Bomb & Pellet Waggler - Brad Parkes

The Perfect Combination

The Method feeder is the number-one choice on many commercial venues and rightly so – in the right hands it’s deadly. But what do you do on those days when the fish don’t want that sort of presentation? Sonubaits-backed Brad Parkes is the man with the answers.

Visit any commercial venue where the Method feeder is permitted and it will be the go-to choice for many anglers, particularly on a venue with an island to cast to.

However, it can also be a winning tactic on more open water venues like Barston or Meadowlands, but in the summer when carp are shying away from the Method and being wary, you need a back-up that’s just as deadly, and for me that means fishing the bomb and, when conditions allow, the pellet waggler.

I’ve been travelling all over the country recently chasing qualification for big-money finals and the pellet waggler and bomb combination is definitely an approach every angler needs to have in their armoury.

On harder days the fish might not want the Method feeder type of presentation, or they could be unsettled and up and down in the water so it’s hard to pin them down, or you might have an open-water swim that lends itself perfectly to the pellet waggler/bomb combination.

Make A Splash

It’s a tactic that works on my regular haunts too, like on the Match Pool at Heronbrook, Big Max at Old Hough or here on the Arena Lake at Cudmore, so anywhere you catch carp in open water basically. It’s also a good tactic because if all the anglers around you are fishing the feeder, you can target an area of the swim that others are ignoring.

This recently happened during a match on Big Max lake at Old Hough, where everyone was casting feeders tight to the island but I was fishing the pellet waggler/bomb. I reckon I had three or four fish to one of theirs and that was because it was a hard day and I had that line around two-thirds of the way across all to myself.

One of the reasons for this is noise. The sound of the pellets hitting the water regularly and the splash of the float are great attractors for carp, and that’s something you can’t recreate with Method feeder tactics.

As long as conditions allow, the main aim is to catch on the pellet waggler with this approach, but if the wind is bad (like it is today) or you feel the peg maybe needs a bit of rest, casting the bomb on the same line can often be brilliant.

On some days it can also be better than the pellet waggler so the two go hand in hand and work brilliantly as a combination for fishing one area of your swim. Although both methods work well on their own, rather than think of them as separate tactics, think of them like Batman and Robin, or some other dynamic duo!

I generally prefer to start on the bomb and then work my way on to the pellet waggler, because this is the best way to get fish early before they start feeding shallow with confidence.

However, there are always exceptions to the rule and today the lake is flat calm and as I tackle up I notice several fish cruising around, so it makes sense to capitalise on this and have a few casts with my mugging waggler setup.

This produces three quick carp before the wind picks up, putting a ripple on the water and making it impossible to see fish and present the bait correctly.

Waggler Selection

I carry three types of pellet waggler with me and the ones I use most of the time are the Guru Foam Pellet Wagglers, and today I’m using the 4SSG (6.5g) model because of the distance I’m casting.

Generally, you want to use the lightest float you can get away with because you don’t want them to dive too deep on impact with the water. I like to start at a depth of two feet and to be honest, even if I can see fish swirling I tend not to fish any shallower than this depth. On deeper venues I might have to fish three or four feet deep but generally around that 2ft depth is perfect the majority of time.

I also use balsa pellet wagglers and these are more stable in the wind and I also prefer these for mugging carp because they don’t dive under the water as much so they’re the best choice for casting on top or very near cruising fish.

The third type I carry are the new water wagglers and I’m still experimenting with these, but they certainly cast well because the water pushes to one end of the float on the cast and it also provides the weight needed for stability once the float is in the water.

They also don’t dive and they’re clear so less likely to spook fish, but I’ve not used them enough yet to determine in my own mind whether this does make a difference or not.

I like to use the loaded Guru Waggler Converters to attach my floats so I don’t need to use any locking shot, which I prefer. These also allow me to change the size of float quickly and easily should I need to. I then lock the float at the depth I want to fish with float rubbers and the advantages of these are they’re secure and easy to slide and up and down the line because I’m often changing the depth I’m fishing at regularly.

I keep a short gap between these locking rubbers because this helps the float to fold on the strike and that short bit of movement also provides a bolt effect to help the fish hook themselves.

I place two or three of these rubbers below the float so they don’t move because of the force created by casting – if you only use one rubber below the float you could have a lot of problems and waste a lot time having to move the rubber back in position after every cast.

Bombs Away

Just like my floats, I like to carry different types of leads with me, which all have their uses in different conditions or swims. The first type is an inline lead and I like to use these most of the time because they’re neater and cast better.

Alongside casting the biggest advantage for me with them is the bolt rig effect – carp are in direct contact with the lead once they pick up the bait. Pendants have the swivel which gives them that micro second more time to reject the bait before hooking themselves against the lead. Their big disadvantage is that on silty bottoms they can dig in, so in that situation I like to use the pendant style lead with the swivel in the top, which helps overcome this.

Finally, in winter when I’m trying to fish in stealth mode so I don’t spook fish, I often use an olivette as my inline lead and when you’re trying to be as delicate as possible, these really take some beating.

The Gear

For today’s session on Peg 30, I’ve got two 11ft pellet waggler rods assembled and a 10ft bomb rod, although it’s definitely worth mentioning that if I was in a match, I would also have a feeder rod set up for fishing tight across to the island.

I also have 13ft pellet waggler rods in my bag in case I’m on a peg where a longer cast is required.

• Rod One: Pellet waggler for mugging. This is an 11ft Preston Supera with a Daiwa TDR 2508 reel with 5lb Preston Float Max on the reel. Hooklength is 0.19mm mono to a size 16 or 18 Guru Super Pellet Waggler hook with a bayonet for mounting a wafter for a slow fall of the hook bait. Float is 2SSG balsa waggler.

• Rod Two: Pellet waggler for fishing shallow. This is also an 11ft Preston Supera with a Daiwa TDR 2508 reel with 5lb Preston Float Max on the reel. Hooklength is 0.19mm mono to a size 16 or 18 Guru Super Pellet Waggler hook with a bait band. Float is 4SSG (6.5g) Guru Foam Pellet Waggler.

• Rod Three: Bomb rod. Preston Innovations Mini Plus 10ft Carp Feeder rod with a 2oz tip coupled with a Guru Aventus 4000 reel loaded with 8lb mono. Down the line is a 10g inline lead down to a Preston quick change bead. These are great because the peg in the end of the bead fits perfectly into the base of the lead to create a bolt effect but as soon as you hook a fish it releases so the lead is free running.

Hooklength to begin with is 15 inches of 0.19mm fluorocarbon to a size 12 Guru QM1 with a bait band for mounting an 8mm pellet. I will shorten the hooklength if the fish are a bit cagey.

The advantage with fluorocarbon on the bomb is its stiffness, not only for anti-tangling but it is great for hooking the carp on the bottom as it’s anti-eject properties are better, being so stiff.

However, it can be brittle at times as it doesn’t stretch so I use normal mono for the pellet waggler, which generally comes under more strain and fluoro gives no real advantage with it.


As with all types of angling, feeding is the area you need to get right or everything else will fall apart. All your gear and bait might be spot on but if you don’t feed correctly, it’s all for nothing. I’ve got 6mm and 8mm pellets with me today and as I said earlier on, I like to start on the bottom so I’ll chuck the lead first and feed a couple of pouches of 8mm pellets and then sit back and see what happens.

This allows me to have a good look around to see what other anglers are doing and what response they’re getting, which gives me an early clue as to how the fish are feeding.

When I’m fishing on the bottom or I need to fish at range I like to coat my pellets with oil, because I find it helps them fly better through the air –the oil makes the pellets go further and more accurate to fire in. They do sink a lot faster though, being heavier so are not ideal for the pellet waggler.

Of course there’s one situation where I wouldn’t start like this and that’s if it’s calm and I can see some potential early cruisers that I can cast my mugging pellet waggler rig at. In this situation I wouldn’t feed anything to begin with.

If I think it’s going to be a waggler day I’ll start feeding fewer pellets but more regularly, but if I’m not sure I’ll stick to feeding a couple of pouches every 10 minutes or so and sometimes that might continue for the entire match.

A lot depends on the weather conditions and today is prime example, because even though I know I could catch on the pellet waggler, the wind is too strong to fish it correctly so I’m feeding two pouches of 8mm pellets every 10 minutes to keep the fish on the bottom where I can catch them on the lead.

I reckon I feed 8mm pellets 90 per cent of the time and I’ll only change to 6mms if I know the fish are small. The larger pellets are easier to catapult and make more of a fish attracting splash so they are my first choice.

I don’t clip up at all on the bomb because with a fair sized spread of bait it often pays not to be casting too accurately as the fish can be spread over quite a wide area. Casting beyond the feed or to the back edge of the feed area also works and this is something I regularly do.

Hook baits are simple and it’s either the same 8mm pellets I’m feeding or I’ll band a Robin Red pellet; the latter is brilliant on the pellet waggler because maybe its dark colour creates more of a silhouette in the upper layers as the fish underneath it eye it up.

The Session

For today’s session I did mug three carp before the wind got up and then I employed my bomb tactics and for an hour the tip was going round in less than a couple of minutes after the bomb had hit the bottom. It then began to slow down so I cast beyond the feed area, which produced a few more fish but I was having to wait longer for bites.

Moving the bait also worked and this is something I like to do a lot. I simply grip the line between the reel and the butt ring on the rod and keep pulling the line until the lead moves before tightening up again. This is a great way to get a bite from fish that are casually mooching around the hook bait area and the sudden movement makes them naturally grab at the bait aggressively to stop it getting away!

Apart from the first hour it was quite a hard session and bites were coming eventually but I had to wait for them. With an hour to go I decided to try the pellet waggler despite the wind and after increasing the regularity of my feeding (and reducing the amount) the fish were soon up in the water and feeding. Fortunately, bites were coming within a second or two of the float hitting the water so my presentation wasn’t important!

That’s why this is method isn’t for the lazy angler – if I didn’t get a bite within five seconds I was reeling in and having another cast and repeating the process. This is when you can experiment with your feeding pattern. Keep the amount the same but try feeding then casting, or casting then feeding.

Casting beyond the range of your feed, then feeding and drawing the float back into the feed area also works well. You might find a pattern that works all day or on other days you might have to keep varying it constantly to keep catching.

So if you’re not giving the bomb and pellet waggler combo any serious thought, hopefully after reading this you’ll be encouraged to give this approach a go.

If you’ve got open water in front of you and there are carp in the venue, it’s a method that give you an edge when those around you are blinkered and fishing Method feeders without a thought for anything else.