Fishing The Pellet

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Fishing The Pellet. Hello all fishing lovers, Today’s post is “Fishing The Pellet”. i hope that this post is useful for you, all fishing lovers.

Fishing The Pellet

Since making the transition to mainly fishing commercials I have worked hard at improving my pellet fishing. Today I rarely use any other bait as feed and will probably look to catch on pellet 80% of the time. I now buy my Skrettings feed pellet in bulk, luckily I have a local supplier and the space to store it. This reduces the cost considerably as it works out at around £1.40 per kilo. I have rarely had success with pre-prepared hookers and so do not cover them in this post.

I like to soak my feed pellets so what I am feeding is soft. I just have more confidence that the fish prefer the bait this way. This really came about on a match at Kingsland Silver fish lake. I was catching the occasional tench feeding 4 mil pellet. It was a hot day and the soaked pellets were drying out in the bait box so I was soaking a fresh batch every hour or so. It became apparent that bites tailed off as the pellet dried. As soon as I started feeding freshly soaked pellets bites would come quicker. So I started soaking in smaller batches. Realised this too late in that match but ever since I have always soaked pellets for feeding.
I don’t mess around with formulas and timing when soaking my pellets. I just half fill a bait tub with pellets and add enough water to cover them. Lid on and leave. Micros will be ready in about 30 minutes, 4 mils need at least an hour. Shake the tub and the soaked pellets will fill it. So I will do this on the morning of a day’s fishing at home. By the time I start they are perfect for both pole work and pellet feeder.
  • NOTE (September 2016) – since first writing this I have come across a batch of Skrettings 2mm pellets that if soaked for too long turned to mush.  For these I found soaking for two to three minutes then draining off was best.  The batch were lighter in colour than the ones I could cover in water and leave.

Preparing expanders for the hook takes a little more work. I like to use gelatine to soak my pellets. The added toughness the gelatine brings gives me confidence plus if the pellets dry slightly on my side tray they will toughen up a little but still sink.

I used to use gelatine in sachets from the supermarket.  But since that has become difficult to find I have bought a bulk bag (500g, 240 bloom) from an Ebay seller .  That has lasted two years and will probably be another year until I need more. I mix one tablespoonful (roughly 10 grammes) of gelatine with 400 mils of hot water. I choose this volume because I store the solution in a 400 mil screw lid storage cup. The gelatine solution stays in the freezer between uses.

I now prepare a batch of three or four day’s worth and store them in small cliplock containers (poundshop – 3 for £1).   I let the frozen gelatine defrost for a few hours or overnight and microwave for a couple of minutes until the jelly is a liquid and use in the pellet pump.  The liquid should not be too hot as this will destroy the pellets.  I find fifty pellets of each size plenty for a day’s fishing.

When the cup is half full (or empty?) I make it back up to 400 mils with hot water and add another spoon of gelatine. This way the solution is quite strong and binds the pellets well. I would recommend anyone having problems with pellets staying on the hook to try the gelatine. Of course if you are into flavours you could use jelly. But again use half the water or twice the jelly to get a really firm result.

The way I pump my pellets may be different to what some do. I will pump and release the pressure and most of the pellets will sink. I pump and release once or twice more until all the pellets sink (bar possibly one or two stubborn ones). I then pump again until a few start to rise and then leave for twenty minutes. This ensures that as the pellets fully expand they can release any remaining trapped air and so will all sink in use.   

You don’t have to prepare that many for a day’s fishing. So don’t waste money by doing loads. Between fifty and a hundred should see you through a day easily. If you use all that then you will have won the match. I prepare 4 & 6 mils together (plus 2 mils in Winter). They are easily separated in the bait tub. On my side tray they will be kept in a small amount of water. But I only tip a few out at a time and keep the rest in the shade. Left over pellets are frozen for another day. They freeze OK and are still useable when defrosted. If I have a few matches coming up I will prepare two or three tubs and freeze to save time.

Expander Pellet On The Pole

To me there is one golden rule about pellet fishing. Dead depth. When I first started fishing pellet I thought that having 2-4 inches overdepth ensured the bait was on the bottom and that when a carp sucked it up I could not fail to see the bite. But my results were not that good. I then discovered the power of dead depth on a pleasure/practice session on a local water.

I was having a frustrating day. I knew there were carp in the swim and was picking up the very occasional fish. But nowhere near as many as I knew were munching my feed. I went through the things I could think of, dotting the float down, feeding differently, trying corn. Nothing worked. I then remembered reading that pellet had to be fished dead depth. Something I had scoffed at in the past. However I took the trouble to re-plumb and get the float spot on dead depth. The result was magical. I started to get bites on pellet and had a great afternoon’s fishing. Transformed merely by altering the depth.

Another day and this time a match confirmed how critical depth can be. It was the last round of a pole only series at Holmes Farm, Lubenham. This is a series of five matches with a trophy and £100 to the person with the best three match weight, so dropping your two worst results. I started the match 99lb behind the leader and he wasn’t fishing. A lot of people didn’t show and I ended up sitting with no-one either side of me for at least four or five pegs in either direction. The match started well and I was catching regularly both eight metres out in front on pellet, fished dead depth and in the margins. After a couple of hours the eight metre line went quiet and for an hour I struggled to get a fish. I then thought of re-plumbing and found that the float had slipped and I was two inches off the deck. As soon as I adjusted the depth I started catching again. Ended the match second with 77lb, winner had 89. That blank hour cost me the match and possibly the overall series win. Today I position a shot just below the float to ensure that I know if the float moves.

I now take an extreme approach to plumbing up but one that also allows me to check my depth without losing fishing time. When initially plumbing up I will set the float about an inch shallow. I then check the shotting using a four mil pellet on the hook. Obviously in a match you can only do this after the start. Once I am happy with the shotting, having got the float as low as possible I will replace the 4 mil with a 6 mil. The float will now sit lower in the water. I then add depth ¼ inch at a time until the same amount of float is showing as with a 4 mil on the hook. I know then that my pellet is just touching bottom. During the day I can check depth by using a 6 mil. Sometimes this even results in a bonus fish.

But, there are days when the fish don’t agree with me and want the bait overdepth or even off the bottom. For this reason I like to set up two identical rigs. One will stay at dead depth, the other is for playing around with the depth if I am not catching.

My favourite hook for pellet fishing is the Kmasan B611. 16 in Summer on a 0.13 hooklength and 18 in Winter on 0.10. Main line will be 0.17 in Summer, 0.13 in Winter. For full depth fishing I use either a BGT Shallow Long, mainly a Summer float and a BGT Grey in Winter or if in Summer I need a little more sensitivity as the bristle is thinner than the S-L.

Shotting pattern may be of interest. On a pleasure day in late Winter/earlySpring 2013 I got the impression that the fish were abandoning the bite possibly when feeling the bulk (bulk & two droppers). So, as I make my bulk up with No.6 shot I spread the sixes up the line starting just beneath the float. This resulted in bites being positive and me having a better day. I have not reverted to using a bulk since. The rig looks slightly cumbersome as No.8s would probably look better but I am happy that this strung pattern of sixes is working for me. I believe it gives the stability of a heavy float with the sensitivity of not having one bulk for the fish to feel. For anyone worried about the speed the bait gets down to the fish I can assure you that you will not notice the difference with a string rather than bulk.

And finally for this section – there are days when other baits will outscore the pellet. So I always have corn, maggot and sometimes meat (couple of slices of polony) as well as 4 & 6 mil expanders with me just in case.


As with all fishing a day can be made or spoiled by getting the feeding right or wrong. Obviously you have to have a starting point but you must be flexible and be alert to what the fish are telling you.

When fishing open water full depth I will look to plumb up and find three, even four spots that I can fish with the same rig. Two reasons for this. The first is that I can feed each differently at the start and see which reacts best. Second reason is that I can let fish settle over a fed spot while fishing another. I can then rotate around the spots and find a feeding fish.

Assuming I find three spots, each around six foot or one pole section apart each will be fed differently at the start. One may be fed sparingly with a small tosspot, another with a small pot but more frequently and the third with a full 200 mil pot. Of course then you have the choice of micros or 4 mil pellets. I can only advise that if you know the venue then you should know what the fish prefer. I will always tend to start with micros and switch to 4 mils if the response is poor. Or I may feed one of the three or four spots with 4 mils from the start. During the day though you will probably find that one spot startes to outdo the others. You have to feel your way in.

Another trick to help kick a swim into life is to feed as if you were catching.  The saying “feed to your bites” is true but sometimes you have to feed to imaginary bites or to bites that don’t result in fish.  Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t.  But if you are struggling what’s the difference? 

Sometimes when feeding you will get lots of fizzing and few bites. To be honest I have no sure fire solution to this. Only once have I been able to convert the fizzing into bites. On that day I dumped a whole pot of corn on top of the fizz. Soon it stopped and I was playing a ten pound carp. That was followed by several up to 8 pound. With half an hour to go I ran out of corn, switched back to pellet. The fizzing started again and the bites stopped. I’d done enough to win comfortably though.

Expander Pellet On The Waggler

Many people are probably wary of trying this. But it can be a devastating method particularly when targeting bream.

You must use a heavy waggler, 3 or 4 grams. Your cast needs to be as gentle as possible, you should hear no “swish” from the rod. Also the hook has to be large (big 14) to cushion the 6 mil pellet. It is best when there is little or no wind. What wind there is is best behind you. Bait should just be dragging bottom. For feed catapult 6 mil expanders over the top of the float and don’t be afraid to keep the bait going in. It can also help to feed balls of micros through the catapult. The task will be easier for doing that. When casting watch for the splash of the pellet just past the float. If you don’t see it or it is too far away then it has come off. When plumbing up take a half hitch knot around the top of the float.

Pellet Feeder

Something I discovered only comparatively recently but has won me a fair number of matches. Not a lot I can say about the method as its fairly straightforward. I don’t bother trying to use pellets on the Method feeder. To me that is a groundbait method. The pellet feeder is the right tool for the job so why struggle with anything else. I do use a Banjo with pellets if the water is not too deep or I am not getting the bites I expect on the pellet feeder.

I prepare my micro pellets for this as I do for the pole. When loading the feeder don’t be afraid to push the pellets in tight. What I do is to scoop up the pellets so the feeder is full then with my thumb push the pellets down and back. Some pellets may start to squeeze out of the holes, that’s OK. I make a well on top of the pellets back into the feeder for the hookbait and then scoop more pellets up to cover the bait. Those pellets are pushed home firmly almost turning them to mush and where you can only just see individual pellets. Once in the water I am hoping that the hookbait sits atop a pile of pellets that gets pushed out when they expand in the water. Whatever happens it seems to work for me.

I always like a variety of hookbaits and will carry drilled hard 8 mils, corn, maggot (killed as needed by rolling) and meat (polony). I buy a few polony sausages and slice them into roughly six mil slices. These are frozen and I take a few out on the morning and punch out what I need during the day. Fish will display a preference for one bait over another. Strange when you image that all they should be doing is hoovering up a pile of micros with the hookbait on top.

One trick that can work with the pellet feeder unlike the Method is to twitch the feeder towards you a few inches if you haven’t had a bite in a few minutes. At the start of a session I will happily leave the feeder in place for fifteen minutes, particularly in Winter when I find this method works best. At that time of year you are not going to need a huge weight so it is worth waiting a while on the first couple of casts. You will sometimes find the fish take after roughly the same length of time. Whether this is because it takes that long for the pellets to eject I don’t know. But if that happens it gives you a guide as to how long to leave without a bite before re-casting.

Hard Pellet
A bait I rarely use but I always have a tub of pre-drilled 8 mils with me. Always useful as a change bait on the feeder and necessary for the pellet waggler, another method I employ rarely. They are also useful if you are getting pestered by small fish on the feeder. I drill them with a 2mm bit. Takes a while but once done a small tub will last ages. I attach to my hook by way of a bait band pulled through the hole. I tried Quickstops but got frustrated at the number of times the stop got ripped off in the landing net. The band will just pull through if the pellet gets tangled.

Next post will be about mid-July and I plan to share details of my simple approach to pole fishing.

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