Dr Paul Garner reveals his take on the popular pellet cone technique
It’s a great alternative to a feeder, especially when bites are scarce A
T THIS time of year, falling water temperatures after a long summer of angling pressure can adversely affect catches at some venues.
Normally reliable tactics such as the Method feeder can fail spectacularly, and a switch to a more subtle approach is often needed.
Reducing the amount of feed makes sense and, strange as it may seem, dispensing with the feeder altogether can encourage wary carp to feed more confidently.
The pellet cone achieves both these aims, but to get the most from the tactic requires your feed to be absolutely spot-on. The pellets need to be sticky enough to hold together around the hook on the cast, and specialist sticky pellets are the ideal starting point. However, on many venues where only the fishery’s own pellets can be used, a slightly different approach is required with the pellet cone, which can be found in several sizes in tackle shops.
Sticky pellets are perfect for the pellet cone. Once dampened, they stay together much better than normal pellets, provided they are prepared properly. I tend to think of them more like groundbait than traditional pellets. The trick is to add water a little at a time and keep mixing vigorously.
Because of their micro-size, sticky pellets quickly absorb the moisture and will start to clump together. Once they have reached this stage, dampen them gradually until the right consistency is achieved.
Sticky pellets will also dry out quickly, but keeping them in an air-tight container will help. Don’t prepare too many in one batch. While they can be dampened once or twice, each time you do so they become less sticky and eventually they will turn to mush.
With most fishery-own pellets you’ll need an additional binder to make them sticky enough for use with a pellet cone. Several companies now produce a powder that achieves this once water is added, and these are ideal if you want to feed neat pellets.
Another option is to add a small amount of groundbait. This acts as a binder, and creates attraction by clouding up and spreading out.
To prepare a pellet-and-ground-bait mix, dampen the pellets as normal, but slightly over-wet them. Next add just a sprinkling of groundbait. All you are trying to do is add some stickiness and fill in the gaps between the pellets when they are compressed in the cone, so it’s important not to add too much crumb. The moisture on the pellets should be ample to dampen the groundbait. Be careful not to make this mix bind too well as it will then take much longer to break down and could lead to missed bites.
THINK ABOUT COLOUR
Remember when red meat was all the rage a few years ago? I reckon
this was so successful because it was something that the fish hadn’t seen before. And guess what? The same applies to dyed pellets too.
Most fishery pellets are sandy-brown in appearance and can be difficult to colour when dry, but if you dampen them, adding liquid dye is a simple affair.
Red is the obvious colour to use, but be prepared to experiment. You’ll find that dark colours tend to work best, which is good news as darker baits tend to blend in with the lakebed better and the fish settle over them more confidently.
Liquid dyes work better than powdered ones and I simply add a few squirts of dye to the damp pellets and then shake them well to disperse the colour evenly.