PVA can be used with a wide range of different dry additives, and even liquids if they are ‘PVA-friendly’. This is one of my favourite stick mixes, but don’t be afraid to include your own favourite ingredients.
1) Grind up a handful of boilies into a fine powder. You can then either use these neat or mix them 50-50 with breadcrumbs.
2) Add your powdered additives to the boilie crumb. Make sure you mix well to evenly distribute the powerful attractors.
3) Add a few drops of boilie dip and mix well. The liquids will coat the boilie crumb and give an instant hit of flavour into the water.
4) Put about a tablespoonful of the boilie crumb into a fine PVA stick and compress it well down, using a plunger if possible.
5) Tie off the end of the stick – the finished PVA should be about 20mm in length, just enough for a single mouthful.
6) Thread the stick on to your hooklength and pull the hookpoint into it. A contrasting colour of wafter hookbait will really stand out.
Preparing micro pellets for the Method feeder is a simple process, even if you want to boost them with liquid and powdered additives.
Choose a brand of ‘sticky’ pellet for best results, or add a handful of groundbait to fishery pellets to ensure they bond together well...
1) Add liquid additives to the mixing water and stir well to ensure that they are evenly distributed.
2) Add the water to dry pellets – as with groundbait, add the water slowly and allow the pellets plenty of time to soak it up fully.
3) When the pellets still feel dry but bind together with a squeeze, stop adding water. After 10 minutes add more water if need be.
4) Add powdered additives to the pellets last and ensure that they are evenly distributed throughout the bait by mixing vigorously.
If one species can be relied upon above all others to keep providing brilliant sport right through the winter it has to be chub.
Whether the rivers are low and clear, or high and murky, chub can be caught, although you have to be on top of your tactics to score consistently.
No other species can be caught on such a wide variety of baits and tactics as chub – you really could spend a lifetime getting to know each and every option, but here are some of my favourites that have been honed to catch chub both large and small whatever the weather may throw at us.
GIVE THEM A LIFT
If you have ever suffered from the frustration of ‘unmissable’ chub bites that have seen you striking into thin air then join the club!
This has long been part and parcel of fishing with larger baits, especially boilies, because the chub can easily pick them up in their lips, leaving the hook hanging outside the mouth.
This is especially true if you are hair-rigging, so my first suggestion would be to switch
to paste and bury most of the hook inside. Mould the paste around a piece of cork so that it only just sinks and you will hit a lot more bites.
A SINGLE MAGGOT
The colder and clearer the river, the smaller the bait I will use for chub. When it’s like this the fish won’t be inclined to gobble up a big bait, but feed regularly with maggots and you can get the shoal going.
To avoid spooking the chub by running a float over them, try a small Blackcap feeder coupled with a 4ins hooklength and a size 18 hook, with either a single real maggot impaled on it, or its fake counterpart fished on a short hair.
If I had to use just one boilie for chub it would have to be Scopex Squid – the unmistakable pong of squid powder really turns chub on.
Rarely, though, will I use a standard boilie on the hair. Instead, I wrap a 12mm wafter in soft paste to give it extra pulling power.
A small PVA mesh stick filled with broken-up boilies and bits of paste can also be added to supply some feed tight to the hookbait.
GO LARGE IN FLOODS
If the river is high and coloured then a big bait is going to score best for chub.
Go for a matchbox-sized lump of meat, a paste-wrapped boilie, a big lump of cheesepaste or steak.
Anything, as long as it is big and smelly, will put you in with a good chance of success. Forget about loosefeeding in these conditions and stick to just the hookbait.
PREBAIT WITH PASTE
Chub are suckers for light prebaiting in the days leading up to your fishing. I can’t think of any species that responds so quickly to an easy meal.
The only problem can be estimating how much bait to introduce, especially if other people are fishing the same stretch.
An easy answer to this is to bait up with paste, as this will last only a couple of hours in the water before it is either eaten, dissolves, or is eaten by small fish.
A dozen nuggets of bait per swim is all you need to make a difference.
TRY A DEADBAIT
Big chub grow fast on a high-protein diet that often includes dead fish, and a great many outsize fish have been caught on deadbaits meant for pike and zander.
Try a section of a soft fish, such as sardine, fished on a single hook.
A chunk of lamprey about an inch long is my most successful chub deadbait, and works particularly well on rivers that sustain a good migration of these creatures.
I know a lot of anglers who struggle using bread on the hook. Pre-packaged bread tends to have a very light texture, full of holes, that breaks down really quickly. By contrast, a proper baker’s loaf will be heavier and stay on the hook better.
The best hookbait of all, especially for trotting bread, is Sensas Paindor Bread.
This dehydrated bread needs to be soaked in water before use, but once prepared it stays on the hook fantastically well.
Lobworms can often be difficult to get hold of in the winter, just when they come into their own for chub.
Dendrobaena worms are a poor substitute, but try several on the hook or, better still, a large maggot clip, and your results will improve.
Four dendras on a clip will create a big bait that chub cannot resist.
MASH IT UP
Put a loaf of sliced bread in a bucket and soak it in cold water for about 10 minutes, before draining off the excess by gently squeezing it.
Mash the bread up and you have the basis for a fantastic feed that creates a cloud of particles as it breaks up and is washed downstream.
For deeper rivers, mix a small amount of brown crumb with the bread mash so that it holds together better and reaches the river bed before breaking up too much.
BAIT AND WAIT
Catching a chub too quickly can be the kiss of death on many rivers, as the rest of the shoal will spook, but it can be difficult remaining patient.
I overcome this by starting to introduce a pouchful of maggots as soon as I arrive at my peg and then keep a steady supply of grubs going in while I am setting up my gear.
By the time you come to make your first run through the swim the chub should have settled – expect that float to dip on the first trot through.
Deadbaiting is the number one big pike tactic in the UK.
But while deadbaits are easy to buy from your local tackle shop or fishmonger, the more I have fished for pike, the more fussy I have become over the ones that I use.
Not only should they be as fresh as possible, but they also need to be the right size. Smaller is often better in this case, simply because it is easier for even a big pike to pick up a 6ins bait than one twice this size.
Smaller baits are easier to use and lead to fewer dropped runs. So, if I can only get hold of big baits, I will normally halve them to give me a more manageable size. Check out the best deadbaits to use for pike fishing below
Giant sandeels, these long thin fish on their day are up there with the best of baits. Ideal for long-range fishing, but pike find them a little tricky to pick up off the bottom so I always take the head off to make a smaller bait and balance them with a Bait Flipper.
Brown trout are particularly effective, being tough and quite buoyant. Ideal for sink and draw fishing, as well as using under a float. The golden variety is very bright and is worth searching out as a good change bait.
My ‘go-to’ bait on most waters – the white colour stands out well and even a very large smelt is a perfect pike bait. Smelts quite tough and will often withstand several casts. They can be dyed easily and take a flavour well.
I like the small ‘jacks’ of about 8ins. If you can only obtain larger herrings, try chopping them in half. A very oily bait, herrings are effective on most venues. Their flat profile means that they will sit well over light weed and silt.
Much softer than herrings, but of a similar shape and smell. On some venues they out-fish even smelts. Best used whole and cast out frozen, because of their soft flesh. Expect to get just one cast from each bait.
A tough bait that on many venues makes up most of the pike’s diet. Try to buy roach that are in good condition. They will last several casts and are ideal for wobbling or twitching back. Make sure they sink by puncturing the swim bladder and squeezing the air out.
This strange whitefish is very much hit-and-miss on many waters. I like to use them on rivers, where their natural buoyancy makes them ideal for popping up, and they will sway gently in the current. A tough bait, and one that casts well.
Mackerel have caught me a lot of pike over the years, including my personal best. Getting hold of the right size and the freshest baits can be difficult in winter, so stock up when you find some good examples. I like ‘joey’ mackerel that are about 8ins long.
These prehistoric fish have a very chequered track record in my book. They work best on rivers that get a lamprey run each year, such as the Wye, but I have also caught using them on gravel pits. Ideal for long-range fishing, thanks to their shape.
A cheap and easy way to make your own boilie hookbaits is with ground halibut pellets. This might seem like a lot of effort to go to to make what in effect are just soft pellets, but these are very tough and easy-to-use hookbaits that can be flavoured, coloured and made more buoyant – in effect, customised to your liking.
1) Use a coffee grinder (preferably one bought solely for your own bait-making use) to reduce a couple of handfuls of halibut pellets to a fine powder.
2) Break a large egg into a bowl and add a teaspoonful of hemp oil, half a teaspoonful of Umami paste and four drops of Black Pepper Oil.
3) Slowly add the halibut pellet powder to the liquid egg until the mixture takes on the texture of a soft paste such as you might use on the hook or as a boilie wrap.
4) Boil the sausages for around one minute and then allow them to cool on a piece of kitchen roll to soak up the excess moisture.
5) Boil the sausages for around one minute and then allow them to cool on a piece of kitchen roll to soak up the excess moisture.
6) Cut the sausages into chunks and freeze them until needed. A few drops of hemp oil added to the tub will boost the baits further.
Hemp is still a bait that so many anglers steer clear of when it comes to fishing for roach.
The seeds are fiddly to get on the hook, and when the angler finally gets a bait in the water he’s unable to catch anything.
That’s far from the truth. It may not every day that sees hemp work, but when you’ve got a swim producing a fish a cast on maggots and casters, there’s no reason why changing to hemp should lead to a halt in bites – provided of course, you’ve been feeding hemp from the word go.
This week’s coach is a real blast from the past – Pete Jayes. The Leicester angler has enjoyed a glittering career stretching back to his days with Ivan Marks and the Likely Lads.
Here are his top tips for catching big roach on ‘the seed’ this autumn…
Present it correctly
“Whereas maggots and casters are best fished overdepth, I think hemp works brilliantly when presented just off bottom and run over just a few feet of a river swim as opposed to way down the peg.
“I try and get the grain on the hook to act in the same way as the loosefeed underwater. Hemp on the riverbed won’t move with the flow, due to its weight, so why should the hookbait?
“I think roach line themselves up in the flow waiting for the hemp to arrive – if the bait acts suspiciously they won’t look at it.”
When tares work
“I never fish hemp without having a few tares with me because they are a brilliant hookbait that picks out the bigger roach in the swim. They are a much bigger bait than a grain of hemp, and they’re also easier to get on the hook.
“Once the roach are lined up on hemp it’s time to try a tare on the hook. I prepare my own, but to make them even softer I will freeze a few and then defrost them before use.”
“I always have two pole rigs on the go for hemp work because no two days are ever the same.
“You have to try different depths and shotting patterns to make the hookbait behave as much like the loosefeed as you can.
“I’ll fish a 0.4g bodied float plus a much lighter 4x14 slender Preston Innovations Chianti model. Both are shotted using nothing larger than No10 shot, as this allows me to move them up and down the line for different presentations. You can’t do that with heavier shots.”
“Varying how many grains of hemp you loosefeed is the road to ruin. I reckon roach like a constant stream going in – the more regular the feeding is, the better the fishing will be, so I fire in around 12 grains every run through and never alter this.
“Should I think that a change needs to happen, this comes by altering the shotting on the rig rather than how much I am feeding.”
Light lines, small hooks
“In keeping with the delicate presentation that I am trying to achieve, my lines and hooks have just as much finesse.
“A hook that’s too big and a line that’s too thick will make the hookbait act unnaturally underwater, so typically I fish 0.10mm mainline to an 0.08mm hooklink.
“Your hooks should be very light as well, but they need to have a wide gape to help the hemp sit properly.
“For me the best out there is a Kamasan B511 in a size 20 or 18.”
Like most anglers I love fishing for roach, and while other species may grab my attention throughout the year, my season wouldn’t be complete without a campaign for these amazing fish.
We often take roach for granted, given that they can be found in almost every river, lake or canal, but this disguises the fact that they are superbly adapted to such a wide range of different environments.
One of the factors that enables roach to be so successful is their ability to eat a wide range of different natural foods. If you look at the mouth of a roach it isn’t specialised, which hints that roach are the all-rounders of the coarse fish world. Roach are equally adept at feeding on small snails as they are bloodworm.
Emerging insects will get them to rise in the water column to feed, whereas an abundance of caddis larvae may seem them feeding on the bottom. Roach will even chomp mouthfuls of algae from the surface of water plants and stones, even though they can only digest the tiny animals that are hidden within.
It should be no surprise that roach will feed on a wide range of different baits too, but choosing the right one for each situation can make all the difference to your catches.
By thinking about how the roach are behaving in each season we can see why our tactics need to change throughout the year.
This year I am expecting some great river roach sport, thanks to the regular rain giving running waters a welcome tinge of colour.
This definitely improves roach sport, which reaches a climax as the light-level falls in the evening. Seed fishing with hemp and tares is what autumn evenings were made for, although a handful of casters for hookbaits will see bites often easier to hit and can bring a bigger stamp of fish.
Other alternatives to try at this time of the year are stewed wheat and groats, both very cheap to buy and easy to prepare, along with elderberries that make a useful hookbait.
Feeding little-and-often is the key with all of these baits. A pinch of seeds every minute will get the roach competing. If you are impatient, try starting with a maggot on the hook, as it can take a while for the roach to feed confidently on seeds.
At this time of the year the roach are often feeding on tiny black water snails, which I am sure explains the effectiveness of these dark baits.
The depths of winter are my favourite time to fish for roach because they can be relied to feed in conditions that most would regard as hopeless. In fact, really cold weather can be the best time to target specimen roach because, for some reason, the small fish will go off the feed, but the specimens will still take a bait, especially in the first hour of darkness.
With small fish out of the equation, this is the time of year to use maggots both as feed and on the hook. I like to carry a mixture of white and red grubs, normally flavoured with pineapple, and use a combination of the two colours on the hook.
For river fishing you may find that dace and chublets make maggot fishing tricky. If this is the case then switching to bread can be more selective. Rather than use flake, as many roach anglers advise, I tend to use an 8mm punch of bread instead, finding the smaller offering more acceptable in the cold. Feed a mixture of fine punch crumb and liquidised bread that has been dampened down enough to hold together when squeezed firmly.
With natural food at a seasonal low, roach have to use all their resourcefulness to find enough food in winter. Often they will be full of algae, which has little nutritional value, but which does hold some tiny invertebrates that they can digest. I am sure that it is the lack ofbetter quality natural food, combined with the desire to feed, that makes roach so catchable in the depths of the winter.
Water temperatures tend to rise much more slowly than air temperatures, so by the time my spring tactics come to the fore, the rivers will have closed and so my roach fishing will take place on stillwaters. With spawning taking place around mid-May, the roach will be looking to eat well at this time of the year in order to build up their reserves. Larger baits such as worm and caster can be the roach angler’s best friend during this period. Try using a cocktail consisting of half a dendrobaena worm tipped with a caster on a size 14 hook.
Evening fly hatches will see roach shoals coming up in the water and often topping on the surface at dusk. Try fishing two casters on the hook, which is a slow-sinking hookbait, and feed pinches of caster over the top to attract the larger roach.
Very few roach anglers bother fishing for the species during the summer, but they could be missing out. A lot of big roach are accidentally caught by carp anglers using particle baits and mini boilies so I would base my tactics around these baits.
I have found sweetcorn particularly effective on rivers during summer. Try fishing the first couple of hours into darkness with a light scattering of grains and some hemp. This has worked particularly well for me.
Mini boilies are probably the most selective big-roach bait there is. I stick to 10mm baits, given the relatively small mouth of even a two-pounder.
For many anglers, now is the time when sport is at its very best.
Most species are feeding up hard to pack on weight for winter, and a well-presented bait will see plenty of action. We start with 15 autumn-gold nuggets of advice from big-fish expert Dr Paul Garner...
1) Try dead maggots or worms
Two baits stand out for crucians right now – two dead maggots fished over a light scattering of groundbait can work wonders, but a close second comes half a dendrobaena, hooked at the broken end to leak off the juices.
2) It's a wrap for barbel
When boilie fishing for barbel I rarely cast out without wrapping some matching paste around the hookbait. This can work wonders if the fish are proving finicky. A useful trick is to use a 12mm hookbait wrapped in paste, but feed 15mm baits.
3) Gob-stoppers trick wily carp
With everyone using boilies of 18mm or less, you can fool wary carp by going large and 24mm or even larger baits. Scale up your hook size ti match the big bait.
4) Enjoy traditional roach sport
Many of our larger rivers are teeming with roach at the moment. One of the nicest ways of catching them is to use loosefed hemp with prepared tares on the hook.
Start with a pinch of hemp every cast and fish a matching grain on the hook. Once you start getting bites regularly swap to a tare and your reward should be a bigger stamp of fish.
5) Big bream are feeding up
A windy autumn can see shoals of big bream feeding hard. I lay out a big spread of bait to hold the shoal.
Into the mix go a tin of sweetcorn, two pints of dead maggots, some mini-boilies and soaked flaked maize. Bind the lot together into balls with a mix of brown crumb and layers mash.
6) Mid water baits for Rudd
For consistent autumn rudd sport try using a 10mm pop-up or a lump of breadflake on a 12ins-36ins hooklength, so the bait is presented in midwater
7) Stock up now
Get your deadbaits stocks sorted now to ensure a ready supply for winter. Big smelts are always in short supply, so order early.
Split bulk baits into small airtight bags and freeze down. Dip each bait in cold water before freezing, as this will stop them getting ‘freezer burn’.
8) swap to a cone
A pellet cone is a much neater presentation than the Method feeder, and really comes into its own in the coming weeks, especially on venues where the carp have seen it all over the summer months. Vary the size of the cone to control the amount of feed you introduce.
9) The subtle snowman
Very often carp never actually get the hook into their mouths, just the boilie. This can be even worse with a snowman presentation. So try my ‘subtle snowman’ (below), made by cutting a 15mm boilie and a 15mm pop-up down to form a single back-to-back bait.
10) Feed, feed, feed for chub
The key to unlocking brilliant autumn chub sport comes down to how you feed. The simple solution is to drip-feed as regularly as you can. This could be as little as three pellets or maggots every few seconds.
11) Fry-feeding perch
Now is the time to target perch, which predate heavily on small fish which are in the margins over the next few weeks. Use small lures for this – a selection of bright green and more natural hues.
12) Go soft for roach
On many fisheries roach have developed a love of pellets. This can cause problems with fast, hard-to-hit bites. This phenomenon is simply down to both baits being hard, and to combat this try using soft hooker pellets – I find 4mm baits are best.
13) Flavoured meat in floods
Try to coincide barbel trips with the river falling back after a flood. If you have to fish as the river rises, stick to a straight lead and a large smelly bait such as Crab & Krill flavoured luncheon meat.
14) Slug it out for chub
Dew-laden mornings will see hundreds of slugs and snails attacking your garden plants. Rather than chuck them over the neighbour’s fence, why not collect them for an afternoon’s chub fishing?
15) Try red corn down the edge
A float down the edge works for carp that feed in the margins at dusk.
Add a few drops of boilie dye to a tub of corn the day before fishing and you will be left with a lovely dark-red bait that is eaten with enthusiasm.
With Autumn upon us it is time to start thinking about big perch and what baits to use when trying to lure a a PB into your net. We have taken a look at the best baits to be using right now when it comes to catching big perch.
Few perch can resist a worm, with big lobworms picking out the specimens, while smaller redworms will catch smaller fish when the going is tough.
Perch will always chase a lure around, and small spoons and spinners take their share of fish – just be sure to use a wire trace in case of pike.
If fishery rules allow, a small live roach or minnow fished under a loafer-style float will produce, fished close to ambush spots.
Commercial fishery perch seem especially fond of a tiger prawn fished on the float or sometimes freelined at close range.
Many anglers think that paste is for commercial carp fishing only when really it can be used in all types of carp fishing and is definitely a worthwhile tactic to look at next time you are on the bank. We've gone to paste expert Colin Spencer who will real how he has perfected this simple and extremely effective bait
“One of the most frustrating elements of paste fishing is trying to work out what a bite is. The float will constantly bob around when there are carp around the hookbait, but you are looking for it to dip quickly.
“My rig has no shot down the line, with the weight of the paste cocking the float. A fairly slimline float works best, typically a 0.2g version threaded on to 0.17mm mainline straight through to a size 16 Guru Pellet Waggler hook.”
Vary your paste
“If I am getting plagued by small fish or I’m having to wait a while for bites I’ll stiffen some of the paste up by adding more groundbait.
“If the fish are coming thick and fast then I’ll do the opposite and add more water to a batch to make it slightly sloppier.”
“Feeding is just as important as the hookbait. On a prolific venue, don’t feed much or you’ll be dogged by foul-hookers and line bites. I just place a small amount of corn and pellet in a pole cup, place my paste hookbait on top and cup it all into my target zone.
“Then I’ll repeat this process after each fish.
“I’ll stop feeding altogether for a while if I have a run of foul hookers in order to force the fish into taking my hookbait.”
Make Colin's paste
Pour a whole bag of Dynamite Baits Green Swim Stim groundbait into a shallow, round bowl.
Add four pints of lake water to the groundbait.
Mix vigorously so the water is evenly distributed.
After 15 minutes the mix will have stiffened up – perfect.
Mould the paste around a size 16 Guru Pellet Waggler hook.
When it comes to trying to bag up on bream, it's difficult to know what the best bait to use is. Wonder no more as we have gone to bait expert Dr Paul Garner to find out what the best bait is when it comes to bream fishing.
On a natural river or gravel pit, 100lb of fish averaging 4lb is my benchmark for a seriously good session. My tactics are nothing revolutionary, but I do make a few tweaks that make a significant difference to my results.
The centre of attraction
Bream are big fish that make a lot of wake as they move around – this can send groundbait and pellets in all directions. Rarely will a Method feeder deposit a neat pile of feed next to the hookbait, except if a fish cruises in and picks it up immediately. How far the bait spreads out and how long this takes depends on the number of bream in the swim.
To combat this I pack some of the bait tightly on to the feeder and either leave the hookbait hanging free, or load it right on the outside of the feeder. Try it – your catches are sure to improve.
Boilies and pellets seem to be becoming just as high up the menu for bream as they are for carp, but these baits are not always my immediate choice. Sweetcorn is another very effective bream bait – and underused at that.
With care, the classic combination of corn and a dendrobaena worm can be effective, but take care if you are fishing at range, as the shock of the feeder hitting the water can dislodge even these tough worms.
A bunch of dead maggots is another useful alternative. I prefer red, as they stand out less well, making them less vulnerable to the attentions of silver fish.
Four dead maggots on a size 12 hook is a formidable bream bait, especially when the water is clearer than I would like.
I keep pellet hookbaits relatively small for bream. An 8mm pellet is about right, even for big slabs. Only when I’m targeting double-figure fish will I go bigger than this, as I feel I miss fewer bites on the smaller baits.
Boilies follow a similar rule. An 8mm or 10mm bait is ideal for bream, preferably a wafter, as I am sure that I hook more fish on these semi-buoyant baits.
The flavour of the boilie is almost irrelevant, as I will be boosting it anyway and this will mask the locked-in smell.
Pellets revolutionised bream fishing and today it would be difficult to think about not using these fishmeal-based baits.
Within reason, the more oily the pellets, the more bream will be attracted to them. Halibuts are perfect, but expensive to use on their own, so if I want to prebait, for example, I will use them in combination with cheaper baits, such as corn and flaked maize.
A spod is the bream angler’s best friend when fishing at range. If you clip up at the same distance as the rods that are actually fishing it’s easy to hit the spot every time, giving you a precisely controlled bed of bait. A spread of bait can be achieved in just 10 minutes, and it’s far more accurate than using a catapult. A bag of pellets and two tins of corn will be plenty for a day session or overnighter, as this will be topped up with bait from around the feeder.
Plain brown crumb is the ideal base for groundbaits, especially if you combine it with liquid molasses to produce a classic bream combination. I like to use a 50-50 mix of crumb and a fishmeal-based groundbait such as Sensas Crazy Bait Gold, Dynamite Marine, or Sonubaits Supercrush.
Sticky sweet feed pellets
Combining savoury fishmeals with sickly-sweet liquids might seem strange, but bream love the unlikely mix. I guess that the sweetness takes the edge off the bitter taste that many pellets have, especially those that are high in oil. This combination creates a potent feed pellet, ideal for spodding out or using on a Method feeder.
Use a coffee grinder to reduce a couple of handfuls of 6mm feed pellets to a coarse powder.
Add two tablespoonfuls of demerara sugar to the pellet powder and mix well.
Dissolve two tablespoonfuls of liquid molasses in a pint of lukewarm water.
Add a teaspoonful of liquid betaine to the water. Bream love the stuff!
Soak a bag of 6mm feed pellets in the liquid for six minutes, then pour off any excess water.
Add the powder mix to the damp pellets and shake to evenly coat the pellets in the powder.
When rivers are low and clear and the chub and barbel play hard to get there’s one fishing bait that I keep up my sleeve. The classic combination of hemp and casters can send even the most wary river fish loopy, and with practice you can work them up into a feeding frenzy. The key to this style of fishing is to be confident in what you are doing…
Keep the cost down
Big fish love the taste of casters, but they can be expensive. For a full day’s fishing I would reckon on taking four pints, and maybe double that of hemp. Buying hemp in bulk and preparing it yourself keeps the cost down, and any left-over bait can be frozen and kept for the next trip, as I find both baits just as effective when they have been stored in this way.
Sit on your hands
It’s possible to get immediate bites when fishing hemp and caster, but this isn’t always a good thing. One benefit of using any small bait is that the fish will gain confidence in feeding on it over time.
The longer you can sit on your hands before catching that first fish, the more confident they will have grown and potentially the more you will catch. Think of this style of fishing as feeding a line, but not fishing it until later in the day. The longer the fish have to settle on that line, the more readily they will bite.
There are a couple of ways you can slice this cake. If you want to keep busy and the river is large enough, why not spend a couple of hours running a float down the inside line while feeding farther out? Alternatively, and often the only viable approach on small rivers, feed hemp and casters and don’t start fishing for an hour or more. It’s surprising how quickly time passes, and by feeding as soon as you arrive, by the time you are ready to go plenty of time will have already have elapsed.
At close range you’ll probably be able to loosefeed hemp and casters by hand or catapult. This creates little disturbance and creates a line of feed trundling down the swim.
In deeper or faster rivers a bait dropper makes life much easier – let it settle for a few seconds before lifting it out to give the bait time to escape tight to the deck.
On big rivers, switch to a blockend feeder and make regular recasts before attaching the hooklength. Aim at the same spot every cast and look out for tell-tale line-bites that mean the fish are nosing around.
I keep a handful of casters back from the main feed and store them in a bait tub filled with water to keep them fresh and stop them turning.
Unless I am loosefeeding I will mix the hemp and casters together and feed them like this. Because they sink at different speeds, keep them apart if you are loosefeeding.
Three or four casters on a size 10 hook don’t look too unappealing, but there are better ways to present this bait that eliminate problems with small fish.
A favourite trick is to superglue three or four casters to a short hair rig. This is particularly effective when feeder fishing for barbel and not only keeps the bait on, but gives you a more substantial bait.
My normal hook choice is a forged size 10. I glue the casters to a piece of rig tube on the hair, which gives a stronger fixing. Alternatively, thread a plastic caster on to the hair and glue the bait to this.
Plastic casters are quite buoyant, so three will counterbalance the weight of the hook, making it easier for the fish to pick up. Artificial casters are my go-to hookbait when feeding these baits.
How to glue casters to a hair rig
Rather than try and cover every way that you can hook casters, let’s look at some of the best ways of presenting this bait for larger fish, such as chub and barbel.
Thread a 10mm length of 1mm diameter rig tube on to your hair to form the base that the casters can be stuck to.
Dry a pinch of casters on blotting paper to remove any moisture.
Add a blob of superglue gel to the tubing.
Carefully glue two casters side-by-side to the base of the rig tubing, like this.
Once the glue has started to set, add two more casters to the top of the tube.
TWO OTHER TRICKS TO TRY...
Simply hair-rig two to four rubber casters sideways on. Use a size 12 hook for two baits, a 10 for three and an 8 for four rubber baits.
Attach bait bands to a hair rig by tying them into an overhand loop. Casters can be added to each of the bands using a banding tool.
Dynamite Baits specialist Paul Elt has got a great bream spod mix recipe that will pull the slabs into your swim and is a key part of you trying to land a specimen bream this season. Follow our simple step by step guide below to create this irresistible spod mix.
Mix 1kg each of Dynamite 6mm Halibut pellets and 4mm Halibuts.
Add a bag of CSL Spod Mix to the 2kg of pellets.
Two or three tins of corn give great visual appeal to the mix.
Half a jar of Frenzied Hemp goes into the mix, plus all the juice.
Finish off with a good glug of CSL Liquid Carp Food.