Pellets – the perfect fishing feed and bait

Pellets were originally created as an animal foodstuff or as a feed for stocked fish. The pellets were used to ensure that the animals and fish gained substantial weight prior to being sold to market. But anglers have latched on to these protein-packed food morsels and have discovered just how good they can be for attracting quality fish like carp, tench, bream, catfish, barbell and chubinto their swim.

They are produced by extruding. Basically the raw ingredients such as fishmeal and vegetable matter are mixed and forced through small tubes (called extrusion). This creates a sausage-like tube of the mix. This is then heated with steam to harden the mix. The final stage it to cut the cooked mix into the desired length. And that’s how they make pellets.

Luckily for all you carp, barbel, chub and catfish anglers out there, the large 21mm and larger halibut pellets needed another heat source to ensure that the centre of the pellets were cooked and harden. The only way this could be done was to force steam into the middle of the pellet, and that’s why some larger pellets were already supplied with a perfect hole in the centre that was ideal for a hair rig to be inserted. Perfect!

What do pellets do?

Basically, pellets are nothing more than compressed parcels of groundbait. Once submerged they will begin to break down and if they are left long enough they will form a carpet of fine mush on the bottom of the lake.

Some pellets take a lot longer to breakdown than others. Tiny 1mm pellets will take a few minutes before they turn to mush, while rock-hard 21mm halibut pellets will take weeks to fully break down.

As they are breaking down, the skin of the pellet will slowly begin to dissolve and if there is the slightest undertow in the lake the scent of the dissolving particles will travel through the water, triggering the fish to follow the scent and ultimately persuade them to pick up the bait, or mooch through the dissolved pellet particles looking for food.

Which pellet to use


We do have a large choice of different pellets available for us to try, from tiny 1mm micro pellets (smaller than a match head) to massive 21mm-plus pellets, so choosing the right one can be a little bit difficult sometimes.

Micro pellets are impossible to hook – they are designed to break down in the water really quickly and create a soft, highly-scented carpet of attractant that will pull fish right to your hookbait. Pellets from 4mm upwards are hookable, but they are also ideal as loosefeed too.

Halibut pellets – those rock hard, very oily, almost black pellets – are best used for either long-term sessions where it’s best to prime a swim and wait for those bigger fish to come along, or used as hookbait. These pellets are way too hard to be side hooked so the smaller pellets will have to be locked alongside the hook using a pellet band, while the largest halibut pellets should be drilled and then hair-rigged.

Expander pellets are another type of pellet favoured by match and pleasure anglers. Most expander pellets float when they are taken straight out of the bag, so they are perfect as a loosefeed when floater fishing. But to use them on the hook for the likes of bream, tench and carp, you will need to prepare them correctly.

To do this you will need a pellet pump.

All other pellets of a size large enough to be used as a hookbait will need to be attached to the side of your hook using a bait band. Alternatively they can be Superglued to the back of a hair. 


Supergluing pellets

Gluing two pellets together around a hair is a great way to present a bait to the likes of barbel, chub and carp. All you need is a hair rig, some Superglue and two pellets that have perfectly flat sides.

Take a pellet and add a drop of Superglue to one of its flat sides. Lay the hair across the glue. Now squeeze the second pellet onto the glue and hold securely until the pellets stick firmly and the hair becomes trapped.

Drilling pellets


This is a technique favoured among catfish, carp and barbel anglers seeking to catch really big fish. They use giant halibut pellets for this technique.

You will need a drill bit or a bait drill, a hair rig, some bait stops and your large halibut pellet.

Take the halibut pellet and hold it securely by the flat sides. Push the drill into the centre of the pellets and begin twisting the drill to form a hole. Gently but firmly continue twisting the drill to deepen the hole. Do not be tempted to force the drill through the bait as you will only crack the bait.

Once the drill passes right through the bait you will be able to pull your hair rig through the hole, using a baiting needle, and lock the pellet in place using a row of three bait stops. One bait stop may not be large enough to hold the pellet in place.