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Forget the swimfeeder

Some anglers prefer not to use a swimfeeder when swingtipping unless they really have to. The reason for this is that accurate groundbaiting is essential for success when legering for bream. They can find it easier to groundbait accurately by hand or by catapult, and easier to cast accurately with a bomb than a feeder.

With a feeder, one cast going astray can split your shoal, but if the odd cast goes astray with a bomb, no damage is done.

A selection of swingtips

Side-on or head-on?

Many anglers swingtip sitting side-on, with the rod almost parallel to the bank, saying this allows for a cleaner strike. But but Fishing stuff suggests always sitting facing the water with your rod almost straight out in front of you. This way you can spot rolling bream. As for striking, you usually strike upwards when you are float fishing, so why not do the same when swingtipping?

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Swingtipping for bream

Swingtipping is enjoying a deserved revival as more and more bream anglers realize its advantages over quivertipping.

Different links

Jack and fellow Fenland matchmen did a lot of experimenting in the early days, until finally they settled on swingtips with nylon links, which are stiff enough to prevent tangles at the rod tip when casting, yet are sensitive enough to show the slightest of bites. You'll have to scout around to find such  swingtips nowadays, because most modern ones have soft silicone rubber links that, though very sensitive, tend to make the swingtip flap about on the cast, causing tan­gles at the rod tip. You can also get moulded rubber links, which make casting easier, but they aren't as sensitive as nylon ones.

Different lengths

Length of swingtip to use depends on the type of water you're fishing. The deeper the water and the stronger the flow or tow, the longer the swingtip needs to be. So carry a selection from 25-50cm (10-20in), to cover every eventuality.

Don't let your rod sag

Ireland is a mecca for anglers in search of a haul of bream, and one of the best methods there is to swingtip over a large carpet of feed.

The right balance

The key to success, as always, is balanced tackle, from rod to line, bomb, hook length and hook.

Rods - In the days before groundbait cata­pults you rarely swingtipped more than 30m (33yd) or so out because that was about as far as you could throw groundbait by hand. Swingtip rods then were usually 9-10ft (2.7-3m) long, which was fine. Nowadays, with groundbait catapults allowing you to fish twice as far out, you need a longer rod to pick up the line on the strike - one of around lift (3.3m) or so. Make sure it has a soft, through action, to absorb the shock of striking into soft-mouthed, deep-bodied bream.

Reel, line and bombs  - Choose a good fixed-spool reel with two spare spools. Fill the spools with 21/2 lb (1.1kg), 3lb (1.4kg) and 4lb (1.8kg) line. This is the start of getting the balance right. Generally, you want to use a 1/4-1/2 oz (7-14g) bomb to 21/2 lb (1.1kg) line, 1 /2-3/4 oz (14-21g) bomb to 3lb (1.4kg) line, and a 3/4-1oz (21-28g) bomb to 4lb (1.8kg) line. Weather and water conditions and dis­tance to be cast dictate which combination to use. Always go for the lightest bomb you can get away with — but remember, it needs to be heavy enough to get your bait to the desired spot and hold its position when you tighten up.

End tackle - For the bomb link, use a slightly heavier piece of line than your reel line, to take the shock of casting. Make the link about 40cm (15in) long, so that you can twitch the bait (to tempt a bite) without shifting the bomb. Go for a longish tail - about 1.2m (4ft) -because a slow-sinking bait is more attrac­tive to bream and the longer the tail, the slower the drop after the bomb hits bottom.

Don't try to go any longer with the tail or you'll have too much line to pick up on the strike. If you're fishing a water that's not had a hammering, a juicy bunch of red worms or a pinch of bread flake on a size 10 or 12 hook can work well, with a big weight on the cards. But you need to use a 14,16,18 or 20 on most of our hard-fished waters, with smaller baits to match — three pinkies on a 20, a caster on an 18, two or three maggots or casters on a 16, or a small red worm tipped with a maggot or caster on a 14.

Ireland's rivers can be just as good for bream as her loughs. They fall to swingtipping, a method pioneered in England but used to devastating effect in Ireland over the years.

Plan of attack

Now you're tackled up, you're ready to catch some bream. Mix a small amount of groundbait and add some squatts, casters and a few chopped worms -just enough so you can still squeeze the groundbait into balls that hold together in the air.

Let's assume you're fishing a Fen drain or slow river about 30m (33yd) wide and 2.5m (8ft) deep. Attach a shortish (25-30cm/10-12in) swingtip. Position the rod rests directly in front of you but angled slightly downstream or downwind so the rod is aligned with the bow of the line. Use a smooth overhead cast with the bomb hang­ing about 1m (3ft) below the rod tip and aim some 5m (5yd) short of the far bank.

Tighten the line so the swingtip hangs at a slight angle, just clear of the water. Then, if a bream swims towards you after taking the bait, you will be able to see the swingtip drop back.

Hang fire with the groundbait for a few minutes, just in case there's a shoal of bream out there already—you don't want to scare them away before you've even started.If you haven't had any indication, put in five tangerine-sized balls — but not all down the same hole. Put the first three in a line across the back of your target area, then drop the next two slightly short, in a line towards you.The idea is that when the bream move in they hang tight to the far bank. To keep them happy, let them stay there feeding on the first three balls of feed, while you take the odd fish from over the two balls you dropped short. These are the hungry ones that can't get into the main shoal and readily accept your hookbait.

Only move into the main shoal once bites start to tail off. This is a crucial time. You must put more feed in to hold the shoal, but there's always the risk of frightening the bream away. So never overdo it at this stage. Try them with a single ball of ground-bait only. If it doesn't spook them you've cracked it, and can put one in as and when you think they want it. If bites slow after you've put one in, leave it a bit longer before the next. Your main baiting area is the far side, on a three to one ratio - three to the main area, one to the near side. But remem­ber - only ever one ball at a time.

Slabs, lumps, them what you like, slimy-sided bream are the favourite fish of the many anglers who have fallen under the spell of the sensitive swingtip.

Ring placing

Swingtips with the top ring just below the link prevent tangles when casting.

Other anglers prefer to have the top ring lower down, believing that it allows smoother casting.

On an easy water it saves time, if the edge is shallow, to scoop each bream out by hand.

On harder waters, where you have to work for your fish, take no chances and net every one.

Once you get into the pack, expect a few line bites — big, sweeping bites from fish hit­ting your line and leaving your swingtip out straight. Only through experience can you learn to distinguish liners from real bites. Even then, you still only get it right about half of the time.

The problem of liners is not the fault of the swingtip, which has one big advantage over the quivertip. Those little half-inch taps of the quivertip on hard-fished waters often mean a bream taking the bait and moving just enough to tighten the line. On feeling this, the fish drops the bait. These are the bites you can hit on the swingtip. Hold the rod in the rest and at the slightest movement, move the rod forward with the bite. Sometimes you'll be amazed how those tiny half-inch bites turn into big sailaways. When this happens you will be hooked on swingtips for life.

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The swingtip is the most sensitive bite indicator ever devised for legering, and the man we have to thank is the late Jack Clayton of Boston,
Lincolnshire, who invented it back in the 1950s. Swingtipping as we know it today hasn't changed very much since then - Jack's ingenious inven­tion has withstood the test of time.