Species in the Thames Catchments
Put as many tares as you need in a pan and add twice the amount of
water. Bring to the boil and simmer gently for 20 minutes. Lift a few
out on a slotted spoon and run them under a cold tap for a few
seconds. Give them a squeeze, all of them as one may be cooked but not
the rest, to test for softness. You want to be able to NEARLY squash
them. If they are not ready first time, keep trying every five
minutes. Once they are cooked, remove from the heat and run a cold tap
over them to cool them down quickly, or they will continue to cook in
their own heat. Once cool, separate into portions and freeze them.
Once they thaw out they will be softer as the water they absorb in
cooking expands inside the fibres and softens them. Always try and
buy good quality, fresh seeds as old seeds may not cook properly.
Strictly speaking a
'waggler' can be any type of float attached bottom-end only.
Therefore, it comes in a variety of shapes and sizes. Because it is
attached bottom end only, it flies through the air like a dart and
great distances can be achieved. Once this method is mastered, you
will have an extremely versatile technique at your disposal, and often
produces results when all else fails.
TIP - When casting, the tackle will sometimes land in a heap in
the water, causing horrendous tangles, to combat this, just before the
float hits the water, gently trap the line coming off the spool with
your first finger. The float will slow down, but the hook will carry
on past the float, spreading out your tackle in a straight line.
are two basic types: straight and bodied, both with or without inserts.
They are usually made from peacock quill, sarkandas reed or plastic.
They body is made from balsa, cork or plastic. Inserts are made from a
thin quill, reed, cane or plastic. The denser the material, the less
buoyant it is, and therefore more sensitive when it is shotted
correctly. They come in a huge variety of sizes, the trick is to select
the right float for the circumstances.
Choosing the right float
There are four
considerations to choosing the correct float. They are: Location of
the fish, wind strength, water depth and how shy the fish are likely
to be. We will look at each of these in turn.
Location of the fish
As a rough guide, if the fish are 3 to 4 rod lengths out, you will
need a light-ish float, perhaps taking two or three BB shot. For fish
that are further out, a heavier float must be used. If in doubt, err
on the heavy side, to make casting less of a strain.
A stronger wind demands a heavier float, especially if the wind is
blowing in towards you. Powerful surface drag, and undertow will pull
a lighter float out of position. In these circumstances, use a longer
float, and using a bodied waggler helps with stability.
Because of the dart-like qualities of the waggler, it tends to
penetrate deep into the water. In shallow water this may scare feeding
fish out of the area. To combat this, a shorter bodied float can be
used to great effect. It will carry as much weight as the longer
float, but will not dive as deep.
If the fish are biting shyly, use a float with a thinner insert this
makes the float more sensitive at detecting bites. Insert wagglers are
also more useful for fishing 'on-the-drop'.
Attaching a waggler
As already mentioned,
wagglers are attached to the line at the bottom only. To aid casting
distance and to help prevent tangles when casting, use two thirds of
the total weight of shot to lock the float in place. The rest of the
weights should be spread down the line and getting lighter nearer to
the hook, to help the bait sink slowly and at a steady pace. As each
shot comes to rest, you can see the float settle in stages. If the
float fails to settle when you expect it to, you will have a bite
'on-the-drop'. The diagram to the left is a typical setup for shy
biting canal and small pond fish.
Use a 'float adapter' to attach wagglers to the line. It
is a small tube of silicone, with a small swivel or eye to attach to
the line, the waggler is then pushed into it. This makes it far easier
to change a float quickly, as conditions change.
TIP - The line between rod and float is best kept below the
water surface, out of the wind. To do this, immediately after the
cast, place the rod tip under the water, and give the handle on the
reel just a couple of very fast turns, this will sink the line. Try
soaking your spool of line in a washing-up liquid solution overnight,
this will strip any grease of the line, also helping it to sink.
These are the larvae of the 'Greenbottle' and are about half the size of the traditional maggot, being about 6 or 7 mm long. They can be very lively, and when thrown in as free offerings they will quickly bury themselves into the silt. Therefore, they must be fed into the swim often. Do not let them 'sweat' in a closed box for too long, they are masters at escaping as they are able to climb up the sides of a plastic bait box, and wriggle through the ventilation holes. They will find the tiniest space to lie up in and turn into the
pupa stage, even the pile of a carpet, (and I am talking through experience here), and in a week or so you will be overrun with flies.
Stick float fishing is a flowing water method, used on rivers and streams. Pick any swim on a river and it is likely that it is not of uniform depth, speed or direction of current. With a stick float you can present baits at varying depths. You can run it through at the speed of the current, and because the stick float is attached top and bottom ends, you can hold it back hard and it won't go under like a waggler would. It's design enables it to register bites as the bait is sinking, making it an extremely versatile method.
Stick Float Types and Design
Stick floats, and all running water floats, are designed with the thicker part of the float near the top, and tapers down to the stem. The 'body' of the float is usually made from a very
buoyant material such as balsa, and the 'stem' at the bottom is made from a denser material such as cane, lignum, thin wire, alloy or even plastic. It is the combination of
buoyant and dense materials that give it stability. There are many different sizes and shapes, and all have slightly different characteristics:-
Domed top floats have their buoyancy right at the top, making the float less likely to ride out of the water when holding back. They usually have cane or lignum stems.
Pointed top floats are very sensitive and are good when bites are shy.
Lignum stabilisers have a bulge at the bottom of the stem, making them extremely stable. They are easy to cast and ideal for running through at the speed of the flow.
Alloy and wire stemmed
Alloy and wire stemmed stick floats are sensitive and make holding back much easier
Basic Stick Technique
Fishing a stick float correctly is all about presenting your hook bait in a manner acceptable to feeding fish.
Whether running through, holding back or fishing on the drop, there are certain things to achieve and others to avoid
Float size As always when selecting a float, never use one that is bigger than you absolutely need. As a guide to correct size use the following:-
3-4ft deep use a 4 no. 4 float
5-8ft deep use a 5 no. 4 float
9-12ft use a 6 or 8 no. 4 float
For swims over 14ft deep, use a different method. The pace of the swim should also affect your choice of float, for faster swims use a heavier float.
Plumbing the depth
You can't use a stick float to run a bait along the bottom unless you know where the bottom is. Accurate plumbing is essential not only for stick float fishing, but for all types of float fishing.
'Mending' the line
Never let the reel line overtake the float and form a bow in the line, always keep a straight lint to the float. A gently lift and flick of the rod tip should straighten out any bows in the line. If the wind is causing problems with the line, put a no. 6 or a no. 8 back shot about 1ft above the float to sink it out of the way.
Casting to the fish
Always cast downstream, this will assist greatly in float control. When fish are really feeding, they tend to gather in a small area. Don't waste time trotting your float the full length of your swim, if you know where they are feeding confidently. Casting to the correct area saves time and catches more fish.
Running the float through at the speed of the flow is the most natural, though it is not necessarily the easiest way of fishing the stick. It can be very effective in summer when the fish are moving about. The bait should run through just touching the bottom, or only a few inches off, so therefore accurate plumbing is essential. It is a good method for fishing about 15 yards downstream in the main flow.
Lift and Drop
Sometimes fish can entice fish by making the bait rise and fall as it travels through the swim. Do this by setting your float to the depth of the swim and lightly shotting the bottom 2-6 feet. Checking the progress of the float down the swim every few metres and then letting it run through again causes the bait to rise and fall. How often and for how long you hold it back depends on the flow and the way the fish are feeding. Always experiment until you start to catch regularly.
On the Drop
Use this method when fish are feeding in mid-water, under your loose feed. Fish this rig off bottom and shot it lightly so that the bait falls slowly through the feed zone. By casting so that the shot lands in a straight line downstream of the float, the bait sinks in a smooth arc. The float gradually rights itself as the shot settle, and is able to register a fish intercepting the bait on the drop.
When the water temperature is low constant holding back often scores. By setting the float 6-18 inches
over depth, and inching it through the swim you can steer the bait straight to the fish. You may only need to fish one or two rod lengths out. A centrepin reel is ideal for this, though it takes a little practice to master.
Feeding is not separate from, but a major part of the stick float technique. It is extremely important to get it right.
The aim is to keep the fish interested and feeding in the position you want them. Feed too much and you may fill the fish up or make them chase the feed downstream. Too little and they may move upstream to an angler who is feeding more bait.
Always feed downstream about 6-10 feet, and feeding 15-20 maggots or casters twice each cast, a steady trickle of bait can be kept going through the swim. This can encourage the fish (especially roach) to move up in the water where you can get them on the drop. The windier the conditions, the more they may be inclined to come up. Don't be put off if it looks choppy. If you are getting plenty of bites and fish, increase the rate of feed. If bites are few then cut down the amount of feed, but keep up the feed rate. Always keep feeding, even if it is only 6 maggots every other cast, or the fish you do have there will leave.
When choosing a line on which to trot a stick float, always make sure you can cast to it comfortably and feed accurately. Roach have a
tendency to hang just off the feed line, so every so often, try running the float just beyond the feed line. If this proves successful, carry on feeding the original line, do not start feeding further out, you will only push the roach beyond casting range.
fishing has now become very popular. A long pole is used and the short
length of line is fixed directly to the end of the rod without the
need for a reel or rod rings. The float tackle is often very small and
sensitive, it is fished very close to the top of pole. This makes it
easier for the angler to strike a very small bite indications, since
he is in almost direct contact with the bait. Because of the stiffness
of the pole, shock absorber of a fine elastic is usually fitted
between the pole and line so that, on striking, the line does not
snap, and provides a buffering effect when a large fish takes. Poles
can be in almost any length from about six meters up to 16 meters.
These days, they are usually made from carbon fibre, but some short
poles are still made of fibreglass. There are two basic types of pole:
put-in and put-over. All this basically means is that a put-in pole
has tip sections to slot inside the next section down the pole, a
put-over pole is the other way round. WARNING: Always be aware
of your surroundings when using carbon fibber poles, making sure there
are no overhead electrical wires in the vicinity.
elastic "shock-absorber" is available in different grades
from about number 2 (the lightest) up to about number 20 (the
strongest), and must be balanced to the line being used. The elastic
must be of a slightly higher breaking strain than the line. For
example, there is little point using a 1.5lb BS line with a number 8
elastic, the line would snap before the elastic would do it's work if
a big fish takes. A better balance would be a number 2 or 3 elastic
with this line. The elastic is threaded through the top 2, 3 or even 4
sections of the pole, depending on the rigs being used, and the size
of fish expected. The elastic is held inside the pole sections by a
bung at the larger end, and a "stonfo" connector out of the
tip. The stonfo has a small hook and sleeve to which the end tackle is
attached. The correct tension in the elastic is essential. Too little
tension and the elastic will be left dangling out of the pole tip
after your first fish. Too much tension and you will bump fish off the
hook and the pole tip will be doing all the work instead of the
elastic. Tension is applied at the bung end, simple by winding a
little of the elastic around the plastic hooks on the bung.
as many top sets for your pole as you can afford, and have a different
elastic set up in each one, to cover all eventualities.
floats are usually very much smaller, and more sensitive than other
floats such as wagglers. Usually, they are made from balsa, with a
very fine nylon or plastic insert. If they are shotted to as low down
as possible, with just the fine bristle showing so that the tiniest
bites will pull them under. They can come in a huge variety of shapes
tackle, or rigs, are carried on ready made-up plastic winders to save
time and trouble on the bank. They can be bought already made up on
winders for something like 3 pounds, or you can make your own up. It
is very likely that lines can drop as low as half a pound BS and hook
sizes as small as size 22. Weights can also be so tiny for the angler
needs very good eyesight in order to see the split through which the
line is run. These weights are usually cylindrical with a long split
running the full length and are called "styls".
avoid confusion, tackle winders can be purchased in various colours so
that a code may be devised by the individual, allowing him to select
or replace end tackle of equal balance immediately.
(Recipe From Keith Arthur)
your Danish Blue and pour on a very small amount
of hot water and mash until you get a thick
add liquidized breadcrumb and mix thoroughly to
form a putty-like feel. You can add colour or
flavour at the cream stage if you like, some add
horrible fishy smells, Mature Lobster and the
like, if not nothing will be fine.
into a ball and wrap in foil, then cling film,
then a plastic bag, then a box, you don't want it
in the airing cupboard for 48 hours, put it in
your tackle box and leave it. When you need it,
unwrap at arm's length and you will see it has
formed a life of its own. There will be a brown/green
mould on the outside and the paste itself will be
a very pleasing pus colour.
a Big lump (cherry size) around a leger stop on a
hair below a size 6 minimum hook, tied to 6lb
minimum line no more than 4 ins from a lead that
will not move in the flow. Heave it and leave it.
cast should last at least 30 mins, longer if you
are brave enough. If there is a chub within 20m
of your bait at any time during the day, you will
Want your rigs all the same
length without guessing or measuring. Then use the table
below for an easy way of making your rigs up at home by
using the winder only. Most winders will have the length embossed in mm
Maggots are a very popular and traditional bait, they can be bought in many different varieties. It is also fairly cheap, about
£3.00 a pint.
It is important to buy fresh maggots, they will last longer and have a dark 'feed' spot clearly visible.
Maggots are the larvae of the Bluebottle and are the largest of the 'true' maggots, they are about 10 to 12 mm long. There are probably more fish caught on maggots than any other bait. What fish could resist a large juicy maggot, wriggling enticingly on the bottom of a pond or lake? Maggots can be bought in different
colours, white, orange or 'bronze', yellow and red. Red maggots appear to be particularly effective for perch and bottom feeders such as bream and tench.
Hooking - All of the types of maggot are hooked in the same way, they have a fat end and a pointed end. At the fat end, there is a fleshy lobe of skin, the hook should be just nicked through this. Don't use too big a hook, otherwise the maggot will burst.
Maggots can be made to float, pour just enough water to cover the bottom of a plastic container, and let a dozen or so maggots crawl around in it for about 10 minutes. They will start to take in air so that they will float. Do not put too much water to cover the maggots or they will drown.
are short poles, going from 2 metres up to about 6 metres in length.
They usually have telescopic sections, which means that they are
fished at full length and cannot be broken down when landing fish.
Therefore the rig length must be just short of the length of whip
being used. This is to allow for the weight of fish being swung in,
because the tip will bend, adding extra length. This method of fishing
is a speed method, usually directed at lots of small fish which can be
swung straight into your hand. Generally, there is no elastic used and
the end tackle is connected straight to the tip.
all heard about them, so how do you make them! Expanders
are good, but you spend more time re-baiting than fishing.
This is where Jelly pellets come in. They stay on the
hook better so you spend more time fishing. Below is a
step by step how to make them.
Dissolve a pack of
jelly in boiling water into a cup. Strawberry and
Orange are good flavours.
Half fill the pellet
pump with expander pellets.
Pour the dissolved
jelly into the pump while the water is hot
The jelly water
should cover the pellets.
Pump and release the
pellet pump until all the pellets have sunk.
After a couple of
minutes pour out the excess liquid back into the
Line a container with
a paper towel and pour the pellets into the
Seal the container
and refrigerate overnight.
You now have the
perfect Jelly Pellets.
Use the excess liquid
for different size pellets.
Casters are the pupae of the Bluebottle, the skin of the
maggot goes hard and forms a shell. As the age of the caster
increases, so does the colour, from light beige to an orange
to a reddish brown, and finally to a dark brown. Casters are
best used up to and including the reddish brown stage, after
that they become "floaters", although in the right
circumstances even these can be useful. For example, to catch
rudd off the surface, but beware, the wind will carry your
free offerings away, and the fish with them. Casters are a
particular favourite of the tench, but is also particularly
good at sorting out the better roach too.
Hooking - Use a small enough hook to be buried inside the
shell of the caster, and push the point of the hook out
through the side, so the point is not masked at all.
These are the smallest maggot used for fishing, being about 4 or 5 mm long. They do not wriggle as much as the maggots above, and because of this, are mainly used as an attractant or a groundbait. They tend to lie on the bottom, and move about very slowly. Squatts too are escape artists, and must never be allowed to get damp.