The Wonderful Window! by Bob Nudd

Bob Nudd extols the virtues of the window feeder, and explains how it can hold the key to big bags of roach and skimmers.

Most anglers associate feeder fishing with catching big weights of bream, chub or barbel. Even in Ireland, where I spend much of my spring and autumn, for years this was seen by many people as a method to target a big weight of slabs, not roach. And for sure, the open-ended or cage feeder remains one of the best ways of catching a big weight of bream, as it is easy to put down a large bed of bait, and present a hook bait very accurately and, crucially, very stable on top of it.

You are probably thinking that if this feature is all about roach fishing, why on earth is Bob on about catching bream? Well, the first thing I need you to understand is that the thinking you need to employ to catch a big weight of roach and hybrids is very different to what you might require for a big weight of bream.

As most anglers are used to targeting bream on the feeder, they need to purge their minds of everything that they think they know about feeder fishing, as the effect that they are trying to achieve when targeting roach and hybrids is so very different.

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Understanding The Species

In contrast to bream, roach and hybrids aren’t really ‘grazers.’ They are inclined to move around more in the water column, darting up and down to intercept bait. For this reason, when your bait has been settled on the bottom for more than 30 seconds, and any fish that might have followed it down in the water has had a chance to grab it, it is effectively dead, and should be wound back in and recast.

wawaAnother point about roach and hybrids is they like groundbait… but they love casters! A conventional cage feeder loaded in the correct way does allow you to load your swim with bait, but a window feeder, like the one that I am using today, allows you to do this in a much more appealing way for the species that you are targeting. The design of the feeder means that once it hits the bottom it stands upright, the bait spills out almost instantly, and because it is slightly raised off the bottom the casters drift downstream in an appetising way, encouraging fish to move down and intercept them.

A final point about roach and hybrids is that typically the bites are a lot faster than they are when targeting bream. The beauty of these window feeders is that because the weight is at the bottom, they stand almost upright in the flow. This means that they are nowhere near as stable as a cage feeder with a weight in the side. Choose a feeder that is just heavy enough to hold bottom, so that when a fish takes the bait the feeder is dislodged, which exaggerates the bite if you don’t see it through the rig.

The Setup

As anyone who has watched me fish or read my articles will know, simplicity is the key to most of my approaches. When fishing for large numbers of fish, the last thing you want is tangles – and my setup and rig never tangles!

One of the most important tools that any feeder angler must have in their armoury is a good-quality rod. The Browning Sphere Feeder M 360 is among the finest ever made, in my book, with some real power in the blank but a nice soft, forgiving action when fi sh are fighting under your rod tip.

This is matched to a fairly large, powerful reel – a must on strong-flowing rivers, loaded with 150 metres of 0.20mm Cenex Feeda Line. I would always favour a monofilament like this over braid on flowing water for a couple of reasons. Firstly, because it has a bigger diameter it allows you to feed a bow out more effectively to counteract the weight of the feeder. Secondly, because you are often only casting a relatively short distance anyway, the advantages of fishing with braid in terms of bite detection are negated.

Moving on to the rig itself, and I favour a simple paternoster. My feeder is mounted on a snap-link swivel that is tied in a loop of main line – meaning it hangs between three and four inches away from the main line. I then have another 10 inches of main line with a loop on the end of it, to which I attach my hooklength. Generally, a hooklength around two feet in length is perfect; robust 0.15mm Browning Cenex Power is my choice on here – there is no point going too light on an angry tidal river like this!

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Everything To Hand

One of the best pieces of advice that I can give when it comes to tackling this kind of river is to think carefully about your setup. You need everything easily to hand baitwise, so that you can load your feeder quickly and easily, as you will be making a lot of casts through the course of the session.

I use the big Browning side tray set nice and high. Equally important is a nice big, padded rod support. Confusingly, tidal rivers ‘flow’ both ways depending on the tide, so it is important to be able to move this, as you always want your rod to be angled slightly downstream.

This way you can cast, angle your rod slightly upstream as you hit your clip, then by following your feeder down with your rod you end up with a nice bow, which helps your feeder hold bottom.

As most anglers are used to targeting bream on the feeder, they need to purge their minds of everything that they think they know about feeder fishing, as the effect that they are trying to achieve when targeting roach and hybrids is so very different.

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Groundbait

wawaEvery angler has their favourite mix when it comes to fishing the feeder, but the thing I can’t stress enough is that you must use a neat, sticky, Continental mix. Adding brown crumb to a mix like this only serves to make it break up quicker – remember – your groundbait is your ‘plug’ so you want it to stop in the feeder until it hits the bottom, where it will explode out.

My favourite mix by far is Van Den Eynde Supercrack. This is packed with attractants that roach, hybrids and skimmers seem to love, but is also extremely sticky so stays in the feeder very well. Importantly I mix it fairly dry, though, so I can really pack it into the feeder, and know that when it hits the bottom the bait and groundbait will explode out.

Attack!

On a typical bream session, you might bosh in a dozen or more feederfuls of bait at the start of the day with the aim of creating a carpet for fish to graze over. There is no need to do this when roach and hybrids are the target. For sure, you will generally find your swim gets better as more and more bait goes in, but it is actually the process of this bait being introduced regularly, rather than a volume of bait in your peg that builds the swim.

For this reason, I wait no longer than 10 seconds after my feeder has hit the bottom before winding back and recasting in this early part of the session. Often, you find that bites and indications come from the very first cast, as they have done today.

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Floating Maggots!

The majority of your bites when targeting roach and skimmers come as your bait is falling through the water. One of the key little tricks that I find works well with this in mind is to use a couple of floating maggots on the hook.

These can easily be prepared by adding a tiny amount of lemonade to a bait box and placing a handful of maggots in with them. I like to use a bait box with a lid with the middle cut out in conjunction with this, otherwise they have a habit of escaping!

Confusingly, even though the maggots will float if you drop them on the surface, this isn’t how they act when they get near the bottom, due to both the weight of the hook and also the water pressure – so they are actually more like slowsinking maggots.

Importantly, I hook one through the blunt end as you might do normally, and the other through the pointy end as this leaves more of the hook point exposed and leads to better bites. Another great bait if bites are difficult to hit is the head of a dendrabaena – roach of all sizes seem to wolf this down with gay abandon!

Double caster is also a brilliant hook bait, although this generally figures better on days when the going is tough and bites are more difficult to come by.

A Firm Strike

There is a great emphasis often put on simply lifting into bites when bream fishing with braid, but the opposite is normally required when roach fishing with mono. I always like to administer a firm strike, to make sure the hook is firmly sunk in the roach’s lip. If the bite is missed, I simply wind back, rebait and recast.

Today, the session really couldn’t have gone any better. Bites have come straightaway from small fish, and as I have kept the bait falling through the water, I have slowly seen the stamp increase. I have even managed a couple of really big fish over the pound mark through the middle part of the session!

There is a slight lull in action when the tide turns around midday, before I swap my feeder rest to the other side of me and continue to catch well through the afternoon. I end the day with just under 20lb of prime River Yare roach. It’s been a brilliant day’s fishing by anybody’s standards, and certainly far more active and enjoyable than sitting and waiting for the occasional pull from a big bream!

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