Monday, 28 March 2016

Surf 'n' Turf groundbait...

Mmmm... Nice friable groundbait mix
As the weather warms up, I am thinking about groundbait again. My Two Dog groundbait is still my preferred feeder mix for summer feeder fishing. Now I am looking for something to fish my pole over. Yes, I could use the Two Dog as groundbait but I thought I would try something with a different attractant.

I want a darker colour to fish over. The plan is to use this moulded into balls that have been fortified with maggot and other particles including the intended hookbait. The plan is to cup it into the swim to lay a carpet of interesting food to fish over and top up with the odd ball and free offerings of the hook bait.

Here is my recipe for my first attempt.  It will need more water added at the lake, to get it to a good moulding and sinking consistency. 

My Surf 'n' Turf groundbait recipe

  • 1000g bread crumb
  • 250g ground fish meal pellets (or ground fish meal)
  • 250g cat biscuit (fish flavour)
  •  500g Vitalin
  •  2 Oxo cubes
  •  1 cups of brown sauce 
  •  1 tablespoons of gravy browning
  • 2 cups of water  

With the exception of the Oxo, All the dry ingredients were sieved and mixed together in my bucket. It is much easier to do this in a nice big bucket, being able to get your hands right in it and give it a really good mix.

The wet ingredients are mixed together with the Oxo cubes. The water is needed to carry the sticky stuff in a less concentrated form, making it easier to combine evenly with the dry stuff. I heated a cupful of water and dissolved the Oxo in that, before adding the other, cold liquids, I put the whole lot in the blender and gave it a good whiz in there, this also collected any stray dry mix in the corners of the blender jar. Once thoroughly mixed, this was added to the dry ingredients and mixed together as thoroughly as possible. At this stage the mix is very lumpy. Now the best bit - riddling! I have discovered that there is no substitute for a good riddling. Tip the mixture into a bowl and then put a couple of scoops of it back into the riddle, held over the bucket, and riddle. The dry stuff will fall through first and the lumpy bits, full of the liquid ingredients, need to be pushed through by hand. repeat this until all the mixture has passed through the riddle. The mixture in the bucket will be in alternative layers of dry and damp ground bait. It is then mixed together again by hand and riddled again. I keep doing this until I am left without any lumpy bits that have to be pushed through the riddle.

Bag sealer saves freezer space
After leaving to stand for a couple of hours, I riddled it again, packed it into 1kg bags that are sealed using my heat sealer - brilliant bit of kit for under £20.00 - that makes nice flat bags that take up far less room in the freezer. I think it would be all right in the fridge for a few days (maybe longer) but I don't want to risk the now damp ingredients growing mould.

First batch - now lets see if it works
I plan to give it a go on Thursday, so long as the weather permits. But now I need to get the line, floats, shot and hooks out, empty the spaghetti jar and get making some rigs and hook lengths.

Ralph. 


Friday, 25 March 2016

While I was at it...

As repairing my pole section was so successful (See HERE) I decided to have a go at mending that feeder rod that got broken back in November. At the time I wrote it off and bought a new rod. At around £30.00, the rod is not an expensive piece of kit it was not worth considering having it repaired.

I had plenty of Carbon fibre cloth leftover from the pole repair so I decided to have a go at mending the rod too. This job was much easier than mending the pole, as the rod had not parted in two but had 'crumpled' more like it had been crushed. All it needed was a double wrap of carbon fibre cloth and a good coat of resin to do the job.

The procedure was the same as used for the pole except no cosmetic paint was used to cover the cloth and no jig was required. After a good sanding, the section was re varnished showing off an honest repair...

...See, I still didn't telly you it was my brother who broke the rod!

Now what's next?

Ralph. 

Thursday, 24 March 2016

Oh, bother!

No.4 section in two pieces.
The reality was the bank was blessed with some rather colourful language. To say I was cross was a gross under-statement. This was no fishing accident, this was down to pure stupidity on my part. I can't even play the novice card, I should have thought about what I was doing. Attempting to reposition thirty or forty feet of pole over the rollers by the thin end is insane.

What is done is done, so what are the options? Well, I could just buy a replacement section, I could have it 'professionally' repaired, or I could repair it myself. The cost of a new No.4 section is £69.99.  As the pole section is not that expensive a professional repair would probably cost a good percentage of that. By the time delivery and collection costs are factored into the mix the total may well exceed the cost of buying a new section. If this was a more expensive section I would have had no hesitation getting it professionally repaired. As it is, this is a section that has already had a repair and maybe the best bet would be to buy another section...

...But that would be no fun!

A typical repair kit
Repairing a carbon fibre pole is fairly straightforward, but like anything, it is all about the preparation. There is a kit available from easycomposites.co.uk that will provide everything you need to make a wrap repair to the pole, but that is the easy bit. I do not advocate anyone attempting this if you have not got the skill or equipment to build an accurate jig.

The MDF jig for holding the pole sections
The jig is what will hold the sections together, in perfect alignment and the repair will only be as good as the jig. The jig is built from three pieces of 18mm MDF screwed together with a middle section removed to enable the broken section to be wrapped. The size is not critical but for this section, the two sides of the jig, that support the pole, are spaced apart by a third, narrower, piece of 18mm MDF that is laminated between the other two, to space the otter boards a consistent distance apart.

There is a video on-line that explains the process but be aware this video is out of date, and I could not find any diagrams of the jig as mentioned. The timings and quantities are wrong too, for the resin supplied in the kit. Check the instructions on the bottles of hardener and resin. 

 

Making my jig

The side sections were squared, and dimensioned to be identical, from a piece of 18mm MDF. The third section needs to be at least 100mm narrower. All three parts were aligned and screwed together so the top edges are absolutely parallel. Four holes were bored through the jig. These are used to pass cable ties through to secure broken pole sections and hold them in perfect alignment. I made my jig so it was big enough to hold the sections rigidly in position.

 

Let's mend the pole section!

Before fitting the broken pole sections to the jig, the area to be repaired was keyed with abrasive, ready to accept the resin.

The keyed surface ready for joining
Cleaning the surface with isopropyl alcohol
Once fitted in the jig, the repair surface was cleaned with isopropyl alcohol. The kit has three wipes for this purpose, if you don't have any to hand in liquid form. When the area was clean, it was given a single coat of resin. The resin is mixed to a ratio of 100 parts resin, 30 parts hardener by weight. I used my cheap Slater kitchen scales (I bought for bait making) to do this job. Be as accurate as you can and mix the two components thoroughly making sure there is no residue in the corners of the mixing container untouched. If you are using the cups and 'lolly' sticks, provided in the kit, cut the round ends of the sticks off, at a slight angle, and smooth the freshly cut ends with abrasive paper. This will allow the stick to get to all the resin in the bottom of the cup, where the bottom meets the walls.

I mix my resin in a stainless steel cup (chutney bowl). Note the modified 'lolly' stick
I applied a coat of resin to the repair area, slightly wider than the carbon fibre sheet used to wrap the joint. This needs to be a good coverage but not too thick. Any build-up is smoothed out by laying it off with the brush. This was left for an hour or two to go tacky. Keep an eye on it, this tacky state can happen quicker or slower depending on temperature. Once it has reached the tacky stage, I mixed a second batch of resin.

The first coat of resin is applied
The length of materiel needed was calculated - twice circumference of the pole at the break to give the length of material required to make two wraps of the pole - 2 (2πr). After cutting the material to length the edge was aligned along the centre-line of the pole and pressed onto the tacky resin coat. It was wrapped around the pole once. This was then coated with more resin. The material and wrapped around the pole for a second time and more resin is applied to cover the whole section. A reel of clear shrink tape is supplied with the kit. This was used to wrap the repair as tightly as possible. It is held in position at each end with adhesive tape. This stuff does not shrink very much, but it is enough to squeeze the excess resin out of the cloth and consolidate the joint. The tape must not be over heated or it will stick to the resin. I used a temperature controlled hot air blower set at 120ºC but a domestic hair dryer or a hot-air gun set at the low setting should be good enough. The repaired section will cure in a matter of hours.

Wrapped and bound with heat -shrunk tape
Curing will take longer in a cooler environment. in the middle of summer when the ambient temperature is high, the resin can go off very quickly - sometimes too quick. The best working temperature is in the high teens (Centigrade). Curing can be speeded up by heating but I prefer to just let it cure in its own time. Overnight is usually the best bet, as I did here, there is no rush.  When it has cured, the shrink tape can be removed.  

Removing the shrink-tape after the resin has cured
At this stage the repair is structurally sound. The shrink-tape was removed and the pole section released from the jig by carefully removing the cable ties that were keeping it aligned throughout the repair and curing process. Next it was time to make it look pretty. I sanded the joint smooth working my way down through the grits. That is starting with the low numbered sheets and working towards the higher numbers; the higher the number, the finer the grit. Sand with care not to go through the resin coat or you will have to apply more and wait for that to cure before continuing. Sand 'wet' with the finer grits to get a really smooth finish. You can then use a buffing compound (there is one supplied with the kit) or use a chrome polish to get it to a dull sheen. This is fine but it shows the weave of the repair cloth. I decided to take the finish one stage further.

Ready to go - I might polish it later, but that will do to give it a try
Once the repair had been flattened, I painted it black to cover the weave. Several thin applications were made and rubbed down between coats. That's it, job done and saved myself a few quid. There was plenty of material left in the kit to make a couple more repairs so I set to and fixed that rod my brother broke a few months ago...

Ralph.

Friday, 18 March 2016

Pole class II


The frosty start soon burnt off
Being a fair-weather angler, out of preference, I scan the forecast looking for days that look like they might be better than others for sitting on the bank. This may or may not be the best conditions for the fish but as I a primarily a pleasure fisher, the emphasis is on 'pleasure'.  Thursday of this week looked like it was going to be the only sunny day of the week, so I made an arrangement with my mate Bill (from the Maggots Drowning forum), who has taken on the mantle of trying to teach me how to pole fish.

Bill met me at the venue to give me some instruction. I fished it at around 11m (without the last two graphic sections). I found it really hard to see the float tip against the water. Bill said that he coloured his tips black and that made them stand out and are much easier to see... Really? I have to admit I was sceptical but I thought I would give it a go. The trouble was, I had nothing with me to do the job. As I was rummaging in the back of the van, One of the guys, who I have been match fishing with, arrived and he lent me a black permanent marker that did the job admirably. Now I could see the tip easily. All I had to do now was to work out what was a bite. I was also having trouble with my method of striking. Too light, too quick whatever I did seemed to be wrong as I was missing lots of bites. Then, it started to come right, not all the time bit at least it was coming together.

The first decent sized fish to be caught on the 'new' pole
 The first fish to be caught was a mini roach! I then changed the hookbait from maggots to corn and caught the first of many decent size F1s before the line dried up. Bill then showed me how to fish 2+2  on a shorter line and we continued to catch more fish.

Then, disaster struck. Through my own lack of experience I tried to reposition the pole on the rollers from the thin end and just as Bill shouted "NO!!!" the no.4 section broke. I was so cross with myself, my own stupid fault. We were fishing with the other guys, who I match fish with at the venue, and they all sympathised, saying they had all done it at one time or another, which made me feel a little better.

I tried 'telescoping the two halves of the pole together but the break was not clean and the pole section is fractured so it was never going to hold and I risked doing more damage. I decided that this was the end of the session on the new pole and packed it all away. I had my cheap pole, that I bought just after Christmas, and had had my first lesson from Bill with a few weeks ago. I got that out and continued to fish the short line using the top kit plus two sections of the pole (2+2).

At this range it was easy to feed by hand so there was no need to use a cupping kit. Then I am, perched on my box, holding the pole, as best I can, and trying to feed maggots left handed and overcome the restrictions of my coat. Well, that is all the excuses I can muster but I must have been doing badly as all I could hear was Bill laughing. The bait was nowhere near on target. This maybe some of the reason I never played cricket for the school's first eleven... or any eleven for that matter! Even the simplest aspect of this pole fishing lark seems to feel alien to me at the moment. I didn't realise just how much was involved.

Bill had to leave at about 2:00 PM to go an have his leg cranked back into life, or at least better than it was... But that is another story. I continued to fish my short pole which was causing more chuckling due to its soft elastic. I had set it up to catch silvers and both top kits I had with me were set up with fairly light elastic. The first time I caught a fish the elastic took a dive into the lake and disappeared altogether. fearing this was a monster fish, I played it gently. It gave a sterling fight only to reveal itself to be the smallest F1 of the day.

Several things were learnt on Thursday, I need to make a few more rigs up as none of what I had were what Bill would have used out of choice. I need to study this float choice lark a bit more and pack a permanent marker, to blacken my float tips.  A tin of lighter fuel will be useful too, so I can clean it off if I need to. Topkits with heavier elastic might be a good idea! I also need to be more careful how I handle a pole...

I called Maver and they said, although my pole is no longer made, there is a section from a current pole that is a direct replacement and they have them in stock. At £69.99. Now I know that, I am going to repair the section myself, having worked with resin and fibre (albeit glass fibre) how hard can it be? And even if it does not work at least I have had a go. I am fairly confident I can repair it and I will document my attempt, good or bad. I have ordered some resin and carbon fibre cloth. Although I have vacuum pumps and bags for laminating, I think the vacuum will crush the section and a flat pole section will be of little use. Instead I will use heat-shrink tape as advocated by many of the material suppliers for DIY repairs. I have a few other ideas as to how I am going to achieve this. I plan to gel-coat the section to bring it back to its high gloss appearance. Hopefully the repair will be hardly noticeable. While I am at it I plan to have a go at mending that feeder rod that got broken a few months ago...

I will let you know how it all goes next week...

Ralph.  

Tuesday, 15 March 2016

Bags of fun...

Weather set fair, plenty of new things to try and van load of tackle. Guess who's going fishing?

Although I was really looking forward to a day at my local fishery, I just could not get to sleep. Eventually getting a few hours only to be woken by the alarm at 5 o'clock.

Groan...

Laying there on a Sunday morning telling myself this is meant to be fun, I dragged myself out of bed and negotiate my way around the bed in the dark, trying not to wake the missus. I almost succeed when I was blinded by Sue's bedside light being switched on. Feeling a bit like a rabbit caught in the headlights of a speeding car, I froze. "Are you okay my love" a voice whispered. "Sorry, I'm going fishing" "Oh yes, have a nice day". The room descended back into darkness, as quickly as the light arrived, and I was left blinking while my tired eyes readjusted to the semi dark.

By the time I had made it to the bathroom I was wide awake and ready to go. By the time I had made my flask of coffee, heated up the contents of my food-flask (Baked beans ravioli and chopped up frankfurters), packed the van and checked all was in order it was later than I like to leave. Being Sunday, the traffic should be lighter, so I was not bothered.

From now on , the mornings are lighter and the drive is made all the more enjoyable by this fact. The light Sunday traffic meant that I arrived at Beaver Fishery just before the gate opened having made up any lost time.

The mist is lifting as the gate silently swings open on another day at Beaver Fishery
Last week I made some PVA bag feeders, after being inspired by an article in Angling Times. (You can see how I made them HERE).

The whole point of PVA bags is that they melt when immersed in water, spilling their contents. This is fine all the time you want to fill them with dry feed. If on the other hand the preferred feed is wet, the feed, if untreated, will simply start to melt the PVA as soon as it makes contact. This may not be instant but it will not hold together long enough to risk. There are ways of preventing this and one method I have tried is to add salt. For those who want to know what is happening, Chris from LaGuna explained it thus, as an answer to a question I posted on the Fishing Magic forum:

"A sodium chloride solution disrupts the hydrogen bonding of water molecules and retards dissolving of poly vinyl alcohol. In simple terms; the salt and salty particles coat the inside of the PVA bag and allows the angler more time to reach bottom before the bag melts."

My intended fill was not really 'wet' more damp. It was made up primarily of the stuff that was too wet to riddle from some leftover groundbait. To this I added ground up Vitalin (dry dog food), a couple of handfuls of the riddled groundbait and a splash of turmeric. To this I added a couple of teaspoons of salt.

All the 'lumpy' bits that would not riddle plus some extras (see text) to make up my bag-fill
After discussing the use of my leftovers on the Maggot Drowning forum, the consensus of opinion was that It would not be any good.  I decided to use it just to test fill a few PVA mesh bags. they stayed together so the salt worked. Working on the theory that I had nothing to lose, I took the bags and the remaining mix with me to the lake.

Made up bags - May as well give them a go...
It was the last day of the cheap day tickets so I could fish one rod for a fiver, but I took the opportunity to fish two rods for the normal day ticket price of a tenner. I set up a carp rod on a buzzer and chucked a bag full of goodies out with a pop-up boilie. Within minutes the alarm went off and the reel was giving up line at an alarming rate. I grabbed the rod and wound in to lock out the 'bait-runner' function. There was a fish there - and then there was not. Well, that was a nuisance... (or something similar!) I recast the bait to the same place and left it there.

Meanwhile I was fishing my bag feeder to a different line. First cast was a bag of hard pellets that I had used to try out the bag making. That is not as easy as it looks.  Nothing after a couple of minutes as I reeled in the now empty feeder and realised it would have to be dried before adding a new bag. Failing to dry it would probably lead to covering my head with bait, as the bag gave way while preparing to cast. A quick but firm dab with the towel and it was bag-on and out again. Well, you know all the guys said it was a waste of time? They forgot to tell the fish. Within seconds I was on to a fish - first F1 of the day. I continued to cast out the bags, making more as I went along. almost every bag produced a fish some almost immediately and others after a minute or so, one after the other.

I tired of just pulling the fish out, production-line style and put that rig to one side. I had some new larger feeders that I had bought on the cheap (thank you eBay) that I wanted to try out. Until now I have been using small Preston method feeders. These larger ones might be useful later in the year when I need to get a good amount of bait down. For now I only wanted to get a feel for casting them. I dropped it into the same area I had been sending out bags to. This time the feeder was delivering my trusty Two Dog Groundbait. Almost immediately I was on a fish, and then another and another. Every chuck was producing a fish within seconds of the feeder landing.

After getting bored with just pulling out fish, cast after cast, I thought it might be useful to try out the bag feeder against the method feeder. I set up a second identical feeder rod and wound in my sleeper rod, that was producing nothing, and cast out a bag feeder on the new line. I placed that rod in the rest and cast out the original feeder again tackled up with a flat-back method feeder carrying Two Dog groundbait. As I did, the bag feeder was registering a bite. I picked it up and at that moment the other rod was also telling me there was a fish on. Two at once and no one to help.

Gotcha! Both of you...
As you can see, I managed to net both fish, one after the other. Now who said that old groundbait was useless? It continued to perform, even if it was a bit slower than the other line on the flat-backed method using the Two Dog Groundbait, but it was not slow. I got through several bags of the 'waste' mix before deciding that I had proved the worth of these bag feeders. besides, I was running low on PVA mesh.

Vintage match rod proved to be still up to the job!
By now the feeder fishing was getting a bit thin on the ground and it was time to try out a very nice vintage float rod. This one came from Dave (aka 'Dave the Fish) another of the Maggot Drowners from the forum. Dave had contacted me after I was talking about using my other vintage rod back at the beginning of February. He said he had a few rods that he never uses and thought I might have some fun with them. The rod I was itching to try out is a 'Milo Deep Blue Match 120' This carbon fibre rod is very light indeed and paired with a modern Mitchell fixed spool reel is a dream to use. I had been feeding an area, no more than four or five meters out to my right, with some of my home made sweet groundbait enriched with corn, hemp, a few dead maggots and the odd scrap of bacon grill. My aim was to bring in the smaller fish and hopefully the odd perch.

I chopped up some prawns and fed a few bits into the swim. A few minutes later the micro-silvers were leaping out of the water. There must be a perch about so it was time to get fishing. I started by threading a whole prawn onto a number 10 hook. After feeding with some more chopped prawn and getting a similar reaction I knew there was something down there. I changed the hook bait for half a prawn and within seconds, the float took a dive and everything went tight as I struck into what I had hopped would be a decent sized perch. A short struggle lasted a few minutes and then it surfaced. My prize perch looked for all the world like an F1. On landing my quarry, I was sure this was a funny looking perch! What are you doing eating Mr Stripe's prawns?

Another half an hour or so did not produce a perch. By this time I was running out of bait and the sun had dropped behind the trees reintroducing a chill in the air.

You're not a perch!
This seemed like a good time to call it a day. I had a great day, learnt a bit more and caught a lot of fish. Others on the lake had come and gone all catching fish and the weather is definitely on the turn for the better. I could even feel the skin on my face tightening up where I had caught the sun. The good weather had obviously got to Ben, one of the bailiffs who decided to paint the chalet next to Tuscany Lake, green. I can only assume to match his sweatshirt!

Matching bailiff and chalet - very posh!
Apart from Ben painting, the staff at Beaver do a great job of keeping the place tidy by keeping the vegetation down and the place tidy and civilised. I must say they probably have the best toilet and shower block in the country!

Next month the friendly matches start again and I will be entering from the beginning this year. I will be back at Beaver again on Thursday with my pole and seat-box working out how best to use them in a match situation, between feeder and waggler fishing...

Can't wait!

Ralph.      

Friday, 11 March 2016

Proper pole

Back in November I happened to mention in a post that I did not own a pole. I had a thing that called itself a Tele-Pole but had only tried it once without too much success. A day or so later, one of the guys on the Maggot Drowning forum sent me a message asking me if I wanted a pole he had surplus to requirements. This was a real pole, 14.5 meters of it! I was delighted and my attentions immediately turned to investigating this pole idea. At the time the offer was made the owner's workload increased considerably and the pole was not immediately forthcoming. Too late, the damage was done, I now wanted to have a go at pole fishing. By the new year the urge to have a go had got too much. I was not confident enough to go out and buy a decent second-hand pole, nor was I in the market (or the position) to buy a new one. Further discussion on the MD forum pointed me in the direction of a cheap Maver 9.5m pole.

Okay, this is not going to be the most efficient of poles, but it was a pole. On hearing I had made the plunge and bought a pole, another guy (Bill) from the MD forum offered to give me a few pointers. We subsequently met at my 'local' fishery and I spent the day discovering that there is a lot more to this pole fishing lark than I had ever imagined!

My first ever pole -caught fish!
Well, talk about a slippery slope. Not only did I need a pole, I really needed a seat box as everyone I had spoken to said that I should buy one as pole fishing from a chair was not impossible but it is much easier from a box. A search on eBay revealed a very nice looking Preston box at a reasonable starting price. Thinking I was in with no chance whatsoever, I placed a single bid. Over the next few days I kept an eye on the listing and then all of a sudden I received an e-mail telling me I had won it! The box was listed as collection only and was located in East London, an easy pick-up for me, but obviously not for anyone else, luckily for me.

The box came with some fittings and a selection of tackle in the drawers. This was a real bargain at £80.00. It is fair to say that it's a bit tatty around the edges but nothing a bit of a clean up would not sort out. The trouble is it doesn't stop there. Next, I needed rollers and that is when I made my first mistake by buying a ridiculously cheap pair. Apart from the flimsy quality, I had no idea how tall they needed to be. Luckily for me, another member of the forum sent me a very different set of Preston 'V' rollers. These are well made, carry some weight to them and best of all tall enough.

Sitting on a box means I am much further away from the ground. Obvious? Yes it is now, but it is all this sort of stuff that nobody tells you and only trying it out gives the answer. Another thing that became obvious was that my cheap landing net pole was never going to do the job from this elevated position. The first time I hooked a fish, even a small one, the handle was almost bent double until I could get my hand closer to the net. Hmmm... I subsequently took myself off to Hemmings - my local, and extremely helpful, tackle shop -  and spent a small fortune on a new landing net handle. How much??!! I think I could have bought a small island off the coast of Scotland for less...

It soon became clear that the box also needed a few fittings. Scouring the eBay listings for used Preston OffBox fittings eventually started to pay of and gradually I have been able to find most of the fitting I wanted. The new Preston fittings now have a modern 'Snaplok' fixing and I think some anglers my be upgrading as there are a lot of the old fittings appearing on eBay as a result. The old fittings have a screw fixing which I think I prefer.

On Sunday I am off to try out my bag feeders and to make up for lost time I am off again on Thursday to have a go with my new pole and hopefully get some more advice from Bill, who has already given up a day to get me going with my 9.5m pole, as you can see HERE.


Ralph.

Wednesday, 9 March 2016

Feeding March!

Yes, it is over a month since my last post and I have not been fishing in all that time. However I was hoping to rectify that this week, but any plans to go fishing tomorrow have been scuppered by the non-arrival of some PVA mesh that I was planning to experiment with, read on...

Although I have done little fishing, I have not been too far away from my studies. Last time out I was trying out my new accessory chair and although there were no fish to show, I did catch three. (Total bag, just a shade under three ounces!) I was trying out an old rod while experimenting with my elasticated Tele-Pole. Since then, I have had some good advice on how to use the pole and I am planing to give that a go, but the main reason for my next trip will be to try something new to me that may improve my match fishing.

Over the past week or so I have been intrigued by an article in last week's Angling Times that talked about a 'new' way of using the method. It involves attaching a filled PVA mesh bag to a flat-backed feeder instead of moulding pellet or groundbait onto a ribbed form. At first, I could see no advantage of this over placing a bomb in a PVA bag. It was then pointed out to me that speed was the advantage. Simply slip another bag under the band on the feeder and re-bait the hook if necessary, within seconds the rig is heading back to the water. Much quicker than using a method mould - or so it seems. Further research has uncovered a few ready made bag feeders but as I have a good supply of cheap flat-back method feeders, I have acquired over the past year or so, I thought I would have a go at making one or two of my own.

Home-modified feeders
Following the instruction in the Angling Times, I clipped off the ribs, bored a couple of holes through the weight and attached a length of elastic, that was knotted to form the retaining band. The feeder is now ready to be rigged and the bag added. The hook is baited, hooked into the bag, twisted half a turn and hooked in again to hold it in place during the cast.

Tools and elastic - I opted for green over red when it came to it...

Roughly clip off the plastic ribs
Trim, file and sand off any sharp bits
Bore a couple of holes for the elastic
The finished feeder loaded with a bag of hard pellets. The green elastic might be a little less obvious than the red!
The idea is to have a selection of bags made up and ready to go. I am targeting bigger fish with this method and will give the baited rig a bit longer in the water than I would targeting F1s with the conventional method feeder. Rather than my 40-60 second retrieve, I think I will try 10 - 15 minutes and see what happens. Initially I will be using pellets in the bag but as I get more experienced at this technique I will vary the contents. There is no point in creating too many variables first time out, I want to get into a rhythm with the new style of feeding and see how that goes before I get into different baits. For the same reason, I plan to use banded pellets on the hook too.

One thing that does occur to me is the bags need to be kept bone-dry. For this reason I will store the bulk of the bags in an air-tight container and only keep one or two to hand at a time.

I also want to try using these bags on a straightforward ledger rig using a quick release link, of some kind, on the main line to connect the hook length. The baited hooklength will need to be pulled through the bag before being connected to the main line. Using this method, retrieved hook links can be changed for pre-made bated ones much quicker than re-baiting the returned link each time. Two or three pre-baited hook lengths should be enough to give it a go. I will start with 12 inch lengths and maybe adjust from there if nothing is happening.

I have a nice old float rod that was given to me by a fellow angler who has no need for it any more. It is a lot lighter than anything I have got of that size. I will take that with me to see if I can catch a few silvers while I am waiting for bites on my new experimental rigs. It has all the ingredients to make a good session and as the days are getting longer I will get time to experiment. Let's hope the weather stays reasonable, if it does I will be on the bank at Beaver Fishery on Sunday

Ralph.