Question 1) How can i cast further on a feeder?
A) Trust me, there are always a few little tweaks that can be added to your technique that will put 10 or 20 more yards on your cast. On big waters, where casting further than the anglers around you might be important, these little improvements will mean more fish in your net.
First things first, picking the right feeder is essential. For short-range work, feeder weight and pattern isn’t actually that important, but it certainly is when you want to make a long chuck. For distance work I use rocket feeders and carry them in sizes from 30g-50g, although the 50g feeders are for what I would term ‘extreme’ conditions.
The beauty of a rocket is that being bottom heavy it cuts straight through the wind and flies that bit further than a standard feeder. Once your set-up is sorted, it’s then all down to the technique. Here, then, are my six steps to casting success…
Question 2) Do you still count the turns on your reel?
A) In a word, no. When I first started fishing the World Feeder Championships we were one of the only countries who counted the turns of the reel when trying to establish the distance we were fishing at.
Nearly everyone else used measuring sticks which, it quickly became apparent, were miles quicker and, more importantly, far more accurate too! Since then I’ve always used measuring sticks for clipping up multiple rods at a set distance.
I actually have two sets, one that has a tape pre-set at 2m and another at 3m. Which one I use depends on how much room I have behind my swim. If it’s tight then I’ll use the 2m set but if there’s plenty of room then the 3m set will be my choice.
If you draw a snaggy peg they’re a real godsend. If I need to re-clip a rod I can just get up and use the sticks. I don’t need to have five or six casts to try and get back to the right number of turns on the reel.
Question 3) How does a wafter work? What size hook do I need to sink it?
A) Wafters are a hookbait that have taken the match and pleasure world by storm in the last couple of years, but they’ve been used for much longer in the big-carp world.
At this year’s shows they have very much been the hot topic of conversation when it comes to hookbait choice. Basically a wafter is a critically balanced bait that just sinks under the weight of the hook. A hair-rigged bottom bait sinks like a stone but a wafter goes down very slowly, almost fluttering through the water.
There are multiple advantages to this, the most important being that a wafter is so light that if a fish sucks it in the bait flies up inside its mouth, making it very hard for the carp to eject without getting pricked by the hook.
Also, when bomb or waggler fishing, a slow-sinking hookbait will spend more time in the ‘catching zone’. What size hook you need to sink a wafter depends on which hookbaits you buy. Ringers 10mm Wafters, for example, are designed to sink slowly under the weight of a size 12QM1. If you use a bayonet, that will add weight so you are then better off using a size 14 hook.
I always have a tub of water on my side tray and simply use it as a testing station for my hook and hookbait to check they are behaving correctly – in other words, sinking slowly under the weight of the hook and neither floating, nor sinking too fast. This way I know that every time I cast out my hookbait will be fishing correctly.
Question 4) When would you use braid over mono?
A) If I’d been asked this 10 years ago I’d have said there was no need for braid, as there was nothing I could do with it that I couldn’t do with mono! In hindsight, I’d never fished with braid and couldn’t have been further off the mark!
I don’t see any need for braid on a commercial, but for natural waters it’s hard to see any situation where braid doesn’t beat mono – it helps with making casting easier, assists accuracy and transforms bite detection.
The only downside is that having no stretch, braid can make playing bigger fish that little bit trickier, but providing you take your time I don’t see any issues. Besides, if you use a mono shockleader it will cushion the fight close in.
The big difference when using braid is learning not to strike. If you do, then chances are that if it’s a big fish you’ll either pull the hook or break the line! When you get a bite you need to just lift the rod. With braid having no stretch, that’s all that’s required to set the hook!
Question 5) Additives and flavourings – do they really make a difference to your catches?
A) This polarises opinion. I’m a big fan, as I believe they give me an edge. But if there are no fish in your swim it doesn’t matter what you use, you still won’t catch! However, if I’m in a line of anglers all fishing the feeder with the same pellets then why would a fish eat mine and not theirs?
I get my edge I feel from adding a flavour to my pellets, to make them different from everyone else’s. Flavours that work for me are Mainline Activ8, Cell and Hybrid, added as a glug to my pellets to give them a fish-attracting boost. This in turn gives me more confidence.
I also use ‘Goo’, a liquid that has caught me a lot of fish. I feel it can trigger a response from fish that maybe weren’t looking to feed but will come in to investigate the scent and cloud in the water. There are loads of flavours on the market but I like to keep it simple, and for tagging feeders I stick to just two – Pineapple Power Smoke and Caramel.
Question 6) 'Deep shallow’ – what’s that all about?
A) The term ‘deep shallow’ is one I first came across a few years ago while fishing a festival at White Acres. Basically it means fishing off the bottom in deeper water. It’s definitely a tactic that works best on deeper venues, ideally lakes that are 6ft-8ft plus. I think if a lake is only 4ft deep then it’s such a short way to the surface that carp will feed shallow anyway so there is no need to look for them deeper down.
Even though you’re fishing deep, I’ve found light rigs are best for this tactic, and with a 6ft rig in 8ft of water, for example, I will choose a 4x12 MW Steady float. The idea is that by fishing a light rig I can fish through the water’s layers and not just at 6ft.