Tom Stokes - Why I Fish Heli Safes
The lead clip vs helicopter debate is an ongoing topic and each angler has their preference. Tom Stokes is an advocate Heli Safe user, banking some of the most sought after carp in the UK on them, including the Burghfield Common. Here's why he uses them, and how he sets them up ...
I have been using the Heli Safe system for over five years now. First using them in the spring of 2016 on Burghfield, with a 48lb 4oz mirror, a pb at the time, being amongst the first few fish I caught using them.
I favour a Heli Safe as they offer a safe and efficient way of dropping the lead, whilst still fishing my preferred helicopter system. I also tend to favour using big leads of 4oz or more most of the time, as I believe they are much more difficult for the fish to deal with, but a big lead swinging around during the fight can also lead to hook pulls. The chances of landing the fish you have hooked is much greater if that heavy lead is ejected on the take, and the Heli Safe achieves this perfectly.
I use them pretty much all the time as most of my angling is done using a helicopter set up, due to the weedy and often snaggy nature of the gravel pits I tend to fish. They are always on the end of my leaders, and on the odd occasions that I don't want to drop the lead for whatever reason, then I just insert the little sleeve which stops the lead ejecting, rather than taking the Heli Safes off, so they are extremely versatile.
The beauty of the Heli Safe is that you can fish them at any range, with any size lead, on a variety of bottoms and still safely eject the lead when a fish is hooked. This can often be crucial to safely land the fish, especially in weedy conditions, as the last thing you want is a big fish burying it's head in the weed with a big lead still attached. Not only will the lead make it harder to free a weeded fish, the chance of a hook pull is also much greater. As soon as a fish is hooked and pressure is put on the Heli Safe, the lead will be ejected, and with the lead ejected, the hooked fish will often rise up in the water column, away from any weed or snags which may be on the lakebed, greatly increasing the chances of landing them.
I tend to fish the Heli Safe on a fairly long length of Kable Leadcore, of around six foot most of the time, although I will drop down to three foot if I am casting a long way. The Heli Safe is spliced to the end of the leader and above that, I have a PTFE Double Ring Swivel which I will tie my rig to, creating plenty of movement and eliminating tangles. Above the running PTFE Swivel, is a no trace bead, and the distance between that bead and the Heli Safe will depend on the fishing situation. It can be easily adjusted throughout your session, depending on the lakebed you are fishing over. If it is a hard, clean drop then I may have the bead as little as an inch away from the Heli Safe, whereas if it's a softer drop, or I am casting to showing fish in unknown areas where I don’t want to lead around, then I’ll usually slide the no trace bead 6-inches or more up the leadcore. When fishing in really soft bottoms, or weed, then I may even slide the bead as far as 3 foot up the leadcore away from the lead, but that’s in rare occasions and generally, I’ll fish the bead as close to the Heli Safe as I can, and fish to a firm area I know I’ll be presented.
In weedy situations, I would often use one of the barrel shaped beads which come with the no trace bead system between the Heli Safe and the swivel. I would leave a slight gap between the two and this bead would grip the leadcore and effectively act as buffer, so if your hook snagged up on any weed etc. on the retrieve, there is a lot less chance of accidentally ejecting the lead. I even found that with nuisance fish such as tench and bream, quite often you could keep your lead, as long as you played them gently. Although these days I tend to favour using the heavyweight springs which are now provided with the Heli Safes as an alternative, as these have virtually the same effect, helping to cut down on the amount of leads lost accidentally in weedy conditions.
The whole Lead Clip vs Heli Safe generally, comes down to personal preference, but I don’t believe there’s any arguments that for all round use and guaranteed presentation, the Heli Safe comes out on top.