Useful bits of kit

In these modern times of what seems to be more catch the angler than the fish, here’s a bit of kit well worth investing in.

The times I’ve struggled to collect water for mixing groundbait or even for washing my hands through out the day. Hanging over platforms, dangling over high banks on the river or canal. 

Not the best really! I bet there’s a few that have lent over to fill a maggot tub with water only for their phone to go swimming!

Yes these have been around for a little while but they seem be hard to come by.

Water collecting buckets.

This one from Colmic seems to be very well made with plenty of cord and a good winder/handle.

Why struggle collecting water!


Loading that spool

Ever loaded a reel with line by sticking a pencil through the middle.

Loading a reel spool couldn’t be easier or could it!.

I needed to spool some nice new line on to one of my float fishing reels. My line of choice is Colmic Allround. Coupled with great strength to diameter this line sits beautifully on the water’s surface prefect for stick float fishing.

So where do I start? My spool is my first port of call for help. Printed on the side is an approximate line capacity denoted by the line diameter to meters.

On your spool you may find the above denoted in lbs and yards or kg and meters. This is still useful information on how much line we’re going to need to fill said spool correctly. I now know that I will need approx 150 mtr of .12mm dia line or 90 mtr of .20mm to correctly fill the spool. The line I have chosen is as near as dam it .19mm on a 300 mtr spool so I’ll have plenty to fill at least two spools correctly.

Items needed to do the job.

  • Small bucket, tub or bowl that a spool of line will fit in.
  • Scissors or line clips
  • Marker pen
  • Bottom rod section
  • Reel and new spool of line.
  • Cuppa tea or Coffee

What next then? This is the important bit really that is so easy but even easier to get wrong. Ever loaded a reel with line by sticking a pencil through the middle and getting someone to hold the pencil while you whiz the reel handle round so fast it’s as if your trying to beat some world reel spinning record. Or better still done much the same with the line spool on the floor watching it shoot round the lounge like a mad puppy?. Ever wondered why you always get the line springing off your reel in a big birds nest. The above could be part of the problem.

Your fixed spool reel will rotate anti clockwise to wind line on, looking at you nice new spool of line with the label up a most. Picking up the loose end of the line you will notice it will either come off the spool in a clockwise or anti clockwise motion.

As our reel rotates anti clockwise we must have the new line coming off the spool in the same direction. Part of the problem comes if you have the reel is going anti clockwise and the new line is coming off clockwise, this creates line twist.

Having looked at my new spool you can see that the line comes off the spool anti clockwise with the label up a most.

Using the bottom section of your rod fix your reel to the reel seat then pass the end of you new line through the rings. I like to remove the spool from my reel to tie the line on as it makes things that bit easier. There are special knots for doing this but rightly or wrongly I just use a basic granny knot, I also like to pull the line in to one of the groves (if your spool has them) cut the tag end off. 

Lifting the bail arm you’ll be able to put the reel spool back on the reel.

Using a small bucket or even a bowl that the new spool of line will fit in. Add a small amount of water then place the spool of line in the bucket / bowl making sure it is the right way up for the line to come off anti clockwise. Water ideally wants to come 1/4 of the way up the spool.

Trapping the butt of the rod under your arm use your left hand to gently trap the line between you finger and the rod blank, this will add a slight tension to the line. Slowly at a constant speed start to wind the reel handle to reel line on to the spool. It is quite important to use a slow constant wind. A fast wind will only end up in a jerky wind, causing the line to snatch back and forth. The water is there to help stop friction caused by trapping the line with your fingers.

You are looking to fill the line just below the top lip of the spool.

When you’ve got your spool filled you can use the line clip on the spool (if fitted) to trap the line when not in use. Cut the line just above the clip.

I always make a note of the line size that I’ve just added to the inside of the spool rim.


Pole Float Confusion?

Confused? It’s not surprising with the vast array of pole floats out there to temped you, and if your like me you just can’t help yourself. ‘you can never have enough floats’.

There are loads of ready-made rigs out there these day’s many of which are really good the Middy X5 range are some of the best I’ve used. But there’s nothing like making your own rigs up, tailoring a rig for a venue yourself then catching on it always add’s to my enjoyment.

So where to start, is there a float that covers all bases, what size of float, what do I need? these are some of the many questions you might ask yourself.

To start with I would ignore all these floats that say this is for corn this is for pellet and this is for meat. Yes some shapes are better for certain baits but it can get to confusing to start with. The only venue that shape is more important is rivers, but we’ll touch on this later.

So how do you select one float from another?

You can make things easier by looking at a floats make up and design so lets start there.

Pick up any pole float and they’ll all be a variation of a shape. round, pear, straight, and diamond. They will all tend to be made of balsa, nylon, plastic, cane and wire. All these variations make a float act and work in different ways. We could go well in to depth with this but lets start with some easy to use basics.

A round shape will give better stability than a straight stick shape. But a straight stick will give better bite detection than a round shape as there is less resistance. So you wouldn’t want to use a straight float on a flowing venue like a river or even a lake in the wind. I would stir clear of straight pole floats until your knowledge and confidence builds.

Float make up is important and also makes a difference in how the float works. I will go in to this in another chapter, but to start with stick to carbon stems balsa bodies and plastic or nylon tips.

So is there such a thing as an all-rounder that suits just about all venues like lakes ponds and slow to medium flow rivers?.

In sort yes there is, what you’re looking for is a round-bodied float or sort of rugby ball shape. The best stem to look for is a nice long carbon or nylon stem, the tip of the float wants to be either nylon or plastic.

The long carbon stem and plastic/nylon tip with give good stability in all sorts of conditions with all sorts of baits. Making it ideal for fishing up to 10ft deep, fish this float at full depth shirt button style as you’ll get a nice even fall on the hook bait.In bigger sizes from 1 gram up wards you can bulk shot to get your hook bait down, bulk shotting by grouping the shot together will work better in deep lakes or moving water.image

A 4×14 / 0.4 gram sized float will cover many still water venues from around 4ft to 5ft deep, any deeper than this I would go for a minimum of 4×16 / 1/ 2 gram float. Pushing 10ft I would be reaching for a 4×20 / 1 gram float. Rivers slow moving I wouldn’t go any smaller than 1.5 gram and I would bulk shot the float at around 3/4 depth.

For fishing up in the water or really shallow margin areas. Look for a round bodied float with a short nylon stem and nylon tip. Shot shirt button style the float will normally lay flat on the surface before slowly sitting up right as each shot sinks.image

Shotting pole floats can be difficult, the use of small shot far from helping. One of the best things you can get for setting up pole floats is a Dosapiombo. This simple little device has neutral buoyancy in water, all you to do is clip your chosen pole float in to the top and place in a jar of water that is deep enough to allow the float to sink to the correct depth. I use a glass vase as shown in the picture below.

Slowly add shot or styles to the Dosapiombo until the float sits in the water at the correct height. The table below will help give you a rough guide on which size shot to use. One thing to bearing mind it that tap water in denser than river or lake water so you may need to remove a weight once at your chosen venue.

Why not down load and print off my easy to use guide to pole float shotting. It gives you a guide into float capacity in shot and Styls as well as an two options on shotting patterns. A prefect reference when your setting up your pole floats.

Down load my pole float shotting guide

Pole float size         Weight                    Equivalent in shot

3 x 10                         0.10g                          2 x No’10

4 x 10                          0.15g                          3 x No’9

4 x 12                          0.2g                            5 x No’10

4 x 14                          0.4g                            6 x No’8

4 x 16                          0.5g                            8 x No’8

4 x 18                          0.75g                          3 x No’3

4 x 20                          1g                                4 x No’3

5 x 20                          1.25g                           5 x No’3

6 x 20                          1.5g                             6 x No’3

All calculations are approximate

Want to know more, keep an eye out for the next chapter on Pole float confusion an in depth look.

A few Basic FAQ’s

Quick Fire FAQ’s and Tips

Do I need a rod licence?

If you are aged 12 and above you will need a rod licence, available to purchase from the Post Office or online.

Don’t forget a rod licence does not entitle you to fish anywhere. Many waters are club / society controlled. Good Tackle shops generally have these types of tickets and books for local clubs for you to purchase.

There are also lots of commercial day tickets waters that you can pay a fee to fish for the day, you can find adverts for many of these in the angling press like Angler’s Mail. You may also come across private syndicate waters that you pay a yearly fee for.

Can I fish all year round?

There is a closed season on all moving waters e.g. rivers, drains, streams and some canals. This operates from March 15th – June 16th .

Many canals can be fished all year round, check with the controlling club / society. You can also find information from the canals and rivers way trust.

Just about all commercial waters are open year round, but some do close for a period of time set by themselves.

A few additional pointers:

  • Always tell a family member where you are going.

  • Where practical take a spare set of clothes that can easily be left in a car.

  • It’s a good idea to carry an emergency foil body cover, especially if taking spare clothes is not practical.

  • Keep a bottle of alcohol hand gel in your kit.

  • Sun cream.

  • Plenty of drinks.

Top 10 tips

  1. Be safe

  2. Biggest key to fishing is bait.

  3. Learn your surroundings.

  4. Observe and learn, from nature and other anglers.

  5. Be quiet – fish can hear you.

  6. Keep it simple.

  7. Learn one method at a time.

  8. Don’t be taken in by media hype.

  9. It’s the angler that catches the fish not that £1000 pole.

  10. Enjoy and respect the great outdoors.

You can find more tips and fun things to read on my blog.

or pop along to the Angling trust website

Basic Items of Tackle

Other than rod and reel, or pole below is some basic items to make up your fishing kit:

Landing net and handle.

Some commercial fisheries will stipulate a unhooking mat (check first)



A bait tub

Line clippers

A selection of mixed shot from 10 to SSG.

Spare pole rigs, pre tied is best to start with.

Spare floats, feeders or bomb leads if fishing rod and line.

Spare hook links, pre tied is best. Unless specimen carp fishing stick to sizes 18,16 and 14 barbless.

Something to sit on.

Small tackle box to keep everything safe.

Do your bit

It’s getting to that busy time of year with the sun out and longer day light hours more of us will be out on the banks, plus June see’s that the start of river season which is all good.

With the warmer weather and more anglers does bring it’s problems. More so for commercial fisheries, ponds and lakes. Oxygen levels will drop and the increase in angling pressure causes stress, plus we tend to move from one venue to another.

Well that’s what we do move from venue to venue so what’s the problem? We all use a net of some form whether Match angler or Carp angler, this includes landing nets keepnets unhooking mats cradles etc. They all come in to contact with the venues water vegetation and fingers crossed a fish or two. Every venue will have it’s own ecosystem which includes it’s own parasites and no to venues will be the same.

Our nets unhooking mats etc are there to help us anglers best look after the fish during landing nad returning our catch. But we can also be doing massive harm to every fish in that venue.


As a fishery owner myself I’ve seen the effects of a slight in balance in my venues ecosystem in the form of disease. How it was transferred I will never know could it of been an anglers net or bird life. I’m sure you will of heard of koi / carp herpes this just being one transferable nasty.

So where do I stand in all this how can I help I just going fishing?

Best and easiest thing all us anglers can do is looking after our nets and unhooking mats etc properly by cleaning them. You may think well I just put them in a stink bag and take them home then use the dip tank at the fishery to clean them. This is all well and good and you should follow the fishery rules and use a dip tank if they want you to. But in my view dip tanks are actually a waste of time. The solution needs to be changed very regularly for it to work properly and I’ve been to countless fisheries that it’s quite clear they’ve not changed their dip tank solution in a long time.

So lets a least do our bit plus it can help us to.

Starting with stink bag’s they are great for transferring your wet nets bag home but never just leave your nets in them. They will harvest bacteria on a massive scale, that’s what the smell is.

Once home wash your nets and or your unhooking mat weigh slings etc with your garden hose.Don’t us detergents though just clean water. Then hang every thing out to dry I use the wash line and sometimes one of our garden trees. image

Air drying and the UV in day light will help kill off all those nasties, I tend to leave mine out over night so they have a good 24 / 48 hr for mother nature to do her cleaning work. I’ll also clean my stink bag in the same way turning it in side out once hung up.

You’ll notice when you come to pack everything way again that horrible smell you get will either be completely gone or it will be barely noticeable. The added bonus to this no smell is its less attractive to the dread rodent problem.

So next time you’ve been out on the bank whether it be river canal lake pond or commercial please do your bit in keeping our fisheries healthy and wash and dry your all your nets unhooking mats etc ready for your next outing.


Micro pellets an anglers best friend. Whether your a match angler, specimen hunter or just a causal pleasure angler today’s modern fisheries are hooked on pellets.

Whether your using them as hook baits or lose feed, pellets should be apart of your bait armory.

I myself use 2mm aka micros a lot on commercial type fisheries. They make up a good part of my little and often feed pattern. Every put in with the pole I will kinder or toss pot a small mix of 2mm pellets along with either maggots or casters.

I often hear people saying they’ve used 2mm pellets but they float, The main reason being is people just used them straight from the bag, well why wouldn’t you!

In essence yes you can but many commercial fishery pellets have like biscuit crumb make up that traps air thus can make them float. The trick to making them sink easily is to dampen them ‘just slightly though’.

I use one of those garden plant spray thingy’s this gives me ultimate control and stops me completely soaking them. I can also flavour the water to give me an added edge, especially if I have to use fishery own pellets.image

There are micros that as a rule sink with out any prep, Pellets like Marukyu’s Skrill or Jpelletz seem to sink perfectly every time straight from the bag.

So next time your fishing micros as lose feeding them over a pole line and they float, have ago at lightly damping them.

Marukyu Focus The Easy Way

Marukyu groundbaits especially the EFG range are well known for their two cups to one mixing ratios.

So along comes the new Focus range and there’s no mixing ratio. Has Marukyu gone away from this I here you ask.

No far from it but there is a correct way to mix Focus Margin and the Method mix. First off you need to think of these groundbaits as being concentrated ( double the strength smaller pack) so as with other Marukyu groundbaits mix them as you need them.

For an average session I’d still fill two small pole cups, but here’s the change. I’ve found the best way to mix them is as if you were mixing punch crumb. Now the old way was to add a small amount of water then keep adding water a little at a time using just a wet hand until the mix was nice and fluffy. But an atomizer spray is by far the better way to go, and all though you want to take your time over getting this mix spot on using a spray bottle will speed things up a little.image

So as mentioned above lightly wet the mix to start with then using the spray bottle to dampen further whilst whisking through the mix with open fingers. You can adjust the mix to the depth of water or to whether you want more of a cloud effect simply by making the mix damper. An average mix would just hold together with a light squeeze and easily break down to a nice crumb again when rubbed together between your hands.

With punch crumb you’d run the mix through a riddle to really fluff it up but I’ve found you don’t need to riddle any of the Focus groundbaits. As the day goes on you can keep a check on the mix using your atomizer spray, a quick few spray’s can soon fluff the mix up again.

On a final note don’t forget the Focus groundbaits are concentrated so ‘less is more’