There is an awful lot of mystical nonsense written about this very simple method, like a lot of methods it seems to have been surrounded in secrecy with secret recipes and additives and some companies making a decent profit from magic paste mixes, potions, flavours and the must have new recipes from the naivety of us anglers, not saying that they don’t work, in actual fact most smell fantastic, like brightly coloured floats they more than likely catch more anglers than fish, after all we have to support the tackle industry and that includes the bait side, god forbid us if we didn’t as we wouldn’t have the next new fangled, groundbait or next bit of new kit. All of us have bought commercial paste mixes at one time or another, someone’s top secret bagging recipe to try. Some anglers who new what they were doing in the early days on this method have cleaned up on the circuit and reputations have been made fishing what was then a relatively new method, however because it is so very simple, it is easy to get wrong, we have all heard of anglers constantly moaning about missed bites, foul hooked fish etc, although I was reading all this stuff I wasn’t really taking too much notice as it wasn’t a method that I fish that regularly. Mainly to the fact that a lot of fisheries locally didn’t allow its use, Paste at Gold Valley for example has only been allowed from this year in matches.
I had used paste in the past on the very rare occasion and although I had done reasonably well I could hardly say I was proficient on the method even though I had some moderate success many moons ago. Some anglers have seen me using the ground bait feeder and hair rigged paste on the TF matches at the Glebe and I was lucky enough to get the great late Ivan Marks to chat to me about meat paste fishing at the Glebe just prior to the Maver clubman final some years ago, following Ivan’s top advice at the Glebe and doing very well in the very first match that I used Meat Paste or any paste of any description, I even had good old Roger Mortimer coaching me on the finer arts of playing carp, advice that was as true then as it is today, however I digress, but when it came to fishing paste on the pole other than meat paste I was as most, in the same boat as everyone else! In addition to my defence a lot of waters I was fishing, especially match venues, banned the paste so until recently was not a method I had fully explored.
Times have however changed and a lot of waters are now allowing the paste with Willow Park one of the first to lift a ban in matches down south, other new venues like Woolwich Green, Oakfield, Woodland Farm and Burghfield started to spring up as match venues and some more familiar boundaries such as Alders and Rolfs becoming more paste orientated, all these venues responded to the paste. My team mate John Brennan was constantly mucking around with stuff trying to get results, and most of all trying to sort out a winning method, Like all methods you have to put in a little bit of work in to get it sorted, I really started to take notice when my team mate John Brennan started to string a run of results together with a series of 5 tons and a second overall in the Post office national at Woodland View with 99lb, this result being achieved on a seasoned match venue that John had never ever set foot on before with a full Turnout at woodland view I think he had obviously sorted something, as I said John had suddenly started to get his act together and was catching good bags of fish on the paste in matches, I then thought it’s time I started to learn this new game and eagerly listened to the info that was forthcoming, my first proper match tryout was the London qualifier of the civil service which was held at Woolwich Green, John and I both fished paste, I drew a not so good area at the back of the island and John drew one off of the fliers that had been winning all the matches, needless to say John weighed in 99lb for a lake win and I was second from what I consider to be a crap draw with 56lb so it was job done on my first proper paste match, more importantly we had secured our qualification to represent London in the Civil Service National Team Championships which was to be held in Cumbernauld Glasgow luckily all expenses were paid by the Civil service, the trip resulted in me being drawn in a fairly duff area but I secured a section win using the paste methods described in this feature, however with lessons learnt I feel that every time I fish this method I will improve, however what you the reader will want to know is what John did to start getting very good results, and what I find quite remarkable is that lots of good paste anglers are doing something similar, however the difference is mind blowingly simple between framing and foul hooking carp and missing bites.
However before we talk about feeding and the finer arts of paste fishing I would like to discuss the terminal tackle and types line shot and floats I now use in order to achieve some level of competence when fishing the paste obviously we are all different and there are lots of schools of thought on how heavy the float should be shotting etc, or indeed if there should be any shot at all on the line! Many anglers just use self cocking floats, however my preferred pattern for paste fishing in deeper water is the maver paste float, for margin work any self cocker preferably the Richard Latimer self cocking floats or alternatively the Mick Wilkinson are both top floats for paste fishing. But various floats can be adapted to use for paste fishing providing they do the job.
Paste fishing the margins
I have several different approaches that I now use in my paste fishing firstly because I use a different strategy for targeting different areas of the peg, so with this in mind let me first talk about the tactics I use for the margin pegs, as far as feeding the margins are concerned where bait limits allow I prefer the heavy feed method as adopted by quite a lot of paste anglers getting through from 6 to 12 pints of pellets if required sometimes a lot less, the thinking behind this is to feed well away from where you are fishing, the classic example is to target fish on top of the shelf whilst feeding down the shelf, this feed area could be at least 3 feet or more away from your float, what happens is the carp are attracted by the noise of the pellets and because of the volume of feed you also pull in loads of carp, anyone fishing on top of the feed line will of course experience false line bites, loads of foul hookers and be cursing by the end of the match stating they were on a shedful and lost more fish than the winner weighed in, however what is actually weighed in does not reflect what is normally lost etc I think we have all been there, however the more discerning angler will be fishing on top of the shelf well away from where the feed is going in? why? by feeding down the shelf well away from where you are fishing the lots of carp come into the peg, now because of the loose feed they will be at different levels some carp will stray onto the near shelf and feed on your baited rig, the end result more carp hooked in the mouth and consequently landed and less foul hookers and liners, to put this into perspective just think of crowd control at a football match, people don’t go where they are supposed to, ask any steward, it’s a nightmare to control crowds, just because you feed at the bottom of the shelf does not mean that all the carp will be there, no some will wander up the shelf and bingo you have just won the lottery. The very fact that you are loose feeding will bring carp up in the water, carp will wander close in along the shelf, some will sit off of the feed, some will be attracted by noise etc, etc this as a real bonus as you want the carp to look on the top shelf. In actual fact you are reliant on carp being inquisitive they love shelves having attracted them to the area they will do what comes naturally and this works in your favour, this is how some top anglers amass big bags of carp.
For fishing up the shelf I prefer a float with no shot a self cocker that will register with just the weight of the paste is ideal, normally in a shallow water peg I would rather that if a carp brushed against the line it did not spook, a carp brushing and feeling shots may well do this on a cagey day, obviously the advantage of this method is that when a carp is hooked it normally heads away from the inside and can be played in open water because of the feeding system it is not ploughing through the baited area which would happen if you were feeding on top of the shelf. This method is a win, win method and lots of very good anglers are taking fisheries apart with these particular methods.
Paste Fishing in open water
For an open water peg with no pronounced shelves I will try to find a decent flat area, my preferred float for fishing long is the maver paste floats, shot are browning size 8 which have a wide central gape for ease of application to thicker hi tech lines, my preference is Ultima’s XT7, In actual fact the new range of lines by Ultima are outstanding including there reel line Power Plus however I digress, now the size of the float depends on the tow, if I can use a float carrying .5 of a gram I am relatively happy however the paste must set the float and if the float starts to trot due to the tow a heavier float normally of the same pattern is used, the maver paste floats are very stable and have a very long bristle I normally set the shots around 18 inches from the hook in deep pegs (a bulk of seven x number 8 browning shots is perfect for this float) the shotting of the float is enough to just cover the body of the float and an inch of the bristle, this leaves 3 inches of bristle and the weight of the paste sets the float, I normally start off 2 to 3 inches over depth letting the paste set the float so an inch of bristle sometimes less is showing (depends on the day) and how finicky the carp are, if the paste comes off the float inevitably lifts like Excalibur out of the water and cannot be missed, In shallower water if there is absolutely no tow and a depth of around four foot I will sometimes use a Mick Wilkinson paste float that carries just two shot 8 shot but has the characteristic long bristle, when using a stiff paste on the long line I will use a cable tie and set it so the shots hang my side of the pole when shipping out, if it is a softer paste then a fox toss pot is my choice, when using floats with a long bristle lots of anglers struggle with the wind wrapping line around the float and the consequent effect of the float tangling results in it not cocking properly and laying flat on the surface, the rigours of having to ship back in an out can be a nightmare in windy conditions, to stop this put a small piece of silicone rubber on the tip of the bristle solves all ills and does not affect the presentation in any way because the bristles are extremely long and the floats are extremely long and stable. I can’t believe how long I struggled with this minor problem before sorting it! Paste floats like all floats are a personal choice, I have one friend who only uses the Preston Tyson float in the 0.35 size and reckons these are spot on again no shot are used with just the paste shotting the float, these are again mainly used in the margins or alternatively in areas not deeper than 4 foot, however I much prefer to use the models I have stated because they offer superb stability in the water.
A selection of paste floats (from left to right) tubertini paste floats were used for drayton to combat the tow of a large reservoir, Big H floats are very popular as are the maver floats on the far right are my preferred choice the maver ice for long pole or deeper water, notice the rubber on top of the floats on the winders to stop line twist interfering with the presentation
Margin floats (from left to right) Richard Latimer margin self cockers, some Mick Wilkinson floats and far left 3 Preston Tyson floats all these floats can be used in the margins and shotted with a lump of paste.
Now we come to feeding on the long line, I must admit that I tend to copy my Team mate John Brennan and pot in a couple of big pots of pellet with added pieces of torn paste, a pot of the 6mm and 3mm or just 6mm dependant on venue, I normally stick to 6mm or even larger pellets if the venue has a large head of silvers, again on some venues if the bites are very slow in coming a ball of groundbait can make a significant difference and what seemed like a dead peg can come alive, why this can make such a significant difference is anyone’s guess?. However I would feed very infrequent and a big pot as a top up as opposed to little and often would be they way the peg was re-fed, I would not even consider loose feeding over the top (unlike on the inside peg when you want to encourage fish to come up which can result in a real bonanza) as once carp come up in the water on a long paste line it can be nigh on impossible to get them back on the deck, Loose feeding a long line can be the kiss of death!!!!!!!!!!
However there are exceptions to the rules and thought has to be applied to the peg you draw and plumbing up could not be more important, for example at Woolwich Green near Reading there is a range of shelves and some pegs have a distinct shelf between seven to 9 metres again similar tactics applied to the near shelf could be applied on this venue or a version of both tactics, a modified approach cupping with light loose feeding has on the very odd occasion worked, like all things in angling there are no hard and fast rules, so you have to really workout what the peg may require and modify the approach as always it is the thinking angler that will get the best out of the peg, anyone who goes to a peg with preconceived ideas may well come unstuck. I remember one match result where anglers had been catching on top of the nearside shelf yet on this day, fishing down at the bottom of the shelf was the tactic to do, the winning angler in question reasoned that a cold snap would keep them in the deeper water and although anglers did catch in the shallower water on the shelf they did not catch enough to win. So like all things you must think about your paste fishing and adapt if need be on the day. Like wise feeding ground bait on a pellet line has at times improved the catch rate no end, I have seen this tactic work to many times for it to be coincidence and have tried to reason why it can be so devastating; however the conclusion can only be that they wanted the ground bait on that day.
Like wise on some mixed fisheries anglers will feed a long paste line and get plagued by skimmers, one top trick is to fish a stiffer paste off bottom, not saying it works all the time but when it does it can give you a real edge especially if other anglers are struggling with the same problems, I must admit I suffered from skimmers on the Stafford Moor festival at pines Lake why I never tried this I don’t know? Knowing is one thing putting it into practise is another, that’s why we never stop learning and hindsight is a wonderful thing!
Now we come to making paste and what to use? The most important thing I will say is use what you feed, to give an example of this if I am using green swim stim pellets then that is what I will make my paste from, it is easier to make paste from 3 mm pellets than 6mm pellets because they grind up easier in the liquidiser, there are various ways to make paste just add hot water to the pellets and mix with a fork or cover with cold water and leave overnight, I prefer to grind up swim stim pellets in a liquidiser as I thinks the green colouring is more evenly distributed through the paste, also I can leave some powder to which I can then add to the softer pastes to make into a firm paste if so required. However any fishmeal pellets can be used and normally I just add hot water and knead into a paste although again I will liquidise some pellets to make both the paste powder and ground bait as required, the main message is use on the hook what you feed in the peg. Got baits also do a complete range of pellets and paste that complement each other and some of the weights that the Got baits lads have caught are phenomenal including the 5 hour world match record. Having used there range pellets I can vouch that they are indeed excellent I know some very accomplished anglers that still swear by additives in there paste, I also know plenty of anglers that just use what they are feeding. I prefer to add nothing working on the theory that if they are eating my pellets they will eat my paste, if I add an additive it may deter the fish and if a catch would I have caught anyway? Like all things in angling keeping it simple is best. Another reason for using Pellets is the very fact that they contain gelatine which helps to hold and bind the paste a factor that groundbait does not have, I am not into using groundbaits for paste as some anglers advocate and using methods such as striking the paste off to feed the peg, not that I am knocking those that do, the reason that I don’t myself advocate such a style is that normally I will fish a couple of methods of which the paste is one in my armoury, striking off paste in order to build a peg may limit you to just the method in order to get the method to work.
The very thought that success in angling can be purchased for a few bob is very demeaning to some of the great paste anglers who have worked extremely hard at developing these successful methods and the thinking behind feeding, playing and catching big bags is again something that has to be practised in order to compete, I have just started on that path and hope that with a small, insight into how applied thought on paste fishing may get anglers to think more about what they are trying to achieve when fishing the paste and more importantly how there feed is affecting fish behaviour. As I write recovering from some hospital treatment I have just received news from team mate John Brennan having weighed in another ton + (155lb at Woodlands farm fishery, Quainton, Bucks) fishing the paste as described in this article which is truly creditable to the methods described. Obviously Team mate John has got it sorted and my thanks go to him for sharing his methods with me, the fact that John did an awful lot of experimenting over the years with pastes ranging from sweet additives to many various concoctions he now settles on just paste made from either swim stim pellets or Fishmeal pellets mainly Got Baits or Skrettings, as I said whatever your feeding.
I hope you have enjoyed the article but more importantly if you have learnt a little and it gets you thinking and catching more fish by applying thought to the problems you face when paste fishing then its job done.
I would just like to thank John Brennan and Matt Nutt for there input and inspiring me to write this paste article.
Many thanks and tight lines Fred Davis