Marukyu man Nick Marlow, the well-travelled former editor of Tackle Trade World, looks at slack or tight line for carp and other big fish. Or even using somewhere inbetween! Which do you use most?

DO I fish with bow tight lines or do I slack line? And do I want my rod tips in the air or do I want them pointing down?

It goes without saying that I need to have a nice shiny pod though – and that it must be absolutely level – that is one thing I am 100% sure of!

Of course, there is no right or wrong answer to this quandary but I think I have the solution – and it revolves back to a bit of logic!

The argument for bow-tight is simple – if something moves your lead you know about it. It doesn’t matter if it moves left, right, away from you or towards you, the bite registers.

Of course – there are untold disadvantages here too!

Remember when you were a kid and you made a telephone out of baked bean tins and string? There was no sound when the string was slack was there? But pull it tight… and it telegraphed (hehehe) a lot of sound didn’t it?

And then there are always the fish that swim into the bow-tight line and spook…

Being a slacker

Therefore that leaves us slack lines. Slack lines are great as the line lays across the bottom. No fish can swim into it. But bite detection is poor at best.

If the fish bolts and screams away from you – great! But if it swims towards you, or a few feet to the left or right – then what? You won’t have a clue what’s happened – leaving the fish all the time in the world to try and eject the hook.

I remember only a season or two back everyone proclaiming that a single bleep was a fish ‘getting away with it’ everytime… isn’t totally slack lining just burying your head in the sand?

Super slack lines

Slack lines – super for laying line on bottom but poor for bite detection.

Personally, I’ve opted for a compromise solution to this – actually it’s what I have done for years since way before dabbling with specimen fishing.

I tend to fish with the line just tight enough to register a drop back bite but certainly no more and never any less – after all – bite detection is what we all want isn’t it?

All I can tell you is that it works. The line is not so tight that if fish swim into it it just bolts straight off. And the line is not so slack that a fish can literally swim yards without any detection.

I like to call it a commonsense approach…


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