Try pellets on your local river
...but always take some maggots, casters and hemp as well
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.
PLENTY OF PACE
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.