Question time

To give you the most detailed advice to your questions, I will be adding regular videos answering your best questions. Dont hesitate to get them in below.

Gary Matthews: Hi Lee, I wonder if you can help, on my last two matches I have really struggled with foul hooked f1s + stockies when fishing tight across in 3ft of water. I started off with a 4x12 float with a bulk above the hook length before changing to just two droppers which seemed to work the best. For feed I was kinder potting in maggots, then tried going shallower an inch at a time but strangely this failed to produce a bite. Have you got any idea on how i could solve this problem because it was really doing my head! Both matches I lost enough fish to at least frame.

LK: Hi Gary, This is a common problem when the fish are feeding aggressively in shallow water. The best way to solve this is by fishing with a heavy float, say 4x14 or 4x16. I combine this with a bulk 4 inches from the hook and making sure your float is RIGHT against the far bank. I mean, you cant get a fag paper between the two. Feed accurately and place your bait right amoungst the feed. Give this a try, and you should dramatically reduce the amount of foul hooked fish.

Andy: Hi Lee, what are the pros and cons of using a 4inch or a 6inch hooklength ,and which situation would make you choose one over the other , or do you not think it makes any difference which you use.

LK: Hooklength choice is governed by the bait and species you fish for.  For example, when fishing for small fish on venues with little or no flow, I prefer a 4inch hooklength because the fish often don't positively move the bait.  So the short hooklength with a shot just above, will register quickly on the float.  For bigger fish however, such as bream or carp.  I prefer longer hooklengths, such as 6inch, or even 12 inch.  THis give them time to take in the bait before it registers on the float.  Basically the length of the hooklength is dictating the position of my final shot before the hook.




Preston Gilding: When does it start to become viable and how would you build a meat line? I am also interested in how you would decide when to shallow up and to what depth?

LK: Hi Preston, Meat really is a bait that picks out the bigger fish.  So in my opinion as soon as bigger fish start to become active, meat can be considered.  I would say that the 5m area of your swim can be an area that can really throw up winning weights, so if in doubt, feed it as a throwaway line.  I would say March to Oct are times when meat will play a part in my match.
As for shallowing up.  I would be prepared to shallow up at any time of the year, if I was getting liners or a lot of indications which didn’t result in fish in the net.



Ian Mellor: I have been reading Jamie Hughes article in this month's match angling.  He was saying that he does not use expander pellets on the hook, but uses feed pellets that have been soaked. I have tried soaking mine but seem to go mushy and won’t stay on the hook.  I don’t know whether it, is the way I am soaking? Or I am using the wrong make of pellet? Wondered if you could shed some light on this subject.

LK: Hi Ian, Jamie is an excellent angler, especially with pellets.  I too was interested in his thoughts on fishing a feed pellet on the hook.  I have prepared them the same way as I do expanders, but without the need to pump them.  Basically I put them in a bag with just enough water to cover them and tie the bag down.  Expanders still work very well mate, many matches have been win with them, so don’t rule them out just yet.



Willy Ward:  When fishing pellet for skimmers carp ect would you fish dead depth.lay it on or just fish off the bottom. And would you still keep lifting ur bait up and down like when using maggots. Or just have a stationary bait.

LK:  Hi Willy, It is important to remember in fishing there are no hard and fast rules, so always be prepared to experiment.  However with pellet fsihing I would always start fsihing dead depth.  If the wind is bad, or the fsih are starting to come shallow, I may consider changing to suit there response.  I also work the hook bait all the time, definitely gets you more bites.



Geoff Lukins:  Just wanted to ask why expanders have a habit of splitting. Is it necessary to leave them to soak for a while prior to pumping them. Also I have had occasions when there has been no indication on the float yet the hook has come back minus the pellet. I know that I am bang on with my plumbing up so us it possible for small fish to tear a pellet off the hook without anything registering on the float.

LK: Hi Geoff.  Expanders are a tricky topic because everyone does them slightly differently.  As for expanders splitting it is important not to over soak them and make sure you are using a good quality expander.  I always do mine the same way.  Put them in water, in a pump, for 2 minutes.  Pump the pellets so they all sink and tip the content into a water tight plastic bag.  Tie the bag right down so all excess water comes out and the bag is tight around the pellets.  Put them in the fridge overnight and you will have a finished pellet that has not been able to over expand, perfect for hooking.  As for the small fish taking the bait.  There is a chance this is happening on the drop perhaps, not registering on the float, or more likely the over wet expander has fallen off before you have lifted the rig clear of the water.


Mark Ridall:  With a massive variety of hook patterns in our tackle shops today it can be very confusing as to which ones to settle on.  Especially through the warmer months.  How would you narrow it down to decide which patterns of hooks to cover all the different alternatives, such as species, baits and depths.

LK:  Hi Mark, Hook choice is certainly something that gets anglers taling, and as you can imagine, everyone has their own preferences.  For warm water commercial fishing I make my life really straight forward by using just three hook patterns.  Firstly the PR434.  This hook covers most of my fishing on commercials where big carp are not involved.  So by that I mean when I will be using baits that you hook, such as corn, meat and maggots, for fish from silvers to carp up to 5lb.
The next hook I use is a PR456, this is my bagging hook, I used it in a 14 when catching 513lb last year, it is very strong, sharp and reliable, so always my No 1 choice for big carp, or bagging.
Finally a PR36.  This is my hook for all my hair rigging.  This covers everything from shallow pellet to a method and boilie.
These three hooks make life very simple, and I have them prepared in a variety of strengths to cover nearly every commercial fishing situation in the warmer months.


Andy Bruton:  I wanted to ask you about the use of different Leams in lakes, when NOT fishing with joker. Is it something that you use or would you mainly just use groundbait. I am specifically fishing for silvers too.

LK: Hi Andy, As you know the use of Leams is usually associated with the use of bloodworm and joker.  Although I have found that actually leam is a very useful addition to groundbait.  Its main function is that it adds weight to your mix, without adding any real food content.  It is a misconception though that fish don’t eat the leam.  They are actually quite happy to take in leam along with other baits.  My two favoured ways of using leam are firstly with light fishmeal groundbaits such as Sonubaits F1.  This is deadly for skimmers with the addition of a few dead maggots.  My other option is to use leam and soil combined with chopped worms and casters.  This is a proven winner for perch and tench on rivers and drains.


Callum:  Lee, whats the best way to lay your rig in when fishing on the drop?

LK:  When fishing on the drop you must lay your rig out in a straight line, there is no right or wrong direction.  I have caught well laying it with the wind and holding the rig tight, but I prefer to lay it against the wind and use the wind to slow the drop of the rig. Be prepared to mix and match to find what is best on any given day.


Martin Fisher:  When it's freezing cold, how long would you stay on a certain method that wasn't working?  Primarily a straight lead or method for carp at big fish venues such as Viaduct.

LK:  Hi Martin, When fishing for carp in winter I think it is very important to realise you have 5hrs, and you may not need many fish to win.  Therefore I try to remember two key rules, be prepared to search your peg, but be patient.  By this I mean I would be prepared to cast my bomb to a spot in front of me and wait up to 40minutes for a bite.  If I don’t have a bite there, my next cast would be to a different area of the peg.  Also keep an eye out at the anglers around you.  If the waggler or method seems to be catching more fish, then once you have found signs of carp in your peg you can consider changing your approach.  Don’t try to fish 4 different methods in the first 30minutes!


Mark Ridall:  Hi Lee, I've recently been speaking to a lot of anglers who have been using Fluro-carbon line for hooklengths, especially during the colder months for carp and f1's.  What is your opinion on the subject?  Do you think it makes a difference? Even with such low diameter lines available today?

LK:  Hi Mark, I too am a fan of fluro carbon in lighter diameters.  But unlike some I am not convinced that the line claiming to be ‘see through under water’ make much of a difference in such fine diameters.  Especially as a lot of venues still have colour in them.  Personally I think the benefit of fluro carbon is that the line is quite stiff and heavy.  I think this helps to prevent the bait spinning and shows bite indication fractionally better as the rig becomes very direct.  If there is a benefit of being less exposed underwater as well, then even better.  I certainly wouldn’t rule out giving it a try.


Phil Prescott: Hi Lee, what elastic do you recommend for commercial fishing, say depths of 4/5ft for skimmers to a 1lb+  and roach to 8oz?

LK: Hi Phil, Elastic choice is a popular question. But for the scenario you have mentioned I would consider either a single 6, or the new dura hollo 8h.  The 6 would be my choice if it was very unlikely I would be hooking and big fish.  I would even consider a single 5 if the fish where all small, such as roach.  The 8h would be worth considering though if there is an odd bonus fish such as carp, tench or big bream.  


Paul Goodwin:  Hi Lee, What would your approach be when your peg starts fizzing, especially when trying to target skimmers with micros.  It drives me nuts!

LK:  Hi Paul, I know what you mean, fizzing fish also drive me crazy.  The biggest problem is that you can actually see the amount of fish in your peg, I expect there are often many fish in our pegs, but we don’t know it.  The other issue is that the fish start to dig up the soft bottom, and find it very difficult to pick out your hookbait from all the soft silt.  I try a few things.  First of all, I don’t like small baits like micros on soft bottoms, I prefer bigger baits like meat, corn, or worms.  I think pellets are the hardest thing to catch on a soft bottom, so I often try and avoid them.

Other tips involve fishing past your main area of feed, this is an area where the fish will be, but the fish can pick your feed out early.  My other technique is to come shallow.  The fish are there, so with regular feed you can attract them up in the water.  Keep this in mind next time you go on a venue soft silt. 


Andy:  Hello lee, I am new to pole fishing I've been told pb5 4x16 for fishing the bottom at 6 meters and pb4 4x14 for fishing the margins on commercial lakes fishing pellet and maggot is this correct.

LK: Andy this is a very broad question.  If you are new to pole fishing you will soon learn that any fishing is not a general as this.  You need to consider depth, wind, and species when you decide on float choice.  A good guide is 0.1g for every 1ft of water, so 3ft = 0.3g, 5ft = 0.5gr.  This is a rough guide but a great place to start.


Steve Barlow: When fishing shallow I have big problems missing bites! Are these likely to be small fish or am I missing out!

LK: Hi Steve, I am not sure what sort of fish you are targeting but assuming you are on a commercial fishery I expect you are targeting carp! When carp fishing with baits such as pellets and meat missed bites from carp don’t tend to be too much of a problem. Smaller fish such as F1s and skimmers struggle to get bigger baits in their mouth and also feed at spped when off the bottom. With this in mind you have two choices. If you are catching carp then work through the missed bites, if you are struggling then target these smaller fish with smaller hooks, lines and baits such as single maggot or 4mm pellets. Also be prepared to fish a short line between your pole tip and float. All of this is doesn’t really work for carp, but it could keep putting fish in the net during those harder periods!


Luke Godley: When catching silvers on commercials how do you target the bigger fish?

LK: Hi Luke, Silver fish on commercials really can give you fantastic days sport, I understand your problem though because often there are lots of small roach that prevent you catching those bigger specimens. The key to commercial silvers in my opinion is bait choice! Baits such as maggots and even casters can be quite negative in the warmer months. With that in mind I always look to pellets, meat and corn to catch those better fish. Soft 4mm pellets will catch all species, including roach, so try feeding hard 4mm pellets and fishing either a soft 4mm or 6mm over the top. Another good tip is to target these fish at the bottom of the near shelf. Usually 4-6m. This is often the best area for carp in the last part of a match, but before then it can be silver fish heaven!


Chris Hanson: What makes the best anglers more consistent than other? Is there a trick that only you lot know!

LK: Ha ha Chris, I like this question. If there was a trick they haven’t let me in on it. Basically I think what sets the best anglers apart from the rest is dedication to their sport. The more you go the more you understand the way fish are reacting to your feed and presentation. Basic skills such as casting and pole handling will also improve, but it is the top angler’s ability to read a situation that consistently sets them above the rest.

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