How to Catch Big Canal Bream

The Grand Union Canal in Bedfordshire is a fantastic silver fish venue, yet there are also some seriously big fish too, including carp, perch and bream. In fact, on some occasions you have to make that decision, whether to go all out for the big fish or stick to the consistent silver fish action. In most cases keeping to the silvers is the safer option, yet if you’re on a known bream peg and don’t go for it, you might just be kicking yourself come the end of the match. 

There’s nothing worse than picking a bream flyer and not really knowing how to get the best from it so it’s worth having a few practice sessions and that’s exactly what I’m going to do today, however it’s not exactly the best bream conditions! 

Straight on the bait

These bream rarely come down the track and seem to stick to the shallow water found on the far bank where there is usually lots of bankside cover and shade. Something I have found is usually, if there are any bream in the swim they are straight on the bait. Yet, this doesn’t mean baiting too heavily as once it’s in the swim, you can’t take it out, so it pays to bait cautiously to start with. Bearing this in mind, I’m going to introduce two firm balls of groundbait, whisked and finely riddled, created from a 50/50 mix of Champion’s Feeder Quick Skimmer and an all time canal favourite, Black Roach which contains some dead maggots, fluoro pinkies and a little chopped worm. As for hookbait, these bream tend to come to double red maggot, but it is always worth trying a piece of worm tipped with a fluoro pinkie or a couple of dead maggots if things aren’t happening. I will also introduce another ball of bait after a couple of decent fish, or if a boat has come through the swim, and have found that a small cupful of finely chopped worm can bring a quick response. I also like to catapult a few maggots over the float from time to time, but only do this when there is no flow. 

My favoured canal bream groundbaits

Xitan Microbore elastic, the choice of many.

Cenex Classic Mono line, great for pole rigs. 

"This stamp of fish can be found in many canals."

Keeping it simple

The far bank is 13.5m across and I’m using my trusted Sphere Zero-G F1 for this teamed up with Xitan Microbore Orange which has a 5-7 rating. My rig is kept quite simple, consisting of 0.13mm Cenex Classic Mono with a 4×12 float shotted with a bulk of no 9’s and a short 10cm 0.10mm Classic Mono hook length, to a Sphere Match size 18 hook. Before introducing any bait I had a quick plumb around and found that the top shelf, right under the overhanging cover, to have no more than 2ft 8’ which is where these bream are happy feeding. 

The action continues

It doesn’t take long for signs of fish in the swim and I’m soon lifting into a fish and watching the elastic stretch from the tip. It’s definitely a good bream, one that weighs around 4lb and, as expected, came to the double red maggot. A couple of skimmers around a pound soon follow before once again the elastic stretches and another big canal bream comes to the net, this one coming once again to the maggot. Soon after this I potted some chopped worm in, which definitely encouraged more action. The action continues well into the morning, yet once the sun removes the shade on the far bank and the boat traffic becomes unbearable it’s time to call it a day. It has been a brilliant mornings sport and just goes to show the stamp of fish that can be found in many canals. 


Gary Ford

A nice dark groundbait mix helps the bream settle.

A cup of worms often brings a quick response.

Simple rigs are all that are required.

Sphere Match hooks are perfect for the job.

Gary’s Tackle

Sphere Zero-G F1+

Xitan Microbore Elastic

Sphere Match hooks

Cenex Classic Mono

4×12 Pole Float

Gary’s Bait

Champion’s Feeder Black Roach Groundbait

Champion’s Feeder Quick Skimmer Groundbait

Red and Dead Maggots

Fluoro Pinkies

Chopped Worm

A couple of cracking GUC bream.

Tench on the Pellet Cone

Picture the perfect tench morning in summer and you will imagine mist swirling above the water as the first rays of sunshine push through the trees and small pin prick bubbles erupting on the water’s surface, well that’s not what I’ve been blessed with this morning! Storm Francis has other ideas with howling winds of over 50mph as well as constant heavy rain, joy, and to make things worse I forgot to put the brolly in the car. Anyway, I rarely fish under a brolly and anyone braving these conditions will usually be rewarded with plenty of action and this venue, Harris Lake controlled by Godalming Angling Society, rarely disappoints as it’s full of tench and crucians. 

Simply devastating

The more commonly used method feeder has been extensively used here, it still produces but the pellet cone, rarely used or mentioned these days, is simply devastating and anglers in the know are quietly ripping this place apart. Rules are rules and on this venue rigs have to be running so with a wind that’s really gusty I have decided to use a small Quick Change bead running on my 6lb Black Magic Gold mainline as this will allow me to change the weight of the lead quickly when the wind gets up allowing me to keep hitting the same spot every cast. I’ve also included a short two-inch twirl section to create a boom which almost eliminates tangles and added to this is a small Feeder Connecter Swivel onto which my hook length is attached. This hook length, which is again two-inches long, is created from Cenex Fluoro Carbon in a 0.15mm diameter and has a size 16 Sphere micro barbed hook attached knotless knot style to leave a short hair onto which a buoyant plastic corn stop is attached. As for my rod, well you will be hard pushed to find one better; it’s the 10’ Sphere Bomb teamed up with a Sphere MgTi 940 reel. 

I’ll take any weather when specimen crucians are gracing my net!

The rig, fiddly but highly effective.

Once in, they stay in. 

Accuracy is key when fishing the pellet cone. 

"the pellet cone, rarely used or mentioned these days, is simply devastating"

Critically balanced bait

As for bait, it really is very simple, 2mm pellets in the cone and plastic corn for hookbait. Many anglers have a fear about using plastic baits but with the cone they are deadly as when the pellets break down around, the bait sits right in the middle of them waiting to be sucked up from a passing fish. The reason for using a buoyant bait here is it removes the weight of the hook, making the bait very light and when a fish sucks up the pellets the hookbait is also engulfed, however when the fish lifts up, or tries to blow the plastic bait out the inevitable happens and the hook, more often than not, takes hold in the bottom lip. It does take time to get a critically balanced bait and its worth spending some time at home to get the perfect combination but get it right and you will see a massive upturn in your catch rate. Small micro pellets and plastic corn rarely fails but on the odd occasion real corn, or plastic maggot/caster seems to produce more as does 4mm pellets so it pays to always have these with you as backup. 

The perfect pellets

Getting the perfect micros pellet consistency for the cone comes with practice, but in short, mix a few up at a time and just sprinkle them with a little water, mix, leave for a few minutes and repeat a couple of times. A little tip is to add some sweet flavoured syrup to the water as this helps stick them together and stay intact when casting. Mounting the cone of pellets is simple, just press the 2mm into the cone firmly, push a baiting needle through these, attach the hook length to the needle and pull through so the hook point embeds into the pellets before pushing the pellets out of the cone and attaching the hook length to the Feeder Connector Swivel. 

Repeat every couple of minutes

Accuracy is key so you will need to use the line clip on the reel and once the rig hits bottom do not move it, just tighten up so that there is a slight bend in the quivertip. Repeat every couple of minutes until the bites start coming. Today it’s taken around an hour to start getting indications that a few fish have arrived, and the first fish to make a mistake is this 4lb tench which is quickly followed by a couple more before the crucians turn up. It might be raining hard and blowing a right hurricane but with fish gracing my net regularly I’ve hardly noticed it.

Andy Blay

2mm pellets and plastic corn rarely fails.

Fluoro Carbon hook lengths, that little edge.

Nailed in the bottom lip.

Andy’s Tackle

Sphere Bomb Rod

Sphere MgTi 940 Reel

Black Magic Gold 0.19mm (6.60lbs) Mainline 

Cenex 0.15mm Fluoro Carbon Hook Line

Sphere Match size 16 Hook

1.1oz Bomb

Small Quick Change Swivel

10mm Feeder Connector Swivel

Xitan Medium Super Stopper Oval


Andy’s Bait

2mm/4mm Pellets

Plastic Buoyant Sweet Corn

Sweet Corn

Corn Syrup Sweetener

The first tench of the session.

Catch Silver Fish on Slow-Flowing Rivers

Slow flowing rivers, such as the Cam, where I am today, are the home of many of the summer league matches that I fish with Browning Team Wickford. Although there are bonus fish to be caught, the great thing about rivers like this is that they are teeming with small fish at the moment. This makes them very fair venues for team fishing. Virtually every peg will produce plenty of fish, meaning the tactics used will have a significant impact on the result, rather than a few flyer pegs dominating the results. 

My first aim when fishing any team match is to get a fish in the net, and get some points on the scoresheet. Once this is achieved it is a case of knuckling down and trying to catch as many small fish as possible, whilst still having the occasional look for a bonus fish further out. 

It pays to fish as close in as possible, as this speeds up landing fish, but without compromising finding the right line. On this stretch of the Cam the bottom levels out fairly quickly and I am able to fish comfortably at around 7-metres in the knowledge that the bottom is flat and I am beyond the marginal shelf. 

Because of the thick weed growth in the river at this time of the year it is important to bring a weed rake and spend some time clearing the area that you want to fish. I would say this is necessary on the majority of swims in the summer. Fortunately, the disturbance doesn’t put the fish off, and by the time I start fishing they will be back. 

Pinkies and hemp make up my feed with a maggot hookbait.

An initial bed of groundbait will draw and hold my target fish.

Cenex Classic Mono is my choice for rigs and hook lengths.

"It has been a bite almost every put-in from small roach, perch, and dace"

To kick the swim off and lay down some feed in the area I want to catch from I start off with a few balls of groundbait made using a bag of Champions Choice Black Magic, half a bag of Etang, and some Champions Choice Krazy Sweetner. This is mixed fairly sticky as the river is around seven feet deep and I want the balls of groundbait to get to the bottom before breaking up. This helps me avoid the bleak and tiny fish that are generally up in the water. Added to the groundbait are a few dead maggots and some hemp to attract and hold the roach. To begin with I put in eight tangerine-sized balls of groundbait to lay down a carpet of feed. 

After the initial baiting up I feed around 40 grains of hemp every put-in, which is around two minutes, and about 20 pinkies every couple of runs through, just to keep some bait falling through the water, creating some activity. Most of this I am sure will be mopped up by the bleak, but enough will get through to keep the roach interested.

My hookbait is a bronze maggot, which tends to pick up a slightly better stamp of fish than pinkie. In practice this has proven to be the best hookbait colour as the water is quite clear. As I am feeding hemp I will also try hemp on the hook later in the day, although this can be quite hit and miss. Some days the roach will be feeding hard on the hemp, whilst on others it can be completely ignored. Once again though, hemp does tend to pick up a better stamp of fish. 

I have set up a few slightly different rigs, each of which presents the hookbait in a slightly different way. All of these are set up on no.3 Cenex solid elastic, running through my Xitan SLKP 4.5mm top kits. These are ideal for catching small fish on light lines and small hooks. I have this rigged fairly tight so that I can easily swing in small fish. 

My rigs are made up using 0.10mm Cenex Classic Mono to a four-inch 0.08mm hooklength of the same material. This is a lovely clear line, with great knot strength and an accurate diameter, which allows me to fish fine as the water is relatively clear. To match the single maggot hookbaits I am using a relatively fine wire size 20 hook. 

There is only a light flow on the Cam at this time of the year, but the river is relatively deep and it can be windy here out on the edge of the Fens, so I am using a 4×14 float with 10 no.9 shot strung out evenly. The float has a very fine tip to show the bites well, plus a slim body and wire stem for extra stability. The strung out rig will catch fish as the bait falls through the water, which is often how they want it presented.

The problem with a slow-sinking hookbait can be that it picks up too many bleak. If this becomes a problem I swap to a rig with the no.9’s bulked around 12-inches from the hook. When the fish are feeding really well and I need to get the bait down as quickly as possible then I will swap to a rig with the bulk at four-inches from the hook. It pays to experiment with these different permutations to see how the fish react, as on some days they want the bait falling through the water, whilst on others they want it nailed to the deck. 

Today I have been practicing with some of my fellow Wickford team members and we have each been fishing a slightly different approach. The bigger fish haven’t shown, which in some respects is a good thing, as these are less likely to have an impact during match conditions. It has been a bite almost every put-in from small roach, perch, and dace, which has kept us all busy. I’ve had the odd net perch, which has boosted my weight a little, but it has really been a case of catching as many fish as possible – a style of fishing I really enjoy. We have learnt a few little things today that will hopefully serve us well in the upcoming summer league matches, on what has to be one of our favourite venues. 

Paul Hyde

Add a sprinkling of Crazy Sweetner to your groundbait.

Bonus perch are always welcome.

A catch like this is worth good points in a team match.

Perfecting the Pellet Waggler

The Pellet Waggler is certainly a method through the warm summer months, when the carp are up in the water that wins more than its fair share of matches and its one that I’m keen to perfect this summer. Unfortunately the venues around me where this method can be used are limited, so today I’ve headed down to Essex to a venue where the pellet waggler scores highly, Churchgate Lakes. 

Conditions are perfect, hot and still and there’s plenty of carp cruising around, all I need to do is get some feed going in and I should be able to get a few competing in the swim. Patience is needed, especially here as this venue is deeper than most and its best to target the odd cruiser before taking a fish from the main feeding zone as being inpatient can do more damage than good. The key in activating a swim is to keep the feed going through the water columns on a little and often basis. Feeding too heavily can drag the fish down on the bottom; feed too little and attracting fish into the swim and getting them competing won’t be achieved. Every day and venue is different so it really does pay to feel your way into each session and be prepared to practice as much as possible in order to suss the place out. I’m feeding 8mm pellets and catapulting five or six every couple of minutes, however the fish aren’t responding as positively as I would like and there are a few bubbles starting to appear which means some of the pellets are reaching the bottom. This behaviour is probably down to the venue being extremely busy, many are still furloughed and it’s the summer holiday, looks like everyone has taken up fishing this year! A little tip is if a, or a group of carp cruise into the swim, up the feed as this often stops them in their tracks, gets them feeding and in turn attracts others. This is exactly what I’ve just done and it’s bought me my first carp of the session. Something else you will find is when the carp are really on the feed bites can be brutal, the three foot twitch so to speak, but on other days bites can be very finical and you need to strike hard and fast at them. This method isn’t for the lazy angler, the more you work the swim, then usually the more you will catch, so remember feed cast, feed cast, feed cast every couple of minutes at the most!

Make sure you set the clutch.

Constant casting is key to this method.

It is quality not quantity today.

"Conditions are perfect, hot and still and there’s plenty of carp cruising around"

The tackle I’m using is quite robust as continuously casting and on occasions playing fish after fish will take its toll. The rod I’m using is the 11’ Sphere Pellet Waggler. I’ve teamed my rod up with a Sphere MgTi 930 loaded with 0.16mm Cenex Hybrid Power Mono, a great all-round line. On the business end I’m keeping things nice and simple with a loaded 6g float locked in position using three medium Xitan Oval Super Stoppers. I use one Stopper above the float and two below, the two being used so they don’t move on the strike. I also leave a gap of around half an inch between so the float can lay down when casting, it simply makes casting easier. Although the Stoppers lock into position, they can be moved under finger force which allows me to alter the depth I’m fishing, something that is critical and needs to be done throughout every session to find where the fish are most comfortable intercepting the slow sinking bait. A rule of thumb is most fish will come deep at the start but as competing for the pellets increases they will rise in the water and can be taken really shallow. As for the hooklink I’m using a pre-tied Feeder Method barbless size 16 hook-to-nylon with a pellet band into which an 8mm pellet is placed quickly and efficiently using  Band Aid Forceps. 

Although the fish aren’t coming fast and furious, I’m keeping up with others around me and seem to get little bursts where two or three carp will be landed before a period of quietness. Fortunately the fish I’m catching are of a good stamp, a couple haven’t been far of double figures so today’s it quality not quantity. I can take that!

Garry Cooper


Simple, but effective tackle.

Simple banded pellet.

Band Aid Forceps makes bait fixing easy.

You need balanced tackle to land big carp.

Garry’s Tackle

Sphere 11’ Pellet Waggler

Sphere MgTi930 Reel

Cenex 0.16mm Hybrid Power Mono

Feeder Method 0.18mm size 16 hook-to-nylon with pellet band

6g Pellet Waggler Float

Xitan Super Stopper Oval (medium)

Garry’s Bait

8mm Low oil Pellets

A sample of the quality fish on offer here.

How to Catch F1’s Shallow

One of my favourite summer tactics is catching fish on the long pole shallow. It is a deceptively simple technique, but one that requires practice to get into a rhythm and put a good weight together. On some days it will be a bite and chuck, whilst on others it can take time to get the fish feeding confidently, which makes for some interesting fishing. 

Today I am fishing the Beastie Lake at Decoy Fisheries and my main target will be the lakes stock of big F1’s and skimmers. I am sure there will be the opportunity to mug the odd proper carp as it cruises through my peg, which will be a nice bonus. 

The plan is to fish at 14.5 metres. This is a comfortable distance to fish all day, which is important as one of the keys to this method is pole control. Fish too long and you will struggle to fish comfortably, especially if there is a cross-wind, and that will lead to tangles and missed bites. As today is a pleasure session and there are no anglers on the adjacent pegs there is no reason to fish further than this. 

Banded 6mm pellet as hookbait and the same fishery pellets as feed.

I use a size 18 Sphere Beast hook.

A small super-strong Dibber float.

Use a Dacron connector to pink Microbore elastic.

"My rig is dead simple and designed to avoid tangles and enable the bait to have a natural fall through the water."

My rig is dead simple and designed to avoid tangles and enable the bait to have a natural fall through the water. Through past experience I know the fish on this lake like to feed in a top two feet of water; a bit deeper than on many lakes, so I’ll set the rig to fish at this depth. I use Cenex Hybrid mono in 0.20mm for the rig body. This is a very tough and quite stiff line, ideal for avoiding time wasting tangles The hooklength is the same line in 0.14mm to a size 18 Sphere Beast hook. A small bait band holds the 6mm fishery pellet tight to the bend of the hook. 

I’m using a sturdy 0.4 Dibber float with three no.8 shot right under the float and two no.10 shot strung between the float and the hook. I like to have a couple of small shot down the line to give a nice fall through the water. Most bites will come as the bait is falling through the water, and I’ll slap the rig every minute or so to keep the bait sinking and also to attract the fish. 

I’ve got the pink Xitan Microbore elastic through the top kit of the pole to a Dacron connector. This is a nice soft elastic, rated 7-9, ideal for this sort of work, and with the puller kit I can exert just the right amount of pressure on the fish. With this balanced kit I expect to lose very few fish, be they skimmers or double-figure carp. 

Bait wise, this is really simple fishing. It is important to keep a steady trickle of 6mm fishery pellets going in. I like to feed about every thirty seconds with roughly eight pellets at a time. Try to get into the habit of feeding even when you hook a fish, or the bites slow down, as this will draw more fish in and keep the bites coming. 

When a big carp cruises through I will normally have a quick go for it. Try to guess where the carp is heading and drop the hookbait in front of it. Some times, perhaps most of the time, they will ignore it, but you don’t need many of these bigger carp to boost your weight significantly. 

It has been a funny old day. The weather has gone from bright sunshine one minute to heavy downpours the next. The warm water temperatures mean that the fish are happy to be in the upper layers though and the bites have kept coming at regular intervals. As always, I’ve caught a few and missed a few, and it has been an enjoyable mornings fishing. 

Whether you are new to pole fishing, or an old hand, give shallow fishing a go. It’s great fun and is also a brilliant way of improving your pole-handling skills too. 


Jon Whincup



Jon’s Tackle

Sphere Zero-G PT+ Pole

Rig line 0.20mm Cenex Hybrid Mono 

Hook length 0.14mm Cenex Hybrid Mono

Size 18 Sphere Beast hook

Dibber Float

Pink Cenex Microbore Elastic


Jon’s Bait

4mm Feed Pellet

6mm Banded Pellet Hookbait

A nice bonus carp hits the net.

Get your set-up right and you will be much more efficient.

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Keep feeding every few seconds, even when playing a fish.

The awesome Zero-G PT+ pole means I can fish comfortably all day.

The Method Feeder for Crucian Carp

I’ve come to Harris Lake on the Marsh Farm Complex today to see if I can get among the crucians that reside here. Tactics for today will be groundbait on the Method Feeder, which is a deceptively simple tactic. In my mind the art of fishing the Method Feeder really comes down to two key points, the first is mixing the groundbait to the perfect consistency, the other is regular accurate casting to the same spot, so the use of a riddle for the groundbait and using the reels line clip are both extremely important.

First job on arrival is to get some groundbait mixed, and as its only going to be a morning session I’m going to mix half a bag of Champion’s Method Robin & Krill. 

A really useful instruction on the front of each packet of the Champion’s range of groundbait is a guide to the amount of water needed to mix a bag up perfectly. So, in this case, I’m adding half the amount needed for a full bag. A quick mix using a Groundbait Whisk and this is left for ten minutes to absorb the moisture whilst I set up. After ten minutes I give it another mix before running it through a fine Match Riddle a couple of times which removes all of the lumps, adds some air making it light and fluffy, and leaves a really fine mix which is perfect for the Method Feeder Mould. 

Cenex lines, try them, you will be impressed.

The rig, simple and free-running! 

Crucians love Robin & Krill.

Connector Beads create a strong quick-change link.

"On the business end is a 30g Hydrus Metal Method Feeder, which comes to rest against a medium Connector Bead."

Plastic fantastic

As for tackle today, and with crucians in mind, I’m keeping everything quite refined, so my trusted Browning Hotrod Bomb Rod comes into play teamed up with a Sphere MgTi 930 reel. As there is no need to cast far, no more than 25 yards, I’ve loaded it with Cenex 0.16mm Feeder Mono. 

On the business end is a 30g Hydrus Metal Method Feeder, free running on the mainline to keep within the fishery rules which comes to rest against a medium Connector Bead. These beads are brilliant as they allow me to swap hook lengths in a split second, testing out different baits if needed, or removing one instantly if damaged. As for the hook length I’ve made mine up using Cenex 0.15mm Fluorocarbon to a length of just three inches and attached a size 13 CPF LS hook knotless knot style to leave a short hair onto which either a plastic caster or piece of plastic corn will be mounted. 

It’s worth experimenting with hookbaits as crucians can have a preference that changes daily. However, if they don’t want the plastic caster then they rarely turn a blind eye to the corn. You can use a small piece of real corn but I’ve not seen any increase in the amount of bites, and unlike real corn that comes off and needs replacing, plastic stays put saving me loads of time during the session. 

Activating the swim

With everything set up its time to ‘activate’ the swim so I’m going to clip-up around one rod length short of the island in front, which puts the feeder at the bottom of its marginal shelf. With the line placed in the reels line clip I’m going to make six quick casts, leaving each one for ten seconds before sweeping the rod back, effectively placing a small amount of groundbait on the spot each time. I’m also going to feed an inside line and to get this going simply hold the feeder in line with the reel and swing it out half a dozen times to my left alongside a nice patch of water lilies. 

It’s a personal best

It really is worth checking out both the bottom of the island marginal shelf as well as the inside line as the crucians here, just like bait preference, show a preference on a daily basis where they are happy feeding. The conditions today are almost perfect, mild, overcast with a strong south west wind blowing, the only downside is I’m having to fish under an umbrella as its raining hard and doesn’t look like it’s going to stop all day! Unfortunately, the island line fails to produce in the first half an hour so it’s time to go down the edge and straight away the tip pulls round and I’m into my first crucian, which turns the scales to a pleasing 2lb 3oz. This is followed by another two pounder before the hook pulls on one and the swims dies. Back to the island spot but again they’re not there however swinging the rig alongside the lilies once again produces another crucian. It looks like it’s going to be a good day!

Justin Watkins

Specimen crucian fishing, love it!

Nailed in the bottom lip, where it should be!

Press, release and away we go.

A reliable line clip is paramount.

Justin’s Tackle

Hotrod Bomb Rod

Sphere MgTi 930 Reel

Cenex 0.16mm Feeder Mono

Cenex 0.15mm Fluoro Carbon Hook Line

Sphere Size 13 CPF LS Hook

30g Hydrus Metal Method Feeder

Hydrus Method Feeder Mould

Medium Connector Bead

Justin’s Bait

Champion’s Method Robin & Krill Groundbait

Plastic Caster/corn

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How to make Method Mussel Paste

Doing something slightly different will create edges which can massively transforms your catches and match results.

One little trick I’ve been doing recently which has started paying me back is to create a paste using, the already brilliant Champion’s Method Mussel Green Groundbait. I mix this up the night before a match as it does take time to get the correct consistency and adding a little good quality hemp oil will create a paste that F1’s and carp, as well as most other species can’t resist. I like to create a consistency that literally hangs of the hook, great for fishing down the edge and the fishy aroma will draw fish in from great distances.  

Give it a go, you will see your catch rate increase.

Ryan Lewis

Mussel Green Groundbait, it’s a fish magnet!

Add hemp oil and you have a great paste.

Carp and F1’s love paste.

Something different can work wonders.

"Doing something slightly different will create edges which can massively transforms your catches and match results."

Tench on the Slider Float

There is something about watching a float and today I’ve come to Parsonage Reservoir in Essex, a deep irrigation venue that’s not the easiest to fish, especially on the float. I could have easily fished the feeder but catching on the float gives me so much more satisfaction and watching that bright tip dip before disappearing and feeling a healthy curve through the rod after a fast, firm strike has been made is what pleasure fishing is all about.  

This image speaks for itself!

Slider floats, difficult to get now, but devastating on the day. 

Being comfortable means you can concentrate fully.

Locked between a bulk of shot and a Browning Bead Stopper.

"I end the session with seven tench - Proper fishing if ever there was."


Fortunately the water level is down some 5ft but I still have around 8ft of water five rod lengths out so I’m going to be tackling this venue using a slider float, sadly something you just don’t see that often used anymore but set up correctly it can be devastating. 

Sitting comfortably

First job is to set up and make sure I’m sitting comfortably as once fishing total concentration is needed. Having everything to hand on side trays is important and the new Space Saver Keepnet out the front of the box provides so much more space. The rod I’m using is the Sphere 14’ Match Rod, the extra length allowing the line to be picked up that much quicker than shorter rods and converting so many more bites into hooked fish. This is teamed up with a Sphere MgTi 930 reel loaded with the brilliant and all-round Black Magic Gold mainline in a 0.19mm diameter which has a breaking strain rating of 6.60lb. The float I’ve chosen is a 5AAA loaded slider and to lock this at the depth of the swim I’m using a Zebco Bead Stopper. The float is then shotted using a couple of 1g Globular weights that come already connected to a length of silicone tubing which slides onto the mainline and protects it. I’ve also added a couple of extra shot but again these are placed on the silicone tubing which removes the chance of any line damage and can be moved easily if needed. One of the most important parts of any type of float fishing is to plumb up and find the correct depth. Unlike pole fishing when a heavy plummet is best, I find that a big split shot pressed onto the hook is best as I need to cast to the middle of the lake and a heavy plummet will just make too much disturbance. Using a split shot to find the depth does take time but it’s worth it and once the depth of the swim is found I use a little Tipex on the rod blank to mark this, which means if I need to adjust the depth or tackle up again for any reason I can quickly and easily get back to dead depth immediately. On the business end, attached to a Cenex eighteen inch 0.16mm Hybrid Power Hook Length, which has just two small No8 droppers added, is a size 16 Sphere Beast barbless hook on which one or two pieces of corn will be added or possibly a corn/worm cocktail.  

The new Space Saver Keepnets – brilliant. 

Extra length means more fish hooked.

A perfect pairing.

It’s all in the mix

Before setting up I mixed three kilo’s of groundbait which consisted of a bag of Champion’s Choice Black Magic, one bag of Champion’s Choice River plus a bag of Champion’s Method Formula Fish. The Black Magic darkens the mix, the River gives it a sticky consistency to get it and the loose feed it holds down to the bottom and the Formula Fish sweetens it up, something that tench and bream just can’t resist. Having mixed the groundbait with a whisk and passed through a sieve a few times to get the right consistency,  as well as adding a handful of dead maggots and the same of corn, twelve Jaffa size balls are introduced to get the swim activated with the view of introducing another ball every three or four casts throughout the session.

Happy days

Being one of the hottest days of the year it’s never going to be easy, yet the depth and slight colour to the water means that even on the toughest day you will always catch here and looking out into my swim there’s already plenty of bubbles showing that a few fish are already browsing over the groundbait. Bites from tench can be just the faintest dip or lift and its paramount that you hold the rod at all times and strike fast and hard at any slight movement. First fish comes quite quickly but it’s not my target species but a 3lb roach/bream hybrid that actually flew out of the water a couple of feet on the strike! A few casts later and my desired species hits the net, a tench around 3lb which is average for here, but they do go to over 6lb. The sport continues throughout the morning and although twenty tench is never going to happen today I end the session with seven tench, the hybrid, a few roach and one bream, all on the float and all taken from a beautiful tranquil venue. Proper fishing if ever there was. 

Tim Bruce



Tim’s Tackle

Sphere 14’ Match Rod

Sphere MgTi 930 Reel

Black Magic Gold 0.19mm Mainline

Cenex 0.16mm Hybrid Power Mono

Sphere Size 16 Barbless Beast hook

5AAA Loaded Slider Float 

Tim’s Bait

Champion’s Choice Black Magic Groundbait

Champion’s Choice River Groundbait

Champion’s Method Formula Fish Groundbait


Dead Maggots

Red Worms

Bait for today.

A few more would be nice.

Just part of today’s catch.

More ways than one to get your angling fix

Life was very frustrating during the lockdown because we have had some fantastic spring weather in the UK.

On the plus side it has given me time to get out all my fishing equipment, sort it and give it a proper deep clean. It’s been a throwback to the days of the old close season and waiting for the glorious 16th to arrive, although during this period it was uncertain when we would actually get back fishing let alone holding matches.

Fortunately we are back fishing, albeit having to keep a distance between us and although matches are slowly beginning to be allowed it’s going to take time before we are back to normal.

It won’t be long?

Can’t wait for match fishing to get back to normal.

All packed and ready to go.

"More ways than one to get your angling fix."

The perfect combination

During lockdown and getting my daily permitted exercise I spent time walking the banks of a relatively unknown little river in my home town of Wickford called the Crouch. Peering into the shallow water on the sunny days on one side of town I was surprised to see just how many fish it contained with good shoals of roach, chub, perch and dace. On the other side of town the river is tidal and here I have spotted some decent sized carp and chub and as soon as the season opens will be roving around and casting a line here. I’ve already put aside some tackle consisting of my 10ft CK Bomb Rod which I have teamed up with a Black Magic FD reel, a combination that seems perfect for the job along with a few bits of terminal tackle within my Xitan Combi Bait Bag.

It might be a long way from match fishing but those short walks along the river were really enjoyed and knowing things will take a while to get back to normal I’m certainly going to make time and get my angling fix in each and anyway I can.

Terry Edwards

Wickford Team Captain