Hybrid vs Method which is better?

One of the questions I’m asked the most is ‘which is better – a Hybrid or a Method feeder?’ It’s no secret to regular readers of this column that I am a massive Hybrid feeder fan, but that doesn’t mean I will dismiss the Method. Both have a role to play on commercials…

Hybrid feeder benefits

The design of a Hybrid feeder means the contents of the feeder are better protected when compared to the Method. 

With a Hybrid the vast majority of your pellet payload will get to the bottom still attached to the feeder.

For those not familiar with the Hybrid feeder, it’s more enclosed than a Method and features raised sides, whereas a Method feeder is more open and the pellets stick to the prongs.

This basically means that even if a Hybrid feeder doesn’t land quite right on the cast, a percentage of pellets will remain intact, whereas with a Method feeder the chances are they will all be knocked off on impact with the water.

I would also argue that the Hybrid feeder offers a much tighter bait presentation, because everything is kept much closer to the feeder once it hits the bottom.

I actually prefer a tighter bait presentation as this increases the chances of a fish picking up the hookbait. If it’s in a feeding mood it has to eat in a very small area.

When the Method rules

I’ve talked fondly about how good a Hybrid feeder is, but there is one area where I feel the Method can out-fish it – when you really need to attack a peg for a big weight.

The only downside to a Hybrid is that it doesn’t carry as much bait as a Method, so if I need to get a lot more bait down quickly I’ll use the latter.

If you are wondering how to get more bait on to a Method, a great way of doing this is what we call ‘double skinning’. 

This basically means loading the feeder in the normal manner with a mould and then adding another layer of pellets to the mould and applying that to the feeder too.

Elasticated Hybrid feeder rig


When carp are the target you can’t beat 8lb Guru Pulse line. For elasticated feeders I simply thread a feeder tail rubber on to the line and then tie a 6ins double overhand loop in the end of it. The X-Safe connector then clips to this loop and the tail rubber slides on to the feeder stem.


The Hybrid is perfect for using micro pellets. Fill the frame, compress the pellets, add your hookbait, and cover with more pellets – simple!


Whenever possible I use elasticated feeders as I feel they give you a little bit of extra insurance when you get fish around the net. The stretch helps to prevent hook-pulls. I use 36g feeders in three sizes – depending on how much I need to feed.


For mixed bags of skimmers, F1s and carp I’ll use a size 16 MWG hook to 0.17mm line, but I will go as heavy as a size 12 QM1 hook to 0.19mm line for big waters and big fish. A Speed Bead allows me to quickly switch over to different hooklengths with different baits.

Inline Method feeder rig


I use Guru Pulse line in 8lb – a tough line is needed when fishing for big weights and frequent casting. To fish the feeder inline, start by threading it on to your mainline and tie a 6ins twizzled loop in the end of the line, trapping a Guru Speed Bead into the bottom of the loop.


The size of feeder is determined by the amount of bait you need to feed. I tend to use the 36g size most often, but will go heavier at long range on big waters.


To me it’s all about using softened micro pellets on the Method. I always give mine a boost with liquid flavourings and colours to make them stand out.


A great little gadget that acts as a buffer for the feeder and also lets me change hooklengths quickly.


Four inches is the optimal length for Method hooklengths. I use 0.17mm line to a size 14 or 16 Guru QM1 hook tied with a knotless knot for hair-rigging or banding 6mm pellets and mini boilies.

How to catch barbel on lures

Getting bored of using meat and pellets to help you catch your barbel well Sam Edmonds has got an interesting new tactic which is turning up some surprising results. Check out his new tactic below. 

When I first started lure fishing I never believed it was possible to catch a barbel on a lure. That all changed when I was fishing the Warwickshire Avon with my father and Dr Paul Garner,  and Dad caught one on a jigged twintail lure.

To say we were surprised was an understatement, but the more we thought about it the more it made sense. Why wouldn’t they take a softbait which resembles a small crayfish or an aquatic insect? That’s what they eat naturally!

Since then, I’ve learnt a lot about targeting barbel with soft plastics. I’m not saying it’s the easiest way to catch a barbel, but tricking one into taking a lure is a very exciting experience indeed.

The right conditions

Since the start of the season I’ve been making the most of the weather, which has been perfect for stalking chub and barbel. The crystal-clear rivers and sunshine help you spot the fish.

Stalking any fish is exciting, and the cast is the make-or-break moment that determines whether you hook or spook one.

Choosing the right moment to cast is important, because the lure needs to land inches in front of the barbel’s nose.

This may require waiting a while for a fish to move into a position where you’re able to cast a lure just in front of it. 

If you can get the cast right, watching a barbel pounce on your lure as it hits the bottom is an awesome sight. I’m amazed at how eager they can be to chase down a lure, often beating chub to it.

Rig up safely

The gear I use is a light but powerful spinning rod of around 7ft that can cast up to 18g (5/8oz), paired with a 2000–2500 sized front drag reel.

It’s important that this is spooled up with a good-quality braid that is strong enough to bully a fish out from reeds, streamer weed and snags, but also has a fine diameter, making it easy to cast tiny weights accurately – I’ve been using either 15lb or 20lb.

A small swivel connects the braid to a fluoro leader of 12lb-15lb, which is about 16ins long.

This then tied to the lure, a small creature bait around 1ins-2ins long, rigged on to a jighead.

Which baits to try

A soft bait that has worked very well for me has been the Berkley Power Nymph, which looks like a cross between a baby crayfish and a nymph. Small curltails, twintails and grubs are also worth a try, and I opt for natural colours.

When it comes to jigheads, I’ve been using 2g, which has been a good weight for getting down to the bottom and also makes the appendages of the creature bait kick into action.

If the current were stronger I’d consider stepping up to 3g or more. The 2g jigheads I’ve been using have a strong size 6 or 8 hook, which is perfect for rigging on creature baits.

How to get big weights in fishing matches

With many match fishing venues currently producing massive weights, we thought that we'd team up with top match angler Andy Power to bring to you some top tips on how to produce some of these big weights for yourself. Check out these top match fishing tips below and let us know how you get on next time you are on the bank! 

Big weights are coming in thick and fast 

Big weights are coming in thick and fast 

1) Don’t get carried away and fish tackle that’s too heavy. You’ll get more bites and land more carp with balanced mainlines, hooklinks and elastics.

2) Don’t just think about the fish you’ve got on the hook – feed where you’ve been fishing while you’re playing a carp.

3) Cover all your options. Don’t just fish in one place, as bites can often dry up. Have at least three lines of attack.

4) When it comes to feeding, little-and-often is best. Don’t just keep piling the bait in.

5) Line bites can be an issue when fishing the margins. Plumb around to find the right depth – 2ft is just about perfect.

6) Feed a meat line at the bottom of the near shelf for bonus fish late on. This has worked for me so many times.

7) If there’s one bait that I’d take for a session on a commercial it would have to be pellets. They are the number one by far.

8) Don’t just check the weather for sun, rain and wind. Pressure can be vital – when it’s high fish will feed up in the water, whereas when it’s low they’ll be down on the deck.

Best way to rig your lures

Short on time and want to get out on the bank? Then look no further as we have the answer for you. Lure fishing is one of the simplest and easiest ways to get you fishing in a short space of time. We got bait expert Dr. Paul Garner to show us the best way to rig up a lure for when you are next on the bank! 

Always use a wire trace. Although I do not go looking for pike, the chances are that one will come along at some point, and a trace ensures that I can land it safely. 

Crankbaits need only be clipped on and you are ready to go. Don’t economise on the safety clip, butchoose a branded item that won’t let you down.

Use a weighted jig head with shads and creatures. Hold the hook next to the lure and make a slight mark on the back in the position where the hook will exit.

Push the point of the hook into the front of the bait and carefully work it into the soft plastic. Take your time and make sure that it goes in straight.

Approximately 50 per cent of the gape of the hook should be left exposed beyond the back of the lure when it is rigged correctly with the hook through the mark you have already made in step 

If snagging or weed is a problem consider a weedless jig hook. This has a large offset gape that the fish will push through the bait, revealing the hook, when it bites down on the lure.

Pellet waggler tips

There are some situations when you can get away with simply casting in and waiting for a bite, but fishing the pellet waggler certainly isn’t one of these to get the best out of this tactic you will have yo follow these simple pellet waggler tips. Tommy Pickering reveals the four-step routine he follows to keep fish coming thick and fast when using this deadly approach.

1) Place the rod on the rests and catapult out 12 pellets to your target zone. Use 6mm pellets when you are after a mixture of carp and F1s, stepping up to 8mm pellets when carp are the main species.

2) Put down the catty and immediately cast directly over where you have fed. The best type of float when fishing at a range of less than 35m is a Preston Dura Wag carrying between 3g and 5g.

3) Once the float has landed, do not move it an inch. The fish will come and investigate the noise created by the float entering the water, so moving it even slightly will take it away from the area towards which the fish are heading.

4) Expect to get a bite within 10 seconds. If you don’t, repeat the feed/cast sequence. The hookbait looks at its most natural as it is falling through the water, but once it has stopped in midwater you are highly unlikely to get a bite.

Top 10 Pole fishing tips

Here are 10 pole fishing tips to help you next time you are on the bank, to give you the best tips possible for pole fishing we have enlisted the help of top match angler Steve Ringer. These tips will cover everything you need to know when it comes to improving your pole fishing game. 

1) plumb your peg!

It never ceases to amaze me how many anglers don’t plumb the entire peg. Instead they look at the swim from above, make a snap decision and miss out on any underwater features not visible from above!

Features such as hard patches, slightly deeper or shallower areas and the bottoms of slopes are natural holding spots, but by not plumbing your peg properly you are potentially missing out.

So don’t forget to plumb the whole of your swim properly – it might reveal a fish-holding spot you never knew existed. 

2) use lighter rigs

I have long been maintained that light floats catch you more fish. In water 3ft-6ft deep I will think nothing of using a 4x10 float.

A light float gives a slower fall of the hookbait which I’m convinced leads to more bites. Carp spend a lot of their time off bottom but will follow a falling bait down before taking it.

A light float also allows the hookbait to behave in a natural manner, which helps to fool even the wariest of carp.

3) Adapt your shotting

There are loads of different shotting patterns for pole rigs but for the last 20 years I have pretty much stuck to one for commercial carp – a strung-out bulk.

What I like about this is its versatility. If I want a slow fall of the hookbait I simply fish a loosely strung bulk – in 5ft of water the bottom shot will be 6ins from the hook and the rest of the droppers spaced at 1.5 inch intervals above. 

If I require a more positive shotting pattern I can tighten the shots up. In 5ft of water the bottom shot will still be 6ins from the hook but the rest of the droppers will be spaced at 0.5ins intervals instead. 

4) tie short hooklengths

For pole fishing I use hooklengths of either 4ins or 6ins. The 4ins version is for shallow swims or fishing up in the water, the standard 6ins one for bottom work in water deeper than 3ft.

For shallow swims or fishing mid-depth a 6ins hooklength takes up too much of the rig itself and stops me putting shot close to the hook without putting it on the hooklength – something I’m reluctant to do.

Also, in deeper water a 6ins hooklength allows the hookbait a lot more movement, something which I always feel results in more bites. 

5) Learn to use a puller kit

Over the last few years I have become a massive fan of puller kits.

These allow me to fish light elastics, which stop fish being bumped, while giving me the ability to land fish of all sizes.

If I’m fishing a venue where there are lots of decent skimmers and also carp from 7lb-10lb I can now fish a White Hydro set soft and land those big skimmers. 

Should a carp come along, by using the puller I’ll have a great chance of landing it without having silly amounts of pole stuck up in the air, risking breakages.

6) work the aerators

Carp, F1s, and barbel all love to shoal up around features, so if you have any in your swim you need to make the most of them.

Perhaps the best right now are aerators. You’ll find that when they’re used regularly they will scour a deeper area in the bottom of the lake beneath them, and barbel in particular love to sit in these holes.

A little tip when targeting these features is always to start off fishing just off them as opposed to tight to them. This way you will get two bites at the cherry – you’ll catch a few fish straight away before it slows, then you can move closer to the aerator to catch a few more!

7) Create a cloud

When fishing in shallow water across to an island I’m a big believer in trying to put a cloud in the water. I’m convinced this will draw more fish into the swim and hold those that are already there.

There are lots of ways to make a cloud, but without doubt my favourite is to feed sloppy micros –in other words, over-wetted 2mm coarse pellets.

They’re easy to make. Just get some 2mm pellets and over-wet them until they turn into a slop. When fed, the slop creates a lovely fish-attracting cloud in the water. I then like to fish corn, meat or expanders on the hook.

8) Work your rig

To me there is nothing worse than just sitting there watching a motionless float and not doing anything about it.

I always like to believe there are fish present, and it’s my job to make sure they’ll have my bait.

One of the best ways of doing this is to lift and drop the float. This has the effect of causing the hookbait to rise and fall in the water, a movement that fish at times find irresistible.

When I say ‘lift and drop’ I don’t mean lifting the entire rig out and lowering it back in again.

Instead I lift the float between 4ins and 8ins, depending on the depth of water I’m fishing in, and then slowly lower it back in again. Bites tend to come as soon as the float settles.

9) Make something happen

Something I have always been a big believer in when pole fishing is trying to make it happen rather than just waiting for events to unfold.

So if I’m not getting any bites or indications, what I like to do is ping a few hard 4mm or 6mm pellets over the top of the float to try and pull a few fish into the swim. 

I’m not talking loads of pellets here, just three or four at a time is enough.

Any fish in the area will then either hear the noise of the pellets hitting the water and home in on them or spot the pellets falling through the water column and follow them down.

The beauty of this approach is that I don’t have to feed a lot of bait, so if nothing happens or it doesn’t work I haven’t done any harm to the swim.

10) End on the keepnet line

Without doubt the most neglected line when fishing commercials is the ‘keepnet line’ – and fishing here is a deadly way to end your session.

This is an area of the swim I’ve mentioned in the past, yet I still rarely see anyone fishing it!

It’s somewhere that sees bait all the time, being constantly spilled as anglers either fill a pole pot or loosefeedby hand or catapult, and it’s a spot where fish have become accustomed to finding bait.

This isn’t a line I’d target from the start – it’s more like the margins, inasmuch as it’s a ‘last hour’ line.

The beauty of the keepnet line, though, is that you don’t have to prep it – you can just go on it and catch instantly.

I’ve had sessions where I’ve nearly doubled my weight in the last hour by fishing this spot – that’s how good it is!

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.