Dave Harrell Groundbait versus loosefeed – which is better right now?
Which works better at this time of year?
ONE of the questions I get asked most at this time of year is whether to use groundbait or just loosefeed, now that water temperatures in our rivers are dropping.
Well, there are many situations where one or the other is always going to work better, and this week I’ll take you through these to try to steer you in the right direction.
All the swims listed are hypothetical, of course, and are flowing fairly quickly.
SHALLOW RIVER (3ft-5ft)
At this time of year, the target species on shallow, fast rivers are nearly always chub, and the best way to catch them is with loosefeed.
How far out you can get that feed with a catapult will determine how far out you can fish.
One way of feeding the swim at distance that I’ve used to very good effect in recent years is to use carp pellets as feed and maggots on the hook. That might sound like an odd combination but believe me, it works. I always carry some 4mm, 6mm and 8mm Bait-Tech Fishmeal pellets in the car, and if I draw a swim where I think I might need to fish a long way out for chub I will feed them.
It’s not something I do very often, as you need the right swim on a low, clear river to make it work, but right now the rivers are perfect for it. Feed maggots as far as they will go at the same time and you will create two possible catching lines.
These are the sort of swims that
will hold dace and roach as well as chub in the winter months, and I would definitely have some groundbait mixed for these swims.
If you are confident that there are lot of fish you can ball in with several big ones at the start and then top up with a ball every cast or every other cast thereafter. This was an approach I adopted last week in the River Wye Champs and it brought me 60-7-0 of dace, which was top weight on the Hereford town sections.
My mix for this type of swim is a 50/50 combination of Bait-Tech Pro Natural together with a litre or two of riddled molehill soil. Incidentally, this is a good time of the year to stock up on soil. The stuff you find near to rivers is usually the best, so get out searching and stock up, as it will be no good once it gets wet in a few weeks’ time.
It is important to feed groundbait downstream of you. By doing this you will be able to run the rig right over the feed area.
Cast your rig in and get it working. Once it’s set perfectly and running through you will realise that it’s a fair way down the swim before you are in control.
You can mix and match this style of feeding with loosefeed as well, as you will create two very defined catching areas over the course of the session.
Quite often, you will find that dace and small roach will move over the groundbaited area while bigger roach will hang back further down the swim, intercepting the loosefeed.
DEEP RIVER (10ft-plus)
Once you get into very deep water situations in swift, flowing water, groundbait really comes into its own – but provided the swim is long enough, you can still loosefeed as long as the bait gets down in your swim.
An opening barrage of six to 10 big balls is often worth a go, and then try topping up with smaller balls every cast. Don’t put too much fed in the balls to start with, as you can never be quite sure how many fish are in front of you. It’s better to add feed to the mix as you go and then feed to response.
Another way to introduce feed in these deep swims is with a big bait dropper. It’s a great way to get a bed of maggots or casters down quickly, so always carry a couple with you.
“It is important to feed groundbait downstream of you”
Big shoals of dace love groundbait – and lots of it!