Laying on with a float, is a little used, old fashioned method of catching fish. But it is particularly good for bottom feeding fish like Carp, Tench, Bream and for me, Perch.
One of my local club waters, Decoy lake, has a good head of decent Perch of up to 4lb. In the summer it is difficult to target just the Perch, because the Carp. In the winter though, the Carp virtually stop feeding, and more importantly, congregate at one end of the lake. The Perch are spread out around the margins of the lake. They like to be in the dead weed beds, or under overhanging shrubs and hiding under the fishing platforms.
Using cover to hunt from, the shoals of Perch emerge to attack small fish, causing them to leap at the surface. Small fry jumping is a clear sign that the Perch are feeding. If I were spinning, I would immediately fish that area and expect to catch two or three Perch before they realise; I’m hunting them.
Exploring the margins with a float, I find, is often more rewarding. Without getting too close to the Carp’s winter gathering, I move from swim to swim trying all the promising spots. This is where laying on pays, it is the perfect method for fishing the winter margins.
Laying on explained
Laying on should not be confused with the lift method, stret-pegging or float ledgering. It is a distinct method in it’s own right.
The rig is very simple. A straight Waggler attached at the bottom end, held in position by either float stops or small shot. Don’t use loaded Waggler’s because all the weight needs to be on the line.
Below the float, a string of three or four shot is squeezed on to the line eight inches from the hook. Don’t bulk the shot together, but string them out over four to six inches. Use the right amount of shot to cock the float correctly.
Set the depth so that all the shot are laying on the bottom, with an additional foot of line to the float. Cast out and expect the float to lay flat on the surface. Place your rod in rests and tighten down until the float cocks.
Always cast out under arm to ensure the weights precede the float. This will allow you to cast very tightly to banks, snags and the cover Perch love. No need to sink the line as you would when Waggler fishing, because as you tighten down to the float, the line will be pulled straight. Don’t worry about small changes in depth, or casting on top of dead weeds or debris, just tighten down to cock the float.
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Setup for bites
With the float balanced between the rod and the shot on the bottom, any movement will be immediately reported by the float. A bite can register as a lift, dip or a jiggle, but with the shot anchoring everything, when the float does move it has to be a fish.
If you are missing bites, then move the shot further up the line away from the hook. This gives the fish more time and room to take the bait. Essentially the longer the hook length, the more confidence is given to the fish. Use shorter hook lengths when the fish are feeding strongly.
Fishing for Perch
I could use any of the tried and tested Perch baits, but I prefer prawns because they are bright, smelly, and the Perch love them. Moving from swim to swim, I will throw in a few chopped up prawns as feed, with a whole prawn on a size 10 hook. I’m not sure if it makes a great difference, but I like to use a chrome hook with prawns. Chrome hooks, I think, don’t look as obvious against the pink of a prawn as a bronze hook.
I cast into any likely spots, if I catch a Perch, I expect to land one or two more before moving on. I don’t stay in each swim for long, 15 to 20 minutes, if the Perch are there and feeding, I can be sure of catching.
Wind direction and conditions may change as I move around the lake, but laying on is not effected by wind or drift. If the float should become difficult to see in choppy water. I just leave the float a little higher in the water when tightening down.
Laying on is not a method I would not use for small fish. It is ideal for Carp, Tench, Bream and for me, the Perch in Decoy lake. It allows me to cast close to features and snags, without the need to sink the line or worry about wind and drift. I can move from swim to swim and unless the depth is wildly different, I don’t need to adjust the rig at all. For the short winter afternoon sessions I go Perch fishing, laying on with a float suites me. But of course laying on is not just a winter method. It can be used all year round on still water and rivers and is ideal for all bottom feeding fish.