This blog comes from Nash grouped angler Duncan Charman, as he takes a look at how to increase your catch rate.
If I were to pick the biggest weakness I see when people are feeder fishing, in fact in all fishing, it would have to be accurate casting.
If you want to catch more, learn to cast accurately – and by that I mean on a sixpence time and time again.
Before discussing casting let’s just make sure that you have all the components to create the best feeder rig yet developed – the helicopter rig. If you’re throwing anything else out there, you’re missing out, it’s deadly.
I know that the odd bonus fish is sure to suck in my bait at some point so have settled on 10 foot Nash 1.75lb test curve Scopes which are teamed up with reels loaded with 6lb Gardner HydroFlo. On the mainline a small Nash TT Micro Swivel is trapped by two large Korum float stops.
Tied to this small swivel is a three inch length of Reflo 0.15mm (5lb 14oz) line (anything thinner or of lesser breaking strain will just kink or tangle) along with a Drennan size 16 Super Specialist micro barbed hook.
Don’t forget to attach a Nash TT Slim Hooklink Sleeve to the hooklink as this pushes onto the swivel and creates a boom effect, which is so important to reduce tangling.
Casting, let’s face it, if you can’t cast then you either have to become a margin master or accept that you’re not going to catch anywhere near the amount of fish as someone who’s taken the time to perfect one of the most important skills of angling.
No excuses here, practice makes perfect, just like a golfer heads to the driving range, anglers that know they need to improve need to head to their local lake and start casting, and this time of year when they are pretty empty is a good idea.
Probably the biggest mistake of all is to try and hit the horizon. My philosophy is to fish within your means. Don’t try and cast 80 yards and land all over the place, when you can cast 40 yards and remain precise.
Methodical and clipped-up
I was out recently with a customer of mine who thought that he could cast accurately. I was fishing a small pond for big roach. It was winter and our main objective was to get one fish feeding, do this and others would follow and this meant dropping a feeder in the same spot periodically throughout the day.
Being methodical and casting clipped up to a far bank marker was too much for this client who felt that he could drop his rig on a dustbin lid every time without using the clip.
Later that day he wanted to try float fishing in the margins so after carefully plumbing the depth we started. I began feeding using a small pole pot attached to the 15ft rod and the results were encouraging, however after 30 minutes decided to start feeding by hand literally lobbing maggots here there and everywhere.
When he asked me what I was doing I told him exactly what he was doing when he decided to ignore my advice feeder fishing and not clip up! Fortunately he apologised, understood what I was trying to teach and proceeded on to land two 2lb-plus roach. A good lesson learnt.
The best way to understand how to cast accurately is to watch an expert. I remember watching top matchman Andy Findlay and to say my eyes were opened to a new world is an understatement.
Up until that day I never clipped up or marked the line, if I don’t do it now then I just don’t feel like I am fishing properly.
When I get to my chosen swim I make a cast with the feeder filled with either groundbait or maggots to give me a true feeling for further casts. This cast will hopefully be to a rising or bubbling fish, however often it’s just an educated guess depending on the swim and species.
50 yards tops keeps it tightest
One thing will be for sure it will be less than 70 yards as anything over this and my casting accuracy will deteriorate and I would say that 50 yards is my preferred distance to keep everything really tight.
Once the feeder has landed I simply place the mainline into the reel’s line clip and place a marker made from thin pole elastic at the tip of the rod.
When using elastic, use a thin diameter, a size 2 -4, and don’t trim the ends too short, around 20mm is ideal. When you wind in position this stop-knot at the base of the reel as this will allow you to cast without interference.
With the line clipped and marked you need to look at the far bank and pick a marker to cast to, something like a tall tree or swim on the far bank.
By standing at the water’s edge (you need to stand in the same spot every time you cast) make the cast, yet when the feeder is in mid air lift the rod up almost to a vertical position.
If you don’t learn this simple procedure and just allow the feeder to hit the clip on a tight line you may as well not bother clipping up as all that will happen is the feeder with spring back towards you further than you think!
In theory the elasticity of the mono becomes a bungee and the best way to know you’ve done it wrong is when you are trying to place a bobbin onto the line and it keeps falling to the ground.
When you hear the elastic ping through the rod eyes lower the rod to the horizontal position and if everything goes to plan your mainline should be straight from rod tip to feeder.
Now whatever you do, do not move the feeder, just place the rod on the rest by opening the bail arm, attach the bobbin, tighten up carefully and wait for a bite.
If no bite comes then repeat every 15 minutes until that first bites comes and when it does expect more as fish are curious and that feeding fish will have attracted others to the dinner table that you have created.
Next time we’re talking groundbait and more importantly how to prepare it but until then get practicing your casting…. as by the end of March all the lakes will be livening up and here will be loads of fish waiting to be caught.
Duncan Charman is sponsored by Nash Tackle and Bait and has his own website www.duncancharman.co.uk He regularly contributes to top weekly, Anglers Mail magazine.
He is also an angling guide for most species including carp, pike, chub, catfish, barbel, bream, crucians, roach, rudd, grayling and tench. More information at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 07928 617006.