New-wave boilies and pel­lets for ‘old school’ tench

On some wa­ters, boilies and pel­lets will out­fish ‘old school’ tench baits such as cast­ers and corn. Top spec­i­men hunter Mike Ly­d­don re­veals all

Improve Your Coarse Fishing (UK) - - Inside This Month - Words & Pho­tog­ra­phy Mark Parker

WHEN it comes to tar­get­ing tench, boilies are prob­a­bly not the first bait that springs to mind. Un­til a few years ago, Mike Ly­d­don thought the same. In ac­cor­dance with tra­di­tion, Mike had al­ways used a typ­i­cal par­ti­cle bait ap­proach – mag­gots, cast­ers, sweet­corn - and this had held him in pretty good stead. That is un­til he started fish­ing a very ‘carp-dom­i­nated’ wa­ter. As a re­sult, these days his tac­tics have to­tally changed. Gone are the par­ti­cles and mag­gots of old, hav­ing been re­placed by boilies, pel­lets and glugs. To find out more about this rad­i­cal trans­for­ma­tion from the cus­tom­ary to the ul­tra-mod­ern, we met up with the 47-year-old from Wok­ing at Three Ponds Hol­i­day Park and Fish­ery (www.three­pondspark.co.uk) near Ne­whaven, where he ran us through how he fishes these days…

The times are a chang­ing…

Prior to spawn­ing, tench are at their heav­i­est weights and in the lead-up to this is when they look to pack on a few ex­tra pounds to help them sur­vive the or­deal. Al­though mag­gots, cast­ers, sweet­corn and ground­bait still work well on the ma­jor­ity of venues, mod­ern baits such as boilies and pel­lets also have a place, and on some wa­ters which con­tain a big head of carp, the tench have not only taken a lik­ing to these mod­ern-day, high­pro­tein of­fer­ings, they seem re­luc­tant to eat much else! “I started fish­ing a large pit and typ­i­cally I ap­proached it us­ing my time-hon­oured tech­niques, tac­tics and baits. Even though there was a good known head of very large tench in the pit, I only seemed able to catch the three­p­ounders!” Mike ex­plained. “The whole af­fair was ex­tremely frus­trat­ing.

But that all changed when I started talk­ing to the carp an­glers.” The carpers re­vealed to Mike that they caught loads of big tench us­ing boilie tac­tics, and if Mike was to fol­low suit, a quick re­ver­sal of for­tunes should be in the off­ing. “It sounds un­be­liev­able, but in the end I was us­ing 20mm snow­man rigs (a bot­tom bait and a pop-up on the same hair) to get through to the bet­ter tench,” Mike con­tin­ued. “But, sur­pris­ingly, us­ing these mas­sive hook­baits didn’t see me catch­ing less. In fact, I caught more! That spring I recorded over 60 tench of 8lb and above. The kind of fish I could only have dreamed of back when I was us­ing tra­di­tional tac­tics.”

Mike’s magic mix

Al­though he is look­ing to fish pri­mar­ily boilies, Mike al­ways adds a few pel­lets to his loose­feed. His ‘per­fect con­coc­tion’ starts with 14mm

Sticky Krill freezer boilies, which are run through a boilie chop­per to break them into ir­reg­u­lar pieces, ran­gling in size from al­most

whole baits to tiny sliv­ers, and ev­ery­thing in­be­tween. To this, Mike then adds

some 4mm Krill pel­lets. Typ­i­cally, to a kilo of boilies, he will add 200g of pel­lets, be­fore the mix is fin­ished off with enough Sticky Krill glug to make the mix­ture ‘gummy’, as Mike calls it. “The boilies are the main feed item but the pel­lets are added be­cause over time they will break down in the swim,” Mike said. “This cre­ates a car­pet of at­trac­tion and crumb that will puff up when a fish comes over the loose­feed. This dis­tur­bance will also help re­lease the oils from the glug, which rises through the wa­ter col­umn and hope­fully helps to pull in fish from a dis­tance.” On the hook, Mike uses ei­ther one of the larger bits of boilie from his mix or, as was the case to­day, a Krill Wafter to help the hook­bait sit on top of the light layer of weed on the bot­tom. Wafters are neu­trally buoy­ant baits that as well as sit­ting softly on top of the weed, also help to negate the weight of the hook so the rig acts very nat­u­rally.

Ter­mi­nal rig talk...

With some very large tench as well as 30lb-plus carp in the lake at the Three Ponds Hol­i­day Park, Mike had cho­sen to com­bine his 2.25lb rods with 12lb Gard­ner GT-HD mono main­line. Al­though it sounds heavy, the weight of the fish, com­bined with the weed and far bank snags makes a ro­bust main­line a ne­ces­sity. At the ter­mi­nal end, the rig starts with a three-foot length of lead free leader, down to a Gard­ner Tar­get Sys­tem safety clip car­ry­ing with a 1.5oz flat pear lead. “For hook­links, I use a five-inch length of 10lb Speciskin, with the coat­ing to­tally re­moved to cre­ate a soft braided hook­link,” Mike said. To this he ties a size 10 hook, which per­fectly bal­ances the trimmed-down wafter hook­bait. The only ad­di­tion he makes is to thread on a small golf­ball-sized PVA bag of pel­lets prior to cast­ing. As well as adding some ex­tra at­trac­tion around the hook­bait, it also helps to keep tan­gles to an ab­so­lute min­i­mum. Fish­ing with three rods, Mike cast two straight out in front of him, a cou­ple of rod lengths from the far bank, while the third was un­der-armed to the near mar­gins - ‘a clas­sic tench am­bush point,’ as he pointed out. “The two out front are on the top of a small gravel bar that runs across the swim. When the bar is only small – one foot shal­lower in this case – I will put both hook­baits on top of the fea­ture. If the bar was steeper or more pro­nounced, then I might put one on top and the sec­ond closer to the bot­tom where the gravel meets the silt.” With spots cho­sen, Mike kicks off all three ar­eas with six Spombs of his boilie and pel­let mix. He will only refeed the spots af­ter ev­ery fish or ev­ery three hours, which­ever comes first. His rods will be re­cast ev­ery two hours, if only to cre­ate a dis­tur­bance that the tench of­ten like to in­ves­ti­gate. Al­though the day we spent with Mike was tough, he did prove his the­ory quite con­vinc­ingly by bank­ing a fine six-pounder and a crack­ing 9lb 2oz spec­i­men!

MIKE’S TENCH RIG A lead safety clip sys­tem pro­vides a bolt rig ef­fect, while also be­ing fish­friendly in the event of the line snap­ping Mike uses a coated braid, but strips all of the coat­ing off to re­veal the soft braided in­ner A PVA mesh bag is threaded down the hook­link to add at­trac­tion and re­duce tan­gles

Bite in­di­ca­tion is pro­vided by a com­bi­na­tion of light bob­bins on a de­cent drop, and bite alarms (left). To en­sure ac­cu­racy on ev­ery cast, Mike marks his line with a brightly-coloured pole elas­tic (right)

Mike casts to a small gravel bar run­ning across the swim. Tench love fea­tures like this Mike’s mod­ern bait ar­moury in­cludes pun­gent Krill boilies, which have been put through a boilie chop­per to cre­ate a mass of small ir­reg­u­lar pieces. Pel­lets and liq­uid flavours also have a role to play.

Mike slips back a plump 9lb 2oz tench which has a taste for boilies!

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