Five amazing worm tips


There are few more natural baits than a worm, and they will catch every fish that swims, on all venues. 

I’ve caught bream on a gin-clear Irish river and 300lb of big carp from the edge on them, but there’s a lot more to fishing with worms than just chopping them up and sticking one on the hook. Here are my five top worm tips, no matter where you’re fishing this week…


1) Two ways to hook them

How you hook a worm can vary depending on the fish you’re after, and I have two main ways when fishing a commercial water. For carp, I take the whole worm and nick it through the head. This gives a better hookhold should I strike and miss a bite. For skimmers, barbel and ide, though, I will cut a worm in half and then hook it through the middle, allowing the juices to leak out.


2) Redworms rule for bream

We all know bream love worms and that a dendra is a good bait, but they really love redworms too. These tiny worms don’t look much but they have great pulling power, even for the biggest of fish. On a big natural lake when fishing the feeder I’d use two redworms. I’d hook one and then push it up the hook shank before hooking the second, leaving it resting on the bend to allow the maximum amount of hookpoint to show.


3) How fine to chop?

Chopped worm is a brilliant feed, but how long you spend with the scissors depends on the size of fish you are aiming to catch.
Big carp and tench need only a rough chop with the scissors to create larger pieces, but the opposite applies for small skimmers and roach. In this instance I will chop the worms almost into a ‘soup’ of finely-minced pieces.


4) Create a worm cloud

Chopped worm and caster isn’t just good for fishing on the bottom – it can be deadly when targeting carp and F1s up in the water. In this situation, don’t throw away the soil that the worms come in, as this will help you create a super fish-attracting cloud. I riddle the soil off but keep it to hand and then chop the worms. The soil goes through the riddle to remove any big lumps and is then added back to the worms. Throw in some casters and you’ve got a super slop to feed with a small pot on the pole.


5) Big baits for the edge

If you’re after the bigger carp when fishing the margins on a commercial, big baits really are best – and that certainly applies to worms. One dendra is not big enough and while two are good, I would have no qualms about fishing three whole worms on a large size 12 hook. This is a real mouthful that smaller fish will struggle to take, but a double-figure carp will gulp it down without a second thought.

How to elasticate a pole top kit

Elasticating your pole top kit can be quite a daunting task especially if it is the first time of doing it. Well you need not to worry any longer as we have a very simple step-by-step guide for you to follow that will allow you to elasticate your top kit in no time. 

First, cut back the tip section of the pole a few inches at a time with a hacksaw until the PTFE bush fits snugly. Smooth the cut edge with sandpaper.

Now fit the PTFE bush. Some people like to use glue to achieve a permanent bond.

Slot the pole bung into the top kit and cut back the excess bung sticking out of the section, leaving enough space for the next section to fit.

Thread elastic through the top kit and tie off the bung end with figure-of-eight knot. Replace the bung and pull it tightly into place via the elastic.

The easiest rig connector is a plastic Stonfo, but some anglers like Dacron connectors or a figure-of-eight crow’s foot knot with trimmed-off ends.

What is the right sized reel?

In the market for a new reel but get confused by all of the reel sizes available then make sure that you read this whole article as angling legend Tommy Pickering will be explaining what each fishing reel size does and what is best for your style of angling. 

When it comes to purchasing a new float or feeder rod there is every chance you will spend hours scouring the internet looking at the pros and cons of various aspects of each product.

It is sensible to put tackle under scrutiny to see whether it is right for the job in hand, but why people never give their reel choice the same treatment is beyond me.

I see lots of anglers using reels that are completely unsuited to the type of fishing they are doing. I’m going to look at the three key reel sizes and explain when they should come into play.


3000 size – This size reel is ideal when fishing small commercials where a short cast is all that is required. A small 3000 reel won’t help you cast long distances but is perfect for chucks of 30m or less. I will use this when fishing tactics such as the waggler, and will have a maximum of 5lb mainline on the spool.


4000 size – If you need to chuck up to 40m when using a tactic such as the Method or groundbait feeder then step up to a 4000 size reel. When you are reeling in feeders or floats from any distance you need a reel that has a little more power to retrieve them quickly, and this does just that. As a simple rule of thumb I will use 6lb or 8lb mainline on the spool.


5000 size – When a long chuck is required a big reel must be used to hit the distance, and a 5000 size usually comes into play when I am after bream at range on the feeder. For this type of fishing I will use 5lb mainline with an 8lb shockleader that is double the length of the rod to stop me cracking off on the cast. If I used heavier mainline on the spool I would not be able to cast the required distance, as thicker diameter line hinders big chucks.

40 of the best river fishing tips

Do you want more bites from your local river? Then you may want to give this, list of the 40 best river fishing tips a read. As it will most likely increase your chances of catching next time you are out on the bank, fishing your local river or stream. These 40 fishing tips for the rivers are guaranteed to help you outwit your target species and hopefully land yourself a new PB. 


Barbel have a reputation for giving savage bites but that isn’t how every indication will pan out. On heavily pressured waters the fish are more cautious when feeding and the slightest knock on the rod tip could indicate a big fish has tentatively picked up the hookbait.


Locating features is crucial when tracking down river carp. Everything from bridges to overhanging bushes are worth a look because these can trap food and form natural larders.


Prebaiting is key when targeting carp on running water. They can travel large distances in a short time so introduce bait on a regular basis in the run up to your session.


Where the fish feed in the column dictates how you feed for roach. If fish are up in the water catapult maggots and casters. If they are on the deck, feed these baits inside balls of groundbait to get them to the bottom.


If breambites suddenly stop the shoal may have backed off the main feed.  Chuck a couple of feet further to relocate fish.


Keep the bait still when bream fishing. When pole fishing on a pacey river, this can mean fishing as much as a foot overdepth.


Use a bulk of shot and droppers to fish maggot or pinkie over groundbait for roach, switching to a strung out pattern with hemp.


Fenland drains are home to giant rudd in a handful of swims. Walk the banks of your local stretch wearing polarised sunglasses as they will often give themselves away by feeding on insects.


Take several pints of maggots when chub fishing. Constant feeding is vital – even if you are not getting bites. The rain of bait falling through the water will eventually tease chub into feeding.


Float fished livebaits are deadly for big perch. Constantly feed maggots over the top to draw in even more bait fish and a potential personal best won’t be far away.


Weather will play a huge part in whether you will have success with river bream. Warm and overcast is ideal but avoid bright sunshine and little cloud cover.


Groundbait is rarely used for predators but a few balls of fishmeal groundbait laced with chopped up pieces of fish can give you an edge when sport is slow.


Alloy stick floats are buoyant and best in turbulent water, glass is lightweight and will give a really slow fall of the hookbait and a shouldered lignum is easily lifted to move hookbait.


Chub feed in pretty much any conditions but in coloured water you will need a smelly bait to draw the fish in. Halibut pellets and paste work well but cheesepaste is the ultimate bait. 


Rivers will run clear after long periods without rain and this is when bread starts to work well. Fill a feeder with liquidised bread and hook a large flake for chub and quality roach.


Big chub will always seek cover but the best features are not always the ones that you can see at first glance. Undercut banks are magnets for these finicky specimens. While taking great care, lay on the bank at a likely spot and place your hand into the water and feel whether the bank is undercut. 


Roach bites can be hard to hit but keeping a tight line between pole tip and float willimprove your conversion rate. Add a No.8 backshot between tip and float to guarantee a tight line.


If you get a run of bites on a feeder but the action suddenly stops it can pay to have a few chucks on a bomb rig. Making the simple switch could encourage them to feed confidently.


If you are on a huge shoal of silverfish it is important to concentrate them in one zone. Fish one swim or you will split the shoal and that will lead to fewer bites and a smaller stamp of fish.


A wobbled deadbait can fool pike but it is important how you retrieve it. Reel it in slowly, jerking the rod from time to time, and this will imitate injured fish that the pike often feast upon.


Worms, maggots and casters are often the first port of call for bream but these can lead to a plague of small roach and perch. Use 14mm or 16mm boilies to deter the tiddlers.


The area between fast and slow water is the crease. Trot a stick float feeding maggots.


Chub on some days may want tiny baits. swap paste or pellets for one or two maggots. 


For bigger roach and chub use a loaded waggler with no shot for a slow hookbait fall. 


Big barbel can be finicky and the slightest mistake could send a potential pb packing.  To prevent them detecting a rig, pin the mainline to the deck by using back leads.


River carp aren’t heavily pressured so use simple set-ups and strong hooklinks.


Lures are deadly for perch. A shallow-diving pattern with neutral buoyancy is best now.


Feed via a catapult for roach and drop the odd pouch short. If you miss a bite, run float over it. 


Groundbait is a real winner for bream but the type of mix you use needs careful consideration. Make sure that it is high in fishmeal and always mix it so that it is fairly heavy and sticky. This will make sure it doesn’t get washed out the swim by the current.


Use a 14ft rod for the stick so you can keep in touch with float and work the swim.


A tiny hook isn’t critical for big roach. The most important thing is that the point is showing.


Log pike sessions, noting weather, wind direction and time of catches, to see trends.



Heavily pressured swims very rarely hold quality chub so it is best to head off the beaten track to find a new personal best. Walking to spots that are well away from car parks and access areas is often the best way to find these elusive lumps.


River barbel stocks are growing but aim for well oxygenated fast water such as weir pools.


When looking for big perch locating a shoal of fry should be a priority. Predators will be close.


Look for areas of river where the water widens a little when fishing for bream. The species tend to sit in deep and wider areas of water, well away from any weed or cover.


Enhance luncheon meat with a pungent flavour such as chilli powder or garlic salt for barbel.


Quick after-work sessions are often ideal for chub as this is the time of day when they feed most confidently. The water will have been exposed to sunlight all day so it will be at its warmest, triggering the fish to search for food to maintain their energy levels.


The hooklink can be the difference between success and failure. Start with a 3ft link and vary it. If you are getting lots of taps but no proper bites, reduce it by a foot as fish are feeding closer to the feeder. If there are no bites, lengthen it as fish could be sat just off your zone.


Prebaiting will get fish into a swim. Small pellets, hemp and casters keep them there.

How to fish shallow with Steve Ringer

Want to have an edge on commercials? then follow these great fishing tips from top match angler Steve Ringer as he guides us through the steps he takes when fishing shallow. 

Get on a Jigga rig

A Jigga float is a dibber-style float with a tube running through it. It runs freely up and down the mainline, resting only on a float stop set 4ins from the hook.

As you lower the rig in, the float stays on the surface and the hookbait falls through the water as you lower the pole-tip down.

The depth at which you fish is controlled by how high or low you have the pole-tip from the water. This way you are covering a lot more levels in the water, and if a fish sucks the hookbait in it simply hooks itself against the top of the pole, due to the tight line between pole-tip and hookbait. 

The float never moves and the first you will know of a bite is when the fish hooks itself and elastic streams from the top of the pole – there’s no striking and missing bites.

Try banded casters

Hair-rigged casters are deadly for catching F1s shallow, but how do you hair-rig a caster without crushing it? 

The trick is to use a bait band, and it’s a case of pushing the caster inside the band so it grips the bait and holds it in place.

You’ll find that the bait is tougher than you think when set up this way, and quite often I can catch five or six fish without having to change the hookbait.

As the caster falls side-on through the water at the same pace as the loose offerings, it appears more natural, and this can make a big difference with F1s.

Choose the right floats

I choose between two rigs for shallow fishing. In swims 12ins deep or less I will use an MW Cookie, a short dibber-style pattern which is ideal for fishing extremely shallow.

If I want to fish a bit deeper, from 12ins to 2ft, my float choice will be a 0.1g KC Carpa Ape. The wire stem and nylon bristle of this pattern offer more stability, making this float more suitable for fishing that little bit deeper.

Be positive with shotting 

When fishing at 12ins or less I don’t have any shot down the line so I get a slow fall of the hookbait. However, from time to time missed bites can be a problem and then I will fish a little bulk of four No 11s set 4ins from the hook to make the rig a lot more positive.

From 18ins-2ft I fish with six No 11s down the line. These are strung out, with the bottom shot 4ins from the hook and the rest spaced above at 1ins intervals.

fish Short hooklengths

For most of my shallow fishing I’m targeting carp in the 3lb-8lb bracket, so my mainline is 0.17mm Guru N-Gauge to a 4ins hooklength of 0.15mm.

When fishing shallow I always like to use a short hooklength. This allows me to make the rig more positive, should the need arise, by putting a shot near the hook without having to put it on the hooklength itself.

Check out what the perfect hooklength is here

hair-rig your baits

I use an eyed hook for shallow fishing so I can present the bait on a hair with the use of a band. The hookbait falls naturally through the water and the whole hook is free, so nothing hinders a decent hookhold.

My hook choice depends on the bait I’m fishing but, for example, if I’m fishing hard pellets I will use either a size 16 or 18 eyed LWG. If it’s solid with fish and I’m bagging I’ll use a size 16.

Make a noise

Making a noise when fishing shallow draws fish into your swim. Tapping your pole-tip on the surface mimics the sound of bait hitting the water, and when fish arrive, the only bait there is your hookbait. Bites will be positive.

Slapping your rig in is another deadly trick, and I will do this three or four times to create maxium surface noise. Not all fisheries allow slapping, however, so check with yours before you go ahead and give it a go.

long line for wary carp 

A little trick I use a lot when fishing shallow is to set up a long line rig which I can use for flicking past my feed. There are two advantages to this – first, I can use it to pick off any wary fish that are sitting at the back of my feed.

This is something that happens a lot as a session progresses and a few fish have been caught. The rest can quickly become cagey and back away from both the pole waving about above them and the loosefeed itself.

All you need is a relatively short float which takes plenty of weight –something like a 4x14 – and I will have up to 5ft of line between the pole float and pole-tip.

This allows me to cover a much bigger area than would be the case with a standard short line rig.

Use a softer elastic

For me there’s only one elastic for shallow fishing, and that’s White Hydro. 

It’s very soft and extremely forgiving, and when fishing it with a puller kit I can land pretty much anything on it, from a 1lb skimmer to a 10lb carp.

Being initially soft, White Hydro has the benefit of allowing me to lift into a fish and then, while the elastic is doing the work, I can still feed the swim until the fish slows down and I can start to ship back.

Another advantage is that if I’m catching big skimmers or even F1s the softness of White Hydro means they don’t splash all over the surface, something that can spook the other fish in the swim.

try feeding casters

All species love casters, and they make a brilliant fish-attracting noise as they hit the surface of the water. 

The only real downside to fishing casters shallow is the quantity required, as you need at least four pints to do it properly – you will have to feed off any small fish first in order to bring the carp into the swim.

Once the carp arrive, though, there is no better bait for holding them than casters.

big baits bring more bites

There’s nothing more frustrating than being able to see carp in the edge and then not be able to catch them. This is where big ‘target baits’ such as 10-12 dead red maggots really come into their own.

If you think about it, there are going to be lots of maggots on the bottom so if I fish just two or three on the hook it’s going to take a while for a carp to find them. Fish a bunch, however, and bites can be instant!

Hard pellets – keep feeding!

When not a lot is happening I try to draw a few fish into the swim by making a noise with hard pellets. I ping in three or four 6mm or 8mm pellets on top of the float every 20 seconds.

Carp will home in on the noise, but I’m not putting lots of bait on the bottom and risking killing the swim by feeding too much.

Blow up your pellets

A few years back, while I was packing up, I noticed a few hard pellets had fallen under my seatbox and had taken on so much water they were almost twice the size and looked as though they’d been on the bottom for a while. 

I decided to pump some hard 8mm pellets and leave them in water so that they ‘blew up’ into massive, soft pellets and it was staggering how many bites I got on them – try it!

red meat

I love fishing meat, and nine times out of 10 I like to use it straight out of the tin –but when the water is coloured you need to switch to red cubes instead.

These cubes offer a strong silhouette and give the carp a bait they can really home in on.

I use Ringers Red Liquid to dye my cubes, but I will only dye my hookbait meat and not the cubes I’m using for feeding the swim.

Dumping in hemp

One way to prevent the foul-hooking of carp when fishing meat close in is to feed heavily with hemp. At the start I will pot in two-thirds of a large 250ml Drennan pot of hemp alone to form a bed. 

Then, if I start to catch a few fish and begin to foul-hook the odd one, I will simply introduce another big pot of hemp to settle them back down again.

Pack in the particles

The secret to building a big weight of bream is to use as many particles – such as casters, pellets, and chopped worms – as you can cram into your groundbait.

Pile in the particles in the first hour then, when the bream turn up (which is ideally about 90 minutes into my session), I’ll have a lot more bait on the bottom than those around me and can hold the bream in the swim for much longer as a result. 

heavy feed close in

While most people use the margins as a ‘get out of jail card’ late in a match, I like to fish short on a top kit.

I lash in up to three handfuls of hemp, corn and meat to create the impression of someone packing up, then go straight in over the top. Quite often I will get a quick response. Keep lashing the bait in to try and make something happen and draw the fish in.

two are better than one

Sweetcorn is a fantastic hookbait, and I always find that two grains are better than one.

Loads of times I have caught on corn and alternated between single and double on the hook, only to find that two grains consistently produced quicker bites and bigger fish.

I think this is because the bigger bait stands out over the loose offerings and that two grains are treated with less suspicion than one.

Stand out or blend in?

There are two types of baits you can use on the Method feeder – blend in and stand out.

Blend in baits are those such as hard pellets that match the pellets on the feeder. When the fishing is hard and the fish are picky they can be fooled into thinking it’s a safe meal.

If there are loads of fish in the swim then stand out baits such as mini fluoro boilies or bread really come into their own. 

These work because they are highly visible and give carp something they can home in on.

Double cut your meat

A great trick for shallow water is to make a cloudy chopped meat mix. I pass around a third of my 6mm meat cubes back through the cutter, giving myself a feed made up of all different sized pieces of meat which, when fed, almost explode on the water’s surface.

Add a few 6mm cubes to your feed and once the fish arrive they will follow the 6mm cubes down to the bottom, where you can catch them.

20 fishing tips that will help you think more like a fish

Martin bowler walks us through his top 20 summer fishing tips to help you get to know your quarry and think more like a fish to help you catch more when on the bank. 

Summer is an exciting time to be an angler. The rivers are open, most species will be feeding, and you can choose your quarry and adapt your approach accordingly.

Of course, there’s always something you can do to improve matters if your session isn’t working out quite as planned. Clear water can be a problem on rivers, for example, while hot weather can see lake carp seemingly uninterested in feeding while basking at the surface. 

There are always solutions to every angling problem, though, and this week my aim is to help you make the most of your summer sport. Some of the tips I offer here are quite basic, while others require you to think outside the box and put yourself in the place of the fish...

Polarised sunglasses

Buy yourself a good quality pair of polarised glasses to assist you with fish location.  In bright conditions grey is best, if it’s dull go for yellow, while the top all-round colour is brown. Finding your quarry is the most important aspect of angling, in fact more so than any tip, bait or rig.

If you want to grab yourself a pair of polarised sunglasses then check out our buyers guide here

Get up early

Either arrive just before daybreak or sit outside your bivvy at the best time to see any fish showing. Finding the location of your quarry is much easier at dawn when fish rolling or jumping, or bubbles breaking the surface, are likely to give their presence away.

Assess the water 

You can only catch what’s in front of you. Specimen fish don’t live in every venue, so be clinical with your assessments. In my experience angling myths very rarely become reality. They are just that – myths!

Pick the battles you can win!

Assess the venue’s potential against angling pressure. If time is limited, one with fewer big fish but receiving less angling pressure can be the better option.

Know your species

Try to understand your quarry, because every species of fish behaves differently. For example, carp don’t like disturbance and so I leave my baits in place at daybreak.  Tench, however, are much more likely to investigate a recast or a fresh bout of spombing, so I always carry out these tasks at dawn.

Look to the sea

Take a carp rod with you on your coastal holiday. Bream, bass, pollack and wrasse are all catchable on lures or bait for minimal additional outlay.

Hire a skipper

Book a charter boat to go sea fishing this summer but realise, as with any other form of fishing, that there are good, bad and indifferent anglers or, in this case, skippers. Use social media to investigate a boat’s potential, find a good one and it will be a great day out.


Use fishmeal

In summer, when the fish are still recovering from spawning, most species adore fishmeal and its high oil content. Be it pellet, boilie or groundbait you won’t go too far wrong with this food source.

Lure them out on the feeder

Give the Method feeder a go for barbel. It’s a great way of baiting the swim without the need for PVA. Combine this with a short hooklength when they’re feeding aggressively, or go longer if bites prove hard to come by.

Think about the weather

If it rains the the rivers start to rise or colour up in summer, go barbel fishing. such conditions are sure to trigger them into feeding 

Take your time

In margins over 12ft deep try a slider float and you will catch more than on the lead. The most crucial aspect of this type of fishing is plumbing up, so take your time to guarantee the hookbait is just kissing the bottom.

Give your groundbait a boost

When preparing groundbait, add any liquids to water used to dampen it, not directly on to the dry mix. This will guarantee even distribution.

Overcome suspicious fish

Wary barbel will look out for your hook when feeding and ignore the attached bait if they spot it. To overcome this in clear water I fish half a boilie on a short hair. The flat side falls over the metalwork like a cup, concealing it from view.

Don't leave it to luck

For a big bag of tench, rake the swim the night before fishing, and prebait. Luck alone is never to be trusted, but effort will pay off.

Visit your local tackle shop

Slightly better deals might be available on the Internet, but who will supply your fresh bait? Nobody knows the local waters better than your local tackle dealer, so give him your custom.

Move around 

For summer chub, roaming the river with a gallon of maggots and a trotting set-up takes some beating. Find a shoal and then feed on a ‘little and often’ basis until you see their white mouths working in overdrive. The catching part is very simple by comparison.

Don't forget the roach

River roach populations are on their way back to healthy levels, and weir pools are the place to look for them in summer, when there is extra oxygen in the water. This is especially true at the start of the season.

Go mini

Bread, corn and caster all have their place in roach fishing, but don’t ignore mini boilies and pellets too, even on the rivers. They’re small fish-proof, and roach adore them.

Don't sit still

Don’t just sit there when things are quiet, as you can almost always win a bite. For example, sometimes carp aren’t interested in feeding on the bottom, so why not try a zig rig (above)or a floater? It always pays to have a back-up plan, be it a tactical change or baiting up another spot.

Try something new this summer

From a trout in a reservoir to a mullet in an estuary, most options are open to everyone and relatively cheap to put into action. We are very fortunate to live in a country packed full of angling opportunities, so do make the most of them.

15 fishing tips for bigger river catches

With the river season well underway we have put together a list with the help of top river angler Dave Harrell, of the top 15 fishing tips to try this coming weekend.

If you’ve not ventured out on to running water yet, do yourself a favour and do so this weekend, you won’t be disappointed, I promise you. 


'The best thing that ever happened for the pleasure angler' is how i'd describe the use of pellets fished through a swim feeder. Hair-rig an 8mm halibut pellet and put 4mm offerings through a swimfeeder. Hair-rig an 8mm halibut pellet and put 4mm offerings through a blackened feeder, and if there's a barbel in the vicinity it will soon show interest. 


One of my favourite summer approaches for roach is the use of hemp and tares. It's a really cheap way of fishing as you don't need much of either. Just feed six to 10 grains of hemp and the odd tare, then present a single tare just off the bottom with a lightly shotted pole rig, and you'll soon be putting redefines in the net.


Too many anglers walk past fast-flowing shallow swims where there arnt many fish at this time of year.As long as you can find 3ft of water or more, there’s a good chance that the swim will hold chub and barbel, so don’t ignore swims just because they are fast. 


In the same way that halibut pellets are good for catching barbel, fishmeal pellets make a great feed and hookbait for chub. On rivers where there are a lot of chub present, feed with 6mm pellets and use a banded 8mm pellets on the hook. On more difficult waters, feed 4mm pellets and use a banded 6mm pellet on the hook. You don’t need to feed loads – a pint or two will normally be ample.

Break out the long Pole

Long poles have made fishing for silver fish much easier than it ever used to be on some of our slower-moving rivers. Try using light strung-out rigs and, as a rough guide, use 0.10g for every foot of water. A swim that is 4ft deep should therefore be tackled with a 0.40g float. Use No8 shot in the main, with a No9 or a No10 as your bottom shot, positioned around 6ins to 10ins above the hook.

Don't Fish Too Light

If big fish are your target, it can sometimes pay to go for them with pole gear but make sure everything is strong enough to cope with fish such as barbel. For me, that means 0.20mm to 0.23mm rig lines and hooklengths just a little bit thinner than that. Feed the swim either with groundbait via a pole cup or with a bait dropper.

Try A Float For Barbel

Floatfishing for barbel is so exciting, and if you’ve never done it, I would urge you to do so this summer. Keep things simple and use 6lb-8lb mainlines, Truncheon Wagglers or Balsa Missiles and strong hooks from size 14 to 10. A bunch of maggots fished over loosefeed of casters and hemp will soon get fish feeding if they’re in your swim. Try to find swims from 4ft-6ft deep, either running up to or away from fords, and there’s a good chance barbel will be present.

Dig Out A Crumb Feeder

While they don’t fight as hard as barbel, I love catching big bream with a groundbait feeder approach. It’s possible to put together some huge weights when there is colour in the water. Use casters and chopped worms through the feeder with worms on the hook. A 3ft tail that is lighter than your mainline is essential in case of snags.

Catch Perch On Worms

Most of the rivers now hold very good stocks of perch, and they're a great fish of target with both running line and pole gear. If the flow is slight, feed the swim by hand but if there is any pace, a bait dropper works better. Feed a combination of casters, hemp and chopped worm with worms on the hook. 

Experiment With Tall Lengths

This is an area of river feeder fishing where I think a lot of anglers miss out on getting better catches by not changing anything. While 2ft 6ins-3ft is often a very good starting point, try shorter tails if you’re missing bites and go much longer, up to 5ft or 6ft, if you’re not getting any bites at all. 

Shallow Up For Chub

A lot of anglers miss out on good chub catches in deep water by setting the rig too deep and not feeing frequently enough. I've had some really big catches fishing just 3ft to 4ft in 12ft of water but the only way you can make is work is by feeding every few seconds with a catapult.Keep busy and if there are chub in the area, you will soon find out!

Master The Bold 

I won the first-ever match in this country on Bolo gear, 25 years ago on the Severn with a 24lb catch of roach. Back then we all thought you had to use a long telescopic rod, but while these still play a big part, there are days when you can use very light Bolo rigs in conjunction with 13ft and 14ft rods for good catches. This is a fantastic way to present your hookbait if the conditions are favourable. 

Ball It In For Silvers!

A big groundbait bombardment at the start of a session when there are a lot of roach or skimmers present can often be the best approach. Try putting in six to 10 balls to begin with and then fish over it with a bulk-shotted pole rig. My favourite mix for this is a 50/50 blend of Pro Natural and Pro Natural Extra, with a little soil added for weight. 

Try Hollow Elastics

It took me a while to get into hollow elastics for river fishing but I’m totally sold on them now, especially in situations where bigger fish play a part in winning catches. I use Daiwa Hydrolastic in black, grey and white for big fish and yellow, pink and blue for the smaller ones.  

Lay A Trap For Tench

Not all our rivers hold tench, but on those that do, it’s worth laying a trap of groundbait, casters and chopped worm at the bottom of ledges and then leaving it alone for an hour or two before trying it. Doing this I’ve landed some really big specimens from the Warwickshire Avon. 

Experiment With Tall Lengths

This is an area of river feeder fishing where I think a lot of anglers miss out on getting better catches by not changing anything. While 2ft 6ins-3ft is often a very good starting point, try shorter tails if you’re missing bites and go much longer, up to 5ft or 6ft, if you’re not getting any bites at all. 






















20 Carp fishing tips to try right now!

With carp fishing being as popular as it is, it can sometimes be a struggle to head to a water full of confidence that you may actually catch a carp, especially on heavily fished waters. However to help you in your quest for a big carp we have come up with 20 carp fishing tips to help give you an added edge over the angler in the next swim. Check out our list of tips below and let us know what carp fishing tip best suits you!  

freezer or shelf-life?

Both types of boilie work well on the day but the decision to make really comes down to storing the bait. Freezer baits contain few preservatives and so are ‘fresher’ but won’t keep once defrosted and so are best for one or two sessions at best. Shelf-lifes can be kept in the resealable bag for ages but aren’t as fresh. However, they remain effective for longer than freezer baits and so are a better choice for the occasional carper.

know your lines

Old-fashioned mono reel line is supple and forgiving, but there are two other options that have somewhat niche uses. 

Braid is no good for fishing at distance but at close range and in snags it is brutal stuff that won’t break, while fluorocarbon is almost invisible underwater and sinks well, ending up pinned to the lakebed. This makes it very useful in gin-clear water or on hard-fished venues.

choose the right hook

Carp hooks do various jobs. For surface fishing or when using pop-ups, go for a wide gape hook. For fishing a bottom bait, little can beat a long shank pattern.

Curved shank hooks are brilliant for wary carp that may otherwise eject another pattern as they pick it up. So think about the fishing you are going to do before choosing your hooks.

Carry different boilies

Of all the sizes available, 14mm and 16mm boilies are the most popular – but carp see a lot of them and can associate them with danger. 

The way round this is to scale down to a 10mm bait, either as a single or double offering. At the opposite end of the scale, a bigger 18mm or 20mm hookbait will give them something different, and a real mouthful. 

first locate your carp

Where will the carp be when you arrive at the lake? Several factors have to be taken into consideration.

A good starting point is the north-east corner of a lake. This will get the sun and also avoid the worst of any colder winds. Reeds and weeds are fish-holding spots, and a noticeable drop-off in depth offers an area where carp can move up and down in the water. 

check the lakebed

Every lake is different when it comes to what’s on the bottom. It could be gravel, sand, silt or mud and all substrates have their pros and cons. Cast a lead around the peg with braided mainline and slowly wind it back, feeling for different sensations as it comes back. 

Tremors and taps on the rod-tip will indicate gravel, whereas silt will feel like pulling the lead through cotton wool as it sticks in the muck. A smooth retrieve spells a sandy bottom. 

perfect your rods

Carp rods are sold with varying actions and it can be hard to know which one to pick. A rod with a fast action makes a great casting tool but can lead to hook-pulls at the net... a through-actioned rod struggles to send leads a long way. The happy medium is a middle-to-tip-actioned rod that will let you throw a long way but be soft enough to ensure that fish don’t come off.

Switch to fakes

Carp of all sizes love maggots, but so do small fish. If your water responds to a maggot attack, don’t use live ones on the hook as these will be smashed by roach and bream. Instead, carry a pack of fake rubber maggots and thread four or five of these on to a hair rig. They look just like the real thing and won’t be shredded by nuisance fish.

Change boilie shape

Sometimes a round boilie won’t catch, but something as simple as altering its shape will get a take. Take a boilie and carve the edges off to create a square or irregularly-shaped bait. Better still, invest in a tub of barrel-shaped dumbell boilies.

cast to the horizon

You need to choose a rod with the correct action in the first place. Balance and rhythm are the human element to casting further, and that means having a strong footing to cast off. When casting, have one hand (the one holding the rod and reel) pushing forwards while the second hand lower down the handle pulls back. This creates the whipping motion and the leverage needed to power the lead out.

Tip a pop-up

Adding a few maggots to the hook turns a standard pop-up boilie into something a little bit different that may just grab the attention of a carp or two on hard days. To do this, thread the pop-up on to the hair and then nick on the maggots before sliding the boilie down.

wash out your baits

Changing how your bait looks on the lakebed can go a long way to producing a fish. A common trick is to ‘wash out’ a boilie.

This means fading its natural colour by leaving it soaking in water for a few days. The result is a pale bait that looks as though it has been on the bottom a long while and is safe.

Know your leads

A standard pear-shaped lead will work for most carp fishing situations but not all. 

Pears are fine for all-round work when casting up to 80 yards but to go longer, an elongated distance lead will help you hit the mark. A flattened pear leads comes into play in silt or on lakebeds covered in debris. It will sit on top of the muck rather than sink into it.

try Zig bugs

Surface fishing provides exciting carp sport in summer, and Chum mixers or floating pellets are normally the go-to baits for many carpers. 

However, Nash Zig Bugs have really made an impression over recent years. These represent insects that carp will see on the surface throughout the year.

deposit your feed

PVA bags for depositing feed around the rig come in mesh or solid versions. Solid bags will cast a long way with the lead buried inside and the feed packed tightly to produce a streamlined missile. Mesh comes into play for fishing as a stick of feed that breaks down quickly and forces the particles out through the holes almost immediately. It can’t be cast that far, and so is better for shorter chucks.

Tighten the clutch

Don’t fish with the clutch set too light. This will let a carp power off rather than come off the hook, but you won’t be able to exert any pressure. 

Instead, fish with a tighter clutch. This will immediately give you the upper hand and stop that first run – from then on you can slacken the clutch or even use the reel’s backwind facility if preferred to a degree that suits you and the swim you are fishing in. 

Feed crushed pellets

When floater fishing, instead of firing in 8mm floating pellets from the bag, grind some up and break others into halves or quarters.

When fed, this range of bait sizes will see some float and some sink while releasing smaller particles into the water. This can work well when the fish have shied away from whole pellets.

strip some braid

Braid hooklinks lack stretch but will sink and stay on the bottom. If you want the best of both worlds, try coated braid with the outer coating stripped off – these are supple but still sink.

make use of the power of particles

Too many anglers think that boilies and pellets are all they need on the bait front. That’s true to an extent, but it can get expensive when baiting up in bulk. Particles are perfect for prebaiting or for piling in as a large hit at the start of a session and because they are relatively small, they keep fish grubbing around in the swim for longer. Parti-Blend is a super mix of seeds and pulses that covers all bases, while hemp, maize, sweetcorn and maple peas mixed together make another knockout feed.

get zig depth right

How far do you set the hookbait to be off bottom when fishing a zig rig? Start with the bait at around three-quarters depth and then move it up or down by a foot at a time every hour or so until you get an indication.

Top 10 fishing tips for catching more on the rivers

With the river season now well underway we thought we would put together a list of the top 10 fishing tips to help you catch more fish on the rivers. With these tips you are guaranteed to get your river fishing season off to a flyer.  Check out our list below and let us know what fishing tip you will use on your next session! 

Cast down the middle for bream

The habits of bream on rivers don’t alter much in summer from back in the winter – they still prefer deep water, which is almost always found smack down the middle of the river. A tried-and-tested ploy is to cast two-thirds of the way across. If bites fade away, go even farther across to where the river begins to shelve up towards the far-bank shallows.

Walk the banks

Not sure where to fish? Visit at dusk and walk the banks in search of your quarry. Bream and tench will give themselves away by rolling just before it gets dark, and roach will also top regularly – they won’t move far from these spots so you can avoid a lot of disappointment by putting in the miles.

Always pick cover

Try to choose a river swim offering some sort of feature. This could be a reed bed or a tree on the far bank, some lily pads close in, or a moored boat. Whatever it is, fish will live close to it and it will give you another option to fish to during your session, normally with a feeder or waggler cast

Be a slacker

Check out the slacks for roach and chub, where the river’s main flow meets a calmer area. On the edge of this will be something called a ‘crease’, which allows the fish to head into the main current to pick off food that’s been washed down the river before heading back into the quieter water.

Find the fast water

Early-season rivers can suffer from lack of rain, which in turn reduces the rate of flow. On shallow venues, any such swims can be devoid of fish. To stack the odds in your favour, seek out the shallowest swims that will generate faster, oxygenated water. This is what the chub and barbel, in particular.

Seek out the Depths

Early-season rivers can suffer from lack of rain, which in turn reduces the rate of flow. On shallow venues, any such swims can be devoid of fish. To stack the odds in your favour, seek out the shallowest swims that will generate faster, oxygenated water. This is what the chub and barbel, in particular, 

Watch the tide

Tidal rivers really come into their own throughout the summer. Although they can be fearsome places, with deep water and a fast flow that can change direction during a session, they will offer brilliant roach and bream sport. To get the best out of them, check a tide table online and combine your visit with a tide that’s ebbing (running out to sea) all day. This will produce the most fish.

Weed equals fish

A pain it may be, but where big fish are concerned, weed is prime real estate. Tench, big perch, eels and even barbel will stick close to the weed for a source of natural food and a bit of sanctuary, so it’s always worth feeding some chopped worm just over the weed to try for a big fish throughout the day.


Bait up for success

Pinning down a bream shoal on a river or big lake can be difficult in a short five-hour session, so do yourself a favour by spending a few evenings prior to fishing putting some bait in. Known as prebaiting, this action gives the fish a few large helpings of bait in advance and will get them into the area early doors. Keep it simple with corn, pellets, hemp and plain brown crumb groundbait.


Go early and late

Blinding sunshine and warm temperatures rarely do the fishing any good, especially if you are after bream and tench on a river or lake. You’re far better off going early or late before the sun gets up, the mercury rises and it’s more productive for you to soak up the rays.

Feed your swim properly with Tommy Pickering

We’ve reached that time of year where the fish are demanding lots of bait, but how you deliver it to them will dictate just how much success you achieve. Do it right and every bite will end up with the hook being planted firmly in the fish’s mouth, but do it wrong and you are sure to be plagued with line bites and foul-hooked fish all day.

Here are the top three ways to feed when pole fishing, and when to turn to them.

Small cup

If I could only use one method of feeding on the pole this would be it. I see so many people start a session and dump in large quantities of bait but this is the wrong thing to do.There is every chance the fish are already in front of you so you are giving them a free meal and this means it will take them a lot longer to take your hookbait.

You also have no idea how much bait the fish will want on the day so I don’t like to ‘fill it in’ as that could kill your swim in an instant. It is much better to add a few pellets or whatever else you are feeding at the beginning and top up after every fish. 

Big cup

A big cup comes into play when I know for a fact there are no fish in the area and I am trying to draw them in. If feeding small quantities from the start provides no response I need to do something to bring the shoals in, and introducing a big pot of bait can do that.

Once the fish have turned up, the big cup will have done its job and it’s time to go back to feeding with a small cup. I’ll also feed the margins with a big cup to start with, as it is extremely rare that fish are there from the off. Therefore I know I am going to have to bring them close to search for food.


Fish stocks in commercials associate noise with bait going in, so a catapult comes into play if I think a little commotion is needed to get bites.

On some days a small cup of bait may draw fish in but they will back away shortly afterwards, so firing in a few pellets regularly keeps something going through the water column and makes a regular noise as they enter the water.

Make sure you are accurate when feeding or you will spread fish all over your peg. That will lead to line bites as they brush up against your rig.

How to mix your groundbait right with Tommy Pickering

Whether you fish the float or feeder this week there is a very good chance that groundbait will play a part in your attack.

Getting your mix right is a key part of whether you experience a red-letter day or have a session to forget. This week I reveal my five steps on how to perfectly mix your groundbait.


The first thing you should do when you get to your swim is take a large bucket and tip all of your groundbait into it. Two kilos is usually enough for a full day session.


Add one pint of water for every kilo of groundbait you have in the bucket. There is no need to trickle the water in – tip it all into the bucket at once.


Thoroughly mix the groundbait and water with your hands to blend it all together. Keep doing this until all the puddles of water have gone. The groundbait should seep through your fingers when you squeeze it at this point and it now needs to be left to stand for half an hour.


After half an hour add another eighth of a pint of water and mix it in. Allow this to settle for a few minutes and then run the mix through a riddle. You will then be left with light and fluffy groundbait that has the ability to draw lots of fish into your peg without overfeeding them.