This year I have managed some great results at Messingham Sands Fishery near Scunthorpe. Winning weights here are normally made up of big, fighting fit carp, which like their grub. The lakes at Messingham are full of fish of all shapes and sizes, so it has been important to find tactics that are selective for the match-winning carp. 

Fortunately, the carp here like their grub, and one way of selecting the carp is to use big baits. Whilst on most fisheries 8mm pellets are about as big as we go, at Messingham the carp love the big 11mm fishery pellets and these are a mainstay of my approach. To get the best from these big baits requires some simple tactics that are worth trying on your local fisheries when trying to single-out those bigger carp. 

Straight Lead

One of the easiest and best tactics to use with big pellets is the straight bomb. This gives me at least one more line to fish beyond the pole, and can often produce plenty of fish, especially on days when the wind is causing problems with presentation on the pole. 

Every swim here on the Island Lake at Messingham has features to fish to, but rather than fish too tight to these I like to fish slightly away from cover. By feeding three pellets twice every 45-seconds I can attract the carp and draw them away from the snags. This gives me a much better chance of landing every fish I hook. I fish with the anti-reverse on have the rod pointing at about 45 degrees to my spot. This means that the rod will buffer the fish as they bolt off once hooked and help get them under control even before I have picked up the rod.

Watch the tip for line bites indicating carp are present.

Cenex Hybrid Power is a brilliant carp line.

A hard fighting carp on the pellet.

"The carp respond to the sound of the big pellets"

Balanced Gear

With the carp here running well into double-figures it is essential to use strong, well balanced gear. The first thing I would suggest is to always fish off the clutch, rather than back-winding. I set the clutch to give line grudgingly when the rod is bent into its full curve. By doing this I can concentrate on playing the fish hard and guiding them away from trouble under a constant pressure. The Sphere Bomb +10% is the ideal rod for this tactic as it cushions the lunges of a big fish without being so soft that I can’t play the fish hard. 

Lines and hooks need to be well up to the job. When big weights are on the cards any weak link will be found out simply because of the general wear and tear. Load up with the hugely abrasion resistant and fast-sinking 0.20mm Cenex Method Mono main line. Carp are not particularly line-shy when it is hard on the bottom, so use a strong 0.18mm Cenex Hybrid Power hooklength. The hooklength is around 30cm long, terminating in a size 14 Sphere Beast Barbless hook. I use a bait band to attach the 11mm pellet, fishing this on a short hair to the back of the hook. The Beast pattern is perfect for hair rigging, having just the right shape to ensure that they stay really well. 

Bomb size depends upon the distance being fished, but 20 grams is a good starting point. You can go lighter when the conditions are good, but if there is a cross-wind then it pays to use a little more weight to maintain accuracy. I use a Quick Change Bead to connect the main line to the hooklength. This bead also acts as a buffer for the inline lead, meaning I don’t need any other beads or components on the line. 

Use an 11mm Banded pellet to a Sphere Beast hook.

An inline lead is stopped by a Quick Change Bead.

Keep Feeding

Regular feeding is essential for this tactic. Forget to feed and the fish will drift away and the bites will dry up. I feed three 11mm pellets at a time. Feeding twice and then waiting for 45-seconds before feeding again. Some times the carp will come up in the water and start swirling at the pellets as they hit the water. This is a good sign as it means that there are plenty of fish competing for the bait. As the lake is relatively shallow I am not too concerned about the fish coming up in the water, plenty more will still be close to the bottom. 

Ignore any taps and bangs on the tip. Proper bites will either see the line fall slack or the tip drag round hard. It is then simply a matter of picking the rod up and start playing the carp. I keep the rod top parallel with the water as you can often lead the carp in without them really fighting too hard. Only lift the rod when the fish is close in and ready to be scooped into the waiting net. 

As well as feeding regularly, I also like to recast every two or three minutes. Most bites from carp come very quickly as they grab the hookbait soon after it has settled. If I have to wait longer than this then the chances are the bait will be picked up by a small tench or bream. The carp don’t seem to mind the splash of the lead going in over the heads. In fact, I think at times it helps attract them. 

Get into a routine of casting and feeding and soon the carp will turn up. Often a shoal of fish will move in and you will catch two or three fish in quick succession before they drift off. Don’t worry about this, as long as you keep to the routine they will be back and you will keep catching. On a good day really big weights can be achieved using this simple tactic. Even on days when the weather is making other methods difficult, the pellet bomb can be your ‘get out of jail’ card. Why not give it a try? 

Tight lines! 

Jim Hall

Regular recasting is important as most bites come quickly.

A reel like the Sphere MgTi with a seamless drag is essential to land carp quickly.

Action can be fast and furious with some seriously big carp.

Jim’s Gear

Sphere 10’ Bomb +10% Rod

Sphere MgTi 30 Reel

0.20mm Method Mono

0.18mm Cenex Hybrid Power Hooklength

Sphere Beast Size 14 Hook

Large Bait Band

Medium Quick Change Bead

20gram Inline Bomb

Jim’s Bait

11mm Fishery Pellets