Hot Sport on the Wag 'n' Mag

It’s been fifteen years since I last fished Bowsaw Lake in Hampshire. Back then it was full of small silver fish but I’ve been hearing some good rumours that things have changed and the fish now fight back. Even better is it’s the perfect place to head to for some guaranteed cold water action as it contains lots of still water chub and I’m told the best tactic for these is the waggler and maggot, a technique that seems to have been forgotten about in recent years. Time to get the waggler rod out and go and see if the rumours are true?

Look for the snags

Chub, just like there river cousins, love snags and I’m told that one swim in particular here is a banker chub swim, as it has a bush partly in the water of the side of the island. My only concern this morning is its too mild, yes its February and I’m complaining about the temperatures which is into double figures, the problem being is I’m half expecting to be beaten up by the lakes population of carp. On the positive side their isn’t too much wind, which can cause major problems with not only feeding but casting alongside this snag. 

Feed, cast, feed, cast.

Fishing the waggler is all about feeding then casting, not casting then feeding as the chub are more likely to take the maggots as they fall through the water and my objective is to mimic these freebies with my hookbait. Once the bait is on the bottom, the chances are a carp will be hooked and potentially spook the chub for a while, so it’s going to be cast, cast, cast. Whilst setting up it’s a good idea to catapult a pinch of maggots into the swim from time to time as this will hopefully pull a few chub away from the sunken tree, get them feeding confidently and hopefully will provide me with some early action. 

Regular helpings of maggots are all you need for this method.

Use a loaded waggler that is heavy enough to easily overcast your spot.

The brilliant Hybrid Mono won’t let you down.

Keep it simple

Another very important point when it comes to waggler fishing, all fishing in fact, is to set up so you’re sitting comfortably, which means adjusting the legs of my Black Line Seat Box so its level, then positioning a rod rest so when the rod butt is placed over my knee the tip is just in the water. Balanced kit is also paramount and with the chub running to over 4lb and plenty of double figured carp that will barge in on the action you need tackle strong enough to strike, get them of balance and before they head to the snag, steer them into open water. The rod I’m using is an 11’Black Magic CFX Waggler, ideal for the job with its parabolic action and power in the middle reaches to land anything that swims here. I’m teaming this up with a 920 Sphere MgTi reel loaded with Cenex 0.14mm Classic Mono which is recognised as being one of the strongest fine diameter lines available. It’s all about keeping things simple at the business end, strong enough to deal with whatever’s hooked but at the same time keeping things finesse enough to get plenty of bites. Float choice is very important and I prefer to use floats with a built in loaded bulk at the base, ones that are almost self cocking, needing just a small amount of shot to drop the tip so it’s just showing. Not only do these types of float cast like a dark, the lack of shot on the line means that there are very few weaknesses. The float is locked on the mainline by two Xitan Oval Super Stoppers and either side of these is a single small shot. The only other shot is a small number eight around six inches from the Sphere CPF LS size 16 barbless hook which is connected to a Cenex 0.12mm Hybrid Power Mono hook length. 

Unbelievable action

Having plumed up and set the depth to the exact depth of the swim, around three feet, it’s time to make my first cast, and after sinking the line get ready to watch the float, but I only have to for a couple of seconds as it disappears and the first fish is hooked. In the net she goes and it’s my target species, a chub weighing around 2lb 8oz. I can’t quite believe what happens over the next two hours as fish after fish graces my net including another four chub, ten carp to around 14lb along with one tench and a radioactive goldfish! In total I estimate the catch at over 60lb, not bad for a couple of hours on a February morning! 

Waggler fishing is all about keeping things simple, being active throughout the session and more importantly, especially in the depth of winter, choosing a venue that contains the species that will respond to it. It’s been a while since I fished the waggler but I have to admit this has been, not just eye opening to just how effective this method is, but has also been one of my most enjoyable sessions for a while. If you have a venue such as the fantastic Bowsaw Lake near you, I urge you to get the float rod out and give the Wag ‘N’ Mag a go. 


Justin Watkins

The Sphere CPF LS Hook is my choice for the Wag ’n‘ Mag.

Keep casting – most bites will come on the drop, so give each cast no more than a minute.

The Sphere MgTi is my choice of reel for big fish, thanks to its awesome build quality.

The action is fast and furious once the fish arrive.

The average size chub today.

Expect big carp to also put in an appearance.

Justin’s Tackle

Black Line Seat Box

Sphere MgTi 920 Reel

Black Magic CFX Waggler

Cenex 0.12mm Hybrid Power Mono

Cenex 0.14mm Classic Mono 

Sphere CPF LS Barbless Hook

Soft Shot

Xitan Super Stopper Oval

2g Loaded Insert Waggler


Justin’s Bait

Red and white maggots

Just part of todays catch.

Catch Down the Track

Originally Published in English.

I guess we all get drawn into the trap of spending most of our time fishing to either near or far bank features on canals. Yet, below the surface, the fish aren’t always influenced by what is happening above the surface, with the contours of the canal playing much more of a role in their location. This can be especially true when the temperature drops in winter. Now, the fish will often be found in the deeper central channel of water, where they feel more comfortable. This especially applies to fish like bream, big perch and better stamp roach – fish that can be a massive bonus to your match weight, but which can also be a bit of a gamble to target. 

Today I am fishing a peg on the Worcester canal that contains a real mixture of fish. There are a lot of small roach here, but also some much better fish, including decent bream, big perch and even some carp. I have set my stall out fishing the centre of a turning bay, which is a noted bream area. The banks on both sides are lined with stone, so there isn’t a lot of feature above the surface. The canal is also quite busy today with boats, so it will something of a challenge to catch some better fish. 

Plumbing up I find that the bottom flattens out around six metres from the bank, so my plan is to fish at around 8 metres; a nice flat area at about maximum depth. This is where I think the bigger fish will feel comfortable feeding. This is also a nice comfortable distance to fish when you are not expecting too many bites. Fish long and you will find that your mind wanders and your presentation will suffer. There is no point in making life difficult for yourself so fish as short and as comfortably as possible.

My main approach will be with chopped worm and caster to attract the bigger fish.

Just a tiny pinch of casters is enough.

Pick a comfortable distance where the canal bed is level.

To attract them, I have introduced some roughly chopped worm and caster to begin with and will then feed 5-6 casters over the top every so often to hold the fish. Feeding can be an issue with this approach because every so often the canal flows hard when a lock is opened. I don’t want to overfeed, but if I feel that the bait has been washed away then it is a good idea to introduce a little more feed with a tiny bait dropper. 

I will vary the hookbait between caster and a piece of worm. I am not looking for lots of bites, but these baits will help me single-out the better fish. Maggot or pinkie will catch more fish, but they won’t be as big. 

My rigs are very simple. It pays to not fish too light. A decent perch can put up a decent fight, bream less so, but they are not particularly tackle-shy. I use a 0.09mm Cenex Classic hooklength to a size 18 hook. The float is a nice 4×14 with the bulk of the weight down to aid stability and to keep the bait static on the bottom. I will also fish about 4-inches over-depth to help keep the bait still and hard on the bottom.

This style of fishing can be a bit of a waiting game. You have to be confident that the fish will turn up, which normally they do. A couple of nice roach early on lift the spirits and these are followed by some quality perch and a decent bream. Unfortunately, there has been a lot of boat traffic today and the canal has been flowing hard at times, which I am sure has reduced my chances, but that is canal fishing for you. 

At the end of a few hours fishing I am really happy with a nice catch of quality fish, proving just how good the fishing can be on many of our canals. 

Dave Ward

"Expect quality rather than quantity when fishing like this."

My faithful Xitan pole is perfect for this style of fishing.

Take your time and let the elastic do its job when you hook a decent fish.

Most of the fish today were ’netters‘.

Dave’s Tackle

Xitan Z12 Revolution Pole

Cenex Classic Mono 0.10mm Rig Line

Cenex Classic Mono 0.009mm hooklength

Size 18 hook

4×14 float

Dave’s Bait

0.25kg Dendrabena worms

Pint of casters

Pint of maggots

Pint of pinkies

A brilliant mornings fishing.

Bread Punch for Canal Roach

First Published in English.

If there’s one place where you can find some respite from this winters atrocious weather and get some action then it on a canal. I love canal fishing and today I’ve come to one of my favourites, the Basingstoke Canal just outside Aldershot in Hampshire, for a few hours in the hope of some roach on bread punch. Just to enforce just how much rain we’ve had recently it’s the first time I’ve ever seen a steady flow on this canal, it’s also carrying some colour which is amazing as two weeks ago it was gin clear! It’s far from perfect punch conditions, that’s why it’s always important to bring at least one back-up bait such as maggots or worms as it’s so easy to get caught out at times. 

Kick-starting the swim

The swim I’ve chosen is in a known silver fish area and a few weeks back a match was won with nearly twenty pound of skimmers and roach, yet conditions have dramatically changed so although I’m confident of a few fish, I’m not quite sure just how it will fish. I’m going to feed three lines, one down the middle to my left in the main boat channel and two to the far bank cover. The line down the middle is going to be my first punch spot and I’m going to kick start this with a couple of small balls of fine liquidized bread squeezed around a stone in order to get it down to the bottom quickly. One of my far bank lines, slightly left of centre, is also a punch line and is fed in the same way, with the other far bank line to my right fed with a couple of balls of Champions Choice Black Magic groundbait and a few maggots just in case the punch doesn’t work. 

Bait preparation

There are quite a few ways to prepare bread for punch fishing but when fishing a canal for silvers I want to toughen up each slice slightly so it’s doesn’t simply fall of at the slightest movement or every time I lift into a bite. I always use medium slice white, something like Hovis is ideal, then remove the crust, place each slice in a microwave for 20 seconds before compressing using a rolling pin. Each slice is then cut in half and once I have around 12 half slices I place them all into a plastic bag and into the fridge overnight. When I’m on the bank, just one half slice at a time is removed, placed on a flat, hard surface before punching using a metal headed punch as and when I need them. The ideal punch size for canal fishing is between 3mm and 5mm. To prepare the perfect liquidised bread feed is simple, just remove all the crusts and liquidize the remaining slices in a blender. A little tip for producing really fine crumb is freeze the liquidised bread, then remove and whilst still frozen blitz in a blender again. The more you freeze and blend the finer your liquidized feed with be.

Metal punches cut through the bread cleanly.

Slim bodied delicate floats are best for punch fishing on canals. 

Sphere Feeder Ultra Lite hooks, brilliant.

Microbore Elastic, thin, smooth, reliable and long lasting.

"In just a couple of hours I have caught over 50 roach."

A small stone in the middle will get the feed down quickly. 

Use a pole cup for accurate baiting.

A couple of balls at the start should get them going.

I’m really pleased with the mornings catch.

Delicate rigs

I’m fishing the pole at approximately 12m to the far bank and for my punch fishing I’ve made two rigs up which are almost identical apart from the depth they are fishing. The reason for this is I’m going to be switching these continuously and don’t want to waste time having to plumb up every time I change position. The rigs are created using Cenex 0.13mm Fluoro Carbon Hook Line with a 0.11mm bottom. Float choice is important and need to be more of a delicate slim bodied shape as bites can be very finicky. For the far bank line I’m using a 4xNo10 and down the middle a 4xNo12 along with Sphere Feeder Ultra Lite micro barbed size 18 hooks attached, perfect for punch fishing. Both floats are shotted using a string of tiny shot, six inches from the hook and all positioned slightly apart. I’ve decided to fish an inch over depth from the off and if the roach are feeding aggressively then I will come up in the water. 

No consistency

I arrived just before first light, a great time for a practice session on a canal as the banks are quiet and the fish seem to feed with more confidence. First drop in on the middle line and the float disappears, the culprit a roach. Another half a dozen come to hand before the line is shattered by a jack pike, a common occurrence here and another reason to feed and fish more than one line. A switch to the far bank once again produces a few small roach before going quiet, pike maybe, so I try the maggot line which again produces a few tiny roach before dying. I don’t think the reason each line produces a few then goes quite is due to predators as this section is very shallow, only two and half feet at best and I’m sure I would see some disturbance or even have a roach attacked whist shipping in, so I just think it’s a pattern where a few fish are caught before spooking. This pattern continues on the punch lines, yet on the maggot line bites completely dry up so I decide to feed another punch line, before rotating these which seems to keep the fish coming. Amazingly last week lots of skimmers showed here, great match weight makers, yet today all I can catch are roach, the best around 10oz and a few small perch. Obviously the massive change in conditions has seen the bream move on, shame. 

Knowledge gained

Its mid morning now and being a weekend the tow path is becoming increasingly busy, probably the reason that the bites have slowed up considerably, however with getting on for fifty roach and a little more knowledge on just how the canal fish’s in these conditions will certainly put me in a good position for the friendly teams of four matches that will be fished here in the coming weeks. 

Jamie’s Tackle

0.13mm and 0.11mm Cenex Fluoro Carbon Hook Line 

Sphere size 18 micro barbed Feeder Ultra Lite Hooks

1.3mm Lime Green Xitan Microbore Elastic

4×10 & 4×12 slim line pole floats

Jamie’s Bait

Medium sliced bread, punched and liquidised 

Champion’s Choice Black Magic Groundbait, maggots and worms as back-up

Catch Carp on Bread Disks

First Published in English.


Location, location, location

The most important factor in consistently catching in the depth of winter is location and my advice at this time of year is to head to a lake you know well and then, if possible, drop into the ‘banker’ swim. You’ve probably heard it a thousand times before, but if you haven’t got fish in front of you, it doesn’t matter if your tackle and bait is the best money can buy, or if you are the best angler in the country, you simply won’t catch. 

Today I’m at Brookhall Lake controlled by Colchester Angling Preservation Society, a water I’ve fished for years and it is one of those cruel winters day when there’s been a hard frost, skies and cloudless and to make things worse, a howling chilly wind is blowing. This lake, apart from marginal rushes is relatively featureless to the eye, apart from a set of rushes at the far end of the lake that are situated in open water. Nine times out of ten it contains fish so with no other anglers around, guess where I’m heading? This swim gives me options, open water, reeds on the far bank but most importantly the rushes and this is exactly where I’m going to investigate first. 

You can’t beat bread

Bait for the day is simply bread, a bait that seems to be overlooked these days, especially when the tackle shops shelves are full of bright coloured boilies and pellets to choose from, but believe me, bread will catch when all else fails so don’t forget it. Something else worth considering is where the carp are going to be, and take it from me they are rarely if ever laying on the bottom, but more likely to be sat up in the water, in an area that’s slightly warmer, so a popped up bait is a very good option. Air pressure effects at what depth the carp will be but a rule of thumb is the colder it is the lower down they will be. Although it’s raw today, we have had some very unseasonably mild weather recently so I’m guessing that the water won’t be too cold and that the fish will be well off bottom, so I’m going to pop my bait up thirty inches to start with. I do this simply by hair-rigging a punched 8mm disc, taken from the crust, and sandwich this between two discs punched straight from the slice. The hair needs to be quite long as these discs will take on water and fluff up, so don’t go too short. The best way to hair rig these is to use a Push Stop which is tied to the end of the hair, then with a needle inserted pushed through the discs, before twisting and locking the bait on. Push Stops are also great for hair rigging boilies, corn, even worms, so make sure you have some as they are absolutely brilliant. 

Push stops anchors discs securely on a hair.  

Don’t be without these this winter.

A long hair is essential as the discs will swell up. 

The bread swells up in water, filling the hair.

"All you need are a few slices of bread"

Balanced kit equals complete faith

As for the rig, I’m using what’s known as an inline safe system, simply because it gives me the flexibility to change the length of the hooklink, which needs to be done regularly to find where the fish are, or if needed, the size of lead, yet a small semi-fixed inline lead will do the job. As for rod, reel and mainline you have to have complete faith in these, as when fishing close to a feature you need to pile the pressure on instantly and steer the fish into open water. My kit consists of an 11’ CK Method Feeder Rod with the 1oz tip added. This rod has plenty of power in the middle reaches yet the soft tip avoids hook pulls under the rod tip. The reason for using the 1oz tip is it allows me to tighten up to the lead without pulling the rig out of position. This slight tension means that the majority of bites are dropbacks, where the fish has picked the bait up and dislodged the lead, before seeing the tip pull round as the carp bolts. My reel is an 845 Black Viper Compact loaded with either 6lb or 8lb Black Magic Gold Mono depending on the angling situation.  As for hook length it’s the ever reliable Cenex Hybrid Power Mono in a 0.18 diameter which has a Sphere CPF LS Barbless Hook tied knotless knot style to produce the hair.  

Have a cast around

In the winter, when it’s really cold I don’t put any loose feed in, but simply rely on this visual bait wafting around in the water to gain some interest.  Today I’ve started by casting the rig around a rod length off the side of the rushes, as there is no need to go really tight unless you have to. Unfortunately after forty minutes very little has happened, even though I’ve been casting closer and closer to the rushes, however at last, a cast really close has finally produced a bite from a carp around 8lb. I find that it’s worth casting around at first, as often the carp aren’t right in the feature and that a small lead is best as it doesn’t cause too much disturbance. Quite often a bite will come quickly, in the first minute, but if not then you might have to wait up to ten minutes, but once this period is up, it’s time for a recast, slightly further out, or tighter to the feature. Once a carp is caught it’s a good idea to target this spot, yet if things don’t happen, start casting around again to find them. Today the carp are obviously shoaled tight within the rushes, probably due to this cold wind as all my bites have come right up close to the rush stems. Sometimes you just have to go to them, and that’s exactly what I’ve had to do today.


Tim Bruce – Wickford Browning

Vary the hooklength to fish at different depths.

Cast around the swim until you find the fish.

Use a reasonably soft tip as the bites can be quite subtle.

One of many to warm me up on a cold morning.

Tim’s Tackle

CK 11ft Method Feeder

Black Viper 845 Compact Reel

6lb Black Magic Gold Mono

0.18mm Cenex Hybrid Power Mono

Size 14 Sphere CPF LS Barbless Hook

7mm Push Stops and Needle

8mm Bread Punch

2/3rd ounce inline safe system lead


Tim’s Bait

Warburton’s medium sliced toast white bread.

A lovely golden carp brightens up a cold winters day.

Chopped Worm for Big Perch

First Published in English.


It’s all down to location

The most important part in catching a big bag of perch from any venue is simply down to location and a couple of winters back, during a match, I drew one off the flyer, an end peg on one of my club stretches on the Kennet and Avon Canal near Hungerford. Ever since watching the lucky angler that drew this peg who proceeded to take over 30lb of big perch I’ve been meaning to return, well today is the day!

The early bird…

If you want to get the best swim then you have to arrive early, set the alarm well before dawn, park up in darkness and start setting up as the sun rises. Fortunately today I’ve been blessed with a respite in the recent wet weather but looking at that sky, I’m on limited time before the rains arrive, the only downside is most of the swim is covered with leaves.

Canal craft

First job is to get the box set up nice and stable in the marginal vegetation, mix a little groundbait, plumb up a few areas and get some bait in to activate each line. I’ve settled on three lines, one at 8m where I’ve cupped in a couple of balls of groundbait made from a 50/50 mix of Champion’s Method Black Roach and Quick Skimmer which I pushed through a fine riddle a couple of times. My second line, slightly to my left at 11m, just on the downside of the far bank shelf and close to a line of rushes is prepped with a couple of cupfuls of chopped worm and casters and my final line at 13m is right across on top of the shelf just under the cover of the far bank overhanging bushes. 

Roughly chop your worms for big fish.

A great canal combination.

Fluoro Carbon, almost invisible in the water.

You don’t need many of these to build a good weight.

"The early bird catches the perch."

Start off with two cupfuls of bait.

To my mind, the best pole on the market. 

These big perch certainly give you the run around. 

It’s not rocket science

As for tackle I’m using my trusted Sphere Zero-G F1+ Pole and although each line is slightly different regarding elastication and end rig, the one that is producing after rotating each line is the chopped worm and caster one. The rig for this is relatively simple and consists of Stretch 7 Blue 1.90mm Hollow Elastic, 0.12mm Cenex Hybrid Power line containing a 4×14 pole float, with a four inch Cenex 0.13mm Fluoro Carbon Hook Line and a Sphere size 16 Match Hook. Nothing fancy regarding shotting, just a bulk of no8 12’from the hook and a couple of tiny droppers spaced equally to the hook with the whole rig fished an inch over depth. 

Reasons for

A couple of things worth pointing out is although I’m using a hook length that is of a wider diameter that the mainline, its breaking point is slightly less, the reason for the wider hooklink is its created from Fluoro Carbon, a material that fish find almost impossible to see, something when fishing for sight feeders such as perch is very important. I’ve also set up my pole roller down the edge so I can side ship my pole in and out without upsetting other canal tow path users and the Black Magic Double Width 60 Roller with its extendable legs allow just that! 

Little reason to switch

A quick look at the 8m line from the off and its only producing small roach, which is a great sign as where there’s small fish there will be big perch and after fifteen minutes its time to lower half a Dendrobaena in on the 11m line and straight away the float sinks and I’m onto a reasonable perch. The action continues throughout the morning with perch to 2lb 6oz gracing my net and apart from one bite on the lobworm line I see very little reason to switch. It’s a good idea to keep pulting a few casters over the top to keep the small fish interested and every time bites dry up I simply introduce another cupful of chopped worm and casters which livens things up. After three hours and with the first spots of rain in the air I’ve had my fill and have ended up with at least 15lb of quality perch including a couple more around the two pound mark. Canal fishing, I love it. 

Colin Sheppard

Side shipping is recommended on canals. 

A plummet and a delicate but long tip float, both essential items of kit.  

Sphere Match hooks, razor sharp, perfect when perch fishing.

They just can’t resist the worm.

Colin’s Tackle

Sphere Zero-G F1+ Pole

Stretch 7 1.90mm Blue Elastic

4×14 pole float

0.12mm Cenex Hybrid Power Mono

0.13mm Cenex Fluoro Carbon Hook Line

Sphere Size 16 Match Hook

Colin’s Bait

Dendrobaena Worms





Champion’s Feeder Black Roach & Quick Skimmer Groundbait.

A brilliant mornings sport.

Winter 'Edges'

Original article published in English.


Winter fishing is normally associated with targeting the deeper water on commercial venues or fishing the long pole to features. However, I’ve enjoyed a lot of success fishing the edges here at Colemans Cottage, even on the coldest of days. It seems like the fish hug the near slope and you can often catch here when you can’t get a bite elsewhere. There are a few key differences to summer edge fishing which make all the difference. 


The first thing I’m looking for with my edge fishing is depth. This varies depending on the temperature, water clarity and how active I expect the fish to be but around 3-feet (one metre) seems to be a good starting point. Generally, this will be found on a nice gradual slope so you can really pick and choose your depth by moving up or down the slope. As with any pole fishing, plumbing up accurately is essential to present your bait correctly on the slope without it hanging off bottom or laying on excessively. I like to just slightly lay on to make the bait sit naturally. If I’m foul hooking fish then I will look to move up the slope, if I don’t get any indications then I may look to move further down – a few inches either way can make a big difference.

Cenex Classic Mono is my choice for hook lengths.

Xitan Stretch 7 Yellow is ideal for the plodding fights of winter carp.

I use a dink float for margin fishing.

Bait choice

My approach centres on groundbait and live maggots. This may seem unusual in 3-feet of water, but because the fish are less active in winter foul hookers are much less of a problem. Groundbait offers just enough attraction to get me a bite, but washes away and doesn’t overfeed the peg. I normally feed it loose and very cautiously through a pole mounted pot, but sometimes a handful of crumb in a big pot can spark life into a peg which it appears devoid of fish. I very rarely feed maggots which means I get a faster bite as the fish snatch at the only food particle in the peg. In milder weather I will use the Formula Fish groundbait, but in the depths of winter this changes to a pure crushed expander mix with minimal food content. The groundbait itself must be as damp as possible and pushed through a riddle so that it settles quickly on the slope and doesn’t waft up easily.


Rig wise, I normally use a 4 x 12 carp dink with the float dotted right down. I may step up a size if the wind is affecting the presentation. This is tied to 0.16mm Cenex Hybrid Power mainline and a 4-inch 0.10mm or 0.12mm Cenex Hybrid Power hooklength to an 18 or 20 hook depending on how hard I expect the fishing to be. Elastic wise, the yellow Xitan Stretch 7 is perfect; soft enough for the fish to glide out of the swim, but with enough power to land double-figure fish. Shotting would be a bulk or strung bulk of no.9s, again depending how active the fish are. I use a fairly long line to my float and use back shot to control the rig to avoid spooking fish in the clear water.

Formula Fish attracts without feeding.

Big carp can still be caught down the edge in winter on many venues.

Often, I will feed groundbait with no feed, and then use a maggot hookbait over the top.

"Always leave yourself somewhere to go when the fish back off."


Another key difference from summer time is the fish will back-off from one spot very quickly. Changing depth or re-plumbing a new line where the fish feel safe will often get a crucial few extra bites. For this reason I always leave myself somewhere to go and never fish to the limit of my peg early on. I find about half-way to the next platform to be a good starting point, but it is always dependant on depth more than anything. One of the most important things is to never give up! You might not get a bite down the edge until late in the match but you can then put together a winning catch in no time. Hopefully this helps give you the confidence to fish your edges through the winter, you might be surprised at the results!

Alex Reynolds

Catch Carp on the Deck

It’s getting to that time of the year when the carp start to spend more time close to the bottom and catching them hard on the bottom becomes a viable option. Today I am fishing Messingham Sands Fishery, where this is one of the key methods for the big carp that you need to catch to win here. Big catches are on the cards, with triple-figures easily achievable. These big super-strong carp will put a real strain on your gear, so it is important to get your tactics right to be in with a chance of winning.

Today I am fishing a peg just along the ‘spit’ in the centre of Island Lake. In front of me I have a large island, along with several snag bushes and beds of lilies. The margins are also lined with trees, so there are plenty of options to fish, but also lots of potential pitfalls, should a fish charge off towards cover. I have picked a couple of spots to fish, both of which are not too close to the cover. The fish here will respond to the sound of pellets peppering the surface when I feed, and drawing them away from danger gives me more chance of landing them. 

I’m using the blue 2.3mm Xitan Microbore elastic rigged through the top-two kit of my Sphere Zero G PT+. This elastic is rated at 9-13, and with a puller kit is more than adequate for landing double-figure carp. My rigs are made up with 0.16mm Cenex Hybrid Power with a 15cm hooklength 0.14mm Hybrid Power. To this I am using a size 14 Sphere Beast barbless hook with a bait band tied in tight to the back of the hook. The swim is about six feet deep, and as I want to catch on the bottom I have plumbed up with the rig just on depth. A moveable bulk shotting sits just above the hooklength. 

The wind is quite gusty down the lake today, so I am not going to try to fish too far out. Around 13 metres will be fine today, especially as there is no one on the adjacent pegs. I always try to fish as short as I can when the conditions are poor as this makes such a difference to your efficiency. 

Fish slightly away from features to give yourself more time to control the first rush of a carp.

A lovely Messingham Sands carp.

Sphere Beast hooks are perfect for the job.

"The key to catching consistently here often comes down to feeding."

Don’t be tempted to fish too light. Aim to land every fish you hook.

The carp here are well known for fighting really hard.

The key to catching consistently here often comes down to feeding. The carp really respond to pellets going in, so I will feed half a dozen 8mm pellets every 30-seconds. If I start getting too many lines-bites though I will increase the number of pellets that I feed, but reduce the frequency a bit to ensure more of the bait gets to the bottom. You can easily spot most of the liners, as the float dithers and pulls sideways, rather than going under positively. Try to give the bites a second to develop so as not to foul-hook too many fish. 

I am using quite big pellets both as feed and on the hook. This is a definite ‘edge’ on this lake, the carp do like a big bait. The other advantage is that silver fish, particularly skimmer bream, are a little less likely to pick up these big baits. I don’t mind catching silvers, but if you want to win then you need to make sure that you are getting through to the bigger carp. 

I will have several swims on the go in a match and may switch to a longer line on the lead if the bites aren’t coming often enough on the pole. The carp definitely do come in waves though, probably as shoals of fish move through the peg. Don’t be in too much of a hurry to switch lines, as you may get two or three fish in quick succession after a bit of a wait, and that can put another 30-pounds in the net. Similarly, it can take the carp a while to gather in numbers at the start of your session. Keep feeding regularly and don’t stop. Eventually they will turn up and then it is game on! 

There is no great secret to landing these powerful carp quickly. I like to ship back quite quickly and let the elastic do its work. Although the elastic is set quite firm, I can get back to the top-two kit quickly and then start to apply more pressure on the fish using the pulla kit. With a bit of luck, the carp will pop up right in front of the waiting net and I can scoop it before it really knows what is happening. Miss that first chance and you can often see the fight go on for two or three times longer! It might seem a small point, but this is why using a quality landing net handle, combined with a net that can be easily moved through the water is so important. Over five hours this can put several more fish in the net. 

Time flies when catching carp on the pole. In many ways this is quite a simple tactic, but one where getting into a smooth rhythm makes all the difference. Pay particular attention to feeding and getting your gear correctly balanced and big catches can easily be on the cards. 

Tight lines! 

Jim Hall

Don’t be afraid to use a heavier rig if the wind picks up.

Keep those pellets going in on to keep the bites coming.

Jim’s Gear

Sphere Zero G PT+ Pole

Cenex Hybrid Power Line 0.16mm

Cenex Hybrid Power Line 0.14mm

Sphere Bead Barbless Hook

Medium Bait Bands

0.3 gram Float

Jim’s Bait

8mm Fishery Pellets

The Sphere Zero G PT+ pole is perfect for this job.

Catch Bonus Fish On Worms

Originally published in English.


We all have different approaches when it comes to the tactics we adopt and feel comfortable with when approaching a match or practice session on our chosen venue. Some are happy to build a weight of silvers and constantly feed a number of different lines, some are quite happy to target a certain species and some are happy to look for fewer but bigger fish. 

Faith and Patience

I have to admit that I’m one of those anglers that like to target fewer but bigger fish and if there is a bait on the canals that will sort these out it has to be worm, a bait that very few species will ignore. Fortunately eels count in our friendly matches and are somewhat partial to a worm and with bream and perch on the cards as well, rarely will a few bonus fish grace my net and I’m happy to play the waiting game, be patient and have faith that although I may only be looking for three or four decent fish, if they are the ones I’m after then there’s a very good chance I will be looking at framing, if not winning.

One of my local venues is The Wey Navigation Canal and over the years this approach has served me well here. Today I’ve decided to steer clear of the noted big fish swims, the reason being is that I feel I learn so much more simply dropping into a swim that I haven’t fished before and then having faith that my tried-and-tested approach will deliver any sizable fish within.

Worm and caster, a winning combination.

Baiting up with a dropper for pin point accuracy.

I’ll take a couple of these any day.

"Worms will often produce bigger bonus fish"

Rotating the two

The swim is certainly a feature swim being directly under a road bridge, definitely an area to look at as the winter sets in and quite often a hotspot for perch, however I don’t think that even the shade will have any effect on the fishing today as the canal is unusually coloured. I’m going to approach today’s practice session in my normal manner and feed to spots, both on the same line at two thirds of the way across which is around nine metres. The first line is slightly upstream of straight out; 11am lets say and the other at 1pm, slightly downstream. To kick start each spot I’m going to introduce one Bait dropper full of chopped worm and casters. The reason for a bait dropper is it gives me pin-point accuracy every time, especially when I line the pole up to a far bank marker. Each spot will be rotated and topped up at regular intervals throughout the sessions with a further half a dropper of worm and casters, even if they are showing no signs of fish. Another key time to top up is if a couple of fish are caught or bites missed before going quiet. Hookbait will mostly be half a worm and a caster cocktail, but every now and again will try a small piece of worm or caster on their own, even a couple of maggots, but never will I introduce maggots to the swim in the bait dropper as this attracts too many small fish.

A real all-rounder

I’m using a Sphere Zero-G Power Partner, a real all-rounder with Pink 1.9mm Microbore elastic through the top kit which is more than adequate even if a sizeable eel gets hooked. My rig consists of Cenex 0.18mm Hybrid Power mono onto which I attach a 1.25g rugby ball shaped wire stem float for stability, which will be over shotted and held back in position. The float is shotted with a bulk of fifteen no9 fifteen inches from the hook which is a size 16 barbed Sphere Match attached to 0.15mm Cenex Fluoro Carbon hook length. Two additional number nine shot are added to the hook length along with a tiny number twelve swivel that sits on the deck and also makes changing hook lengths easier. 

Today’s three hour session has gone to plan in that I have put together around 8lb of fish, however with the added colour in the canal I would have put money on it, that eels would have played a major part in my catch but amazingly not one has shown. Instead my weight has been made up of three decent bream, plus a few small perch, roach and gudgeon, more than enough to frame in one of our matches. 

John Brownlie

Fluoro Carbon hooklink, a massive edge.

1.9mm Microbore, will handle anything hooked today. 

Not what I expected but I’ll take a catch like this any day.

John’s Tackle 

Sphere Zero-G Power Partner

Size 16 Sphere Match Hooks

Cenex 0.18mm Hybrid Mono

Cenex 0.15mm Fluoro Carbon Hook Line

1.25g Float

Xitan Microbore Pink 01.9mm Pole Elastic

Sphere Match hooks, sharp and reliable.

Catch Silverfish on a Large Lowland River

Originally published in English.


Today we are fishing a practise session on the river Great Ouse near Ely in Cambridgeshire. This is a pretty typical area of this big lowland river, which can respond to a number of different tactics. Today our job is to each fish a different tactic and see how the fish respond. Obviously, come match day, things can be very different, especially with the extra pressure more anglers puts on the venue, but this is a good opportunity for us to make some tweaks to our tactics and get it right on match day.

My job today is to concentrate on the pole line, trying to put together a net of silvers, and perhaps snare a bonus fish or two. I will also bait up a couple of other lines, more for the better, bonus fish, but let’s stick to talking about the pole line.

The river here is around 50 metres wide, with a distinct channel beyond the marginal shelf. Fortunately, there is a good depth at around eight metres, and the bottom is pretty level once we go beyond the ten metre mark, meaning I don’t need to fish too far out. This also gives me the opportunity to bait a couple of different lines at the start and, with a bit of luck, draw the fish in closer as the day progresses where I can catch them faster.

My opening gambit is to introduce six good-sized balls of groundbait at around 11 metres. This is a combination of Champion’s Feeder Black Roach and Champion’s Choice Canal. Into this I have put some dead pinkies, chopped worm and casters and have moulded the balls quite firmly, the aim to get them on the bottom before they break up. There are quite a lot of bleak and tiny rudd here, so I need my bait (and rig) to get down fast to avoid these.

Expect plenty of ’net‘ roach here.

I like a stable float because it gives more control on a typical windy day.

Use an olivette about 60cm from the hook to get the bait through the bleak that lurk near the surface.

The river channel is at a comfortable distance, giving me room to follow the fish out.

I use the awesome Sphere Zero G PT+ Pole.

My bonus fish line under this overhanging tree didn’t produce today.

"I want to have a nice concentrated area of bait that hopefully will draw the fish in."

I want to have a nice concentrated area of bait that hopefully will draw the fish in. These will probably mainly be roach, with a few rudd, skimmers and maybe a bonus fish thrown in for good measure.

As roach are my main target I will regularly feed a little hemp over the top of the groundbait. Hemp is less likely to bring the bleak in, and sinks quickly, so hopefully it will keep the roach interested. I will try hemp later in the day as if the roach switch on to it then I can expect a better stamp of fish on this hookbait.

If the bites slow down and I feel that the roach are drifting away I will top up the line with two more balls of groundbait, I’ll also play with what amounts of particles I add too as this can affect the stamp and catch rate. It can also be a good idea it rest a line for a while after topping up giving fish the chance to re-group and remain confident. In this way, I hope to ring out as many fish as I can over the space of five hours. With a second line at the same distance, plus a shorter hemp and caster line just for roach, I can mix it up and hopefully keep catching.

The swim is about ten feet deep, and I expect to catch the bulk of the fish hard on the bottom, so I have set up a positive rig that will get the bait down quickly. Also, the wind here tends to blow either up or down the river, so a reasonably heavy rig gives me much better control. I’m using a two gram float with a bulk olivette about two feet from the hook, and then three no.10 shot evenly spaced below this. The bulk will get the rig down quickly but the smallish droppers provide a slower fall in the killing zone – I can also bunch these up for an even more positive rig if it gets really good. I expect bites either in that bottom two feet as the float settles (or doesn’t), and then as I carefully work the rig once it has settled.

My rigs are made up on the excellent 0.12mm Cenex Classic Mono with a hooklength of 0.08mm diameter of the same to a size 19 hook. Light lines always mean more bites, but with skimmers bream and even the odd tench about 0.08mm will give me a chance without affecting my roach fishing.

It is a pretty typical Fenland day today. The wind is quite gusty downstream and the water quite clear. Even so, the bites have kept coming, only slowing down towards the end of the session. As expected, it has been a nice mix of fish, mainly roach, with the odd nice perch mixed in too. I did try a worm line for a better perch, or even a tench, but this has drawn a blank today. Oh well, next time!

It has been a really enjoyable and busy day. We have all learnt a few nuggets that will hopefully see us in good stead come our team match in a couple of weeks time on this venue. It has been interesting to see how the different tactics perform, with the pole line doing well.


Andrew ‘Mossy’ Moss

Rig control is important on a deep, windswept venue like this.

An initial bed of groundbait helps concentrate the fish. Top up if the bites slow down.

It has been an interesting and productive session.

Mossy’s Gear

Sphere Zero G F1+ Pole

Cenex Classic Line 0.12mm and 0.08mm

Size 19 hook

2 gram wire stemmed float

Olivette bulk with three no. 10 droppers

Mossy’s Bait

Champion’s Feeder Black Roach

Champion’s Choice Canal






Bright Baits for Cold Carp

With the water temperature cooling, carp tend to shoal tightly, find them, drip feed them and then if you approach them in a stealthy manner you should catch them. Today I’ve headed to one of my favourite fisheries, Rolf’s in Oxfordshire, one I have fished extensively for years and if I’m right a fair share of the carp will be keeping warm, tight in a corner where a big lily bed is dying away. I could target this from a swim to the side but I need to get tight to the pads and with carp to well over 20lb possible its far better to attack the swim from the opposite bank, which is exactly where I’m heading. 

Drip feeding

To get the carp in a feeding mood I’m going to drip feed four of five 8mm fishery own, slow sinking pellets every thirty seconds right next to the lilies. This I will do whilst setting up and if all goes to plan when I make my first cast in around half an hour there should be a few competing for these. 

After feeding for half an hour, it was a carp a cast.

Bright critically balanced baits, just irresistible.

Pellet Bands – quick and easy.

Clipped up at all times, just don’t switch off.

Cenex Low stretch Mono, great for bite detection.

Cenex Hybrid Power Mono for super supple, strong and tough hook lengths.  

Soft, easy part and reliable Connector Beads.  

Connector Beads, simple to use.  

"the power of the rod will see the carp kitting and heading into open water."

Simple but powerful

Tackle for carp this big needs to be robust but balanced so I’ve opted for my Sphere Bomb rod but the version with 10% extra power. This rod is unbelievable and has been created from the highest quality carbon blank and fittings available to produce an ultra light, ultra slim rod that just makes you want to catch fish after fish. It has a soft action which allows light lines and small hooks to be used when needed, however the power in the butt section is amazing and couple this with the action is something big carp just can’t deal with. This is teamed up with a Black Viper Compact 845 reel loaded with Cenex 0.20mm Low Stretch Mono which has an incredible breaking strain of over 8lb for its fine diameter and is also extremely abrasion resistant which is required if a carp manages to skirt the outside of the pads. On the business end things are kept relatively simple with a 1oz lead placed on a Quick Change Swivel which runs on the mainline and is buffeted by a Connector Bead. The hook length, which is around fifteen inches is created from Cenex 0.18mm Hybrid Power Mono, again very abrasion resistant but also very supple, and has a Sphere size 14 barbless hook attached knotless knot style with a hair containing a 7mm Silicone Bait Band.

Slow sinking

Hookbait is simple, an 8mm bright pink wafter that I’ve checked in the margin before casting, as I want it to sink really slowly, just like the freebies that I have been catapulting around. 

A repeat performance

The last thing I need is for a carp to dive into the roots of the lily bed so although I’m casting tight to these I’m also clipping up as this will avoid disaster happening. The bend in the rod and minimal stretch in the line will give me a couple of feet to put the brakes on when the rod pulls round, and guess what it’s done this almost immediately. It’s really important when fishing clipped up to place the rod across your knee and only have a small angle from rod tip to bait. As soon as it pulls round the power of the rod will see the carp kitting and heading into open water. The first carp is a beautiful fully scaled mirror around 6lb but I have had them, on similar tactic to over 25lb in the past here so expect a proper chunk to turn up at anytime. It looks like it’s going to be an eventful day as the next cast see’s a repeat performance, yet this one is more of the average size you can expect from Rolf’s, a low double. Now for that twenty!


Michael Colsino

Michael’s Tackle

Sphere Bomb + 10% Power

Black Viper Compact 845

Cenex 0.20mm Low Stretch Mono

Cenex 0.18mm Hybrid Power Mono

Sphere size 14 barbless Beast Hook

Connector Bead

7mm Silicone Bait Band

Quick Change Swivel

1oz Lead


Michael’s Bait

8mm Pink Wafter

8mm low oil fishery own pellets






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Perfect touchdown next to the dying pads.

Rolf’s is famous for its big carp.