Commercial Clinic: Mastering this Method Madness

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The first round of the UK Champs is over and our commercial expert is chuffed to bits with his past  success. Round Two is a different matter altogether, as Clint has to deal with his worst nightmare, the Method.
Clint Eliott

In previous issues of Southern Angler I’ve been sharing m y adventures as I prepared for the first round of this year’s U K Championship at Heronbrook in Staffordshire. Well, what can I say? All the hard work did pay off.

I drew Peg 2 on Island Pool where I was advised to fish shallow on the long pole for small F1 carp, set up a line down the margins for skimmers, but not to forget th e feeder tight against the island.

I thought long and hard about the peg I had drawn, as I really wanted to put to the test the methods that I’d been practising over the last couple months.

Within a few minutes of getting to my peg a comment was passed that mad e up my mind. I’d just started setting up when the lake owner walked past an d told me that you can catch at eight metres on the paste but that it was hard to hit the bites.

This was music to my ear s because all my practising had bee n done on Gwinear with paste and the bites were hard to hit there. I was also informed that the lake had been won with 39lb the wee k before, so I was given a target weight of 40lb . I started the match fishing a small feeder tight over, but it wasn’t long before the rod was put behind me, as all the anglers were catching t o my right, and I was soon 5lb behind. Time for the paste! As I shipped out and lowered the bait into the water gently, my float just kept sliding away, and my firs t F1 was soon in the net.

The bites were shy but nothing worse than I had been seeing during my practice sessions. The rest of the match was a blur because I had to concentrate hard on my float to ensure I hit ever y bite. I did miss a few, but that’ s match fishing for you . Andy Moors and Rob Pirkins headed my section, as both caught 90lb. They fished long to a shallow bar in front of them that turned out to be a great advantage. I had n o such feature but I finished up wit h 84lb for third in the section. I was more than happy with the result because they framed in the match, giving me some section money.

The Method – One Option

Method madnes11. Once you are happy that your Method mix is ready, place some in a large bait tub.
Method madness22. Before adding the groundbait to his choice of a flat feeder, Clint baited the hook.
Method madness 33. You want the feeder to be packed full of groundbait, so grab a big handful.
Method madness 44. Press the feeder well into the groundbait and give it a good, hard squeeze,
Method madness 55. Squeeze it again using both hands, to
ensure the mix sticks to the feeder.

So, having driven the 260 miles t o a venue that I have never seen before, I’ve competed against some of the best anglers in the country , fishing a method that I have only got to grips with in the last few months . It has proved that my detective work on the phone and the practising of tactics on my local waters was the right Method1move. I’m already trying to get my head around the tactics I need for the next round at Willinghurst in Surrey. I have to master the Method, not something I fish because it is banned at White Acres, where I’ m fishery manager .

Method3The other problem is there are not really any local venues similar to Willinghurst for me to practise on, so I’m going off to a secret location to try it out. At this point I must than k Steve Ringer, Andy Dare an d Steve Sanders, who I have bee n bombarding with questions since the first round. Steve Sanders is in the same boat as myself, and has been visiting the water to practise, with some success. After a couple of phone calls i t was apparent that I needed t o locate two types of feeder.

One is made by Preston Innovations and sold under the Korum name. Kobra makes the other . Both companies have taken extr a care and thought in the design o f the feeders, like the positioning of the lead to help cast longer distances, fishing up to islands o r other features. They also supply feeders that are designed to b e fished on the pole, so I could fin d myself using all three forms of these feeders. There are basically two ways t o fish a Method feeder. One is the elasticated feeder where the main line is tied direct to the feeder, but the hooklength is tied to a swivel connected to a piece of elastic that goes through the middle of the feeder. This type of feeder is no t permitted at Willinghurst because the feeder needs to be free running.
Some match anglers prefer to wrap their hook
bait in the Method ball…
… this way the bait does not tangle around
the main line as it falls through the water.

in other words, when you hook a fish the feeder must run up the line , enabling it to drop off in the event o f your main line breaking . There is, however, a fine line between having the feeder freerunning and fixed. Let me try and explain. When se t up, the type of feeder that I have been shown still looks fixed to me , and I’m a little nervous about i t because I don’t want to break the rules.

Method3To set up the feeder I have to first pass my main line through the centre of the feeder and tie it to a small swivel. This swivel is the n pulled back into a rubber stopper in the end of the feeder, gripping slightly so that it locks it in place. This still means the feeder is fixed until I get a bite, where the force o f the fish bolting pulls the line free. The only way I see it could be truly free running is to put a small bead next to the swivel.

Maybe running White Acres matches every week has made me suspicious ? When fishing the Method, your line diameter is not too important . Most of the time you are only using very short hook lengths – the maximum length I intend to use i s four inches . I still prefer to use Preston’ s Powerline due to its strength and , as bites on the Method are so aggressive, I plan to use 0.19mmdiamete r line .

As I’ve not fished the Method before I’m going to stick to fishing dead red maggots and not complicate things like having to change hook lengths, baits an d swapping t o hair rigs throughout the match. I want t o keep things as simple as possible.

Talking about keeping it simple, there are a number of ways o f presenting hook baits. Some anglers like to bury their baits into the feeder with the groundbait and then wait for the fish to eat away the outer layers o f the ball before finding the hook bait . I’m going to keep my hook bait outside the groundbait ball and fish normal feeder tactics. This is because I have more confidence knowing that my bait is not tangle d up in the feeder. As I’m using dead maggots, my choice of hook needs to be right.

It can’t be that hard to master fishing a
simple set-up like this, can it?

My first choice is Preston PR29s . Over the last few years I have been fishing big baits and have moved on to wider-gaped hooks. However, in this circumstance the crystal bend PR29 has the extra strength to cope with the violent bites you get when fishing the Method and small baits on the hook . Okay, that’s the business end of the Method sorted, I hope. But for i t to work I need a rod that’s going t o enable me to cast the ball wit h confidence. My choice is Preston’s 11ft/13ft Carbon Active feeder . My investigations tell me I won’t have to cast too far, so I’m going for the 11ft option with a 2oz tip fitted . When casting out, I want to stop the feeder in midair, gently following it down, trying not to le t it hit the water with a bang. The feeder should then land correctly when it reaches the bottom.

It also means that once the feeder is on the bottom it won’t move because the bait breaks down very quickly – but that’s another story. I like this rod because it has a soft through action and never locks out, giving me extra confidence. So, when the fish takes, there’s les s chance of getting broken on the bite .

MethodAlso, when playing a fish under the rod tip, its soft, cushioning action should stop the hook pulling out if the fish has a final lunge as i t reaches the net. That just leaves me with the bait preparation, which is turning out t o be harder than I thought. If I were to take on board the information fro m some of the articles I have read over the years, my Method groundbait mix would be totally different to the one that I have decided to use .

For some reason I had got it into my head that a Method mix should be quite coarse and full of particles, but this is not necessarily the case. After a couple of calls, I discover that I need to be preparing a fine mix that will break down quickly. The mix also needs to be more inert than I was first led to believe with few, if any, particles of bait lifting off the feeder while it’ s laying on the bottom.

Again, to keep thing s uncomplicated I have gone for a neat, brown crumb mixed 50/5 0 with Van den Eynde Carp Dust and Fishmeal. This is carefully mixed and a small ball is popped into a bucket of water to see how long it takes to break down and to test if it reacts how I have described.

To be extra sure my groundbait is completely dead, I’m going to mi x it the week before I go and freeze it. The advance preparation will allow me to let the bait stand overnight so it will absorb all the water, soaking all the small particles.

This helps ensure the mix gets the right consistency to hold onto the feeder. To keep it from fermenting and going off I will freeze it. This has an added bonus, as freezing the bait will draw all the water into the mix, making it completely inert. It’s a good job I’ve got access to a big freezer, as the easiest way to kill the maggots I’m going to us e for the hook is to simply freeze them .

Before freezing, they have to b e cleaned of any dust by shaking it off through a riddle. Next, I sea l them in a plastic bag, ensuring all the air is taken out before freezing .

By doing this the bait will keep its colour. However, when you arrive at your peg, place them in a tub of water to keep them fresh and to stop them turning black.

top tip When Method feeder fishing first cam e on the scene, you had to tie on the short hook link using a loop or strong knot. These days there are a number of quick-change connectors available, from a simple mini-link-swivel (left in the picture), the new Korum Feeder Bead (middle) or, something from the carp fishing camp, the QC quickchange link (right).

There is a wide choice when it comes to Method feeders. Just which one is best?

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