep. Personally, I don’t think you need lots of bait to get a bite, indeed that can work against you. However, because I am after multiple hits (see July and August’s Carpworld for the inside story on that), I like to have/use plenty of bait for that. Although it is possible to have big hits on singles/limited bait, I find that to be less effective. So in all honesty, concentrate on getting on them and getting a bite first. Bait, good bait, is very affordable these days and whilst I may use Nashbait Key and Scopex Squid, the far more affordable Candy Nut Crush is bloody good too.

Q: Hi Jules, now that you are not working at court are you going to be a full-time angler buddy?

A: Crikey, if you mean full-time as in spending most of my time on the bank fishing, then the answer is definitely a big, fat no. I love my carp fishing and always have since the early to mid-80s but have always had, and had the need for, a life outside of it. Back in the day it was girls, mopeds and concerts. Now it’s a girl, pushbikes and concerts – never mind family, health etc. What retirement has given me is the time to pick and choose when I want to put my hours in. That is a huge advantage, as I tend to target the best feeding spell times and do other things either side of them. Of course I am fishing more hours and catching lots more carp than ever before but being clever with my time is the key, not just time on its own.

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Q: Jules, I notice you use shrink tubing on your multi rigs which I guess means they can’t be reused. Wouldn’t it be more sensible to use soft tubing so you could slide it back into position after a fish?

A: It certainly would be more sensible if I used a hook, or presentation, twice, but as I don’t, I prefer to concentrate on the mechanics of the presentation and not its longevity, if that makes sense? Since the late 80s I have always tied my rigs up in advance and, by and large, never use a rig twice. In the net, snip it off near the hook, get a new presentation looped onto the end tackle and back on the spot. Then unhook the carp and so on. The shrink tube I use is the Nash Diffusion 1mm which creates a very stiff angled kicker and results seem to indicate it works, and works well. Would soft silicone tubing work as well? Maybe? Maybe not? Personally I will keep doing what I am doing but if you are one of the many anglers who do change hooks when using the multi rig it’s worth a try.

Q: Hook sharpening seems to be a big deal nowadays. Is it that much of an advantage and do you always use sharpened hooks?

A: A sharp hook is a big part of my ‘musts’ my friend but I don’t always have them additionally sharpened for the reasons I am about to describe. Once additionally sharpened the points inevitably become finer and are more liable to turn over unless the first thing they come into contact with is a carp’s mouth. They will get you more bites but, they take some looking after. Where the hook point is touching the bottom (bottom baits and wafters), I don’t additionally sharpen them and use them straight out of the packet. Clearly, I inspect the points with an eyepiece before I cast them out. I do use them for virtually all my pop-up presentations however, as the hook point is off the bottom and less likely to turn over. Hook-wise I use the Nash Pinpoint range which are as sharp as they come but if I want the point thinner/finer, then I get Rig-It Tackle to do that for me. I simply cannot thin a point like they can, and that’s the bottom line. In a nutshell, invest in good quality hooks, check the points with an eyepiece and if you are using a pop-up presentation then try the additionally sharpened ones. They will only do you one bite but you need to look at cost, importance, nature of your water and so on.

Q: Jules you’ve been carp fishing a long time you old bugger do you ever get bored of it?

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A: In all honesty mate, no. Firstly it’s never been a job so I haven’t had to go; I tended to go when I could but having edited magazines and as a prolific writer I need to go to have something valid to write about. Thank god I have always loved going, full stop. Of course, there are occasions when it feels like flipping hard work but that’s natural in any sport, hobby or pastime. Rain, snow, ice, mosquitoes, dropped fish, busy venues, etc. have all tested my patience but having a life outside of fishing means I can put it into context. Internally, I know when I need to take my foot off the pedal fishing-wise, just as I know when to give it more effort. Hopefully, that answers your question?

Q: Any new books planned buddy?

A: Not that are imminent mate. My last book Short Session Success came out in 2010 and was just what I wanted it to be. Since then the world, particularly carp fishing, has changed big-style. A number of carp fishing magazines have gone, DVDs are dead in the water and it seems that the anglers of today want it on YouTube and not in print. Far too many books have been released to gather dust and this has, in all honesty, killed the demand. Unless you self-publish the book yourself, you won’t get rich from sales and self-publishing is hard work and, as I said earlier, I didn’t leave work to work. Perhaps in the not too distant future I will be able to set aside time for such a project, as I have plenty written already for a potential autobiographical/technical book. That would excite me enough to set time aside to do it properly, as these things do take time and as I don’t write on the bank, I’d have to sit at home and grind one out. You never know buddy, once my life settles down I may feel that urge.

Q: Hi mate, I’d love to join that syndicate you fish. Any chance?

A: Well never say never I guess. The last 10 to 15 syndicate/club waters I have fished have not been totally closed shop and with investigation and patience you could get into most. Remember, we are all different and what appeals and works for me may not work for you. With the greatest of respect to my waters there are equally good waters all around the country, so don’t let social media and print mislead you when it comes to desirability. Decide what you want from a water and I bet there are good, if not better, ones closer to you.

Q: Hopefully, this does not sound daft but what is the point in over-weighting pop-ups?

A: No mate, it’s not a daft question at all. I have watched carp feeding at close range both with my own eyes and via film. It is clear, as it is from watching them take surface baits, that often the act of feeding creates a lot of water movement around the hookbait. I have seen balanced baits literally bob away from the carp’s mouth, which was quite scary. Personally, I prefer the pop-up to be nailed down, with the hook almost like a claw ready to grab hold. Carp can suck in stones, never mind shot, so don’t let that phase you. For most of mine I use more weight than is necessary – overweighting – as I am convinced that this works. The bait can’t flutter away and as soon as the hooklength straightens, the hook jars back and the shot helps the hook find an initial hold. A number of anglers are doing similar things with bottom baits as they believe that the shot/putty near the hookbait aids in self-hooking. And for all those that want to ask, mine are Dinsmore’s Green AB shot.

Q: Hi Jules, I know you are a catapult fan. Which one should I buy?

A: Hi mate, it is fair to say that catapults have got better but, in all honesty, I have yet to find one ‘off the shelf’ that is as good as the one I have put together. When I am catapulting boilies, whether they be 10-20mm, I want them to go exactly where the hookbait is going. Sure, I may fish the hookbait to the side or back of it but I see no point in spreading free offerings all over the place when I am fishing to them. Up to 70-80 yards I always use my catapult and anything more will involve a Spomb. Having watched quite literally hundreds of anglers bait up, most are not very good at all, and it is often down to the naff catapults they use. Mine is made up of three separate items. The frame is metal, a Trev Tomlin groundbait catapult frame which you can get from any good fishing shop. Alternatively a Drennan Whopper Dropper frame is good too. The elastic is Drennan long range latex groundbait elastic, again available from good fishing shops. The pouches are ‘Scruffy Bob’ ones, which are only available from The Tackle Box in Kent. I use the extra large for the 10-15 mm baits and the large pouch for the 18-20 mm baits. With these I can accurately bait up to 80 yards, exactly where I want the bait to go. I always have two catapults with me and regularly change the elastics. I would reckon to get two months out of a set of elastics but I do use a lot of bait. One tip to get the elastic over the frame is to dip the frame tips in hot water first then the elastic just slides over it – simples!

Mick Clifford