Ledger fishing – what is ledgering

Ledger fishing

Ledger fishing is a general term that covers a lot of different rigs and set-up’s. What they all have in common is that the line lays close the bottom. A bite is indicated at the rod, and single weight is used.


Table of contents

Ledger fishing versus float

Ledger fishing is better for catching bigger fish than a float. I am not saying you can never catch a big fish with a float, what I am saying is that you can exclude small fish when ledgering. For example, ledgering is better for fishing a bait that is too big for tiddlers to handle.

Floats can get difficult to see beyond about 30 yards. With ledgering, a bite is indicated at the rod. Even if the bait is 100 yards away, the rod is still right next to you and bites are clearly seen. Bigger hooks, stronger line, further casts are all element of ledger fishing that make it more suited to catching big fish.

Despite what I have just said, the ledger is not exclusively a big fish method. It can be scaled down to catch medium and small fish too. For the pleasure angler on a mixed fishery, light ledger fishing can be very effective. Roach, Tench and Perch all respond well to the ledger, but light ledgering comes into it’s own when fishing a river. [Top…]

The ledger

The ledger is the weight attached to the line. It helps to cast out and hold the bait static on the bottom. The ledger weight can be free to slide up and down the line, or may be semi fixed, it all depends on how you are fishing.

Rigs where the ledger weight freely runs on the line are collectively called running rigs. When a fish takes the bait and moves off with it, the line will pull through the ledger weight causing an indication at the rod. The angler must watch for an indication the whole time the rig is in the water. Running rigs are most associated with river fishing, but are equally at home on still waters.

Semi fixed rigs hold the ledger weight in one place on the line, but can release the weight under certain circumstances. The most important reason for the weight to release, is if the main line breaks or is cut while a fish is hooked. We must avoid any circumstance where a hooked fish is tethered to a length of broken line, that has a ledger weight tied to it. A fish cannot swim or feed properly dragging a ledger weigh behind it, eventually the fish will die. Be aware that fisheries do not allow anglers to fish with rigs where the ledger weight is tied to the line. [Top…]

Self hooking rigs

There are usually far fewer big fish than small in any given water. Trying to catch only the better fish can leave the angler with long periods of time between runs. It can be difficult to concentrate on the rod for hours waiting for a bite. The self hooking rig solves this problem by hooking the fish for you. [Top…]

Bite indication

There are three main methods to indicate a bite, touch ledgering, a quiver tip rod and a bobbin with an alarm.

Touch ledgering is a traditional method of bite detection, which is the most sensitive and perhaps the most exciting. With the line tight to the rig, hold the line in your fingers to feel for any pulls from a taking fish. This method is ideal for roving on a river, as it requires minimal equipment.

A quiver tip rod has a soft flexible top section, designed to quiver and twitch as a fish bites. The rod is held in rod rests with the line tight to the rig. As soon as a fish touches the bait, the tip of the rod will move indicating a bite. The quiver tip can be used to detect delicate bites, even when the bait is way out in the lake. Quiver tip rods are frequently used with self hooking rigs, but expect an explosive bite that can pull the rod in to the lake if you are not paying attention.

A bobbin clips onto the line between the reel and the first ring of the rod. A fish taking the bait will cause the bobbin to react. Bobbins are often used in conjunction with an electronic bite alarm, which will sound if the line is pulled. A bobbin setup is mainly used by specimen Carp anglers. Although similar systems are used for Pike and other specimen fish. [Top…]

Bobbins and bite alarms

The hook length

The hook length is the piece of line between the ledger and the hook.

There is a large range of materials available to tie a hook length, nylon and braid being the most common. Coated braid has been popular with Carp anglers for decades, because of it’s strong, but supple nature, although stiff nylon has become popular more recently.

Carp rigs are commonly self hooking with a short hook length and a hair rig. There are many variations on this theme and much time can be wasted trying to decide which to use. In reality, most Carp anglers have just one or two rigs they have complete faith in, with perhaps one or two other “fall back” rigs.

Running rigs with their free sliding ledger weights don’t self hook. Typically the hook lengths are longer than those used for Carp fishing and made of nylon. Excepting hard pellets, hook baits are mounted on the hook in the traditional way. Fishing for Roach, Bream and Chub come to mind when I think of running rigs. [Top…]


Ledger fishing may not be as obvious, or as easy to understand as float fishing, but it is a very effective method. Ledgering allows you to cast further and still be able to see a delicate bite. It can offer a static bait even in a river. But also, self hooking systems have revolutionised specimen fishing, opening it up to everyone.

Ledgering was once regarded as a “chuck and chance” way of fishing. In my opinion, ledgering has now matured. Learning to use both running and self hooking rigs will be time well spent. Between the two you will be able to catch any species of fish, in ponds, lakes, stream and rivers, whenever the fish are biting. [Top…]

The related links below will take you to more detailed articles on ledger fishing, best of luck.


Paternoster rig

Running lead rig

Quiver tip or feeder rod

Fishing with an Arlesey bomb