TF Gear Compact Accessory and Bait Carryall

The advertisment says “This is without doubt the most efficient and practical all round carryall ever designed.” A bold statement and, for an old cynic like me, one that I was prepared to take with a pinch of salt.

But, on receiving the TF Gear Carryall I was immediately impressed by the build quality with its rugged zips and strap connectors, they certainly look like they will give years of good service. The bag is made of a waterproof material, again a big plus for the roaming angler who may not take a brolly with him, and the carry straps are well padded.

 

Looking inside I have found the main pocket to be capacious enough for all of my needs including room for my flask, something that many smaller bags don’t allow. There is even a plastic pocket in the lid for your licences etc. The side pockets are just right for a camera, scales and anything else you may want to find quickly and there are net pockets outside of them that will take a tin of drink or your phone. The large front pocket opens to reveal the free TFG Lokbox which is a real bonus and will come in very useful. Mine is now full of lures.

This carryall is exactly what I’ve been looking for, larger than most of the bait bags I’ve looked at yet small enough to be comfortably carried all day. Is it the “most efficient and practical all round carryall ever designed?” Well, I have yet to find one better so I cannot argue with the statement and at a price of just £29.99 why look any further?

Thanks to Dave Burr for this Review.

 

Much awaited 35lb Snow Fish

On my latest excursion to France, the trip all be it a brief one – just three days – ended up being a real eye opener! The trip came about after speaking to David Keep of Angling Lines, David recommended the nearby Windmill Lakes. The venue consists of two lakes set amongst 32 acres of beautiful French countryside, the first lake is around 3 acres and holds carp to 30lb, and the second lake is roughly 4 acres and holds carp to 40lb. When I eventually arrived at the lake I was pleased to be greeted by Dave and Sue Bainbridge who kindly offered a much needed mug of coffee. I had a good walk around the lake looking for any signs of moving fish, sun was shining down and the temperature was about 12 oc. I found the spot in which I was going to fish and started to get set up when the rain soon came over and the temperature started to drop. No stopping me though, so I persevered and was soon set up ready for action.

The temperature continued to plummet and it wasn’t long before snow started to fall. The sudden drop in temperature left me and my party of anglers feeling uncertain as to whether or not they would catch. It all came good on the third day though when something decided to sample one of my hookbaits. My Bobbins dropped to the snow then up it come again as the bite alarm screamed off as I hit in to my rod I knew it was a good size carp.

A good 10 minute battle resulted in a nice 35lb mirror resting in the bottom of my landing net.

The mirror fell to a new bait on test, which was attached to an unusual take on the chod which I have been playing around with. Rather than using beads to hold the hooklink in place, I have been experiencing a lot of success by using two air-dried 10mm hookbaits threaded on to a TF leader and a 3 oz distance lead. Alongside this I presented a small PVA bags containing a dozen whole and broken freebies. I was the only one to catch during the trip and to do so during the snow make the experience even more special.

Layers…

You’ve probably noticed that we have got quite a bit of fishing clothing in the TF-Gear range. What with the primal range, second skin and the latest ranges it’s quite a comprehensive collection. Designing and selling fishing  clothing for the British market is sometimes frustrating though, primarily because a lot of British anglers simply don’t understand layers.

The common misconception is that if you want to stay warm the answer is to wear something big, bulky and with plenty of padding – the old fashioned one-piece suit being a classic example. They are awful things! When you walk to your swim you sweat like crazy and then, when you arrive the sauna lasts for about five minutes before you start to feel cold.

Why? Well, the answer is body moisture or, to put it more bluntly, sweat. When we move we sweat. Our skin is breathable and can exchange moisture with the atmosphere. If we want to stay warm our clothing should do the same – hence the term ‘breathable.’ The beauty of layered fishing clothing is that it can be made breathable and because the layers trap air between themselves, the result is a warm, comfortable wearer. The other advantage of layers is that you can take them on and off to cope with changing weather.

The art of making breathable clothing is to ensure that sweat can pass through the layers but water molecules can’t. In many respects Gore-tex is the ultimate material but it does not sell well here in the UK because whilst Brits are happy to spend a fortune on fishing rods the same principle does not extend to clothing. We have worked very hard to source waterproof, breathable fabrics at a price that won’t break the bank and we have enjoyed great success with it. Seams are very important too – most clothing is let down by leaking seams. Ours isn’t.

Let’s look now at the layers and what they are designed to do.

Base or skin (second skin): this is a thin, breathable layer worn next to the skin. It forms the base layer and can be worn on its own on warm days or form the first layer on cooler days.

Mid- Layer : this is the layer that builds up warmth, usually in the form of a heavier fleece. Sometimes, if it is very cold, two layers of second skin and then the mid-layer are needed. Primal fleeces are perfect for this layer.

Top (shell): whilst most people love to wear padding, it is rarely necessary. Shell type jackets allow moisture (sweat to escape) but keep rain out. If you want to build up more heat, add more mid-layers. Some people prefer a lined or padded jacket and pants for the top layer and for less active styles of fishing this is OK.

At the end of the day, in addition to keeping you warmer and drier, there are other advantages to properly layered fishing clothing – notably that it is more comfortable to wear and makes you look less of a plonker.

Carp Baits – What’s Hot and What’s Not…

When I look back over the years that I’ve been carp fishing bait has always been an obsession. I am lucky enough to have been fishing around the time when the the first designer baits (christened with the name ‘boilies’) hit the scene. Boilies, so called because the bait is made by combining meals and powdered ingredients with liquidised eggs and then boiled to create a bait with a tough skin (the skin is designed to deter nuisance fish from stealing the bait intended for bigger fish) really did transform carp fishing. For the first time, anglers used to fishing with bread and potatoes had a new bait to play with and boy did the fish love them!

Modern boilies have come a long way since those early years. When we set about launching the new TF-Gear boilie range we wanted to create baits that would stand the test of time and benefit from all the advances that have been made in bait formulation.

History and experimentation has taught us that whilst carp are bombarded with many different boilies in a range of colours, flavours and bait that is made from a huge choice of ingredients , certain baits are the real fish catchers. Moreover, we also know that some boilies work better than others on certain types of waters and vice versa. Baits for hard-fished club and day ticket waters need to be different to those used when campaign-fishing a syndicate lake, for example.

Boilies are made with attractors (usually flavours) and food ingredients (these are powdered meals, such as fish meal, milk protein, birdfood and semolina. They are made into a paste by mixing the attractoprs and meals with liquidised eggs. The paste is rolled into little balls and boiled. The liquidised eggs harden in boiling water, creating bait that has a tough skin.

The flavour, or attractor acts as a label for the fish to recognise the bait. The attractor works as a label on two levels – it tells the fish that what it can taste/smell is food and helps it to recognise that food source on future occasions. The ingredients are the food value of the bait. Boilies can either be nutritionally strong or weak, depending on the quality of the ingredients used to make them. As a general rule, whilst carp will sample all types of baits with a multitude of flavours, they will generally prefer to eat baits with a high nutritional profile over a period of time. This is a concept that most anglers struggle to understand. The common misconception is that carp eat baits because the flavour tastes ‘nice’ and whilst this is partially true, they are more likely to eat the bait that does them the most good when fishing over a period of time.

When you choose a carp bait you should choose a bait for the job in hand. If you are fishing a day ticket or club water where the carp get bombarded with all kinds of bait, then what we call attractor baits with a strong ‘eat me’ signal are best. Bear in mind, however, that the ‘eat me’ signal does not mean using over-powering flavours that make the bait reek. Carp have superb olfactory systems that enable them to detect food signals in minute quantities – use baits that have good attractors at low to moderate values.

When campaign fishing waters, syndicate lakes, for example, the attractors or flavours should be much, much lower and it is the food value of the bait, its nutritional profile that you should rely on. Natural extracts and subtle flavours give the bait a label by which fish can recognise it in the future. We know fromn experience that the more subtle the label or flavour, the longer the bait will go on working. A good nutritional bait should get better and better over a period of time – as the fish get used to eating it and benefiting from its superior food value, they will seek it out in preference to others. Bait with strong attractors works for a while but eventually that same strong flavour that drew the fish to the bait in the first place begins to become associated with danger.

In the TF-Gear range of baits you will discover several important points. Firstly, none of them have flavours and attractors that are overpowering. This is a gamble on our part because we know that baits that reek of fruity flavours, so strong that they smell through the bag, attract anglers. We also know that ultra-strong flavours repel fish so we have avoided making our baits reek. Secondly, we have relied primarily on salt as a preservative rather than the sharp chemical preservatives that are so common in the bait industry. These chemical attractors taste bitter and repel fish. Salt, on the other hand is a natural flavour enhancer (we humans use salt as a flavour enhancer all the time) and it is also a great natural preservative. Thirdly, we have developed baits that use proven ingredients – top quality fish meals, proteins and birdfoods. These create nutritionally superior baits that are easy for carp top digest and eat more of. Finally, we have chosen some really great, subtle ingredients that make the bait stand out and keep the fish coming back for more – crushed chilli, for example.

To make life easy, we have created two ranges of boilies – our premium range and ‘the Gear.’ With the Gear we have a range made for day-ticket and club waters with the emphasis on attractors rather than long term food source. The premium range gives more emphasis to food value with lower level, natural attractors such as teatree oil. It’s a range that we are very proud of and results on the bait have justified our confidence.

Next time you buy bait, ask yourself just one question. Has his bait been designed by someone who really understands bait and fish or has it been put together by a faceless company? Too many anglers buy fishing products like their coarse fishing tackle from companies that don’t employ anglers. I don’t play golf but if I did, I would want my clubs to be designed by Tiger Woods not Victoria Wood…