Some of the guys on Team Beechwood are dab hands with the popular technique of pellet waggler fishing, and none more so than Barry Smith. So when I decided to take on one of the ‘Team Twister Challenges’, namely the ‘Pellet Waggler Novice’ challenge, I asked Barry if he’d kindly show me the ropes. Being the guy he is, he agreed without hesitation to help me out, even offering to let me use his pellet waggler setup. In fact, the only tackle of my own I used was a disgorger, old spoon landing net, and my very old but very trusty Shakespeare seat box! Its years since I last parked my behind on this big green lump of plastic, but as soon as I did all those magical memories from childhood came flooding back.
This box has done some miles I can tell you, and most of them were done strapped across my back whilst I pedaled furiously, traveling by bike to the next fishing adventure. Despite the years apart, it didn’t feel at all unusual to be sat on top of it again, wonderful thing it is!
The venue for the session, a few hours on a wet afternoon in early June, was Rosemary Wood. A venue stuffed full of fish, lots of them carp, and lots of them really good-looking carp too; if you’ve seen Barry’s fully scaled mirror from earlier this year you know what I mean, if you havent seen it, you have now:
So venue sorted, setup in order and a coach to guide me, I was full of anticipation to see how I’d get on. Handling the waggler rod, lighter match reel and line, wasn’t a concern, fishing with this type of tackle was how it all started for me way back at the beginning of my angling life. What I knew I would have to work hard at mastering, was the feeding style, and reading, or more importantly interpreting what the fish activity was telling me. A new type of water craft to learn if you will, and I paid very close attention to Barry’s every word from the off.
Barry had rigged me up an 8g float to get me started. We werent fishing miles out, but there were a few anglers on the lake so pressure was there, so a moderate distance was where I’d start. The weight of the float was more to do with enabling me to control it more easily, rather than for pinging it out at range. Main line was 8lb Guru Pulse down to 7lb Guru Drag, to a 14QM1 hook with a band hair rigged on. Bait couldn’t be simpler, 12mm Trigonella Pellets, further enhanced by being soaked in Trigonella Glug, and FEED+SSP for hook baits.
The 12mm soaked pellets are ideal for firing out with the catapult, achieving the desired range, accuracy and importantly creating a good noise when they hit the water. Being Trigonella, and further glugged in Trigonella, they’re highly attractive too. The glugging not only boosts attraction, but also makes the pellets heavier, so they can be fired out further, more accurately and again they make more noise, that all important ‘plop’, a key element in this method.
The FEED+SSP hook baits are something Barry and I have been developing for some time now, and they are specifically designed to be used as hook baits when fishing pellet waggler. Indeed, the ‘SSP’ stands for, ‘Slow Sinking Pellet’. They’re based on the FEED+X HNV bait, with some added attractors, an adjusted density so they sink at the desired rate, and capped off with the excellent Shellfish Sense Appeal label. They are absolutely bang on for fishing Pellet Waggler, and Barry’s input in its design has been highly valuable. From the start he knew exactly what the bait needed to do, and through various incarnations the finished product is exactly what we wanted it to be.
With the float set at about 2 foot deep, with a gap of about 4″ between the float stops, to create a bolt effect on the take, I cast out. I loaded the catapult with three pellets, and fired them at the float. As soon as the pellets landed in the water I was already loading the next three in the catapult. This method I was to learn is all about how you control the flow of the feed falling through the water. ‘dumping in’ a big pouch full of pellets isn’t the one, it’ll draw the fish down in the water, too few or too infrequently and the fish will drift off and you wont generate the competitive feeding response you need. Another three pellets are pinged out at the float. I reel in, fire out some more pellets and re-cast.
This pattern I endeavour to keep going for the next 20-30 minutes, at which point I start to notice the odd swirl as the pellets hit the water. Brilliant, I’ve got them in the swim and competing for the pellets! Still with the constant flow of pellets and casting, three pellets, three times and re-cast was my chosen pattern. Just as I’m getting into a nice rhythm the rods almost ripped from my hands and my first fish is on, and then off again….
Despite the lost fish, I was happy to get a bite and felt like I was now connected to the fish; by that I mean I had worked out the best timing between pinging pellets out to keep the fish really competing, and literally lining up waiting for the pellets to land.
Catching fish I found, really threw me off my rhythm in regards to feeding. Battling with a hard fighting carp meant a good 5 mins would pass without any pellet going in. Barry confirmed that when you ‘get good’ at it, you need to be able to fire pellets out whilst landing a fish. Something I didn’t try this time around, being my first go, but I most certainly will next time. What I intend to do is try firing pellets out with the rod in my hand to get the feel for it without a fish on first, and see how it goes. Anyway, my eldest daughter at 5years old, Livvy, my other helper on the day saw my predicament and proceeded to help me by firing pellets while I played fish in. Which was lovely of her, and would have been ideal had I been fishing 3 foot out, and six-foot to my left…….
A couple of hours in and I’d lost a few, and banked a few. No lumps yet, but steady away and I was really enjoying it. Rain was constant and at times pretty heavy, and as soaked through as we were we really didn’t care one bit!
To refine the tactic and try to convert the dropped fish into banked fish, we change the float for a 10g one, and shortened the length from float to hook slightly, only by a couple of inches. The extra weight in the float increased my accuracy in the head wind, made more noise as it hit the water and enabled me to keep a tight line from float to rod tip. This really helped with hooking the fish, because as I feathered the line, kept the tip low (something that was alien to me at first, but Barry guided me though the technique, I’m more sued to having the tip up on the cast, ready for the clip ‘bump’) with the heavier float this kept all the line in the water nice and tight. This meant the instant the float hit the water, if a fish took the bait straight away I was in instant contact, and the fish was on.
You know what, it worked a charm! I hit a sweet spot when it all came together; feeding pattern, casting, float control, twitching the float and hitting the fish. I hit a run of fish, after fish after fish, and in that moment I fully understood what makes this technique so special, and so appealing. It was mayhem, I was catching plump carp at a frightening rate!
Livvy was really enjoying it too! It’s a great method for the youngsters, very active, and if you get it right lots of action!
Inevitably the larger fish then started to move in, and some very large swirls started appearing in amongst the normal patterns. Ping, cast, ping, ping, cast, thwackkkkk, rod has ripped around the instant the FEED+SSP hit the water, and this is definitely a better fish on! It leads me a merry dance left, then right, then left again, taking a lot of line on a couple of powerful runs. Could it be one of the real lumps in here I start to wonder?
The rod is certainly giving me all its got, arched around in full battle curve mode, the line is giving me that gorgeous chorus as it sings under the strain! Check this picture out, you can’t hear the line, but the rod angle says it all:
As great as the fight was, it didn’t end well for me, and after several minutes of battling, it was one quick turn too many and the hook pulled. Gutted, you bet I was, and after that prolonged ‘drought’ of feed going in I didn’t really get them fully going again after that.
Still, I learned a lot about what is a really cool, and exciting method! We estimated I’d had about 45lb of carp in just a few hours, so I was pleased with that. We have another Twister Challenge called the ‘Ton Up challenge’, 100lb of fish from any method, so I’m going to dedicate a full day to pellet waggler soon and give that one a bash, look out for that one.
With the session drawing to a close, I decided to get Livvy on the old Shakespear box for a go. It was lovely to see her sat there, and the next fish we hooked she played in. Shes caught small roach and skimmers before, but to her these fish were enormous! She kept her cool, even though we sent it live on Facebook, and she netted her first ever carp. Absolute golden memories are made on the bank, friends, family and fishing, it simply does not get any better.
By the way, check out Barry’s awesome adventure into specimen carp fishing, in his blog series ‘The Water Shot‘, he’s on an amazing adventure, part of which unfolded in the swim next to me on this session. Yeah, you don’t think he’s going to a lake stuffed with carp and not take his new rods do you? Not a chance, and he bagged a couple of beauties too!
Till next time guys, look out for my ‘Ton Up’ challenge coming soon, and big thanks to Barry and Livvy on this one, couldn’t have done it without you guys!