Dave Har­rell How to scale down your baits and get more chub ac­tion

How a par­ti­cle ap­proach is trounc­ing pel­lets on the rivers right now

Angling Times (UK) - - WELCOME -

ACOUPLE of weeks ago I men­tioned an­glers on the Sev­ern scal­ing down in terms of pel­let size.

The days of catch­ing big weights on big pel­lets when the river is run­ning clear seem to be a thing of the past, and com­peti­tors in the matches at Bridg­north and Bewd­ley are now us­ing 6mm and even 4mm pel­lets as hook­bait.

A con­ver­sa­tion on the phone with my good friend Bob Roberts a few morn­ings ago re­vealed that an­glers on the River Trent are do­ing a sim­i­lar thing dur­ing day­light hours in pur­suit of bar­bel and chub.

“It’s as though peo­ple have for­got­ten about mag­gots and casters for feeder fish­ing,” he said.

“I had a walk along a stretch of the river re­cently and saw a long line of an­glers look­ing sky­wards to­wards mo­tion­less rod tops, and ev­ery one of them was us­ing pel­lets in the feeder and a big­ger pel­let on a hair rig as hook­bait.

“Hardly any­one had caught, and this was around 3pm. It seemed like they were happy to wait around un­til the evening in the hope that the fish would turn on.

“I fished lower down the river with mag­gots and had a re­ally good catch of qual­ity chub and sev­eral good bar­bel. While the rivers are run­ning clear, I re­ally do think that an­glers need to have a more open-minded ap­proach to their feeder fish­ing.”

I agree with Bob’s sen­ti­ments whole­heart­edly, be­cause I’ve wit­nessed ex­actly the same thing hap­pen­ing on the Wye and the Sev­ern in re­cent years.

As our con­ver­sa­tion con­tin­ued, Bob told me that he was go­ing for an af­ter­noon ses­sion on the feeder that same day. “Come and share the ses­sion if you fancy it,” he said. “I’ve got plenty of bait and I’m only go­ing for a cou­ple of hours, but you’re wel­come to have a chuck on my gear!”

I was soon mak­ing my way up the M1, and an hour-and-a-half later I was on the bank with Bob. The swim he had cho­sen looked lovely, de­spite the river run­ning

very low and clear.

There was a good flow on the river while the near­side was al­most still. It was pretty ob­vi­ous where the feeder would be need to be.

Bob set up a Daiwa 1113P at 11ft and cou­pled this with 5lb line di­rect to a size 16 Ga­makatsu Power hook. In be­tween was an old Thames­ley green block­end feeder. Th­ese used to be firm favourites with Trent an­glers but aren’t avail­able now. Bob ex­plained that he’d stocked up years ago and still had loads left.

While I know th­ese feed­ers worked well and once used them my­self, th­ese days I pre­fer the Ka­masan Black­cap feeder.

They’re avail­able in three sizes and it’s now pos­si­ble to ob­tain add-on leads up to 5oz for them.

Bob’s swim on our Trent af­ter­noon didn’t re­quire any­thing like that sort of weight, and one small 1oz strap lead was all he needed to hold bot­tom.

“Let’s time it to see how many fish we can land in two hours,” he said. “Start the clock!”


Bob had got about six pints of bronze and red mag­gots with him and it didn’t take long for him to demon­strate that mag­gots in the feeder still have a part to play on the Trent. Three ac­cu­rate casts to the far side with a tail of around 2ft 6ins and left in only 30 sec­onds put some bait in the swim quickly. The fourth cast saw the rod-tip jump back then pull for­ward as a chub of around 6lb hooked it­self!

Over the next two hours we shared the rod and caught 27 chub be­tween us. The small­est was about 2lb while most were in the 3lb bracket, with a few four-pounders. It was a red-let­ter cou­ple of hours and one of those ses­sions when Bob didn’t need to change any­thing. To be fair such days are few and far be­tween, but there are many things you can do to keep bites com­ing.


Too many an­glers re­gard block­end feeder fish­ing as a ‘chuck it and chance it’ ap­proach, but there is much more to it than that.

For starters, you need to think about feeder size. A big Black­cap feeder holds a fair bit of feed, which is great if there are loads of fish in front of you. If there aren’t, you should be us­ing a smaller one.

Make sure there is enough weight to hold bot­tom.

Next, you need a rod strong enough to cast a loaded feeder to where you want it to go. I use rods from 12ft-14ft and have sev­eral dif­fer­ent ac­tions to suit weight, dis­tance, line strength and hook size and type. It’s vi­tal that all th­ese vari­able are con­sid­ered or there’s a fair chance you will end up not reach­ing the dis­tance, not hold­ing bot­tom and crack­ing off when a big fish hooks it­self.

If you want the bait to come out of the feeder quickly, en­large the holes with scis­sors. This will make a big dif­fer­ence if there are a lot of fish hom­ing in on the feeder soon af­ter it has landed. When this hap­pens you want the bait out of the feeder and on the bot­tom in the same area ev­ery time.

In the depths of win­ter, when you’re wait­ing a long time for bites, you of­ten want the ex­act op­po­site of the sum­mer­time ‘fast re­lease’ feeder. By tap­ing up all the cen­tral holes the bait can only re­lease through the caps.

To slow this es­cape down even fur­ther with baits like mag­gots, cram the feed into the feeder be­fore you put the top cap on.

Tail length is vi­tal when you’re us­ing hook­baits such as mag­gots and casters. If there are a lot of fish in the swim, try us­ing a tail as short as 6ins. On other days, es­pe­cially when it’s cold, a tail length of 5ft or even 6ft might be needed. The key to suc­cess is ex­per­i­men­ta­tion, so next time you find your­self in a feeder fish­ing sit­u­a­tion, try th­ese lit­tle tricks.

I guar­an­tee they will work!

Bob and I took Trent chub to over 4lb.

...and mag­gots are still well worth us­ing.

Hemp and caster makes great feeder fare...

My large col­lec­tion of Black­cap feed­ers.

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