Firstly, what exactly is ‘the method’? Basically its a way to present the hook bait next to a tight area of feed without being too complicated. By using a ‘method feeder’ and a short hook link, anglers are able to guarantee that the hook bait is with inches of free offerings. If the fish find the attractive freebies, then they are almost certain to pick up the baited hook!
‘The method’ will catch most species of fish, but is commonly used to target carp, bream, barbel or tench. To decide how to fish this technique, it is worth considering several factors. Waht are you fishing for? Match carp? Specimen carp? Or maybe barbel from the river? Waht distance do you intend fishing at? Depth and temperature of the water, colour of the bottom, colour of the water, weed, silt, clay, hook baits, groundbaits and feeding patterns all need to be challenged as any one can affect just how good ‘the method’ will be...
The tackle used can be very simple; a strong rod which may be a quivertip or carp rod, a suitable reel, the feeder, rig tubing, tail rubber, hook length material and hook. There are endless variations, but the basics remain the same throughout each set up. If we consider the feeder itself, it may have elastic running through it to attach the hook link, it may be a coil, it may have a flat weighted side or it may be a ‘finned’ feeder. All have the same function; to provide a frame for a stiff mix of groundbait to adhere to. The feeder you choose should reflect the rod and reel you are using; there is little point trying to cast a loaded feeder weighing in excess of 5 ounces with a light quiver rod and float reel. Smaller feeders can be used with lighter rods, but obviously for bigger weights, then a stronger rod such as a carp rod is in order. The rig tubing is there for the same reason as in any other rig; to protect the fish and prevent scale damage as well stop tangles and help the rig lay flat on the bottom. The tail rubber joins the feeder to the tubing and helps keep everything tidy, then the hook link can be tied on.
The photographs show a ‘fox’ carp feeder tied to a braided hook link and size 8 ‘fox’ hook. The pictures show in what order the components are placed on the mainline, then how they fit together to provide a safe, tidy rig. If the mainline should break or fail, then all items are released into the water and will not result in a tethered fish. This is the most important aspect of the set up; IT MUST BE SAFE!
When the tubing, tail rubber and feeder are all fitted together, the mainline passes through the centre to a swivel at the base of the feeder; it is important that the swivel cannot pass back through the feeder . The hook link is then attached to the other side of the swivel to complete the rig. Before any groundbait is moulded to the feeder the swivel must be pushed into the base of the feeder as this provides the ‘bolt effect’ which is what makes this method so effective. The swivel must be matched to the feeder to ensure a snug fit, but not too tight that it jams. The ‘fox’ feeder takes a size 8 rolling swivel which sits just inside the feeder as shown. If the bait is ‘hair rigged’ then the fish will suck the bait in, the hook will turn into the bottom lip, and the fish will ‘bolt’ as it comes up against the weight of the feeder.
The next essential part of fishing ‘the method’ is the groundbait used. It must be stiff enough to stick to the frame for some time and survive the cast without breaking up; this encourages the fish to ‘attack’ the feeder in order to dislodge the bait. Ready made method mixes can be obtained from tackle shops or you can concoct your own which can be tailored to suit the situation. A good starting point is a basic crumb mix with a few freebies in; this means the only ‘real’ bait is on the hook! If the fish are very competitive, more free offerings can be added to keep them interested. Try to match the freebies to the hook bait; put corn steep liquid into the mix when using a corn hook bait, dead maggots (don’t break up the mix) when using wrigglers on the hook or mini pellets to match a bigger pellet hook bait. Be careful not to overfeed the fish as you want them to fight for your hooked offering! If adding liquid flavourings, remember to add the liquid to the water before adding the water to the mix to ensure the scent is properly distributed and it helps prevent ‘clumping’.
Hook baits should ideally be ‘hair rigged’. This allows a much better chance of the bait being taken properly. It can be presented outside the ‘method ball’ (of groundbait) or pressed into the edge of the feed mix. By burying the bait into the groundbait, the fish are less aware of the hook and this can result in savage takes!
Bite indication is generally fairly obvious....if using bite alarms, a few bleeps may as the fish disturb the feeder followed by a screaming ‘run’ as the fish bolts across the bottom. If quivertipping, a ‘knock or tap’ precedes the tip wrapping around as the fish is hooked. Rods get pulled in using ‘the method’ so make sure you stay close!
To finish, ‘the method’ can a very good way to catch a bonus fish in the depths of winter, or to get multiple catches on warmer days. Fished correctly in the right area, with the right bait, and the right tackle, it can provide a real ‘red letter’ day to remember!
Clint Walker, January 2010
Baited Method Feeder, Ready For Casting