An established part of ledgering is tempting fish to the spot where you are fishing with groundbait or samples of the hookbait. Swimfeeders enable you to do that with accuracy
Swimfeeders and blockends are perforated plastic cylinders, approx-imately 2-3in long and lin diameter. Swimfeeders are open at both ends and are used mainly for ground-baiting with cereal or cereal mixed with samples of the hookbait – maggots, casters, worms, and in recent years, sweetcorn. Used in rivers by bream and chub fishermen, a swimfeeder is particularly effective. Blockends have closed ends and are usually packed with either maggots or casters.
The shape and size of both blockends and swimfeeders is important. A blockend with cone-shaped ends (like the Drennan Feederlink), for example, will cast further and more easily, resulting, in some situations, in a bigger and better catch. A large feeder is usually better than a small one when attempting to hold a large shoal of chub or bream in a swim, but when seeking specimen roach in a small, shallow river a small feeder is probably better.
Swimfeeders and blockends come in many different shapes, each designed for a specific use. Some are cone-shaped, some short but stout, some long and stout, some short and thin. Some models set up considerable resistance when retrieved, which in stillwaters particularly can have an adverse effect on both fish and tackle. The Drennan Feederlink, on the other hand, with its cone-shaped ends, cuts through the water more cleanly and reduces resistance to a minimum.
Until just a few years ago most swimfeeders and blockends were big and crude, with a large strip of lead attached to one side. Since no adjustment to the lead was possible in running water, the angler was plac- ed at a considerable disadvantage. And because of the strip of lead, feeders were too heavy and clumsy for Stillwater fishing.
Experiments with blockends began several years ago when two Oxford anglers, Fred Towns and John Everard, ran a length of nylon through the centre of a small plastic container of the type in which screws and nails used to be sold. Holes were made with a small file heated over a gas or electric ring, and swan shots (SSG) attached to the end of the nylon. The line was then passed through a swivel which was tied to the other end of the nylon.
With this new-style feeder, casting was found to be both easier and more accurate, with less resistance in running water. Another important feature of this feeder was that the weight was ad-justable. If insufficient weight is used in rivers a feeder will roll, which in most situations defeats its object. By adding or subtracting shots, the weight could be adjusted to just hold the bottom, or roll at whatever speed the angler con-sidered necessary.
The idea of passing a length of nylon through the centre of a plastic cylinder was taken further by Oxford tackle manufacturer Peter Drennan, who produced the now famous Drennan Feederlink. The ‘blockends’ were a vast improvement on what had previously been a simple ‘chuck it and chance it’ method, and today are used widely throughout the country.
After passing the main line through the swivel, the feeder is stopped at the required distance from the hook by either a split shot, ledger stop, or swivel. One of the best methods is to take a length of monofilament the required length of the tail (the distance between hook and feeder) and on one end attach the hook, on the other a swivel. Push the main line through the swivel on the feeder and tie it to the swivel on the tail. The feeder now rests against the swivel. This arrangement results in less tangling of the line close to the feeder.
When retrieving in stillwaters, the feeder should be wound in slowly with the rod tip kept low so it does not bounce across the surface. If retrieved quickly, tangling will occur. This is especially true of fast-retrieve reels.
When a fish picks up the bait, the line should pull through the ring or swivel. If it does not, do not worry, for when empty, providing the minimum of weight is used, little resistance will be felt by the fish.
In running water, feeders are fished either stationary or allowed to roll along the bottom according to the whim of the angler – or fish. In fast water, the stationary method is usually adopted to avoid the contents being scattered. Only in water of moderate flow – and then not in every situation – should the feeder be allowed to roll or move.
In stillwaters, cast the feeder into the same spot every time: if you do 400 not, the contents will be scattered around like a rolling feeder in rivers. Accurate casting is essential. It is also important when casting to keep the line straight, especially in a side wind. As the feeder is punched forward, bring the top of the rod down to eye level then, as the feeder hits the surface, quickly thrust the top under the water to a depth of three feet. The feeder is allowed to sink on a slack line. Should it sink on a tight line, it will fall out and away from the swim.
Whether fishing still or running water, overhead casts are recommended. When packed with bait, a feeder is heavy and can be cast considerable distances. Weight makes for accurate casting too. In gravel pits, a blockend is ex- tremely effective when seeking tench and bream. By ensuring the feeder lands in the same spot every time, a hotspot is quickly formed and the fish, once they discover the bed of maggots and casters, will re-main in the area for a considerable time mopping up the loose feed. On the other hand, this may result in minute bites which though difficult to see, are often easy to hook.
Swimfeeders and blockends can be used to catch a variety of fish. The swimfeeder is especially effective for bream, barbel, roach and chub, where a cereal groundbait is necessary; the blockend when fishing maggots for tench, bream, roach and barbel.
Swimfeeders and blockends are normally used only when ledgering, only rarely are they used in conjunction with a float. 401 thought to be a separate species, while the origins of the eel itself had been unknown.