Steve Ringer Ex­plo­sive mar­gin tips

A last-gasp lump can make your day. Here’s how to catch one


ONE of my favourite places to fish on com­mer­cials is in the mar­gins. The carp tend to be big, and when you hook one the ac­tion can be ex­plo­sive!

On top of that, from a match an­gler’s point of view, if you get it right in the mar­gins you can very quickly go from zero to hero and pull back from a seem­ingly hope­less po­si­tion to win the day!

That said, catch­ing carp down the edge isn’t al­ways easy. In fact at times it can make you want to tear your hair out, as there can be tails all round the float and you still can’t get a bite!


In re­cent years it’s been all about ground­bait and dead mag­gots, and I have to ad­mit I’m still a fan of these baits as long as the swim is right for them.

Here I’m talk­ing depth. I only re­ally like to feed ground­bait into wa­ter that’s a max­i­mum of 2ft deep. Any­thing deeper and line bites and foul-hook­ers be­come a prob­lem. If I have a re­ally deep mar­gin I sim­ply sub­sti­tute the ground­bait for hemp, and feed hemp and dead mag­gots in­stead. Be­ing heavy, hemp helps keep the carp on the bot­tom, and line bites be­come less of an is­sue.

For a five-hour match I like to take three pints of dead mag­gots. To give them a scent boost I al­ways add a cap­ful of Main­line Ac­tiv-8 liq­uid. My ground­bait is a 50/50 mix of Ringers The Edge and Dy­na­mite Baits Sweet Fish­meal.

The Edge is a very heavy mix, while the Sweet Fish­meal adds plenty of flavour. It’s im­por­tant that the ground­bait you use is heavy, so that when there are carp feed­ing in the swim it doesn’t waft about all over the place.

When it comes to mix­ing it, I like to over­wet it slightly as again this helps keep it on the bot­tom.

I al­ways feed a bit of corn too, so I know that if small fish are a prob­lem with mag­gots I have another hook­bait choice which the carp are used to. Dou­ble corn tends to be a lot more small-fish re­sis­tant than mag­gots.


My favourite floats for mar­gin work are Mick Wilkin­son Mar­gin Slims or Di­a­monds. For shal­low wa­ter – say 12ins – I pre­fer the Slim, whereas for 2ft or more I find the Di­a­mond a lot more sta­ble.

Both have sev­eral key char­ac­ter­is­tics – first, they are

pretty much un­break­able. This is im­por­tant, es­pe­cially when fish­ing up to snags. Sec­ond, they have ‘proper’ bris­tles, which are easy to see and al­low me to read bites a lot more eas­ily.

When edge fish­ing I like to leave a lit­tle ex­tra ‘show’ on the float tip so that I know that when I lift I’m do­ing so at a proper bite and not a liner. Float size is 0.2g or 0.3g, de­pend­ing on depth. I don’t like re­ally light floats for edge fish­ing be­cause even in shal­low wa­ter I al­ways find they get moved about too eas­ily by feed­ing fish.

Main­line is 0.22mm Guru N-Gauge to a 4ins hook­length of 0.19mm in the same ma­te­rial.

This might seem heavy, but when the fish weigh 10lb-plus I see lit­tle point in mess­ing about with light lines. A dou­ble-fig­ure fish in a match is too big to risk los­ing, and I hon­estly don’t be­lieve where carp are con­cerned that fish­ing lighter means more bites. It’s all about mak­ing ev­ery fish count.

Hook is a size 14 Guru XS Spade, a ra­zor-sharp, wide-gape pat­tern that is per­fect for big baits and big carp. It’s su­per strong too, so you don’t have to worry about the hook straight­en­ing.

Shot­ting is a lightly-strung bulk of No10s. I place the bot­tom shot about 5ins from the hook and the rest of the drop­pers at half-inch in­ter­vals above this. I don’t like to put shot too close to the hook when fish­ing in the edge as I find it leads to more line bites and spooked fish.

I also don’t be­lieve there is any ben­e­fit to do­ing so, be­cause when a carp sucks in the hook­bait it tends to stay sucked!


If the fish are big, there’s noth­ing bet­ter than Red Hy­dro­las­tic. This hol­low elas­tic is thick and pow­er­ful, but once a fish is hooked it’s ac­tu­ally softer than a lot of an­glers re­alise – so soft, in fact, that to use it prop­erly it re­ally has to be on a puller kit.


Be pos­i­tive! Carp in the edge tend to be big, and they can mop up a lot of bait very quickly, so it’s im­por­tant to take this into ac­count.

The first thing to men­tion is tim­ing – it’s very rare that I will feed an edge swim from the off.

Un­less it’s a noted mar­gin peg I will look to feed the edge with two hours to go. This is done with six big 250ml pots con­sist­ing of one-third mag­gots and two-thirds ground­bait with a few grains of corn.

Once I’ve done this, I keep an eye on the mar­gins to see if there are any signs of fish. When I do see a tail I don’t go straight over it – I pre­fer to wait un­til I see sev­eral tails! If there is only one carp feed­ing in the swim then my chances of catch­ing it are slim. I’ll waste time and end up spook­ing it.

Once I do de­cide to have a look in the edge, dis­ci­pline is cru­cial! It’s so easy to waste loads of time catch­ing noth­ing in the edge.

What I like to do is spend just two min­utes there. If I’ve had no signs after two min­utes, I’ll put the pole down and have another look after 20 min­utes. If I get signs but no bites then I will give it five min­utes, but if there are still no bites I’ll feed another three pots and leave it alone for 20 min­utes.

Once I do get a bite and a fish, feed­ing be­comes eas­ier. I try to work out a rou­tine, which nor­mally in­volves feed­ing

two-thirds of a big pot of bait after ev­ery fish. Of course, I will try and catch more than one off a pot to start with, but ex­pe­ri­ence sug­gests that un­less the swim is solid this just doesn’t hap­pen. Bet­ter to get into a rou­tine of catch­ing a carp, feed­ing and then go­ing in to try and catch the next one.


My favourite hook­bait is a big bunch of dead mag­gots. I nor­mally start off with five and then vary the num­ber, de­pend­ing on the bites I’m get­ting. I have no­ticed that if I’m not get­ting bites but I can see there are carp present, a big­ger bunch of mag­gots of­ten gets a re­sponse, and here I’m talk­ing about as many as 10!

Ten mag­gots is a re­ally big hook­bait, which give the fish some­thing they can re­ally home in on. It’s well worth a try if you are see­ing carp in the swim but they are prov­ing hard to catch.

Un­less you’re fish­ing a known mar­gin flyer, don’t feed it un­til two hours be­fore the end of your ses­sion.

MW Mar­gin Slim (left) and Di­a­mond.

Ac­tiv-8 is a bril­liant mag­got ad­di­tive.

My three favourite feeds for the mar­gins.

A proper lump taken late down the mar­gins.

Over­wet­ted ground­bait sinks fast.

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