It is perhaps only on the bigger, deeper canals, or on wide sections such as turning bays and boat yards where a feeder rod becomes a popular tool for the Cut angler. That said, a tip rod can be a useful plan B when the elements make float fishing impractical, and the feeder is an excellent tactic for bream and tench.
As with float rods, the 12ft-plus models tend to be a little overgunned for all but the widest expanses of water. A more appropriate tool would often be a little wand of a rod, sometimes called a ‘picker’, measuring 8-10ft. These offer terrific accuracy for casting little feeders and bombs, as well as lot of fun playing small-to-medium-sized fish. Look for a light model with a choice of push-in tips – a delicate option is a must for roach and skimmers.
Grand Union Canal Fishing Season Photo Gallery
Specimen & Carp Rods
An increasingly common sight on towpaths are specialist rods for fish like carp and pike, as more anglers seem to have cottoned on to the fact that canals contain some excellent-sized fish. Where carp are concerned, your usual tackle for the species will suffice. Rods of 3lb test curve are rather heavy, however, so I often prefer a more forgiving blank of around 2lb test. Long-distance casting is seldom an issue; even a 3oz lead and solid PVA bag can be swung accurately to the far bank with such a tool on most canals. A more forgiving action also makes for less risk of breakages and hook pulls with hard-fighting fish at close quarters. Another development has been the introduction of shorter blanks of just 10ft or so – and these can be handy in cramped swims.
Where pike are concerned, you can also go for blanks a little lighter than the standard 3lb test curve rod for bait fishing, which won’t provide much fight from the average jack. A 2-2^lb test blank is more fun – or you could even try a spinning rod. I would always keep mainlines and traces heavy, however. Anything less than 15lb mono or braid is irresponsible and won’t buy you any extra bites.
Less numerous in the pages of tackle catalogues are those lighter specimen rods of 1-1 ^lb and a half test curve. These are superb for fish like zander, bream and perch, which are easily bumped off the hook with overly powerful rods.
Finally, you will also find a wide range of rods for fishing with lures on canals. These are covered in my chapter on lure fishing, along with the different types of artificial baits for canal predators.