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
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 Gone are the particles and maggots of old, having been replaced by boilies, pellets and glugs.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!