Ian Russell's Ultimate Edge

Featuring Simon Crow

Solid-bags-aren't-just-a-summer-tactic

Carp trends go in cycles and Avid-backed Ian Russell reckons it’s time for solid PVA bags to have a resurgence...

There can be no greater fashion victims than carp anglers – witness the recent upsurge in the use of hinged stiff rigs and the redoubtable chod.

Such blind allegiance has meant that the poor old solid PVA bag rig is now overlooked by many. But Avid’s Ian Russell reckons that carpers across the country are missing out on a fantastic presentation. With a dozen fish to 32lb landed in six hours from Linear Fisheries’ Oxlease Lake, you start to see that the 53-year-old Twickenham rod might be on to something!

“There’s is no better ‘cast it almost anywhere’ rig than a solid PVA bag,” Ian told us. “The set-up perfectly presents a dinner-plate- sized area of bait with the hookbait smack bang in the centre.” So, you may fairly ask, why are they so rarely used? The answer is pure laziness on the part of the angler."

Imagine the scene. It’s raining, your hands are damp and you have just had a run at 3am. The last thing you want to do is spend 10 minutes tying up a solid bag when you could hook on a mesh bag of pellets in 10 seconds flat and be back in the comfort of your sleeping bag before you know it.

“I’m just the same, I have to admit,” Ian said. “It’s getting over that ‘can’t be bothered’ attitude that we’re all guilty of, because when you do go that extra nine yards the results can be simply spectacular. “Today, I haven’t been able to keep my rods in – at one point I had all three on the bank, with two fish sitting in one landing net and one in my spare!”

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Solid PVA bags can be cast almost anywhere, except over deep, soft silt, which ruins most presentations. You know you’ll be fishing as soon as the rig hits the water, and with everything encased in the bag there’s no way the hooklink or hair can tangle on the cast. And if you doctor your wet loosefeed to make it PVA-friendly, by adding either salt or a little oil so it won’t melt the PVA, you can present your hookbait right in the centre of your particle spod mix.

Ian likes just 2mm and 4mm pellets in his bags, but some anglers don’t feel 100 per cent confident with this, as the baited area resembles a fried egg, with the hi-viz hookbait the obvious yolk.

“I have never worried about this if I’m honest,” Ian said. “The beauty of solid-bag fishing is that as long as you prepare the bait correctly, you can fish what you want where you want it.”

The time factor is why solid bags are rarely used, but with the release of Avid’s Bag Stems, they are now as quick to rig as mesh. Ian threads a large loop in the end of his 28lb fluorocarbon leader through the loop in the top of the Bag Stem, then passes the bag through the leader loop. In this way, Ian is able to have a number of pre-tied, fully loaded bags all ready to go. You can tie them at your leisure, while waiting for a run, and not rushing things ensures that every one is well tied.

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“A full-loaded PVA bag with a 2.5oz lead weighs 4oz to 5oz,” Ian continued. “To get range with this set-up, the bag has to be tied drum tight, with no gaps or air pockets. If the bag is loose, it will reduce your casting distances significantly.”

To tie his, Ian uses a mixture of small pellets with a 10mm pop-up as his hookbait. The bait is pushed down during filling, feeding the hooklink in and around the loosefeed so everything is well presented. The bag is then tied off using a length of PVA tape and the corners folded in and stuck down to form a pointed end to the bag.

Ian never pricks his bags, as this can see them dissolving too quickly, a killer in deep swims. He goes the other way, double-bagging if he is in deep water. As a final edge, he will sometimes dip the bag in sunflower oil to give more attraction and stop it bursting prematurely.

After this, it is just a case of either casting to showing fish or fishing to an area, as Ian did on the day. Because everything is self- contained, he doesn’t clip up, but reckons you can if you want to get pin point accuracy. With a dozen fish on the bank over the course of the morning, Ian was rather pleased that he had gone that extra distance and tied up solid bags rather than using sticks, mesh or single hookbaits over spod mix like everyone else. It is plain to see that fashion will take you so far, but some things become tradition for a reason, because they work and they have stood the test of time. Solid PVA bag rigs prove the point rather well.

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About The Angler

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Simon Crow

Simon Crow is arguably one of the country’s top anglers and has worked in the trade for over 25 years.