Tuesday, 19 September 2006

Pellet Waggler versus Vitalin feeder

As a photo journalist and regional correspondent for Southern Angler magazine I had been looking for something different to write an article about. After chatting to a couple of local anglers the following challenge match was organised.

The Battle of Hartleylands Farm

Two anglers enjoying tremendous success recently on the Kent Match scene are Mike Jameson (BCUK Team Sport One) and Nick Gilbert (Maidstone Victory). The excellent run of results has been down to having total confidence in 2 completely contrasting methods, Mike likes to fish “the Vitalin Feeder” whilst Nick favours the Pellet Waggler approach. Both are regular contributors to a number of angling forums on the Internet and through this a challenge was set to see which of the methods would win in a head to head match at Hartleylands Farm Fishery in Kent. A date was set and the customary £1 side bet agreed on and so it was that we arrived at the fishery on a warm day with little wind. After looking around both anglers decided to fish Bramley Lake, a 22 peg water with a central island stocked with a good head of match sized carp as well as plenty of silver fish. Nick settled in to peg 20 while Mike chose peg 17.

Nicks plan of attack was to fish the pellet waggler tight to the island with a view to drawing the fish closer to him as the match wore on. 2 rods were used, the first a 4g puddle chucker to 0.18 mainline and a 0.14 hooklength, a size 14 Drennan carp hook with a hair rigged bait band set anywhere between 12-24 in deep. The 2nd a 3.5AAA pellet waggler with 0.18 mainline(4LB) and a 0.16 hooklength, a size 12 Drennan carp hook with a hair rigged bait band. Set at about 10-12in deep.Mike method is simplicity itself, a Drennan open end feeder with the weight removed and replaced with a piece of rig foam to make the feeder float even when filled with the Vitalin groundbait. The feeder is attached to a Korum quick change bead free running on 0.20mm Ultima Power Plus mainline with a 0.148mm Daiwa Super Shinobi hooklength. Hookbaits would be presented on a hair rigged size 12 Preston PR21.

The 5 hour match started at 1.30pm and Mike started by making 5 casts of a large feeder full of Vitalin groundbait before even attaching a hooklength. The response from the fish was instant with Carp climbing over each other to get to the free offerings, there were certainly a large number of fish in the swim.

Nick by contrast had fed just one catapult full of pellet before landing his first fish, a lovely Common Carp of around 12ozs in pristine condition, this was shortly followed by it’s twin brother. Nick had 4 fish in his net before Mike caught his first and by the end of the first hour Nick was admitting to around 30 fish to Mike’s 26. All the fish were of a similar size which meant things were very close. Mike told me that he was somewhat frustrated as he was having a little trouble getting the fish to take his hook bait, not something he suffered with before when using this method. He said he was already considering changing things around by shortening his hooklength to see if it made a difference. 2 hours had gone by when I next checked in to see how things were going. Nick was catching steadily now having to wait only 4-5 seconds before his float disappeared and a fish hooked itself. He felt he probably had around 60 Carp in his net for around 50lbs. Mike however was still suffering, even though he’d landed 52 Carp he wasn’t happy and was having real trouble getting the hundreds of fish in front of him interested in his hook bait. So far he’d tried a variety of different sized cat and dog biscuits as well as various sized banded pellets but felt he was only connecting with a fish on 25% of his casts. Things had to change soon or else Mike would be in trouble.

During the third hour Nick said he had landed 42 Carp although the size seemed to be somewhat smaller with most fish only around the 8-12oz. He was catching every cast though and was finding that if he cast a little away from his feed he caught slightly bigger specimens. Mike’s catch rate had improved by now to 84 fish but this was partly down to a change made to his feeder. He had removed the rig foam and not re-attached the weight which meant was allowing the feeder to sink very slowly. The change was also bringing a better stamp of fish with many around the pound mark.

Over the next two hours Nick’s catch rate seemed to be getting better, his bait barely hitting the water before another Carp was on it’s way in. It was interesting to watch Nick continuing to feed, sometimes two or three times whilst playing the fish to the net. Speaking to Mike confirmed my fears that he was continuing to suffer, unable to find a hookbait that would keep the fish coming. He would catch 2 or 3 and then nothing for 5 minutes before catching 2or 3 more. 10 minutes to go and Mike had conceded defeat already packing away his tackle, Nick in the meantime was perhaps catching even faster than before. Shortly after I called the “All Out” and it was time to weigh in. First to weigh was Nick, his 3 nets of carp totalling 135lbs 4ozs. Time now for Mike, 4 weighs later and he’d failed to make the “ton” but ended with a respectable 93lbs 10ozs, a good days fishing by anyone standards but not up to Mike’s expectations. Nick was delighted to have won and after handing over his £1 Mike was left to rack his brains as to what had gone wrong.