In Search Of Italian Carp & Cats

Simon Willsmore recently fished a colourful pairs event on the River Arno in Italy – an event he managed to win in 2013. Things were much harder this time around, however, as the Drennan Team England star explains:

Simon Willsmore has plenty of experience of Italian-style competitions.

The 2014 Milo Red Tetragon is a pairs festival held on the River Arno near Pisa and an event I was really looking forward to. Myself and my mate Massimio Reggianini had actually won the event last year and so we were looking forward to defending the title and hopefully enjoying more bumper catches of catfish and carp! I was also going to be using my new Acolyte Carp pole for the trip and was really looking forward to giving it a run out!

Pegging on the Arno was much tighter due to recent floods.

Due to the bad flooding that Italy had suffered in the winter, the amount of damage to the available bank space meant that the pegging was very tight. This affected the fishing badly, plus it wasn’t fishing anywhere near as well anyway, so catches were well down on last year’s festival.

On Day One, Massimio and I caught 6.73kg between us for halfway in the section. Last year we had 65kg on the first day! On the second day we had a fairly similar 7.14kg weight for 3rd in the section. Although the weights were low we still learnt a few things.

Simon had to dramatically scale down tackle to get a bite.
Simon had to dramatically scale down tackle to get a bite.

On the first day I had started on a very heavy flat float of 30g. Our winning tactics from the previous year had been to fish overly heavy to present a very still bait on the bottom. This really helped for the better stamp of catfish we had caught.

This year, however, this didn’t work at all and it wasn’t until I changed down through the floats to a much smaller 6g model that I had a bite. I then had an indication or bite every cast!

Shallowing up to dead depth while still holding back hard increased the number of bites I was hitting and I actually ended up enjoying the day, catching three bonus carassio and about 30 cats from 2oz up to a pound and a half. Cutting out the groundbait and feeding only sticky mag was best. My size 16 Kamasan B560 hook and 0.15mm Drennan Supplex hooklength was a far cry from last year’s size 10 to 0.21mm!

This modest catch was a far cry to the 30kg+ bags recorded last year!

Similar tactics but with round-bodied floats due to the varying current worked well on Day Two for our 7kg weight. This was good enough for third in the section from peg A8, with end peg A1 and A2 coming first and second in the section.

Overall I still enjoyed the trip, even though the fishing wasn’t a patch on last year. The Acoylte Carp pole was really good and easily coped with the 20ft depths and big floats. It also felt good in the wind so I can see me using it in for a lot of different types of fishing, not just carp or commercials. I gather Drennan are hoping it will be in the shops in around a month’s time.


Congratulations to my old team mates Enrico d’Antona and Ubaldo Ruggani for winning the event with a perfect two-point score. Massimio and I ended up 14th with eight points. Roll on next year when hopefully the river is back on song!

Images courtesy of