The Method catches fish on the bottom, right? Wrong! With the right tackle it’s possible to fish the Method just under the surface and catch even more than you would when fishing it on the deck. Don’t believe us? Prepare to be amazed
Ian Chestney knows his stuff. He fishes the Midlands commercial fishery match circuit, and he’s very good. In fact he’s almost unstoppable when it comes to fishing the Method feeder.
But like all good anglers, he is prepared to play around with techniques and baits until he is confident that they catch more consistently.
As he is a matchman, the desire to catch more and catch faster is strong, and this desire led Ian to experiment with the Method – a renowned carp-catching technique – and turn it into something a bit special.
Now, when conditions allow he fishes the Method off the bottom, using a float, catching only inches deep. Here’s how he does it....
What’s it all about?
IF YOU do not know how the original Method works, it goes something like this… A sticky, often fishmeal-based groundbait is moulded around a heavy frame feeder. A short hooklength, sometimes only a couple of inches long, is attached to the line below the feeder and baited. The hooklength can be left to dangle from the feeder, or it can be stuck on to the feeder using a little more groundbait. Then the whole lot is cast out and left on the bottom.
The carp will pick up the scent, home in on the ball of sticky groundbait and begin attacking it, trying to get at any larger food particles in the groundbait. Eventually the carp will find the hookbait, take it and hook themselves against the weight of the feeder. This results in violent takes and arm-aching action.
Ian Chestney’s technique works upon a very similar principle, but the tackle required, groundbait used and weight of the feeder differs greatly.
Use powerful gear
IAN USES huge Method Floats made by Kobra. They are very similar to pike floats in that they are thick, long balsa floats but these have plastic ribcage-like frames on the base and a small weight in the centre.
They are buoyant enough to float even with a healthy amount of groundbait moulded around the frame.
Ian’s rod is an old, but powerful Daiwa Amorphous Stillwater, but he reckons a 12ft, 2lb test-curve carp rod is even better.
The main line is 6lb Maxima, but Ian ties a 20ft 8lb Maxima shockleader below it to take the brunt of the cast. The feeder is attached to this leader.
Ian’s groundbait mix
IAN CHESTNEY is the National Sales Coordinator for R&G Cats and Dogs baits and therefore uses their groundbaits all the time. He has also helped design their baits and as he’s such a fan of the floating Method he helped with a groundbait specifically for the job. It’s called Bagging Waggler – because that’s you’ll do when you use it!
This contains all the ingredients that carp love. It is sticky enough to hold together for casting, and active enough to cloud the water instantly.
“You simply cannot use a standard Method feeder groundbait when fishing like this as it’s too sticky,” he says. “Normal Method groundbait won’t cloud the water. You will have to add another groundbait to soften it, or go for one of the fast-acting Method mixes that are now available.”
Ian adds a full bag of Supercarp Netbuster – another sticky groundbait – and a good helping of Hemp Porridge to his Bagging Waggler groundbait.
A lot of groundbait is required when fishing this technique and that’s why Ian bulks his out with Netbuster. Once the two dry groundbaits are mixed together he scoops about a pint of water from the lake and stirs in a good helping of hemp porridge to the water. Ian adds this milky water to the groundbait a little at a time, mixing it vigorously until the groundbait just holds together when squeezed.
For today’s session at Gerrard’s Carp Lake near Maxey, Cambs, Ian mixed his groundbait a little drier than he would normally because he decided to add some soaked expander pellets to give the carp something to feed upon.
Squeeze the groundbait around the feeder and drop it in the margins first to check whether it peels away from the feeder and also to find out how much groundbait the float will take before it sinks.
The best rig to use with the Method float
IAN’S rig is very simple, and versatile too.
Working from the rod, there are two silicone float stops, a snap link swivel, a bead and finally a swivel tied on the end of the line. To this he ties a 2ft hair-rig hooklength. The line he uses is very strong 0.18mm FAPS Dynamite Power high-tech line (around 7lb breaking strain) and the hook is a barbless size 10 ESP Raptor G-4.
Ian prefers to hair-rig his bait for two reasons. Firstly luncheon meat – ideal for this method – will remain on the rig through a powerful cast, and hair-rigging a bait means that the hook point never becomes masked by the bait.
The large float is clipped directly to the snap link swivel. Doing this allows him to switch quickly between either a red or a black tipped float if light conditions change on the water.
This rig can be fished in two ways. The two silicone float stops can be pushed down the line to lock the float in place.
This creates a bolt rig effect whereby the taking fish will instantly feel the resistance of the very buoyant float and try to swim away from it. Ian fishes the rig in this way when the carp are really feeding well.
When the fish are a little slower to respond Ian pushes the float stops up the line. This gives the carp a little more time to take the bait and swim off with it before they feel the buoyancy of the float.
Where will it work?
The floating Method will work anywhere where the normal Method works, or used to work. It’s better suited to larger venues though as casting such a large weight makes an enormous splash!
Aim to fish it in water of four or five feet or more and well out from the bank. This method won’t work in the margins as the fish won’t have the confidence to feed up in the water close to the edge of a lake.
So how does it work?
THE BAGGING waggler works on a simple principle. Unlike the Method feeder, whose groundbait remains fairly inactive on the bottom, the floating Method feeder’s groundbait needs to be very active. As soon as the float hits the water the groundbait, so long as it is correctly mixed, starts to peel away from the frame creating a hanging cloud.
The carp respond to the splash, they will swim over to find out what’s going on, see the cloud, smell the food and try to suck in any particles streaming from the float. The problem is there are no really large particles for the taking – except for the one on the hook hanging there enticingly within the cloud.
“When fished correctly this is an extremely busy method. Even when it is squeezed really hard, the groundbait moulded around the frame should fall away in between two and four minutes,” states Ian. “When the fish are really having it, it could take seconds because they come straight to the splash and attack the groundbait, knocking it off. So, to fish the bagging waggler effectively you need to keep a continuous stream of groundbait going in, and this means casting every four or five minutes.”
You can actually see if all the groundbait has come away from the float as it will gradually rise in the water as the groundbait peels away from the frame. When it begins to sway, chances are all the groundbait has fallen away and the float is just sitting vertically under the small weight at the base.
It pays to place your rod in the rests at an angle and to use a free spool reel when fishing with a Method float as bites can be extremely violent.
The best baits
IAN chose to use luncheon meat on this session, but he confidently stated that when the carp are really having it you could put anything on the hook and they will take it.
When the fish are being a little more selective some of the better baits are meat, maggots, slow-sinking hooker pellets and bread. Casters tend to disintegrate too quickly and sweetcorn sinks too fast. Ideally the bait needs to drop through the cloud steadily so that the fish can see it easily and therefore take it.
BEFORE attaching a hooklength and after mixing his groundbait Ian squeezes a good handful of groundbait around the frame and makes six casts towards the centre of Gerard’s Carp Lake. He tries to keep all the casts in the same area so that one continuous cloud is created.
Next he baits the hair with a small piece of luncheon meat, moulds more groundbait around the feeder and casts to the same spot. The float hits the water with an almighty splash, pops to the surface and starts to do its work.
Meanwhile the bait drifts downwards, but before the two foot hooklength has time to straighten the float shoots under and Ian’s rod is nearly ripped from the rest. His first carp is hooked within 10 seconds of the bait being in the water!
“This is the stupidest method I have ever fished! It can be like this all day long with fish hooked on almost every single cast!” he says, keeping the rod tip low and pumping the first of many carp to the landing net.
“The first time I saw someone fishing this method was at a match on Drayton Reservoir. I nearly wet myself with laughter but soon had the smile wiped from my face when that angler beat me by 150lb!” exclaimed Ian.
As he had explained earlier, Ian rebaited the feeder and cast every four minutes to keep the cloud lingering. But this wasn’t going to be one of those red letter days – the weather saw to that. One minute it was blazing sunshine, calm and hot, the next minute the clouds came over and a light, cold wind blew. Ideally it needs to be bright, calm and warm throughout the day for this method to really show its mettle.
Ian kept casting, introducing feed regularly. He switched between a long and a short hooklength and between a fixed and a sliding rig and caught the occasional carp. He finished with nearly 50lb which by this method’s standards was almost disappointing! We’d love to see Ian and the floating feeder when the everything’s right – 200lb anyone?
10 STEPS TO METHOD FLOAT SUCCESS
1 You will need to use a powerful rod and strong line. A lightweight carp rod and 8lb line is ideal.
2 Cast the Method float into open water, preferably of four feet and deeper.
3 Use the right groundbait. Ideally the mix should peel away from the float causing a cloud in less than five minutes.
4 Test it first. Before casting out drop a loaded Method float in the margins to see how it sits and whether your groundbait is working correctly.
5 Fish the right venue. This technique works best on carp waters that already respond to the Method.
6 Experiment with hooklengths. Swap between long hooklengths, say around 2ft, and short hooklengths to find the depth the carp are feeding at.
7 Hair rig soft baits like meat or hooker pellets as this prevents them falling off the hook when punching out a cast.
8 Wait until it’s warm. Carp are more likely to feed just under the surface when the water is warm.
9 Do not point your rod directly at the float. If you are using rests put them at an angle so that the taking carp can pull the tip round and give you chance to grab it before it’s pulled in!
10 Use a free spool reel as this will pay out line to a taking fish and give you time to respond to the take.