I'm planning my new season assault on a small river. I have been trying to float-fish as much as I can, as I enjoy it, am absolutely **** at it & want to improve. The river varies between maybe 20 -30 yards wide, is usually (in the summer) slow to very slow moving. Depths vary from maybe 7 or 8 feet max up to 3 or 4 in the swims I am targeting. Target species are mainly roach & chub, but outside possibility of a barbel.
My main attack will be stick-float. I used this last year to negligible effect – basically due to my lack of ability but I did have some success.
My question is related to the maximum distance (from the bank) that it is sensible to try to cast / fish the stick as opposed the waggler. I think maybe I was trying to fish it too far out & consequently mullering the presentation up. I have read all of Mark Wintle’s excellent articles on trotting but can’t seem to find a guide – I know I should be able to tell intuitively but it’s not always easy as teh conditions ( flow etc.) change.
It's probably best to keep to about 10 yards out max until you gain more experience, and that's in good conditions ie. a wind blowing off your back. At that range you can control the float and feed by hand rather than using a catapult. Casting underhand helps.
One factor than also helps is that the emphasis nowadays is on on relatively strong lines but the stick float really does work best, especially if you're learning, with 2lb main line and small shot. A 4 no. 4 stick shotted with no. 8 and 10 shot will provide very delicate presentation at which point (coupled with regular light feeding, it can work well.
I’ve been using 4lb line with 2.6lb hook-link up until now, to cope with the chub & some reasonably snaggy swims. I also hooked some sort of underwater missile which I couldn’t slow down at all.
I wonder if maybe 2lb may be too light, but I’ll spool up with it & give it a go – certainly the drag on the float will be less. I was certainly trying too far out before ( far bank) – I’ll try this with the waggler.
Your 4lb line shouldn't be a problem at the distance Mark said. Make sure your line is greased well, conditions as Mark said, will always play a part in presentation, and as you come to terms with stick float fishing, you will learn when to make adjustment.
One other point Hugh,if the flow is light,as you suggest,you would probably find waggler presentation better,especially if chub are your main target,its a damn good method in pacey water if you have confidence in it,ive said this before on other threads on float fishing,but the spectrum of techniques within float fishing can make it very daunting,but it shouldnt be because experience gained is priceless,good luck and enjoy.
Personally, this would be far too much. I have found that too much feed all the time results in the 'wrong' kind of bites, far better to start off with an initial hand full or two and then gradually decrease the feed amount to really frugal amounts, say three or four casters as the bites come along, only increasing again when bites tail off or become too fast to hit. The idea is to 'feel' the swim and only give what it requires when it requires it.
This is all just old time hemp fishing wisdom that you can bone up on in many old books, but it works wonderfully...!
I'd agree with Rufus, it would be too easy to get the fish just snapping at the freebies rather than taking them with confidence. I don't quite understand what goes on down there, but too much food and they almost ' go through the motions ' rather than grab the bait.
Little and often is usually the way to get them in a competitive frame of mind, particularly in clear water. It helps if you can get the stuff in without 'skylining' yourself or spashing too much too.
Small balls of stickymag can be effective ( magotts rolled into a ball with Horlicks powder) but don't lick your fingers or get it on your tackle. Take some Wet-Wipes. If the flow is too strong to place stickymag accurately I think a small baitdropper would do the trick, just try to skim the surface to slow the dropper and kill the splash.
When the matchmen started using bottom end only floats for matches on rivers it was a revelation. Pretty well everybody else had to do it too tocompete with them.
I wonder if stickymag wasn't the inspiration behind the method feeder?
Feeding maggots or casters is far from an exact science but there are some guidelines that can help.
Roach generally need the least feed, dace need a bit more and a big shoal of big chub can take all you can throw at them. This is further tempered by the flow of the river; a very fast river will wash excessive feed away.
Then you have to understand how many fish you have in front of you. A small shoal of roach - 30 fish - could be overfed with less than a 1/4 pint of bait yet a huge shoal of dace could take 6 pints.
From memory feeding 10 maggots once a minute equates to about a pint in five hours. Understanding your bait requirements is not always easy but important. When I match fished we had to try to get this right. I've run out of bait in at least one match albeit with 5 minutes to go having fed 4 pints, and once scrounged a lot of leftover casters on a Sunday to then feed 10 pints in a 3 hour mid week evening match, winning easily with 6 chub on a night that most anglers had serious problems with minnows (not me!). So you can see that sometimes a pint of casters can be ample and that at other times you need much more. The problem on big river matches was that you could never be sure what you'd need so had to cover all eventualities from the best chub pegs to ones where scratching out a few dace or roach was the best you could expect, and often meant doubling up on casters, maggots and hemp.
Hemp is another ball game altogether; there are several successful approaches. Very sparing and regular can work unless the roach get too competitive and dash around giving lots of missable bites - that's when to feed a load in to lay down a bed for the roach to browse more slowly. I've had the same with maggots and roach, and cured it by only feeding a pouchful every 20 minutes.
I've used stickymag for carp to increase the feed rate when feeder fishing but I don't think it's that useful on a river unless fishing at extreme range.
Back to the stick float question. I think it's better to find a non snaggy area with lots of dace and roach, use a light line, and gain experience with the method before trying to tackle less forgiving fish such as big chub near snags.
I bow to your match experience Mark.
I was remembering a time I fished the Wey on a slack day and the stickymag seemed to work so well. It meant a steady trail of bait breaking off and going gently downstream in the same run all the time and the fish just seemed to be lining up for my hook.
Perhaps just one of those lucky days we all dream of?
I shall be trying it again next week, but by tradition, I don't ever do well on the 16th. Still always get up earlier on that than any other day of the year, though. You'd think I'd learn
Mark is, as usual, absolutely spot on regarding feeding. The golden rule with feeding is to feed the amount of feed required to get the bites, this can be as little as half a dozen maggots a chuck to a small handful if the chub and barbel are lining up. Never start off feeding a lot of maggots always start with a minimum and increase as the bites increase and always feed to the amount of fish in front of you.
With regards to line, if there are snags and maybe barbel you really need to be using something like a 4lb line and providing you can still get the bites a hooklength of 3 - 3.5lb with an 18 or 16 hook. My experience is that anglers are much more line shy than fish are and if they are feeding the size of line is almost irrelevant and small hooks seem to hold better than big hooks.