Fly of the week – Simple Bloodworm Pattern

The bloodworm pattern is an imitation of the common chironomid midge or buzzer. The bloodworm is the early stage of a chironomids life, the lava. Bloodworm tend to spend the majority of their life living in soft mud or silt, when they’re active, the fish simply cant resist them! Silt is usually located at the deepest part of the lake around weed and reeds or in bays which are generally sheltered from prevailing winds. Locating these areas should provide the angler with great fly fishing early on in the season when fish are feeding close to the bottom.

Tying Instructions

Fasten a tungsten or gold bead to a strong, heavy gauge hook. Here I’ve used a Kamasan B110 hook, along with a veniard 3mm gold bead. A 3mm bead will fit either a size 10 or 12 hook perfectly.

Latch the thread onto the hook, building up a wall of thread behind the bead to stop it sliding down the hook whilst tying. Red UTC thread is ideal for this pattern, the multi stranded fine denier thread lies flat and evenly spreads when tying key materials to the hook. Wind the thread in touching turns down the body to opposite the barb, stopping here will leave plenty of room for the body.

Attaching a tail which will entice fish when the fly is falling or holding near the bottom, in theory, should increase catch rate. The tail on this bloodworm pattern is twisted flexi floss, to achieve this, hold a piece of red flexi floss three inches apart, and roll between your thumb and forefinger in opposite directions. After enough rolling the flexi floss will then fold in the middle and twist around each other creating a loop. Create the tail about the same length as the body. Secure in place with two to three thread wraps and then continue up the body, pulling the flexi floss over the back and trapping in with spaced even turns of thread, creating a ribbed effect over the floss/shellback. As you reach the bead, leave a few millimetres free and cut off the flexi floss.

Tie over the cut off from the flexi floss and create a short inch long rope of florescent red seals fur to create the thorax. Keep the rope quite loose so it can be pulled out with your dubbing brush for movement. Tie towards the eye whip finish and varnish – The fly is ready to go!

 Material List

Hook: Kamasan B110 Size 10
Bead: Veniards Gold Bead 3mm
Thread: UTC Red 70 Denier
Tail: Twisted Red Flexifloss
Body: Red thread
Shellback Cover: Red Flexifloss
Rib: Red thread
Thorax: Red Seal Fur

Fly of the week 2

Fly of the week 3

Written by Kieron Jenkins

Diawl Bach – How to?

The Diawl Bach is a hugely successful fly producing some amazing fish all over the world on a variety of methods and fisheries. As opposed to the Pheasant tail, the ‘Diawl Bach’ (pronounced Jawl Back, with a throaty ‘CH’ sound at the end, and also meaning ‘Little Devil’) is probably the second most used nymph on the fly fishing scene.

This fly can be fished on a variety of methods from forming part of a team on a buzzer cast or on a washing line technique close to the surface. The Diawl can also be a devastating fly fished between two lures on deep sinking fly lines, what usually happens is that a fish is attracted by the lure on the top dropper when pulled, but as it slows down the fish gets less interested and turns away to find something more subtle and foodlike below. A great middle dropper pattern when fishing the ‘Hang’.

The Diawl Bach imitates an emerging, hatching buzzer but can also be taken for a host of other nymphs, tied in many various guises and colours the Diawl is ideal for replicating the hatch of many other waterborn insects such as olives and mayflies.

The variations  on each fly within the team can be endless as each fly serves a purpose in its chosen position: anhcor, sinker or fisher. It’s often that one fly is positioned to fish bedded in weed, or on the shore so that the flies above may be in the taking zone.

This fly is also one of the most varied flies in our boxes, tail and body colours can be changed to give a different shade, while attractors such as coloured ribs and heads can be easily added. Traditionally, cheeks or breathers are added to give that little extra something and bring more life into the fly, Jungle cock is a great feather to add for colour as is goose biot or tinsel. The fly tying drawer is your oyster!

Tying the Diawl Bach 

This fly can be tied in just six simple steps.

1 – Run a length of thread down the hook to create a bed for your materials to be tied onto, and add around 6 strands of red game cock feather as a tail.

2 – Add your body and rib. The easiest way to do this is to work out what your going to be winding up the body first. The peacock herl is the body, and the wire – rib. Tie the rib in first and then lay the peacock on top. What this does is allows the body material to lay flat from the tie in point and is then secured neatly and as tight as possible by the rib.

3 – Wind the herl to the eye in touching turns. This keeps the profile of the nymph slim and uniform.

4 – Rib the body in the opposite direction to the herl. This secures the body in-case of any rips caused by fish teeth. For brighter ribs winding the opposite way also makes the colour more pronounced.

5 –  Tie in the throat hackle. To get the ideal length I usually marry up the tips of the throat hackle with the tail, on top of the hook and then tie in underneath. This roughly gives the same length on both areas giving the fly a great, balanced look.

6 – Finally, whip finish or half hitch and your complete! I tie all my Diawls with a subtle thread such as black or brown, keeping the underneath drab can sometimes give your fly a somewhat longer life as when the body rips after a few fish the fly is still dark and food like, as opposed to when tying with bright coloured thread.

Written by Kieron Jenkins

Alan Yates – Hook Removal


Watch any experienced sea angler remove a deeply lodged hook from a fish and it’s all over in a second, but for many novices and even some old hands, unhooking can be a traumatic and difficult task. The welfare of the fish is a considerable problem, especially for the novice sea anglers because a majority of sea fish are small, less than 5lb and the hooks we use are large and capable of inflicting harm to a small fish’s mouth unless they are removed carefully.

If you are fishing for the pot, and lots of sea anglers still do, then damaging the fish is not so much of an issue because it has already been dispatched, but if you want to return even a proportion of the smaller fish you catch, removing deeply embedded hooks is a problem.

Preventing fish taking hooks deeply in the first place is not always an option because most UK species eat first, swallow second, there is no thinking involved. Striking early can help, but it is not a fail safe solution and anyway the casting range and the fishing tackle used, especially on the shore, often only shows a bite when a fish is already hooked.

De-hooking quickly and efficiently is mostly about technique and angles, you simply need to manoeuvre the hook bend so that you are pulling against the barb only. A major problem for many is that they pull against the hook point and bend and this is what does the damage. Only practice will make you efficient with the method and it’s a good idea if you struggle to get an experienced angler to show you the how.

Disgorgers, de-hooking pliers, long nosed pliers and artery forceps can all help to make the task easier and less harmful to the fish, but there is a technique and skill to the procedure, a disgorger is not a short cut to easy de hooking if you don’t know how to use it!

One of the first things you can do to improve his unhooking efficiency is to use long shanked hooks. Whilst short shanks can often be superior for bait presentation, long shanks are the easiest to remove simply because there is more of the shank to grip hold of to twist, angle, bend or push. Soft wire hooks are another commonly used option although these can straighten when pulled and a sharp barb can cut the fish mouth inside. Micro barbed hooks are hooks are very practical if you want to fish catch and release and another alternative is to crush the barb of your hooks with a pair of pliers and you retain a fish holding bump at the hook point rather than a sharp, damaging barb.

A further alternative is to use smaller hooks. Coarse anglers catch carp on tiny hooks and its possible to also do this at sea provided your sea fishing tackle is balanced and your catch does not have to be lifted. Match anglers are increasingly adopting hooks down to size 10 because of the increase in catch and release events and these are far easier to remove without damaging the fish than the larger sizes. Small hooks are also more suited to removal with a freshwater type disgorger.

Lots of sea anglers use their finger as a disgorger, simply push your fore finger into the bend of the hook, push the hook and remove. Great for toothless fish, but for some like dogfish it’s not practical unless you want a shredded finger, so a disgorger is a worthwhile tool!  The best disgorgers for use with shore fish in my opinion is the Gemini. To operate simply slide the eye of the disgorger on to the snood line and push it down to the hook bend. Pull the hook snood line really tight with the other hand in the opposite direction and shake the fish and it should fall off the hook. A freshwater disgorger like the largest Stomfo model is the complete answer when using smaller hooks from flatfish and other small species.

Check out the TF Gear DVD featuring Alan Yates fishing in south Wales for a disgorger demo – its out soon.


When you reel in your fish drop it, still on the rig into a bucket of water. This allows it to revive before you remove the hook and return it.

You can damage some of the delicate species by holding them in your bare dry hands. Handle with a wet cloth or hold them by the mouth. Watch out for dogfish which will curl their tail up your arm if you hold them by the head and their rasping skin can take the skin off your wrist.

The last resort if a fish is deeply hooked is to cut the line as near the hook as you can and return the fish rather than wrestling the hook out which may kill the fish.

Hook in your finger etc? Then the hospital or doctor is the only solution, although a small hook can be removed in an emergency with a loop of strong line around the hook bend and a sharp pull when the “victim” is not looking.

Alan Yates

The only Barbel rig you will ever need

There are few articles written about barbel rigs because, let’s face it, they aren’t usually that difficult to hook. But there are considerations to be made and some of the dog’s dinners I’ve seen anglers using or have found on the river bank have made me shudder.

Let’s get one thing straight from the off – barbel are not carp. Most Coarse fishing tackle is fine, it does what it says on the tin. If you use carp tackle, especially lead clips, you are risking damage or death to fish in the event of a break off. I have recovered rigs with lead clips that I have had difficulty pulling apart with my hands so a tired, tethered barbel would have no chance.

Over the years I have tried numerous adaptations on a theme and have made all the mistakes that everybody else makes but, I have kept experimenting. I now have a rig that I haven’t changed for two or three seasons which means that I am quite happy with it. It ticks all the boxes and I believe that it is just about perfect – the only one I and hopefully you, will ever need.

The hook and leader are adaptable to conditions, more of that later. The important part for me is where the lead connects to the hooklink. This area is where we have to place most consideration to the fish’s welfare as a fish towing a lead is in severe danger. Also, and of great concern to me, was the number of times I lost a fish when the leader wrapped around the lead link. A barbel in full panic flight will make short work of most leader materials if they are tangled around a lead or link swivel, recovering a short, broken hooklink is usually a sign that this has happened. I tried beads, sometimes two or three in a row between the swivel and link swivel to create a stand off effect and this usually worked but not always, the same is true of tail rubbers. Using a link swivel is always liable to create a tangle just by virtue of the amount of drop from the main line. Any movement of your lead as it rolls along the bottom, something we often do to provoke a take, is likely to tie the whole lot into a knot.

So, let’s get to the point – Korda anti tangle sleeves (Kats), the answer to the barbel angler’s prayer. The pictures will show what I am on about. Immediately it is apparent that the stand off effect is exaggerated which helps us no end. But the clever bit comes when we eliminate the swivel from the link to the lead. By taking the swivel out of the equation we remove most of the problems associated with tangles.

By using just the link and attaching it directly onto the Kats we create a semi-fixed, self-hooking rig that is generally what we are looking for when barbel angling. The taper of the sleeve allows us to fine tune the amount of tension on the link and, in the event of the fish snapping you off and by carefully attaching the link at the correct point on the Kats, the lead will easily slip off and the fish will not become tethered. It really is simplicity itself and works with leads and feeders.

But, I hear you ask, what about when I want to use a running lead? Easy, just slide the link off the Kats and away you go, a running lead.

If you want to be cute and, in true Boy Scout manner, prepared, simply add a bead above the Kats when you set up. Now, if you are roving and altering your approach in different swims, you simply reattach the link above the bead which will stop it from riding up the Kats and give you a perfect running rig. You can even tease the bead over the end of the Kats for a neater set up.

You can even do away with the swivel at the end of your mainline and use a quick-change link. This allows you to switch and swap your terminal gear as well as going from fixed to running lead with the absolute minimum of fuss.

My last bit of fine tuning is to cover anything shiny (usually the link which can become shiny when its been on gravel for a while), with bits of modelling clay which will stay in place as there are no moving parts such as you have when using a link and swivel.

For the bit between the Kats and the hook, well that’s a whole article in itself. I am certain that many of you have your own opinions of hooklinks and I have tried them all. For the record, I generally start off with a length of Fluorocarbon which gives me a hooklink that will sink and sit well on the bottom. This may go directly to the hook or, when I feel it is necessary, I will form a combi-rig by attaching a short braided hooklink to the fluoro via a mini swivel.

There you have it, a simple rig with minimal bits and pieces needed to construct it which means less odds and ends to carry with you. If you stick to this simple set up you will find it efficient and adaptable to all of your barbel fishing needs.

Written by Dave Burr

Czech Nymphing

Whilst Czech nymphing, I generally tend to concentrate on fast, poppily water with a fair depth. This distinguishes quite easily where the fish (you’d think!) would be lying up. Any little crease in a run, boulder with a back eddy or where two currents meet, should hold a fish or three.

Making sure your flies travel downstream at the same pace of the river is crucial, this is called dead drift. If a nymph is moving faster than the current, it becomes unnatural and most educated fish would leave it alone. But, sometimes, if there are stockies in the river, or its a hard days fishing, leading your flies downstream a faster than the current can sometimes provoke a take depending on the situation.

‘Jigging’ is one of my favourite ways to induce a take. By casting the flies upstream, and leaving them trundle along the bottom downstream can become pretty repetitious, to you and the fish. If there’s a fish in the run your fishing that’s already seen or had a go at your flies, it can become put off. By jigging the flies, lifting the rod tip a few inches, causing the flies to come up from the bottom to about mid level, and allowing them to drop back to the bottom can provoke the fish into taking again. There has been many a time where I have been fishing the river Rhymney and caught the same fish in the same pool, on the same fly, twice! Just simply by changing the behaviour of the flies.

Czech Nymphing is a generally a sight fishing method, so casting short and keeping the rod high, at about a 45o angle, will give you a good view on your fly line. Each take you have whether fishing dries or nymphs,  you will always certainly see before you feel as most takes by the time they are felt, they are missed. This is why I think this method is so effective. If the fly line does anything – pull, flick, stop, dart or delays, LIFT. Any movement on the end of the fly line could mean fish! Eight out of Ten times, its probably the bottom, but the other two times, it will probably be a fish.

A Typical set up for Czech Nymphing is a long fly rod – the ideal being up to 10 feet in length. Rod weight should be around a 4 or 5 weight although for smaller rivers a lighter and shorter rod may be more appropriate for this method. Czech Nymphing is quite intensive work, the physically lighter the rod the better. Personally I use  Airflo Streamtec 10ft 4-5weight fly rod. A good sight indicator will also help, be it braid or a czech nymphing leader.

Leader setup is also crucial. Having your flies to far apart, or to close could mean the difference between a few fish or a bag full. I tend to have my droppers around 16-20 inches apart. This means that I can fish shallow runs and also deep pools without changing the length of the leader, only the weight of the flies. By keeping the rod high and the fly line out of the water, having a considerably longer distance between flies could mean that in shallow water the top dropper could evidently be out of the water and not fishing.

Czech nymphs

Czech nymphs are probably one of the most varied flies available. They come in many different sizes and colours. But most czech nymphs seem to all have one similarity, its shape.  Their shapes all tend follow one trend, thin at the ends and fat in the middle. Profile is everything with Czech nymphs. The thin profile helps the fly cut through the water layers, sink fast and smoothly to get to where the fish are lying.

Below is one of my favourite and easiest Czech nymphs to tie.

Fly Tying materials

Hook: Kamasan B110 Grub hook

Silk: UTC shell pink

Under body: Small Lead

Rib: Airflo Sightfree G3 3lb + UTC copper wire Small

Shell Back: Body Stretch Pink

Back Strip: Pearl Opel Med

Body: Pink Marabou

Head: Clear Varnish

Mount A hook in the vice and run one wrap of thread down the shank. This acts as a base for the glue to set and lead to be wrapped onto without slipping.

Apply a drop of super glue to the hook, and wind an under body of Lead wire. Taper each end by building up layers of thread, Just to give it that “grubby” shape.

Tie in all the essentials. Firstly the 3lb G3, the shell back, copper wire, pearl tinsel and finaly the marabou for the body

The order in which the materials are tied in will help here and in the further steps as you will see.

Wind the Marabou up the body in touching turns, covering the lead and tie off.

Apply a small amount of varnish along the underside of the pearl (the side that touches the back of the fly), pull over and tie off. (The varnish helps secure the pearl in place so it doesn’t twist/turn when you wind the rib). Wind the copper rib, the opposite way to the body as it aids it’s durability.

Pull and stretch the shellback over the back of the fly. Try and judge so that the shellback sits evenly on each side of the fly. Tie in, cut off and do a small half-hitch at the head to avoid any unwanted accidents and the whole fly unravelling.

Finally wind the nylon through the fly in touching turns with the (underneath) copper rib, tie in, whip finish and varnish.

The colour intensity of the marabou does not fade, wash out or get water logged and loose its colour like some dubbing does. Ovcourse, tying with the appropriate colour thread as a base beneath any of the materials used for a body will have a massive impact on its colour once wet.

Marabou is strong and very mobile. The ‘legs’ created by its herls give great movement and also give it a very lifelike look, albeit pink.

This fly works extremely well fished on the point of a team of three flies. If I was Czech Nymphing, id generally have three Czech Nymphs on my cast, the middle dropper being the heaviest, to get all flies as deep as possible without causing too many snag ups.

photos courtesy of Steffan Jones at

photos courtesy of Steffan Jones at

Personally, I prefer to use this fly whilst Czech Nymphing for grayling. Through the winter grayling tend to switch onto brightly coloured flies, pink being their favourite but this can only be determined by trial and error. To fish all day comfortably through the winter, the appropriate clothing is needed. Fishing in the winter can sometimes mean standing in water at around 4-8oC and sometimes colder!

This fly works extremely well fished on the point of a team of three flies. If I was Czech Nymphing, id generally have three Czech Nymphs on my cast, the middle dropper being the heaviest, to get all flies as deep as possible without causing too many snag ups.

Written by Kieron Jenkins

Lead Clips and In-lines

Without doubt, the most popular method of lead set ups in use in the UK at the moment is the lead release clip.

Use Pin to attach to swivel

A lead release clip can also be used safely with leaders but, unlike the heli-rig, the leader will remain attached to the rig should a breakage occur.

Remove hard plastic inner

The principal behind the release clip is that pressure from the front (hook end) of the rig will pull the clip free of the lead should it snag up on anything.

Replace with soft inner

I personally prefer that the lead can detach with just a sharp jerk of the rig and submit my rigs to the same test as I use for the heli-rigs, if you can’t jar it off with a little flick then I am not happy with it!

A lot of carp anglers are paranoid that adjusting the clip so as it is more sensitive (safe) will mean lots of lost leads but remember that they can only detach when the rig is pulled from the hook end. Occasionally when the lead hits a shallow feature at speed it can ‘knock’ the lead free but it is a small price to pay for piece of mind, isn’t it?

On very weedy waters the clip can be trimmed back by cutting the arm back with scissors or just pushing the tail rubber lightly over the clip and, by using a heavy lead, it will discharge as soon as a fish hooks itself. After a fish looses the lead they tend to rise to the surface a lot quicker and it’s not unusual to strike and get an instant boil on the surface of the lake, even in fairly deep water.

Lightly attach tail rubber for easy ejection

When I’m carp fishing, the Zig rigs I use I take one step further and trim the clip back quite severely and, also, I only push the tail rubber up so that it actually sits just under the arm, rather than trapping the arm shut. With careful casting and a slow lowering of the lead to the bottom it will stay on the clip perfectly but, as soon as a fish takes the zig, the lead will fall off. I do this because playing fish on a long hook link where the lead could be left swing around six seven or even ten feet away from the carp can often lead to hook pulls.

For the lead to pull free of the clip; the clip must not be able to pull free of the rig swivel or else the whole lot, lead, clip and all; simply slides back up the line and can cause all sorts of problems during the fight, especially if weed is involved.

This is where the pin system on some lead clips comes in handy as it holds the clip in place on the swivel, I would never consider using a clip that didn’t actually fix to the swivel in one way or another.

Most lead clips are a plastic component and plastic will wear and tear in use, especially if you are catching a few fish or fishing at range with big leads. Keep an eye on the tail rubbers and replace them at the first sign of splitting at either end. A spilt at the pointed end will result in tangles as the hooklink will have something to catch on as it spins around the rubber. A split at the fat end of the tail rubber will seriously affect the pressure needed to release the lead and you may well start dropping leads on impact when you cast.

Also the arm that the lead is mounted on, in time, will weaken slightly and this should also be checked regularly, the clips are not overly expensive and you get ten in a packet so replace them as needed.

If your preference is for an in-line lead set up, which in reality is the most tangle free of all, then I would recommend removing the hard plastic insert and replacing it with a softer safety sleeve, these can be bought in packs of ten and are not overly expensive, they will add to the safety of the finished set-up. A lot of in-line leads are supplied with ‘hard’ plastic inners and most of these fail to pass my ‘bounce’ test for safety, I find the soft versions far safer. Obviously though, as with a helicopter set up, the in-line lead will always stay attached during the fight and, because of this, I wouldn’t recommend either in extremely weedy conditions as the lead can snag up and hinder the fight.

A recent big mirror taken on a zig and quick release lead



Hungry shore crabs as well as shrimps and small fish can ruin a fishing trip by removing the bait before the bigger fish can get to it. In the most extreme cases of crab infestation the only alternative is to avoid venues altogether, but on occasions when fish are actually in on a venue eating your hook baits keeping them intact or maximising their time on the sea bed is important.

Without doubt the most effective way to beat the crabs is to time the duration of each cast, if the bait is being removed shorten the cast, if the bait is not being taken, lengthen it. Sounds simply, but lots of anglers spend countless hours fishing without bait on their hooks, because they fish robotically timed casts,  or only react to bites. The first cast will usually tell you immediately how active the crabs are and from that time you can adjust your cast timing to suit the bait’s survival.

It is common on many venues to find that crab activity ceases the minute the fish come on the scene, something lots of sea anglers are totally unaware of. That’s the time to increase your concentration on cast timing etc

In extreme situations there are a number of solutions and the first is to add floating beads to the hook snood near to the bait. These work well for some species of flatfish like flounders, plaice, etc to lift the bait up off the sea bed away from the hungry crabs. However, all crabs can swim so baits are not completely safe, but float beads do make it more difficult for the crabs to remove baits and in many cases they present the bait slightly off the bottom which may be where the fish are looking for them.

There are lots of buoyant beads available and they come various sizes and in bright colours too. Important is to make sure that your bead or beads stays close to the bait and some form of stop on the snood will keep the bead at the hook end of the snood. Use a short length of silicone tubing and pass the line through it twice, it will then lock in position to hold your bead. Float beads also make the perfect bait stop on rigs with bait clips. Now, whilst floating beads do work on lots of occasions there are a large percentage of UK sea fish that will not chase baits high off the sea bed. These include the flatties as well as cod, pout, dogfish etc and in lots of situations the best results come from baits nailed to the sea bed. Those species that do take a bait off the bottom include garfish, pollack, mackerel, bream, pollack and scad, whilst bass and coalfish are amongst others that occasionally take a moving bait or feed off the sea bed.

Another method for very extreme situations is to use a flounder spoon and actually retrieve the bait along the sea bed. This catches well in some estuaries where hungry crabs can be impossible to combat because they remove a static bait in seconds. Here a metal or plastic spoon with a short hook length and baited hook, usually ragworm, is continually cast and retrieved. Various beads etc can be added to the hook snood to introduce colour, noise or lift. Sensing a bite the angler stops reeling and pauses for the fish to take the bait.

Some hook baits are obviously more crab resistant than others, but not all of the toughest baits are regularly accepted by all species and so beating crabs by using the wrong bait for a venue is not really the solution.

Peeler crab: Is just about the most crab resistant bait there is – Whilst crabs definitely eat crabs there are times when crab flesh will be ignored, especially when the crabs are peeling and the cock crabs are looking for a mate. Peeler crab is also the most versatile and scented bait that is crab resistant and will stay on the hook longer and be eaten by the more species than any other bait.

Sandeel: Sandeel is a fairly robust bait that will withstand the attacks of crabs, especially if whipped on the hook. Another way to toughen it up is a wrap of squid, whilst a worm whipped alongside a sandeel is a great cocktail. Simply use elastic cotton to strap the worm the length of the sandeel for a parallel cocktail.


Fish: Most of the fish baits seem to be an instant crab attractor and they don’t last that long if used in small slivers. Cutlets of small mackerel are better than slivers when crabs are busy and if using a large bait mount the skin side out. Boat anglers use a section of fresh silver eel for tope to keep crabs and dogfish off and it is very effective.


Worm: All of the marine worms are easy prey for crabs and being soft they can be removed in minutes. A good tip when fishing for flounders in an estuary apart from adding a few float beads to the snood near the hook to lift the bait off the bottom is to use the head section of the largest ragworm you can find. You can also strap several lugworms together on a baiting needle using elastic cotton for a tougher worm sausage.

Squid: Perhaps the most crab resistant bait although a large offering of squid is not every species ideal bait and so its use as a crab deterrent is not often worthwhile except for the larger specimens like cod, bass, conger etc.


There are other baits and options you can use to fish where the crabs are active. Try a float fished soft of crinkly crab – That’s a crab that has already peeled and is still soft. A great way of fishing them for bass is to hook them through the side or rear shell and fish from a groyne or pier suspended under a float alive.

A bait that is naturally found off the sea bed away from hungry crabs is the prawn – a tail hooked live prawn will catch lots of species and is a great movement bait to use free lined or under a float.

Live sandeel are another bait that is worth trying to avoid crabs, again fished free line or under a float and hooked so that it can swim freely off the sea bed.



Using a larger bait is not al ways the answer because it will attract more crabs but using a smaller bait may make it more difficult or take longer for the crabs to find the bait – Obviously the down side is that that applies to the fish as well. Similarly casting different distances or angles makes the crabs work to get to your bait.

The complete answer is to mesh your bait in a crab proof (armour) mesh and these are available in carp fishing for use when baits are attacked by crayfish.



The common shore crab is the main bait thief. But as the summer progresses in many regions others in the crab clan move in on the baits. The red edible and velvet swimmers are most common on deeper water and rocky marks, whilst the spider crab is increasingly common on all venues especially deep water and clean sand.

Whilst crabs get the main blame for removing baits – Shrimps, prawns, shellfish and small fish also do their share of hook cleaning through the season.

Whilst anglers collect shore crabs for bait, most crustaceans have a minimum legal size limit and it is illegal to remove or offer undersize crabs for sale, although in many sea regions the limits are not enforced on anglers using crabs as bait. Check with your local Fishery Officer.

The minimum sizes vary throughout the regions although averages are:

Velvet swimmer 65mm

Lobster 87mm

Crawfish 110mm

Spider crabs 130mm

Edible crab140mm


Q & A

Q: How can I stop spider and large edible crabs etc nipping through my hook snoods?

A: Spider crabs have extended their numbers and range in recent years reaching plague proportions on many southern venues and they are still moving north. There is no real answer to them nipping through mono hook snoods as they devour your bait other than to check snoods regularly for damage and if you are fishing for the larger species like smoothhounds increase the diameter of the snood line and use the tougher fluorocarbons.

A short solid wire bite trace is used by anglers overseas to combat the fish that bite through mono and this idea might be worth trying in extreme cases. A short Gemini Genie boom is simply added to the hook making the hook an extra long shank. Alternatively a short bite trace in the aptly named Spider wire (80lb) which is a stiff braid line makes a relatively crab proof snood.

How to tie a solid PVA bag

Firstly I’m going to start with the rig; it’s not too complicated but I would suggest you  use in-line leads for the rig to be more effective, rather than a lead clip set up or helicopter set up, because you want the heaviest end of the lead to bed the hook in the carps mouth.

The components you will need to tie this rig with are:

  • Nash fang twister size 10
  • Fox micro rig rings,
  • TFG putty,
  • Korda shrink tube
  • Korda supernatural 18lb
  • Nash Triggalink

Rig Tieing components

Any other braided material, hook, putty, can be used in this rig, but Nash Triggalink is a must as it is the only stretchy braid on the market that I know of, and is what makes the rig so effective. When the fish picks up your hook bait and feels the weight of the lead, the carp will try and drop the hook – but the stretchiness of the Triggalink will act as a shock absorber and will reduce the chance of the hook pulling.

To tie the rig, you start by cutting off 4 inches of korda 18lb supernatural braid, then tie a hair for your chosen bait and place your bait on the hair. In this case I’m using Celtic baits 14mm Le Crunch boilie tipped with a bit of pink fake corn.

Once this is done, slide on a fox micro rig ring, followed by the Nash fang twister. Do a overhand knot to secure the rig ring in place, then do a knot-less knot; I tend to do 5 to 7 turns up the shank of the hook.

Cut off 6 inches of Nash Triggalink, then grab the tag end of the korda supernatural braid and  tie them together by using a double grinner knot, making a combi rig. Cut off the tag ends to neaten up the rig, then slide a bit of korda shrink tube up the braid to your hook. Tie on your swivel before steaming the shrink tubing,  as the Triggalink will retract when it comes in contact with water and make it difficult to tie it to the swivel.

Your rig is nearly complete, but the Triggalink has poor camouflage. This can be overcome by grabbing a bit of TFG putty and rubbing it up and down the Triggalink, this will make it darker in colour and also give it some weight to keep it to the deck (so making it harder for the carp to detect).

Completed Rig

Solid PVA Bagging

I’ve been messing around with this a lot recently, especially in France, and caught some nice fish whilst using this tactic.

The components you will need are:

PVA Bag Components

My preferred size of PVA bags are 70mm x 200mm; these may seem big, but I prefer them as they give me enough material to work with.

Grab a PVA bag then start filling it. I tend to fill about half an inch to an inch of bait, with a mix of ground-bait, boilie crumb micro pellet (the smaller the baits the  tighter the bag).

Mask your hook with a bit of PVA foam, so your hook won’t get any bait on the point whilst filling your PVA bag.

Hook masked

Next, push your hook-bait down the side of the bag and hold up the lead; continue filling the bag until you get halfway up your rig, then pack it down and place your lead in the bag. Continue to fill and pack until you’re happy with the size of the bag.

The reason I like to use big bag is because it can be fiddly using small bags and tying the bags tight. Firstly spilt the seams down the side of the bag, then do one overhand knot on one side of the TFG leader and another overhand on the other side. One more again on the other side, pull down tight, and cut the tag ends to tidy up the bag and make it as aerodynamic as you can.

Final bag and rig

Perform what I call a ‘lick and stick’; lick and stick the edges of the bag and fold them in tidily so you can cast the bag in a straight line and long distances if needed.

One of the carp caught in France with solid PVA bags (34lb 6oz)

If you have any questions, feel free to email me at, or visit