An in-depth interview with Ben Hamilton, where he shares some of his favoured tactics carried forward from venue to venue.
Ben Hamilton Interview // Part Two - Text Only
Q. You have been co-running Thinking Anglers for a number of years now; is coming up with new products your passion?
Yeah, who wouldn’t want to do it and work within something that you love. The main thing is to come up with new ideas, products that were not on the market before. Things like the Elasticated Tip Tops, Hook Ring Swivels and the Tungskin. Little things like the banksticks to the front of rucksacks and so on.There are lots of good companies out there that make great gear and we don’t look to copy them. We want to do out own thing and bring some cool and innovative gear to the market. I am very fortunate to work with a phenomenal team of anglers that are very gifted in what they do. It is nice to get feedback from them and because we are friends, we can give each other honest opinions on stuff. Now that we are involved with Sticky, we are hoping to push everything forward. We have loads of projects planned and I can’t wait to get running with it all.
Q. Have you had to change anything when you fish certain lakes?
I have found a rig and arrangement that just works wherever I go to be honest. I fish strong tackle, big hooks, strong 25lb Tungskin hooklinks and large hooks. I will always use a flat inline lead, to grip the bottom nicely and prevent it from rolling down the shelf. I would always use a balanced bait too; something like a corked tiger or a Krill Wafter. One of the things I have learned is to never bait too heavily either. The amount of times I have watched a couple of big fish come in and feed for ten minutes, before a couple of smaller ones then join in and grab the hookbait. I now fish with just a small amount of bait, which helps me get quicker bites. I don’t need to feed them loads to gain their confidence; I have done that with the weeks of prep work.
Q. During your first interview with CARPology (2004), they asked if you played around with rigs much. Your answer was:
“I’ve got a couple of tasty old reliable, like the Hinged Stiff Link Rig, as it does seem to nail ’em. This year I have started using a lot more braided hooklinks. I did just use nylon and I do still like nylon, but I just find I get a much better movement on the bottom with braid, it acts a bit more natural. The good thing about the nylon is once it’s in the fish’s mouth, it does tend to pull the hook home, because of the stiffness.”
Q. When anglers say ‘carp are pigs they will eat anything’, would you agree?
Naturally, they will eat all sorts. But for me, good food means everything. It is just like us, we like nice food and so do they. Liquids in particular have played a huge part in my fishing, as well as all the seeds and boilies.
I base a lot of my foods around the liquids and with the mix I use, there is so much attraction coming off it. All the seeds will take on the natural oils from the Krill Clusters and all that salty flavour of the Pure Krill liquid. I only have to tip some in the edge to see what it is all doing for me and I am so confident that fish adore it. I know they do, so it is just down to me to put it in the right place.
I would always choose quality over quantity that is for sure. Having good bait, especially when fishing for bigger fish, is just so important. With quality, your confidence levels increase dramatically. Being sure in what you are doing is working, makes you fish better.
Q. Does your approach – and by ‘approach’ I mean the bait and the way you bait, the rigs you use and the spots you seek out – Change much from venue to venue?
Not really because it is always the same. I like to find where the carp like to chill out and hold up in. I think look to create an area around that. I am always looking for the carp and then create the spot. Being a short session angler, I do pick the swims that are quiet and left alone. I don’t go for the busy swims like the ‘point’ for example. With bait, I just stick to what I know works. I have to use the best bait available and I know that the fish will eat that bait. I never have to worry about it and that is so important. I just keep track on when I have baited and when I need to do it again. A good bait put on the fish regularly is something that will work on any lake.
Q. WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE CAPTURE?
The fish from Dinton were very special to me. It was around the time my little girl was just born and I was down to one work night a week. That was a similar time to when I caught Arfur and I remember ringing my Mrs and telling her I had caught him. She gave me her congratulations bless her, before reminding me that I could come and give her and extra hand now I had done it. I wasn’t taking the mick, but I am sure people who are reading this that have children can relate to it, even one night can be too much when they are young. They are all just as special as the other, so I couldn’t really pick one to be honest. It has all been pretty good fun, so I can’t really pick and moment.
Q. What’s the longest run of blank Sessions you’ve ever had and how did you keep yourself focused?
It was on the circuit type of waters like the Car Park. You couldn’t keep on top of what you wanted to do because of the volume of anglers. I couldn’t prep areas in the way I would like and that was hard. I think as long as you have a target in your head, you can always keep going. I really wanted to catch those carp and that is what drove me on to finally do it. In the last few years on the tricky, but quieter lakes have been much easier.
Q. What has been the hardest lake that you have ever fished?
They have all been hard in their own way, but I would probably have to say the Car Park, just due to the amount of angling pressure it had. Dinton was tough when it was weedy. They seemed so catchable with no weed, but once it came up, the lake went rock hard. Sheepwalk was hard because those fish were so wild. You would have to get in and rake the spots off of all the mouldy bait. But yeah, I would say the Car Park because you can’t fish how you want to fish, just because of the volume of anglers there on a regular basis.
Q. So have your rigs, and your thought process when it comes to rigs, changed much in the 13 years that have since past?
I still use the Amnesia D for my open water fishing and the braid for the edge work. For the last 6-years I have used the Tungskin and it is so perfect. It sinks well and that supple inner is great for the end near the hook. So yes, I guess 13 years on I’m still of that opinion, the only thing that has changed is the development of certain hooklinks. With the hinge, because of the more supple braids, I sometimes use a softer section as boom for more weedy areas. That is the only difference really, other than that I still think the same as what I did back then.
Q. You’ve fished with some of the best carp anglers in the country, but who really stands out and why – what makes them that little bit more special than the rest of us?
The likes of Simon Bater and Oz Holness have that hunter instinct in them. They will move on to anything and are constantly thinking. I know lots of really good anglers, these two are very good friends and I know how they work and they do it so well. There are loads of very good anglers out there. The likes of Terry Hearn of course is so consistent. You can understand why they catch so many fish when you speak to them. Their passion, enthusiasm and drive have never dipped in all those years and that is why they catch so many. You have all the underground guys too, Steve Alcott, Tom Banks and John Holt. Most people reading this wont have even heard of them, but my word can they catch carp. I have never fished with any of them, but their catch rate on some of the hardest lakes around is staggering. There are loads out there, but the ones that fish the type of lakes that I do and the angling that I believe in. I am trying not to offend anyone, as I know loads of them and then there are people that I don’t know but they catch so many carp. Dave Lane and Darrel Peck still consistently catch too. Boy, I have gone off on one and named quite a few there!
Q. What about unknown whackers, such as The Black Mirror, do they exist now?
I am sure there are some giants out there somewhere. Lakes like the reserves, trout fisheries and so on. Look at Sonning, since the eye it hasn’t been fished heavily. It is 300 acres of water and anything could turn up one day. There are loads of places that have potential, which is exciting to think really. There are loads of pits down here that never get fished, but could quite easily hold a big carp in it.