Master the Method

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'The Method' as its known is one of the best and probably easiest tactics to use on any still waters to catch not only good sized carp (as Tracy Dodds has shown in the title image) but also specimen bream and tench!

In this months blog I will give you 5 tips and tricks to get the best out of this devastating 'Method'.

1 - The 'Method' Principle

The 'Method' is basically a feeder fishing tactic that was developed years ago as a means of catching match sized carp in commercial fisheries but over the years the gear and techniques have been tweaked and improved to where they are today!

The original tactic was to mould a ball of very sticky attractive groundbait around a frame feeder with a very short hooklink and the carp would home in and attack this ball of bait, the hookbait would be either right in the ball or close by. The carp would take the bait as its attacking the groundbait and the next thing you received a 'three foot twitch' and the carp was hooked!

As time wore on anglers realised that the method was also a very good tactic for not only match sized carp but also specimen sized carp, bream and tench with slight variations on baits. The feeders themselves moved away from frame feeders and balls of groundbait to the latest 'flatbed' and 'Hybrid' type feeders developed by match anglers for different waters and fishing ranges. Although method groundbait remains a vital ingredient in the technique as mini and micro carp pellets became popular they were also used either separately on the flatbed feeder or in conjunction with groundbait and in certain circumstances have proved equally or even more effective.

Hookbaits have also been improved with new 'wafter' (neutral buoyancy) mini boilies proving as popular and effective as the more traditional pellets, dead maggots, corn or meat.


Claire Setchell with a beautiful Willow Banks mirror carp taken on 'The Method' - Rossi likes it as well


2 - Basic Tackle Requirements

Tackle requirements for the tactic are pretty simple. You can use full blown carp rods, reels and lines as I do when I'm targeting what I call proper carp, but on most occasions I prefer to use proper feeder rods with a quiver tip top section. These can be anywhere from 10 to 13 feet long depending on fishing distance. On the Park's lakes I use feeder rods of 10 or 11 feet long. A 3000 or 4000 sized fixed spool reel with a good clutch or drag. I always use my trusty shimano's and I also like to have a 'baitrunner' facility on the reel.  For me mainline is a MINIMUM of 8lb breaking strain loaded nicely up to the lip of the reel. This might sound heavy line to some but method feeder fishing is a pretty roughty-toughty and you do need very durable gear especially on venues like Canada lake where the inhabitants are turbo-charged!

There are loads of companies that produce 'flatbed' method feeders themselves such as Preston Inovations, Guru and Matrix, they are all very similar and all work really well. You can use elasticated feeders that were developed by match anglers for dealing with head shaking 'pastie' carp under the rod tip but free running feeders are perhaps the easiest to use for a start. The weight of the feeder is determined by the distance being fished. I prefer 28-30grm feeders for all my short to medium range fishing (from margin to 40m). For longer ranges I use 45grm feeders.

My preferred method feeder is an elasticated Guru X-safe with a long stem - note the 'wafter' boilie hookbait on a hair rig

An essential requirement of the technique is the use of a very short 3" to 4" hooklink as can be seen in the image above. Only just last week I was speaking to a couple of anglers on Canada Lake that were using 12" hooklinks. They had still caught some carp but just by cutting the hooklink down to this really short length would increase the 'self hook' effect the rig gives. Because my hooklinks are very short there is next to no stretch and due to the severity of the bites at times I use a minimum of .22 dia that is around 9lb breaking strain. I use this in conjunction with strong size 16 to 10 hooks depending on bait type.

Another thing with fishing 'the method' that a lot of anglers forget is the rod retaining gear, The bites from particularly match sized carp have to be seen to be believed. It is known as a '3 foot twitch' as the fish takes the bait and rips off! With the best will in the world you cannot keep your eye on your rod for the whole of a pleasure session or even a 5 hour match, but you must have rod rests or alarms or a match style box set up in such a way that fish will not pull your rod in. This year to my knowledge there has been 7 or 8 rods pulled into Canada Lake alone, I've been out in the boat and recovered 4 of them, but not only is it very expensive to lose gear its not very 'fish friendly'.

This is my 'match box' with my preferred rod rests that are rock solid - note the big ears on the front rest

3 - Bait Requirements

Whenever I use method feeder tactics I always take with me a bag of my favourite method groundbait, 2mm micro and 4mm mini pellets, 8mm feed pellets to catapult loose over the swim and a variety of hookbaits. I would not go fishing without drilled hook pellets, mini boilies including bottom baits, wafters and pop-ups, sweetcorn and dead red maggots.

Obviously you will need a bowl to mix up the groundbait with water and a tub to soak the pellets - I usually soak mine for 1 minute per 1mm of pellet size ie 2mm pellet soaked for 2 minutes and so on.

My bait and feeder requirements for a session including groundbait, pellets 'flatbed feeders' and a variety of hookbaits

4 - Set Up and Start Fishing

Once you get to your chosen swim and set all your gear up remember to make your rod rests 'rock solid'. I prefer to set up my match style gear with the rod rests set at 45o to my swim, this gives me the best bite detection and I prefer to lift into a bite across my body.

My preferred match style set up with the feeder rod set about 45o to the swim

Once you are fully set up with your groundbait mixed and pellets soaked and softened, you are ready to cast out. 

The combination of the method feeder and the very short hooklink is deadly. You can leave your bait outside of the groundbait/pellets on the cast and this is sometimes the preferred way when bream fishing but usually I tuck my hookbait inside of the groundbait/pellets on the feeder. Not only does it maximise the effect of the feeder once it hits the bottom of the lake but if you do overcast and particularly if you overcast into a tree you stand a chance of getting it back is there is no hook showing.

More often than not I use a method feeder mould in which I half fill with my chosen mix that is either groundbait only, micro pellets only or a 50/50 combination of the two, I then place in my hookbait then fill the mould completely with my mix. The feeder is the turned upside down and pushed firmly into the mould.

A method feeder mould half filled with 50/50 groundbait-pellet mix with a sprinkling of dead reds

Insert the feeder into the mould and squeeze. Press the spring lever on the bottom to release the feeder and the mix

With the feeder out of the mould give it a good squeeze before casting out - note the boilie hookbait is buried


Once your method feeder has released from the mould I like to give it a good squeeze to make sure after you cast out it drops to the lake bottom as complete as it can be. Gently and I mean gently tighten up your line making sure you do not move that feeder, then put your rod into the rod rest and await a bite. As for bites most will be good wrap-rounds so wait for those. Experience will tell you what are line bites that you must not strike at as its very easy to spook any feeding fish. As and when the rod does go round do not strike, just lift firmly into the fish and start to play it in. Make sure the clutch/drag on your reel is set loose enough to allow the fish to take line and not break either your hooklink or your mainline but not so loose that as you start to wind the clutch just turns!

5 - Some More 'Method' Tricks

When I start my pleasure session or a match I like to re-cast about every 3 to 5 minutes to put down a bed of bait. I also like to catapult a few 8mm feed pellets over my feeder as I believe the sound of the pellets plopping in around the swim is very attractive particularly for carp. When fishing for specimen tench and bream I've even 'spodded' over my feeder to put a good bed of particles and pellets down on a long session. Over the first couple of hours of the session you can fully explore your swim. Method feeder tactics will work equally whether you are casting to the far bank marginal rushes, under trees or dropping it at your feet.

Method feeder tactics also work really well when the water temperature is much cooler as in Autumn, Winter and in the Spring but the tactics usually have to be changed to take into account the fish will be more lethargic. This usually involves using a smaller feeder with less bait and quite often you will have to wait for longer for a bite. I usually re-bait every 30 minutes in cold water.

A stunning little Bream Lake carp taken whilst I was taking the photos for this blog


This then is an introduction into the world of Method Feeder fishing - give it a go you wont be disappointed!


Tightlines - Gary S


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