It is a popular misconception among anglers that ledgering is the lazy way to catch fish. This is simply not true. Ledgering, which involves presenting a bait on the bottom by means of an anchoring weight, may not be as sensitive as float fishing but it is an effective and demanding technique.
Ledgering in running water requires a slightly different approach to ledgering in still water, because the flow of the river or stream affects what happens to your terminal tackle. However, there are a number of points that must be considered wherever you decide to ledger.
Use a rod that is specifically designed for ledgering, such as a quivertip rod with three or more different tips that can be pushed into the end of the blank. You must match the tip you choose with the weight you wish to cast and, most importantly, any flow you may encounter. On a lake, a soft glass quivertip is generally the best option. It gives a very sensitive bite indication, and this sensitivity is important because you are rely¬ing on the movement (quiver) of the tip of the rod to tell you that a fish has picked up your bait.
When there is flow to cope with, and consequently you need a heavier weight to hold bottom, you need a stiffer (usually carbon) tip. Anything lighter will simply be constantly pulled round by the current and you will never know if you are getting bites or not. Casting accuracy is something you need whether fishing in still water or in a river. Remember, you don’t have a float to give you a focus on where you’ve cast each time, but you must try to drop your ledger and bait in the same area each time so that you can feed and attract the fish into one zone.
Pick a stationary feature on the far bank, such as a bush or a tree, and use it as a marker; try to keep in line with it every time you cast. (Don’t choose objects that move, such as people or cows.)
If you are fishing for species that don’t fight too hard, such as roach or bream, you can decide on the distance you want to cast, then after casting you can slip the line around the clip on your reel, so that the ledger is actually stopped at the same point on every subsequent cast. But with bigger species, such as carp, barbel or chub, you may find a line clip leads to a snapped line as the fish runs away, and so you are better off relying on your own judgement where distance is concerned.
The position of your rod is also of critical importance when quivertipping. On a still water, the rod should be at an angle of roughly 45 degrees to the side of where the ledger is sitting, with the tip pointing down so it sits just above the surface of the water. Like this, you are able to see every indication on the quivertip. The front of the rod should be placed across a rod rest, with the butt sitting over your knee as you sit on your seat box. This way, you are ready to react at a second’s notice to any bite.
When fishing in medium to fast flowing water, set the rod with the tip angled upward instead of pointing down to the surface of the water. This helps to hold much of the line up and out of the cur¬rent, which helps to prevent the ledger weight from being dragged round out of (position. By allowing some extra line off the reel’s spool, a bow can be formed that also does its bit to hold the ledger in place.
This way you will be able to use a lighter ledger than you would otherwise, meaning everything is better balanced and bites are more obvious. When you get this system right, bites will often be indicated by the tip going slack. This is known as a drop-back bite, and is caused by the fish picking up the bait and shifting the ledger.
Terminal rigs for ledgering are many and varied, but a good basic rig for both still and running water is the fixed paternoster, in which the ledger weight is attached to the end of the reel line by a swivel and the hook link is tied to the reel-line eye of the swivel. This system keeps the hook away from the ledger, avoids tangles, and allows for any length of hook link.
Other rigs for both still and running water include the running ledger and the-sliding link ledger.
In the running ledger, the weight is provided by up to four swan shot carried on a nylon loop, which is free to slide on the reel line but stopped about 12 inches from the hook by a BB shot.
In the sliding link ledger, the hook link is joined to the reel line by a swivel. The weight is carried on a short link tied to a swivel that is free to slide along the reel line.
A fourth type of ledger rig, the shock or bolt ledger, was developed primarily for carp fishing in still water but can be effective for other species such as tench. It works on the principle of making the fish bolt at the shock of suddenly feeling the weight of a heavy lead when it picks up the bait. The fish instinctively closes its mouth and flees, hooking itself as it goes. Once the fish is on the move and the line is going steadily out (use a minimum of 12 pounds test), pick the rod up and strike.
The bolt rig consists of a 2 ounce bomb stopped at around 10 inches from the hook by a swivel, with a ledger stop (the backstop) on the reel side of the bomb about 6 inches from the swivel. The backstop makes the fish pick up the heavy bomb by stopping the line from running freely through it.
Another point to remember when ledgering is that your main line must be of sufficient strength to cope with the strain of casting a heavy weight out into the lake or river. But note that that the heavier the line you use, the more air resistance it causes and the more your casting distance is reduced.
Where extreme distance is needed, a shock leader of a heavier monofilament can be attached between the lighter main line and the terminal rig. This allows extra force to be exerted in the cast without fear of the ledger weight cracking off in midair.