Know your stuff | Bream on the feeder and how to prevent foul hooking!

Question 1. I’m always confused about how much meat to feed on commercials. Can you give me some guidelines?

Fed alone, meat is never that effective unless you plan on fishing shallow, so you’ll always need to use it in combination with another feed. Pellets and corn are popular, but the best of the lot are either casters or hemp. These crunchy baits offer a contrast to the softness of the meat when a carp moves over the feed.

Getting the ratio of meat to other feeds right is important, as you only want the meat to act as a taster which will make a fish home in on the meat hookbait far quicker. Kick off with around 70 per cent hemp or casters to 30 per cent of cubed meat in 4mm or 6mm sizes. As the fishing improves, you can slowly increase the amount of meat going in to a maximum of around 50:50.

To begin a session fishing in open water on the pole, pot in around half a large pole cup of meat and hemp or caster but then revert to either a small pot on the pole or feed by hand if fishing short enough, introducing five or six pieces of meat every drop in.

Using the big pot again should only be done if the fish show signs of coming off bottom or if the peg dies off and you’ve got nothing to lose!

Question 2. Is a paternoster or a running rig better for bream on the feeder?

Both have their day! A paternoster is the classic rig to use for bream but it is prone to tangling on the cast and retrieve. For that reason more and more match anglers after bream on big lakes use a running rig, or one fixed inside a running loop.

Bream bites today are so much more positive than the trembling knocks on a quivertip that we used to get when fishing small hooks and baits. Braided mainline helps to exaggerate the bite, and fishing with bigger hooks and larger hookbaits corn, banded pellets or whole worms will give you a more positive indication. These baits produce a decent stamp of fish and will avoid smaller skimmers.

With the feeder running on the mainline, the bite is transferred directly to the rod tip without the fish feeling much resistance compared to a paternoster, where there’s a risk of the feeder being moved. A running rig is tangle-free and also safer if you suffer a mainline breakage when playing a fish as the feeder pulls free of the line.

Question 3. How close to the hook should I place my final shot when polefishing for crucians?

A crucian pole rig needs a tiny shot close to the hook to show up incredibly shy bites on the float. Begin with the rig set to just touch bottom, placing the shot a little over 2ins from the hook. If you are getting tiny indications but not hooking fish, move this shot closer. Don’t fish overdepth or that final No12 shot on the bottom will spook the fish.

Question 4. How do I prevent foul hooking carp when fishing in the margins?

foul hooking can be down to the way you are feeding, how much you feed, how many fish are in the swim and the depth of water. Try to find the optimum depth to fish in – at this time of year, you’re looking at around 2ft maximum.

If the water is too deep, fish will move off bottom and this will produce line bites and foul hooked carp. If the water is too shallow, carp won’t have enough water to move around in and will keep bumping into the line. It’s never a good idea to have a margin swim packed with carp – the competition created by the feeding fish is a recipe for disaster.

How many fish move into the peg can be dictated by how much bait you feed, and that basically means potting in enough to draw in and hold in the swim one or two carp at a time. In high summer, though, lots of feed will be needed to hold the fish.

Once you begin fishing the edge, introduce a small helping of bait at each drop in and leave it at that, as the appetites of carp will not be too high in the spring.

Question 5. I fish a small pond full of little rudd. Should I use a normal top and bottom pole float on the whip or a small waggler instead?

Whip fishing is all about speed, and the waggler will give you this compared to a top and bottom float, especially if there is any sort of breeze blowing.  A waggler will let you bury the line briefly under the surface to improve presentation and also offers a little more casting weight to swing the rig out when compared to a normal pole float. 

Look at a small canal-style dart float taking up to a couple of BB shot with a fine insert and shot this to leave just a centimetre of float tip showing. Many anglers use a few small shot down the line, even when fishing shallow, to help show up bites on the drop, which will register as the float bristle holds up out of the water.