Chris Bar­ley shat­ters a myth about us­ing ex­pander pel­lets

Folk­lore has it that loose­feed­ing ex­pander pel­lets just isn’t the done thing. But Chris Bar­ley proves other­wise

Improve Your Coarse Fishing (UK) - - Contents - Words & Pho­tog­ra­phy Mark Parker

RE­GARD­LESS of what bait you’re loose­feed­ing , you’ll typ­i­cally give it a go on the hook as well. That ap­plies to all baits apart from ex­pander pel­lets. For rea­sons that re­main un­clear, soft ex­panders are ex­empt from this rule, hav­ing been deemed, by Lord knows who, as only be­ing wor­thy as a hook­bait, never a feed bait.

But why is this?

This is a ques­tion that cer­tainly baf­fles Dy­na­mite Baits-backed Chris Bar­ley. “I have al­ways fed and fished ex­pander pel­lets,” ” he told us. “I find them par­tic­u­larly ef­fec­tive when I’m tar­get­ing ting skim­mers, be­cause they seem to love re­ally soft baits. You will still till catch when loose­feed­ing hard pel­let­sts but ex­pe­ri­ence has shown me that I get quicker and more pos­i­tive bites hook­ing an ex­pander over a bed of the same pel­lets.” To o see how Chris pre­pares and fishes ex­panders, we joined the 54-year-old year-old on the banks of Beastie La­kee on the fa­mous Cam­bridgeshire match com­plex, De­coy Lakes (www. de­coy­

Be­ing a big softie

Hail­ing from a spec­i­men carp back­ground, ground, Chris likes the idea of ‘match­ing the hatch’ in re­gard to the baits he uses. “I wouldn’t feed one flavour of boilie and then fish a to­tally dif­fer­ent one on the hook, so why do it with ex­pander pel­lets,” he ques­tioned. “If you are loose­feed­ing one bait, it stands tands to rea­son you should use that same ame bait on the hook as that is what the fish are see­ing and eat­ing.” As a highly-suc­cess­ful match­man, he also likes to plough his own fur­row and not blindly fol­low other an­glers’ tac­tics. This, he feels, gives him an edge. Over a five-hour match an an­gler may feed around two to three pints of hard pel­lets. Feed­ing the same vol­ume of ex­panders will re­quire only a quar­ter the num­ber of pel­lets. This means the fish have fewer sin­gle items to pick up, so there is a greater chance of fish pick­ing up your hook­bait. Plus, as the feed and hook­bait are the same, there’s less like­li­hood of the fish be­com­ing pre­oc­cu­pied on smaller hard pel­lets. “On windy days, when there’s a lot of tow on the wa­ter, the slightly buoy­ant ex­panders will move around in the swim, which can also en­tice quicker bites,” said Chris.

Ex­pand­ing his feed

Chris’ first choice of ex­pander pel­lets are Dy­na­mite Baits 6mm Swim Stim Pro Ex­panders in both Amino Orig­i­nal and Red Krill flavours. He will mix around 25 per cent Krill pel­lets to the Amino Orig­i­nals. These add a splash of colour as well as in­tro­duc­ing a dif­fer­ent flavour trail through the wa­ter col­umn. To pre­pare the pel­lets, he pours a quan­tity into his pel­let pump and, af­ter pump­ing them, he will skim off any that are re­main float­ing. These pel­lets will be pumped again and again un­til there are only a half a dozen or so that refuse to sink. These will be dis­carded. The pumped pel­lets are trans­ferred to a bait tub and ex­tra wa­ter added to keep them wet. At this point, to fur­ther in­crease their at­trac­tion, Chris will add half a cap­ful of Dy­na­mite Baits Fish Gutz Feed­ing Trig­ger liq­uid to the wa­ter. “Once the 6mm pel­lets are ‘ex­panded’, they will plump out to around 8mm-10mm,” ex­plained Chris. “For a day’s fish­ing, you only need a third of a bag of pel­lets, about a pound’s worth of bait.”

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