CAGE FEEDER WORM RIG
AT THIS time of year, fishing for bites is the name of the game on mixed fisheries – so if you plan on fishing the feeder, your approach needs to flexible to appeal to all species.
A small cage feeder holding groundbait and a little chopped worm and caster tamed with small hookbaits will get bites when a more positive Method or pellet feeder approach won’t, but regular casting to build the swim up is essential.
A small cage feeder is needed to help regulate the amount of feed going in but there’s no need to worry about using a feeder with lots of weight – you won’t need to cast a long way. Typically, a 30-yard cast into open water will be enough, provided there’s enough depth. Around 6ft is perfect in all but the coldest of weather.
A running feeder on the mainline stopped with a bead is as simple as the rig gets, but lines and hooks must be able to cope with any bonus carp yet light enough to get bites from small fish. That means a mainline of around 4lb to a 3lb hooklink and a size 18 barbless maggot-style hook. Begin with an 18ins tail and only shorten this if you are getting and missing bites as soon as the feeder settles on the lakebed.
A 10ft soft feeder or bomb rod will prevent crack-offs on the strike with big fish, but have plenty of softness to absorb lunges under the rod-tip when playing a carp or tench – although bites won’t be the positive pull-rounds of summer. Instead you’ll get those classic knocks and plucks to strike at and it’s a matter of judgement as to when to strike. Letting the bite develop into a positive affair is best.
On the hook you should begin with a single maggot but be prepared to change this to a couple or even a piece of
worm to tempt better quality fish. On the feed front, a standard sweet but fine groundbait mixed on the dry side is fine. To this you can add just a pinch of chopped worm and caster on every cast, but don’t overfeed this combo.
PERCH MAGGOT FEEDER
RIVERS run cold and clear after a spell of frosts and no rain. Most fish don’t play ball in these conditions, perch will give you a bite when all else has fails, and the maggot feeder is the rig to get it.
Ideal for introducing small consignments of bait into tight spots where the fish lurk, you can fish surprisingly light tackle. With soft enough rods, you shouldn’t lose that many fish as a result.
Perch love maggots in clear water and reds seem to outscore everything else. You’ll need to keep your casting regular and reasonably accurate to build up a small pile of feed in the peg. This has the benefit of pulling small roach and dace into the area, which in turn arouses the curiosity of the perch.
With winter all but here, you don’t need to go wading in with big hooks and thick lines. A soft through-actioned specialist rod means that you can fish quite safely with size 18 or even 20 hooks as long as you don’t try and pull the heads off the fish. A mainline of around 4lb or 5lb coupled with a hook length of 0.12mm or 0.14mm low-diameter line caps things off.
How big a feeder you use depends on the number of small fish in the peg, which can soon wolf down a helping of maggots. If there are millions of tiny fish, a big feeder will be needed to ensure some bait is left over to keep the perch happy, but in very cold weather when appetites are low, a tiny cut-down feeder holding just half-a-dozen maggots will get an indication when nothing else will.
A single maggot may look out of place for catching big fish, but it will often be snapped up when two or even three won’t. Go for reds, as perch seem to show a real liking for this colour, especially in clear water. Don’t be afraid to try a bigger bait if small fish are a nuisance. A lob worm tail in this instance can be particularly deadly.
Keep things simple – a running feeder stopped with a bead on the mainline will suffice. The feeder is attached via a quick-change swivel. Plastic cage feeders are available in a variety of weights and sizes. Pack one with sweet groundbait to which is added a small amount of chopped worm. Maggots are a classic hookbait, but a piece of worm will catch bigger fish.
The feeder runs freely on the mainline thanks to a rig ring stopped by a tulip bead. Use a soft rod and you won’t need to go too heavy, even for big perch. A single maggot will often catch when multiples won’t, and red seems to be the favourtie colour.
A maggot feeder is ideal for big perch.