Feeder Fishing for Barbel

On the second day of my mini Herefordshire getaway and due to the heavy rain fall in the Welsh hills the river had risen again and was still rising, so on advice of the very helpful and knowledgeable bailiffs that control the river we decided to see if we could get amongst some of the river Wye’s barbel as the river levels were not conducive to fishing either the bolo and whip methods we had enjoyed the day previous.

No room for weaknesses

These conditions did allow me to try out the 13’ Black Viper III 140g Feeder Rod fished with the 3oz tip and paired with the Black Viper Compact 845 reel, loaded with Black Magic Gold 0.23mm mono. With the river running hard a 4oz feeder was needed fished on a considerable bow to hold bottom in an attempt to put down a nice bed of feed, high in smell and attractions for the barbel to locate. A Sphere Beast size 12 hook was tied knotless knot style to a four foot hook length made from 0.20mm Cenex Hydro Power Mono allowing for a punched meat pellet to be presented on the hair.

Safety conscious

The feeder was set to run on a doubled up eight inch length of line between two rubber stops that would slide off the line in the event of getting stuck in one of the many snags, ensuring the fish could go free without being tethered to a big 4oz feeder.

Laying the table 

Distance wise and due to the height, pace and debris coming down the river I fished this line on a short chuck on the inside crease at about 10m from the bank. Bait choice was 12mm punched luncheon meat on the hair with a mix of halibut pellets, hemp and 6mm luncheon meat with a large dosing of halibut pellet oil for added attraction and a little Champion’s Choice Formula Fish groundbait for binding placed within the cage feeder.

A big Wye barbel.

Silky smooth and a pleasure to use.

Time to deliver a carpet of feed. 

The first one is always special.

"I had a further three barbel with the last fish weighing a staggering 9lb"

A Wye nine 

Fishing was slow to start with, but after a bite-less first hour of casting out every five minutes a large drop back bite signalled a fish on and a very powerful battle ensued, these river barbel in the flood water go off like a steam train and you definitely need strong reliable tackle, and after a great fight a pristine 7lb river Wye barbel graced the landing net. Over the next couple of hours I had a further three barbel with the last fish weighing a staggering 9lb, the fight was sensational and the Black Viper rod and reel combo soaked up the powerful runs and lunges and had the back bone needed to steer these large powerful fish away from the many snags that reside in the river.

For my first trip to the river I was very impressed with how well it was kept and how amazing and varied the fishing was. I am already planning my next visit.

Tim Bruce

Tim’s Tackle

13 Black Viper III 140g Feeder Rod

Black Viper Compact 845 Reel

0.23mm Black Magic Gold Mono

Sphere Beast Size 12 Hook

0.20mm Cenex Hydro Power Hook Length

4oz Cage Feeder

Tim’s Bait

Luncheon Meat

Halibut Pellets


Halibut Pellet Oil

Champion’s Choice Formula Fish Groundbait

A great days fishing.

Black Viper III rod a proper barbel tamer!

Sphere Beast hooks, strong, sharp and reliable.

Punched meat, great in a flooded river.

Catch Canal Silvers

The Grand Union Canal is always a venue that I love fishing and today I’m at The Globe Public House stretch controlled by Luton Angling Club. In the past I’ve had some really big bags of specimen bream fishing right across against the far bank features, however today with the bright conditions I’m going to target the silvers down the track.

Natural fall

I’m targeting these using what I consider the best all-round pole on the market, the Sphere Zero-G PT+ and have set up two top kits teamed up with Xitan 1.3mm Microbore elastic, both almost identical with 4×14 pole floats but with contrasting shotting patterns. The first has a strung out bulk of no9 with two no10 droppers on a four-inch hook length. This rig is really designed to get the bait down when the locks are open and the canal has some tow on it. The other rig has the shot strung out giving a much more natural fall of the bait, great for the bigger silvers and used when there is little or no movement through the swim. Both rigs have been created using Cenex 0.10mm and 0.08mm Classic Mono line along with Sphere Match size 18 hooks.

Heavier than maggots

Hook bait for today is predominantly maggots, reds and Fluoro pinkies, yet I also have some worms just in case it’s slow going on the silvers and I feel that there may be a big bream or two on the far bank. Groundbait consists of a 50/50 mix of Champion’s Feeder Black Roach and Quick Skimmer, mixed with a groundbait whisk and then passed through a fine riddle a couple of times to create a very fine fluffy mix. I’ve also got some hemp with me and have added a small amount to the groundbait, along with a few pinkies, and used to lose feed over the top every put-in. Feeding is very important and the hemp really comes into use when the locks open and the canal starts to flow as its heavier than maggots and gets down to the bottom quicker. This is a time when it’s not good to feed maggot as these simply head off out of your swim in the flow and potentially take the fish with them, so the rule of thumb here is to feed both maggots and hemp when the canal is still and just hemp when it starts to flow. Being heavier hemp also stays in your swim after a boat has gone through, so it gives me confidence that there is always some loose feed down on the deck in every situation.

Microbore green – A great elastic for the canal. 

Use a strung out shotting pattern.

Hemp is a great roach attractor.

Kick start the swim with groundbait.

"with a double figure bag of silvers by lunchtime I’m going to be heading home a happy man. "

Creating a cloud

Having plumed up and found the depth, which is around 4ft, it’s time to kick start the swim and to do this I cup in three hard balls of groundbait plus one soft ball. The hard balls (simply compressed more) get down to the bottom before breaking up, however the soft ball breaks up as it falls through the swim, creating a cloud and getting fish into the swim quickly. I will also introduce another hard ball if bites don’t continue after a boat has passed through. 

Double figure bag

The session is going to plan with plenty of small roach, perch, gudgeon and odd better skimmer showing from the start but as the morning progresses and with the canal becoming busier with Narrowboat activity I have had to switch from the strung out shot rig to the bulk. At first this hasn’t effected the fishing but as the morning progresses, the sun gets up and this activity increasing understandably so the fishing has become somewhat tougher and I’m having to work harder and harder to keep the fish coming, however with a double figure bag of silvers by lunchtime I’m going to be heading home a happy man. 

Alec Roberts

Sphere Match hooks, great for canal silvers.

Black Roach and Quick Skimmer mixed 50/50.

The best all-round pole on the market. 

Alec’s Tackle

Sphere Zero-G PT+ Pole

Xitan Microbore 1.3mm Green Pole Elastic

Cenex 0.10mm & 0.08mm Classic Mono Line

Sphere size 18 Match Hook

4×14 Pole Float   

Alec’s Bait

Champion’s Feeder Black Roach & Quick Skimmer Groundbait



Red Maggots 

Fluoro Pinkies

What a great morning’s fishing.

Catch Silver's Feeder Fishing on the Drop

We normally think of feeder fishing as all about catching fish hard on the bottom, but this doesn’t necessarily have to be the case. Get your tactics right and it is possible to catch fish on the drop, which can be a much faster and efficient way of catching. Today I am on the river Great Ouse at Littleport; a typical wide, slow-flowing Fenland river. Several tactics will score on venues like this, from the short and long pole lines, to feeder fishing for bream, tench and big perch.

Our Hot Rods team fish numerous matches on rivers like this and one line that is exploited less is the far bank ledge for silver fish. It might seem counterintuitive to want to catch small fish across, as surely it must be quicker to catch them along your own margin. In a match situation though the fish can quickly disappear from the near-line and fishing across can enable more fish to be caught consistently over five hours, with double-figures achievable – enough for good points in a team competition.

The gear you need for this style of fishing isn’t particularly complicated, but it needs to be balanced to enable me to get into an unbroken rhythm that keeps me catching regularly. I use a Sphere 12’ (3.6m) Braid Special feeder rod, matched to a 40-size Quantum Vapor reel loaded with 0.08mm Cenex Feeder Braid with a 0.20mm mono shock leader approximately twice the length of the rod to take the constant stress of casting. The Sphere rod is particularly good for this style of fishing, the soft tip showing bites well and the forgiving mid-section cautioning the cast and reducing the number of fish that I bump off on the retrieve.

Rigs need to be simple and tangle-free. A 35gram Window Feeder Classic casts like a bullet and is easy to load with bait. I could use a lighter feeder, but the cross-winds common on the river mean that the extra weight makes it easier to stay accurate. The feeder is attached to the line using a 6cm mono link with a Feeder Connector Swivel enabling me to change hook lengths quickly. As for hook lengths, I am not fishing as fine as you might imagine, given though I am targeting small fish. A one metre 0.16mm Cenex Hybrid Mono hooklength is robust, and the diameter will help slow the sink-rate of the hookbait down a little. Using a reasonably big hook ensures I land more fish, with less coming off as I quickly bring them across the river.  Quite often I’ll have several hooklengths ready to go on the foam of my bump bar which allows me swap between hook and line choices quickly.

Wet your braided line to improve casting performance.

Feed a little chopped worm and pinkie through the feeder.

Plug the window feeder with explosive groundbait.

"A 35gram Window Feeder Classic casts like a bullet and is easy to load with bait."

Hookbait choice is either maggot or worm head. By using a relatively large hookbait I hope to single-out a slightly better stamp of fish, although it can be difficult to be selective when there are a lot of fish in the peg. Worm heads are also bullet proof and that speeds me up as I don’t have to change baits so often.

The secret to this style of fishing is to be constantly recasting. As soon as the hook bait comes to rest it is effectively not fishing and time to recast. I hold the rod and tighten up to the feeder as soon as it hits the water. Most bites come before the feeder has even touched-down, and the braid allows me to see these easily – for that reason I don’t use the rest, I want to be in touch with the feeder and hooklength all the time.

The Window Feeder releases its payload of cloudy groundbait, chopped worms and pinkies on the drop too, introducing enough bait to attract the fish and keep them hunting for more. In the gin-clear water I find a light coloured groundbait works well as a cloud and it literally explodes out of the feeder as it sinks. I will also only add particles when I feel I need to bring more fish into the peg, the groundbait generally holds them and I don’t want to overfeed or bites will slow and sometimes the stamp can actually reduce. You can find out about the groundbait mix I am using HERE.

When the conditions are right this is bite-a-chuck fishing. The fish might not be big, averaging a couple of ounces, but when you can catch 30-40 per hour it is possible to put together a decent weight. Certainly double-figures is well on the cards if the fish keep coming and if nothing else it allows the pole ,line to settle – which can make that better, or provide me with a quick start that gets me ahead of the game. You can also expect the odd better sized fish to put in an appearance. The rudd here can grow big and I expect a few eight ounce fish to appear through the day. Along with these roach, bleak and a few skimmers are likely, all competing for the bait as it falls through the water – I’ve had tench twice doing this as well, so it’s not a negative method at all.

Although I clip up the line to ensure the feeder hits the far bank shelf every cast I don’t cast to accurately to the same spot every time. I prefer to spread the casts out a little and keep the fish moving around. I find this keeps them active and interested for longer, drawing more fish into the peg. If I’m doing this I tend not to include particles – as I want that to all land in the same spot – so I may stick with neat groundbait.

Whilst it might not be a conventional way to fish a big river such as this, catching silverfish on the drop can be a really useful tactic, especially when the section is under match conditions and the fish have an uncanny ability to switch off. If you fish a similar big river, or perhaps a stillwater with a big head of silverfish then why not give it a go?

Kye Jerrom

This very simple feeder link helps avoid tangles and enables me to instantly change hooklengths.

Fish on the far margin shelf where the water is 4-6 feet deep.

You can put together a good weight of fish on the feeder.

Kye’s Gear

Sphere 12’ (3.6m) Braid Special Feeder Rod

Size 40 Quantum Vapor reel

0.08mm Cenex Feeder Braid

0.20mm Cenex Feeder Mono Shockleader

0.16mm Cenex Hybrid Power Mono Hooklength

Size 14 Sphere Feeder Lite Hook

35 gram Window Feeder Classic



Kye’s Bait

2 pints pinkies

250 grams chopped worm

1 pint maggots


1 bag Champions Choice No.1 groundbait

1/2 bag Champion Feeder Big Bream

1/2 bag Champions Choice Canal

Rudd are the main species I expect to catch on the drop.

Meat fishing, but not as you know it...

Match fishing is all about creating edges, the more edges you have up your sleeve, the more time saved resulting in more fish in the net come the end of the day. Luncheon meat is a fantastic bait, especially on commercials for carp, however it has one big drawback, it’s soft and comes off the hook easily. This is great when fishing down the edge for a real lump, yet up in the water on the pole or on the feeder when carp are competing and creating a lot of false bites can be frustrating as a premature strike will result in time being wasted reeling in and having to re-bait. One edge I have created that has put loads more carp in my keepnet, simply by mimicking meat, is to punch a piece of boiled gammon steak as its texture is ten times tougher than good old Luncheon Meat but it looks, smells and acts almost the same. It’s also saltier, something I’m also convinced is more appealing. Placing this on a hair which has a bait spike attached or using a readymade hooklink such as the Feeder Leader Method Push Stops mimics the freebies fed around but withstands numerous casts, even captures. Give it a go it will save you loads of time having to re-bait and put loads more carp in your net.  

Today I’ve come to Churchgate Lakes in Essex for the very first time and have headed to the Bottom Lake which I’m told holds loads of carp. The swim I’ve chosen is round the back of the main island which I’m going to cast close too as this is where most of the F1’s and odd big carp seem to come from. The rod I’m using is the superb 10’ Sphere Bomb teamed up with the 930 MgTi reel loaded with 0.20mm Cenex Method Mono which is camou-coloured with high durability and fast sinking. Running on this is a 30g Hydrus Metal Method Feeder which is buffeted by a medium Connector Bead onto which I’ve added a four-inch hooklink created from 0.16mm Cenex Classic Mono. A size 16 barbless Sphere CPF LS hook tied knotless-knot style with a hair and Push Stop completes the hook length. 

Churchgate Lakes F1’s are big.

Feathering the feeder down reduces tangles.

Let’s see how today goes.

The first one is always nice.

"its texture is ten times tougher than good old Luncheon Meat"

Fed through the feeder is simply Champion’s Method Robin & Krill groundbait and I’ve stated using a kilo bag mixed with 600ml of water as stated on the packet before passing through a fine riddle a couple of times. To this I’m adding a kilo of dampened 2mm micro pellets, a combination that is irresistible to both carp and F1’s. I’m also going to catapult a few punched pieces of steak over the top of where I’m casting as this will attract any passing carp, draw them in and if they start showing up in the water will give me the option to switch to the pellet waggler for the odd bigger bonus fish.

The morning session was slow to start with, probably due to lots of other day anglers arriving, but the swim has slowly improved as the noise levels have dropped and I’ve been rewarded with plenty of big F1’s, odd carp and my standard goldfish that I seem to catch everywhere I go! 

Gary McClair

Every fish is fun when using the Sphere Bomb rod. 

Cenex lines and Sphere hooks, brilliant.

Constant feeding over the top gets the fish feeding.  

Champion’s Method Robin & Krill, great for the feeder.

Gary’s Tackle

10’ Sphere Bomb Rod

Sphere MgTi 930 Reel

Cenex 0.20mm Method Mono

Cenex 0.16mm Classic Mono

Hydrus 30g Metal Method Feeder

Sphere size 16 barbless CPF LS Hook

Medium Connector Bead


Gary’s Bait

Champion’s Method Robin & Krill

Gammon Steak

A few hours fishing resulted in these F1’s.

Make Explosive Feeder Groundbait

Feeder fishing is not just about catching fish hard on the bottom. Often, when fishing for roach, rudd and other silverfish, it is much faster to catch them on the drop. We use this tactic regularly on the larger Fenland rivers, and it is just as effective on stillwaters too. In fact it works brilliantly on any venue with a big head of silver fish.


This tactic revolves around creating a cloud of particles in the water column that encourage the fish to feed confidently. Groundbait and small baits, such as finely chopped worm, and pinkies, are ideal for achieving this. The groundbait mix should be light so that it hangs in the water, and literally explode out of the feeder so that it is empty by the time it reaches the bottom. The mix I have put together to achieve this is a combination of three of the Champions range of groundbaits, namely Champions Choice Canal, Champions Feeder Big Bream and Champions Choice No.1. All of these are light groundbaits with a sandy colour – a bright groundbait works well as a cloud, whilst I generally use a dark mix on the deck.


This is an easy mix to put together, but like most groundbaits they will benefit from being prepared the night before fishing, or first thing before the start of a session so that the water has time to be fully absorbed, activating the groundbait.


Kye Jerrom

Use a combination of Champions Choice Canal, Champions Feeder Big Bream and Champions Choice No.1.

Start off with a full bag of Champtions Choice No.1.

Add half a bag of the Champions Feeder Big Bream.

Now add half a bag of the Champions Choice Canal.

"This tactic works brilliantly on venues with plenty of silver fish."

Mix the dry ingredients together thoroughly – I tend to use a groundbait whisk for this.

Slowly add water, whisking all the time to ensure the groundbait is thoroughly mixed.

Put the groundbait through a maggot riddle to remove any lumps and to aerate the mix.

Leave the groundbait to stand for as long as possible, to allow the water to be absorbed.

When I am ready to start fishing I use an atomiser to get the consistency spot-on.

The finished mix has a light fluffy texture and explodes out of the feeder creating a cloud.

Use chopped worm and pinkies in the feeder to add some food.

Load the feed and groundbait into a Window Feeder.

Catch Carp on the Hydrus Method Feeder

The Method Feeder has come a long way over the years, from the ‘hair-curler’ style feeders that started the whole thing off, to modern open cage feeders that provide the perfect ‘dinner-plate’ of bait for a hungry carp. Todays anglers have never had it so good. The range of feeders and baits to use with them has grown massively, but it is probably more important than ever to ensure that every part of your tackle and bait is right, especially in high pressure match fishing. 

I like to use a more open-style of feeder, such as the Browning Hydrus, which has raised ‘fins’ on either side that help hold the feed in place without giving the hook something to catch on. The base of the feeder also features dozens of raised dimples that give the pellets something to stick to. This is important, because the smooth surface of most feeders means that the pellets can easily be dislodged when the feeder hits the water, leaving you fishing with little or no bait around the feeder. 

Small 2mm pellets compact together better than larger pellets, staying on the feeder until it comes to rest on the lake bed. Choose a pellet that is a little sticky when using them with an open or flat feeder. I lightly dampen the pellets with water and after about twenty minutes they will have softened through and be ready to use. 

A little trick that I like to use is to ping a few 8mm pellets over the top of the feeder. About half a dozen pellets every couple of minutes is about right. The sound of the pellets will attract the carp and F1’s and the fast-sinking pellets will help to draw the fish down to the waiting feeder. 

The raised sides and dimples on the Hydrus feeder.

Damp pellets stick really well to the feeder.

Alternate hookbaits to see which the fish prefer.

"Drawing the fish away from the cover will once again ensure that I land them"

I am fishing the Beastie Pool here at Decoy Lakes near Peterborough today and, as the name suggests, the fish run big. There is no point using gear that is not up to the job, so I set my stall out to land everything I hook. A size 14 Sphere Beast hook to a 0.20mm Cenex Hybrid Power hooklength is more than up to the job. 

Rather than fish tight to the reed-fringed island in front of me, I am going to start at a little over three-quarters distance. Drawing the fish away from the cover will once again ensure that I land them, rather than watch as they bolt into the cover. It also allows me to follow the fish across if they back off the feed later in the day. The Sphere Bomb +10% rod is perfect for this style of fishing, especially when carp well into double-figures may be encountered. The extra backbone in the mid-section of this rod enables me to dictate the fight without being too heavy-handed. 

It has taken a while to get the first bite today. To be honest, the weather has been all over the shop and the fish don’t know whether to be cruising near the surface, or sitting deeper. Patience can be a virtue though and once I had caught one fish it was as if the door had been opened and more followed at regular intervals, including some nice mirrors and big F1’s. 

Whilst it can seem like a dead-easy tactic, there are still lots of little edges that can make a real difference to your catches. 

Jon Whincup

I use the Sphere Bomb +10% rod and MgTi 30 reel.

Ping pellets over the feeder to draw in more carp.

You don’t need many of these to build a big weight.

Jon’s Tackle

Sphere 10’ Bomb +10% Rod

Sphere MgTi30 Reel

Hydrus Method Feeder

0.26mm Cenex Method Mono

0.20mm Cenex Hybrid Power Mono

Size 14 Sphere Beast Eyed Barbless Hook

Jon’s Bait

2mm dampened feeder pellets

8mm Fishery Pellets

8mm Dumbell boilies

The brilliant Hydrus feeder.

How to Catch Big Canal Bream

The Grand Union Canal in Bedfordshire is a fantastic silver fish venue, yet there are also some seriously big fish too, including carp, perch and bream. In fact, on some occasions you have to make that decision, whether to go all out for the big fish or stick to the consistent silver fish action. In most cases keeping to the silvers is the safer option, yet if you’re on a known bream peg and don’t go for it, you might just be kicking yourself come the end of the match. 

There’s nothing worse than picking a bream flyer and not really knowing how to get the best from it so it’s worth having a few practice sessions and that’s exactly what I’m going to do today, however it’s not exactly the best bream conditions! 

Straight on the bait

These bream rarely come down the track and seem to stick to the shallow water found on the far bank where there is usually lots of bankside cover and shade. Something I have found is usually, if there are any bream in the swim they are straight on the bait. Yet, this doesn’t mean baiting too heavily as once it’s in the swim, you can’t take it out, so it pays to bait cautiously to start with. Bearing this in mind, I’m going to introduce two firm balls of groundbait, whisked and finely riddled, created from a 50/50 mix of Champion’s Feeder Quick Skimmer and an all time canal favourite, Black Roach which contains some dead maggots, fluoro pinkies and a little chopped worm. As for hookbait, these bream tend to come to double red maggot, but it is always worth trying a piece of worm tipped with a fluoro pinkie or a couple of dead maggots if things aren’t happening. I will also introduce another ball of bait after a couple of decent fish, or if a boat has come through the swim, and have found that a small cupful of finely chopped worm can bring a quick response. I also like to catapult a few maggots over the float from time to time, but only do this when there is no flow. 

My favoured canal bream groundbaits

Xitan Microbore elastic, the choice of many.

Cenex Classic Mono line, great for pole rigs. 

"This stamp of fish can be found in many canals."

Keeping it simple

The far bank is 13.5m across and I’m using my trusted Sphere Zero-G F1 for this teamed up with Xitan Microbore Orange which has a 5-7 rating. My rig is kept quite simple, consisting of 0.13mm Cenex Classic Mono with a 4×12 float shotted with a bulk of no 9’s and a short 10cm 0.10mm Classic Mono hook length, to a Sphere Match size 18 hook. Before introducing any bait I had a quick plumb around and found that the top shelf, right under the overhanging cover, to have no more than 2ft 8’ which is where these bream are happy feeding. 

The action continues

It doesn’t take long for signs of fish in the swim and I’m soon lifting into a fish and watching the elastic stretch from the tip. It’s definitely a good bream, one that weighs around 4lb and, as expected, came to the double red maggot. A couple of skimmers around a pound soon follow before once again the elastic stretches and another big canal bream comes to the net, this one coming once again to the maggot. Soon after this I potted some chopped worm in, which definitely encouraged more action. The action continues well into the morning, yet once the sun removes the shade on the far bank and the boat traffic becomes unbearable it’s time to call it a day. It has been a brilliant mornings sport and just goes to show the stamp of fish that can be found in many canals. 


Gary Ford

A nice dark groundbait mix helps the bream settle.

A cup of worms often brings a quick response.

Simple rigs are all that are required.

Sphere Match hooks are perfect for the job.

Gary’s Tackle

Sphere Zero-G F1+

Xitan Microbore Elastic

Sphere Match hooks

Cenex Classic Mono

4×12 Pole Float

Gary’s Bait

Champion’s Feeder Black Roach Groundbait

Champion’s Feeder Quick Skimmer Groundbait

Red and Dead Maggots

Fluoro Pinkies

Chopped Worm

A couple of cracking GUC bream.

Tench on the Pellet Cone

Picture the perfect tench morning in summer and you will imagine mist swirling above the water as the first rays of sunshine push through the trees and small pin prick bubbles erupting on the water’s surface, well that’s not what I’ve been blessed with this morning! Storm Francis has other ideas with howling winds of over 50mph as well as constant heavy rain, joy, and to make things worse I forgot to put the brolly in the car. Anyway, I rarely fish under a brolly and anyone braving these conditions will usually be rewarded with plenty of action and this venue, Harris Lake controlled by Godalming Angling Society, rarely disappoints as it’s full of tench and crucians. 

Simply devastating

The more commonly used method feeder has been extensively used here, it still produces but the pellet cone, rarely used or mentioned these days, is simply devastating and anglers in the know are quietly ripping this place apart. Rules are rules and on this venue rigs have to be running so with a wind that’s really gusty I have decided to use a small Quick Change bead running on my 6lb Black Magic Gold mainline as this will allow me to change the weight of the lead quickly when the wind gets up allowing me to keep hitting the same spot every cast. I’ve also included a short two-inch twirl section to create a boom which almost eliminates tangles and added to this is a small Feeder Connecter Swivel onto which my hook length is attached. This hook length, which is again two-inches long, is created from Cenex Fluoro Carbon in a 0.15mm diameter and has a size 16 Sphere micro barbed hook attached knotless knot style to leave a short hair onto which a buoyant plastic corn stop is attached. As for my rod, well you will be hard pushed to find one better; it’s the 10’ Sphere Bomb teamed up with a Sphere MgTi 940 reel. 

I’ll take any weather when specimen crucians are gracing my net!

The rig, fiddly but highly effective.

Once in, they stay in. 

Accuracy is key when fishing the pellet cone. 

"the pellet cone, rarely used or mentioned these days, is simply devastating"

Critically balanced bait

As for bait, it really is very simple, 2mm pellets in the cone and plastic corn for hookbait. Many anglers have a fear about using plastic baits but with the cone they are deadly as when the pellets break down around, the bait sits right in the middle of them waiting to be sucked up from a passing fish. The reason for using a buoyant bait here is it removes the weight of the hook, making the bait very light and when a fish sucks up the pellets the hookbait is also engulfed, however when the fish lifts up, or tries to blow the plastic bait out the inevitable happens and the hook, more often than not, takes hold in the bottom lip. It does take time to get a critically balanced bait and its worth spending some time at home to get the perfect combination but get it right and you will see a massive upturn in your catch rate. Small micro pellets and plastic corn rarely fails but on the odd occasion real corn, or plastic maggot/caster seems to produce more as does 4mm pellets so it pays to always have these with you as backup. 

The perfect pellets

Getting the perfect micros pellet consistency for the cone comes with practice, but in short, mix a few up at a time and just sprinkle them with a little water, mix, leave for a few minutes and repeat a couple of times. A little tip is to add some sweet flavoured syrup to the water as this helps stick them together and stay intact when casting. Mounting the cone of pellets is simple, just press the 2mm into the cone firmly, push a baiting needle through these, attach the hook length to the needle and pull through so the hook point embeds into the pellets before pushing the pellets out of the cone and attaching the hook length to the Feeder Connector Swivel. 

Repeat every couple of minutes

Accuracy is key so you will need to use the line clip on the reel and once the rig hits bottom do not move it, just tighten up so that there is a slight bend in the quivertip. Repeat every couple of minutes until the bites start coming. Today it’s taken around an hour to start getting indications that a few fish have arrived, and the first fish to make a mistake is this 4lb tench which is quickly followed by a couple more before the crucians turn up. It might be raining hard and blowing a right hurricane but with fish gracing my net regularly I’ve hardly noticed it.

Andy Blay

2mm pellets and plastic corn rarely fails.

Fluoro Carbon hook lengths, that little edge.

Nailed in the bottom lip.

Andy’s Tackle

Sphere Bomb Rod

Sphere MgTi 940 Reel

Black Magic Gold 0.19mm (6.60lbs) Mainline 

Cenex 0.15mm Fluoro Carbon Hook Line

Sphere Match size 16 Hook

1.1oz Bomb

Small Quick Change Swivel

10mm Feeder Connector Swivel

Xitan Medium Super Stopper Oval


Andy’s Bait

2mm/4mm Pellets

Plastic Buoyant Sweet Corn

Sweet Corn

Corn Syrup Sweetener

The first tench of the session.

Catch Silver Fish on Slow-Flowing Rivers

Slow flowing rivers, such as the Cam, where I am today, are the home of many of the summer league matches that I fish with Browning Team Wickford. Although there are bonus fish to be caught, the great thing about rivers like this is that they are teeming with small fish at the moment. This makes them very fair venues for team fishing. Virtually every peg will produce plenty of fish, meaning the tactics used will have a significant impact on the result, rather than a few flyer pegs dominating the results. 

My first aim when fishing any team match is to get a fish in the net, and get some points on the scoresheet. Once this is achieved it is a case of knuckling down and trying to catch as many small fish as possible, whilst still having the occasional look for a bonus fish further out. 

It pays to fish as close in as possible, as this speeds up landing fish, but without compromising finding the right line. On this stretch of the Cam the bottom levels out fairly quickly and I am able to fish comfortably at around 7-metres in the knowledge that the bottom is flat and I am beyond the marginal shelf. 

Because of the thick weed growth in the river at this time of the year it is important to bring a weed rake and spend some time clearing the area that you want to fish. I would say this is necessary on the majority of swims in the summer. Fortunately, the disturbance doesn’t put the fish off, and by the time I start fishing they will be back. 

Pinkies and hemp make up my feed with a maggot hookbait.

An initial bed of groundbait will draw and hold my target fish.

Cenex Classic Mono is my choice for rigs and hook lengths.

"It has been a bite almost every put-in from small roach, perch, and dace"

To kick the swim off and lay down some feed in the area I want to catch from I start off with a few balls of groundbait made using a bag of Champions Choice Black Magic, half a bag of Etang, and some Champions Choice Krazy Sweetner. This is mixed fairly sticky as the river is around seven feet deep and I want the balls of groundbait to get to the bottom before breaking up. This helps me avoid the bleak and tiny fish that are generally up in the water. Added to the groundbait are a few dead maggots and some hemp to attract and hold the roach. To begin with I put in eight tangerine-sized balls of groundbait to lay down a carpet of feed. 

After the initial baiting up I feed around 40 grains of hemp every put-in, which is around two minutes, and about 20 pinkies every couple of runs through, just to keep some bait falling through the water, creating some activity. Most of this I am sure will be mopped up by the bleak, but enough will get through to keep the roach interested.

My hookbait is a bronze maggot, which tends to pick up a slightly better stamp of fish than pinkie. In practice this has proven to be the best hookbait colour as the water is quite clear. As I am feeding hemp I will also try hemp on the hook later in the day, although this can be quite hit and miss. Some days the roach will be feeding hard on the hemp, whilst on others it can be completely ignored. Once again though, hemp does tend to pick up a better stamp of fish. 

I have set up a few slightly different rigs, each of which presents the hookbait in a slightly different way. All of these are set up on no.3 Cenex solid elastic, running through my Xitan SLKP 4.5mm top kits. These are ideal for catching small fish on light lines and small hooks. I have this rigged fairly tight so that I can easily swing in small fish. 

My rigs are made up using 0.10mm Cenex Classic Mono to a four-inch 0.08mm hooklength of the same material. This is a lovely clear line, with great knot strength and an accurate diameter, which allows me to fish fine as the water is relatively clear. To match the single maggot hookbaits I am using a relatively fine wire size 20 hook. 

There is only a light flow on the Cam at this time of the year, but the river is relatively deep and it can be windy here out on the edge of the Fens, so I am using a 4×14 float with 10 no.9 shot strung out evenly. The float has a very fine tip to show the bites well, plus a slim body and wire stem for extra stability. The strung out rig will catch fish as the bait falls through the water, which is often how they want it presented.

The problem with a slow-sinking hookbait can be that it picks up too many bleak. If this becomes a problem I swap to a rig with the no.9’s bulked around 12-inches from the hook. When the fish are feeding really well and I need to get the bait down as quickly as possible then I will swap to a rig with the bulk at four-inches from the hook. It pays to experiment with these different permutations to see how the fish react, as on some days they want the bait falling through the water, whilst on others they want it nailed to the deck. 

Today I have been practicing with some of my fellow Wickford team members and we have each been fishing a slightly different approach. The bigger fish haven’t shown, which in some respects is a good thing, as these are less likely to have an impact during match conditions. It has been a bite almost every put-in from small roach, perch, and dace, which has kept us all busy. I’ve had the odd net perch, which has boosted my weight a little, but it has really been a case of catching as many fish as possible – a style of fishing I really enjoy. We have learnt a few little things today that will hopefully serve us well in the upcoming summer league matches, on what has to be one of our favourite venues. 

Paul Hyde

Add a sprinkling of Crazy Sweetner to your groundbait.

Bonus perch are always welcome.

A catch like this is worth good points in a team match.

Perfecting the Pellet Waggler

The Pellet Waggler is certainly a method through the warm summer months, when the carp are up in the water that wins more than its fair share of matches and its one that I’m keen to perfect this summer. Unfortunately the venues around me where this method can be used are limited, so today I’ve headed down to Essex to a venue where the pellet waggler scores highly, Churchgate Lakes. 

Conditions are perfect, hot and still and there’s plenty of carp cruising around, all I need to do is get some feed going in and I should be able to get a few competing in the swim. Patience is needed, especially here as this venue is deeper than most and its best to target the odd cruiser before taking a fish from the main feeding zone as being inpatient can do more damage than good. The key in activating a swim is to keep the feed going through the water columns on a little and often basis. Feeding too heavily can drag the fish down on the bottom; feed too little and attracting fish into the swim and getting them competing won’t be achieved. Every day and venue is different so it really does pay to feel your way into each session and be prepared to practice as much as possible in order to suss the place out. I’m feeding 8mm pellets and catapulting five or six every couple of minutes, however the fish aren’t responding as positively as I would like and there are a few bubbles starting to appear which means some of the pellets are reaching the bottom. This behaviour is probably down to the venue being extremely busy, many are still furloughed and it’s the summer holiday, looks like everyone has taken up fishing this year! A little tip is if a, or a group of carp cruise into the swim, up the feed as this often stops them in their tracks, gets them feeding and in turn attracts others. This is exactly what I’ve just done and it’s bought me my first carp of the session. Something else you will find is when the carp are really on the feed bites can be brutal, the three foot twitch so to speak, but on other days bites can be very finical and you need to strike hard and fast at them. This method isn’t for the lazy angler, the more you work the swim, then usually the more you will catch, so remember feed cast, feed cast, feed cast every couple of minutes at the most!

Make sure you set the clutch.

Constant casting is key to this method.

It is quality not quantity today.

"Conditions are perfect, hot and still and there’s plenty of carp cruising around"

The tackle I’m using is quite robust as continuously casting and on occasions playing fish after fish will take its toll. The rod I’m using is the 11’ Sphere Pellet Waggler. I’ve teamed my rod up with a Sphere MgTi 930 loaded with 0.16mm Cenex Hybrid Power Mono, a great all-round line. On the business end I’m keeping things nice and simple with a loaded 6g float locked in position using three medium Xitan Oval Super Stoppers. I use one Stopper above the float and two below, the two being used so they don’t move on the strike. I also leave a gap of around half an inch between so the float can lay down when casting, it simply makes casting easier. Although the Stoppers lock into position, they can be moved under finger force which allows me to alter the depth I’m fishing, something that is critical and needs to be done throughout every session to find where the fish are most comfortable intercepting the slow sinking bait. A rule of thumb is most fish will come deep at the start but as competing for the pellets increases they will rise in the water and can be taken really shallow. As for the hooklink I’m using a pre-tied Feeder Method barbless size 16 hook-to-nylon with a pellet band into which an 8mm pellet is placed quickly and efficiently using  Band Aid Forceps. 

Although the fish aren’t coming fast and furious, I’m keeping up with others around me and seem to get little bursts where two or three carp will be landed before a period of quietness. Fortunately the fish I’m catching are of a good stamp, a couple haven’t been far of double figures so today’s it quality not quantity. I can take that!

Garry Cooper


Simple, but effective tackle.

Simple banded pellet.

Band Aid Forceps makes bait fixing easy.

You need balanced tackle to land big carp.

Garry’s Tackle

Sphere 11’ Pellet Waggler

Sphere MgTi930 Reel

Cenex 0.16mm Hybrid Power Mono

Feeder Method 0.18mm size 16 hook-to-nylon with pellet band

6g Pellet Waggler Float

Xitan Super Stopper Oval (medium)

Garry’s Bait

8mm Low oil Pellets

A sample of the quality fish on offer here.