Colin Mitchell, our weekly blogger, provides some fishing tips to consider before packing up if you're not getting a bite. If you like this blog, share by clicking the social media icons.


YOU are sitting at the waterside with your float or quivertip showing no signs of movement. There’s no indication of a fish even smelling the bait on your hook. So what do you do? Pack up and go home or do something about it?

Well you may well fancy giving up but first of all try making a few small adjustments to how you are fishing. First port of call – and you may have already tried this – is to slip on a smaller hook or a thinner diameter line.

You may even have changed your feeding patterns, what you are feeding or even what bait you have on the hook. Well done, that’s the tried and tested basics attempted.

But what happens if they have still not produced? Give up time? No! There are still things that can be tried…

Feeder tench-4

If you’re legering or feeder fishing

If you are legering try swapping from a feeder to a straight bomb or vice versa. Try loose feeding over a straight bomb – spreading out maggots, casters or pellets over a wider area could pull in some fish, or may not spook them as much as a feeder.

If you are on the feeder try a smaller or larger on. It is surprising how a bigger feeder with a sudden mass influx of bait works. Or top the swim up with a big feeder then take it off for a smaller one or the bomb.

Try casting to different places to see if fish are shoaled up or living in one particular area. Give a popped up bait a try on your hook – a bait hovering above a bed of feeder is something that stands out and just has to be taken if fish are at all interested in feeding.

These straight wagglers are the most versatile stillwater pattern. They are usually made from peacock quill, reed and hollow plastic with crystal varieties being the most discreet for clear water conditions. Attached bottom end only, they offer far greater stability than top and bottom floats – and cast better too.

And if you’re float fishing…

Now let’s look at the float – and this applies to running line or pole fishing. If you have tried all of the basic changes mentioned there are still two areas where you can try major changes – shotting patterns and depth fished.

Let’s look at depth first. Fish don’t always live on the bottom. Sometimes they come up in the water – you can feed steadily to get them there or heavier to try and get them on the deck. But sometimes they stay at one level and you may have to find them by adjusting your float depth – maybe by six inches at a time.

Of course they also like to feed in different depths of water depending on weather conditions. Quite often in warmer weather they will be in shallow water, say around 18 inches to two feet, very close to bankside cover.

But don’t rule out deep areas – these could be darker, out of sunlight and make fish feel safer. Experiment with different depths and fishing at different depths.

Then it’s time to look at your shotting pattern. Like anything this should be kept simple – but small changes in where you place weights on your line, be they shot or Stotz, can make a big difference.

Strung out small weights allows a slow natural fall to your hookbait, a killer some days. A bulk can get your bait down through small fish to where big fish are probably lurking – or this can also give a much more positive presentation and show bites better.

Shot sizes--3

5 extra fishing tips to save your day!

  1. If your bait comes back smashed and you didn’t see any bite your final shot needs to be nearer the hook – and you need to watch how fast your float cocks. Any variation of how long it takes your float to settle and there is a fish on – strike before it let’s go!
  2. Don’t be afraid or lazy when it comes to experimenting with different weight carrying floats. Sometimes you need extra weight to get baits to act correctly under water, to follow any flow, even in lakes. At other times that extra weight will be sussed by fish that won’t pick up the bait that zooms to the deck too fast.
  3. Experiment with different shotting and different capacity floats. It does pay off. And don’t be afraid to put the final shot on your line quite near your hook, even as close as two or three inches. This is the tell-tale shot, the one that shows the best indication on your float if a fish has taken the bait. If the float doesn’t settle it is because the fish has held up this shot. If a fish moves the bait slightly a bite will also register because of that weight so close to the hook. It could be a No.10 shot or it could even be a BB in the right conditions, but it is more likely to be a small weight.
  4. When you have strung out weights lay your rig in a straight line on the water when pole fishing and hold the float tight. It’s amazing how often a fish takes – when you haven’t even had bites before. And on lakes try letting your float rig go through with the flow, or pinning it to the deck.
  5. Chop and change as fish sometimes like a moving bait, sometimes a still one. This is also a good idea if there is an aerator in operation or a breeze as it could be that the underwater tow has moved your groundbait and loose feed away from the area where you put it into the water.

Blog Mitch* A new book from Colin Mitchell containing loads of fishing tips and tricks is out now and also contains contributions from Bob Nudd, Mark Pollard, Darren Cox among others. Check it out at here.