Beginners guide to float fishing – waggler floats

bream caught on waggler

A nice small water bream to a very simple waggler rig.

The sight of a dipping float is something that sums up the excitement of coarse fishing. Learn to fish the waggler, and you’ll have a method that will work on countless waters for all manner of species, and bring you that excitement wherever you fish.

Fishing For Dummies and Canal Fishing author Dominic Garnett provides an easy-to-follow guide to waggler float fishing.

What is a waggler?

There are various types of float used in coarse fishing, but the waggler is perhaps the most popular these days. They’re easy to set up, and allow for a stable, relatively tangle-free presentation that works with all kinds of baits on all kinds of fisheries. So what exactly is a waggler?

In simple terms, wagglers are floats that are attached by the bottom end only. This makes them easy to rig, because you can simply pinch them in place on your main line with split shot. This type of float also gives good stability, with the angler able to sink the line into the water, beating surface tow and debris.

Which waggler to choose?

types of waggler

There’s a wide selection of wagglers

Walk into any tackle shop and you’ll see various waggler floats to cater for different fishing scenarios. It’s well worth buying a variety of wagglers to suit various uses. You might be fishing right at your feet one session and casting well out into a stiff wind the next, with each scenario requiring quite a different float. There are several kinds of waggler to look out for:

canal wagglers

Canal and mini wagglers

A: Canal & Mini Wagglers are for fishing sensitively, usually at close range. They are often tapered and have a fairly fine tip. These are great for fishing on natural stillwaters and canals, where species such as roach, skimmers and crucians can be shy biting. Short versions like those shown also make sense for shallow water, where you don’t want a long or heavy float crashing down each cast.

insert wagglers

Insert wagglers

B: Insert Wagglers: Come in many sizes, but have a noticeably finer tip section or “insert”. This aids sensitivity for spotting gentle bites, although larger models can still be cast quite a distance.

Straight wagglers

Straight wagglers

C: Straight Wagglers: As the name sounds, these floats are straight, and have a thicker tip than insert models. These are sensible floats to use when you need extra stability; for example, when wind or tow will pull a skinny tip under and give false bites. The longer, larger floats can handle blustery conditions and be cast a fair distance. Some also have little “bodies” or thicker sections to offer even more casting weight and stability.

loaded and pellet wagglers

Loaded and pellet wagglers

D: Loaded and Pellet Wagglers: Some wagglers are weighted or “loaded” at the bottom, or come in much chunkier dimensions to allow longer casts made. These are excellent for aiming at distant features such as islands, and are often used for carp with slow sinking baits.

Typical Waggler Fishing Tackle

pellett waggler

Image source: UK Match Angler
A pellett waggler, hard at work!

The best rods for waggler fishing are float or match rods, although you will also get away with a light spinning rod for fishing close to the bank. However, ideally a float rod will be 12 or 13 feet long and suited to use with lines of 4-8lb breaking strain.

Many quite powerful “Carp match” or “power match” rods exist these days, and are ideal for commercial fisheries stocked with hard-fighting carp. Lighter rods that are ideal for natural venues and species such as roach and rudd are less commonly available, but a lighter rod is a lovely tool to use on canals and rivers.

It’s best to combine the rod with a small to mid sized reel, loaded with quality line (avoid cheap mono at all costs!). 5-6lbs main line would be typical where species such as carp and tench are the staple, or 3-4 lbs strength for silver fish and bream, where the odd bonus might show up.

Last but not least, it is always worth using a hook length (a foot or so of finer, more sensitive line to which the hook is tied). Not only will this give you better presentation (fish are less able to detect thinner line), but means that should you snag up, you will only lose a hook, not your whole rig. You can tie these yourself, but they also come ready-tied for convenience.

Tackle and typical waggler rigs

fishing tackle


Setting up a waggler rig isn’t rocket science, but the way you do this can be crucial to success. While not essential, it’s very helpful to use a float adaptor. This is a little silicone sleeve which accepts any waggler float.

The adaptor allows you to change your float at a moment’s notice without starting all over again. For example, you might decide to switch to a larger float to combat wind, or to make longer casts.

First, attach your waggler by trapping it onto your main reel line with split shot. Most floats will tell you how many shot are required by the numbers and letters written on the side (for example “3BB” or “5AA”).

A good general rule is to trap the float in place with at least two thirds of the required shot. This is because having most of the weight in one place helps with casting; lots of shot scattered down the line tend to cause tangles.

Attach your shot snugly to the line, but avoid squeezing them on so tightly that they’re fixed. You should be able to move them along the line to adjust the depth.

waggler on line

A balanced waggler outfit, ready for action


With your float secured in place, you will also need to attach some shot down the line, to help sink the bait and indicate bites. A few smaller weights (typically sizes 4, 6 and 8) will be much better for this than one or two larger samples. If you want the bait to get down quickly, try a little “bulk” of shot clustered together a foot to eighteen inches from the hook.

If you want a slower sinking bait, for example when you can see fish such as rudd or roach swimming higher in the water, try spacing the shot out evenly (see drawn illustration below).

Last but not least, you’ll also notice that we always set up with a final, small shot just 2-3 inches from the hook (usually a size 8,9 or 10 shot). It might be the least visible, but this little shot (often called the “tell tale shot”) is so, so important.

Why, exactly? Because when a fish takes the bait, this little shot also moves and gives you an early indication that you have a bite; without it, you will spot bites late, leading to more missed and deep-hooked fish.

waggler rigs plumbing depth

Try a “bulk” of shot to get down quickly; or space evenly for a slower fall of the bait.

Basic Waggler fishing skills

Many new and inexperienced anglers just want to cast their float as far as possible. However, the best advice on most popular day ticket lakes would be to start much closer in, because there will often be many more fish right by the bank and close to marginal features.

Sometimes you might fish off the bottom when fish are cruising in midwater, or even fish “overdepth” with a little line on the bottom if it is too windy to keep the bait still. Most of the time, however, it is best to start with the bait just about touching the bottom. This ensures that any bites you get will quickly be transmitted to the float tip.

Plumbing the depths

Sussing out the depth of your chosen spot is a vital skill. Too many anglers either don’t bother, rush the job, or get it wrong. Do take your time, because there is a huge difference between having the depth spot on and “about right.”

The easiest way to test the depth with a waggler is to carefully pinch a larger shot, such as an AA, onto the final inch of line right next to the hook before casting out and observing what happens. If the float plunges down and out of sight, you are set too shallow and should move the float away from the hook.

If the opposite happens,and the float sits up too high or even lies flat, you have too much line between float and hook and must narrow the gap. Adjust this length carefully, until just the very tip of the float shows and you have the right depth.

Be warned though, you must give a little slack line when testing the depth. This avoids creating a diagonal angle between hook and float and getting an inaccurate reading.

You’ll find it much easier to get the exact depth closer in – and it’s also worth spending a few minutes trying different spots around your swim and seeing how the depth changes. This can give you some handy answers to important questions. How deep is the water right by the bank? How deep is it two or three rod lengths out? Does the depth drop away suddenly or gradually? Answer these kinds of questions, and you will be able to catch more fish!

Where to begin

A good starting point for your waggler fishing session is often to try just down the “shelf”, where the margin drops away into slightly deeper water, often between one and two rod lengths out. In warm weather, fish like carp might come right under your feet; in the winter, you may fare better by fishing deeper water.

Once you’re happy with where you want to fish, it’s time to add some bait. Start with a small handful of samples, but be prepared to keep adding a small amount to this at regular intervals.

Spotting Bites and Striking

action on the waggler

The author plays a good fish on the waggler; in this case a tench, hooked in deep water with a long bodied float

Bites can vary a lot between different fish species. The classic movement will be the float just pulling straight under – for fish like carp and tench it’s best to ignore the tiny movements, and wait for this to happen before striking.

Other bites can be cagier, however, with the float “taking a walk” but not submerging. Sometimes the float can even lift slightly. Experience and practise will tell you when to strike, but with shy-biting fish like roach and skimmers, you might have to hit these indications early!

Above all, pay close attention to that float, observing how it settles as the bait and shot fall through the water. If the float stops or behaves suspiciously, this can quite often be a fish taking “on the drop” as the bait falls. Strike!

Waggler Fishing Tips

waggler caught tench

A margin caught tench, caught on the waggler

    • One of the best tips for all float fishing is to hold the rod at all times. Don’t be lazy and put the rod down in a rest! Much of the time you will have missed the fish by the time you pick the rod up. Instead, be ready to strike with a nice positive lift.
    • As with the casting and feeding, the strike takes practice. It should be decisive but not violent – find a happy medium! Strike too softly and you won’t set the hook Strike brutally and you’ll “bump” fish off, or risk breaking the line on a big one.
    • One of the most common mistakes when fishing the waggler is to have too much float showing above the water. If you give the fish too much tip to pull under, many of them will simply get suspicious and drop the bait. Aim to have just the brightly coloured tip showing – or just the final 2-3mm if conditions are calm.
    • For most waggler fishing, a floating reel line is sensible. However, in windy conditions, you can also sink the line to avoid tow. Do this by dipping the rod tip under the water and giving a couple of pulls after casting out.
    • As with most types of general float fishing, you will usually catch a lot more by loose feeding. Try doing this “little and often” by throwing or catapulting in just a few samples of bait every three or so minutes. If you keep casting to the exact same spot and keep your feed accurate, this will help concentrate the fish.
    • Try Stotz rather than dust shot for your smaller weights. They tend to stay on the line much better than tiny traditional shot in sizes 8,9 and 10.
    • Don’t just sit there when you waggler fish. Quite often the fish will bite just as the float settles, because they have spotted the bait sinking to the bottom. Try recasting to get extra bites – or search different areas of your swim. For example, if you’re catching a lot of fish in your main feed area, you might find that the fish start to back off or go a little further out.

Further Info:

You can find more of Dominic’s fishing tips, tales and photography at

His book “Fishing For Dummies” is excellent for beginners and those returning to the sport, while Canal Fishing: A Practical Guide provides the lowdown on a wide range of methods, species and locations across the UK.


All images courtesy of Dominic Garnett unless otherwise stated

Weird fishing baits

bait and beer

Image source: Piscatorial Quagswagging
Baits and beer!

Glace cherries, curried peas, Peperami – we love anglers who think outside the tackle box to come up with perfectly strange bait ideas. 

We’ve got the lowdown on some of the weird and wonderful concoctions anglers use to tempt their prey. Why not give them a try?

Meat you by the riverbank

spicy sausage pepperoni

Image source: shutterstock
Pepperoni power!

The strong spicy flavour of Peperami makes it an excellent bait for winter and spring, when plainer flavoured pellets don’t pack enough punch to attract attention.

The crew at Gofishing fish their Peperami in “small chunks hair-rigged and fished alongside a PVA bag of pellets”. They say it’s the combination of flavoursome spices, garlic and fat that attracts fish like chub, barbel and even carp.

Meat loving sea anglers also rate bacon for bait. South West Sea Fishing say that although bacon isn’t the obvious choice, smoked or unsmoked rashers make great bait for catching Bass, Mullet, Pollock and Smoothhound. Here’s how they present it:

“Concertina it up the hook until it is tightly packed”

Bacon’s strong flavour draws the fish to it, then the softness of the meat works in your favour too. When the fish bites and you strike, the hook pulls straight through the bacon giving you a great chance of hooking your catch securely.

Consider “Carpohydrates”

macaroni cheese

Image source: Go Fishing
Pasta la vista, baby

Go Fishing reckon tinned macaroni cheese is a “devastatingly effective” bait for luring carp and tench. Bites are near unmissable because the hook pulls straight through the soft pasta.

According to the Go fishing guys, the best way to bait your hook with macaroni is to:

“ Pass a large, round bend pattern straight through the inner, following the curve of the bait”.

As macaroni is so soft it can’t be cast, only lending itself to close range work using a pole rig.

Vegged out

potatoes for bait

Image source: shutterstock
Carp your eyes peeled for a great catch

The humble potato was once a popular carp bait, but fell out of fashion as more commercial products became available. Now is the time to rediscover spuds.

The King’s Lynn Angling Association‘s, Martin Chandler adapts a technique used by angling champion Bob Nudd: raw potatoes punched into 6 mm discs and dyed with coffee or gravy.

For the summer months, Martin soaks raw potato discs in molasses and warm water. He says: “The molasses dyes the bait and gives it a sickly sweet flavour fish just love.”

Fishing in UK recommend that you make the potatoes softer by parboiling before cutting to pellet size and soaking in gravy or coffee.

curried bait

Image source: smartcarping
Curry favour with your catch

Carp are suckers for strong flavours and veg baits make perfect carriers for added spices. Ian Gemson from Smartcarping recommends fishing with “curried baked beans using Fox armour mesh to keep the bait on the hair”. He says curried peas will do the job too.

Love it or hate it


Image source: abimages / shutterstock
Marmite, the Fisherman’s Friend

You either love it or hate it, but fish love yeast extracts like Marmite. The naturally high vitamin content of the paste has a very strong smell, which is instantly attractive. Tim Richardson  from Fish South West says it sends a message to the fish that there’s “soluble nutrition” leaking from your bait.

For a dynamite bait combination that’ll really get the fish biting, Tim mixes Marmite into a paste with flour, Parmesan cheese, garlic granules, curry spices, sea salt, eggs and liquid amino acids.

Angler’s Mail writer Colin Davidson smears Marmite on small chunks of white bread or dips dog biscuits or pellets in it to make them sticky and yeasty.

With Marmite, less is more. Colin reckons if you use too much of it on your pellets, you’ll turn a floater into a sinker, so use it sparingly.

Turn to jelly

jelly cubes

Image source: shutterstock
Jelly is a winning bait!

Ever wondered whether fish have a sweet tooth or not? Fred Davis at Talk Angling reckons they do. On the lookout for a hookable soft pellet recipe that was inexpensive to prepare, he hit on powdered gelatine mixed with molasses.

Simply mix half a sachet of the gelatine into a 1/4 pint of water and add molasses or Activ-8. Allow the mixture to stand, then pour it over pellets, leaving them soak up the solution.

Angler’s Mail offer a similar idea to Fred’s, swapping the powdered gelatine for good old Rowntree’s Fruit Jelly.

Hook, line and sweetener!

strawberry laces for bait

Image source:
Strawberry laces for bait!

From aniseed balls to pink shrimps, the sweet shop is your oyster. Mike Samways from catch-app recommends jelly babies, marshmallows or bubblegum balls for luring carp. But any sugary ingredient you have in your kitchen cupboard is worth a go – glace cherries are always a good bet.

Smartcarping’s Ian Gemson is also a fan of the sweet approach saying that that tic-tacs and even strawberry laces make great bait for chub and carp.

What usual bait ideas do you have to share? Head to our Facebook page and join the conversation!

Fishing Tackle Review – The RidgeMonkey Bivvy Light


The RidgeMonkey duo bivvy-lite

The RidgeMonkey duo bivvy-lite.

I have had my RidgeMonkey bivvy lite Duo for over 5 months and used it most nights when out fishing. I don’t use it to read by or keep it on for hours, just to bait up and do a spot of cooking.

This clever bit of kit has two light settings. I tend to use the brightest setting, not the red, as I am not sure about that one yet. I have been fishing at least one night a week, if not more and used this light most nights.

There are two light settings.

There are two light settings.

The battery power has proved to be wonderful – I have still yet to charge it up! This is just brilliant and the fact that it would be quite a simple process, as I carry a power pack for my phone. So when I finally have to charge up the light, I will be able to do it on the bank.

Attach anywhere you wish using a magnetic strip.

Attach anywhere you wish using a magnetic strip.

It has a  handy magnetic strip you can attach it to your bivvy or brolly

There are two cords either end which enable you to hang it from brolly spokes or a magnet hook.

I have attached a clip to mine which makes it a bit easier for me to attach.
This allows me to clip it on quick over the brolly spoke and I can just slide it up and down depending on where I need the light to be under the brolly.

I have also found a use for those old pva tubes! A perfect place to store the bivvy Light when not in use.

This is a great bit of kit and I believe I have finally found a bivvy light that is simply perfect for the job. Full credit to RidgeMonkey for doing a great job here – carp anglers have been waiting for something as good as this for a long time!

Regards Richard.

Carry on Carping: 20 top carp anglers’ Twitter accounts

follow fishtec tackle

Follow @FishtecTackle on Twitter!

Twitter’s a great way to keep up with the latest developments in the carp fishing world. By grouping your fellow carp fishing fanatics into a Twitter list, you’ll see all the latest updates without having to wade through your timeline.

To help you build your list of angling contacts, here are 20 of the best carping twitterers to get you started. Like what you see? Then hit those ‘Follow’ buttons!

Rob Hales

Want to get the lowdown on brand new baits? Rob’s your go-to man. He’s currently trying out the new B-Caramel range from RH Fisheries and is busy tweeting the great catches he’s made so far. Check out the first one he snagged last week just below.

Since then, his catches have got even bigger!  Rob’s angling buddy, Luke snagged a 39 pounder using the same bait just the next day!

Jan Porter

Failed rock star, born again angler” is how Jan Porter describes himself. If you’re after a dose of good humour alongside some serious fishing updates, Jan’s your man. He reckons that if the weight of your catch is disappointing, all you really need to do is measure it instead! There was no such trouble with a catch from last year at Hardwick Lake Linear:

iPhone Carpers

Two northern blokes and an iPhone? Not a setup for a sitcom, but a place to find some great shots of Carp. The iPhone Carpers are busy gearing up for the spring season and for inspiration, posted this photo of a carp they caught last year:

The lads also make montage videos to show what they’ve been up to, like this from their Park Lake Winter Day Sessions. Watch them set up and wet their lines in the crisp winter sunshine!


Want a place to get the latest carp news and picture shares? Look no further than OnCarp. This Twitter feed is an extension of the oncarp news site. There you’ll find bait reviews and competitions to win products like the Wychwood Carp DPF line. The Twitter page also runs polls, like this one on fishing around weeds:

Richard Handel

From carp rods to the best baits, get product reviews and news from Richard’s Twitter stream. An experienced angler and writer, he also recommends great YouTube videos for anglers to watch. Richard even documents his own carping trips on YouTube and shares them through twitter.


Where can you find a great interactive resource that rounds up all the latest carp news? Followers are invited to tweet pictures and stories to share on CarpFishingJournal’s timeline. Got a Carp site you think they should include? Let them know and they’ll post that too!  You’ll also find helpful links to articles like this one on fly line maintenance:


Want to know how to air-dry freezer bait like a pro? Head to Carpology’s Twitter stream, where you can also enter exciting competitions to win great prizes like the FishSpy cam. Find links to all their other news articles as well, like this one on how to improve your angling accuracy.

Bivvy Tube

Fancy the chance to access free online fishing videos? Look no further than BivvyTube. This Twitter feed shares links to video feeds from expert anglers like Darrell Peck and Dave Lane’s video diaries. You’ll also be able to follow Terry Hearn’s series on floater fishing for carp.




Martin Bowler

Professional angler Martin Bowler’s visit to Thailand at the beginning of March was a huge adventure for him. He caught his biggest ever freshwater fish there, sharing his success on both Twitter and his Facebook wall. He also shares snippets on equipment he’s testing, and writes regularly for the Angling Times.

Jim Shelley

When he snagged the first carp he’d ever caught on a running Chod rig recently, angling coach Jim tweeted the results to his timeline via Instagram:

jim shelley instagram

Image source: Instagram

He also tells his followers about the great tackle he’s trying out at the moment – like the Siren R3 from Nash.


Join the Cult of Carpy. “Promoters and defenders of the old school angling faith”, these guys have a great sense of humour, but also share serious discussions for anglers. We couldn’t agree more with their point about anglers taking care of the areas that surround them. Check Cult of Carpy’s ‘Throwback Thursday’ post for four of the best:

Jurassic Fishing

Fancy seeing how they fish for carp in Thailand? Head over to FishJurassic’s Twitter feed where you’ll find regular updates and photos, of the team’s humongous catches – as well as the fishy conquests of their guests:

Mick Tuck

Essex based Mick Tuck knows plenty about the highs and lows of angling, sharing his blog rollercoaster of carp fishing with his Twitter followers. He says: “Sometimes it’s a fast old pace then all of a sudden very slow and no doubt a few bumps and screams along the way.” He’s also keen to show when things go well. Check out these great photos from a day with his angling buddies at Slough House:

Robert L

Rob is simply a passionate carp angler. He shows off his rig making skills on Twitter and also has a YouTube channel dedicated to sharing reviews of the latest tackle. Ever-determined, Rob even shares the times when he blanks:

Chris Fennell

Check out Chris’ video diary on his Twitter page! You can see Vlogs from all his expeditions, like this one to Lower Slade River in Ilfracombe. He recently showed off his personal best catch, a 38lb carp. Before he returned it to the deep, he photographed his method for repairing some damaged scales:


Charltoncarper believes angling is an art form in itself and if his Twitter posts are anything to go by, he’s right. Whenever the Charltoncarper makes a great catch, he photographs the whole fish, focusing on the scales to show interesting patterns and intricate details. Checkout this ‘quick bite’ from last month:

Gary Roberts

Gary is a carp artiste extraordinaire! As well as being an avid angler, he paints acrylic portraits of fish and other creatures. His latest work in progress is ‘Jewels of the Avenue’. Follow its progress as he tweets updates on how it’s coming along. Very nicely, we’d say!

Simon Crow

Simon’s a winner of the World Carp Cup. As well as being an expert angler, he writes for Simon Crow carp fishing. He shares info from his carping trips on Twitter and sometimes features some of the strange requests he’s had from other Carp addicts. There’re some great reviews too, like the bedchair Simon uses to alleviate shoulder ache on overnight fishing trips. He gets his fair share of ‘weird’ too:


Jay Russell

Looking forward to the start of the Carping season proper? So is Carpmanjay. Despite saying he’s “grumpy when tired”, he’s currently happily tweeting about changing the rigs on his scopes. He also points out that anglers should take care of their surroundings, with this message about cleaning up after a session:

Dave Levy

Dave is the author of angling memoir ‘Fallen Kings’, a touching and humorous account of a life spent fishing. He recently tweeted about a feature he wrote for Angler’s Mail on how to get the best from maggots to catch big carp. Here he shows off the results:

To find even more Twitter users who’re as into carp fishing as you, try searching hashtags like#carp, #carpfishing and #fishing. Next time it’s too foul outside to pick up your carp rods, check out the world of angling social media!

Also take a look at our list of the best coarse fishing Twitter accounts. And remember to add us, too at @FishTecTackle.




How Dave Lane uses a FishSpy camera to confirm bottom features

As part of his series on using the new FishSpy underwater camera, expert UK carp angler Dave Lane reveals how he uses his camera as a confirmation tool.

Image: Carp-Talk

Image: Carp-Talk

Personally I often like to use the FishSpy camera as a confirmation tool rather than a general feature finder, like a standard marker float or, in my case, just a heavy lead on a braided mainline.

After casting around the swim and identifying a likely area, I would then clip up the braid onto the spool and retrieve before attaching the FishSpy and re-casting to the clip using the same back marker, as in a tree, bush or pylon.

This way I can keep disturbance to a minimum and reduce the risk of losing the FishSpy on a snag or to a crack off due to repeated and unnecessary casting. Using this process recently, I found what felt like a gravel bar running through an otherwise quite weedy area.

On closer inspection, using the camera float, I discovered that it was actually a sand bar dotted with occasional stones and each stone was completely surrounded by a ring of attached zebra mussels; thousands of the things.

Zebra Mussels in their thousands

Zebra Mussels in their thousands.

Obviously this could be an area where the carp would feed of the natural food but, more importantly, the camera had identified a potential hazard.

Had I been planning to fish the gully at the back of the bar then my line would have been running across a multitude of extremely sharp crustaceans and potentially cut through, or been trapped, if I had hooked a carp.

Simply adding a strong snag leader would alleviate the problem but, if not for the footage, I would not have known this until it was too late.

In the video below Dave Lane uses a FishSpy camera on a winter gravel pit venue, and reveals the true nature of the bottom for the very first time:

Cracking carp baits


Image source: shutterstock
Boilies and beyond!

How about trying some new carp fishing tactics this spring? When we asked some of our favourite bloggers to share their best bait suggestions, they came up trumps.

From spicy Spanish sausages to protein packed pulses, read on to discover which fishy treats pack the biggest punch. Just remember – as with any bait – to make sure it’s allowed on your water.


Brilliant boilies

boilies carp bait

Image source: shutterstock
Tried and tested treats for carp

Boilies are the obvious place to start a discussion about baits. They’re simple, cheap and effective. But how about creating your own unique version of this old favourite? Simply add your choice of flavourings to powdered meal and bind the ingredients together with egg. Roll the paste into balls and boil in water until firm.

On the bank’s Clive Bradley loves a good a boilie:

“They’re so versatile. I’ll stick with a flavour through the spring that I know I’m going to use that season, chucking in a handful on several likely spots after each session, and hopefully the fish will get on it. “

Clive’s early spring selection is a milky toffee flavoured pop-up. It’s highly visible and the fish love the taste! If you fancy having a go at creating your own boilies, check out keen angler Anthony Wood’s blog for a step-by-step guide.

Poloni pop ups

Poloni is a surefire all-weather bait says Richard Handel of UK Carp and Coarse Fishing. Dan Jones of Carp & Coarse Swansea claims that his local carp also enjoy chomping on chorizo. Smartcarping’s Ian Gemson agrees, though his taste for spicy sausage is brand-specific:

“A mesh bag of pellet and crushed Peperami, often tipped with a fake piece of corn, can often produce a take when the boilies aren’t being touched.”

The pulling power of Peperami makes it suitable to use as bait all year round, particularly if you keep baiting the same spots into the winter months.

If the carp in your area can’t take the heat, Dan also suggests prawns, while Clive Bradley recommends trying hot dog sausages or spam.

Tiger Nuts

They take a bit of prepping, but tiger nuts are a killer carp bait. As angling blogger Mark the carp says:

“I’d put tiger nuts up against any boilie you can think of, and they will perform very favorably.”

You need to soak your nuts for 24 to 36 hours, then boil for 30 minutes, but it’s worth the effort. Mark catches dozens of good sized carp using this simple bait, fishing his tigers under a small piece of cork with a knotless knot. Check out his excellent video to see how it’s done.

Super Sweetcorn

mirror carp

Image source: Best bait for carp fishing
Blogger Ade with a 22lb mirror (caught on corn?)

What’s cheap as chips but still one of the best carp baits ever? Sweet corn! A perennial favorite with carp fishermen everywhere, Angler Ade claims that carp can’t get enough of it. He says:

“It’s cheap to buy and its colour and taste make it highly visible and attractive to carp – they find the stuff irresistible.”

A word of caution – if you go for dried maize which has a lower sugar content than sweet corn – make sure you prep it properly or it can harm the fish. Corn is one of the original and best baits out there and the beauty is, you can use it for everything: hookbait, mixed in with groundbait or as part of a spod mix.

Spod baits

Fancy mixing your own particles? You’ll be needing a spod then! This floating bait missile is a lethal weapon in any angler’s armoury. As carper Paul Murphy says, a spod is:

“A very effective way of introducing a vast amount of feed into a distance swim in very little time.”

But what spod mix works best? The guys at Carp fishing tactics say creating a unique bait that’ll give you the edge on your local water is all about finding a mix that allows you to bait generously without bankrupting yourself.

Spod recipes

hemp seeds

Image source: shutterstock
Heavenly Hemp

So what kind of particle bait works best? Here are a few of your top suggestions.

Crushed Vitalin dog food or blitzed chicken feed and hemp might not sound like the most appetising of combinations but Paul Murphy rates them among his favourites.

Another fan of hemp, Clive Bradley likes to mix it up with maize:

“Maize is obviously very visual, and doesn’t every fish love hemp? If I fancy adding to it I often put in some daphnia or bloodworm to really get the carp rooting around.”

Another hemp mix is the one favoured by blogger Ian Gemson. He mixes it with pigeon feed and dog food. Head over to Fishing Magic for Ian’s handy videos on how to spod.

Baits on a budget

Pigeon conditioner

On a tight budget? Modern Carper’s Ian Kemp recommends using pigeon conditioner as a spod mix that’s “…a phenomenally cheap bait and carp love the stuff.”

Ian Gemson, agrees but suggests adding Vitalin dog food, sweet corn and crushed hemp to the mix. Dan Jones prefers to let his pigeon conditioner start to ferment so that it’s smellier before using it as bait.

Whatever you mix it with, you must prepare pigeon conditioner properly before feeding it to fish. For a handy guide to the process, head over to Ian Kemp’s blog.

Worms and maggots

worm for bait

Image source: shutterstock
Dig for your bait!

The best thing about using worms for bait is that they’re freely available. As blogger Paul Murphy says: “Get down the garden and get digging”

Can’t seem to find any? Check out this awesome video which shows just how easy it is to become a worm charmer extraordinaire!

For those of you whose worm requirements exceed the ability of your garden to produce, head over to the Angler’s Mail for tips on how to set up your own wormery.

And don’t forget good old maggots which, according to Clive Bradley are a sensational seasonal bait:

“A bunch of maggots on the hook will often trick a wary carp in spring, long before they get into proper feeding mode.”

Pet food

dog biscuits

Image source: shutterstock
Biccies for bait?

Dog biscuit bait? Ian Gemson suggests investing in a bag of Vitalin, dog food made from maize meal, meat and bone meal. Mix it with hemp and other ingredients of your choosing, then mould to shape and make into boilies. Simple.

And while you’re at the pet shop, why not grab a bag of cat biscuits? They’re one of Paul Murphy’s favourites:

“Blitzed dried cat food biscuits mixed with brown crumb make an excellent alternative groundbait with great pulling power.”

Packed with protein

chickpeas for bait

Image source: shutterstock
Carp adore chickpeas

Nutritious pulses and beans aren’t just for vegetarians. They also appeal to carp! Experiment with different types to see what your local carp go for. Dan Jones discovered his have a penchant for chickpeas and canned kidney beans.

Or why not go with nuts?

“Peanuts, cashews, or brazils make a fantastic hookbait,” angler Clive Bradley says. Or alternatively, try Paul Murphy’s recipe for protein packed cheese paste:

“This is a lethal bait in both warm and cold temperatures and for less than £5 you will have enough bait to see you through a huge number of fishing sessions to come.”

Oils and attractants

Liquid attractants

dips glugs oils

Image source: Anglers mail
Attract more carp with dips, glugs and oils

Give your bait a boost, by experimenting with dips, syrups or glugs. Clive Bradley often uses liquid attractants when carp fishing:

“Groundbait mix always gets a good squirt of a complimentary flavour, and I nearly always have a tub of a dozen or so boilies that I’m using soaked in a corresponding glug.”

Liquid attractants are a mix of oil and strong smells which leak from your bait and feed, tempting carp with their scent.

Choose anything from strawberry to marmite flavours! Or take a cue from Ian Gemson who adds a splash of Aldi’s Irish cream liqueur to his maggots! Lucky fish!


Betaine is a soluble crystal extracted from sugar beet molasses. Added to your bait it’s a powerful appetite stimulant which also aids the fishes’ digestion. The Carp fishing tactics guys explain why it’s such a good liquid attractant:

“It’s perfect for when you are regularly fishing a water as the fish will come to realize that your bait is good for them and will actively look for it.”

You can also buy betaine in liquid form, which you can use to soak your pellets or particles, but remember – it’s strong stuff – a little goes a long way.

What’s your favourite carp bait? Please do let us know via our Facebook page.

10 Top Waterside Reading Recommendations

tackle and books

Image source: shutterstock
Everything you need for a fine day’s fishing…

Are you one of almost those anglers who love to pass the time between bites by sitting back with a good book? According to our Great British Fishing Survey, nearly a third of respondents are riverside readers who prefer forty pages to forty winks while they’re waiting on their bite alarm.

With them in mind, here’s our guide to the best riverside reads. Enjoy!

Learn from the best – The Adventures of a Carp Angler by Simon Crow

adventures carp angler

The trials and tribulations of an angling addict

Follow One of the world’s most experienced carpers, Simon Crow, as he fishes his way down the day-ticket rivers of England and out into continental Europe.

Chase legendary carp like Black Eye, Arnie and Yorkshire’s the Nostell Biggun with him as he tells the story of his life in fishing and talks openly about his angling addiction.

This easy-to-read series of adventurous tales will entertain and inspire experience anglers and novices too.

A good yarn – Crooked Lines: A Collection of Fishing Stories by Dominic Garnett

crooked lines

Upturn your peaceful afternoon with a little anarchy

Through barbed wire fences and holes in the ice, we follow acclaimed author Dominic Garrett from UK to New York and Poland, as he shows us real fishing, dirt and all.

None of that watery eyed, tweedy pin and cane prissiness here. This is dirt real!Idler’s Quest

A far cry from the idyllic images of angling painted by some other books, Garnett complements his quirky storytelling with beautiful original illustrations from Lord Bunn with original stunning photography.

One for the collection – A Flick of the Tale by Dave Lane

flick of the tale

Follow Dave’s big conquests

In this eagerly-awaited follow up to his first book “An Obsession with Carp”, Dave Lane details his relentless quest for big carp, visiting the Mere, Sonning and Conningbrook in search of his quarry.

the experience of reading the book is one not to be missed.UK Carp Angler.

The Fat Lady, Black Mirror and Bruno are just a few of Dave’s enviable conquests. He recounts his adventures with such detail and humour, you’ll be entertained for hours. With dazzling photography to boot, this is definitely one for your collection.

For a good laugh – The Best of Barlow by Frank Barlow

best of barlow

Boris will have you in stitches

This collection of hilarious columns from legendary angling writer, Frank (Boris) Barlow’s 10 years at Angler’s Mail is sure to brighten up even the dullest of afternoons by the riverbank..

“I heartily recommend this book to any anyone who likes fishing and smiling” Against Men and Fish

Equally renowned for his comic genius as he was for his fishing accomplishments, The Best of Barlow represents Boris in top form. His tales of triumph and disaster are chock full of his witty ‘Barlowisms’ – whether you loved his columns or you’ve never heard of Frank Barlow, this book is guaranteed to make you chuckle.

Like a bit of mystery? – Fishing’s Strangest Days: Extraordinary but true stories from over two hundred years of angling history by Tom Quinn

fishings strangest days

Strange but true tales to keep you hooked

Fancy the idea of fishing bait made from the flesh of hanged criminals? This collection of extraordinary, but true, fishing tales will give you ample material with which to regale your fellow fisherman.

Take the nine year old who harvested a mussel filled with so many pearls, it made him a fortune. These fascinating short tales are great for flicking through between bites.

For traditionalists – The Compleat Angler by Izaak Walton and Charles Cotton

the compleat angler

It’ll have you contemplating the bigger picture

In print for over 360 years, this classic angling work is one of the most famous and well respected fishing books ever penned.

Practical and inspirational, The Compleat Angler combines advice on catching fish and choosing flies and baits, with promoting angling as a way of life to be enjoyed with friends.

A celebration of the British countryside and the contemplative nature of the sport, it encourages you to stop and admire your surroundings, making the most of the whole experience of fishing, rather than just focusing on the catch. This one will make you think.

For wannabe historians – A History of Carp Fishing, Revisited by Kevin Clifford

history of carp fishing

A glimpse back in time to where it all began

Want to know how it all began? This comprehensive guide to carp fishing history in Britain is an update on the original, which was released to critical acclaim in 1992.

Renowned for his carping triumphs, author, Kevin Clifford was one of the top carp anglers of the 1970s. Here he indulges his passion for research, painstakingly cataloguing the origins of UK carp fishing, complete with detailed illustrations and photos.

“Undoubtedly one of the greatest angling books of our time.” Carp-Talk Magazine

Knowledge-hungry anglers will love this one.

If you’re a serious angler – The Complete Fishing Manual by Henry Gilbey

complete fishing manual

An encyclopedia of all things fishing

An encyclopedia of fishing, whether you’re into beach-fishing for sharks or fly-fishing in the rivers there really is something for everyone here.

There’s advice on fish anatomy, behaviour and habitat, step-by-step photo guides on technique, an illustrated fish directory and a complete destination guide.

This book is all you’ll ever need in a how-to.
Of course books aren’t the only angling reads to enjoy while you fish. Here’re two of our favourite fishing mags.

For some light entertainment – Carp-Talk

carp talk

Catch up every Tuesday

Carp-Talk is Britain’s biggest selling weekly carp fishing magazine. Out every Tuesday, it includes the biggest catches in your area, product reviews and competitions, as well as features from the likes of Steve Briggs, Iain Macmillan, Ian Chillcott and Simon Crow.

It’s engaging reading for a slow afternoon on the lake.

If you’re into the techy stuff – Crafty Carper

crafty carper

Learn how to get crafty

Improve your game and hear all the tricks of the trade with Crafty Carper. Each month, top UK anglers share their techy secrets – from methods to baits and tackle – to help you catch your dream carp.

You’ll also find plenty of product reviews, competitions, Q & A sessions and a Ticketmaster feature that highlights four different day ticket fisheries to try each month.
Next time you head out fishing, why not pop a book or magazine in your tackle box? That way, while you’re waiting for your bite alarm to go off, you can escape into another world, brush up on your technique, or simply enjoy a darn good laugh.


What do you think of our recommendations? Have we missed any of your favourites? Let us know on our Facebook page.

The angler’s guide to sharing FishSpy video

FishSpy - see what you're missing!

FishSpy – see what you’re missing!

The FishSpy camera is capturing the attention of anglers out there, and many of you are using it to help make better catches. Did you know how easy it was to edit and share the videos you take?

Here’s the lowdown on exactly how to do it, and we’ve got plenty of hints and tips to help you on your way.

To give you an example of what you can do with the FishSpy footage and VideoPad Editor (we’ll show you how to use that), here’s a video made from raw footage supplied by our FishSpy testers. Enjoy, and then learn how to do it yourself!

Transferring footage

fishspy connectivity

Fishspy is made for connectivity

Taken some great footage, but unsure how to show the world? If you can upload photos from your digital camera, you’ll be able to do the same with your FishSpy footage.
Take the flight off the FishSpy, and find the USB port

fishspy connected

Plug in, and you’re good to go

Plug your FishSpy into your computer with a USB cable. It’ll show up in your file explorer, where you can navigate to the FishSpy files. The footage can then be dragged, dropped and saved to your machine.

finding fishspy

Finding the FishSpy

fishspy files

All your favourite FishSpy moments

The FishSpy Manual also shows you how to get rid of any film you don’t want:

‘Delete footage from FishSpy using your computer or using Wi-Fi by pressing the X button’

Basic Editing

Want to edit a short section from a longer piece of footage? VideoPad Editor by NCH is free to download and easy to use. It’s compatible with Windows and Apple machines, and their ‘how-to’ guides on YouTube are incredibly helpful.

To upload and edit in VideoPad, click ‘add media file’ icon on the toolbar. This will open up your files. Browse to find your clip, select and click ‘Open’. This drops it into the Media List.

Importing files

Cutting out duller stretches of recording between more interesting snippets is easy. VideoPad lets you set ‘in and out points’ in your film. Select your video clip in the media list so it appears in the clip preview window.

Play the file and drag your cursor to the point you want to start, and click the red flag. This will set the ‘in point’. Mark the ‘out point’ by dragging the cursor to where you want the film to end and click the blue flag. This will set the end of the clip. To set it you click the green arrow.

Setting in and out points

If you’re not content with shorter clips, try compiling all your best moments from different trips into one blockbuster ‘Cream of the Carp’ movie.

Adding transitions to your film

Give your film a professional touch by adding in transition sequences. Transitions are smooth ways to move between clips. Fade to black, crossfading between clips and sharp cuts can give your film a more polished look. Select the film clips you want to move between and click the ‘Transitions’ tab on the toolbar. You’ll see a number of different effects to experiment with. Once you’ve found one you like, select it and add a duration time. About one second is usually plenty.

Adding text to your movie

Add interesting titles or snappy comments to your film by using the text editor. Use the ‘Overlay’ tab on the left hand side toolbar. Type your text into the ‘Add overlay text or image’ box. The text is added at the ‘in point’ on the film clip. You can move this to feature in a different place by simply clicking and dragging the little box and dropping it in the position you’d like.

Saving and exporting your film

It’s easy to save your film as a work in progress. Select ‘File menu’ and ‘Save file project as’. Give it a name, and choose a location on your PC to save it to. Files from VideoPad are always saved as .vpj files, but you can choose to save as .avi which is a better format for sharing on social media,.

Once it’s finished, export it! Find the ‘Save movie’ button at the top of the screen. There are a few options for saving your movie. Save to a disc or to your computer first. Then you can choose to save the film in a format that will be easy to send to YouTube or to your portable device such as an iPhone or other smartphone. Select which option you want to use, give each file a name, and then hit ‘OK’.

Social media sharing

Now your FishSpy film is looking great, what better way to show off your skills than to share it with your angling buddies on social media? Here’s how!

Uploading to YouTube:

Log in to YouTube and use the Upload tab in the top right hand corner. Drag and drop your exported movie into the box, or search your PC for the right file. Click the file and choose ‘Open’, and it will send it to YouTube.

You have options to personalize the film, so give it a title, add tags and a description. It can take a little time to upload the film, but when it’s finished and you’ve edited the boxes, click ‘Done’ and it will appear.

Uploading to Facebook:

Uploading directly to Facebook is a great way of achieving wider views and shares of your film than if you simply link to the YouTube video you created.

On your Facebook profile page, go to the status update box. Find the camera icon in the ‘What have you been up to?’ section. It will open up your PC files and you can select and add your film clip.

Depending on the size of your file, upload time varies, but you’ll get a notification to let you know when it’s complete. Add in a snappy or catchy title for your film, and let all your friends know where to find it online.

Sharing more privately

If you prefer to share your film clips with just a few select angling buddies, then why not try applications like Dropbox or Google Drive? You need to sign up for an account to use them, but it’s very quick and easy to do and it gives you more control over who you allow to see your videos

Using Dropbox to share files:

One great advantage of using Dropbox is that it allows you to find uploaded files on any computer, anywhere, any time! Use the ‘upload’ tab, select and it will ask you to ‘Choose files’. This will open your file explorer and you can select the FishSpy footage you want to send. Click ‘Open’. You have the option to add more than one file. Once you get a green tick on the right hand side of the upload box, you know your files are uploaded. Click ‘done’ and your file appears in your Dropbox folder.

To share your film, go to your Dropbox folder and search for the file you’ve uploaded, click the link and it will turn light blue. At the top of the screen is a tab labelled ‘Share link’. Type in the email of the person you want to share it with and hit send.

Using Google drive to share files:

Head to the Google home page and click the ‘sign in’ button at the top right hand corner. Log in, and find the apps tab in the top right hand corner. This will show you your Google Drive page. Select ‘New’, and then ‘File Upload’.

Choose your FishSpy clip and select ‘Open’, and it will add it to your Drive. To share, right click the file, add in the email(s) of the people you want to send it to. Then simply choose ‘Shareable link’ and ‘Done’. Easy!

Sending files to friends


Wetransfer’s easy, quick form

Another great way to share your films with friends is to just send it to them! Wetransfer is a service which provides a really easy, free way to do that. Using their simple form, just upload your clip an enter their email address and your own. Include an optional message, hit ‘Transfer’. It’s that simple – they’ll get an email with a link to download the file. No logging in, no account to set up, nothing. You can even choose to send the link via Facebook if you sign up to a premium account!

Now you’ve seen just how easy it is to record and share your footage from FishSpy, why not have a go yourself and show us your results? We’d love to see what you can come up with, so share away on our Facebook page!

Where Has Fishing Etiquette Gone?

Where Has Fishing Etiquette Gone?

Over the years that I have been fishing, I have seen some funny phases. When I first started, it was very secretive, but other angers would have the decency to talk to you and be very polite. They would ask you to leave the swim before they baited up or cast out again. Even to the point of casting in the wrong area until you had gone. Back in those days (what a line!) no one would set up anywhere near you and if so, they would have the decency to ask if they could do this.

Then came the stage that anglers would not talk to each other at all! They would just hide in their bivvies’ or just point blank ignore you. This then moved on to the set up anywhere and cast anywhere brigade.

Reserve you swim - acceptable or not?

Reserve your swim with a bucket – acceptable or not?

Anglers have now started to reserve swims, which I can see the point of this a little. 30 years ago, there were very few anglers and you could spend all day looking around with not even the hint of another angler.

Nowadays, you pull in most lake car parks and you can be followed in by several more cars. Getting back to the point, I have seen buckets put in swims for 2 to 3 hours. This I think is NOT acceptable in this day and age. Having found the person who owned the bucket and made inquiries r.e the bucket, I was told his mate was down later and wanted to fish near him (was he scared of the dark!?) he arrived 4 hours later. I have even seen a row of buckets & a chair once (is it beating the Germans to the sun lounger’s syndrome?).
I have also been told by a person who set up next to me on an empty lake that he fished this swim every Thursday night (even if the fish are topping round the corner?).

Some of the modern day angling behavior has been borne by the past and I can understand this to a point.  I found that it’s very hard to get a swim on some of the circuit waters, due to the volume of anglers. What I do on these lakes which have a secure car park, is to have a walk around with my bucket and place in the most likely swim (based on past trips in the weeks before). I then carry on with my wheelbarrow until I find a better one then go back and collect the bucket. This process only takes about an hour or less. Now, if you have the luxury that you have the place to yourself the ‘worlds your oyster’. What I have found as I moved onto the rivers to get away from this, it’s a pleasure to fish again and other anglers are very courteous to each other (and helpful).

Catch more fish – away from the crowds.

This post is all about thinking of other anglers before you set up. Most lakes I fish, anglers leave one swim apart and do not fish opposite to each other. This is just an unwritten rule and it works well. On the syndicate that I am a member of on the river Avon, people will not fish within a 3/4 of a mile. It’s so peaceful.

The odds of catch are greater when you are in your own area and away from the crowds. I don’t really understand why there is a need for any of this. It is very easy to be polite and courteous to other, it only takes a minute.

My point in this blog is to think of other angler’s (and also yourself) enjoy the peace and tranquility of fishing.

That’s all for now.



Using The FishSpy Underwater Camera To Check Baited Areas

The revolutionary FishSpy underwater camera is already proving it’s worth to carp anglers up and down the country, despite the wettest and windiest winter on record! Here Dave Lane explains how he uses FishSpy to check baited areas.

One extremely handy use for FishSpy is to check baited areas; whether this is pre-baited spots or just the actual areas you are fishing before topping up the swim.

FishSpy screen shots showing uneaten bait on a variety of lake beds.

Uneaten bait can be a problem on heavily fished waters and nobody would actually chose to fish over it so, checking a swim out before you start a session has obvious benefits.

After catching a fish, however, there has been no way to know how much of your loose feed has been eaten and, in my experience in the past when using boats, I have learnt that this varies dramatically.

Sometimes, particularly if you are using a pop-up, it can be the hook-bait that goes first and the rest of the feed barely gets touched. On other waters, and in different circumstances, the fish can take everything and leave the hook-bait until last or even return later and take it when it is being fished as a single bait.

On one occasion this summer, during testing, I caught a thirty five pound mirror from a spot I had baited with two spombs full of whole and chopped boilies. The fish came during the early morning feeding spell and was my only bite of the day.

Later, when the bite time had passed I considered re setting the trap for the following day and applying a further two spombs of bait to the area. Using the FishSpy camera I checked the area first and found that most of the bait was still present.

This told me that I had either hooked a solitary feeding fish or that the other fish had spooked off as I got the bite, leaving the remaining bait untouched.

I could see no point in applying yet more bait and simply recast on top of the existing feed, hoping that the fish would return at some stage.

Had every scrap of bait been gone and the bottom of the lake visibly disturbed then I would have increased the baiting levels, hoping to create a situation where I received more than just one fish the following day.

In the video below Dave uses FishSpy to investigate his swim after a missed bite at 4.30 am, and discovers a spomb full of bait.

The implications of bait checking with a FishSpy camera are simply huge.

  • Save yourself a packet in the cost of bait over a year.
  • Save time by avoiding areas where fish are clearly not feeding.
  • Maximise your chances of a carp taking your hook bait with just the right amount of bait being present in the the swim.
  • Check how successful your pre-baiting is, by seeing if those spots have been visited.
  • By using boiles of differing colours, shape and flavours it is now possible to determine a selection preference by checking baited spots.

I had always relied heavilly on guesswork but the FishSpy has changed all of that. I can now see exactly what is on the lake bed and fish far more effectively because of it.

Tightlines, Dave Lane.

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