Pellet Fishing

Pellets are probably the cheapest and most widely available bait of them all. It will be difficult to cover every aspect of pellet fishing in detail within one article, so what I will try and do is talk through the basics of a few different ways of fishing the pellet with a view to returning to a few of them in more detail at a later date.

I find the term ‘natural bait’ a strange one, as to the majority of fish in Britain’s commercial fisheries pellets will be the most natural bait of all, as these are what they are reared on from birth in the fish farms. A lot of people look at a worm or a maggot and assume that this looks natural to a fish, when in actual fact a pellet may seem far more familiar.

For this reason, there are very few times in the calendar year when pellets won’t work, with anglers who think that they are just a summer bait often losing out. Indeed, at venues such as Tunnel Barn Farm and Garbolino Lindholme Lakes, anglers catch on pellets even in the depths of winter. Being successful with the pellet is largely about confidence, and having the faith to fish with them when other anglers fish far more negative baits.

I can remember Nick Speed winning his section in a Winter League at Hallcroft with 15lb of skimmers on the pellet on a day when the majority of anglers resorted to fishing bloodworm for small roach!

Of course, as an angler you have to adapt your feeding and presentation to suit the quantity and type of fish you are looking to catch. As I mentioned last month, it is best to avoid the ‘one size fits all’ mentality when it comes to rigs, there is no such thing as a dedicated pellet rig, don’t be afraid to adapt you rig to suit the circumstances and the type of fish you are looking to catch.

Expander Pellets

This is probably the most common way in which pellet is fished, and one of the easiest for beginners to master. If you look on the shelves of your local tackle shop you will see a vast array of pellets of different colours, shapes and sizes. In all honesty these are more to catch anglers than fish, and are no better in my opinion than pellets that you can buy in the bag and soak yourself.

Van Den Eydne RS Elite Expander pellets are a good place to start, with 4mm being a nice size for all round commercial carp fishing. You really can’t go wrong preparing these pellets for the hook, soak them in water for around an hour and they swell up to a perfect size. You can leave them in water once they have swollen, and it is often best to do this especially on a warm day.

When prepared in this way the pellets will float, but the weight of your hook will make them sink and they will fall appetizingly through the water.

Personally, I don’t use expander pellets as feed pellets, but should you want to do this use a pellet pump to make the expanders sink, or let them swell up as as above and then squeeze the air out of them by hand. The times that you can do this are limited in the modern climate however, as the vast majority of commercial fisheries make you use there feed pellets.

The best way to prepare these for feeding is simply to soak them for a while on the bank side. I know a while may sound like a vague term, but it really does depend on the kind of pellets that the fishery is supplying. What you are looking for is a soft pellet which remain single and don’t cling together. A good way of keeping them separate is dusting them with a fishmeal groundbait such as Ringers after they have been soaked, and this can also help create a fish attracting cloud as they drop through the water.


The thing to bear in mind when rigging up to fish with soft pellets is that it is a delicate bait, and therefore your rigs need to be as sensitive as possible. The best way to achieve this is to present your bait as close to dead depth as conditions allow, and have shot as close to your hook as you can. This is why methods such as the ‘hook in the loop’ are so successful, as they provide maximum sensitivity.

I an ideal world, you would present your pellet just touching bottom with a bulk around six inches from your hook with no droppers, as then bites will be really positive. Unfortunately fish won’t always have bait presented as crudely as this however and you often have to compromise sensitivity in order to achieve better presentation and get bites, so as with worm fishing a bulk with two droppers is often a good place to start. Again, I would recommend the use of Preston Stotz, as these allow you to adjust your shotting very easily by simply sliding them about on the line.

This winter I started traveling with fellow Star contributor Matt Godfrey, who is awesome at all types of fishing, and we attended quite a few matches at Kiveton Waters, where pellet is the predominant method. Matt taught me a trick that has proved invaluable to all my fishing, but in particular pellet fishing. It’s to do with how you lower your rig in.

As I say, pellet is a sensitive bait, and where possible it helps if you can read your rig from the moment your pellet touches the water. What Matt showed me (which like all the best ideas in angling seems obvious when you think about it) is to lower your rig to half way down in the water before letting your rig straighten out, i.e. let the droppers fall so the rig is as it would be on the bottom, then inch the rig through the last couple of feet of water. Sometimes the fish will just pull the elastic out before the rig even settles, and when they don’t bites normally come very quickly after the pellet has touched bottom.

An added bonus when fishing like this and feeding with a toss pot, is that it gives the pellets that you have fed through the pot the chance to settle on the bottom before your hook bait reaches them, reducing the occurance of line bites.

In terms of what floats and hooks to use, I would recommend Kamasan B911 as a good all round pellet hook, with Tubetini 808’s being a good model for winter work and Preston PR28’s being a suitable heavier gauge model. Preston Chianti’s are a good float for pellet work in depths to 5ft, though I would thread a rubber over the bristle instead of using the side eye to avoid the eye pulling out, and in deeper water KC Carpa Porths work well.


The best way to feed pellets is invariably little and often, feeding to your bites. Putting too much bait in when fishing with this bait is the most common mistake that anglers make, as they draw too many fish into their pegs and then proceed to fowl hook them and often spook what are there and lose them.

I would kick start a session on the pellet with a kinder pot full of bait, and wait for an indication, if none were forthcoming I would be reluctant to feed again in that area for at least half an hour. The best way of looking at pellet fishing is that you are trying to catch a fish, then after you have caught one try and catch another one, rather than trying to draw a load of fish into your peg in one go.

If all goes to plan and you go in and get a fish off your first tosspot full of feed I would feed the same amount again, and keep doing this until line bites become a problem, at which point stop cut back on your feed accordingly. A useful tip for feeding pellets when you are really bagging is to fill your pot up, ship out but don’t feed, see if you get a bite straight away, if you do and you hook a fish tap your pole and feed the pellets in the pot . this way, by the time you land the fish and go back out the fish will be nicely settled over the pellets you have just fed.

Another important thing to consider with pellet fishing is the way in which you strike or, to be more specific don’t strike. All you should do is gently lift your pole so your rig comes about a pole float length out of the water, if you don’t get a fish lower it back in, that way your pellet will never come off the hook, unless of course there is a fish on!

Hard Pellets

As I mentioned in my introduction to this piece there are lots of different ways of fishing pellet in the modern commercial climate, and the way in which hard pellets are often fished is very different to the softly softly approach described above which is required for soft pellets.

On southern match waters, most notably at White Acres, it is very rare to see any anglers fishing with expander pellets, except for silver fish, all carp fishing is done with big, hard pellets, with feeding done either by catapult or by hand.

These can either be attached to the hook by a hair rig, a band or by a lasso, which is effectively a hair rigged slip knot.

In terms of feeding, the emphasis again is on feeding to your bites, with firing a couple of pellets every few seconds being the most common way of doing it, with southerners often referring to this as ‘pinging’.

Rigs used for fishing pellets in this way on the pole generally involve just a bulk a couple of feet away from the hook, with rigs often being set to three or four depths to find where the fish are in the water, with the aim being to catch shallow eventually.

If you have a feature to present bait to, or even plenty of open water to go at, the bomb and pellet waggler really come into there own however, and most of the massive weights you see from southern baggin meccas are taken on one of these two methods.

The real beauty of both these methods is there simplicity, as long as you keep feeding if the fish are there you will catch them. That is not to say that there is no skill in fishing them, as the pellet waggler for example takes a lot of skill to master.

I was fortunate enough to be shown the basics of this method by Spro Sponsored angler Stewart Lister, and though I wouldn’t claim to be an expert there are a few tips that I can pass on that may well be useful to readers.

Firstly, in terms of waggler choice avoid loaded wagglers as these have a tendancy to dive and spook the fish. The best type to go for are the Styrene straight wagglers, they may lack the glossy professional look of some models but have a look at the floats that most top anglers use and you will see that nine times out of ten it is one of these.

Another tip that helps prevent your float from diving is to put the bulk of your shot above the float, with one locking shot underneath. Don’t worry about sinking your line, as the waggler is rarely in the water long enough for skim to become a problem.

As a basic rule of thumb though if you don’t get a bite within a minute cast in again and feed, and keep doing this until you get bites. It is not a method you can sit on and wait for it to go under, you should expect to catch fairly quickly on it, if you don’t go back on the straight lead.

Which Pellets?

As I mentioned in the early part of this article, selecting which pellets to use can at times seem a daunting task, as there are that many on the market all claiming to be responsible for hundreds of ton up bags.

Don’t be confused or daunted by the different sizes and colours, find a type you are confident with and stick with it. By the same token,, don’t be afraid to experiment, as you would be amazed at the difference a subtle change can make. As a general rule though, the old saying holds true: If it aint broke don’t fix it!


  1. Trevor Welch

    Aug 28, 2008

    Good morning
    I have returned to fishing after a 45 year break and boy has it changed!
    My biggest concern is not the new equipment and 100’s of new baits etc but how to tie a variation of KNOT! correctly?
    Is there a publication or even a web page that could help me on this?
    Kind regards
    Trevor Welch

  2. Tom

    Aug 28, 2008

    Hi Trevor,

    On here you will find step by step guides on how to tie fishing knots as well as animations and videos.

  3. Trevor Welch

    Aug 29, 2008

    Thanks for the info i am beging to learn the basics!
    Kind regards

  4. NathanGasson

    Oct 05, 2008

    i was recently fishing with 14mm halibut pellets on a running rig and i had 5 takes and every fish i hooked came off about 15 secounds after i had hooked it. can any one give me a tip or clue why this happened?

  5. dave

    Oct 19, 2008

    I have just coaght my 1st bream ,started course fishing recently 80yys old picking up tips on this site willing to learn Dave….

  6. Tom

    Oct 20, 2008

    Nathan, Sometimes a longer hair rig helps when it is like this. Also try using a smaller hook, as these sometimes get a better hold. Sometimes though it can just be that the fish aren’t feeding properly. Is it a consistent problem you have or was it just that one occasion?

    Hi Dave, welcome to the site! I hope you agree that we are a friendly bunch of folk If you need any help or information, don’t hesitate to ask!

  7. 300lb perch

    Oct 21, 2008

    Does anyone know if pellets can catch perch. And if so , which ones?

  8. spencer

    Mar 19, 2009

    jus started carp fishing recently(about 2 months) wat do u recommend boilies or pellets-spicy or fruity?? thnk u- lovin the page by the way!!

  9. fathertedbarnes

    Mar 23, 2009

    I have recently been fishing a local lake, with many other anglers catching on soft pellet. I also fished on the pole with soft pellet, on the bottom, but didnt manage to register a bite. I went on to maggot, and picked up a few small carp. The fish were there, but didnt want to know about my pellets. Could it be the flavour, or the way i was hooking them? I spoke to another angler fishing across from me, and we were both using the same ring, hook size, and colour of soft pellet. Help me please as i have only just started with the pole and pellets style of fishing.

  10. mark fernandes

    Jun 08, 2009

    haibut pellets

  11. mark fernandes

    Jun 08, 2009

    what is the best pellets for smaller carp

  12. Ken

    Jul 06, 2009

    Thank you for the tips on pellet fishing can you tell me how to use a pellet pump to get the air out of them and make them sink thanks ken


    Jul 13, 2009

    I have been banking loads of doubel figure commons/mirrors on koi carp feeding pellets, also i have been making some cracking paste with them. Try this guys it realy is affective for carp, as follows, half a loaf of white bread in the blender followed by half a loaf of brown bread in the blender then add 3 – 4 hand fulls of pellets of your choice with quater of a pint of water and a packet of strawberry angel delight, blend some more and work it in to a paste…. guys dont be shy give it a try worked very very very well for many of my mates

  14. pellet is the bait

    Jul 13, 2009

    Hi all, I have found a problem when i am fishing, it can be fishing fantastically, baggin with carp etc and it will just go dead. Is that natural or is it something I am doing? please leave a solution.

  15. Jordan Taylor

    Jul 23, 2009


    i started carp fishing about 3 months ago and i see many anglers catching about 5 a day but i usualy get 1 or 2? could someone please advise me what rig to use and bait? i fish in a small lake that is fished alot if it helps?


    Jordan Taylor

  16. joe newberry

    Aug 07, 2009

    hi guys im 11 years old and ive been fishing 4 about a year now but im going night fishing at peterstone lakes carping but i dont know what bait to use please help because my dad dont know jack shit about fishing so contact me with any info

  17. joe newberry

    Aug 07, 2009

    what bait for big tench

  18. joe newberry

    Aug 07, 2009

    does any one no of any good tackle websites

  19. geoff dunwell

    Aug 08, 2009

    mussel/king prawns are great baits but use size 10 hooks so much success on these baits that i now only take mussels/king prawns and cheese slices when i go tench fishing i tend to use the cheese slices for my sandwiches though but i always use ground bait at first to get the tench feeding then stop using ground bit. main ingredient i use in my groundbait is hemp that gets them feeding quicker float method is best lift method works best for me anyway hope this helps.

  20. Kevin Cummings

    Aug 21, 2009

    Trevor,I stopped fishing in 1995,when I bought my first house,and have just caught the bug again after taking my 5 yr old fishing while on holiday.I can empathise with you,because the sport has changed dramatically since then!The good thing for the likes of me and you though, is that the biggest change seems to be the internet,and we have a ready stream of advice and tips to help us get back into the sport.The one thing that hasn’t changed is that anglers on the whole seem to be only too willing to help people just starting out,or getting back into it after a long lay off!
    Good luck Trevor,and enjoy it….

  21. Dan kelly

    Sep 14, 2009

    I’m new to Pellet fishing and I’m having massive trouble with it, im trying to hook directly onto the hook ( using pellet hooks ) but i find they are either too dry and just crumble or they are too soft and they just disintegrate, what am I doing wrong? obviously the too dry ones haven’t soaked enough and vice versa for the others, but I can’t seem to find that magic point where they are just right!

  22. colin

    Oct 18, 2009

    try this recipie Use 1 cube of strawberry jelly (7pence at asda, asdas own make)melted in the microwave with some water and your prefered flavourings, scopex, scopex and toffee, vanilla, brasem etc:

    place the pellets of your choice (ringers are good) in the pellet pump and add as much lquid to just come short of submerging them, pump for a good 2minutes e.g: at least three pumps each time letting out the air, after this put the pellets into a re sealable plastic sandwich bag removing all the air, and put them stright into the fridge. leave them 24 hours and then open the bag and gently seperate the pellets from each other, PERFECT Honest…………………..

    the only additional tip is to bring home some lake water or river water to use instead of tap water but it works either way… Good Luck

  23. darren

    Oct 22, 2009

    what ive done recently with pellets from an old time angler tip is get the amount you need cover them with luk warm water with a half a t spoon of sugar sprinkled on them, leave them to soak for about 10 – 15 minutes then drain them off through a siv of some kind, then put in fridge untill you require them for use and the y should work fine llet me know if it works for you it as for me i use them on the pole with a size 18 hook

  24. craig

    Jul 11, 2010

    the best bait for big tench is to get meat and bread punch it that is how i get my big tench but if not there is one more thing u can use that is a green sweet corn thats all i can think for u m8

  25. Robert

    Jul 13, 2010

    Hi. Thanks for your advice. ! I use small triangular luncheon meat on my hooks, but always get the bait taken straight away. How can i overcome this, just use larger pieces and hook as well….I fish for Carp, but always lose the bait/s to Roach and Bream etc which gets annoying. !

  26. Jordan

    Jul 16, 2010

    hi, in well stocked fisherys with 5 lb carp just soak pellets and mold to feeder. hook sweetcown and place in the pellets. you cath loads


    Aug 04, 2010

    Try Bennett’s of Sheffield, lots of choice,including their own brand and cheap compared to most sites

  28. Andy

    Aug 23, 2010

    May I intrudes my company Bio Green Tech Ltd, I am able to offer a vast rang of Pellet Mills which you will be able to make your owen fish pellets. If you are interested please take a look at Thank you and please keep the good work up.
    Regards Andy


    Sep 27, 2010

    hi i am relativly new to pellets and have only started catching fish on them this year, what a difference to my catch rate i use an online bait company who buys there,s in i don,t know what they put in these pellets company is called cnd but boy do they catch fish monster crab and bloodworm being the one,s to use in 11mm other sizes to but i,m certainly a convert

  30. Jamie Potts

    Apr 20, 2011


  31. Steve redfern

    May 05, 2011

    i will try the advice with the pellets this weekend with good results fingers crossed thanks

  32. Jimmythecheif

    Jul 13, 2011

    whats the best way to shot your line when waggler fishin im missin far too many bites help

  33. Robert James

    Aug 08, 2011

    I even don’t know about the pellet fishing thanks for this  post.. Really, it had added to my knowledge, and I am so happy that I come to
    know about it.. Keep sharing with us such amazing posts..

  34. Scott

    Aug 06, 2012

    Jimmy, put 95% if not all of your shot at the base of the float, this gives the float a straight look in the water, no chance of lift bites and very positive bites!


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