Fishing with a Method Feeder
" Firstly, what exactly is it "Basically, it's a way to present the hookbait next to a tight area of feed without being too complicated. By fishing with a method feeder and a short hooklink, anglers are able to guarantee that the hookbait is within inches of free offerings. In turn, this means that if a fish finds your attractive freebies, it is almost certain to pick up your hookbait!
'The Method' will catch most species of fish, but is commonly used to target carp, bream, barbel or tench. To decide how to fish this technique, it is worth considering several factors. What are you fishing for? Match carp? Specimen carp? Or maybe barbel from the river? What distance are you comfortable fishing at? Depth and temperature of water, colour of the bottom, colour of the water, weed, silt, clay, hookbaits, groundbaits, feeding patterns, time of day, the tackle used etc. All of these things could affect how effective this style of angling is on your particular water.
The tackle used can be very simple; a strong rod, which may be a quivertip or carp rod, a suitable reel, a feeder, rig tube, tail rubber, hooklength and hook. There are endless variations, but the basics remain the same in each set up. If we consider the feeder itself, it may have elastic running through it to attach the hook length, it may be a coil, it may have a flat, weighted side or it may be a 'finned' feeder. All have the same function; to provide a frame for a stiff groundbait mix to adhere to. When you are fishing with a method feeder your choose should reflect the rod and reel you have; there is not much point trying to cast a loaded feeder weighing 5 ounces with a quivertip rod and float reel. Smaller feeders can be used with lighter rods, but for bigger weights you should use a stronger rod.
The rig tubing is there for the same reason that it is used in any other rig, to protect the fish and help prevent tangles. The tail rubber joins the feeder to tubing and keeps everything tidy, then the hooklink can be tied on. If the mainline should fail, all items are easily released into the water and will not be left tethered to the fish, the hooklink is a lighter breaking strain than the main line, so if that fails, again, the fish is not tethered. This is the most important aspect of the set up, IT MUST BE SAFE!
When the tubing, tail rubber and feeder are all fitted together, the mainline passes through the middle to a swivel at the base of the feeder; it is important that the swivel cannot pass back through the feeder. The hooklink can then be fastened onto the other side of the swivel to complete the rig. Before any groundbait is placed around the frame, the swivel must be pushed back into the bottom of the feeder to create the 'bolt' effect that makes this method so effective. The swivel should be matched to the feeder to ensure a snug fit. The 'FOX' feeder uses a size 8 rolling swivel, and this sits just inside the feeder as shown. In the event of a snag or break, the swivel releases and the components fall away. If the hook is 'hair rigged' this allows the hook to turn as soon as the fish picks up the bait, and the weight of the feeder provides the means for the hook to find purchase.
The next essential part of fishing with a method feeder is the ground bait which is used. It must be stiff enough to stick to the feeder for some time and survive the cast without breaking up; this encourages the fish to attack the rig in order to remove the bait... Ready made method mixes can be obtained from the tackle shop, or you can make your own which can be tailored to suit the situation. A good starting point is a crumb mix with few freebies, this means the only 'real' bait is the hookbait. If the fish are very competitive, more free offerings can be added to keep them interested. Try to match the hook bait to the groundbait; put corn liquid in to the mix if you use corn on the hoo....dead maggots (so they don't break up the mix) if you use maggot baits or pellets if using a boilie or pellet hookbait; experiment to find out what works on the day?.be careful not to over feed the fish as you want them to fight for your bait! If adding liquid flavourings, remember to add the flavour to the water before you add the water to the groundbait to so the flavour is distributed evenly throughout the mix.
Hook baits should ideally be 'hair rigged'. This allows a better chance of the bait being taken properly. The bait can be presented outside the 'method ball' (of groundbait) or pressed into the edge of the feed mix. By burying the bait within the groundbait, fish are less wary of the hook as it may not be seen resulting in savage takes.
Bite indication is generally fairly obvious.. if using alarms, a few bleeps as the fish attack the feeder may be followed by a very positive 'run'; if using a quivertip, some 'knocks and taps' followed by the tip wrapping round and the rod being pulled off the rod rest is the normal result as the fish hooks itself and bolts away, so stay by your gear!
To finish, 'Fishing The Method' can be a very good way to catch a bonus fish in the depths of winter, or to catch multiple fish on warmer days. Fished properly in the right area, with the right bait, with the right tackle, it can prove unbeatable and give you a real 'red letter' day to remember?