In the last chapter I looked at the approach for a small canal, this time I am going to look at large canals and slow moving rivers, I am thinking along the lines of the New Junction canal or Bristol Avon. These are nearly always 20m+ wide and they range in depths often drastically but the approach is quite similar as I tend to use bread on 2 distinct tactics, the feeder and the pole.
I am going to look at the bread feeder first as this is a fairly rarely used method but on its day it can be the difference between winning the section or coming in the middle. The tackle I use will depend on the distance that I am casting and the flow that I am fishing into, for example if I was casting to the far side of a 20m swim into 6ft of slow water I could probably get away with a 1/3 ounce feeder so a light 11-12 ft rod would be ample. Whereas if it was 40 yards into 4 ft of faster water then I may need an ounce to hold deck and a 13ft rod to keep the line out of the water, but that is for another day. My favorite rod if I can use it is a Champions choice 12 foot stilwater super feeder as it has a lovely soft tip with enough grunt to still stop chub reaching snags under your feet. My reel would be an Ultimatch loaded with 0.18-0.22 diameter cenex feeder line, or if it was for BIG chub close to snags then 8lb sensor as it is really robust. The rig is simply a running snap link on the reel line stopped by a gripper stop on a loop knot. The hooklength is then attached to this loop to loop style, as bread tends not to cause line spin. Hook length breaking strain, length and hook all vary on species and conditions, but as a golden rule I will start on 3ft of 0.12mm cenex to a size 14 B560 for 90% of situations, stepping up for snags and down if the water is really clear.
Bait for this approach is also really simple, I will use standard licky bread, 2mm as a base and if I am on alot of fish or the area is fishing well I would add a small amount of the coarser feed as well to give the fish something to home in on. This can also be used on harder days to draw big fish out of snags but that can be a bottle job that does not always pay off. For hookbait a normal piece of punched Warburtons will withstand a fairly hard cast, press down on it to compress it if you are worried about out it coming off but never, NEVER microwave it. Again a variety of punches is a good idea, sometimes the fish might want a large 12mm punch or sometimes double 6mm punch will be better.
So when would I use this tactic?
I have used this tactic a lot for starting a match and allowing a groundbait line to settle, sometimes they may take 20-60 minutes to turn up and in this time you could fit in a few casts to the far bank features to try and mug a chub or if you are lucky Bream from your peg. Another time is if it is really cold and clear and you want to fish a static bait on the far bank, sometimes chub, roach and dace will not want to eat maggot but a nice soft bit of bread will see the tip rattle most casts. That’s basically it for the feeder, give it no more than 4 or so casts in 20 to 30 minutes as the bread may over feed the fish or they may not be there and it could be time for a rethink.
The pole is again very simple I tend to fish 2 or three rigs over a pole line when fishing bread, one will be on a long line for fishing at the speed of the current, usually a pencil or slim float fished with a bulk 40cm from the hook, and a couple of droppers. The next rig would be for slowing the rig and would consist of a rugby balled or round bodied float, again with a bulk and 2 droppers but the bulk would be 30cm from the hook, in both cases the droppers would be no smaller than a number 10 to show indications on the float more positively. There are two more rigs that I may set up in the right conditions, but I shall cover them later, tackle wise I nearly always fish no. 5 elastic through 3 sections for river roach, with a 0.12mm cenex mainlines and 0.07-0.09mm hooklength of the same material and a kamasan B511 from 22-18 covers most fish you will catch.
Feeding is the most important thing to get right on the pole, get it wrong and you will catch nothing. I again only feed licky bread, I have tried punch crumb in the past but I cannot get on with it so I stick with the licky. To get it down in deep or fast water then wetting it enough to bind and then adding a little gravel or hemp is a good technique, don't over wet it though as you will end up with a ball of white bread paste the size of a Satsuma rolling downstream. The goal is a ball of bread that hits the bottom intact and then breaks down slowly allowing particles to drift off downstream attracting fish up the trail. Another way to get it down is to use a bait dropper to get the bread down to the bottom and give off a quick cloud, this is especially good as a top up technique or if you are struggling. In shallower or slower water you can get away with feeding the bread as a cloud slightly dampened as it sinks just as quickly as a ball of bread, the Gloucester canal is an example of where this works on the 9 foot line down the inside.
I briefly mentioned two other rigs that I would use over bread and they are both quite similar in that they will incorporate strung shotting patterns, one is for hemp as starting a hemp line with a ball of bread can sometimes be a shortcut to the bigger fish turning up earlier. My first rig is an on the drop bread rig, I would only use this in very slow moving water as it takes a while to settle and cannot be held back, it consists of line, hook and elastic as normal but a thin 4X12-0.75G float with a wire stem. All the shot is spread through the bottom half of the rig to pick up any tow and it is a good rig to overcome tricky wind conditions. The last rig is my hemp rig, this has a slim carbon stemmed float of 4X10-4X14 and this is shotted with no.12 or 13 stotz or shot down the whole length, hooks are usually a size 18 B511 to a 0.07 bottom and a 0.12 mainline to add a bit of security and stiffness to the rig. I have found on many occasions that laying the shot in upstream, letting the float cock correctly and then lifting 2 float lengths out of the water will often give you bite after bite. The key with this is to make sure that you have been feeding hemp since the start of the match, give it a couple of hours then have a look on this rig. If it doesn't go under then wait another 30 minutes and try again.
There is a very brief look at how I fish bread on larger waters, again I am sorry that there are no illustrations but they may follow when I get to somewhere with slightly better WiFi.