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Catching On The Cheap

Bradley Gibbons shows how you don’t need to spend a small fortune on bait to catch a nice net of fish.

One thing that a lot of anglers get lured into is believing that to catch the most fish they must have the best, freshest and sometimes most expensive bait. This is simply not the case!

 

Select A Species

Today I am fishing at Packington Somers fishery on Molands lake. In this water there is a large variety of different species of fish. Upon arriving at the lake it’s clear that there are a lot of carp cruising on the surface. This gives me hope that throughout the day I may be able to ‘mug’ a few.

I also know from previous visits that there are a lot of F1s, tench and skimmers in here too. So once you identify what species of fish you will be fishing for you can then choose what bait you will need for your session.

 

Basic Baits

One bait that can be used universally for lots of fish on commercial venues is pellets. You can buy them in different sizes and forms, such as your standard coarse pellet or an expander pellet, which can be prepared for use on the hook.

For today I will be approaching my peg with micros, 4mm and 6mm pellets, and all I have brought to my peg are three bags of pellets at a cost of £2.50 per bag. So I have just £7.50 worth of bait on my side tray.

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Pellets, pellets and more pellets!

 

Pellet Preparation

Since I have just three different sizes of pellets on my side tray I will prepare them in different ways to give me some variation in my feeding.

The easy one is 6mm pellets as I just tip them out of the bag into a bait tub. These can be banded and used on the hook or loose fed as they are. With my bag of 4mm pellets I have split them into two different bait tubs. This is because I will use half of the bag for banding and loose feeding when trying to catch shallow – these I don’t do anything with.

The other half of the bag I cover in water for 30 seconds then drain off. These pellets will now gain a fluffy exterior and sink quicker than the unsoaked 4mm pellets. I’ll feed them via a cup or Kinder cup when trying to catch on the bottom. The last and possibly most common form of pellets is soaked micros. All I do is completely submerge two pints of micros in water for two minutes, then drain off and leave for a further 10 minutes to settle.

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When you’re pinging pellets, less is often more.

 

The Right Rigs

Three very simple rigs cover all my eventualities. The first is for fishing long on the bottom with a banded pellet. The float I am using is a Maver UFO 7 wire stem version on 0.14mm main line to a 0.12mm hooklength and a size 16 B911 with a banded 4mm or 6mm pellet.

My second rig is for fishing shallow on my long line when I am pinging pellets. For this rig I am using a 0.2g short, stumpy, wire stemmed Maver UFO float, which is perfect for shallow fishing as it cocks instantly after hitting the water. The rest is the same as my first rig.

My final rig is for attempting to ‘mug’ cruising carp. This is on a heavy Maver Retro 12-20 elastic. My float choice is the same as my shallow rig, just a 0.4g version instead of 0.2g. This is important, as when flicking your rig to a cruising carp, the heavier the float, the easier it is to flick. My main line is 0.20mm to a 0.18mm hooklength and size 16 Guru MWG hook.

With these three simple rigs I give myself the best chance of catching as much as possible.

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Bradley’s rig for fishing shallow is as simple as his bait choice.

 

Start The Session

To start my day I cup in a handful of 4mm dampened pellets, a handful of soaked micros and a few loose 6mm pellets at 13 metres. Straightaway I’m going to start pinging a few hard 4mm pellets every now and again. By doing this I am priming my shallow line while still giving myself the best chance of catching a few fish on the bottom early.

I start the day on the bottom and it’s not long before I have my first skimmer on a banded 6mm pellet. I then begin catching a few small F1s, but I’m getting some false indications and missing a few bites. Before slowing down how much I’m loose feeding I have a quick go shallow. After slapping my shallow rig three times, I have a bite straightaway and am into a better F1. Unfortunately they don’t continue like this, so I decide to stop loose feeding pellets and start cupping pellets in more regularly to try to catch long on the bottom.

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Bradley’s rig for fishing shallow is as simple as his bait choice.

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This skimmer was the first to arrive.

 

Cruising For A Bruising

Around an hour or so into the session there are a lot of considerably larger carp cruising on the surface. So now’s the time to see if I can trick one into taking the bait. When trying to ‘mug’ a carp there are a few tricks of the trade to give yourself the best chance.

Firstly, use a heavy float in order to make sure you reach the distance of the fish with ease. You don’t want to be waving your pole too much over their heads or they will spook, so a long line from pole tip to float is needed – I use a rig the full length of my top kit so I can flick it as far as possible in order to reach those big carp that otherwise would be out of reach.

Always use heavy gear. This is a method where you are tricking a fish into feeding from an impulse caused by the plop of your hook bait next to its mouth, so there is no need for a finesse rig; if you hook it, make sure you can land it.

Luckily this all works for me as after around three attempts at different fish I’m into a proper carp of around 8lb. Usually after you catch one they will shy off for a short while but, rest assured, they will come back.

 

Continuously Catching

Now that I have stopped loose feeding I am Kinder cupping a pinch of micros and approximately 10 4mm pellets after every fish. This is keeping a steady amount of feed going into my peg and is maximising my catch rate.

The best hook bait for me has been a banded 6mm pellet and this has caught me a carp, tench, skimmers and F1s. When fishing with banded pellets I find it very important to be fishing at dead depth. To ensure I do this I plumb up carefully at the start and mark the depth on my top kit. This way I can see if my float has moved at all throughout the session.

Even though I have caught steadily on the bottom, every now and again it doesn’t hurt to pick up your ‘mugging’ rig and have a go at a passing carp.

 

Conclusion

I have ended the day with a very respectable mixed bag of fish. I have had approximately 40lb of small F1s and skimmers plus three bonus carp for around 20lb, which I have caught in a short amount of time by just flicking my rig on to passing fish. So on just £7.50 worth of bait I have had a great day’s fishing, catching everything that swims. It just proves that you don’t have to spend lots of money on bait to catch fish.

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A combination of methods using just one bait resulted in this fine catch of Somers carp for Brad.

 

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