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Pole Position for Snake Lake Carp

From the Archives - Pole Position for Snake Lake Carp

Pondwood Fishery in Berkshire is fast becoming one of my favourite venues, not only because it’s been very kind to me in the matches recently, but being unable to fish my local canals this winter, the Snake Lake here is about as close as it gets to where I love to fish. The only difference is that instead of scratching around in the cold for a few bites on a canal, this lake is full of fish and even on the cruellest of days, a decent net of fish is almost guaranteed. 

The luck of the draw. 

Although this is a snake lake, one thing that is slightly different to others is it does have a few bridges crossing it, which create a number of, what’s known as end pegs throughout its length. These are the ones to pick out of the hat on match days, but even if you do, you still have to get the best out of them to win. I’ve been fortunate to pick a couple of end pegs of late and on both occasions have won the matches, the first being on a very windy day when the extra margin to my left produced 68lb and on the other occasion 52lb came my way fishing to the far bank. 

Target the far margin

As you can imagine, the far bank is the area to target as a large proportion of the fish move here to get away from the disturbance we make when setting up. If conditions allow then expander pellets over micros just off the shelf will be the best method and that’s what I’m going to be doing throughout this short practice session. 

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Distinguishing between liners and proper bites

Feeding accurately and placing the rig over the top at anything from ten to fourteen metres means that the pole rules here and I’m using my trusted Sphere Zero-G Power Partner. This is teamed up with Xitan Micobore 1.9mm Pink Elastic which has a rating of 7-9, ideal for the average size of fish here, around 12oz but easily capable of controlling the odd bigger carp that is likely to be hooked. The rig I’m using is relatively simple and consists of a short .3g rugby ball shape float, one that has a relatively thick high-viz tip for easily distinguishing between liners and proper bites. This is connected to Cenex 0.16mm Hybrid Power Mono, the six-inch hooklink is Cenex 0.11mm Fluoro Carbon and on the business end is a barbless size 18 hook. I like to use a number of Micro Soft Shot to cock the float as these can be adjusted if needed, yet the most consistent arrangement here is to place six number ten’s, an inch apart on the lower half of the rig, one being placed on the hooklink as this straightens out the loop-to-poop knot used to attach it. I’ve also attached two number eights, three inches above the float, the reason for the back shot is they cut out any surface drift allowing me to keep the float directly above the pole tip and connect with the bites with the slightest of pole lift.  

Heavy plummet

Fishing the float and presenting your bait in a swim perfectly would just not be possible without the use of a plummet and when pole fishing its best to use a heavy one as you can feel the plummet hit bottom and adjust the float accordingly. Making a mental note of the depth, even making a mark on the pole, is important as to keep the fish coming throughout the session I will need to adjust the depth constantly, yet the marker allows me to return to dead-depth instantly without having to plumb-up again. 

Constant adjustments

Bait today is simple, 2mm micros that will be fed through a small feed pot and 4mm expanders for the hook which were prepared last night, along with some liquidised corn as back-up. To start with I’m going to introduce around twenty micros and within seconds I’m into my first fish, a carp around a pound. More follow but getting the best out of the swim is all about feeding, when to increase or reduce the amount of micros. There are no set rules here, as every day is different but like today, if you start foul hooking fish it’s because the fish have come up in the water, so when this happens its best to cut back on the feed and if it continues then adjusting the shotting can help but better still you need to take a few inches of the depth and offer the hookbait higher up in the water. This may mean fewer bites, but the ones you get from then on should be proper ones. Foul-hookers need to be avoided at all costs as they simply ruin not just the swim but often the rig as well as eating into the time you have on the bank. 

Plenty of bites

Today’s three hour session has been a little frustrating at times, as I’ve experienced far too many foul hooked fish yet by constantly adjusting the rig, the depth the bait is presented, as well as how I have fed has kept the fish coming. 

A frosty start followed by a bright morning is never going to be easy, but by heading to a well stocked commercial and picking the right swim usually means plenty of bites.


John Brownlie

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John’s Tackle

Sphere Zero-G Power Partner

Xitan Microbore 1.9mm Pink Pole Elastic

Cenex 0.16mm Hybrid Power Mono 

Cenex 0.11mm Fluoro Carbon

.3g Pole Float

Size 18 Barbless Hook

John’s Bait

2mm Micro Pellets

4mm Expander Pellets 

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Autumn Feeder Fishing For Silvers

Autumn Feeder Fishing For Silvers

Fishing for skimmer bream might not be everyone’s first choice but I love them and they can be life savers when the water temperature drops.

Open mind

Today I’ve come to a local club venue, one that regularly holds matches and where in the depth of winter bags of silvers can exceed 40lb, however anyone that has fished for skimmers will already know that they can be somewhat frustrating. One day they will be crawling up the rod, the next creating no pattern and registering the tiniest of bites. Knowing this is very important and you have to approach each session with an open mind as well as bringing along an array of baits if you want to get the best out of your peg.

Natural baits

The standard selection of hook bait I take when I know skimmers are the target consists of dead and live maggots, preferably reds, casters and worms. Pellets do pay a part in hookbait during the warmer months but once the water temperature drops I prefer natural baits, however I do add a few small pellets into the feeder along with chopped worms and a few dead maggots. The groundbait I tend to use early winter is Sonubaits Super Crush Green that I mix before leaving home with bottled water, before passing through a sieve a couple of times to make it light, fluffy and very fine.   

Timing casts 

At the start of each session I like to clip up and make half a dozen accurate casts simply to activate the swim. I then get into a routine of casting every three minutes and hope that the skimmers will turn up fairly quickly. When they do bites can come quicker than three minutes, however when the water is really clear and cold I may push each cast to a slightly longer period, yet with skimmers it’s more of when will they turn up than will they turn up so it pays to be positive. 

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Long and traditional

Bites can vary from steady pull rounds to the shyest of taps so I prefer to use a braided mainline and have loaded my Black Viper Compact reel with Cenex 0.08mm Sinking braid and have teamed this up with a 12’ Sphere Medium Feeder, the perfect rod for feeder fishing for skimmers. As for the rig it’s a simple running feeder set up with a few tweaks. Firstly I still feel that when skimmer fishing its best to have quite a long hook length and mine is a couple of feet of 0.16mm Cenex Hybrid Power down to a size 16 Classic hook which is the perfect size to allow me to alternate between worm, caster a double red dead maggot. Further up the line is a short twizzel boom and the free running feeder link comes to rest against a small Stotz shot that protects the knot to the twizzel boom. The feeder bead that runs on the braided mainline has a short length of stiff line from it down to a link swivel and both knots are protected with a short length of clear tubing. This acts as a boom and reduces tangles considerably and the swivel link allows me to swap from different sized feeders throughout the session. 

Peas in a pod

As expected today’s session has seen double red dead maggot produce most bites and as on many occasions the bites have been really shy but the braided mainline has exaggerated these allowing me to read the conditions and keep in touch with the fish. Unfortunately the stamp of skimmers has been quite small today and have been like peas in a pod, all around 6-8oz but once they got their heads down its been one a chuck letting me build a decent bag of fish.  

Tim Bruce

Tim’s Tackle

Sphere 12’ Medium Feeder Rod

Black Viper Compact Reel

0.08mm Cenex Sinking Braid

0.16mm Cenex Hybrid Power Mono

Size 16 Sphere Classic Hook

Xenos Jet Feeders


Tim’s Bait

Dead/Live Red Maggots



Micro Pellets 

Sonubaits Super Crush Green Groundbait

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New Video - Feeder Fishing for Skimmers

Look out for this new video over on the Browning Official YouTube channel (find it here).


This week Tim Bruce looks at how to catch skimmers on the feeder as we head into winter. These small bream can be relied upon to feed in even the coldest winter conditions, making them great weight builders in winter matches.

Keep up to date with all our latest match news here.

Find out more about our team of anglers here.


Visit the Browning interactive product catalogue here.

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Catch Carp Down the Edge

Catch Carp Down the Edge

In match conditions or on practice sessions when it’s bright, commercial carp tend to head for any bit of cover, and every swim has cover right down each side, albeit sometimes sparse. Today I’m on the Match Lake at Blind Lane Fishery for a practice session before a match and not only is it busy but the bright conditions aren’t going to make it easy. I’ve picked a swim that has some cover from the sun down each side and these will be fed and rotated regularly.

Today’s tackle

The pole I’m using is the fantastic Sphere Zero-G F1+, a great all-round pole and perfect for bagging up on carp down the edge. This is teamed up with 1.8mm Blue Black Magic Gold Power Elastic which has a rating of 14, ideal as these carp fight all the way to the net and there’s a very good chance of hooking something quite large. What I love about this elastic is it powers up really quickly once a fish is hooked, slowing it down progressively and getting it under control quickly. I’m using Cenex 0.16mm Hybrid Power Mono and 0.14mm Classic Mono for my main and hook length with Sphere size 16 barbless CPF LS hook. The left hand margin is the deepest around 5ft and I’m using a 4×14 float with the shot strung out which doubles up if I want to go straight out in front where I will be feeding corn by hand on a regular basis.  The right hand side is far shallower and I’m going really tight in to the cover with a 4×8 float shotted with a bulk six inches from the hook. 

Something different

As for bait I’m using something different, shown to me by team member Alex Roberts, and although it will be corn on the hook, I’m feeding ground down maize pellets with a little Champion’s Choice Big Fish Groundbait added; a combination that creates a really enticing cloud and one Alex has had some great success using. I also have some liquidized corn which will be fed, like the dampened ground maize through a small pot to keep it nice and tight. 

Thick and fast

As expected the conditions and activity of other anglers has seen it take time to get each margin going but although carp have been coming regularly it’s not until around a couple of hours in that they start coming thick and fast. Some days you get some real lumps down the edge but today they are relatively small, the biggest maybe 4lb but come lunchtime I’ve put together a tidy net of carp and feel confident with my approach for the forth coming match. 


Gary Ford

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Gary’s Tackle

Sphere Zero-G F1+ Pole

Black Magic Gold Power Elastic

Cenex 0.16mm Hybrid Power Mono

Cenex 0.14mm Classic Mono

Size 16 Sphere CPF LS Barbless Hook 

4×8 & 4×14 Pole Floats


Gary’s Bait


Champion’s Choice Big Fish Groundbait 

Ground Maize Pellets

Liquidized Corn

Keep up to date with all our latest match news here.

Find out more about our team of anglers here.


Visit the Browning interactive product catalogue here.

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Catch More Carp on the Bomb & Pellet Feeder

Catch More Carp on the Bomb & Pellet Feeder

The pellet feeder is a fantastic method and catches loads of fish but there are a few ways to increase your catch rate and put more fish in the net. Here are three very simple tips that have certainly given me a few edges along the way.

Nowhere to go

This may seem obvious but how many anglers actually do it, very few! When fishing up against a snag or in this case an undercut bank against an island most anglers will set up with their rod at an angler, however this is a recipe for disaster as it allows the fish to rip the rod round, gain not just momentum but position as well and in most cases becomes snagged. What I have found is to simply beef up my tackle slightly then after casting position the rod so it’s pointing directly to where you have just cast. When a bite comes the fish has nowhere to go but come up in the water, kite left or right on a tight line and away from danger. A simple but very effective tactic that many simply overlook!

Adjust the height

Short hook lengths of around four-inches are commonly used with method/pellet feeders and in most cases are highly effective but by placing two tiny shot on the hooklink can make a very effective rig into a devastating rig as it allows you adjust the presentation of your hook bait in a split second. Basically my standard rig consists of a running pellet feeder which comes to rest against a connector bead. This connector bead allows me to change hook lengths quickly, a unique component in itself. The four-inch max hook length, usually created from 0.20mm Cenex Hybrid Power Mono when fishing for carp, has a size 13 Sphere Beast barbless hook attached to it which is tied knotless knot style allowing a bait band to be tied to the hair. It all seems quite straight forward but I then press two tiny Stotze weights onto the hook length. The Stotze can be moved without fear of damaging the line and if position right back against the feeder simply means the set up can be fished with a standard hard sinking pellet. However if I’m fishing over a choddy bottom I can attach a small pop-up pellet to the band pull the small weights down to say two inches from the hook which creates a hookbait that sits up away from any debris. The height of the bait can be adjusted accordingly, fine tuned and presented in just the way the carp want it!    

Biggest isn’t always best

It still amazes me just how many anglers think that it’s advantageous to use a big feeder and hook bait, however next time you are out and using either a method or more to the point a pellet feeder try going for the smallest first and just gauge how you get on. I think your eyes will be widely opened as I have found that when micro’s come into use, less is more. All you are trying to do is to get a bite and micro’s have incredible pulling power, however introduce to many and the chances are the fish will become preoccupied on these, the swim will fizz and bites will become harder to tempt. Building the swim slowly usually means that it will continue to produce the goods over a far longer period. 

John Pantrey

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Half fill the feeder with damp micro pellets.

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Place the hook bait in the feeder.

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Cover the hook bait with a few more micro pellets.

John’s Standard Pellet Feeder Tackle

Sphere 11’ Light Feeder Rod 

Sphere CFT 4500 Reel 

Black Magic Gold 0.23mm/9.6lb Mainline

Sphere Beast Size 13 Barbless Hook

Cenex 0.20mm/9.20lb Hook length

18mm 15g Pellet Feeder


John’s standard Pellet Feeder Bait

Micro Pellets

6mm/8mm Hard Pellets

6mm/8mm Dumbell Pop-ups

beast hooks
hybrid power line
sphere feeder L rod

Keep up to date with all our latest match news here.

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Sphere Double Rod Carrier

Sphere Double Rod Carriers

The Sphere luggage range has gained a reputation for being extremely tough and really well designed, by anglers, for anglers. The Sphere Double Rod Carrier is perfect if you like to to carry your rods made up and ready to go, yet they need to be protected and not damaged in transit. 

The padded and rigid design of this case means that rods and reels are held securely and won’t get knocked on the way to my peg. Although the bag is designed to carry two rods,  you can actually squeeze a third one in at a push should you need to. 

The ‘carbon-effect’ material used on all of the Sphere range looks fantastic, and has proven to be extremely hard wearing. Better still, it can be wiped clean with a damp cloth and is very water resistant. 

All of the webbing straps are really securely stitched to the bag and the zips are nice and chunky, meaning they won’t let you down. 

Models available: 

160cm long – suitable for two-piece rods up to 10ft in length

190cm long – suitable for two-piece rods up to 12ft in length

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Keep up to date with all our latest match news here.

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NEW VIDEO - Big Pellet Fishing

Big Pellet Fishing with Jim Hall

In this weeks video we join Jim Hall at Messingham Sands to look at one of his favourite (and very effective) tactics at this time of the year – fishing big pellets on the pole.

With carp feeding up in autumn they love the sound of big pellets, so if you haven’t tried this tactic before then be sure to watch Jim’s video to find out more.


Hit the play button below to watch now.

Keep up to date with all our latest match news here.

Find out more about our team of anglers here.


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NEW VIDEO WATCH NOW - Tidefest Festival Live 2022

We join Colin Sheppard on the banks of the tidal Thames in London for the annual Tidefest match.


Click the play button below to watch now, or find this and hundreds more videos on the Browning YouTube channel.

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Bob Nudd on the Slow Sinking Feeder

Bob Nudd on the Slow Sinking Feeder

New video – click the play button below to watch now.


Join Bob Nudd at the stunning Pisces Country Park as he fishes for rudd using the brilliant slow sinking feeder. Such a great way to catch fish that are up in the water column at this time of the year.


A lovely film on this all-action tactic.


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Catch Loads of Carp on Natural Baits

Catch Loads of Carp on Natural Baits

Although paste fishing on commercial fisheries for carp has really taken off and on its day is difficult to beat there are times when fishing natural baits, such as maggots, worms and corn can score highly as well. 

Speed fishing

One of the advantages of using natural baits is that more often than not, the bait stays on the hook after a capture meaning that an angler can put together a run of fish very quickly, as opposed to having to change bait and carefully ship this into position.  

Venue choice

Today I have come to Greenridge Farm Fishery near Romsey in Hampshire, a venue which is popular with match anglers, one where I compete on a regular basis and where match weights can exceed 400lb! Its predominantly small carp between 3-5lb that feature here so, as well as a brilliant paste venue, it’s also one where due to the lack of nuisance fish, baits such as maggot and worm can be used effectively. 

Edge activity

My standard approach on a match day would be to start long whilst feeding an edge line down each side and a two-plus-one line straight out. The reason for starting long is that after all the commotion of anglers setting up the fish tend to back off, so starting long can produce a few fish from the off, and often these can be the bigger fish that can weigh over 10lb. This long line isn’t one to spend too much time on though as these fish love food and it won’t be long before the margin lines start to show signs of fish activity. 

What lies below?

First job, and very important is to plumb up each of my four lines so I’m fishing hard on the bottom, around two inches over depth, and so that I can adjust this depth and make small changes throughout the match I mark the position of the float tip against my pole using a Tipex pen. When pole fishing I like to use a heavy plummet, it just gives me a more accurate feel for not just depth but also the makeup of what I’m fishing over, be it hard ground or deep silt.  

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Almost identical

The rigs I use for all lines are almost identical as the depth doesn’t vary much and are made up of Preston 4×14 edge floats, Cenex 0.18mm Hybrid Power Mono to a 0.16mm six-inch hook length and a Sphere size 12 or 14 barbless Beast hook. The float is shotted with a bulk just above the hook length and I tend to leave plenty of tip showing so that I can distinguish between line bites and proper bites. These are teamed up with a Sphere Zero-G F1+ pole and 1.6mm Hybrid red elastic which has a rating of between 10 and 12. 

Practice makes perfect

Everything so far will sound very simple, which it is, however the difficult part is how to  get the best out of the swim and this comes down to feeding. Generally I will start three lines using groundbait, and the one that seems to work for me is Champion’s Method Formula Fish. I mix this up on the damp side using a whisk as I don’t want it to be too active, proffering it to hit the bottom and create a carpet of feed. Each of these lines will see a big pot full of groundbait introduced at the start but not before adding a few dead maggots to the pot, as I want my loose feed to be on top of the carpet of bait when it lies on the bottom. The forth line will be fed more cautiously with just a small pot of micros and if I have to go down on this line my hookbait will probably double corn. Once the fish arrive in the swim, which should be after around twenty minutes, it’s all about getting into a routine. This may be taking two fish from a line before feeding and moving to another, often the best plan, to having one of those red-letter days when you just continue to catch on the same line and absolutely smash the venue to bits. Knowing what routine and when to feed and switch all comes down to practice, the more you fish, the sooner you will know what is best. 

Reds are best

As for hook bait you really can’t beat dead red maggots and I place between five and twelve on the hook or if this isn’t producing as quickly as I would like double worm, basically one big red worm pinched in half and placed on the hook. A good baiting and catching plan would be to feed a big pot of groundbait, plus a pinch or dead reds, take a couple of fish, feed again, switch line and repeat. Obviously this means using a lot of bait and three kilo of groundbait would be about right for a five hour match. As previously mentioned the good thing about using natural baits is that if you miss a bite you can simply lower the rig back down as the bait won’t have come of unlike paste fishing. 

Carp carnage

Today’s practice session has been unlike match conditions as the far bank line just hasn’t produced. The two-plus-one line produced a good run of smaller carp, but then it started to fizz as the carp started to rip into the silt, not ideal, and if I picked this peg out of the hat in future would feed on a more sparingly fashion. Having continuously fed the left hand margin with a pot full of groundbait every ten minutes has seen it come good as once I made the switch it’s been carp carnage all the way. 

Colin Sheppard

Colin’s Tackle

Sphere Zero-G  F1+ Pole

Hybrid 1.6mm 10-12 Rating Elastic

Cenex 0.18mm & 0.16mm Hybrid Power Mono

Sphere Size 14 & 12 Beast Barbless Hooks

4 x 14 Inline Edge Pole Float


Colin’s Bait

Red worm

Dead Red Maggot


Micro Pellets

Champion’s Feeder 

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hybrid elastic
sphere beast

Keep up to date with all our latest match news here.

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