Fishing on gravel can be very rewarding, but not many people know how to fish over gravel properly and effectively.
In the majority of lakes, there are different types of lakebed, typically its a mixture of weed, gravel, silt, and clay.
Each angler has their preference as to which type of lake bed they like to fish on.
For most anglers, gravel is the number one choice. But are they actually presenting the rig how they think they are and is the rig actually ever sitting properly?
Getting the best presentation on gravel can be difficult to get the hang of, but by the end of this article, you will know exactly how to fish on gravel properly.
You will also know how to bait accurately for these situations.
How to Find A Gravel Lakebed
Of all the different types of lakebed, gravel tends to produce a lot of bites, luckily it is easy to establish whether you have found gravel or not.
- With a grubber lead or gripper lead, cast it without a rig at a far bank marker and feel the lead down to the lakebed.
- If you don’t feel to the lead “donk” when it hits the lakebed, your lead has likely landed in weed.
- Drop the rod tip to your right so it is parallel to the ground and pull the rod tip away from the lake to drag the lead along the lakebed.
- When pulling the lead away from the water, you should feel vibrations through the line, through the rod and through to your hand.
- If the vibrations feels like it is tapping, you are likely on gravel. If you are on sand or silt, you will likely not feel any vibrations, and if you are on weed, you will likely feel the lead getting heavier and snagging every now and then.
- If you don’t feel the tapping vibrations through the rod, you will need to wind the line in 6ft and then pull the rod tip back again to test the next section of lake bed.
- When the lead is back at the bank, cast out again to another bank marker and repeat the process.
When pulling the rod back and reeling in, keep the rod low to stop it from skipping over the lakebed. If the rod tip is too high, you will pull the lead off the lakebed and through the water without touching the bottom.
If you find a large gravel bar, you will still feel the knocking but you will also feel resistance as the lead is being pulled over the gravel bar and less resistance when the lead falls down the side nearest to you. When the resistance lessens, you could let out your maker float to check the depth on top of the bar. These areas are frequently visited by carp.
Why Should You Consider Fishing Gravel Bars?
You regular hear about anglers finding a nice gravel patch in the lake, or fishing off a gravel bar, and you will regularly hear about them in anglers magazines, but why should you fish on gravel?
Gravel spots are usually created because fish regularly feed off of that particular spot and have basically cleared all of the silt and sediment from that area.
Gravel bars are used by carp as a reference to navigate their way around the lakes, but they are also packed with natural food due to the currents and wind.
You will regularly find carp hang around the gravel bars as the water is typically warmer above them due to the water being shallower. When the sun is out, fishing on top of the gravel bars will get you a few bites, and when the nights draw in, you will typically find the fish at the bottom of the gravel bars, grubbing around for food. Sometimes they will be halfway up the gravel bar depending on the size of the bar.
Using a Deeper Pro Plus is a good way to find gravel bars by looking for the raised areas, then using the FishSpy or marker float to confirm if what you have found is a true gravel bar.
Is It Really Gravel?
Underwater footage has proven that quite a lot of the time the tapping of the rod isn’t a completely clean lakebed or at least a relatively clean lake bed, but with a layer of silt or light weed present. So you will need to confirm visually whether it is actually gravel.
Using a FishSpy to actually view the spot will confirm whether it is as clear as you think it is.
Typically, you will still feel the tapping through the rod, even on silty bottoms, due to using a heavy lead. As the lead is being pulled along, will be clearing the silt and light weed away from the spot, revealing the gravel and sending the vibrations back to your hands.
Checking the margins from gravel will give you a small indication as to whether the rest of the lakebed is clear, if it is silty and there is lots of sediment or dead leaves, its likely that the rest of the lake will be similar. Again, the FishSpy will quickly confirm your thinking before you commit to a spot.
A breakaway lead will pick up any sediment, so you could cast the lead onto the spot, drag the rod and lead over the spot, then reel the lead in quickly to check the lead spikes for leaves or weed.
Mistaking a clear spot for one with light weed or one with silt on it when casting a rig on to it could make a huge difference as to the effectiveness of the rig. Casting a rig that mechanically lays flat onto light weed or silt could mask the rig, minimising your chances or catching, so be sure to confirm what you are casting on to.
Baiting a Gravel Bar
Gravel bars are ordinarily a couple of feet high and some can be quite steep, so getting your baited area accurate when there is a chance of the bait rolling away can sometimes be a tricky feat.
You need to approach gravel bars differently compared to silty or weedy areas.
Having your bait near to your rig is clearly the goal when bating up, so having your rig in the top of the gravel bar and all of your boilies on the bottom of the gravel bar, because they have rolled down, makes no sense.
Use Chopped Boilies
Using chopped boilies will save your bait from running away from your rig. Due to them not being round, they will tend to come to rest amongst the gravel and stay put, drawing the fish in towards your rig.
Not only will it stop the bait from rolling away, it will also keep the fish guessing as to which bait is your hook bait and which baits are your freebies, so chopped boilies will certainly increase your catch rate.
Half baits are also handy as they look like full baits, but will come to rest on the flat section of the bait.
Use Particles and Pellets
Particles and pellets are perfect for fishing on gravel bars, because not only does the bait not roll, it gets caught amongst the gravel and gets the fish grubbing around for the food.
While the fish are grubbing around, the other fish will be intrigued and start grubbing around too.
The great thing about using particles and pellets in gravel is that is can take quite a while for the fish to actually clear all of the bait away, meaning the scent of the bait will hang around for a while, which will repeatedly draw the fish in.
Spodding and Spombing
Spodding and spombing are good methods of getting the bait accurately on to the spot, although if you are allowed to use bait boats, they are the most efficient methods of getting larger amounts of bait into the lake.
Using far bank markers and line clips to get your spot each time is paramount to baiting accurately, so be sure to get some practice in during your fishing sessions.
Rig Presentation on Gravel
Leaders for Gravel Fishing
Some sections of gravel can be sharp and cause cuts or grating to your main line when you are cast out and when the fish are playing with your hook bait.
This leads to the risk of your line breaking when you hook into a fish, not only losing you the fish but also losing time due to having to tie a new rig.
To prevent this from happening, you should use some type of leader on your main line at the rig end.
I use Korda Safe Zone leaders, but you could use lead core leaders, or even tubing to prevent damage to your line.
Leads and Lead Clips
I try to lose leads when there is any weed present to save the risk of the fish burying its head, or getting snagged up, so using a lead clip system is important when there is weed in front of you.
If there isn’t much weed, or there is a minimal amount of weed, I’ll fish with an inline system so the fish comes into contact with the heavy end of the lead as soon as it picks the rig up, hopefully pulling the hook into its mouth enough to set the rig and take off.
If you use a lead clip system, the carp will likely pick the rig up and not hit the lead straight away, giving you false bleeps, or worse still, no beeps at all.
Choosing the right profile lead is equally as important. If you have a soft lake bed in front of you, you need to try and avoid using low profile leads and these will have a tendency to plug into the soft stuff. So try and get a flatter profile lead such as a flat-pear shaped lead.
If you are fishing on top of a gravel bar, you also need to consider whether the lead is going to roll down the bar if it is steep, so a flat-pear would be a better-suited lead than a distance lead.
Which Hooklinks to Use in Gravel?
Hooklinks will make a huge difference when fishing on gravel, in terms of the type of hooklink and the length of the hooklink.
You need to find out what color the lakebed is that you are fishing on, again, the FishSpy will help you do this. Finding out the color and type will help you pick a hooklink that will match the lakebed and blend in.
Checking the margins if the water is clear as this will give you an indication as to what is out in front of you.
One option if you don’t know the color of the lakebed could be the use of fluorocarbons, but again be careful when it comes to sharp stuff nicking or cutting your line.
If you know for certain that you are fishing on a clear gravel spot, using a short, but coated soft-braided hooklink would be your best choice but make sure you match the color.
Which Hooks to Use When Fishing on Gravel?
A blunt hook greatly reduces your chance of setting the hook deeply into the fish’s lip, so avoiding this should always be in the back of your mind.
This is a huge problem when fishing on gravel because when your hook lands after being cast out, and each time the rig is picked up and dropped, there is a chance that the hook point will hit the gravel or larger rocks.
Using PVA nuggets over your hook is a good method of reducing the chance of the rig going blunt.
Another method is to use a turned in hook where the hook point is less vulnerable to hitting anything on the lake bed.
Read our article about the FishSpy as I believe using one will make your life a lot easier and your fishing much more successful.
I have also written an article about mapping out your swim if you aren’t familiar with finding out what is in front of you.
I have made a lot of mistakes during my fishing sessions and don’t want you to make the same mistakes. I’ve learned the hard way over 20 years of fishing most weekends, testing, tweaking, and testing again and now want to help you excel with your carp fishing.
If you need any help, you can reach me at Fishing Again’s Facebook page