Dave Har­rell

takes us to the River Sev­ern to show us the power of pel­lets

Angling Times (UK) - - WELCOME -

FOR my lat­est mid­week prac­tice ses­sion I wanted some­where with plenty of flow, no boats and lit­tle ca­noe ac­tiv­ity.

On the mid­dle Sev­ern both Ar­ley and the op­po­site bank at Stan­ley were free, and I chose the lat­ter. On my last visit there I’d had a good catch of chub and barbel us­ing a Speci Wag­gler and mag­got ap­proach. I’d got plenty of mag­gots and casters plus hemp with me this time, and added two pints of 4mm and the same in 6mm of Bait-Tech fish­meal carp pel­lets. Half-a-pint of 8mm pel­lets were my hook­baits with an eye to the barbel and chub.

I chose a swim with plenty of weed cover across and good flow down the mid­dle. At the end of the run, the river chan­nelled into weed on both sides, a fish-hold­ing haven but also a po­ten­tial ‘chub los­ing’ night­mare! I’m just glad that barbel don’t have the same in­stincts as chub, oth­er­wise we’d never land them in weedy swims!


I set up two 14ft float rods. The first, my Tour­na­ment RS 14PF power rod, was teamed up with 6lb (0.20mm) Pro Float main­line, a 4SSG No2 Trun­cheon Wag­gler and a strong size 12 hook tied di­rect. The sec­ond rod was a lighter-ac­tioned Tour­na­ment RS 14F with 5lb (0.18mm) Pro Float main­line and a size 16 hook tied to a 0.14mm hook­length.

On both rigs most of the shot­ting ca­pac­ity locked the floats on to the line with just three No6 shot spread evenly be­tween float and hook. The swim was only about 4ft deep so I set both rods with the rigs just off bot­tom for starters.

The buoy­ant float tops would al­low me to go deeper and drag the hook­bait along the bot­tom if I wanted to, but at this time of the year, dead depth is al­ways a good start­ing point.

I then did what most an­glers don’t do enough of and spent sev­eral min­utes just feed­ing the swim and not ac­tu­ally fish­ing.

Be­lieve me, while rivers con­tinue to run as clear as they are, it’s time well spent – you will get fish feed­ing con­fi­dently be­fore you put a baited hook in front of them. If you’ve never done this, try it on your next river trip and don’t be sur­prised if you hook a de­cent fish on your first run down when you even­tu­ally cast in.

I fed lit­tle and of­ten for 10 min­utes with casters, hemp and a few mag­gots and my first cast brought a good dace, taken on three big mag­gots on a size 14 hook. More dace fol­lowed and it wasn’t long be­fore ev­ery pouch­ful of mag­gots or casters and hemp was met by a load of swirling dace on the sur­face! My hook­bait had changed from two to four or five mag­gots in this time and ev­ery grub was com­ing back dam­aged!


Af­ter two hours of this, I knew that un­less I could feed the dace off I ei­ther had to fish for them or change baits com­pletely. As I was there for the chub and barbel the first op­tion wasn’t a goer, so I went back into the bait bag and opened up my 4mm and 6mm pel­lets.

I’ve done a lot of fish­ing on rivers with carp pel­lets over the past few years and it’s an in­ter­est­ing bait to use for big fish. Many peo­ple make

the mis­take of feed­ing too many pel­lets in one go but I don’t think this is right. They are far heav­ier than mag­gots or casters and sink to the bot­tom re­ally quickly.

Af­ter many prac­tice ses­sions, I’ve come to the con­clu­sion that you’re bet­ter off feed­ing lit­tle and very of­ten to keep some pel­lets fall­ing through the wa­ter all the time. This at­tracts the at­ten­tion of hun­gry chub and barbel, and while some of the bait will sink to the river bed, what you’re ac­tu­ally look­ing to do is get the fish com­pet­ing and chas­ing the bait on the way down.

For hook­bait, I banded an 8mm pel­let on the heav­ier of the two rigs and within min­utes of feed­ing, I struck into my first de­cent fish of the day, a chub of 1lb 8oz. More fol­lowed, all from the same lit­tle area of the swim where the pel­let feed was drop­ping to­wards the bot­tom.

Where to feed is key when us­ing carp pel­lets on a river. It’s much bet­ter to feed down the swim than in front, as you can then run your float per­fectly over the feed area.


I ended the ses­sion with a de­cent early-sea­son catch of chub and a 6lb barbel. I doubt if I’d have caught these fish had I not switched my baits around.

Pel­lets will never re­place mag­gots to­tally, so don’t get the im­pres­sion that I’m ad­vo­cat­ing not tak­ing nat­u­ral baits to rivers any more. They are, how­ever, a great bait for catch­ing qual­ity fish when mag­gots and casters are get­ting snaf­fled by smaller stuff.

Give them a try soon and let me know how you get on!

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