Try pel­lets on your lo­cal river

...but al­ways take some mag­gots, cast­ers and hemp as well

Angling Times (UK) - - TIPS & TACTICS -

OVER the past few sea­sons I’ve ex­per­i­mented quite a lot with pel­lets, and I’ve learned that it’s al­ways worth car­ry­ing some where chub and bar­bel are the main quarry.

So have mag­gots and cast­ers had their day? I would say the an­swer to that is def­i­nitely ‘no’ as there will al­ways be days when these baits will work bet­ter, but I do be­lieve we have now reached a stage where it is im­por­tant to carry both sorts of feed and hook­baits to river matches and plea­sure ses­sions.

Un­til re­cently I have used BaitTech fish­meal carp pel­lets for float­fish­ing, but I’m go­ing to be ex­per­i­ment­ing with hal­ibut and krill pel­lets over the next few weeks. I’ll let you know how the ses­sions go, of course, but my lat­est mid­week trip was all about my favourite fish­meal pel­lets, mag­gots, cast­ers and hemp.


The venue was the River Wye at Eign, a shal­low stretch where there is usu­ally a good head of fish to tar­get at this time of year. Join­ing me on my lat­est trip was my good friend Ja­son Raikes, and we de­cided to share a swim just above the walkover bridge, as there is al­ways plenty of pace there.

For bait, we’d four pints of mag­gots and the same of cast­ers and hemp.

We’d also got a 2kg bag of 6mm Bait-Tech fish­meal pel­lets and about a pint of the same in 8mm size, mainly for hook­ers and oc­ca­sional feed.

A quick plumb around re­vealed a swim a lit­tle more than 3ft deep, and the first rig we set up com­prised a 3SSG No3 Thick Speci Wag­gler with just two No4s down the 0.20mm line. A size 14 Ka­masan An­i­mal spade hook com­pleted the rig, and this was tied di­rect.

For the sec­ond rod, I ini­tially set up a 6g Balsa Mis­sile but it proved to be the wrong choice. More of that later.


We started on the Speci Wag­gler, feed­ing around 10 6mm pel­lets ev­ery put-in. Hookbait for starters was a banded 8mm pel­let, and it didn’t take long to get a bite.

Chub num­ber one, at around 12oz, came af­ter just five min­utes and its twin fol­lowed two casts later. I was al­ready pre­dict­ing a big-weight day ahead.

By cast­ing the rig slightly down­stream, Ja­son was able to get good con­trol of it im­me­di­ately and by run­ning it down along­side a row of wil­low branches he was soon get­ting a bite on most runs through, mostly from small chub. This lasted for about half-an-hour be­fore bites be­came hard to hit.

We de­cided to try some­thing dif­fer­ent by feed­ing cast­ers and hemp as well as pel­lets, and switched be­tween two or three

mag­gots or a pel­let on the hook.

Ev­ery sin­gle run through on the mag­gots re­sulted in a bite from a de­cent-sized dace or a small chub, and once we started to in­tro­duce mag­gots the bites came al­most im­me­di­ately af­ter the rig had gone into the wa­ter.

In­ter­est­ingly, even af­ter feed­ing in the re­gion of four pints of loose­feed, hardly any of the fish had any bait in them! On most rivers, ag­gres­sive feed­ing like this would kill the swim com­pletely af­ter a cou­ple of hours, of­ten less.

It’s good prac­tice to check in­side a chub af­ter you’ve caught it. If the fish is full of feed there’s a good chance there aren’t many there, so you’ll need to ease back in order to keep the bites com­ing.

Af­ter three hours of our five­hour ses­sion, we’d got plenty of fish in the net but I knew Ja­son wanted to catch a bar­bel so I de­cided on a tac­ti­cal switch. We tried the Balsa Mis­sile rig with a bulk of shot 12ins from the hook but it just didn’t go through right in the swirling cur­rent. A change of rig was in order.


The next rig in­volved a doc­tored 4g No3 Bolo float. For shal­low swims like the one we were on I cut the stems and the in­sert down to suit the depth and then fish it with a bulk 12ins from the hook. No drop­per is re­quired, be­cause you’ll of­ten be us­ing a size 14 or 12 hook and this, with bait on, is ef­fec­tively the drop­per.

This is a great rig for catch­ing bar­bel in pacey wa­ter as you can slow it down and ease it through the swim. I use the 6g, 8g and 10g sizes in deeper wa­ter but to­day the doc­tored 4g float worked a treat. No mas­sive bar­bel but Two of the bet­ter chub we had.

sev­eral beau­ti­fully-pro­por­tioned small ones fol­lowed on a 6mm pel­let, with more chub and dace.

There was a very good catch in the net af­ter feed­ing about seven pints of as­sorted loose­feed.

No mon­sters this time, but a re­ally in­ter­est­ing day’s fish­ing where hard work was re­warded with a good catch.

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