Coarse fishing with maggot baits

Maggots are a really versatile fishing bait that can catch almost any British coarse fish – all you need to do is present them correctly and you’re onto a winner.

You can fish maggots on the bottom of the river, lake or canal. You can even fish maggots on the surface – and at any depth in between.

All you need is a little know-how and the right shotting pattern and you’ll soon see your float go under, your tip go round, or your indicator rise..

Hooking maggots

There is an old saying that you must follow when hooking maggots, or any bait, and that is to match the size of the hook to the size of the bait. I mean, would you stick a single maggot onto a size four hook? No, you wouldn’t, because that’s stupid!

Always hook the maggot blunt end first, and use the sharpest hook you can find. The maggot mustn’t burst when you pass the hook through the flattened part of the skin – the hook should just lightly nick the skin. If it does burst, do it again with a fresh bait.

If you intend using more than one maggot on your hook, keep hooking the baits in the blunt end so they sit next to each other perfectly.


Stopping line spin

Double, triple or quadruple maggots placed upon a hook can cause anglers problems because that bait isn’t very aerodynamic. It will spin through the water when it is retrieved quickly, and that spinning of the bait will cause the hooklength to spin too.

If you are using a fine hooklength there is a chance that it will become kinked and damaged, therefore weakened. One way to prevent this is to use a micro swivel between your hooklength and your mainline. These take the pressure out of the spinning hooklength ensuring that it remains kink-free and strong at all times.

The best knot to use to tie a micro swivel onto your rig is the Grinner knot.

Making maggots float


It is possible to make maggots float very easily. Doing this will allow you to use your maggots a whole lot more effectively given the required circumstances.

You could fish a bunch of wriggling floating maggots on the surface, you could slow the maggot down as it falls through the depths, or you could pop a bunch of maggots up above weed or a Method feeder if you know how to make maggots float.

All you need is a spare bait box and a spare lid. Firstly, cut a large square in the bait box lid large enough for you to get your hand in, but there needs to be enough of the bait box lid remaining to create a large lip. This will prevent the wet maggots from escaping, as they become excellent climbers when they are wet.

Tip enough water into the bait box to cover the base – you only need to cover it with a couple of millimetres of water that’s all. Now add a handful of maggots and let them wriggle around in the water for 20 to 30 minutes.

Their survival instinct forces them to take onboard enough air to ensure they don’t drown, therefore the maggots become buoyant and they will now float. Simple!

Using dead maggots on commercials


Did you know that in some circumstances dead maggots can actually be better than live maggots? Live maggots will sink to the bottom and wriggle away into the silt, making it difficult for the fish to find them. The solution is to kill the maggots and then they won’t be able to hide!

This is a particularly useful technique to try when fishing commercial coarse fisheries as these tend to be weed free on the bottom but often very silty.

To get a load of dead maggots for feeding simply pour half a pint into a polythene bag, squeeze the air out and tie the neck up. Now place them in the freezer for a day. The cold will kill them off, but don’t put more than half-a-pint in each bag as the ones in the middle will remain warm enough to stay alive.

A quick way to get a handful of dead maggots for hookbaits while your at your swim is to pour a little hot tea or coffee over a few. That will scald them and they will stiffen and die.

Flavouring maggots

Maggots can be flavoured if you wish to add a little extra pulling power to your bait. This can be done by adding either a liquid flavouring or a powdered flavouring.

When you are adding a liquid additive riddle your baits first to remove any maize, dead maggots or sawdust and sprinkle on the desired amount of flavouring as per the instructions. Don’t overload the flavour as you will only do more harm than good. And you could potentially kill the maggots that you need to keep alive.

If you choose to flavour your maggots with a powder you will also need to riddle the baits and then add the flavouring. You can add quite a lot of powder flavour and a couple of great ones to try are Brasem (great for bream) and turmeric (great for roach and chub).