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Thursday, 14 March 2013 11:44

Feeder fishing - the basics

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Feeder fishing in South Africa is positioned somewhere between match fishing and bank angling, utilising principles of both worlds. The question however is - where does the angler start and what is required, equipment wise? Well, whether you want to do it competitively or just for some highly enjoyable recreation, there are a couple of things you need.

Rods and Reels
When selecting a rod, it is important to know exactly what you want it to do, for example the rod used for fishing muddies in close at Vaaldam is not the rod you will use to target carp in Harties. The principle however stays the same, so you need a rod with a quiver tip, namely a softer, hi-vis coloured, interchangeable tip with different ratings. The tip rating however is not a characterisation of the rod and its casting capability, but purely an indication of the sensitivity. The tip is mainly the mechanism of bite indication, and makes very little difference on the cast and playing of the fish.
When selecting a rod, look at the casting weight indicated and get a feel of the backbone, or muscle, of the rod. A quick-tapered rod will give a good casting weight and distance, but is not very forgiving when playing a fish on smaller hooks and lighter hook lengths. The lighter the rod, the easier it is to land fish on lighter tackle, but at the cost of losing distance. Hence, the keyword is balancing the rod selection for your specific use.
Reel selection is pretty much a personal issue, but balance is once again important. Keep the size of the reel balanced to the weight of the rod to ensure comfortable handling. Bait-runner, rear drag or front drag spinning reels can be used with ease on any feeder rod.

The seatbox is an integral part of the competitive anglers equipment list and something that gives you an edge. It is all about effectiveness of operation and ergonomics while fishing. The principle of the set-up is that everything must be close and handy, so that no time is lost during a 5-hour match. The angler should be able to reach everything from his seatbox; change rods, land the fish and put it in the net, then re-bait, cast again and be ready for the next one; all from this optimised position.

Selecting a seatbox is also a personal choice, but the angler must feel comfortable with what he has. A good rule of thumb for a start is to get a box that fits the body (enough space and strong enough if need be), then look at personal preference as regards storage space of the gear required. An important factor that enhances the effectiveness is of a modular nature - make sure that the box can handle all the attachments that are needed, and that it can be easily interchanged.

The recreational angler however does not need a seatbox, and a chair with a rod stand will suffice in most instances, as long as the rod placement is stable and will enhance bite indication.

Landing Nets and Keepnets
Keepnets have been a sensitive issue as far as conservation is concerned, and FIPS made a ruling that during all World Championships nets must be 4 meters long. There is some method in this madness and is twofold: firstly the angler wants the mouth of the net close enough for easy access, and secondly enough net should be under the water to keep the fish safe and healthy. In rivers where the embankment can be quite high, it makes a lot of sense and long tube nets work brilliantly. It is easy both ways and protects the fish well. In most local dams however, a tunnel net of 3 meters should be adequate. Having more space and no knots in the net is very good for the fish and is highly recommended. Fish are generally in better condition after a few hours in a tunnel net. A normal net can work, but the advantage of having it handy at al times is then lost.

Landing nets are in the same category and a multi-purpose handle that can be used in different situations (in rivers and dams) is advisable. When selecting a net, make sure that the handle is long enough to reach, but also strong enough to facilitate a fast action and handle a decent size fish. A larger head helps with landing bigger fish, but also creates more drag in the water, impacting on the ease of landing a fish effectively.

The type of netting used also makes a difference in the drag, as well as handling specific species. The ragged fins of carp causes havoc in finer mesh nets, and latex coated nets with larger holes are needed for carp. Conventional knotted nets are very effective for carp, but not the best answer from a fish conservation perspective.

There are a few add-ons that are essential and also make life easier, both competitive and recreation anglers alike. Trays for groundbait and bait are needed to keep everything handy and ergonomically placed. Feeder fishing requires regular introduction of groundbait and bait, thus the placement should facilitate easy reach. Having a tray that can be moved or placed in various positions as the situation changes makes life so much easier. If the bait tray placement is also flexible in conjunction with the groundbait tray, any combination is possible, based on what the situation requires. A few square tubs, carefully planned to fill your tray economically, leaves no space in-between and works very well.

A bait umbrella on a uni-bracket keeps the bait cool on a sunny day and dry in the rain. When live bait such as maggots is used, it is absolutely essential to have some sort of protection. A large umbrella might be in the way when casting off the box, but is excellent when fishing in a more social manner. It is easy to put on so many accessories that your seatbox resembles an army helicopter, but you need to evaluate the practical purpose for each one – so keep it simple.

Rod stands and Supports
Supporting your rod correctly is critical for seeing all the bites. Different rod positions are required for different venues, so it is important to have versatile stands and supports. A few stands are needed:

A telescopic feeder arm or rod rest for the front, combined with a rod rest at the back, both fitted to the seatbox gives the most options. Vertical, radial and horizontal adjustments provide many options and almost any position and angle can be handled. Make sure the V-rest has a groove for the line and will secure the rod properly, while the rear rod holder is small enough not to be in the way, but large enough to facilitate easy placement.
Rod stands for the spare rods are essential – these should be placed within reach and must also be stable enough not to be blown over by a gust of wind. Effective feeder fishing requires various options to be worked continuously, and therefore prepared rods on the side can always improve the angler's competitiveness.

A stand or rest for the landing net keeps things simple and handy, and should ideally be opposite the rod stands, preventing damage to the spare rods while landing a fish.
Recreational feeder fishing obviously requires a slightly different approach and four adjustable bank sticks or a rod pod can handle two feeder rod without a problem. The angle and height can be set according to requirements.

Feeders and In-Box tackle
Many different feeders are available for all the various situations and specific species the angler might want to target. The principle of feeder fishing though, is to use the feeders to get bait into the water, triggering the fish to feed. Inside the feeder, groundbait is used as a carrier of the bait.

Read 5354 times Last modified on Friday, 15 March 2013 12:28

Werner manages the process flow, takes care of Photography, Match Angling and Feeder Fishing technical editing. He is also a veteran Protea angler and National angling coach.   

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