Ramblings of a Carp Angler – Using Backleads


Backleads Carp Fishing Tackle and Tactics Blog

One of the many types of backlead available

How safe is the use of backleads. Can I use them in every event? Definitely not!

The use of backleads have been about for a long time now. It would be during my time on the Fox Pool that I first used backleads to pin down my main line to the lake bed. I didn’t put too much thought to it really. I never felt confident unless I was backleading. The only time that I wouldn’t use them was when floater fishing with dog biscuits.  Obviously my attitude has changed drastically since this period of my carp fishing. These days I very rarely use back leads, and if I do, I use the captive type. Why?

What is a Backlead?

A backlead is usually a small weight between a quarter and one and half ounces in weight that have some form of plastic or wire type attachment for placing on and removing from the main line following a cast.

The back lead is then lowered into the water so as the line sinks slowly to the lake bed creating a fairly tight line from the backlead to the rig set up.

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Backleading over an uneven lake bed

Backleading appears to be the perfect set up but there are many flaws.

A lot depends on the lake bed itself. The only time that I would now use a backlead is in the event of fishing reasonably close from the swim and the lake bed is more or less perfectly flat. Any changes in the lake bed such as humps or drop offs, in other words an uneven lake bed, then I would disregard backleading altogether.

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Backleading in a weedy lake

Weed is another major problem. Line backleaded on top of or through weed again presents a problem due to poor presentation and also for fish welfare.

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Flying backlead

The trouble with backleading is that when you get a run, you have 2 focal points for the line to tighten too. The first is the backlead itself, and the second is rig set up where your main weight is. It is not until the backlead has ridden the main line down to your rig that you have full control of the fish which obviously can cause a load of problems with fish kiting and being out of control.

Flying backleads

Flying backleads are part of the rig set up, being threaded on the main line during the initial set up. The idea of this is that during a cast the small barrel shaped lead slides up the line, pinning down the main line midway between the bank and the hook bait. I have never used this set up but I can envisage problems with kiting fish and also reducing and misaligning a cast. A lot of anglers use them but I choose to leave this one alone.

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Captive backlead on flat lake bed. Perfect presentation.

Captive backleads

Where possible this is my favourite set up. I believe that this is by far the best way to backlead, both safely and efficiently as long as the lake bed is level enough to do so.

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The captive backlead

The captive backlead has one end fixed to the bank with a length of cord attached to the backlead which is clipped onto the main line and lowered into the marginal water. Again this is only efficient if the marginal depths are sufficiently deep for the line to follow the contours of the lake bed to the hook bait without rising or falling on features.

So… that is backleading. These days, due to uneven lake beds, weed and better types of indicator set ups, I tend to fish straight lines direct to my rig set up, either tight or semi-tight lines. Air pressure and the weight of the line usually sinks the last few yards of line onto the lake bed. My confidence in catching these days is gained through good quality baits and a sensible rig set up. I do not feel disadvantaged by having line passing through the water to my rig as long as I am presenting a good quality food source for my target fish.

Paul Cooper



5 thoughts on “Ramblings of a Carp Angler – Using Backleads

  1. Shaun Harrison says:

    I must admit I can’t remember the last time I used a back lead. I don’t like them.

  2. Duncan de Gruchy says:

    I am the same as you Shaun – havent used backleads of any description for years and much prefer using slack flourocarbon main line (in conjunction with light lead running rigs) which sinks to the bottom and follows the contours of the lake bed, therefore keeping it out of the way of wary carp.

  3. Paul Cooper says:

    It is nice to have a choice.! Back leading is another method of keeping the line tight to the lake bed.
    Back leading only really works for me on fairly shallow flat weedless lakes. This becomes useful especially if there is a strong cross wind.
    I also still prefer to fish a reasonable slack line to a semi-fixed set up for close up work. Depending on the distance I am fishing will determine my weight size. For close in work, small weights and for distance anything up to 3.5oz, so that I can reach my chosen spot.. I use ordinary mono and still manage to get my line down for a good few yards near to the rig.
    Slack Fluorocarbon lines at a distance are not an option. Casting a distance is restricted and you loose too much indication if fishing too far out.

  4. Shaun Harrison says:

    For many years – right up to joining the Mangrove syndicate I used fluorocarbon leaders all of the time – even when margin fishing to keep the last few yards out of the way. I never did like it as a main line for the reasons Paul has mentioned but as a leader I like it. Having said that most of the waters I have fished in recent years have leader bans in place so I have got out of the habit of using them.
    For what it is worth it saved me a lot in line purchasing as well. I simply used to attach new leaders each week rather than stripping bits of line off the rods. Not a bad habit to get into really where allowed as it is those last couple of rod lengths that take all the stick.
    Slightly off topic but still relevant to where the conversation has gone.

  5. Tom says:

    People think you HAVE to have a tight line with a back lead.. this is nonsense. I use them all the time with a semi slack line. The back lead just helps to get the line down, and keep the lines well out the way in the margins which is important when playing fish. With semi slack lines the captive ones are too risky tangles wise. I favour small normal ones. It is very important to make sure they are heavier than your bobbins though.

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