Ramblings of a Carp Angler – Leadcore

Paul Cooper expresses his thoughts around yet another controversial issue. Leadcore, impregnated leaders and tubing.

How do we define leadcore – For years now leadcore has been readily available, complete as a fully spliced leader, or on spools where you have to splice your own. Leadcore is normally made up of a length of braided type material with a fine lead wire running down its centre.

Leadcore, impregnated leaders and tubing - carp fishing tackle

The end result

Leadcore and how to create your own leader – Firstly strip out around 3 inches of lead wire from one end of the braid. Take a braiding needle. Piece the leadcore material at the 3 inch point where you have just stripped out the wire and push it down the center towards the end. At around one and a quarter inches, expose the needle through the side of the material. Place the end of the material into the loop on the needle and pull it back through until you leave a small loop. Hold the loop and continue pulling it back through itself until the end is exposed. Trim off. Now take some superglue and put on a couple of dabs to secure the knot.

Measure out the length of leadcore that you need and splice the other end. Easy, and even easier is to buy one ready made up. You can watch a short video on splicing lead cored material here.

Leadcore is a brilliant way of presenting the last half to a metre of end tackle, tight to the bottom of the lake, out of the way of wary carp and will not rise and fall when the carp wafts its fins when testing your baits. But is it safe?

In my opinion there are certain issues around the use of leadcore – The outer heavy braided material has the tendency of lifting scales on a carp during the fight. Generally, leadcore is made up of strong heavy material of 20lb+ BS and the mainline knots that they are attached too, are the weakest point of the anglers set up. If there is a problem with a break off, the carp ends up towing or wrapping itself around in a length of 30lb+ material which very often leads to a distressed or a dead fish.

There are plenty of instructions on how to make the leadcore system a safe and fish friendly system, but unlike other methods of pinning down, one mistake on this rig and it can be fatal to any carp.

For example, even if you are fishing a system that is dumping leads, the carp still has the problem of getting rid of the stiff lead core that has the tendency to snag on objects more so than monofilament nylon line. Running leads are especially a problem due to the narrow tube that runs through the middle of the lead and tend not to discharge over the leader knot. It only takes a bit of weed, silt or misjudged set up and the lead will remain on the leader and cannot be released or dropped.

Lead impregnated nylon leader – Lead impregnated leaders hit the angling scene a few years ago and they certainly look the business, in different shades and colours to match the lake bottom. Are they safe. Again this is all a matter of opinion. It depends on the user. As with any set up lead impregnated leaders can be abused by using objects or material that are not designed for them. Stick to the instructions and use the same make  of safety clips, beads, swivels and rubbers etc and there should be no problem.

Remember there is a loop at the end of the leader and everything needs to be able to easily slide off if a problem occurs. Bearing in mind, lakes do contain weed and silt which can effect this safety release. For reason’s that I will keep to myself, I have not and do not use these set up’s and again have banned them on my lake.

carp fishing tackle tips - safe tubing

Safe tubing

Naked set up – Due to lead core and leader bans on some French and English waters, it is fashionable these days to fish the main line straight through without tubing, as a naked set up. In my opinion this is not a good idea. The last 3 foot of the main line is the part that actually comes in contact with a carp during a fight which can lift scales and cause cuts and abrasions on the carp’s body and fins.

carp fishing tackle tips blog

My preferred set up

Tubing – So we want to pin down our end rig so how do we do it? Back to the old fashioned method. Tubing.

These days you can purchase smooth but heavy tubing that is as good as any leadcore and it is fish friendly. I have caught hundreds of carp by using tubing to pin down my main line. It is important not to apply any other pin down material on or above the tubing as again this can cause jam ups for  the safety devices release if a problem occurs during the retrieval of a fish. Common sense really, and not catching fish at all costs.

Paul Cooper



6 thoughts on “Ramblings of a Carp Angler – Leadcore

  1. Andrew Gilbert says:

    Some good points there Paul. You know from running a leadcore leader through your fingers to straighten them how much frictional burn they give off. When it comes to any type of line or leader against fish safety, all will come under close scrutiny. Is there anywhere now that you can use braided mainline? Braid with tubing would cure any lifting of scales or cutting, but then on a crack off a fish could end up towing meters of the stuff. Shock leaders come under the same category, due to length, on a break it’s not going to be just a couple of foot of line being dealt with by the carp. I suppose things like safezone leaders being banned has come about because of misuse of shock leaders. In this country I’ve caught loads of carp which have been either towing a hair rig, or bits of line . Fishing in France, I’ve never come across this, are the fishermen who fish abroad more sensible? One thing I’ve noticed with fish I’ve seen towing tackle is that the hook is always barbed. Carp have a much better chance of losing a barbless hook, do they cause more mouth damage than a micro barb hook though. With every lake having different rules, I suppose it comes down to common sense of the angler. Until someone invents an eye on a hook that dissolves after two days in water, these debates will rage on and tackle will be sold in shops and banned a month later on some lakes

  2. Paul Cooper says:

    Hi Andy
    Barbless hooks are the answer but a lot of anglers are against their use and actually believe they can cause more harm than good, due to the hook slipping. This is not the case. I find them safer to use, and easy to remove from the carp,s mouth, once on the bank. Even with a micro barb you can cause damage to the carps mouth when the hook is removed. Barbless hooks leave a pin hole that heals in no time. I have solely used barbless since last year and have lost only a couple of carp which were as a result of the carp feeding very lightly and not through a barbless hook.
    Over the point that you made about carp towing line about on British lakes and not on French ones, this is possibly because anglers do not cast anymore when in France, and rely solely on baitboats to take out their baited hooks.
    A poor caster, or someone trying to cast further than their tackle allows, can result in crack offs, which in turn results in baited hooks, rig and line being left for the feeding car to pick up. On most waters in British isles, baitboats are banned so could this be the answer.
    For the angler travelling to France, especially with Angling Lines, there is lots of information in the form of blogs, videos and articles that preach carp welfare and safety. Maybe potential customers are taking the advice given and it is resulting in better angling practices.
    Food for thought

  3. Shaun Harrison says:

    Not so sure about the line lifting scales when no tubing is used. I have caught 100’s of carp over the years on floaters and my hook link is rarely less than 6 ft. I’ve never noticed scales lifting off from my hook link.

    Similarly there are loads of carp caught these days on zig rigs with long hook links thus no protection from the line but again we haven’t seen a load more fish with scales missing.

    Personally I like tubing to cut tangles to an absolute minimum but I use the tubing as short as I can (fractionally longer than the hook length) so most carp are played with my line on their bodies the same as it would be float fishing, floater fishing or zig fishing but looking through my pictures I’m struggling to find one with a carp with scales missing.

    I’m not a lover of lead core myself but do like the modern lead free types – my favourite is the Silk Ray from P.B. Products. That one follows the contours so much better than any lead core I have ever seen.

    Yes, fish often display line marks on their bodies but I honestly feel this is usually caused by tethering when they have been wrapped in line in snags etc.

    Barbless hooks will always be easier for the fish to get off but they don’t always get off these. I had a Free Spirit fun social session at Drayton last year and had a funny type of take which was soon obvious it was a fish towing tackle around. I had several of these before eventually it became tangled on my line and thus attached. Eventually I landed 2 carp which were attached to lost rigs and had managed to tangle with each other as well. These fish had been stuck on the rigs for a long while as both hooks were well past their best and these fish were both badly marked up. Both hooks came out easily being barbless yet the carp hadn’t managed to get rid of them. Those fish must have been fighting against each other for weeks judging by the look of the hook and rig components. The safety lead clips (still had the lead on both) were both algaed up and had so obviously been out there a very long while.
    All we can do is be very careful and educate others as much as we possibly can.

  4. Pat Gillett says:

    I have never been a user of lead core myself (saw too many anglers have bad experiences /fish losses when it was first used). I very often use a naked rig for shortish distances and have never noticed any damage to the carp (if i did i wouldn’t use the rig), the rigs won’t tangle if used in conjunction with a small pva stocking or bag. If i am fishing at distance or with just a single hookbait then i prefer the lead clip set up with a length of the ESP anchor rig tube, which sinks like a brick.

  5. Paul Cooper says:

    Hi Shaun and Pat
    I still would prefer to use tubing as I feel that this is safer than leadcore and impregnated leaders. For stalking or floater fishing I would free line, obviously with no tubing on, but when doing so I am in direct control of the fish and using 1 rod only.
    Tubing is wider and made up of softer material than main line or leaders so in my mind, would cause less discomfort to a carp when it comes in contact with the body. We put the fish through enough hardship, so every little helps. After all we are all talking of fish welfare.
    I am sure that you would feel more confident when casting a distance, using tubing rather than nothing at all.

  6. […] Leadcore is a brilliant way of presenting the last half to a metre of end tackle, tight to the bottom of the lake, out of the way of wary carp and will not rise and fall when the carp wafts its fins when testing your baits. But is it safe? Click here to read on- – – – – – […]

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