Pel­let pot­ting per­fec­tion – Shan­non Swal­low

Guru’s Shan­non Swal­low re­veals her top three ways to pot in pel­lets to catch more com­mer­cial carp

Improve Your Coarse Fishing (UK) - - Contents -

IRARELY visit any com­mer­cial fish­ery with­out hav­ing some mi­cro pel­lets and ex­panders at my side. This bait com­bi­na­tion is used ev­ery­where all year around and is a banker for get­ting bites from a va­ri­ety of species. There are, how­ever, some sim­ple tricks that can give you an edge. To­day, you join me on the Rail­way Lake at Barford Fish­ery in Nor­folk, where I’ll re­veal these tricks of the trade!

Pel­let preparation

When us­ing mi­cro pel­lets as feed, I al­ways soak them so they soften. This en­sures they all sink, gives you the op­tion of feed­ing them in var­i­ous ways, and makes them eas­ier for fish to di­gest. Ideally, you need to soak them so that they are soft through­out, but still re­main a whole pel­let with­out be­com­ing too mushy. I al­ways pre­pare my mi­cros as soon as I ar­rive on the bank. This gives them time to soak up the wa­ter and swell prop­erly. To pre­pare my mi­cros, I use a Bait Strainer and, after plac­ing the pel­lets into the Strainer in a bait tub, I fully cover them with wa­ter. I then leave them for a minute, be­fore lift­ing the Strainer out and leav­ing them to drain off. After 15 min­utes, I’ll check the pel­lets. If they seem to be soft­en­ing, I’ll sim­ply leave them – they’re done. How­ever, if they’re still very hard in­side I give them an­other dip in the wa­ter, dunk­ing the strainer back in the tub of wa­ter for a few sec­onds be­fore leav­ing them to drain again. Re­peat this process un­til they are per­fect. When pre­par­ing hook pel­lets, I place a hand­ful in a small food bag the night be­fore fish­ing. I then just cover these with wa­ter, be­fore ty­ing a knot as tight to the pel­lets as pos­si­ble. You can then cut the bag open, and you’ll have a text­book hook pel­let. If they float, give them a light squeeze in a tub of wa­ter be­fore you place them on the hook.

Feed­ing op­tions

There are sev­eral dif­fer­ent ways of feed­ing mi­cro pel­lets, de­pend­ing on the sit­u­a­tion on any given day. The first, and eas­i­est, way is to feed them al­most loose in your pole pot. You can vary the amount you feed by chang­ing the size of your pot. Fill the pot with mi­cro pel­lets and very lightly push them down with a fin­ger or thumb. This tem­po­rar­ily wedges them in the pot, and en­ables you to ship out with­out spilling them ev­ery­where. You may also no­tice I’m wear­ing fin­ger­less woollen gloves. This also helps with smooth shipping! It’s then a case of ac­cu­rately pot­ting in the pel­lets where you want them. I lightly touch the pot on the wa­ter, and the holes in the base of it let wa­ter in, loos­en­ing the pel­lets and re­leas­ing them. Some­times, a small series of taps on your pole butt with your hand will help them come out. The next way to feed them is with a sprin­kle pot. This is highly ef­fec­tive on more dif­fi­cult

days be­cause you can sprin­kle in just a few pel­lets at a time. This cre­ates an at­trac­tive col­umn of pel­lets fall­ing through the wa­ter, and pro­duces a ‘pit­ter-pat­ter’ noise when the pel­lets sprin­kle in, fur­ther at­tract­ing fish. My fi­nal feed­ing ploy is to squeeze the mi­cro pel­lets into a small, firm nugget and place this into a pole pot. This will go straight to the bot­tom very quickly, keep­ing the pel­lets in a tight lit­tle area. This is deadly in deep wa­ter, or if there are a lot of feed­ing fish in your swim, be­cause it keeps them pinned to the bot­tom. You can also be highly ac­cu­rate and, after feed­ing the lit­tle nugget, you can lower in your rig di­rectly over the top.

Hook­ing and strik­ing

How you hook your expander pel­let is im­por­tant. When pel­lets are made, the grains lay a cer­tain way within them. This is al­ways long ways, so that the hook bend is pulling against the grains. Al­ways try and bury the hook deep into the bar­rel of the pel­let, be­fore rolling it around on the bend of the hook. Make sure that the point comes cleanly out of the other side of the bar­rel, and is ex­posed to hook into fish when you strike. On the sub­ject of strik­ing, I give the float a gen­tle lift rather than a firm strike. When you get a bite, lift up with your knee, mov­ing the pole tip and float just a foot or so. A lot of peo­ple strike quite hard, caus­ing the pel­let to come off. When you’ve hooked the pel­let prop­erly, you only need a very gen­tle lift to set the hook. If you do miss the bite, you can lower the rig back down back into po­si­tion con­fi­fi­dent that the pel­let is still fi­firmly at­tached to the hook.

Pel­let rigs made sim­ple

My rigs for pel­let fish­ing are su­per sim­ple. My main re­quire­ment is that the rigs are sta­ble be­cause I want my rig, float and hook­bait to sit over the feed with­out drift­ing off. When feed­ing with a pole pot, your bait lands in a small area on the bot­tom and that is ex­actly where you need to place your hook­bait. If your rig is too light it can drift away from this zone and you sim­ply won’t catch the fish that are eat­ing the loose­feed! I al­ways use a quite a heavy float. To­day’s swim is 6ft deep and I’m us­ing a 0.6g float. In 4ft of wa­ter I’d use a 0.4g ver­sion and in wa­ter up to eight feet or more I wouldn’t hes­i­tate to use a 0.8g or even 1g pat­tern. Ob­vi­ously, this de­pends on con­di­tions too. If it’s windy, you will need a heav­ier float than nor­mal. Shot­ting of the rigs is a sim­ple spread bulk of No.9 shot. This string of shot starts just above my 6in hook­length, spaced at 2in in­ter­vals. This

shot­ting pat­tern means that all the weight of the rig is close to the hook, which aids sta­bil­ity and also pro­vides good bite in­di­ca­tion. If the shots were spaced out along the whole of the rig, bite de­tec­tion wouldn’t be as good.

Ac­cu­rate plumb­ing

You can prob­a­bly see that the na­ture of my ap­proach is about be­ing ac­cu­rate and fish­ing in a small, tight area. Plumb­ing up cor­rectly will hugely im­prove your ac­cu­racy. If you have too much line laid on the bot­tom, fish will pick up your bait and blow it back out with­out regis­ter­ing a bite. Like­wise, if you fish off the bot­tom the fish won’t pick up your bait. Ideally, you need an inch or two of line laid on the bot­tom so the bait is static on top of the feed. Plumb up so the float bris­tle and a lit­tle of the body is out of the wa­ter.

The ses­sion

To­day has been per­fect for demon­strat­ing feed­ing tech­niques with pel­lets. After a cold start to, I be­gan feed­ing with my small sprin­kle pot. This pro­longs the re­lease of pel­lets from the pot, leav­ing a fish-at­tract­ing trail in the wa­ter. After around 10 min­utes I started to get bites from smaller skim­mers. The ac­tion soon hot­tedup and I be­gan to miss bites and was plagued by small roach. The sprin­kling of mi­cro pel­lets was at­tract­ing far too many small fish and I needed to feed more bait in more solid form. Re­mov­ing the small pot, I re­placed it with a medium one and be­gan to fill it up and lightly press the pel­lets into the pot. This re­leased them in a solid clump, and I was soon into a run of golden Barford F1s! After an hour, I lost a foul-hooked fish and be­gan miss­ing bites again. It seemed that the fish were com­pet­ing for the bait so much that they were com­ing off the bot­tom. After a cool night, I wasn’t con­fi­dent in loose­feed­ing and fish­ing shal­low , so I sim­ply be­gan mak­ing my mi­cros into small balls… and what a dif­fer­ence it made! By plop­ping in a small nugget of pel­lets, the fi­fish seemed to fol­low it straight to the deck and, by low­er­ing my rig right on top, I was into the big F1s again.

Shan­non will al­ways be armed with pel­lets when visit­ing a com­mer­cial fish­ery

Cor­rectly hook­ing expander pel­lets will re­sult in more pos­i­tive bites

Shan­non’s tackle:

Float: 4x16 Shot­ting: Spread bulk of No.9 shot start­ing 6in from hook Main­line: 0.15mm Guru N-Gauge Hook­length: 0.13mm Guru N-Gauge Hook: Size 14 Guru Kaizen for carp, or 16 Guru Su­per LWG for F1s Elas­tic: Daiwa Orange or White Hy­dro By al­ter­ing her feed­ing, Shan­non put to­gether an im­pres­sive net of carp

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