Trent ace Jan Porter says that when it comes to feeder fishing many anglers chuck it and chance it – but he maintains that if you want to be the best then you have to apply ‘float logic’. have the right tools for the job. The rod must be at least 12ft (3.6m) long-preferably 13ft (3.9m). This provides greater leverage and allows you to cast farther than you could with a shorter rod. It also keeps more line off the water while waiting for bites. This is essential because the more line there is in the water, the greater the force of the flow on the line and the more likely the feeder is to be dragged along the river bed — and so the heavier the feeder needed to hold bottom. You need a longish handle of about 60-70cm (24-30in)
Block-end feeder fishing at distances greater than 60m (65yd) was developed by matchmen for catching Trent chub. Venues such as Caythorpe, Fiskerton, Whitmore Grove and Hoveringham (where pegs in the 120s require a monster chuck of 70-85m/75-95yd to reach the far side) saw anglers putting their baits into virgin waters. They were able to reach fish which had never seen a bait before. Pegs which usually produced little or nothing started to throw up bumper hauls – simply because the anglers were effectively fishing a peg on the other side of the river!
Since then the technique has been adopted on other wide rivers — such as the Thames. In fact it can score on any slow to medium-paced chub venue where a long chuck is needed to reach far bank features such as moored boats, bridge buttresses, trees and bushes.
Tools for the job
If you are going to throw 2-3oz (56-85g) of lead across 70m (75yd) of water you must so that you can position both hands at a comfortable distance apart when casting.
The action is difficult to describe: mellow -not too stiff or else it actually impairs casting- but not too soft either. It has to be able to compress sufficiently at the start of the cast to provide the power and yet be soft enough to handle big fish on light hook-lengths.
Choose large lined rings right through to the tip. If the internal diameter is less than 3mm this reduces your casting range and, if you are using a shock leader, can impede the knot’s progress — cutting down the cast even more.
Bites are usually very positive so the choice of tip is not quite as critical as it is for other species. A medium strength glass-fibre tip is ideal but many anglers use carbon ones with success. A tip of the push-in variety is easy to replace. The reel should have a large diameter and a long coned spool to give you the distance when casting. Smooth sturdy worm gearing helps you to retrieve feeders with ease and makes the job of bringing heavy fish across the river less of a strain. Choosing a specimen hunter’s reel such as a Shimano Baitrunner 4500 GT might seem like going overboard, but this type of reel is ideal. A main line of even 4lb (1.8kg) is capable of casting a feeder 60-70m (65-75yd) under still conditions. The trouble is that if only a slight breeze starts up (unless it’s from behind) this cuts down your casting capability. Casting harder is not the answer -you will simply snap off, which is most embarrassing – so it’s best to start with a shock leader of 6lb (2.7kg).
Feeder size and weight
You wouldn’t pick any old float if you were floatfishing, so why pick any old feeder? A little thought helps to get it just right. Size When it comes to size the choice is down to common sense. The feeder delivers feed. Less fish or less hungry fish require less feed which means that you need a smaller feeder. Hungry summer fish can get through a greater quantity of maggots, so as a general rule you can get away with a bigger feeder in summer than in winter. The medium-sized block-end type in the Thamesley range of large feeders is about right. In winter you may have to go down to the smaller one. Likewise, in weirs — where there are often quite a few fish – you may get away with a large one even in winter. Don’t forget, though, that smaller ones with added lead can be cast much farther than heavier ones.
Weight Two factors should influence your choice when it comes to weight: casting distance and flow. Within reason, the farther you need to cast, the heavier the feeder needs to be. Use enough lead to reach the target comfortably. If it’s a windy day use more lead than on a calm one but don’t overdo it. An unnecessarily heavy feeder splashing down on top of chub is the surest way to scare them off.
Aim to have just enough weight on the feeder for it to hold bottom. Unless you know your river intimately and can gauge the flow in your swim accurately, you can’t expect to get this right as soon as you arrive. Start by erring on the light side. You’ll find that a 2oz (56g) feeder is often a good starting point. If it bounces and shifts around on the bottom you can add more weight by attaching strip leads. When you have got it right a slight turn on the reel handle should send it bouncing down the swim before coming to rest again. Bouncing a feeder in a controlled manner is often a very effective method — but it must be well controlled.
Using the technique
Once you have put all the right tackle together, the next step is to try it out. Casting Half the battle is putting the right rig in the right place and accurate long distance casting is down to technique and timing rather than brute force .
Feeding Remember that because of the range at which you are fishing, feed is introduced into the swim by the feeder exclusively. In other words, you have to cast into your swim to feed.
Typically, you might recast every three or four minutes for the first 20 minutes, aiming to build up the swim on the ‘little-and-often’ principle. Once you’ve got some bait out there you can wait longer for your bites. In winter you might find that, after that initial feed, you have to wait up to 20 minutes for a bite. This takes confidence but take heart – you are after quality fish here and the wait is worth it.
Don’t strike! Let’s imagine that you’ve cast to the target area, let out a little line to form a bow, put the rod on the rest pointing up at an angle of about 50° and are waiting for a bite. When fishing at range for big fish, bites are usually bold. Drop backs – where the tip falls back as the fine slackens -account for most of the bites. The rest are usually positive bumps or nods of the tip. Nine times out of ten when this happens the fish has already hooked itself. If you grab the rod and strike the result is inevitable – a snap-off. So control yourself. Keep your arms folded: it prevents you from striking before thinking, and it keeps your hands warm and looks cool! When you know that there’s a fish on, simply lift the rod off the rest and start playing the fish.
If you are unsure about a bite it’s best to leave it rather than risk bumping off the fish and scaring it and others away. If the fish remains in the swim you have every chance of catching it – and the rest of them – later on.
Floatfishing logic In summer, if you cast into chub-filled far bank waters then you can expect a bite virtually straight away. In winter it can be harder. If bites aren’t forthcoming try cutting down on the feed – half fill the feeder, perhaps. If this doesn’t work then try casting slightly to the right or to the left. Shortening the length of the tail to bring the bait closer to the feeder can also work. If none of these works, then try scaling down. You have to apply the same kind of logic to this type of fishing as you do to floatfishing.
Playing them Chub love snags and a feeder tends to pull a hooked fish into them, so never give chub the benefit of the doubt. Keep the rod high and the pressure on at all times. If you are fishing a peg that you don’t know and can’t get any information on where the snags are, just imagine that it is full of snags – and act accordingly!