Feed your swim properly with Tommy Pickering

We’ve reached that time of year where the fish are demanding lots of bait, but how you deliver it to them will dictate just how much success you achieve. Do it right and every bite will end up with the hook being planted firmly in the fish’s mouth, but do it wrong and you are sure to be plagued with line bites and foul-hooked fish all day.

Here are the top three ways to feed when pole fishing, and when to turn to them.

Small cup

If I could only use one method of feeding on the pole this would be it. I see so many people start a session and dump in large quantities of bait but this is the wrong thing to do.There is every chance the fish are already in front of you so you are giving them a free meal and this means it will take them a lot longer to take your hookbait.

You also have no idea how much bait the fish will want on the day so I don’t like to ‘fill it in’ as that could kill your swim in an instant. It is much better to add a few pellets or whatever else you are feeding at the beginning and top up after every fish. 

Big cup

A big cup comes into play when I know for a fact there are no fish in the area and I am trying to draw them in. If feeding small quantities from the start provides no response I need to do something to bring the shoals in, and introducing a big pot of bait can do that.

Once the fish have turned up, the big cup will have done its job and it’s time to go back to feeding with a small cup. I’ll also feed the margins with a big cup to start with, as it is extremely rare that fish are there from the off. Therefore I know I am going to have to bring them close to search for food.


Fish stocks in commercials associate noise with bait going in, so a catapult comes into play if I think a little commotion is needed to get bites.

On some days a small cup of bait may draw fish in but they will back away shortly afterwards, so firing in a few pellets regularly keeps something going through the water column and makes a regular noise as they enter the water.

Make sure you are accurate when feeding or you will spread fish all over your peg. That will lead to line bites as they brush up against your rig.