Q) I’ve read about moving around the swim to stay in touch with F1s on commercials when the weather turns cooler, but how far do I need to move? Will I need to start a completely new swim?
A) In clearing water F1s can move away from feed or a pole over their heads, but often they won’t swim very far, sometimes as little as a foot to the right or left.
You don’t then need to go adding pole sections to catch them! If you start fishing directly in front of you and get no bites or indications, move to your left or right, but at the same range, and effectively start again.
This change may only put the float a few feet away from where you started but that can be as far as an F1 will move before it refuses to budge.
Don’t feed a swim when you’re not fishing it – you don’t want to draw fish into the peg. Instead, sprinkle in a few micro pellets when fishing and try to trick the fish into having a go.
If you haven’t had any sign within five minutes, come off this spot and start again to the left or right, repeating the feeding process.
If you get a bite or catch a fish, stay on the same spot here, still feeding micros via a pot, and keep everything crossed that a run of F1s will turn up.
On some days, though, you may only nick two fish from each swim.
Q) I’m now switching my attentions to chub on a small river near me. What should I be looking for in terms of a banker swim to catch a few fish from?
A) Look for a smooth run clear of snags, a swim with a crease, or one with an undercut far or near bank.
A crease is where the main flow meets a slack, creating a distinct ‘line’ on the surface. Natural food will wash past the slack where chub will be ready to pick off a meal.
Undercut banks enable chub to hide away and again pop out to feed before retreating to safety, while a long straight run will contain most of the natural food being carried down.
The latter is best fished on a float.
Q) When should I top up with groundbait when fishing for roach and skimmers?
A) Never put in another ball on top of feeding fish! When bites tail off, pop in another ball and if nothing happens after this, put in another after 20 minutes – this sets the pattern for the day if you are fishing for skimmers.
You may get an initial flurry of bites from that opening hit of bait before it goes dead. The fish are still there but they’re not feeding positively, so give them another ball to get a few to move back over the feed. You can expect to catch two or three fish or get half a dozen indications before you need to feed again.
Q) How much chopped worm should I feed for canal perch?
A) Start with two lobworms and 10 finely chopped dendra worms with 20-odd casters.
Fish until bites dry up, which tells that you’ve caught all the perch in the area. Feed the same amount again, rest the swim and return.
More fish should have moved in and you then repeat the process of fishing it out. If you need to wait five minutes for a bite, fish elsewhere, as it shows that no perch are at home.
Question 1: How do i play carp on the pole
Success with landing carp on the pole is all down to balanced tackle and well-tied knots. Go for a main line of 0.17mm minimum and a hooklength of 0.15mm, with strong size 18-14 hooks and No12 hollow elastic.
In terms of stopping a carp, it is not a good idea to try this as soon as it sets off. Chances are your pole will break due to the excess force put on it. Match your line to elastic strength and let both of these stop and subdue the fish. As a guide, for 8lb line a solid elastic of No 14 or 16 should work well.
To land carp safely, with minimum of fuss, follow our guidelines here.
Question 2: Groundbait or pinkies for feed?
You need to take into account a few things, namely depth, flow, water colour and the species that you are after. For instance, rudd much prefer loosefeed while skimmers and hybrids love groundbait. Deep moving water responds to crumb but shallow slow-moving water is not ideal for groundbait. Should you go down the groundbait route, make the mix slightly overwetted so that it forms a small ball the size of a walnut easily and so it can also carry a few loose items.
Consider the groundbaits being used because a light mix will be of no use – go for slightly sticky groundbaits designed to catch bottom-feeding species. Loosefeeding on the other hand is relatively simple, working on the tried and tested little and often principle. Pinkies are great feed for small fish but if the stamp of fish you are catching is good, change to casters as feed and on the hook for bigger specimens.
Question 3: Do i hair rig corn?
Are you fishing the feeder or the pole? On the tip, hair-rigging works far better as a carp will have time to suck the bait in and hooking normally gives the fish the maximum chance to eject the bait but with a hair-rig it is often too late for the fish to spit the hook out!
Hair-rigging can work on the pole but corn is commonly hooked in the normal way as you are not relying on the fish hooking itself as happens when fishing the feeder. You need to strike hard and pull the hook through the bait.
Should I always fish a Method feeder for carp, or are there times when a cage feeder would work better?
On a pleasure session both will catch their share of fish but they present the bait and introduce feed into the swim in different ways. The type of peg you are fishing may dictate which feeder to use, too.
A Method feeder with a short hooklink is a very positive way of fishing, putting the bait right in amid the feed and allowing you to be very precise. It’s also excellent when casting close to islands or far banks with vegetation, as there’s little chance of the short hooklink being snagged in the greenery. Bites will be very positive too, thanks to that short link.
A cage feeder allows you to fish with a hookbait sinking slowly through the final foot of the swim. If used with feed pressed lightly into the feeder it can create a cloud close to the deck for the bait to fall through. Much depends on what you are trying to achieve in terms of how you want to catch the carp.
Take a look at the quick guide to each type of feeder (below) to help you decide, and if you are still unsure, set both feeders up and fish them to see which works better for you.
A positive tactic, best used at the start of a session, it will catch carp that are already in the peg when they home in on the feed. It is worth trying different hookbaits throughout the day and having different mixes to put round the feeder – soaked 2mm pellets only, 2mm pellets and groundbait or just groundbait. Try all three combinations, as on some days one will work better than the others.
Bury the hookbait well into the feeder, as this produces far more positive bites. Hooklinks should be the standard 4ins long.
Rarely used on commercials, but when fishing in conjunction with the Method this type of feeder can be deadly. It offers the fish something totally different and allows you to create a sinking cloud of feed while your hookbait falls slowly through it.
Corn is a great bait in this situation as it is very visible when it falls through the water. The hooklength should be about 12ins long and the feeder shouldn’t be too big either, say around 30g – heavier if you have to fish at a greater distance.
You can fish both pellets and groundbait in the feeder, but using just groundbait means your hookbait will be more easily picked out amid the feed.
What type of pellet waggler should I be using? There’s more than one choice in my local tackle shop.
It has to be said that years ago, fishing the pellet waggler was far simpler than it is today. Only a few types of float existed, made of polystyrene and locked on the line with big shot around the base.
Since those early days, the tactic has become more and more refined, with different materials used in the construction alongside a host of gadgets to improve the performance of the float.
Commonly, pellet wagglers are made out of three materials – balsa wood, expanded foam or clear plastic, depending on the brand you buy. Each one will do a very different job.
There’s then the choice of a loaded or unloaded float, while the tip can be plain or have special flights added.
Some pellets wagglers also have removable discs to help stop the float diving too deeply under the surface when they land, so it’s no wonder you’re finding picking the right one a bit of a struggle.
Help is at hand! We’ve broken down the key components of a pellet waggler, explaining what works and when. As when fishing normal wagglers, though, the prepared angler will have a range of pellet wags to hand so that they can switch over in seconds to deal with a change in conditions.
Original pellet wagglers have a highly visible domed top that lets you see the bite at range, but some models have shaped tops to achieve different jobs. For example, an insert works on the same principle as a standard waggler, showing up very shy bites when the carp are cagey. Some floats have exaggerated ‘mushroom’ tops that make a lot of noise when they hit the water, while others have flights built in to assistwith casting and stability in the water.
Pellet wagglers have to be buoyant so they settle quickly, ready to show bites within a split-second of the cast being completed. Balsa wood is the most common material, but even this can be too heavy.
More modern floats are made from styrofoam or polystyrene, making them somewhat delicate but supremely buoyant. These floats tend not to be loaded, and need a fair bit of shot around the base to help them reach the target.
Then there are clear plastic models on the market that are useful if the carp are proving a little spooky. These floats are not so visible to fish swimming just under the surface.
The size of waggler you use works on the same principle as with straight or insert wagglers – it all comes down to how far you need to cast.
A short chuck of around 30 yards will see a float taking around 2SSG more than ample, upping that to three, four or even 5SSG for fishing at long range. When a huge cast is needed, you’re better off fishing a loaded float with its maximum capacity inserted in the body.
By having a variety in your box and fishing with a pellet waggler adaptor, you can always change floats in seconds to combat conditions or gain those extra few yards.
Some wagglers come with all sorts of extras added, such as flights and discs – these have their uses. The discs fit around the base of the float and not only give the waggler extra weight for casting but also make a pleasant little ‘plop’ as they land, the same noise as a loosefed pellet hitting the water. This works well when fish are feeding very shallow.
Flights come into their own in windy weather, when you may have to leave the waggler in the water for a while longer. With four fins fixed below the tip of the float, this produces a very stable float in any skim or chop, and also makes the waggler fly more accurately when casting.
If you prefer not to use locking shot around the base of your float, you can buy loaded versions. These have brass disc weights that slot on to the stem at the base of the waggler, allowing you to add or subtract more weight if needed. That results in a rig that won’t tangle or have shot annoyingly sliding down the line when you’re bagging, but you’ll need to usea special pellet waggler attached to the line to fish a loaded float.
If you go for a float requiring shot then these will be big SSG versions with the shot grouped around the base of the waggler – but these can tangle and sometimes fall off on the cast!
Question 1: Finally the weather has warmed up and the roach on the pool I fish are now feeding well off bottom. How drastically do I need to alter my approach to catch them shallow?
The difference between catching shallow and on the deck is vast and you’ll need a new set of rigs if fishing the pole! The pole or a whip to hand is the most precise and quickest way of catching roach provided that they feed at reasonably close range but you can of course fish the waggler.
For a float attack all that’s needed is to shallow up to a foot or so deep and change to a lighter insert waggler taking a couple of BB shot.
Changes in depth can help because roach won’t stay in the same place. If the bites stop, try adding a few inches to the depth. If you see fish swirling on the surface to get at the feed, shallow up.
Question 2: When does cat meat work and how do you use it?
Cat meat is cat food sold in tins, but anglers have developed it into a very effective bait for carp in the spring on commercial waters. The benefits of cat meat over luncheon meat are that it is very, very soft and so more to the liking of a feeding fish. It’s also supplied in its own gravy, that gives off an oily slick when fed. The chunks can also be big, making them a satisfying meal for a feeding carp.
Because of its size, cat meat is an out-and-out big fish bait and due to the softness, it cannot really be fished on rod and line tactics. The key approach for the meat is to fish it in the margins or at short range on the pole in conjunction with pellet and corn loosefeed. Sometimes, rolling the meat in dry groundbait, known as ‘dusting’ can make a real difference, especially on hard-fished waters.
Question 3: How do I prevent foul-hooking carp in the margins?
The main things which cause foulhooking are the way you are feeding, how much you feed, how many fish are in the swim and the depth of water.
At this time of year, you’re looking for a depth of around 2ft as a maximum. If the water is too deep, fish will move off bottom to feed and this will produce line bites and foulhooked carp. If the water is too shallow, the carp won’t have enough water to move around in and will also keep bumping into the line.
It’s never a good idea to have a margin swim packed with carp because the competition created by the feeding fish is a recipe for disaster. How many fish move into the peg can be dictated by feeding. That means potting in enough to draw in and hold in the swim one or two carp at a time as opposed to high summer when lots of feed will be needed to hold the fish.
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.
Question 1) The clocks have now gone forward, but what will this mean for my fishing?
A) Leading fisheries scientist and consultant Simon Scott says: “Not very much in terms of the fish, because they don’t have a clock! This change, I think, has more of an impact on how anglers approach their fishing.
Plainly, the extra hour means more daylight and we all know that the last knockings of a session is the best time to fish. However, too many people assume that more daylight means that the water will be warm, but that’s not true. It will still be on the cold side, so even though we may go out of the house in the morning, feel the warm sun and think ‘we’re going to catch well today’, this is rarely the case. Go steady with feeding and also work out where the fish are in the swim, as they will still be seeking out the warmest layers in the water.
However, the longer daylight hours will act as a trigger for the fish to move about more. They will be feeding for longer and thinking about spawning, and that’s why you’ll see fish topping and moving about more, compared to a month ago. This all adds up to the best chance of catching that we’ve had for many weeks, but don’t go in too gung-ho. Remember, warm days mean cold nights at this time of year. We’re not out of the woods yet!”
Question 2) Whereabouts on a canal should I be looking to catch skimmers?
There are two areas where you can expect to find skimmers. The first is the deep water down the middle of the canal, but don’t go right down the centre, as this is where boats pass over, causing disruption. Instead, plumb up to find the edge of the channel closest to the far bank. This is typically called the bottom of the shelf and is where natural food will gather. The second spot is on top of the far bank shelf, ideally close to any cover from trees or bushes. Try to find a minimum of 2ft of water here and a nice flat bottom.
Question 3) What PVA bag contents should I use at this time of year?
The appetite of most coarse fish begins to pick up around now, so you can begin to use slightly bigger PVA bags to get more feed into the swim. In terms of what to include, an assortment of different-sized pellets is a good starting point, combined with crushed boilies and some dry fishmeal groundbait. To this ‘base mix’ you can add hemp or corn but make sure these are dried off with kitchen towel to remove the moisture or they’ll melt the PVA too early.
Adding a squirt of liquid can also add a bit of ‘pep’ to bags, but make sure it’s an oil-based one to stop the bag breaking down.
Question 1) How do I deal with crosswinds when feeder fishing?
A) Using a braid mainline instead of mono is the first thing you should do. Braid is thinner than mono and cuts through the air with less resistance, meaning it is less likely to get blown off course.
You could also try increasing the weight of your feeder and cast with plenty of force otherwise your accuracy will suffer. Aiming at a stationary far-bank marker will also aid accuracy. It can be worth aiming slightly to the side from where the wind is blowing to allow for any mid-air drift.
Question 2) Does it make a difference what material is used for pole float stems and bristles?
A) It does indeed. Bristles tend to be made from wire, carbon or glassfibre and they all offer different benefits. Wire is heavy and gives you stability as well as helping to cock the float quickly, whereas carbon stems cock the float far more slowly, making them great for shallow water or when you want to catch on-the-drop on canals and lakes.
Glassfibre is tough and perfect for catching carp when there’s a chance of your rig getting dragged through lily pads and reeds by a hooked fish. Bristle type is arguably more important, however, as this is what shows up a bite. Thickness of the bristle, as well as the material it is made from is also worth considering.
Fibre tops are most common – they offer great sensitivity and are easy to see. Hollow plastic and cane are thicker and more buoyant, lending themselves to carp fishing with big baits. A good all-round silverfish float would have a wire stem and a fibre bristle, while for carp, that would change to a hollow plastic tip and glassfibre stem.
Question 3) What is the double-skimming method when fishing a feeder?
A) Double-skinning is a way of adding more bait to an already loaded Method feeder. It is a useful tactic when there are a lot of carp or F1s in the swim that want more feed than you can normally attach to a feeder. It enables you to use different feed or colours of pellets and lets you add more feed without using a larger and heavier feeder. It can also bury a bait a long way into the ball of feed which means fish have to work harder for their meal and often results in a more positive bite.
A) Locate a shallow, weedy bay and spend a few evenings raking out a swim to clear the bottom. Buy baits such as 4mm pellets, hemp and frozen sweetcorn in bulk. A 20kg bag of plain brown crumb and the same of Vitalin will make a sticky groundbait mix to hold lots of particles for piling into the swim. Introduce 20 balls every 2-3 days.
Question 1) How strong should i have my line for carp?
A) The lighter the line you can use, the more bites you will get but you are right in saying that you can go too heavy – or, indeed, too light. So much depends on the size of fish in the lake and how many snags or hazards there are.
For instance, a swim with lots of reeds and lily pads that’s home to double-figure carp will need strong gear, while a lake with no obvious features and smaller
fish of around 2lb needs a gentler touch. It’s worth studying line diameters to ensure yours is fine enough – as a rule, the lower the number of the diameter, the finer it is, so a 0.10mm line will be lighter than 0.20mm.
For a typical commercial fishery swim where the carp are around 5lb apiece, pick a mainline of 6lb and a hooklength of 5lb breaking strain and you won’t go far wrong – but be prepared to step up substantially for big fish or in snaggy situations, when 8lb and 7lb lines will be much better.
Question 2) Is a paternoster or a running rig better for bream on the feeder?
A) The paternoster is a classic bream rig but 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 where the feeder runs inside a loop. That’s because bream bites today are much more positive than those trembling knocks on a quivertip that we used to get when fishing small hooks and baits.
A braided mainline exaggerates the bite, and fishing with bigger hooks and larger baits such as 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.
By having 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 the risk of the feeder being moved. A running rig is tangle-free and safe – if you suffer a mainline breakage when playing a fish, the feeder will be ditched.
Question 3) can I expect to catch carp shallow now it’s warmer?
A) On A warm spring day it’s likely that carp will feed up in the of water. The challenge is in finding exactly where they are.
So start by setting your rig a foot off bottom and then loosefeed two or three pellets or maggots each time. Give this depth 15 or so minutes to see if you get any indications. Either you will get no bites, you’ll catch, or you’ll get knocks on the pole float or waggler that don’t result in hooked fish.
If you catch, then carry on at this depth but if the other two scenarios occur it’s time to come shallower. Slide the float up the line by 6ins, and fish and feed for another 10 or 15 minutes. Keep up this regime of shallowing up until you hook fish. All things being equal, you should have found the depth that the fish are feeding at when you do hook one.
Question 4) Do you always have to use big pellets for carp on commercial fisheries?
A) At this time of year, there’s no need to fish with 8mm or 10mm hard pellets – a 4mm bait will look more natural and less suspicious in the water, especially to a carp whose appetite is not yet fully whetted. Take a selection of sizes and by all means begin with a big bait, but change around, depending on the response of the fish.
Don’t forget expander pellets. These offer the carp something very different in terms of texture and weight than a hard pellet will. Again, begin with a big expander but be prepared to scale down if needed.
Question 1) In what situation should i use a closed-face reel?
A) Closed-faced reels are designed for fishing wagglers and stick floats on rivers. Line needs to be fed off the spool as the float trundles down the peg and the closed face enables you to do this smoothly because there’s no bail arm or roller to get in the way.
Bites can be struck by simply knocking the reel handle to engage the locking pin underneath the spool cover, which stops more line being given. With practice this can be done single handedly.
Question 2) I really struggle to hair-rig bait bands. My knots are either really messy or the bands come off when I pull the knots tight.
A) If you get it right, a knotless knot is unbeatable when it comes to hair-rigging. A good tip for when tying a knotless knot is to always whip away from the eye closure to make sure there is no chance of it damaging the line. Also, remember that the line should always exit the eye point side of the hook and not out of the top. This creates a better hooking angle, particularly when fishing a feeder.
Question 3) Is there an easy way to clean worms before chopping them?
A) The quickest way to do this is to drop the worms, soil and all, into a fine meshed landing net head and then give it a swish around in the margins. Be careful you don’t let any worms escape though! This will remove all of the soil but leave the large pieces of bark and peat which will need to be picked out by hand. Alternatively, if you’ve got the time you can let the worms work their way through a bait riddle.
In some situations it’s worth leaving the soil with the worms, however, and chopping them so the soil creates a cloud in the water. This works especially well when fishing up in the water on the pole, in the shallow water around islands or to the far bank of snake lakes.
Question 4) What’s the best sort of waggler to use when casting to the far bank of a canal?
A) When fishing the pole with these baits you tend to strike or lift to set the hook, pulling it through the bait.
On the tip, anglers rely on carp hooking themselves, and a hair rig is better in this situation as it leaves the whole hook free and increases the chances that once the bait is sucked in the fish will get pricked, bolt off and set the hook home. If the bait is hooked normally, the carp may be able to suck it in, feel the hook and eject it again all in one motion.
With the hair, however, by the time a fish realises that something is wrong it’s too late and the fish won’t be able to get
Question 5) How can I stop F1s spooking off a pole over their heads when fishing shallow for them?
A) F1's are notoriously nervous when feeding shallow. Changing to a light waggler cast to the same spot as your pole rig can pick off a few extra fish, but eventually you’ll suffer the same problem as they will recognise the float as danger.
When the fish are being spooky, you can still fish the pole, but you’ll need to make a few rig adjustments. First off, lengthen the line between the pole tip and float to as much as 4m and no less than 2m. You will now be able to swing the rig out into the swim a long way past the pole tip, normally to the spot where the fish have backed off to.
If it’s windy this extra line can cause problems so you’ll need to use a heavier pole float. A float of at least 0.5g, perhaps even heavier depending on the strength of the wind, will be needed to give you the weight required to swing the bait past the pole.
Another tip that a lot of top anglers use is to paint the top kit of their pole white. This greatly reduces any silhouette against the sky and is less likely to spook fish.
Welcome to know your stuff where all of your coarse fishing related questions get answered by our experts!
Question 1) When should I use a pop-up boilie rather than a bottom bait?
A) There are several advantages that a pop-up can offer over a bottom bait. The first is if the lakebed is very weedy or snaggy. In this instance, a bottom bait can become lost in the debris and prove impossible for a carp to find.
Also, if the carp are feeding just off bottom, presenting a bait that’s waving around right by their noses stands more chance of prompting a bite – and in clearish water a brightly-coloured pop-up will stand out a mile when fished over a small patch of pellets.
Question 2) What is the best rig to use with a swingtip, and what species of fish should I be targeting?
A) On certain days a swingtip can perform better than a quivertip as it offers little resistance to a feeding fish and you can ‘read’ bites well. The only downside is that you cannot cast as far, so it is best used for feeder casts of 40yds maximum.
In terms of species, the swingtip is ideal for bream, roach and hybrids that can be shy biters, whereas carp will pull any quivertip around in very violent fashion. That’s not to say you can’t fish for carp with a swingtip, but a quiver is better.
As for rigs, use a slightly heavier bomb or feeder than you would with a quivertip, as casting is more difficult. A simple running rig where the feeder slides on the mainline above the hooklink will produce a more positive bite than a fixed rig, and it is less likely to tangle.
Question 3) When and why should I use catmeat instead of normal luncheon meat?
A) Tinned catfood makes an effective spring carp bait on commercial fisheries. It differs from luncheon meat in that it is very, very soft and the gravy it comes in gives off an oily slick when fed.
It is an out-and-out big-fish bait and is too soft to be cast any distance on rod and line tactics. Instead, fish it in the margins or at short range on the pole in conjunction with pellet and corn loosefeed. You’ll need a big hook though (sometimes as big as a size 10) and a baiting needle to hook it correctly so that it stays on. Also, always make sure you buy the chunks in gravy not jelly!
How to hook catmeat!
Question 4) I fish a lake that’s quite silty and I’m not convinced that I’m getting an accurate reading when plumbing up. Are there any tricks you could suggest to help?
A) Firstly, avoid using a heavy plummet that will simply sink into the silt. Using a lighter weight such as an SSG shot nipped on to the hook will give you a more accurate reading.
Once you’ve got the correct depth it is also worth thinking about what bait you are using. Maggots and worms can wriggle into the silt while heavy baits such as corn can also sink into it.
If carp are the target, it’s hard to beat a soft expander pellet or a small cube of meat fished over micro pellets or riddled meat. For silverfish, look no further than casters for both hook and feed.
Question 5) How can I get my pellets to the bottom when polefishing to prevent the small fish that sit up in the water nailing them?
A) The trouble with roach, rudd and other silverfish is that they will easily swallow 2mm and 4mm pellets as they fall through the water column.
To get the bait down to the deck where the bigger fish are, it is worth using a binder to create balls of pellets.Place your pellets in a bait box and add water, so they are just about covered. Leave them for five minutes and then add a spoonful of Sonubaits Stiki Pellet.
This will enable you to create small balls of pellets that will stay intact until they get to the bottom – and bypass the little fish.
Question 1. I keep hearing anglers talking about the Ronnie Rig. Why is it so good, it looks a bit over-complicated to me!
A) I have used it for a while now, before I had heard the ‘Ronnie Rig’ mentioned. It is a very good rig and one that I had hoped to keep under the radar for a little bit longer. It is the perfect pop-up presentation on clean bottoms.
It sits incredibly low to the bottom, which I really like. It biggest advantage is its amazing flexibility. The rig will spin round 360 degrees, which is why I have always referred to it as the spinner. When you make the rig, it constantly wants to catch your hand which, to me, says that it will be easily latching on to the carp’s mouth.
It has similarities to the 360 rig, but I believe it to be a lot safer. I have never had mouth damage and use it in conjunction with a size 4 hook. I hooked 75 fish last winter and lost one, which was my fault.
To make the rig, I place some shrink tube over the hook, then clip the ring swivel on to the eye of the hook. Then pull the shrink tube over it and add a bait screw. I use a bit of silicone on the shank of the hook and have it level with the barb.
I then shrink tube it down neatly over the hook eye and swivel. Then all you need to do is tie your boom section to it. I use a supple Dark Matter hooklink, but you can use what you like.
Question 2. What’s the best way to sink your line because my float keeps getting blown out of position?
A) Any line left on the surface causes an increasingly large bow to form. This will drag a waggler unnaturally and ruin your presentation. In order to achieve a decent presentation and fish direct to the float to hit bites, hold the rod pointing directly at the spot you are casting to and follow this two-step process.
Secondly, flick the rod tip sharply upwards. This is enough to sink any remaining line and you usually only have to do this once. Start by overcasting the rig by a few yards and then wind the float back to the spot keeping the rod tip under the water. To help your line sink you can also soak the spool beforehand in a 50:50 mixture of washing up liquid and water.
Question 3. How can I avoid skimmers and pick out the proper bream from my local lake? I’m struggling to get through to them
A) The first, and most obvious, thing you can do is to increase the size of your hookbait. If you’re using a 10mm pellet, for example, move up to 14mm. Bream are capable of getting surprisingly large baits into their mouth.
Secondly, you could try amending your feeding. For example, don’t use too much groundbait as skimmers are drawn to the clouding it can produce. Try using particles instead, or a heavy groundbait that hits the bottom quickly.
Question 4. Have you got any tips when it comes to using a groundbait and a pole in the margins?
A) This is a tactic that has become very popular in recent years and it can be devastating in the right circumstances. Groundbait in the margins really comes into its own in warm weather, and especially in margins measuring between 2ft and 4ft deep.
It’s best to use a heavy fishmeal groundbait that will get to the bottom quickly, paired with a large, stand-out hookbait such as a whole worm or a bunch of dead maggots. Try introducing a couple of large pots full of groundbait to your margin spot, with a few hookbait samples included, then leave it to work its magic for an hour or two while you fish a different line.
Hopefully, before too long you’ll notice signs of life over the primed spot – tail patterns being one of the main giveaways – which is the signal for you to drop your rig over the top and hopefully haul out a lunker!
Question 1. I’ve heard it said that atmospheric weather pressure affects the way carp react, both in their feeding and positioning in the water. If this is true should I be changing my tactics to improve my catches?
I would say yes, but it depends on the lakes that you fish. Some venues respond really well to high pressure, others don’t. On Stoneacres, the best conditions were bright sunlight, high pressure and light winds. That would be the time to make sure that you were fishing on the deck, and with plenty of bait too.
On the flip side, if I were fishing on Christchurch, which is just 100 yards away, I would expect the fish to be up in the water. Generally, a low-pressure front is the best conditions for carp, especially after weeks of high pressure. You will find varied results depending on the lake, but every water has a pattern, so research your lake. Some conditions are terrible, no matter what time of year it is.
Question 2. How long is it safe to retain a carp in a margin sling for?
This is a contentious subject and you will get many different answers. There is much to take into consideration when retaining carp. Personally, I would only do it when the water is cool and, overall, I don’t like putting fish in slings for any length of time if I can help it. If you do want to retain the fish, then half an hour is enough time to sort your stuff out and give the fish some time to calm down and recover.
If the water is warm, make sure that the fish is always in deep water and away from any large weedbeds. I will only retain a carp for a short period and once the fish is ready to swim away, make sure it does so safely. If the fish is exhausted and when returned, lies in a weedbed, I think it is in danger of suffocating. We had this happen a few years back on Christchurch. The fish were exhausted and with the water being so warm, it took them a while to recover after capture. It meant sitting in the water with the fish and waiting for them to regain as much strength as they could. Above all, use common sense and don’t retain a fish unless it is absolutely necessary to do so.
Question 3. I fish a lake that holds a lot of single-figure carp but also the occasional bigger fish over 20lb. Unfortunately, boilies are banned, so how else can I try to single out these bigger fish?
Carp will eat anything really, but other than boilies, one bait they really do like is pellets. Many fish are reared on pellets, so it is almost like a natural food. I would go with a straight pellet approach and maybe even add some sweetcorn in the mix for hookbait options.
If allowed, I would fish a dumbell hookbait over the top of the mix. This will mimic a larger pellet. The beauty of using pellets is that they are great carriers for liquids. I soak mine in Krill Liquid, to give them the same taste and smell as Krill boilies.
Clusters are also a great bait to use for big fish, being naturally full of oil and nutrition. That is often why big fish like boilies, because they know they can gain a lot from eating them. By using a mix that does that, additions like clusters are a superb alternative.
Question 4. Should I strike at small taps when I’m fishing the Method feeder?
These little taps are most likely being caused by small fish and should be ignored. Even in winter, a carp bite will pull your tip right round, but to remove any doubt, tighten the quivertip right up so there will be little movement shown when a small fish takes the bait. A carp, on the other hand, will often drag the tip round and almost pull the rod off the rest!
You may also get drop-back bites, caused by the fish moving the feeder back towards you or down the slope. It’s also worth casting more often as the idea of a Method feeder is to get fish to investigate the ball of feed soon after it lands. If nothing has happened after five minutes, cast in again.
Question 5. What are jelly pellets, and how do I prepare them?
Jelly pellets are firmer than normal expander pellets and will stay on the hook better, while still retaining that superb softness that carp, skimmers and F1s love.
They can be shipped out on the pole without any danger of them falling off the hook, and you can also get away with missing a few bites without the bait coming off. Presented correctly, they can even be fished on the feeder or waggler.
Preparing your own jelly pellets is easy to do and allows you to add colours and flavours to make your finished bait stand out. Doing this before you pump them is also a handy trick if the fish in your venue respond particularly well to red or yellow baits, for example, or if they show a liking for a particular flavour.
How to make jelly pellets
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.
Question 1. What’s the best thing to do when a big fish swims into an overhanging tree and snags you up?
When a fish snags you, several options are open to you. The first is to wind down and, provided you are using strong enough tackle, pull hard to see if force will get the fish out.
If not, the next thing to do is to change the angle you are pulling from. This might mean walking above or below the snag and pulling another way. If this fails, it’s worth slackening off the line and giving the fish time to find its way out of its own accord – that could take a good 20 minutes to happen!
If you have no joy with any of the above, the only other option is to pull for a break. The rig may fly back towards you at high speed, so take care. Tighten up and point the rod at the snag, grab the line below the rod tip and pull hard to break the line.
Wrap a towel around your hands for protection in case the rig hits you or, better still, bring the line around something like a bankstick pushed into the ground, stand to one side and pull. There’s then no chance of the rig causing you damage.
Question 2. I struggle to see bites on a quivertip, and often get chewed maggots. What can I do?
Using the lightest tip possible will give you the best chance of spotting delicate knocks from roach and bream. These tips are usually made out of glass fibre, compared to stiffer tops that tend to be of carbon.
Start with a 1oz tip and only step it up if, when the rig is cast into the swim, the tip is bent round too much by tow or wind to show bites. For flat-calm conditions you can get away with as fine a tip as your rod comes with.Tension the tip to leave just a slight bend in it, giving fish plenty of opportunity to pull it right round.
Many anglers use a paternoster set-up for bream but a running loop (if fishery rules allow) is better as this is a self-hooking rig. Give the bite time to develop. Ignore the knocks and plucks and wait for a positive pull round on the tip before striking.
Question 3. Is it always necessary to feed groundbait for skimmers on canals?
Canals can be tricky at this time of year and even when the water is coloured and the weather mild, skimmers don’t always want to feed over a ball of groundbait.
Presumably, you’ve not had a lot of success feeding groundbait so far, but that doesn’t mean that you should give up on it entirely. Conduct an experiment the next time you fish by feeding one line with groundbait and another completely separate and well away from the first swim with loosefeed such as casters or finely-chopped worm.
One ball of groundbait the size of an apple should be ample to get them going, adding a few casters or pinkies to the mix. On the no-groundbait line, give the fish half a pole cup of casters or chopped worm. The fish’s response will soon tell you which is best!
Question 1. What are the advantages of a braided hooklink over mono?
Dozens of hooklink materials are available these days, but broadly they fall into two categories – stiff or supple.
Traditional braided hooklinks are strong for their diameter, and limp. They’re perfect for use inside PVA bags where you want a hooklink that can be stuffed easily into a tight space, and their suppleness also means they can present a bait ‘naturally’, allowing it to move freely.
Unfortunately they’re prone to tangling and despite their low diameter can be quite conspicuous.Mono or fluorocarbon hooklinks are much harder to see underwater and are far stiffer. This makes them difficult for the carp to eject once they have picked up your hookbait. On the flipside, they won’t follow the lakebed’s contours as well as braid so they may sit unnaturally.
A hybrid of the two is coated braid, with a supple braided inner section and a stiffer outer coating that can be peeled back to create hinges and supple sections. Available in a range of stiffness ratings, they are great all-round hooklinks.
Question 2. What’s the safest carp rig I can use?
A safe carp rig is one that the fish can get rid of in the event of your mainline snapping (either during the fight or as you cast). Any rig with a barbless hook is safer in this respect because without pressure from the angler’s end these hooks tend to fall out of a fish’s mouth quite easily. However, most carpers consider the lead and any leaders to be the most dangerous part of a set-up, if the carp can get rid of these it is unlikely to become tethered.
A free-running lead, attached to the line via some form of ring, will slide off the broken end of the mainline in the event of a breakage. If you wish to fish a ‘semi-fixed’ lead then a lead clip, which holds the lead on a plastic arm, can also discharge it.
Helicopter rigs work on the reverse principle, whereby the hooklink is discharged from the lead. Most manufacturers offer ready-made versions of these set-ups, with detailed instructions on how to use them safely.
Question 3. I’m confused about the various types of carp hooks. Surely a standard pattern would do?
Just as in match fishing, there is a wide range of hooks to pick from for carping and they all achieve different tasks on their day. The long shank hook comes into play when fishing a blowback rig, allowing the hookbait to move when a fish takes the bait but leaving the hook in place to ensure a firm hookhold when using bottom baits. Adding some shrink tube to the shank further enhances the set-up.
Wide gape hooks are unbeatable when fishing with short hooklinks, a large lead and PVA bags with either pop-ups or bottom baits. You may also come across hooks with an out-turned eye that are great for fishing with rigs made from stiff materials (mono or fluorocarbon). These help keep the gape of the hook at its maximum, encouraging a better hook-up and subsequent hookhold during the fight.
Then there are curved shank hooks with a swept gape that work well with blowback rigs or pop-ups. These hooks allow the rig to re-set themselves if a carp picks up the bait and blows it back out, which means the rig is still fishing effectively without the need to reel in again. Of all the hooks available, the wide gape is the most commonly-used and versatile, so this would be the one to pick in the tackle shop if you are restricting yourself to one type.
Question 1. Paste has worked well at my local commercial recently, but is it still effective at this time of year?
Paste traditionally scores best in the hottest months of the year, but if you play with the consistency of it you can still get plenty of bites in autumn. Make sure your paste is stiffer than you are used to. You’ll have to wait longer for bites, and a sloppy paste will fall off the hook in the meantime.
You can also add dampened micro pellets and hemp to your paste so it provides the one mouthful of food that the fish are craving.
Question 2. I have started fishing for big perch on the pole but seem to be losing a lot of fish so what’s going wrong?
One of the most common mistakes anglers make when targeting big perch is to fish too light. A big perch has a very bony mouth, and penetrating that with the hook can be tricky. But by using a fairly heavy elastic and a big hook this can still be achieved, and you can land every fish you hook. Use a Preston Innovations 12 or 14 Dura Hollo elastic and a medium-wire size 12 hook and your fortunes will soon be transformed.
Question 3. Experts at my favourite fishery catch lots of carp on the waggler close to an island but don’t feed a thing – how does this work?
Right now fish will start to shoal up and you need to place the bait in front of them rather than drawn them in.
Cast a loaded waggler with no shot close to the island and allow the hookbait 20-30 seconds to sink. If you get no response, quickly twitch the bait and if the float still doesn’t move, recast. Make sure you feed absolutely nothing or you’ll reduce your chances of your hookbait being taken.
The idea is to put the hookbait directly in front of the mouth of a carp, and if you are on a large shoal, this won’t take long at all.
Question 4. What are the differences between braid, mono and fluorocarbon lines, and when would I use each one?
The three lines you mention are all very different and will achieve specific aims. Mono is widely used for mainline and hooklinks on feeder, pole, float and big-fish rigs. Fluorocarbon is a new generation of line that tends only to be used as a hooklink, while braid, looking and feeling almost like cotton, is popular with feeder anglers after bream, or as carp anglers’ hooklengths.
See below for more detailed descriptions of each one...
Question 5. When should I begin to fish casters for river roach?
It often takes a while for the fish to turn on to casters. You’ll need to feed them for a while before slipping one on the hook – this change can result in fewer bites but better quality fish when they come.
A general rule of thumb would be to start on maggots or pinkies but loosefeed casters. Once you are catching regularly, put a caster on the hook and judge the response – if you catch, carry on bagging, if not, change back to maggots, keep feeding and try again half an hour later.
Question 1. When would worms work over maggots for chub?
In clear water, small baits such as maggots, casters, worms or bread are relatively inconspicuous and natural-looking to the fish and allow you to use small hooks and light lines. A piece of soft bread flake wrapped around a size 16 or 14 hook is a killer bait.
When the river is well coloured, the fish will often feed by scent and smell. Then, cheesepaste, whole lobworms or halibut pellets and smelly boilies rule the roost. All give off an aroma that chub will home in on. Bait size is unimportant – chub will find it!
Take a well-stocked bait bag and be prepared to change baits if your first choice fails. Switching from a boilie to a worm can trigger a reaction on coloured rivers, as can changing from bread to maggots in clear water.
Question 2. How long should I fish each swim for when roving for chub on the river?
a bite shouldn’t be too long in coming from likely-looking spots so, as a rule, two or three casts should be enough. Don’t be too hasty to reel in, though. A chub can take five minutes checking out the hookbait before finally deciding to take it.
If you are using a small feeder to introduce a little bait alongside what’s on the hook, the wait can be longer, as you’ll be trying to build the swim up and encourage more than one fish into the area. Still cast every five minutes but be prepared to devote up to half-an-hour to the swim in this situation.
Question 3. Do lures work for chub?
Lures work well for chub, but pike may turn up so don’t fish too light a line. Work the lure through the swim several times. A plug or small spoon will dive and rise like a small prey fish and predatory chub will chase and engulf it. Twitch the lure to provoke the action.
Cast and work the lure close to overhanging cover or on the edge of creases where chub take up residence, and use a lure that’s bright and easy to see. Lure fishing only works in clear conditions when the chub can see its prey.
Question 1. What are ideal conditions for fishing a long whip to hand on rivers?
When fishing up to 7m of whip to hand there will be a lot of line between the float and tip. If the wind is coming from the wrong direction it can drag the float off line, regardless of how heavy it is – so there will be conditions when the whip simply won’t work.
The ideal wind to fish long in should be blowing over your shoulder or slightly upstream – in neither case will it drag the line in the wrong direction. A back wind makes flicking the rig out much easier, while an upstream blow will actually hold the line back against the flow, keeping the float on line.
Question 2. How much additive should I douse hookbaits in at this time of year?
You can never add too much attraction when the water goes cold and clear. A single hookbait leaking out plenty of smell and colour can now outscore a plain bait, especially where carp are concerned.
With that in mind, give your boilies, pellets, corn or meat an extra-long soaking to lock in as much flavour as you can – top carp anglers will soak boilies in pots of liquid for days on end to get the job done. A quick dip before you cast out often won’t be enough. One word of warning about the liquid you use, though.
Oil-based dips aren’t fully effective in cold water as the temperature will see the liquid struggle to break down and leak off. Use a water-based additive instead.
Question 3. How does the location of carp on small lakes change from the summer to winter?
Cast around with a lead or plumb up on the float to locate the deepest areas. Clearing water will force carp out into the lake. A soft lakebed will hold the most natural food.
A feature is always worth exploring – on commercials this could be a aerator, as this provides some cover over the heads of the carp but an overhanging tree or bed of rushes against an island is equally good. However, the water will be slightly shallower here and so you may be best off waiting for the day to warm up fully before making your cast.
The same applies to the margins. Provided that there is a minimum of 3ft of water in this spot and some cover from reeds or dying lily pads, a carp or two will mooch into this spot late in the day so you should never ignore what’s under your feet.
Question 4. When should I point my feeder rod up in the air?
By pointing the rod up in the air you’ll keep line off the surface and reduce drag from the current. This way the tip won’t be bent round anywhere near as much. Having the rod low to the ground is the norm on still waters, allowing you to tuck the tip out of harm’s way. So keep the rod low on lakes or slow-flowing rivers, only putting it up in the air on powerful rivers.
Question 5. When would you use a bait dropper?
A bait dropper is a metal bowl-shaped device with a lid swinging on a hinge and a weight attached to its base. You fill it with feed, close the lid, attach your hook and either cast it or lower it in, allowing the weight to hit the bottom, triggering the lid to open and distribute the contents.
This makes for accuracy of feeding in deep or fast-flowing water. You may be the most accurate of anglers when throwing in feed by hand but once in 10ft of water, it will spread out as it sinks across a wide area. Thus is no good if you are trying to keep things tight, especially in winter. A dropper will put the feed in the same place each and every time.
Question 1. The issue of pole float shapes is a bit of a minefield to me! Can you offer some advice on which types of float work in every given situation?
A minefield it most certainly is, as floats can range from a tiny dibber taking just a single small shot to a massive round lollipop float for rivers with a 50g-plus weight capacity. The starting point in your quest should be to work out the type of fishing you do – on rivers, commercial carp fisheries or canals.
This will narrow down the float styles and sizes needed, but within each category there are still a lot of options. Picking the right float for the job boils down to five things: weight, body shape, body, stem and tip materials, and if you were to pick six floats at random you’d find a mix of all these considerations. But what difference does a plastic bristle make from cane, and why is a wire stem better than carbon?
Question 2. On the Method feeder I get lots of little taps on the tip. Are these carp or small fish, and should I strike at them?
These are probably small fish such as roach and should be ignored. Even in winter, a bite will be a proper pull round on the tip – it’s extremely rare for a carp to give a finicky bite.
You may also get drop-back bites, which are normally caused by a fish moving the feeder back towards you or down a slope. Reel in and recast if this happens. It’s also worth casting more regularly, as the idea of the Method feeder is to get fish to investigate the ball of feed within minutes of it landing. If nothing has happened after five minutes, cast in again.
Question 3. I get a lot of lift bites on the pole but never hook any fish when this happens. Why?
There’s probably something amiss with the rig if it’s showing lift bites. Unless you’re deliberately trying to achieve this, you’re better off fishing a simple shotting pattern of a bulk of weight set close to the hook and then a couple of smaller dropper shot spaced equally apart underneath.
If you do get a lift bite from this set-up it will be caused by the fish picking up the bait and actually dislodging that large bulk of shot, which means there’s a good chance you’ll hook it on the strike. If you’re after skimmers or F1s you can use something called the double bulk which, as the name suggests, is two separate bulks of weight set close to the hook.
The first is closest to the float and the largest, to get the bait down and cock the float. The second is much smaller, perhaps only made up of two or three No10 shot. This normally sits just off bottom with the hookbait and hooklength fished overdepth. When a fish picks up the bait, it will dislodge this small bulk and the float will pop up. Simple!