A single hookbait can sometimes fail to attract the stamp of fish you crave and the obvious alteration is to double or triple it. Maggots, casters and corn are regularly used in twos and threes on the hook and there is no question they can be the solution to getting amongst the bigger lumps lurking beneath the surface. But for some unbeknown reason pellets are never given the same treatment.
A single expander will catch stacks of fish but when the going gets tough it is rare to see anyone adding a couple more to the hook. Instead, they turn to a completely different bait rather than stick to the tried and tested with a tweak. I say nobody uses multiple pellets as a hookbait but that isn’t strictly true. Matt Bingham has caught hundreds of big fish using the approach and is adamant anglers are missing out.
“The fish in commercials have seen almost every trick in the book but this is something that is never used and has the ability to fool those big wary F1s and carp when all else fails,” explained Matt.
“Everybody knows how much difference switching to more maggots or grains of corn on the hook can make and I’d say that doing the same with pellets is even more deadly.”
Pellet Pulling Power
When you consider that literally thousands of pints of pellets are introduced into commercial waters every month, it is no wonder the fish see them as their number one food source. They are likely to get you bites from the off but as with any bait or tactic, you often need to make amendments as the hours pass to keep the bites coming at the same hectic pace. When the fish smell a rat and back off, it is time for Matt to triple up.
“I will always start the session on a single expander pellet and you should catch a few fish before they start to wise up.
Although the amount of bites will reduce, the chances are there will still be lots of fish in the area, they’ve just worked out what to avoid when feeding over a bed of bait.”
Using the right type of pellets and hook size is also very important if you want this tactic to succeed. When fishing for F1s at his favourite venue Tunnel Barn Farm, he will use a trio of 3mm expanders on a size 16 hook.
“It is important that you don’t cover the point of the hook or you will miss lots of bites because it won’t penetrate the mouth of a fish. I slide one expander half way up the shank, the second on the back of the bend and the final one at the front of the bend. This leaves the point showing and means fewer bites are missed.”
Focus On Feeding
Although you may have now found a hookbait that is attracting more bites, all of your good work can be undone if you feed the swim incorrectly.
“What, how much and when you feed will have a huge impact on the amount of fish that go in the net and I have four different styles of baiting up to suit what is happening on the day.
Loose Pellets – “I always start the session introducing a small cupful of loose micro pellets after every fish. I will keep doing this if I am getting regular bites and not foul hooking fish.”
The 50/50 – “If the number of fish in the swim reduces then I will half the amount of micro pellets and add a small nugget of Milled Expander groundbait. This cuts the food content and gives the fish less choice of what to eat when they come back.
Groundbait Nugget – “If 50/50 hasn’t worked it is time to cut out the pellets altogether and add a slightly bigger nugget of groundbait. This will have lots of attraction but the only food in the peg will be your hookbait, forcing any fish that turn up to eat it.”
Pellet Balls – “Foul-hooking can be a nightmare when too many fish come in your swim. When this happens, fish will rise up in the water – even in the margins – to intercept food first and this causes line bites. In order to get all your bait to the bottom, form a ball of dampened micro pellets so it sinks to the deck and takes the fish with it.”
Tunnel Barn Tactics
New Pool at Warwickshire’s Tunnel Barn Farm is home to a big head of F1s that range from a few ounces to 5lb. It is these bigger fish that seem to go ‘missing’ at times but Matt believes it is just the fact they are cautious of clumsy rigs. Plumbing up down the margins, he found just under 2ft of water and lowered in his rig and a single expander pellet hookbait before trickling a few micros over the top.
Around 10-minutes later the float dipped and a 1lb fish was banked. That was repeated around 10 times on the bounce with similar stamp fish before the action died. The feed was cut back and a double expander hookbait came into play. The fish certainly hadn’t disappeared and the bites resumed almost instantly.
“It just goes to show the fish wise up to the same hookbaits and loosefeed. It’s important to keep changing as the day goes on.”
Another lull led to a switch to three on the hook and the elastic was out again shortly afterwards although this time around 6ft of blue Preston Innovations 9H was out.
“This is a much better stamp,” predicted Matt. And that turned out to be bang on, with a 4lb chunk added to the net.
Switching how he fed the swim and how many pellets were on the hook kept the fish coming but it was blatantly clear that the bigger samples all fell to either double or triple expanders. Adding a couple of extra pellets might seem like a minor change but it can have a very big effect on your results.