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Pole Elastic: The Basics
When we start talking about pole fishing, there are loads of different items that spring to mind, many of which might seem confusing to the novice angler……elastics, bushes, bungs, connectors, pull bungs, stora bungs, locking bushes, internal, external, hydro, hollow, solid, latex, dacron, lubricant it just goes on! In this article, we hope to explain about different kinds of elastics, what they’re all about, and when/where to use them!
To fish the pole, you need to thread elastic through the top two or three sections to act as a shock absorber. You can be easily baffled with the wide range of elastics that are available nowadays. Elastics range from a really fine number one ‘knicker elastic’ to really heavy versions of 25+ ‘bull rope’.
Solid elastics were the very first kind on the market, and at one point, were the only elastic available. Many anglers still favour solid elastics for all kinds of fishing. It’s available in all sizes from a number 1 right up to 25. The basic ruling for solid elastic is the bigger the fish, the heavier the elastic, although big fish can still be landed on light elastics. Most companies still manufacture solid elastic, and it’s probably the cheapest kind of elastic that is now available at around £1.99 for 5 metres.
Solid elastic is excellent for ‘small fish’ on natural venues, such as rivers, canals and lakes, where anything from a number 2 to 6 is required. In the very light sizes, 2 and 3, you can get away with threading the elastic though just the top two sections of a match kit. I personally prefer to thread all my elastics through a full match top three, as you can set the elastic a little tighter so its almost ‘pinging’ back into the pole, but the long length of elastic still allows this to be very soft so you don’t bump fish. Also, you stand a much greater chance of landing a larger bonus fish with the elastic through a full top three, as there is a hell of a lot of stretch over this length, therefore you will very rarely get bottomed out and broke, even with light hooklink. This can be a massive advantage on canal matches where you might just hook that match winning chub or big perch on your small fish rig!
Solid elastic also comes into play when fishing for big fish up to snags. In these kinds of situations, you need to hook the fish and pull! Solid elastic through a short section of pole will allow you to drag the fish away and out of the snags, but you will still have some forgivingness in your elastic to stop you ripping the hook out. The short length of elastic will prevent the fish from bolting off into the snag however, as there is only a certain amount of stretch.
Latex is a fairly recent craze with anglers, and is basically untreated solid elastic, in a very natural form, with no dyes or preservatives added to it. This leads to white elastic that is very soft and forgiving, and usually has a little more stretch in it than normal solid elastic. There are several brands of latex now on the market, it’s hard to distinguish the difference between any of them to be honest! Like solid elastic, it’s available from the lightest number 1 right up to a 20.
Many anglers favour latex as it offers a much smoother and more forgiving action than solid elastic, but doesn’t stretch as far as hollow elastic, meaning fish can be landed on the top two or three sections of pole. Latex is a very reasonable price, at around £2.99 for a spool of 5m, another reason for its popularity.
Like solid elastic, latex is used for a variety of fishing. When fishing for tiny fish on canals, a number 1 latex will ensure no fish are bumped, and that they do0nt splash around on the surface, spooking other fish. It is also extensively used in the sizes between 5 and 10 for small carp and f1’s on commercials, especially in winter, when anglers are looking to land everything they hook. Then, there are anglers like Steve Ringer, who have used latex really successfully for catching carp of all sizes from all venues! The softness means it’s great for hooking carp, as they will swim straight out of the swim, but you then have the advantages of solid elastic when you need to get their heads up at the net!
As latex is white in all sizes, it’s a good idea to mark on the actual size so you don’t get them muddled up. In the lighter sizes, you can put say three dots of tip-ex on the tip for a number three, or just write the number neatly on the end of the top kit. If you’re really, really posh, you can even wrap some masking tape around and write the size on that!
Hydro-elastic was the turning point in pole elastics, and started a new revolution with pole fishing. One of the first anglers to use hydro was Simon Gould, at venues like Gold Valley, up to 12 years ago. Daiwa then started to market the elastic, and first brought out two sizes, white hydro…6-10, and black hydro…12-16. Now, we have a variety of sizes available from Diawa, Blue 5-8, white 6-10, grey 10-14, black 12-16, red 16-20, and brown 20+++.
Hydro elastic is made up of hollow elastic that is soft and very forgiving. There is a really natural soft inner core, which is hollowed out and has liquid lubricant inside, hence the name…Hydro. The liquid helps the elastic to retract back into the pole, and aids you when playing fish ads you can ‘pump’ the elastic to help it retract, and gives a generally smooth, controllable fish playing action to the elastic.
Another big feature of hydro elastic is its strength and its life span. You will find it incredibly hard to actually break any size of hydro with your hands, and it last absolutely ages! It should last at least a year, even if it’s used extensively. Some people say they have had it last up to three years! Many moan about the price of this elastic…£14.99, but if it’s lasting all that time, you’re probably saving money, as you may change normal elastic 4 times or more in a year!
Hydro has been used on all venues, but it is really suited to commercials. The lighter blue and white sizes are ideal for small carp, f1’s, skimmers and silver fish, you can land just about anything on white hydro! Then the grey has a brilliant reputation for shallow fishing for all sizes of carp. Black hydro is well suited to bigger fish, 5lb and above, as well as margin fishing, and can help you land fish quicker when they’re really having it! Then there’s red hydro, we’re talking proper elastic now, big fish, lumps, margin fishing, getting them out fast. Brown hydro, 20+++ is used extensively by bungee jumpers. Its real powerful stuff. You’re talking hard fighting, big fish, snags, where you need to pull a bit, maybe at places like Drayton. I’ve never used brown, and it’s the most recent addition to the collection, I might take some to Florida with me for my Great White Shark rigs though!
One thing that I have noticed with all the sizes of hydro is that they offer an initial soft strike, even in the bigger sizes, and you very rarely bump a fish off, unless you set the elastic tight.
Many other manufactures have followed suit since the introduction of hydro, producing a wide range of hollow elastics. These don’t contain the liquid solution like that of hydro, but they do offer very similar advantages.
Hollow elastics are available from many leading companies, Maver Dual Core, Drennan Bungee, Middy Hollow, Garbolino, Vespe, Sensas, Preston Hollo, its endless!
Most of these companies elastic range is very similar with three or four sizes available. There is usually a light 5-8 ish size, which is great for general all round fishing, where you’re expecting a mixed catch, small carp, skimmers, silvers etc. It’s great for maggot and chopped worm fishing, as you can land everything you hook thanks to the mega stretch in the elastic. These lighter sizes are also favourable for winter carp fishing, as they allow you to use light 0.10 hookliengths, and still land large carp, which is what you need in winter! Then there’s usually a slightly heavier size, between 8 and 12, which is very popular at places like Lindholme, where f1s and small carp are the target. Preston’s 11 Hollow has been very popular in this range. There’s then a heavier size, suited to average carp fishing, with a bit of beef to it, between a 12 and a 16. Many brands also make a ‘proper’ size, from size 18+, which, like many heavier types of elastic, is suited to big fish and catching lots of them!!!
Lube it up!!!
Lubricating you elastics is a very personal thing. Some don’t do it at all! There are many different kinds of lube available (oooohhhhhh!) from many companies. There are also many non-angling substances that anglers use, diluted hair conditioner, Armorall silicon car cleaner, some even use diluted washing up liquid! I personally don’t think it makes much difference. If you keep your top kits clean, and set your elastics right, you shouldn’t have a problem. A quick pull through the water will help dangling elastic retract.
A good starting point to set your elastic at is so that it just goes back into the pole tip without it being too tight, and shooting back in, but not too loose that it hangs out. You can then use a winder bund to lighten or slacken your elastic as needed. A good tip is to pre-stretch your elastic before threading it up. Tie one end to something, and holding the other end stretch all the elastic as far as it will go, until it bottoms out. Then, when you play a big fish, you shouldn’t have the problem of the elastic dangling out, as it has already being stretched to its max, and the elastic should perform to its best.
Playing fish on elastic may seem daunting when you first hook one, but it needn’t be, and like a lot of things, practice makes perfect. I tend to play them the same with any elastic. Lift into the fish, and it will swim out of the swim and probably make a bit of a run. Keep the pole level with the water, until you feel the fish slow down and turn. Point the pole towards the fish, but keep just a slight angle in the elastic to ensure your top kit doesn’t pop off. If the fish starts to bolt again, just stop and follow it back out of you need to. When you get back to your break down point, still keep the pole low, and point the pole directly at the fish. You will feel the fish come towards you. You can then slowly lift the pole and have a go at netting it. If it decides to go again, just drop the pole and repeat the process. You don’t have to land fish fast to have big weights. At the end of the day, if you land every fish you hook, you’re going to have a better weight than if you lose half of what you hook by rushing! It can be really confusing when you start thinking about elastics. There are just so many kinds, makes, sizes and colours out there!
Hopefully, we’ve given you a bit of an idea as to what is out there, and a few pointers to get you on your way. The best thing to do is find a certain elastic for the fishing that you are doing, get out and catch plenty of fish on it, get a feel for how it works, and get yourself confident in it! The best way to look at it is that there are loads of great anglers out there, all of whom have different opinions about elastics, and they are equally successful, so find whats right for you and stick to it!