The pellet cone is a great tactic for cold weather when a bite or two can make the difference between a dull session and a match win. It’s all about setting a one-bite trap in the correct place, ready to tempt a passing lump into having a go.
Pemb Wrighting is highly adept at catching in all conditions and the pellet cone is one of his go-to methods when the temperature drops: “It’s great for offering a small pile of bait with the hook bait most prominent – the fish doesn’t have to be feeding hard to want to investigate and then a bite won’t be far behind.”
Today, Pemb has chosen Sumners Ponds Fishery in Horsham, West Sussex to demonstrate the effectiveness of the pellet cone and with the weather veering between Arctic blasts from one of the many winter storm systems and bright sunshine, the Guru-backed ace will need to bring his A game to get a result.
As with any method, location is important and even more so with the Pellet Cone due to its bite-at-a-time nature. “Using your watercraft skills is essential, as always. But when you’re angling for a fish at a time, it’s even more vital to be targeting areas where they’re holed up and the angler who can anticipate where these hot spots are will be successful.”
“Here, I’m starting off by targeting two general areas in front of me – one is an island and that’s an obvious feature whatever the weather. The other is a little harder to work out but, in my opinion, more likely to produce fish in this weather, and that’s a sunken island off to my left. I’ll explore both of these areas thoroughly with the pellet cone and I know that if any fish are resident, I’ll soon get a bite or a liner.
“Incidentally, liners are an important clue at this time of year – if you’re getting them, you’re not far off the fish and dropping short or switching the hook bait to a more visual option, such as corn, or something smelly like meat, might tempt them into having a go.”
“Back to the sunken island; it’s deeper than the other island feature and I prefer to target the deeper areas when it’s cold, as these will retain the heat a bit longer when the cold wind is affecting the upper layers, as it is today. It’s freezing when the wind gets up!”
“I’m dropping just short of the island so my rig will be sitting in the deeper channel before the island, and I’m flicking the odd pellet or two over the top to keep any fish in the area looking for food. This is a great tip if you know the area you’re targeting holds a few fish – maybe you’ve seen them bubbling, rolling or disturbing the bottom – but no bites are forthcoming.”
“As the session goes on, I expect to be exploring the water in front of me and there’s a likely looking area to my left with some deeper water where I’ve seen fish bubbling earlier, so this will be worth a look.”
A little cracker!
“This is where the pellet cone comes into its own – if I fed over the top and they’re not feeding heavily, I could easily spook them or they might have had their fill after a handful of pellets, but with the pellet cone I can be sure that my bait is the most attractive thing in the area and if they want to feed, there’s only one option – my hook bait.”
Pemb's Perfect Cone Setup...
When the pellets are ready to go, I'll turn mt attentions to the hook bait, in this case, meat. A neat 8mm punched piece is ideal and having the Punch Box certainly helps to keep the bait fresh and to hand. I'll hair rig this to a size 12 QM1 hook to 0.19mm N-Gauge
A great little tip is to use the handle of baiting needle to ease the compressed pellets out of the cone without damaging them. I then thread the hooklength with the come onto the X-Safe Speed Stem, add a dollop of Goo and it's ready to go.
Next, I'll select the right size cone and press the pellets into it, just firm enough so they stay on during the cast but break down one they hit the bottom. I'll then use a fine baiting needle to thread the hooklength through the cone and nestle the hook and bait just inside it.
Pemb carries three sizes of pellet cone, and throughout the session, he’ll use all three depending on the distance he needs to cast and the temperature.0.
The Surrey-based product developer explains: “If it’s freezing cold and the fish aren’t active, I’ll definitely kick off with the smallest pellet cone. This provides such a small pile of bait that even the most inactive carp or bream will pick up. The small one is also good for a longer cast as it offers less resistance.”
“The medium size cone will come out when I know there are a few fish or larger carp in the area, to provide a larger pile of attraction via the micro pellets breaking down. The larger cone will come into play if, for example, I’m targeting a closer in spot which doesn’t require a big cast or if conditions are good and the fish are getting their heads down. The more attractive nature of the bigger pile of pellets will help to draw the freely feeding fish in.”
Hook Bait Choice
A majority of Pemb’s pellet cone fishing revolves around the use of four hook baits, all of which play a subtly different role in maximising the opportunities in front of him.
“Kicking off with corn, this is a favourite for clear water and really cold conditions. It stands out so well on the lake-bed and fish are used to eating it, so it’s a safe bet for a wary carp or two.
“Bread is another favourite, and I love a three or four punched pieces – it’s probably the best all-rounder at this time of year. However, it’s not the one when there are nuisance fish present as they will make short work of bread hook baits. “Meat is my go-to big fish hook bait when the water is coloured. It chucks out loads of scent and a dose of Goo enhances this no end – I carry a couple of different bottles and usually one will stand out as working best at this particular venue or in these conditions.”
Don't leave home without some sliced white bread.
“Lastly, pellet is a great option in warmer weather when they’re really having it and feeding well. I’d simply band a 8/11mm pellet and use it like that.”
Pemb gives his pellet cone and meat hook bait a good dose of Pineapple Power Smoke Gook and it isn’t long before a chunky Sumner’s Pond mirror finds his way to Pemb’s waiting net, proving that this deadly combination is irresistible on even the coldest of days.
Tough going, but this is when the cone comes good!
Name: Pemb Wrighting
Sponsors: Guru & Bag 'em
MF Says: The Future's Bright...
Venue: Sumners Ponds
Location: Chapel Road, Barns Green, Horshame, West Sussex, RH13 OPR
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Match Fishing magazine gets on the bank with the first two graduates of the Guru Match Academy!
You’d have thought that, at just 14 and 15 years of age respectively, Rob Swan and Will McCranor spend most of their days locked in a dark bedroom playing computer games and glued to their iPhones, like many teenagers in modern society.
In actual fact, when not working hard on their studies during term time you will more than likely find them on the banks of one of their local fisheries, giving the adults a run for their money on an open match or festival.
Both are the very first graduates of the brand new Guru Match Academy. This is an event run by Guru, which sees a group of young match anglers coached over a two-day period, where over those two days the Guru stars decide between them which pair of youngsters involved is going to gain a sponsorship deal worth over £1,000!
We caught up with Rob and Will at the picturesque Partridge Lakes Fishery, in Warrington, to see how they were getting on since successfully acquiring their sponsorships with Guru.
A nice F1, but would it be enough to beat Will?
To spark both of the lads’ competitive nature it was decided that we would use the day to have a small head-to-head match between them both.
Regardless of the early start and the bitterly cold weather, both were in good spirits on the morning of the feature and their excitement was clear to see. Rob, a happy, lively character excitedly bounced around while Will, who is a little quieter ordinarily, was wearing a huge smile.
Following a conversation over a cup of tea that was very much needed to warm us up, it was decided that we would use consecutive pegs on the complex’s Covey 4 lake. Pegs 85 and 86 were on offer and using a coin we flipped for pegs, resulting in Rob sitting on Peg 85 while Will was placed on 86.
Both lads quickly made their way over to the on-site tackle and bait shop and bought themselves a couple of pints of fresh maggots each, and made their way to their designated pegs.
It didn’t take too long before we noticed some differences in the styles of Rob and Will. Rob was clearly very concise in his setup; his box, for example, consists of just one deep unit, inside is a bait tub with all of his essentials – a plummet, some scissors, a pen, a couple of disgorgers, some electrician’s tape and… a ruler (we’ll get to that shortly).
Will, on the other hand, had multiple trays of rigs tied up, all very neat and tidy, drawers full of bits and bobs, some of which he might not use, but there for those occasions when they may just come in handy. Hooklength boxes in abundance, there was no way he didn’t have everything covered; the effort and hard work he must put in away from the bank is admirable.
That wasn’t to say Rob was not prepared, in fact the opposite was true. He had plenty of rigs tied up, all stored tidily in EVA boxes. However, what made him really efficient was that many of his go-to rigs were stored away, already attached to the top kits in his holdall.
MF was impressed by Rob's attention to detail throughout the day!
What was interesting about Rob’s approach to the peg was how precise he was when plumbing up. It is also where that ruler comes into play. Rather than just sticking a plummet on and finding any old depth, Rob’s ruler has been adapted so he can hook it at one end and carefully wrap his rig around it – one turn equals one foot, two turns are two feet and so on.
Once his rig is set at his preferred depth, usually the depth he knows he has caught fish at on previous visits, or where he feels the fish will be sitting, he proceeds to find that depth around his peg. The next stage of his precise setup then involves marking exactly where on his pole he was when he found that required depth. Using insulation tape and a pen to write on the details he then marks exactly where on his pole he needs to hold it to ensure he is in the same spot every time.
Let Battle Commence
Both anglers had a similar approach to the day. A maggot line down the middle of the lake seemed like the banker with it being so cold, then lines in shallower water both to the island and down the edge would provide good options should the fish be sat out of the deepest water.
At 10.15am the match got underway, but both lads were biteless after the first 30 minutes, despite working hard to make something happen in their respective pegs. A look on the long pole then back to their original starting points still resulted in nothing. “Imagine if I blanked on my first-ever feature!” Rob joked.
Will Started to pile on the pressure once he had a couple of fish in the net.
We didn’t have to wait too much longer for some action, though, and before long Will had hooked the first fish of the day and a good few yards of green No10 Dura Hollo was being pulled out of his pole. After a short, yet cagey battle a mirror carp of around 5lb lay in his net. Head on the task at hand Will proceeded to re-bait and ship back out on the hunt for his next fish.
Shortly after that Rob managed to hook and land his first fish of the day, an F1 of 2lb that was caught using double maggot down the middle of the lake where he had been loose feeding two or three maggots fairly regularly. Knowing he was still behind he lowered his rig back in and it didn’t take long before his float dipped again, and another F1 graced his net, this time of a slightly smaller stamp. “Getting worried now, William?” he shouted across to his team-mate, turned competitor for the day.
Another nice carp for Will as he takes a commanding lead.
Almost on cue Will again hooked a slightly bigger fish and used his side puller kit to good effect to land another mirror carp, this time of 2lb in weight. He didn’t need to provoke Rob with a sarcastic comment, though; at this point he knew he was out in front with bigger fish than those Rob had caught so far.
Interestingly, both anglers had very similar setups and opt for handmade patterns throughout. Rich Wilson Dinks seemed popular, with Will using the standard Dink in a 4x12 for his maggot line down the track while a 4x12 RW F1 Dink was preferred on the island swim where he had three feet of water to the point of the island.
Rob had a RW Dink set up for his long-pole lines in 4x12 – again in three feet of water – the carbon-stemmed alternative known as a Maggie in 4x14 for down the track and one of the newly released Malman Titans for down the edge, a pattern of float that features a type of wire that can be bent but will always return to its original straight layout.
Both opted for a robust 0.15mm diameter main line across all of their rigs but it was at the business end where slight differences were made. Rob’s hooklengths were all tied to 0.13mm diameter Guru N-Gauge and a size 18 LWG hook. Will on the other hand, had decided on a slightly lighter setup and was using a 0.11mm diameter hooklength and a size 18 Guru F1 Maggot.
Having jumped on to the lake on one of its scheduled rest days we had been warned that the venue’s maintenance guys might be round at some point during the day. It just so happened that they were actually stocking the lake while we were there! To our surprise within 30 minutes of those fish being introduced both anglers had actually caught one!
It did seem that the activity in the lake gave the venue a bit of a kick-start and before long both of the lads were catching a few fish. They even managed to pick up an odd one shallow despite the temperature not rising much at all throughout the day.
With just half an hour of the short match remaining things had slowed down for Rob. Will on the other hand, seemed to be having his best spell of the day and following a ghost carp that put up a spirited battle, four more small carp and an F1 followed in quick succession.
Another fish finds itself in Will's net.
A last gasp flurry of smaller F1s ensured Rob was hot on Will’s heels, but due to the size of Will’s fish it was pretty much a given what the outcome of the day was going to be.
Work Hard, Reap the Rewards
Having watched these two lads throughout the day it doesn’t take too much to see exactly why they have got to where they have. Despite their age both Will and Rob are hugely devoted and passionate about the sport and put the effort in both on and off the bank.
In testing conditions, where it looked in the early stages that both would struggle, they were able to work their pegs well to make something happen. Neither panicked and both remained composed, believing that they would catch if they just plugged away.
Having spoken with both anglers at length about the Guru Match Academy, both Will and Rob feel that it is something that any young angler who is serious about their fishing should get involved with. “It not only offers the fantastic opportunity of sponsorship but coaching from some of the best match anglers in the country, an opportunity that will improve the skills of those involved massively,” Rob stated.
Name: Rob Swan
Pole: Daiwa Airity
MF says: Heading for the top
Name: Will McCranor
Pole: Preston Innovations GXR 3600
MF Says: A bright future beckons
Location: Partridge Lakes
Address: Glaziers Lane, Culcheth, near Warrington WA3 4AQ
Contact: 07469 981743
What Is Match Academy?
Match Academy is an exiting new event run by top match brand Guru and was held for the very first time at Makins Fishery on August 22nd and 23rd this year. The aim of Match Academy is to identify and develop the next generation of angling stars by focusing on talented youths aged between 13 and 17 years old.
All involved submit an application and successful applicants receive a day’s tuition from top Guru-sponsored anglers such as Andy Bennett, Steve Ringer, Adam Rooney and Pemb Wrighting to name but a few.
The event is run over two days with a range of match fishing skills covered. This year 30 anglers took part and from them two were chosen to be on the receiving end of an amazing money-can't-buy Guru sponsorship deal worth over £1,000!
The Chosen Ones
By Guru brand manager Adam Rooney
“Choosing one angler from each day was really difficult, as every student had great attributes and the team and I had a really hard job on our hands.
“Day one we chose Will; although he didn’t win the match, we were so impressed with how well organised and composed he was. Nothing phased him and on a difficult peg he managed to hold his own, swapping from bomb and waggler to the pole. His timing and chilled-out approach really showed he has what it takes to be a successful angler.
“Day two we chose Rob; now this cheeky chap grabbed my attention before the students had even wetted a line – his attitude and friendly approach on arrival was superb, which in my eyes goes a long way. The standard of angling on day two was fantastic, it was such a close contest it was going to be a hard shout on who to pick. However, from feedback not only from the tutors but the film crew and media team, this little man had a lot to offer. His organisation, composure, awareness and overall skills were that of a seasoned professional. But what made it for me was his happy-go-lucky friendly attitude and passion for the sport.”
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These are a product developed for one thing, but that are sure to have a whole range of uses!
Originally, they were designed for soaking pellets in, as they allow you to lift out and drain your pellets at whatever point you want. They fit neatly into the Guru bait tubs, and are available in two sizes. They’re not only perfect for soaking pellets, however, as they make the ideal tub for storing and draining any baits that you keep in water, allowing you to quickly lift off the strainer to remove the bait from the water, before bagging it up for the next session.
You can use the strainers at home or on the bank, and another perfect use for them is when using meat, to soak the meat in water – preferably warm water – to strain and take off the fats that cause much of it to float and drift away in any tow.
RRP: Small £1.99; large £2.99
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There are several of these in the new range, but this snazzy little number caused a stir in the office, as there was an argument as to who would have it! It looks the part, is made from quality materials, and will keep your tabs toasty in the cold!
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What makes a good shot? We’d say one that has an open, even cut, that can be nipped on to thick and thin lines and stays in place, but can also be moved without damaging the line.
Available in sizes from No8 to No12, that’s exactly what the new Guru shot is. Sourced from the renowned ZLT shot producer, each batch is specially inspected for consistency and quality. In the neat and compact containers, which are secure but also easy to open without spillages, they’re sure to be a big hit with matchmen.
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The use of fluorocarbon has become increasingly common in match fishing of late, having various uses.
The release of Pure by Guru has seen a real quality line hit the market, and one that anglers are already raving about.
Firstly, Pure offers the ideal hooklength material for light pole rigs. In diameters from 0.08mm, 0.10mm and 0.12mm, it provides a strong, twist-free material that is almost invisible underwater. In the bigger sizes, from 0.14mm upwards, it can be used for hooklengths for carp for both pole and rod and line work. Pure ranges right up to 0.30mm, and can be used for shockleaders when fishing the Method or bomb, to help pin the line to the deck behind your bomb or feeder thanks to its high weight and density.
Sizes available: 0.08mm to 0.30mm RRP: £4.99
•Three pole-retaining options
•EVA foam coated
•Compact and practical
•Small, medium or large
•Includes quick-load sprinkle pot
•Suitable for top kits in a range of diameters
Matt Godfrey is to leave his current role as features editor of Match Fishing magazine, to take up a new role at Tackle Guru.
Having worked for David Hall Publishing for over four years on the titles of Pole Fishing and Match Fishing magazines, the England international is very excited about the move, and a buzzing Matt said: “I’m absolutely ready for a new challenge, and I think the move to Guru will be exactly that.
“Guru is a brand that shows powerful leadership on the media front, and I’m hungry to be a part of its continued push forward, learning and developing my own skills with the company in the process. Of course, I’m hoping to keep my own fishing up too, and if anything I can only see the move giving me more focus with this.
“One thing I’m particularly excited about is working with the stable of consultants belonging to Guru… Steve Ringer and Andy Bennett to name just two. With guys like this on board, and with a team striving to innovate and progress in terms of products and media, I really can’t wait to get cracking. I just hope the boys in Essex will understand my northern twang!
“I have a lot of thank yous to make, but the biggest has to go out to David Hall Publishing. I’ve loved every minute of working there, met some lifelong friends, and I’m sure we’ll still be working together in the future. I’m leaving Match Fishing in a super-healthy shape, and as a brand it’s growing by the minute. It’s a brand I’ll always want to be associated with as an angler and part of the angling trade.
One person who Matt has worked alongside and travelled with in his fishing for many years is Match Fishing magazine editor Tom Scholey.
Tom added: “From a professional perspective, I am gutted to be losing Matt as my right-hand man at DHP, as he is a very talented journalist and photographer, and will be sorely missed.
“However, from a personal point of view I am very happy for him, and think exciting times lie ahead for Matt with the Tackle Guru brand. He is the kind of person who will make a success of whatever he does, so I am sure the future will be very bright for him.”
Matt concluded: “A question a lot of people have asked is: ‘What will happen to Bagging Bros?? This is the media channel Tom Scholey and I have built between us, relating our match fishing in diary form. Well, I can’t get away from him that easily… Bagging Bros is sure to continue!”
Matt will join Tackle Guru in early February, in the role of marketing and media coordinator.