Friday, 30 November 2012

Putting time to good use.

I don't know if anyone's noticed but just about every bit of water in the UK right now is, how can I put it, a little off colour. We live in a pretty much permanently damp country but this is one of those times that gets everyone mumbling 'It could be 2007 all over again', with even the tiniest of trickle now doing its best to impersonate mighty rivers like the Volga or Amazon. Still water would be the only sensible options. That's if you have the time, and right now and I don't.

You see my only free time that I had allotted to try and squeeze in a cast or two this last week or so, coincided with the next heavy band of weather to strafe middle England  It was hard decision to make as I'm normally a 'go anywhere in any conditions' kind of angler, but a few hours fishing in torrential rain and gusting winds, fishing into dark seemed, well, not quite worth it, so I decided to give this one a miss.

Though lacking in fishing I was not about to just sit around griping, and instead opted to use the allotted time to instead get some necessary prep work done for when I can get out. Working full time and trying to fish as much as I can whilst maintain a healthy relationship with my better half,  I often find myself burning the midnight oil to get necessary jobs like these done. But with time on my hands it was time to make some traces for the Zander fishing of which I intend to do soon.

Years ago when when I first began predator fishing I bought traces from the local tackle shops but it did not take me long to realise that although reliable, they were expensive and also generic. I suppose it's like anything, but when you spend any time doing a lot a certain type of fishing you begin to see that the tackle you are using could be refined more to your own purpose and needs.

Nowadays the idea of buying a trace from the tackle shop would just seem like insanity to me, as the ones I make cost only a quarter of the price but have been honed to suit species, venues and method. Not only this but even just repeatedly casting traces they get damaged and kinked, hence many changes are often in order; making your own after an initial larger investment reduces the overall costs vastly.

A few weeks ago I was picking up some new floats from Merv of Wilkie's Weights. Whilst we were going through some of the products he makes, he showed me some zander hooks he has, and the moment I saw them I had to have some, especially at the price which he sells them.

I am a single hook believer as far as zander are concerned. Very early on when I began fishing for them I sidelined trebles in favour of a single large hook. As far as patterns go I have tried just about everything available on the market, from large carp hooks right through sea fishing hooks and the one I have found  that are by far my favourite is the o'shaughnessy pattern hook.

Though the only thing that lets this pattern down for me is the length of the shank! I have and still am searching for the holy grail of the sacred short shank version which supposedly exists, but which I am yet to locate. Although these new hooks supplied by Merv look the part and I can't wait to give them a go!

I know everyone has their own ways of doing things and that some might read this and totally disagree with how I make my traces, but I had some new ideas that in conjunction with how I normally make traces, may help me and others whilst zander fishing. Hence I thought whilst I am knocking up a batch of shiny new traces I would show you an easy way to make them, and what I use. 

A few things you will need to knock up a batch of traces

Step 1 =  Pull some wire off the spool but don't cut it. Form a tiny loop in the end of the wire using the spinning method.

Step 2 = Thread the loop through the eye of the hook, making sure it exits at the back of the hook

Step 3 = Pass the loop over the point of the hook

Step 4 = Pull the wire back through the eye bedding the loop over the shank of the hook.

Step 5 = Pull off the required length of wire for the trace plus a little bit extra from the spool and cut the wire using nail clippers. Once this is done thread a crimp along the wire and over the twisted section of wire and crimp in place. 

Using both the twist method and a crimp results in a very stiff section at the end of the trace. I have found this helps reduce tangles and is more than secure enough attachment for the hook.

Step 5 =  Thread a second crimp onto the wire then form a larger loop in the other end again using the spinning method. Once this is done pull the loose crimp over the twist and crimp it into place then trim any excess wire off.

Most people would usually attach a swivel to the end of the trace. Forming a loop it gives me the option of using a long bait needle to thread the trace through a dead bait, have the hook protruding backwards from the mouth of the dead bait and the trace exiting at the tail end. This means you can strike the run very early with full confidence that the hook is in the zanders mouth.

The finished trace is simple, inconspicuous, cost effective and can be removed very quickly for unhooking or to exchange it for a fresh one should it become kinked. 

Step 6 = To attach the trace to my mainline I use a Fox quick change swivel and one of the rubber sleeves to secure it. These tiny and tangle free little swivels systems are designed for fighting big carp and are more than strong enough to deal with the biggest zander likely to be encountered.

Whenever I go zander or pike fishing for that matter I always make sure I take plenty of traces as quite often a lot of action can come along in a short and specific amount of time. So having many quick changes of traces to hand gives you a much better chance of bagging up when the fish are on the feed rather than having to fiddle with making traces on the bank.

The best storage solution I have found for my traces is these trace bins. They are cheap and can store a large amount of traces in a tangle free manner which does not take up much room in the tackle bag.

I hope this has been a help to anyone who reads it and was considering making their own traces or even to anyone who already does and finds even the slightest bit of information that helps in their fishing. If it enables one reader to get even one more bite or land one more fish it will be more than worth my effort writing it. Tight lines!


  1. Daniel,

    Thanks. Where is Wilkie's Weights? I might take a trip there myself, This weekend?


    1. Sorry Gaza did not see your comment till after the weekend.

      Wilkie's weights doe's not have a shop. But I am just checking if it's ok if I pass you on the contact information.

  2. Very simply put ......tied some similar myself over the past few weeks and bought some booms and up traces.Just wanting to get out zander or pike fishing now as the rivers fine down .


    1. Baz we will need to get together and go on a pike poaching session down to you know where. As the temperature is dropping and those bait fish will start massing up soon ;)

  3. as some one who uses crimps a lot on electric cables i would advise you not to just flatten the crimps buy a proper crimper and you will be able to make joints around swivels and hooks a lot neater and no twisting or nasty bits of wire at the one and try it

    1. I have and do occasionally use a crimper. But I actually flatten the crimps in order to ease their passage through baits should I thread the trace through them and the twisted wire also helps to stiffen the ends of the traces so as to reduce tangles on casting.

      But I will admit Ian that I do find it very hard to put all my trust in the security of that tiny little tube of metal, when I never truly know what will pick up my bait next ;)

  4. In the past I have twisted traces, however over the last few years I have only crimped. Neither of which has failed on big fish and on big snags the hooks open out unless its a snag made of wood (tree!) and then the wire usually parts. I am not sure why you would ever want to twist and then crimp ontop of the twist as the twist is fine on its own with a rubber sleeve. The reason I crimp is is it neater and I find it quicker to do. But as you said each to thier own but I cant help feel that the crimp on the twist could maybe weaken the wire somewhat?