Woodland Lakes to lift its Method feeder ban

This week Woodlands Lakes, in Thirsk, became the latest high-profile fishery to lift its long-standing ban on the use of Method feeders. Angling Times takes a look at the history of what is arguably one of the most effective, yet controversial, items of tackle in matchfishing.

‘Method-style’ feeders were first used in the 1980s by fishermen in Bulgaria who attached a string of hooks on to a split ring, then moulded bait around to create a ball of feed. But it wasn’t until 1994 that UK matchmen first got their hands on the devices following the creation of the original frame-style Emstat feeders. These were used to great success at Leicester’s Glebe Fishery by local matchman Dave Hough.

Venue owner Roy Marlow then took the development a step further by putting elastic through the frame to act as a shock absorber, and a hard layer of groundbait was moulded around the large feeder. But Roy was later to ban the very technique he helped to pioneer.

“The Method itself wasn’t the problem, it was the anglers. They were fishing heavy lines which cut into the side of the carp’s mouth. We weren’t as clued up about fish welfare back then. It got to the stage where The Method was winning all the matches and my anglers weren’t happy about this,” said Roy.

Groundbait mixes changed to break down much faster and new Method frames emerged, including the Kobra feeders designed for long-distance casting which helped Steve Ringer win the 1998 Fish O’ Mania final. The turn of the 21st Century saw a design landmark when flatbed versions hit the market from Kobra and Korum. These incorporated the lead weight on one side so the feeder always settled face up on the bottom, meaning the hookbait was never trapped underneath.

Recent years have seen further changes on the bait front, with the groundbait approach being superseded by the ‘pellet Method’. This involves moulding soaked micropellets around the feeder with a hard pellet on the hook. Companies, such as Fox and Garbolino, have since jumped on the bandwagon with the latest breed of small inline ‘safe’ Methods for venues where fixed rigs are banned. And 2009 saw the launch of elasticated Guru feeders by Korda, which the company claims are fish-safe because the clip you tie the mainline to can pass through the stem running through the feeder via a clip system.

Despite this, Roy Marlow insists he would not re-consider allowing the tactic at his Glebe Fishery.

“The Method is simply too good ¬ somebody who had never fished before could pick up such a set-up and catch 100lb of carp. Anglers want to fish traditional techniques like the open end feeder with a long tail or the waggler,” said Roy.

In contrast, Cornish fishing holiday mecca White Acres has seen its festival entries soar again after starting to let anglers use Method feeders from March this year. Three months down the line has it taken over the Newquay complex? Fishery manager Clint Elliot said: “It hasn’t taken over, it’s just that everybody is giving it a go because it has never been allowed here before. Anglers can now cast tighter to the islands with a buried hookbait and, as a result, the fish are pushing even closer to the bank than before.

Commercial carp ace Andy Findlay has won hundreds of matches on the Method at Makins Fishery and was influential in developing the Korum flat bed Method. Andy regards this design as the benchmark.

“I can’t see how designs can get much better. The only thing might be to use metal instead of plastic, so the frame could be thinner and more inconspicuous. The Method is the ultimate way of catching carp on a feeder rod because your hookbait is always in the middle of your feed,” said Andy.