After a long winter of polefishing for F1s it was refreshing to dig my rods out again and spend some time fishing the Method feeder.
Over the past few weeks I’ve managed several Method sessions with varying degrees of success, winning one of the matches I fished, and blanking on the next trip!
That aside, I love this tactic as I enjoy spending time experimenting with mixes, pellets, colours and additives.
Many anglers are sceptical about additives in particular.
The problem is, they are looking for a miracle bait that will transform a lifeless swim, and they soon become disillusioned.
What I’m looking for, on the other hand, is an additive that over the course of a five-hour match will help me to put a couple of extra fish in the net.
The way I look at it is that if I’m fishing in a line of 30 anglers, all fishing the same pellets on the Method feeder, where’s my edge?
Yes, I can try and do it a bit better than the other 29, but when it comes to bait I’m offering the carp nothing different to everyone else.
This is where both additives and colours can make a big difference.
Pellets or groundbait?
When most anglers consider Method feeder fishing they automatically think ‘groundbait mixes’.
But in recent years many anglers have switched on to fishing softened micro pellets moulded around the feeder instead, and this has given us some huge catches.
So the million-dollar question now is – which do you use for this tactic – groundbaits or pellets?
Your choice can make a massive difference to your final result.
I can’t give a definitive answer, but what I can say is that if you are in any doubt then opt for pellets.
In the cold, pellets tend to be the better option, although that isn’t to say I won’t have groundbait with me just in case.
The fish will help you decide, and it might be a case of fishing one way for the first hour of your match and see how the fish are responding before deciding whether to make a switch.
Mixing the two
I should also mention that you can fish a mix with both pellets and groundbait. That way you are getting the best of both worlds.
I have to admit this isn’t something I do a lot, as I tend to find one is better than the other. I feel a 50-50 mix is hedging my bets rather than to trying to work out what’s best on the day.
That said, I have had a few good days mixing the two baits, but that is normally with F1s and bream rather than carp.
While there are loads of different types of pellets on the market, I always use the same ones – namely Dynamite Bait’s 2mm XL Carp Pellets.
There are a number of reasons for my choice, the main one being that they are very easy to prepare.
These pellets are relatively low in oil content, which means they soak up water really quickly, and so when it comes to adding liquids, these too are easily absorbed by the pellets.
Another advantage is they are light in colour and so they take on colourings well, allowing you to make unique baits – perfect for gaining an edge.
I’ve used a lot of groundbait over the years and there are some really good ones out there, but I stick to just two mixes now – Ringers Red Bag Up Mix, which is brilliant in summer when the water is coloured, and Dynamite Swim Stim Method Mix, which contains a lot of krill, and can be used all year round.
Guide to additives
There are hundreds of additives to choose from, and trying different flavours is half the fun. When you do stumble on something that works for you, it’s extremely satisfying.
To get the best out of bait additives, especially when using them with groundbait and pellets, you need to add them to your prepared mix. If you add them to the mixing water they end up diluted, so that a lot of attraction is lost.
All my additives are liquid-based and tend to come from the big-carp world.
These thick liquids from Mainline give my pellets a real kick in terms of attraction and also make them sticky so they stay on the feeder on long casts.
It doesn’t matter how good your pellets are if, when the feeder hits the water, they have all come off!
My favourite flavours are Tiger Nut, Activ-8 and Coconut.
Recently I have moved from Dynamite’s The Source to The Crave, and I haven’t been disappointed.
Crave has a spicy smell and seems to be an out-and-out carp attractor. I have picked up very few bream and skimmers when using it.
Mainline’s Meta-mino has a potent meaty/livery smell, and my best results with it have come in coloured water.
Carp can really home in on it, even when visibility is relatively poor.
How much should I add?
I confess there’s no science here, and I tend to add what I feel is the right amount to my bait.
I think it’s a case of adding a bit at a time until you get the result you require. This doesn’t mean pouring the whole bottle on, and with most flavours it’s a fact that less tends to be more.
The Goo Factor
I don’t think any additive has ever burst on to the match scene quite as spectacularly as Kiana Carp Goo.
When it first came out I wasn’t quite sure about it, but now I will always have a bottle or two in my bait bag.
That isn’t to say I will automatically use it from the off – rather, I see it as my ‘get out of jail card’ on hard days, and it has caught me fish enough times to gain a permanent place on my side tray.
One flavour stands out for me, and that is Tutti Frutti Power Smoke.
Tailor your flavor
When it comes to adding the Goo when fishing the Method, there are two ways in which I like to do it.
First, if I’m casting into shallow water, I will tag the Method ball with a small blob of Goo – this way the stuff is released instantly.
However, when casting into deep water of, say, 4ft or more I will seal the Goo into the pellets or groundbait on the feeder.
This is done by ‘double-skinning’ the feeder, which basically means putting two layers of bait on it.
Using a Method mould, the first layer of bait is applied to the feeder, then the Goo is blobbed on, and finally the mould is refilled with bait.
The feeder is pushed into the mould again so the second layer is added to seal the Goo in.
This way the Goo is only released once the feeder hits the deck, keeping the carp near the feeder which is just where I want them!
Colours really make a difference
In a winter match at Earlswood a while back I sat next to the winner and got totally battered! Afterwards, chatting to the angler in question, the only difference I could see between our tactics was that his pellets were a neon-orange colour, whereas I had used just plain micros.
The water was clear on the day, and looking back I’m convinced that one of the reasons he beat me was that his pellets stood out on the bottom and gave the carp something to home in on.
Since that revelation I have put a lot of thought into the colour of my pellets, and if the water is clear I will use bright colours like yellow or orange.
In coloured water, however, I’ll stick to darker colours, usually red, which gives off a very strong silhouette in the murk.
I use Tru Colour Boilie Dye from Mainline as these give me really bright, vivid pellets which are just what I’m looking for. They are very potent, so be very careful when adding them to your bait. You only need a tiny amount to colour a couple of pints of wetted-down micro pellets.