David Haynes continues his conversation with the genial big guy, Des Shipp.
DH: You’ve been a regular in the England setup for how long now?
DS: About 13 years, I think it is.
DH: How did that come about?
DS: I was fishing for Dorking and those people that fish for England basically come through Starlets, Barnsley and Dorking – they’re the three teams from which the England team normally gets chosen.
I had good success with Dorking, then I started fishing the Sensas Challenge matches, which are really important with Mark Downes there, the England captain, and I did well in some of them. Then I had a phone call from Mark Addy, and he said: “We want you to come and fish the Home International at Port Talbot Dock in Wales.” We went there and did a bit of practising; it was mega deep – 11 metres to hand deep – so it wasn’t the greatest of venues to go on for your first England appearance.
To be fair the fishing was quite good and I won my section on the Saturday, I can’t remember what weight, around 12lb I think. You’d got the French internationals there too and I actually had Alain Dewimille in my section who now fishes for the French national team and I beat him by a couple of pounds, but my nerves were just ridiculous.
But what happened then was we had a massive storm overnight and the river that runs into Port Talbot Dock turned it from gin-clear to chocolate brown. We won it on the first day and all did terribly on the second day, the French absolutely annihilated it. I came last in my section, so I’ve gone from hero to zero in 12 hours and I thought I’d blown it. But the rest of the team didn’t do any good either and we just got it wrong on the day, and I was gutted, absolutely devastated and thought that was the end of it.
It dwelled on me for weeks and weeks, and I didn’t know what to do because when you’ve got your sponsors they probably think you’ve got a chance of fishing for your country. I’ve never told anybody this but in the end I actually phoned Mark Addy up after a month or so because it was doing my head in and said: “I have to ask you, tell me the truth, do you think I’ll ever fish for England again after what happened?” He basically said they didn’t know yet because I’d just fished my first Home International so see how it goes. I put the phone down and still wasn’t clear what was going to happen.
The following year I got a call from Mark Downes saying they wanted me to come to the European Champs in Holland (or was it Belgium?) on a canal. He wasn’t saying I was going to fish but they wanted me to see how it was all done. I went there and I actually fished both days – I think I came something like eighth or ninth individually. The fishing was really hard and I came fifth in my section on the Saturday and won my section on the Sunday. And that was it, the following year I fished both the European and the World Champs.
DH: Have you ever been close to winning it individually?
DS: You’re always close, David, there’s always one bite here, there or anywhere, but whether it happens or not is a different matter. You never think about that when you’re fishing, you’re fishing as a team. You’re never fishing individually, unless the team might have done really badly and say if one of us has won their section the management might turn round and say: “Look, we’re never going to win so fish for your section or fish for a big fish.” But that hasn’t happened, we go there as a team and that’s what it’s all about.
I don’t even think about it; it’s not until after the match when you’ve actually finished and you find out the results that you think: “If I’d have just had that one bite on that long pole fishing for a bream I could have had an individual medal.” It just doesn’t compute until after the match, because in the match you’re fishing for the points, you’re fishing to win as a team.
I’ve always looked at individual medals like this; you’ve only won an individual medal because the rest of the team has helped you win it. If it wasn’t for the rest of the team sorting out the tactics, how to catch the fish, you wouldn’t have won that medal anyway. You’ve still got ability and you’ve got to have that little bit of luck on the day, but that’s the way I look at it.
DH: And how long before the young guns in the team are pushing you for your place?
DS: You don’t know; it could be next year, it could be 10 years. I try not to think about it; every time I get selected I just go and do my thing and that’s it.
DH: Do you think those coming through the Under 21s setup have the all-round ability needed?
DS: I think now, and I’ve always said it, that I will probably be the last person ever to fish for England who hasn’t gone through the junior setup. Everyone else now will have to go through the junior selection process.
DH: It used to be said that match fishing was one of the few sports where ordinary people could compete next to world champions. Do you think that’s still true, or is there a big gulf now between club anglers and semi-pro or pro anglers?
DS: There are lots of individual things now, because team fishing, while it hasn’t died, is definitely a lot smaller than it was. Some of that is to do with age; take my river for example, it’s a brilliant river, and if you could drive to your peg I’m sure it would revive the whole river scene. Some clubs have already tried doing it and it is working, because it’s all about convenience. It doesn’t matter what you do nowadays convenience is important, where you can drive your vehicle near to where you’re fishing, you don’t have to carry loads of gear – people just don’t want to do it.
I look at Evesham as the perfect example of it; if you had to walk a mile to go and fish Evesham would you bother? Probably not. But because you can drive to every peg there, you’re sat on a little platform, it’s sold out every week.
I look at that and I can’t believe that a lot more clubs haven’t said to the farmer, right, let’s sit round the table and come up with a deal where you put a track in so we can drive to the pegs and we’ll pay you so much a year for it, or we’ll pay you so much per match to let us use your track as an access. It needs to happen, because if it doesn’t happen I honestly think the rivers will just dwindle.
DH: Do you think it’s any coincidence that the ‘glory days’ of river fishing happened when everything was much simpler and you just had a basket or box and two or three rods and you could easily walk to the pegs.
DS: Exactly. And, to be honest, there weren’t all these other fisheries about, ‘diluting’ the river fishing, because people don’t have to go on rivers any more. As soon as you put things in their way, like walking or not being able to get in their pegs because the banks are terrible, people say: “I tell you what, I’ll just go on the lakes.”
But if you give them the opportunity to drive to their pegs, and sit on a platform – if you have a bad day you have a bad day, at least you haven’t got to walk a mile, and you haven’t got to wear chest waders, people will do it. Evesham is a classic example that it can happen; clubs need to change their ways. It’s not easy but there is a way of doing it.
DH: As an all-rounder, do you have any favourite methods? What would be your ideal match?
DS: My ideal match… I’m not fussed really, I just love a mixed fishery where I’m catching skimmers, roach, using natural baits like casters, maggots, groundbait, I just love that style of fishing. I’m not really fussed about baits though, a bait’s a bait and if you’re catching fish on it it works, that’s what it’s about.
But I love river fishing, I love going on the rivers where you can ball it in, chuck 10 balls of groundbait in and catch on maggots over it. I love that way of fishing, I think it’s great.
DH: How much prep do you do?
DS: Loads. I remember Steve Gardener, when I first went to Port Talbot Dock in the Home International, came up to me – I actually had a Boss box at the time and I don’t know if you remember but Boss boxes had these little tiny metal balling arms – and he said: “Des, you cannot fish like that. You have to get your setup right, you can’t fish like you are, it’s just not right – you’ve got top kits on the floor! You’ve got to think about your prep!” And this is how it’s progressed over 10 years, it’s amazing how it’s gone on. Ever since that day I’ve got into a system where I just do it.
I don’t confuse things, I’ve got a selection of floats – obviously floats change and everything moves on – and once I’ve got a few that I’m happy with, like the ones I’m using now, I’ll tie those on three different lines so I can go to an F1 lake, or a roach lake, whatever; I don’t have millions of different floats, I just have a few different floats on different main lines. And that’s my prep. I don’t go overboard, some weeks I do none, some weeks I do loads, but I do try and stay on top of it.
Last night, for example, I tied six rigs in my garage, because I’ve got a festival coming up and I’ll do maybe three or four rigs a night. Sometimes I spend a long time in the garage but I try and do an hour here, an hour there, so I do quite a bit. Just stay on top of it. I try and do the right prep, I’m not doing it for the sake of it. I do the right floats or the right hooks for what I’ve got coming up.
DH: In our last Big Interview Jamie Hughes commented that fishing is a very selfish sport. How do you strike a balance with your life outside of fishing?
DS: I think it’s selfish to your family, and I’ve said to my missus about that, I’ve been totally straight with her, saying I’m sorry and I’ve not spent enough time with her and the kids but for me, the same as Jamie, when it’s your life, your job and you’re earning money from it what can you do? You need money to survive, and I think it is selfish in that respect to your family. It’s like any sport, if you get good at it you have to put time into it.
It’s an evil circle, because if you’re being paid to go fishing by your sponsor you need to stay on top of your game, stay at the top, for them to keep sponsoring you.
And I’ve always had that thing about it where with Preston I want to do as much as I can so they’ll never have an excuse to turn round to me and say: “Actually Des, we think time’s up now, you’re not doing enough.” I don’t want that. I want to do my job the best I can so I don’t get that phone call.
But every sport is selfish like that.
DH: What would you say was your best match win or your finest moment if your match fishing career?
DS: Winning my first match, I’ll never forget that. Obviously getting my first gold medal with the England team, in… now you’re asking… I never remember dates, I just keep putting them on the mantelpiece… 2007 was it? (It was actually 2005, in Finland – DH)
DH: Have you any idea how many medals you’ve won in all?
DS: I’ve got five World gold team medals, a few silvers and bronze, I can’t remember how many, a few. There’s only been two years when we’ve not won a medal, so we’ve got quite a few. And the Europeans too.
But I’m not the sort of person to look back like that, I just want to go out and compete, win a medal and bring it home, I don’t keep any records.
DH: Anything you might consider your worst moment?
DS: (Laughs) Yea, it was last year, in the World Champs in Bulgaria. I actually lost a carp. I was doing really well in my section and Mark Addy said: “Look, you’re walking the section, just see if you can catch a carp. I hooked a carp on the slider, it was a good one about 4 to 5lb, most of the others were much smaller than that, played it all the way back to the net, lifted my rod up and I could see this carp because it was quite clear, then it’s nodded its head so quick that it snapped the 0.14mm hooklength. I felt physically sick – if I’d got that out I could have sat in the car for the rest of the match, and I didn’t find this out until later, but if I’d got that out I would have had the silver individual.
But the team got a bronze medal. As I said, it’s the little things, it’s not until you start looking at things afterwards that you think: “If I’d have just done that…”
DH: Do you have a favourite venue?
DS: On natural venues I like the Bristol Avon in September time, I just go down there on my own when I’ve got some free time. I just love it, love running water. But I like loads of places; Bitterwell Lake, that’s where I started fishing on my own, going down in winter when it’s rock hard I just love that, it’s a challenge.
DH: As we’ve discussed, you’ve won all colours of team medals for England, you’ve been at the top with Dorking for a long time and won many big-money top matches individually, including our very own David Hall Trophy match…
DS: That was obviously the best…
DH: … so what ambitions do you have left?
DS: I don’t have ambitions, really. I just go along, I like fishing all sorts of different matches. Obviously like everybody I would like to win the big matches, like the Maver Match This. I walked the bank at a lot of the feeder matches this year doing some promotional work and that looks a really good competition, but I just enjoy doing what I do.
I just want to keep fishing for England as long as I can and just keep enjoying what I’m doing. I enjoy fishing matches whether they’re 100 pegs or 20 pegs. Any match to me is a match.
DH: Is that what drives you on to keep on match fishing, the feeling of winning?
DS: When you turn up at a match, no matter what match it is, or what venue, you’re under more pressure because of who you are, so to many of the others if they beat you that’s their day.
DH: You’re now the target.
DS: Of course. If you beat them it’s “well we knew that was going to happen,” but if they beat you that makes their day… and I try and stop that from happening.
DH: Are the big-money matches a pull for you? Do you think the money is a good thing?
DS: I think you’ve got to have it; it’s so obvious it works, it gets people out there fishing. For me personally I don’t chase them, never have done. If I didn’t fish for England and I didn’t have other commitments I would probably have more of a go at them.
But I’ve seen a lot of the bad things about some of the finals, I’m not going to mention which they are but I go to some venues and they cannot take the amount of people on it. And that’s the turn-off for me. They put in areas on lakes that are not capable of competing, and I know that can happen on all lakes on all venues, but they have to think about it. People travel a long way for them.
I remember one guy came up to me once and told me which peg he’d drawn, and I knew the venue very well and just told him he might as well go home.
He said: “What do you mean? I’ve travelled five hours to get here.” I said: “Listen, you’re not going to catch anything because they never put it in matches.” And I thought that isn’t right, and I wish they would just limit the pegs. I know they’re trying to collect a load of money but just limit the pegs so everyone has a day’s fishing and that competition will go on forever.
But I think it’s getting to a stage where people get peeved with it, and they don’t turn up, so someone gets a spare couple of pegs and ends up winning. It’s all gone a little bit funny and just needs sorting out.
DH: Do you still go in for it?
DS: No, not really. Very rare. I’m not the sort of bloke who does his diary at the start of the year and says I’m going to do this and do that, I normally just run along and get in a right mess with it. I don’t know what’s going on – I’m sort of a two-week person, a fortnight in front not a year ahead. And obviously there are England commitments, and I’m committed to stuff with Preston, and I’m quite reluctant to go into things full-on when I have other commitments.
DH: Does it ever stop being enjoyable and become just another job?
DS: It hasn’t for me, not yet. No. I’m doing my hobby as my job – it doesn’t get better than that, does it? The thing with me is I’ve worked for 20-odd years of my life, and I look back on clocking in and clocking out, with a set of rules you have to abide by, and that’s when you think: “I’m actually very lucky. Extremely lucky.”
DH: Finally, if you only had one day left to go fishing, where would you go, what would you like to catch and who would you like to beat off the next peg?
DS: (Laughs) Erm, I’d like to just catch a great big net of quality roach on the river, and I’d give Will Raison a bit of a tanning – I catch 40lb of big dog roach and he catches 3lb!
DH: Des Shipp, thank you very much, it’s been a pleasure listening to you.
Modern-day commercials are full of fish, but in match conditions, it can be anything but easy to catch them as soon as those nets go in. Des Shipp explains how to maximise your results.
Such is the angling pressure on modern waters, particularly the more heavily fished ones, that the stocks seem to have wised up to sloppy approaches and mundane feeding tactics.
That’s not to say that these fish can’t be caught. Some days they give themselves up far easier, but when the weather conditions are cooler, or overnight temperatures drop, they can be anything but ‘easy’.
I’ve brought the Match Fishing cameras to Ivy House Lakes today, in Wiltshire. It’s a place I have some knowledge of, having fished here a little. One of the recent matches was tough going, but a thoughtful approach to tactics and feeding kept me in touch with the fish on what could have otherwise been a very bleak day – no pun intended.
Many on the match struggled, such were the conditions, so I kept things lighter on the rig front in anticipation of a tougher match.
Having drawn in a corner on the day I thought a long margin line, slightly into the deeper water down the shelf, would be key. It proved to be, so that’s the area I’ll concentrate on explaining in most depth for this feature.
I fed several lines on the day, as I have also done today; the other main one of note being an open-water swim straight in front of me at 14.5 metres.
The rig for this is made using a 0.4g Preston PB Inter 2 on 0.13mm Reflo Power to a 0.11mm hooklength. A strung bulk completes the rig along with a size 16 Preston PR 434.
The rig for fishing towards the margin, in around three and a half feet of water, is a 4x14 Preston PB Inter 8 mounted on the same line and using the same hook. The shotting pattern is taken care of with strung-out No10s to allow a slow fall of the expander pellet hook bait. It’s all about lifting and dropping the relatively light rig and allowing the hook bait to ‘work’ for you as naturally as possible.
Now, this is the key area to success really. I have plumbed two lines across to the right-hand margin, one at 14.5 metres and one at 16 metres, but both the same distance away from the bank so I can use the same rig in two swims.
What I found on the match was that the fish were hanging off the back of the feed. So, I only pot bait in at 14.5 metres and intend to fish on that line to catch ‘mug’ fish, but fish past it at 16 metres when they back off.
Loose feeding is a key part of the strategy, with the aim being to loose feed bait over and just past the 14.5m line. That way I can always work the rig on the 16m line, which will be at the far extreme of the feed area where the ‘crafty’ carp hold back and venture onto the edge of the feed.
These fish have become wise to piles of bait and, as such, hang back with caution. Therefore a few pellets ‘flirted’ over the area with a rig offering a slow fall of the hook bait is THE key way to approach them.
The open-water swim is a key go-to area while you build the margin line as it’s important not to exploit the margin until fish, hopefully, carp, have built in confidence feeding there.
Bites on the margin line are often delicate too, hence I dot my float right down to maximise the rig sensitivity.
Des targeted the skimmers while he built up the margin line.
The open-water line on today’s session proves important for catching the resident skimmers – something that’s crucial on trickier days to help you to keep putting weight in the net while you build your other lines.
I want to briefly cover why I have not put my margin rigs right up against the bank in the shallowest water. This is simply because the fish aren’t wanting to feed there confidently at the time of shooting this feature, so coming away into three feet or so where the water is deeper is a more logical place. Don’t always assume these fish want to be right up in the ‘rat holes’. On many days you will reap better rewards by targeting them where I am today. Plus, it’s all too easy to get distracted by waving tails when you’re fishing in very shallow water – you won’t have this problem in three feet. This also has a knock-on with your feeding: when you can’t see the fish it’s less easy to get carried away with piling too much feed in and destroying your swims.
Des potted in pellets...
After two hours of nurture and with half a dozen good skimmers in the net it’s time for a look up the long margin swims. I have been potting modest amounts of bait on the 14.5m line, consisting of micro pellets and softened expander pellets (the same as I will be using on the hook).
... and pinged a few over the top.
I have regularly been loose feeding softened 4mm pellets over the top too, in frugal quantities to create some noise and keep that all-important bait going through the water column.
My swim-building is rewarded by a small but perfectly formed carp, but the next drop-in reveals no bites, liners or indications. Now the extension goes up the back of my Preston M90 pole to get the rig to the far extremes of the feed area at 16 metres.
The light proves tricky and the reflection on the water from the still bare surrounding trees is doing little to help.
The same rig was used at 14.5 and 16 metres.
The approach is a success, though. The float dips sharply and wham, another carp is stripping my 11H elastic from the pole as it makes its getaway.
Working the swim in this way is exactly the right thing to do. Now it’s a case of try and repeat.
By that I mean try the 14.5m line again and if no bites occur then I pot a modest amount of feed in (see image) and continue to loose feed just six to 10 softened 4mm feed pellets over the top between the 14.5m and 16m lines without feeding past where the rig will be when presented at 16 metres.
This approach has helped me to secure many a match win either in trickier conditions, or when fishing heavily pressured fish, or both.
Small but perfectly formed
I’ve ended the session with several carp and a handsome net of fine skimmers. These skimmers are so important to build weight elsewhere (usually in open water) while you nurture other swims. I haven’t truly exploited these silvers today as the nature of the shoot was to demonstrate the margin approach first and foremost. However, with my considered approach, you will be conquering crafty commercial-water carp in no time!
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Inside Out Method
Fishing with my hookbait outside of the feeder has been very effective over the past couple of months. It can be a deadly way of fishing the method feeder when the fish aren’t attacking the feeder confidently.
Light Is Best
I always try and use the lightest float and line I can get away with at this time of year, it definitely catches me more fish. As the water starts to warm up I will step up my tackle, but using light lines, floats and smaller hooks works best for me in the winter/spring months.
Less is More
It’s amazing how little bait you can feed on commercials, but still catch loads of fish. F1’s in particular respond to the tiniest amount of bait at this time of the year. Literally, three maggots or five micro pellets is enough bait to get an initial response from a fish, then you have to be patient and wait for a proper bite. I see far too many anglers feeding with massive CAD pots and ruining their pegs. I use a small sprinkle pot, this holds more than enough bait! The ‘less is more’ statement couldn’t be more applicable at this time of the year.
Make Some Noise
Making noise is very important in fishing, even at this time of year. Fish are inquisitive and they’re attracted to noise so I always have a line up my sleeve where I catapult or throw bait. You’ll be shocked at the difference making noise can make.
This is an area that lots of anglers get confused about but I think it’s simple. I fish 1 to 2” over depth on commercials, to the bottom of the body of my float. I’ve found this to be the most effective way to plumb up, no matter what bait I’m using or what fish I’m targeting. I’ve been using a Line Safe Plummet for the past six months and it’s essential for gaining pin point accuracy.s’ 5 Commercial Tips
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Des Shipp’s Commercial Edges
Who better to give you 10 top tips for catching carp on the short pole this month than England superstar, Des Shipp!
1 - Keep Quiet
One of the most important things to do when you’re planning to catch at close range is to remain as quiet as possible.
Wise fish in today’s commercials are very wary of bankside disturbance, so try to keep any banging and movements on the bank to a minimum while setting up, and more importantly, when fishing.
2 - The Magic Depth
Fishing in the right depth of water is essential if you plan on catching on the short pole, and I often see people fishing far too close for my liking, in too shallower water.
Where possible, the minimum depth that I like to target is four feet. I have found that big carp feel comfortable feeding with more water over their heads. If they want to come into water shallower than this, the chances are you will catch the same fish down the edge.
3 - Elbow Accuracy
Fishing the short pole often means that you’re fishing on the near slope of a commercial, which means that there is lots of scope to be inaccurate. If you’re fishing on a slope and place your rig a few inches further out than where you’ve plumbed up, you will be fishing off the bottom, where you probably won’t catch fish! Come a few inches closer, and you’ll have line laid on the deck, which may cause you to foul hook fish.
I always try and make sure I plumb up, feed and fish right on the end of a section and place my rig in line with a far-bank marker. I believe it’s essential to make a conscious effort to check you’re in the right spot every time you ship out.
4 - Float Choice
The float that you use for fishing short is very important. I like a float with a thick, hollow plastic tip. This is very buoyant, and will allow me to spot the difference between line bites and proper indications when a carp takes my hook bait.
If you use too thin a bristle, you will end up striking at false indications and in turn foul hook fish. Try and ignore small wobbles and little drag-under indications, and only strike at very sharp, fast dinks. The float doesn’t necessarily have to zoom under, but you will find proper bites are much faster indications than liners.
5 - The Big Lift
I often get asked why I lift the pole up high after hooking a fish on the short pole. I often lift into the bite and, once I connect with a fish, lift the pole right up several metres high!
Firstly, I do this to make sure that my hook is in properly. Secondly, when fishing short for big carp, you often find that fish power off like a train, and can easily break your hooklength. By lifting the pole high after hooking them, however, they seem to stay at close range, and if they do power off you have lots of extra ‘give’ as you can drop the pole to allow them some more running space.
6 - Play And Feed
When fishing at close range, you’re often looking for an early or late run of fish, and to make the most of a short swim you ideally need to catch several quick fish on the bounce.
To make sure that there’s a fish waiting for you next time you ship out, try and learn to feed while you are actually playing a fish. When you initially hook a fish, others in the swim will spook, but once you get back to your top kit and the hooked fish is away from the swim, you can throw some free offerings accurately on to your short swim by hand, to get the fish back for when you ship out after landing the fish.
7 - Keep It Tight
I can’t stress enough the importance of keeping your feed in a small, tight area when you’re fishing short. Especially when fishing on a shelf, fish will hear your feed enter the water, home in on the bait and quickly mop it up as it lands on the bottom.
If your hook bait is falling right among the feed, the chances are that fish will take that too, and you’ll catch them very quickly. Try and make sure you’re ultra accurate when throwing in your feed, and if you’re not accurate, use a small pole-mounted Cad Pot!
8 - Light Rigs
This tip sits alongside the tip above. My favourite shotting pattern to use on a short-pole swim is a strung-out pattern, with Stotz evenly strung in the bottom third to half of the rig depending on the depth.
Experience has taught me that carp in particular cruise into the near shelf and then dip down to feed when they hear and see bait enter and fall through the water. Presenting a hook bait that falls into the swim like the loose feed may catch you some extra fish on the drop. I like to combine the slow-falling strung-out rig with the accurate throwing mentioned above. I often throw in some feed, and then flick my rig over the top so my hook bait falls with the feed.
9 - Push The Peg
There are some days when a steady, regular feeding pattern on the short swim just doesn’t work. When this happens you can sometimes pull fish into the swim by feeding more than everyone else.
If I’m not getting any bites on the short swim going into the last 90 minutes of a match, I won’t hesitate to feed a big amount of bait with a large pole pot. You can sometimes catch two or three very big fish by doing this with baits like corn or meat, and give yourself a last-gasp weight boost in a match.
10 - Timing
It is very rare that you will catch on the short pole throughout a match. It’s a great method to start the match on, as there are often some fish hanging around the near shelf before the pressure of the match starting hits them.
Spending the first 20 minutes of a match on the short pole while priming your other swims will often get you off to a good start. Finally, you need to be patient later in the day too, as fish may not venture in to feed on the short pole swim until the late stages in a match.
I like to prime it throughout the day, and will wait until the last two hours to try it. If there are no fish there, don’t give up! They may arrive with 90 minutes to go, an hour to go, or even less!
At White Acres fishery, you can prime a short swim all day to catch two or three big carp on it in the final 15 minutes of a match!
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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