12 July, 2021 |0 Comments
Paul Garner’s Floater Fishing Tips
Surface fishing is a superb way of targeting carp on those hot, sticky summer days. This week, Angling Times’ Dr Paul Garner shares his feed and hookbait tips for catching more carp whilst surface fishing. Below, you’ll also learn how to make his deadly ‘smoke-screen feed’ that’ll keep carp mooching around the upper layers for longer…
Hot sunny days can make fishing on the bottom tough, but for the carp angler this is a brilliant, and still often overlooked, opportunity to catch our quarry in the most exciting way possible – on surface baits.
The sight of a group of big fish homing-in on a trail of floating baits, and then slowly gaining confidence as their hunger outweighs the indignity of being caught, is something that I would not want to miss. Surface fishing can also be incredibly productive too, short morning and evening trips often producing multiple catches, once the fish have been tracked down.
The mainstay of my surface bait menu are floating pellets. Larger 11mm pellets are easy to feed with a catapult and buoyant enough to support a size 12 hook. Most pellets have to be drilled to be hair-rigged, although, try banding a pellet to the back of the hook instead or fishing with the Dynamite Floating Durable Hookers, which can be hooked directly. The main downside of some pellets is that they absorb water and soften after a few minutes – very frustrating when the hookbait falls off just as a big carp approaches it!
I also like to use a tougher hookbait that I can rely on to stay on the hook. A pop-up boilie, shaped to resemble the floating pellets is a very effective hookbait that will last all day and will often catch several fish. Normally, a sandy-colour that matches the pellets is best, but try experimenting with brighter colours too as these can bring a very quick response.
Carp can become wary of even small hooks, and so hair-rigged baits can become less effective over time. When this happens, switch to a soft side-hooked bait instead with most of the hook buried inside. I tend to use specialist floating hookbaits, because they last longer, but a piece of bread crust or a marshmallow are classic surface baits that are soft enough for the hook to be hidden inside.
FEED THEM TO A FRENZY
Whilst it is often easy to spot the dark silhouettes of carp sitting just below the surface, it can take time to get them feeding confidently. Often, to begin with, the carp will circle under the baits and maybe take the odd one, before drifting away. Don’t be tempted to cast out just yet. Keep feeding and wait until the fish are moving confidently from one bait to the next before risking a cast.
If the fish are reluctant to feed then a useful tip is to try feeding a mixture of different sized and shaped baits. This will often encourage feeding to start, and once they are interested switch to larger baits that are easier to use on the hook.
There are a vast array of floating baits that you can add to your feed. Many cat and dog biscuits float, and come in a range of shapes, sizes and flavours. I like to keep any old casters and add these to my feed too. Small expander pellets make a great surface feed, use 3-4mm pellets to get the carp feeding before making the switch to bigger baits.
WATCH AND LEARN
One of the most fascinating aspects of surface fishing is that you can actually see how the fish react to different baits and your end tackle. This might not be exactly the same response as with bottom baits, but it can give some important clues.
One thing that I have noticed is how quickly and far the scent of a bait can travel.
Liquids will disperse over several metres in just a couple of minutes, and if you are lucky enough to be able to watch carp at close range often you will see their demeanour change, as they pick up the scent trail. Interestingly, it is often oils that travel furthest and farthest, especially across the surface, and although not water soluble, carp will respond well to these additives.
QUICK TIP – Dip Your Hookbait
Before casting out give your hookbait a quick dip in a liquid additive, such as The Crave Liquid Attractant, to really boost its pulling-power. This will help carp home-in on the hookbait faster.
TEN MINUTE MAKE – Make my smoke-screen feed
I like to feed a mixture of small floating baits to get the carp feeding confidently at the start of a session. Add liquid and powdered additives to not only increase the attraction of the bait, but to create a smoke-screen in the water that makes it more difficult for the carp to spot the hook and line.
- Put around a pint of 4mm expander pellets into a large bait tub.
- Add about a teaspoonful of hemp or marine oil to the pellets and shake well.
- The pellets should have just a light coating of oil, leave them for ten minutes for it to start to soak in.
- Add a few 11mm floating pellets so that the carp do not become totally focussed on the small pellets.
- A small amount of dry zig cloud mix, or fishmeal groundbait can be added to create a cloud in the water column.
- The finished mix should look like this, with the slightly oily pellets having a thin coating on particles.
- Make up some small round PVA sticks for feeding this floating mix accurately using a catapult.