Looking for some big fish action on the feeder this weekend? Then you may want to take a look at these top feeder fishing tips from Steve Ringer, as he shows you how to catch more carp on the feeder for when you are out on the bank next.
1) BIG HOOKS MEAN BIG FISH!
On venues such as Boddington the carp’s average size is 7lb-9lb. It’s not so much the size of the fish that’s important here as the size of their mouths!
An 8lb carp has a huge mouth, and this is worth keeping in mind when making your hook selection. When rules allow I like to use a size 10 QM1 hook. That might sound big in a match situation, but if you compare a size 10 to an 8lb carp’s mouth it suddenly doesn’t seem that big at all!
In the cold, every bite needs to count and I’ve found that using a size 10 gives me an improved bite to fish landed ratio.
It’s also worth pointing out that QM1s are razor-sharp, something which I believe is important when we are talking about making sure a carp doesn’t suck the hookbait in and then blow it straight back out again without getting hooked!
2) USE HEAVIER FEEDERS
More often than not big-water carping is all about distance fishing, so picking the correct weight of feeder is extremely important.
I tend to stick to three types – large 45g and 55g feeders and 42g, which are classed as medium size.
If conditions are perfect I’ll kick off by using a 45g, large feeder. I prefer a big feeder on big venues as I just feel it increases my chances of a carp finding it!
As the session progresses you’ll frequently find you need to go that little bit further out as fish can back off, and this is when I switch to the 55g, large feeder to help me reach the extra distance.
For extreme range I actually drop down a feeder size! Believe it or not, I use the 42g, medium feeder when I need to go really long, as the slightly smaller body size outcasts its bigger rivals.
I will add that for all my long-range, big-water feeder fishing I go for a Hybrid feeder rather than a Method, as I believe it protects the bait a lot better on impact.
3) GEAR UP TO GO LONGER
As far as distance goes at Boddington, quite often I might have to fish in excess of 100m to get to where the fish are, especially if they push out as the match progresses.
With this in mind, I always like to have both a 13ft and 14ft Tournament SLR rods set up.
The idea here is that I start the match on the 13ft rod, but if the fishing is hard and I’m chasing the fish I’ll switch to the 14-footer.
I reckon the 14ft rod gives me another 10m-15m casting range. That might not seem like a lot, but it can make the difference between getting more fish and not.
4) BOOST YOUR ATTRACTION LEVELS
Giving my pellets a flavour boost can be a real edge, particularly when the water is coloured, as it gives carp more chance of finding my bait.
I use Goo for this and it’s very much a case of ‘less being more’ – a blob no bigger than a pea is plenty. Once added, use the nozzle on the bottle to spread it on to the pellets.
For a quick release I put it on the outside of the pellets, whereas for a slower release I half-fill the feeder, put the Goo on, then seal it in with a second layer of pellets. This is great when you’re waiting longer for bites.
My go-to flavours are Pineapple and Caramel, and I opt for the Power Smoke versions.These are thicker in consistency and stick to pellets better than the thinner Bait Smokes.
5) SWELL YOUR MICROS
One of the questions I’m asked the most on social media at this time of year is whether to use groundbait or pellets on the Method or Hybrid feeder.
My answer is simple – unless you have prior information that says groundbait is best on the venue then, as far as I’m concerned, pellets are without doubt the better option.
Given the choice, I will always use 2mm Ringers Method Micros. These I prepare the night before, and then tweak them again in the morning.
By damping them the night before, I find they swell up a little bit more, which I prefer when targeting big fish.
6) USE LOW-DIAMETER MONO
It's wrong to imagine that to cast further you need to be using heavier lines of 8lb and above.
Lower diameter lines are much more effective, and I use either 4lb or 5lb low-diameter Guru Pulse as my mainline.
If I try to cast to extreme range with 4lb or 5lb mono there’s a good chance I’m going to crack off, so I incorporate a shockleader of 10lb Tournament ST.
I cast off this 10lb leader but I still have the benefit of 4lb or 5lb mono once the leader leaves the rod rings.
As to leader length, when the feeder is in the casting position I like to have 4-6 turns of the leader still on the reel.
To join the mainline to the shockleader I tie an overhand loop in the mainline and then a double tucked half blood knot to attach the leader.
The knots are then trimmed tight so there is minimal friction through the rings.
7) BIG BRIGHT BAITS ARE VITAL
Hookbait choice is all about using what you’re confident in, and right now that’s 10mm and 12mm wafters.
These may seem like big baits, but bear in mind I am targeting big carp by match standards as opposed to F1s and skimmers.
What I love about wafters is that they just sink under the weight of the hook and give me a very light hookbait that flies up inside a carp’s mouth when sucked in.
This means it’s very hard for a carp to get away with spitting out the hook and bait once they’ve been sucked in.
Colour is entirely down to personal preference, but if I had to pick just one then without doubt it would be an orange wafter – it’s been brilliant so far this winter!
8) BE PREPARED TO MOVE
Location is key when it comes to catching carp in the cold.
I always start by clipping up, so if I get a bite or indication I can get back to the same spot again stright away. Normally, where there’s one carp there will be others nearby.
If I don’t get a bite or an indication I will never have two casts to the same spot.
This might mean taking the clip off and going further out, or keeping the clip on and just casting to the left or right of where I had originally caught, in a bid to find the fish again.
When it’s cold, carp don’t tend to come to bait, so it’s all about trying to find them.