Top match tackle firm Middy are delighted to announce that Russell Shipton has put pen to paper on a 12-month rolling sponsorship deal.
Based in Kent, Russell joins Middy after recently finishing in the top 30 at the UK Champs at his first attempt. He also competes in big matches like Match This and Fish'O'Mania and is a brilliant angler, who will now provide even more expert advice as Middy develop more high-quality tackle, designed to improve your catch rates and match efficiency.
Russell has been using Middy tackle for years and had also been a ‘Shop-Pro’ for Orpington Tackle & Bait, until being offered this full sponsorship deal.
Jamie Hughes likes to keep in touch with the ever changing behaviour of fish. Here is why he thinks hard pellets are starting to rule over soft…
Pellets have always been the bait in which I have the most confidence. I have spent years perfecting the way that my bait is prepared and also the best ways of presenting the bait through my rigs. For a long time fishing with softened micros and a soft hook pellet/expander was the best way to approach most fisheries that I visited and at times is still a great method.
Note how Jamie keeps some pole behind him.
The massive change that I have recently noticed though, is the fish’s increased preference to hard pellet feed and hook baits. My theory is that they have been fished for so often with the standard soft pellet approach that the fish have simply wised up to it! Also when you think about it, as we almost never feed any expanders due to their light makeup they are only used as a hook bait, this means that every time a fish eats an expander, it gets caught!
You can quickly see why they would start to avoid soft pellets! Because of this change my approach to pellet fishing has had to change dramatically and for this feature I would like to focus on possibly the most popular method of fishing hard pellets that is known as pinging.
Stability, strength and visibility are three key features of a pinging float
Pinging, simply involves feeding hard pellets generally little and often by catapult into an area of the peg. Noise created by the baits landing on the surface is brilliant for attracting loads of carp and the steady stream of pellets creates competition between them.
Of course it sounds pretty simple, but there are several key aspects that have to be considered in order to make this method work correctly.
Light, balanced tackle is a must in Jamie's book.
The first thing I would like to focus on is the actual pellets that need to be used. How your pellets are behaving when in the water is possibly the most important factor in hard pellet fishing. The last thing that you want is to feed a pellet that breaks down or softens before even reaching the bottom of the lake.
Despite what many people think, there are really just 2 of types of pellet available to anglers, these are the standard coarse pellet, sold by most bait companies and secondly a much denser pellet produced by Coppens. These pellets are all pretty similar, with the only difference being the fishmeal
and oil content which varies with each batch of pellets.
Carp of this size are suckers for pinging
Firstly the Coppens pellets. As I mentioned these are a much denser and often heavier pellet, which are perfect for helping to keep fish on the bottom, their dense makeup also means that they take a long time to break down. The downside of these pellets is that generally they sink quickly, making them not ideal for shallow fishing.
On the other hand, coarse pellets such as Bag‘ems Super Naturals are a far more versatile bait for use with this method, they are also the baits sold as fishery pellets at many venues across the country. These baits are much lighter than the Coppens variety, which results in a slower fall through the water, they also have a much quicker breakdown rate, although this can be slowed down with a small amount of pellet oil.
Even big fish can be landed on balanced tackle, as long as you take your time.
The reason I am so interested in the way my pellets behave in the water is because by understanding what state my pellets are in after a certain amount of time, I can regulate my feeding to prevent too much bait being fed and eventually pellets breaking down in my peg before being eaten.
The slower a pellet breaks down the better it is for fishing on the bottom
Broken down pellets will only cause problems such as gill feeding or small-fish trouble. My ultimate aim is to always be presenting my hard pellet hook bait among other hard pellets, this gives the fish minimal options and gets me more bites.
Try several catapults to find the one with which you can be most accurate with
My thoughts on feeding are that basically you have two aims. Firstly attracting fish into the peg is vital, this is best done by catapulting 3 to 5 pellets every minute or so, this creates a lot of noise on the surface but also offers the fish few options which in turn should create competition for the pellets, without over feeding. Your second aim is to get the fish
feeding where they are easiest to catch, by this I mean either shallow, through the water or on the bottom. By changing the amounts of pellets and the regularity that they are fed, it is easy to quickly establish where in the peg the fish are happiest.
Let me explain... As I mentioned, by pinging regular small amounts of pellets, a lot of competition is created between the fish, what it also causes is the fish to rise up in the water column to intercept the bait, this can be great in hot weather or when the fish are happy to feed shallow, but on the other hand if there’s not a huge amount of fish in the swim, then line bites and foul-hookers can quickly become a problem.
For this reason in the early part of a session, I like to play safe and catch as many fish on the bottom as possible, before pushing the peg and hopefully catching shallow in the later stages. In order to achieve this more bait has to be fed less regularly.
I often find that by feeding 20 to 30 pellets immediately after hooking a fish, it can really settle the peg down, as by the time you have played the fish, rebaited and shipped out, everything in the peg has settled on the bottom causing less missed bites.
Of course there is rarely a feeding pattern that will work for the duration of the match, but hopefully by altering things depending on what is being shown on my float, I am able to keep in touch with the feeding moods and put a few more fish in the net by reacting quicker than everyone else.
As with all my fishing, the rigs for pinging pellets are kept as simple as possible.
As a rule two rigs will cover most situations when the fish are feeding on the bottom, of course I will also have shallow rigs set up, but I'm going to cover that in the next feature in a lot more depth.
Carp and F1s almost always home in on the noise of pellets hitting water
My two rigs for fishing on the bottom work in different ways, firstly I have a rig to fish all the way through the water column. This is a light 4x12 carbon-stem float (in four to six feet) shotted with spread No11 shot through the entire rig. I use this as my starter rig as it tells me exactly how the fish are feeding in the peg.
When pinging I expect the fish to behave in three different ways, depending on my feeding;
Firstly by continuing the little and often feeding, I would expect to get bites just after the rig has settled as the fish follow the hook bait to the deck, if this happens then my time is best spent on a slow falling rig.
Alternatively, if I am getting very few indications and waiting in excess of a couple of minutes for a bite, then my time is best spent on my second rig which is a 4x14 wire-stem float, shotted with a bulk of No9s and two No11 droppers. This rig will settle around 8 seconds faster than the light rig, which may sound like nothing, but if I lay this rig in a hundred times then I gain almost fourteen minutes of fishing!
The third occurrence that I would expect to happen would be to miss several bites in quick succession while using either rig. This tells me that the amount of fish present in the peg has increased which has forced them to rise off the bottom, competing to get to the feed first. A quick try with a shallow rig should usually confirm this, but if that fails then as mentioned before, larger amounts of feed less regularly should push them back to the bottom.
The last factor that I feel needs thought putting into when pinging, is the makeup of the lake bottom where you choose to fish. It is extremely difficult to fish this method over thick, silty bottoms, as the fish tend to root around for the hidden pellets causing lots of bubbles and very few bites, I would try to combat this with minimal feed but as a rule you are wasting your time trying to fish pellets on the bottom in these circumstances.
My ideal peg would be a nice gravel or sloping bottom where any silt is unable to settle, this creates a clean peg where all the baits can be seen by the fish, resulting in positive bites.
Hopefully my theories have shown that by putting a little more thought into your approach when pinging, there are a lot of little improvements that can be made. It has certainly changed the way I view my pellet fishing.
Just one of many big commercial hauls that Jamie has nailed on his pinging tactics
Sponsors: MAP & Bag‘em Matchbaits
Des Shipp’s Pellet Waggler Masterclass
Des Shipp explains when fishing the waggler can give you the edge over other methods…
Fishing the waggler is a tactic that requires almost unparalleled hard work and perseverance. However, done correctly, in the right situation it can prove to be devastating, just as I proved in a recent Maver Match This qualifier at Gold Valley Lakes, where I qualified for the £65,000 grand final!
Why The Waggler?
The first and probably most obvious reason for choosing to fish a waggler over the pole is its versatility and range. You can simply fish much further out using a waggler than you can the pole; it is therefore suited perfectly for large lakes or up to features where the pole cannot reach or using a feeder isn’t suitable.
It also thrives on tightly pegged venues where fishing the waggler can create space for yourself by fishing an area of the lake nobody else is venturing into.
In modern commercial fishing, when somebody refers to the waggler, nine times out of 10 the pellet waggler is what is being referred to. However, I would be perfectly happy to reach for an insert or straight waggler should the conditions suit.
To help, here is a quick run through of what each variety is useful for:
My number-one choice for carp in the upper layers and arguably the busiest method out there, but hard work definitely pays dividends!
A nice dumpy pattern helps with hooking fish; the buoyancy of the float can aid with self-hooking – don’t go too big, though, you are looking for a plop that imitates that of a pellet landing in the water when casting!
A sensitive pattern of waggler, perfect when a degree of finesse is needed, this is my go-to float of choice when fishing for roach, skimmers and even F1s on commercial fisheries using baits such as maggots, casters or worms.
The tip is thinner than the rest of the float and this aids sensitivity and bite indication.
A more buoyant alternative to the insert waggler, this has a multitude of uses.
The straight waggler comes into its own when there is a tow on the lake; its buoyancy means you are able to lay line on the bottom of the lake without the float being dragged under by the tow.
It also makes a brilliant float for fishing shallow for carp using baits such as meat or pellets; its structure means it has a dibber effect.
A Simple Hook bait!
Got It In The Locker?
Having the ability to fish with any type of waggler, and being completely comfortable in getting it out of the bag whenever I feel it’s suitable, puts me on the front foot at a lot of venues.
To use the Gold Valley Lakes Maver Match This qualifier as an example, I opted for a pellet-waggler approach to the match. On the day I drew Peg 50 on Gold Lake, which gave me plenty of room to go at and draw fish from. I knew that I stood a good chance of the match win from there!
It was a particularly hot day with plenty of fish cruising around the lake. I therefore expected to catch in the upper layers of the lake, an area where the pellet waggler is particularly prolific.
Gold Lake is large in size and is occupied by some big, wary carp. These tackle dodgers have seen it all before and are often the wisest occupants of a lake, so will back off from the hustle and bustle of anglers on the banks towards the middle of the lake… prime waggler territory. Due to the size of the fish often caught on this method, between 20 and 25 fish was almost certainly going to be good enough to do the business on the day.
I found having the rig set at three feet deep worked best, although ordinarily I would fish anywhere between 12 inches and two feet. The lakes at Gold Valley are quite deep so I felt that this extra depth meant I had given myself more of an area to target while still focusing on the upper layers of the swim.
My 23 fish on the day weighed in at 172lb which was just over 20lb clear of the runner-up; averaging just over four fish an hour but each of those weighing on average 7½lb it is clear to see how a weight can be built up quickly.
The key is to not stop working. Feed, cast (past feed area), feed, reel into feed area, feed, reel in and repeat. You should never have your rod or catapult out of your hand!
This could not get any simpler!
Float size depends on how far I am likely to be casting, and on the day a 4g Preston Innovations Dura Pellet Wag was just about perfect. It features a small, interchangeable disk that stops the waggler from diving on landing, and being a small, dumpy float that is extremely buoyant helps with the hooking of fish as they can often hook themselves against the resistance of the float.
How the waggler enters the water will be the difference between getting a bite or not in the majority of cases. The float should enter the water with a nice ‘plop’ (similar to the noise of an 8mm pellet landing in the swim) and sit upright instantly. Not crash into the water, dive two feet down and slowly rise back to the surface! Like I said, this can be the difference between getting a bite and not and you would be surprised how far a little bit of practice goes.
The float is then attached using the Preston Innovations Float Stop Kit, which comes supplied ready to slide straight onto your reel line and each setup comprises four float stops and a link swivel.
One float stop sits above the float and the remaining three sit below the float and act as a boom to keep the rig from wrapping around itself, reducing the risk of getting tangled or running into any problems throughout the match. This is vitally important when casting and reeling in on a near constant basis.
You don't need locking shot with these!
My rod of choice depends on how I want it to perform. I have two main options, either an 11ft 6in Power Float, which has an all-through action that I like to use when bigger carp are on the cards, or a 12ft Super Float rod that I see as more of an all-rounder and its action is very ‘tippy’.
Both of these rods allow me to fish with relatively low-diameter lines as the action of the rods cushion any darts the fish may make. A 4 or 5lb Power Max reel line is as heavy as I would fish even when targeting big fish in this manner. You would be surprised how much stick it takes to have this snap.
To finish off the setup either a PR 36 or PR 38 hook tied to 0.15/0.17mm diameter Reflo Power will handle anything I am likely to come up against. A band in a hair and an 8mm pellet is my number-one bait of choice.
Work Hard, Reap The Rewards
Fishing the pellet waggler is all about hard work and getting into a rhythm. It is a method that needs your full attention in order to get it right on the day. Although you are only feeding on average three pellets at any one time you may do this three times every minute during the match and in between this you will either be casting, reeling in or playing a fish!
Similar to fishing shallow on the pole, finding the depth at which the fish want to feed will help with catch rate. A good starting point for the pellet waggler would be two feet. You then also need to work out whether the fish want to feed inside the feed area or off the back of the feed. It is therefore important to cast two metres or so past your feed area, feed, then reel into the feed; this will give you two opportunities to get a bite.
The key is to keep busy. If you are sat there impersonating a garden gnome you are doing something wrong. If nothing is happening then you need to make it happen. What you have got to remember is that when this method works, the size of the fish you are catching is generally big.
This is where match management comes into play; if the fish that you are catching are averaging 5lb a piece you only need four fish an hour to finish a standard five-hour match with 100lb. Breaking your session up in this way will help you to work out whether something needs to change or you are on the right track. However, it is those who keep working that will consistently produce weights capable of winning matches…
Venue File -
Woodland View Fishery
Location: Hay Lane, Droitwich, WR9 0AU.
Day ticket: £8
Contact: 01905 620872
Angler Profile -
Sponsors: Preston Innovations, Sonubaits
|Angler's Name||Weight (lbs/oz)||Peg # / Lake|
|Perry Stone (Spro)||198-12-00||80 (Lake 5)|
|David Brown (Maver Midlands)||182-10-00||22 (Foundation)|
|Frankie Gianoncelli (Preston Innovations / Sonu Baits)||181-10-00||88 (Lake 6)|
|Matthew Higgins (Neptune Angling)||153-00-00||50 (Lake 3)|
|Ben Hagg (Guru / Daiwa)||137-00-00||7 (Lake 1)|
|Jason Collins (Preston Innovations / Sonu Baits)||133-12-00||17 (Lake 1)|
|Ryan Lidgard||123-02-00||105 (Lake 7)|
|Jake Fowles (Pole & Match Fishing Magazine)||117-12-00||27 (Lake 1)|
The 2016 Mega Match This qualifier campaign finished on a high with another sell-out event at The Glebe. Conditions on the day were not ideal with the fishing proving difficult for some on account of the bright sunshine and lack of any ripple. That said, weights were still exceptional, especially given recent events - testament to just how well the Glebe as a venue is managed and one of the reasons why this particular qualifier venue always proves so popular amongst anglers.
Securing the final 2016 Match This Grand final place was Perry Stone. Perry is no stranger to competing in Match This finals having already fished two to date as well winning the 2011 Match This 'Runner-up' final - the only year this particular final was staged. Perry started his match fishing paste short to take a dozen fish early on before switching to the long pole offering casters up in the water. Perry found all carp up to 7lbs to weigh in 198-12-00 from peg 80 on lake 5. Perry will now also fish the Maver British Pole Championship final - an event he has won in the past.
Finishing in second place and also qualifying for this year's British Pole Championship final was Maver Midlands rod, Dave Brown. Dave drew peg 22 on Foundation and secured a lake win with an excellent 182-10-00. Dave fished caster up in the water for the majority of the match to find carp up to around 7lbs.
Preston's Frankie Gianoncelli (Sonu Baits) took third place from peg 88 on lake 6. Opting to fish the pellet waggler, Frankie found quality carp to 12lbs to weigh in a final 181-10-00 at the end of the five hours.