Let me set the scene – you draw a peg with an island in front of you at 25m. It’s out of pole range, but looks perfect for a chuck on the feeder, so the first thing out of your bag is the feeder rod.
Well, that could be a big mistake! As the water starts to clear, casting a feeder into shallow water is a recipe for disaster, due to the disturbance it causes.
That doesn’t, however, mean the island is now a no-go area. You just need to change your approach.
Enter the waggler. The beauty of this tactic is that it causes a lot less disturbance and you can also work the swim a lot better.
Steve's 6 tricks for catching on the waggler
1. Insert tops - Sensitive wagglers are crucial at this time of year as they offer less resistance for spotting shy bites.
2. Use a simple rig - the tiny snap link swivel allows the float rig to ‘fold’ on the strike which helps hit more bites.
3. Long hooklengths - you’re looking to get a long, slow, natural-looking fall of your hookbait through the water.
4. Clip up - there’s nothing worse than chucking your rig into far bank vegetation and ruining your swim!
5. Vary your hookbaits - I always start on my ‘banker’ bait of double maggot and switch to pellets after I’ve fed.
6. Feeding- I don’t tend to need to feed my swims straight away as I’m casting to spots I know already hold fish.
Go light for more bites
If I were fishing to the island in the summer it would without doubt be with a short, dumpy pellet waggler.
At this time of year I need something more refined, which is where loaded, insert wagglers come into their own. Drennan Glow Tip Peacocks are a real favourite as they are easy to see in even the lowest light conditions.
I also always prefer to use loaded floats as I find they cast a lot more accurately, plus I don’t have to put big shots on the mainline which can, of course, damage it.
I attach the waggler using a snap link swivel. This means I can quickly change the float should the wind get up, plus the snap link also allows the float to fold on the strike, something I believe helps in terms of hitting bites.
To fix the snap link in place I use Guru line stops, two below the float and one above. The two below takes the impact of the cast and prevents the float moving.
Directly below the line stops I have my shot, and because the float is loaded I only need a small bulk of No8s to set the insert tip at the required level.
In terms of float size its all about using the lightest I can get away with. I like to use a light reel line too, and 4lb Guru Pulse is my favourite. This has a diameter of just 0.18mm which makes accurate casting even with a light float a whole lot easier.
How deep to fish?
You might be wondering how deep to fish – well, I always like to kick off at about 60cm.
I don’t like to plumb the depth as I feel the disturbance this creates can push fish out of the swim. I’d much rather my first cast is one with a bait on as opposed to one with a plummet!
Of course, 60cm is probably overdepth against most islands but this doesn’t worry me. Most bites tend to come on the fall so the hookbait being well away from the float is no bad thing.
I always tie 50cm hooklengths for waggler fishing. I feel this helps with presentation as it gives a slow, natural fall of the hookbait.
Line choice all depends on the size of fish. Today, on Molands at Packington, I’m looking to catch carp from 3lb to 10lb, plus some
With this in mind I have opted for 0.15mm N-Gauge – light enough to not put the F1s off while at the same time still giving me a good chance when I hook a carp.
Hook is a size 16 LWG, either eyed or spade depending on my choice of hookbait – eyed for pellets and spade for maggots.
Hitting the spot
When fishing the waggler to an island it’s all about getting your hookbait to land tight to the bank. Doing this off the cuff isn’t easy so for that reason I like to use the line clip on my reel.
The carp tend to be tight to cover at this time of year, so being accurate is all-important, as is avoiding the far-bank vegetation!
Of course, if I want to move along the bank and cast to a new spot I will simply remove line fromthe clip and re-engage only when I’m happy with where I’m casting.
Mug before feeding
Surprisingly, at the start of the session, I don’t actually like to feed, preferring to ‘mug’ a few early fish by working my way up and down the island, casting to different spots.
What I like to do once I get a bite is cast back to the same spot. Nine times out of 10, where there is one fish there will be two.
In fact you will normally get a flurry of bites once you get one in a spot before the fish move, then it’s a case of having to find them again.
I think at this point it’s important to remember that carp love islands because they offer cover, so you don’t always need to feed to try and pull them into the swim.
That said, once I have finished working my way up and down the island I will look to start feeding a few hard 6mm pellets to try and pull a few feeding fish into the area.
As a rule I will feed three to four pellets every four minutes or so, just to try and create a little bit of noise without putting loads of bait on the bottom.
I will then look to fish both on the bait and just off it. Quite often, although I am feeding a spot, I don’t actually catch there. Instead, a metre or two to the left and right can be better.
I’m sure this is because fish come to the feed but owing to the water being clear they don’t want to sit right under it.
Start on maggots…
When it comes to hookbaits I like to try and restrict it to two – maggots and 6mm hard pellets.
Corn can be deadly at this time of year but I like to try and keep things simple.
Normally I will kick off with double maggot on the hook prior to feeding, as I feel this is a better dobbing bait and is more likely to get a reaction should I drop it close enough to a fish. I will then look to switch to a hard pellet once I am feeding a few.
To me it makes sense to match the hatch by fishing on the hook the same as what I’m feeding.
When fishing the waggler tight to cover, you tend to find that most bites come on the drop, usually within 10 seconds of the float hitting the water.
For this reason it’s important to keep casting on a regular basis. Leaving the float out and waiting for bites rarely produces, in my experience.
It’s also well worth giving the float a twitch once the initial bite time has passed.
A quick turn of the reel handle will cause the hookbait to rise and fall in the water, and this little bit of movement can be all it takes to prompt a bite.