Catching an Indian Carp (Book-2)

Ali H Husaini
Articles / Catching an Indian Carp (Book-2)
Posted on: 2017-09-23 13:01:25 +0530 (IST)

Catching an Indian Carp (Book-2)

 

Catching an Indian Carp (Book – 2)

 

PART-1

Float Fishing  One of the most exciting techniques of catching a fish, Float fishing can be considered as the first step of learning the complex lore of Angling. Almost all of us have started fishing with bamboo rods, commonly known as ‘Katiya’ (कटिया), ‘Dagan’ (डगन) or ‘Bansi’ (बंसी), wherein a small length of sturdy mono line is attached  to the end of a flexible bamboo pole like a thin broom stick. A float, made of reed stem (नरकुल) is directly tied to the line and to complete the setup, a hook is then tied at the end of the line. A supposedly primitive setup but fishing with these rods was a joy in our childhood.

A typical Indian Bamboo Rod

 

 

Like with many of you, making these rods and preparing for fishing was like a carnival in my childhood. A bunch of us, like a pack of monkeys, walking through miles of reed grass, lantana bushes and thorny shrubs, cutting the choicest of bamboo pieces, dragging them home, bragging amongst each other about the virtue of the piece we had selected and on reaching home, cutting, polishing and then heating the bamboo to give it a specific curve, tying the line, hooks and float, these are the best memories of my child hood.

The use of these rods is still prevalent throughout India

 

 

I understand that the above setup is just a basic way of catching a fish but understanding the same is essential to take up the modern ways of float fishing. If you are not lucky enough to have gone through the process of using these ancient rods as your baptism to fishing, I will strongly recommend that you use them at least once before converting to modern rods and reels. The use of these rods is still prevalent throughout India and finding someone fishing with them will not be difficult. Check the system thoroughly and use it for some time. Once familiar with it, you will notice certain flaws in this system, namely:

  • You cannot cast far with this system.
  • It is very cumbersome to increase or decrease the length from your float to hook, in case you want to explore different depths. It is almost impossible to cast when the line between float and hook is more than a few feet.
  • In case you hook a big fish, there is no flexibility to play your catch. (Though you have the option to leave your rod and swim after it till the drag of the floating rod tires the fish)

Once familiar with these constrains, using a modern setup will become very easy. By using a modern rod, paired with an appropriate reel and line, the first and the last point can be taken care of. The only thing remaining, the flexibility to play different depths can be countered by using a float which can slide up the line with its buoyancy and then limiting the length of the slide by using a stopper on the line. While casting the bait out, the float will stay near the rig but will slide up the line till the stopper, due to its buoyancy while the rig goes down. Using a stopper one can maintain the required distance between the float and the hook. A very easy way to present bait at predetermined depths. Although, there is a wide variety of stoppers available in the market, the most commonly used stopper in India, is a rubber band tied to the line! The rubber band stopper can easily be moved up or down the line, making presentation of the bait at different depths possible.

Below is an illustration of basic float Setup


 

Before going through the basic concepts, equipment and techniques, understanding a bit of physics will make many things clear and then we will be able to exploit this understanding, to innovate and improve our chances of catching a fish. The two most important factors which play a major role in designing an advance float setup are buoyancy and the characteristic of water to exert an upward thrust. In advanced float fishing, the float can be used as an indicator and also as a self hooking mechanism. Preferably, when using a float as an indicator where the angler intends to execute a strike, the buoyancy of the float should be balanced with the weight of the rig and hook bait. In this scenario, if the bait is dangling in the water, its effective weight becomes zero. When we use the float as a self hooking mechanism, the buoyancy of the float should be such that it is just enough to hook the fish when it pulls the bait down. A very important factor which many anglers fail to realise is that in a self hooking mechanism when the fish pulls the bait up, the buoyancy of float does not come into play. Advanced mechanics in rig designing is required to counter it and we will discuss it later on, while discussing the floating feeder method.

In self hooking mechanism one should not increase the buoyancy of the float to such an extent that it exerts more than required pressure on the fish while it is on the run. This may result in a hook pull off or line break.

The other factors which also affect float fishing are wind drift and currents. The wind creates a drift on the float, while the same drift and currents exert pressure on the line and thus the line does not remain in a straight line, as shown in the Illustration above. This phenomenon is known amongst anglers as belly formation.

 

Below is an illustration of Belly formation

 

 

From the above illustration one can easily understand that the line between the rod tip and the hook is not taut. As the above illustration is two dimensional it is not showing the belly formation on the surface due to drift created by wind but that too plays a major role. As such a mono line has a lot of stretch and transferring the force of the strike to the hook is a difficult job and if the belly formation is more, the force of the strike does not get transferred to the hook and so the fish does not get hooked.

 

 

Traditional Indian Float Setup

 

 

As one can see from the illustration above, the scope of this setup is limited to bottom fishing alone. A lead weight, either fixed above the swivel or one that can slide on the main line is used to pin the hook on the bottom. If you are using a weight which has a bore bigger in diameter than the swivel, a small bead should be used to prevent the weight sliding over the swivel. The hooks are covered with the dough bait, ranging from simple wheat flour dough to some exotic herbal recipes. A topping of various semi liquid concoctions and ant eggs is then applied liberally on the baited hook as an attractant and then cast out to a pre baited area. When a fish picks up the bait and moves, the float slides in and the angler, waiting patiently, executes the strike to set the hook.

As the weight used here is much more than the buoyancy of the float, one can either keep the hook just below the float by limiting the stopper so as the distance between the stopper and the weight is equal to the depth of water where one is fishing. In case one wishes to keep the line from the float to the hook at an angle, he should increase the distance between the weight and the stopper appropriately and then tighten the line till the float stands erect and visible to the angler. The first method of keeping the bait below the float is a better option if one has attached the weight to the line. The second method of placing the bait at an angle to the float is best with a sliding weight as the line slides easily when a fish moves with the bait and the weight does not spook the fish. It is a better method because no belly formation happens as the line is taut from the rod tip to the bait and chances of hook-ups are more than the first method. This method is also more sensitive in registering bites but applying it in windy condition or in flowing water is a bit difficult as the drag created by the wind and water on the line tends to drag the float down and gives a false impression of a bite.

 

Below is an illustration of different ways to present the bait.

 

 

In Bengal, the Mecca of coarse fishing, the traditional way is to use two wide gap hooks, tied very closely with a stiff line. After applying baits to the hook as described above, a ball of ground bait is meticulously moulded around both hooks. The concept of moulding a ball of ground bait around the hook, locally known as ‘poor’ is prevalent in many South East Asian countries but it has either originated from Bengal or Nepal. In Nepal many traditional anglers use this method as they apply a ball of rice husk around the baited hook. This ball of ground bait, when cast out in the water, gradually breaks down and provides localised ground baiting around the baited hook.

Traditional Bengal Hooks

Like any other float fishing setup, reading the behaviour of the float is of utmost importance. This setup, due to the use of excess weight, is not very sensitive and so small nibbles are not registered on it. If a fish picks up the bait, to the extent that the weight is also lifted off the ground, the float will dip in. If the fish moves away with the bait, the float will slide in at an angle. In the last scenario, where the fish moves toward the angler, due to slack in the line, the float will rise up to the extent that it will lie flat on the surface. In all the three scenarios, the best time to strike is when the float is moving. Dip bites can also happen when a fish brushes your line but the classical slide away and rising float bites are a sure indicator that the fish has picked up the baited hook and is moving with it.

Few tricks which can improve the chances of a hook-up while using this setup is to use very soft dough bait, moulded over the hook in the shape of a cashew nut and keeping the tip of the hook exposed. If one wishes to improve his hook up percentage further, he should use a hair rig, with a small spring attached at the end of the hair and mould the dough bait on the spring itself as illustrated in the picture below.

 

Below is an illustration of how to put Bait on spring

 

 

Keeping the weight just enough to sink the float will make this setup very sensitive and can improve the chance of a catch many times. Matching the weight and the buoyancy of the float is known as balancing and will be the main criterion in understanding our second rig.


As we have discussed in the above chapter, the traditional Indian float fishing method is only suitable for bottom fishing. We must now understand, improvise and learn to design a rig where one can present the bait at any depth of his choice. To present the bait at depth, it is essential that the buoyancy of the float should be more than the combined weight of the rig and bait to keep the baited hook dangling in the water. As explained earlier, the float used here can either be used for indication of a bite or for self hooking purpose. In case one is using the float for self hooking purpose, the buoyancy should be enough to hook the fish and thus a big buoyant float is used in this method, but if one intends to use the float as an indicator, the difference between the buoyancy of the float and the combined weight of the rig and weight should be minimum. It is not possible to change the buoyancy of a float so to minimise the difference, additional weight in the form of split shots is attached to the line. The method of attaching additional weight to the line, for controlling the balance between the buoyancy and the weight of the rig setup is known as balancing or shotting the float. A balanced float is much sensitive and increases the chance of a catch as it offers least resistance when the fish takes the baited hook and moves with it. This method of balancing the float finds application in many systems of float fishing. Drifting over bottom is one such method which is one of the most enjoyable forms of catching a carp and can produce some amazing results also.                              

 

Drifting over Bottom:

 

Drifting over bottom is a successful method which gives good results in still water or slow flowing streams/ rivers. This system is more suitable for a terrain where the bottom is flat but it can also be adapted in various other conditions. As one can see from the above illustration, the rig is very simple once the angler understands balancing (shotting) of the float and measuring the depth concepts. Here the selection of float is of utmost importance. A slender, light and visible float is best suited for this method. I prefer using a waggler, feather quill or porcupine quill float with this setup.

One should use an 8-10 lbs flexible tip rod paired with a small reel which can hold 100-150 m of 5-10 lbs mono line. The hook used is #8 to #14 depending upon the target species and selection of bait. A rubber stopper is preferable but one can also use a rubber band, tied to the line directly for this purpose. Set up the rod as described in illustration.

A:            Keep the distance between the stopper and the hook to such an extent that the hook does not rest on the bottom.  Cast it out and you will observe that the float will lie flat on the water.

B&C:      Balance/shot the float as described earlier by going on adding split shots on the line between the float and the swivel till the float stands erect and only 2-5mm of the float is visible.

D:            Now add an additional weight to the hook as illustrated and cast it out to the spot where you want to play. You will observe that due to the additional weight the float will sink.

E:            Gradually go on moving the stopper away from the hook, recasting every time to the same spot till the top of your float is visible again. This is the position where the distance between the float tip and the hook is the depth of the water.

F:            Now if you want to drift the bait 6” above the bottom you just have to move the stopper 6” towards the hook.

 This is a very versatile method which can be used to play at any depth either measuring from the bottom or from the top. In this method the bites registered on the float are classical lift or dip bites. Striking while the float is moving is of utmost importance but it requires a bit of practice to master it.

The best baits for this system are earthworm, larva, bread pinch or punch but dough bait and paste bait also produce some good result. In a slow flowing river or stream, use of alga, wound around the hook is wonderful bait and can produce a record fish.


Exploring Depths:

As pointed out earlier, the same setup used for ‘drifting over bottom’ can also be used for targeting fish from any depth. The only difference being that one can use a bigger and more buoyant float, similarly balanced with additional weight to gain casting distance. The additional weight once inside the water is balanced by the buoyancy of the float and so the complete setup remains as sensitive as the previously described method. The trick adopted by Indian anglers to make a bigger and more buoyant float is to tie three different feather quill floats together as shown in the illustration below.

 

In this case a lot of weight is required to balance the setup. Instead of attaching all weight to the line, the additional weight should be attached to the bottom of the float. Ideally 2/3rd weight required to balance the setup should be put on the float itself. This can be done by winding soldering wire, which is readily available in the market, around the bottom of the float. Additional care is to be taken in the form of using a soldering wire which does not have a flux core and coating the winded wire by an adhesive like Araldite to prevent any contamination of water. 

Such kinds of floats are less prone to drift and stay put on a place for a longer period of time. The main disadvantage of using this setup is belly formation however using a sinking line reduces the effect of surface drift.

While targeting big fish, one can also use a sturdier rod and a reel with more line capacity. Unlike the ‘drifting over bottom’ method, the hook setup is a hair rig with a small spring attached to it as described earlier. The baits used are dough baits, bread pinch, algae or bunch of worms, moulded or tied around the spring.

Some Examples of Using Hair Rig with float setup

The distance between the float and the hook depends on various factors. The time of the day, weather, season and many other factors decide where the fish are hanging. As a general rule, lot of movement on the surface indicates that the fish are near surface and bubble trails rising up the surface due to carp feeding on bottom, indicates that the fish are feeding on the bottom. The absence of both is an indicator that the fish are holding in mid water. Basically one can experiment and explore different depths to fine tune this setup. Use of a handy fish finder is an added advantage as it can pin point the depth at which the fish are holding at any given time, without much effort.

Presenting bait at depths

In non-windy conditions, when the surface of water is calm and there is no substantial drift, this method is a classical way of catching good Indian Carps. In the pre dawn hours, when DO (Dissolved Oxygen) is at its lowest, the fish tend to hang near the surface and it is one of the best time to try this method.


Presenting bait on surface

These weighted floats can be an added advantage and by using them, besides gaining distance, one can also present the bait on surface. By removing the split shots from the line and using floating hook baits like bread pinch, corn, popcorn, algae or any such bait, it is very easy to present bait on surface as is explained in the illustration below. One can also make his bait floating by adding small piece of foam or such material on the hook. In this method one can see the fish taking the bait and get ample time to execute the strike. Since the distance between the rod tip and float is much, it is advisable to crank the reel few times to take the slack before executing the strike. If one is not comfortable in cranking the reel while striking, he should keep his rod tip down and execute a firm strike so that the rod tip goes well behind his shoulder.

Catching a Carp from Surface


Presenting bait near Weed Beds

With a bit of practice and modification, the above rig can also be used to target fish lurking under weed beds. In case you chance upon a weed bed, where you have to cast towards it and you observe any activity on the edge of the weed bed, this is the method you must try. The only difference between the setup used for presenting bait on surface and this rig being, the bait used is not floating bait and an additional weight, in form of a split shot/s is attached near the hook. The weed bed holds a lot of food for Carps and other fish. With the movement of weed due to wind, current or fish activity, the trapped food like Crustaceans drop from the weeds and are immediately gulped by the feeding fish.

The idea of this rig is to create an illusion that your bait is falling from the weed bed. As the float is weighted, it precedes the hook when one casts it. To achieve best results, one has to be proficient enough to cast his float on the very edge of the weed bed. The hook, following it will fall on the surface and then, due to split shot attached near the hook, sink in an ark, creating an illusion of food falling from a weed bed.  As one can see from the illustration below, while we cast the float, the hook trails behind it and the float can, with a bit of practice, be placed on the very edge of the weed bed.

As is apparent from point A, B, C & D, the bait will fall in an ark and incite the feeding fish to take it immediately.  The selection on bait is very important here. Earthworm, bread punch, bread pinch, corn and Crustaceans can all produce good results. The best bait should not be round and be buoyant enough to sink gradually. Round bait will sink in a line where as other erratic shapes will move and flip in water while sinking. The same can be achieved by adding a small foam piece on the hook. The bites will always be fast slide away bites. In this set up, one should not strike immediately and strike after a pause. This is instant fishing and like spinning one should go on casting again and again to induce a bite.  Constantly casting the bait makes this method very interesting and guiding the hooked fish out of the weed bed is very challenging. The method is best suited to small streams or channels where one can cast from one bank to the other bank. In lakes or ponds, one can try this method from a boat also.


Float Fishing (Self Hooking)

All the above methods cover the complete spectrum of float fishing where striking is essential to set the hook. Now we will try to understand some rigs which are self hooking and eliminate the necessity of striking to set the hook. The striking part is prone to human error. It is not possible to be vigilant and ever ready and if you ask any angler, he will testify that many a bites happens when one is distracted, watching somewhere else or attending an irritating call. The self hooking methods, devoid of the necessity of setting the hook manually are much more effective and with complete understanding, can produce very good results.

As explained earlier, the float used for self hooking method are big and buoyant, it will be necessary to either procure or make your own custom made floats to indulge in this sport. Many Styrofoam or plastic bubble floats are available in the market which can be used for this method but I always make my own floats which are very easy to make and perform excellent with the methods I will be describing later. As many of these methods also involve using a coil feeder, let’s first understand the construction of a buoyant float and a coil feeder.

Self Hooking Floats. 

To make your own float, you will be requiring the following items:

  • Few Table Tennis Balls.
  • Empty Pen Refill.
  • A small swivel.
  • Thin Nail
  • Araldite Glue.
  • Paints.
  • General tools like Hammer, pliers, screw drivers etc.

Using the above, one can make different buoyancy floats.  Select a swivel which can slide inside the plastic refill. Punch the nail through the refill so as it also passes through the loop of the swill. The nail will fix the swivel with the refill. Cut the nail from close to the refill. Tap the cut end of the nail with a hammer lightly to flatten it. One can also use a GI wire for this purpose. Below is the illustration, showing the above described steps to fix the swivel with the refill. Painting the nail later on will prevent the rusting and increase the life of the float.

 Now take the Table Tennis ball and drill a hole through it using a star screwdriver (A). The holes should be big enough that the refill slides through them (B). Use some Araldite glue to seal any gap around the refill. The glue will also fix the ball on the refill (C).

Once the Araldite sets, one can paint his float as per his own choice. One can also use two or three balls to make different buoyancy floats as is illustrated below. One can also make an inline float by not fixing the swivel. In this case you can pass your line through the refill tube itself.

I have been using these floats since long and find them very effective. If one wants to increase the weight of these floats to gain casting distance, inject enough water in the bottom ball to get required weight and then seal the puncture of the needle by a tape, glue or wax. Off the subject, these water filled floats can also be used for saltwater fishing and give very good results for targeting fish from just below the surface.

One can also use different shapes of Styrofoam, HD Foam or Thermocol instead of the ball, using the same method to produce a vast variety of floats for different conditions and buoyancy.

Coil Feeder. 

The best method for catching a fish near surface or from depths with the buoyant floats is to use a coil feeder. Unlike the method feeder designed to be used on the ground, this coil feeder is not weighted. The best wire to use for constructing this feeder is GI wire as it does not rust easily. Many varieties and makes of this feeder are available in the market but I prefer using my own custom made coils which are very easy to make and perform excellently for me.

To make your own Coil Feeder, you will be requiring the following items:

  • GI Wire from dia. 1 mm to 2 mm.
  • Empty Pen Refill.
  • A small swivel.
  • Rubber tube which is used in the tube valve of cycle
  • Araldite Glue.
  • Paints.
  • General tools like Hammer, pliers, screw drivers etc.

First of all, wound the wire on any pipe or roller to make a spring like shape. The distance between one coil to the other governs the rate of bait release so having different coil distance shapes is an added advantage. For example, for targeting a Catla I use a coil which is very close to each other whereas for Silver Carp, I prefer using a coil which is open and releases lot of bait with any activity. As a thumb rule, the coil distance should be such that when we cast it out, at least 2/3 bait should remain on the feeder and 1/3 should break on the impact on water.

Once the spring shape coil is ready, give it an oval shape by pliers and hand. The top and bottom coils should be wide enough that the pen refill should slide through it.

Once the coil is ready, slide the Refill through it and tie the ends of the coil with the refill using a strong thread. Seal the ends by M-Seal or any such hardener. Once the hardener sets, push a small piece of rubber tube on the projected refill, as shown in the illustration above. Use Araldite to fix the rubber tube on the refill. Cut the extra rubber tube, leaving enough length where one can fix a small swivel. Paint the feeder with any plastic paint. This coil feeder can be used in many ways and is totally fish safe. Once familiar with the basic concept of self hooking, we will discuss each and every method in detail.


Basic Floating Rig (Self Hooking Method)

Now that we have made our own floats, let’s prepare our first floating rig which works on self hooking principle. Keep in mind that the reel used for playing this method is a bait runner or drum reel. Use of any singular drag reel is risky as in this method the hook ups are sudden and if the drag is not loose, even a medium size fish is capable of pulling your rod in the water. If you do not have access to a Bait Runner reel and intend to use a normal spinning reel, keep the drag low and tighten it accordingly after a hook up.  Drum reels with twin drag can also be used but one should be extra careful to adjust the bait runner drag due to the possibility of back lash and bird nest while the fish is running. It can be a nightmare to find your reel jammed due to backlash while a good fish is on and in case you are slow to attend the rod, it is as good as bidding adios to your rod and fish. Who would want to throw and pull an anchor all around to retrieve a drowned rod during a productive fishing session.

As is obvious from the above illustration, this rig is very simple. First of all push a stopper on your line. The selection of stopper is very important as if it is too loose the hook up will not happen and if it is too tight, the pull of the float on the running fish will either tear the hook hold or the line will break. Next, slide a bead just bigger than the ring of the swivel you are using on the line and then pass the line through the swivel ring on the bottom of the float (A). Now tie the rig, as shown in the illustration (B). The rig could be a hair rig if you plan to use Boilie, corn, chickpea or any such bait or you can also use a small spring, as described previously in Book-1. Attach at least 12 grams of split shots (4XLG) near the hook. The additional weight not only keeps the hook bait down, it also assists in hook ups. The hooking force of the float comes in play only when the fish takes the hook and moves down. In case the fish moves up or sideways after taking the hook, the float does not play any role and the fish gets enough time to spit out the hook. Putting a big split shot near the hook comes handy in these scenarios and increases the probability of hook ups due to the weight of these split shots. The bead and stopper limits the depth of the bait and can be manipulated simply by sliding then up or down the line. Generally keeping the depth of around one to four feet gives best results. The bait is either a Boilie or any dough bait moulded around a small spring as described earlier. One can experiment with different baits like bread pinch, corn, chick pea, algae, worms etc to fine tune his rig for specific fish species. Below is a table for fish specific baits.

Dough Baits

Rohu, Hybrid.

Bread Pinch, specially a big chunk of Pao (Indian Bread) Pinched on the Spring.

Catla, Silver Carp, Rohu, Hybrid

Corn, Chick Pea

Rohu, Hybrid

Algae

Catla, Mirgal, Grass Carp

Worms

Mirgal, Grass Carp

The above is just a probable catalogue as all carps can take either of these baits and there are many other types of bait which can be tried with this method. I find the Bread Pinch and Algae the best baits paired with this method as these two baits, if properly put around the spring, flair in the water and effectively conceal the hook.

This rig has got its limitation as the hooking force of the buoyant float only works when the fish takes the hook and pulls it down.  Due to this factor, this method is not very effective to target a wary carp though if the fish are feeding aggressively, this is a very enjoyable and productive method.

This method is also prone to drift and if one want to keep the float stationary, especially when fishing snags or weeds, using a sliding weight behind the float, as described in the below illustration can solve the problem of keeping the float stationary.

While casting the rig out, the free sliding weight stays near the float and when we cast the rig out it slides back on the line and settle on the bottom while the float remains on the surface. The weight should be just enough to counter the drift and the inner diameter of the weight should be big enough that the line slides through it easily.  As these weights tend to slide back on the line while casting, a bit of practice is required to place the weight on the required place. An aerodynamic shape, front taper or conical kind, offers least resistance to wind and is easy to manage as it does not back-slide much on the line.

This method is very effective in slow flowing rivers or streams as allowing the bait to naturally wash up to likely holding spots becomes very easy but it can also be used in lakes and ponds to fish staying near surface. Paired with a coil feeder and some innovative rigs, this method is very versatile and can be adopted in many varied conditions to land some big carps.    

Basic Floating Feeder Rig (Self Hooking Method)

This rig does not differ to the above described rig except a coil feeder is attached above the hook rig. The feed dispersing from the feeder attached acts as an attractant and thus it is much more productive than the previous method. It is a bit complicated to master this rig and understanding of feeder bait, along with hook bait is of utmost importance. I am presuming that you have gone through Catching an Indian Carp (Book-1) and are familiar with the basic concept of bait making. I will not dwell into the nuances of bait making once again but only list few successful recipes at the end of this chapter.

I am also presuming that you have made your own Coil Feeder as described earlier so it’s time to start assembling our first floating feeder rig. Here also, like the previous method, the need to use a bait runner reel is imperative.

As is illustrated in the picture below, the first thing to understand is how to attach the feeder with the line and tie your hook length.

As shown in Step 1, pass the line through the Refill tube so that the free end of the line comes out from the rubber tube. Select a swivel which fits in the rubber tube easily. The fit should be such that if you pull the swivel out of the tube, it should come out with a slight pull. Now tie the swivel on the free end of your line, using the knot of your choice, as shown in Step 2. Pull the line from the other end of the feeder so as the upper ring of the swivel slides in the rubber tube (Step 3). In case you are using a bigger swivel, press the upper ring of the swivel in an oval shape, using pliers so that it fits in the rubber tube accordingly. To complete the setup, tie a hook rig as described in Step 4 of the illustration. As explained in the previous method you can experiment with different hook baits and hook lengths. Generally the hook length for this method is 2~6 inches but I have caught some good fish, using hook length as long as 2 feet. 

It is obvious that in the assembly, the line is not directly attached to the feeder and in case of a break up during the fight; the feeder will fall off and thus it is a fish safe method. Also if the feeder gets snagged during the fight, the line will run through the tube avoiding any jerk which can cause hook tear or line break.

Putting the feeder Bait.  As described earlier, in the construction of coil feeder, the consistency of the feeder bait should be such that only 1/3rd of the bait breaks on impact on water when you cast it out and the remaining 2/3rd should remain on the feeder. The dispersion rate of the remaining bait is different for different fish and conditions and we will discuss it later. As a general rule, for our Carps, this remaining bait should disperse within a period of half an hour or so. With a bit of experimentation and understanding of the ingredients of the feeder bait, one can prepare his choice bait with ease.

To put bait on the feeder press the feeder bait around the coil using both hands. Go on moulding the bait gently in thin layers to form a required ball of bait. Wet your hands and once again press the ball such that the outer layer of the ball absorbs a little bit of moisture and become hard.

The above illustration depicts the complete set up. Here also the depth of the bait can be manipulated by simply moving the stopper up and down the line. Keeping a depth from one to four feet gives best results but one can play this method on any depth starting from surface to near bottom. Like the previous method, with a bit of innovation and rig designing, this method can be used to catch some record carps with a very high success rate.


Feeder Bait:

As we have mastered the basic self hooking rigs, with and without a feeder, it is time to learn some advance rigs to improve upon the methods described previously. In actuality these advance methods do not differ very much with the basic methods described earlier. The only change is in the hook rigs and as we can use these hook rigs with both methods, I will describe them only once, paired with a coil feeder rig. The designing of these rigs are governed by many factors, mainly the target fish species and the kind of feeder bait we are using. Understanding the feeder bait recipes is a must in order to select a particular rig. 

As a layman we can say that the feeder bait is a localised ground-bait to attract the fish near the hook bait, so any ground-bait can be used as feeder bait. In my experience this statement holds true to some extent but cannot be applied universally. With a proper understanding of feeding habits of fish, it is very much possible to make fish specific feeder baits. If we have to classify Indian carps on the basis of their feeding habits, we can categorise them in two broad categories:

  1. Fish that pick up solid bait.
  2. Fish that sieve water through its mouth and filter microorganisms and small Crustaceans etc.

For the fish that pick up solid bait, like Rohu, Mirgal and Hybrid, the feeder bait is entirely different from the fish that sieve water through its mouth and filter microorganisms and small Crustaceans etc. It is easy to prepare feeder bait for the first kind of fish but lot of thought is to be put in designing feeder mix for the second kind. The easiest feeder mix is a dough kind of mix and it performs well with the fish that pick up bait but is not very effective for the other kind. In order to prepare required feeder baits, let us understand different items used and the specific characteristics of these materials.

Below is a table describing different items used for Feeder Bait which can be used for designing a particular mix.

Bread

Base Material

Should be Kneaded soft or can be used as crumbs.

To make crumbs, put small pieces of bread in the Mixer and grind it fine. The Dough made of bread is a binder or can directly be used as feeder bait. The crumbs are very effective as they create a column of cloud around the feeder.

Wheat Flour

(Aata)

Base Material/ Clouding Agent

Should be Kneaded soft or can be used as it is.

The Dough made of wheat flour is a binder or can directly be used as feeder bait. The wheat flour in its raw form is a clouding agent.

Rice  Flour

Base Material/ Clouding Agent

Should be Kneaded soft or can be used as it is.

The Dough made of Rice flour is a binder or can directly be used as feeder bait. The rice flour in its raw form is a clouding agent.

Gram Flour

(Besan)

Base Material/ Clouding Agent

Should be Kneaded soft or can be used as it is.

The Dough made of Gram flour is a binder or can directly be used as feeder bait. The Gram flour in its raw form is a clouding agent.

Boiled Rice

Base Material & Binder

Should be rubbed by hand before mixing with other ingredients. 

Scatters on ground of falls from the feeder and attracts small fish, which in turn nibble on the feeder and create cloud of small particles, attracting big Fish. 

Ground Poha

Binder

Should be ground as fine powder and mixed with some oil,

A very effective binder which also releases an oil trail very slowly.

Semi Ground Nuts and Pulses

Base Materials

Most of the nuts or pulses have to be soaked overnight.

Scatters on ground or falls from the feeder and attracts small fish, which in turn nibble on the feeder and create cloud of small particles, attracting big Fish. 

Soybean  flour

Clouding Agent

Should be mixed with the base by gentle rubbing/ stirring.

Creates a cloud of small particles as the Feeder bait breaks. With small fish feeding, the cloud literally hides the hook bait.

Rice Husk or Konda

Base material/ Clouding Agent

Should be soaked for some time with sweetener and smelling agent.

Creates a cloud of small particles as the feeder bait breaks. With small fish feeding, the cloud literally hides the hook bait.

Sugar

Sweetener

Should be boiled with water to make thick liquid.

Attracts and holds big fish in the vicinity.

Jaggery

Sweetener

Should be mixed with water to form a thick liquid.

Attracts and holds big fish in the vicinity.

Cardamom or Elaychi

Smelling Agent

Should be ground fine and mixed in the feeder bait.

The best attractant I know for Indian Carps.

Vanilla Essence

Smelling Agent

Should be used sparingly.

A good attractant.

Hing or Asafoetida

Smelling Agent

Should be used after frying it in oil.

A good attractant.

Oils

Attractant

Should be rubbed with a base material, by hand.

Make a trail and attract big carps.

Ground Biscuits

Smelling and Clouding Agent

Should be ground before hand.

A very good Clouding agent. This also rises up and creates a column of cloud.

Milk Powder

Clouding Agent

Should be mixed last in thefeeder bait.

A very good Clouding agent.

Oil Cake

Base material/ Clouding Agent and fat substitute.

Should be soaked overnight.

A very effective item to make lot of oily cloud around your feeder bait.

A bit of preparation, in terms of making few concoctions, is required before starting the actual feeder bait preparation and we will list these mixture first as making them requires few days or even weeks.

Sweetened Oil Cake: Take one kg of Jaggery and dissolve it with water to make a thick liquid. Soak ½ Kg of mustard oil cake (सरसों की खली या खल) in this liquid and add two table spoon of mustard oil (सरसों का तेल) in this mix. Keep the complete mixture stored in an air tight container for a week or so before using it.

Fermented Wheat Flour: Mix one Kg of Wheat Flour (गेंहू का आटा) with water to form a semi liquid. Keep it for three days before using. Make sure that the mixture is only fermented and not putrefied. A fermented mix will give a pleasant smell whereas a rotten one will stink.

Handia (हंडिया): The famous Bengali concoction to target big carps, Handia (हंडिया) is nothing but fermented rice. To prepare Handia (हंडिया), boil ½ Kg rice and soak it with water, preferably in an earthen pot (हंडिया). Keep it for three to four days so as it ferments nicely. Here also care should be taken that the mix does not rot.

Oil Based Mix: Many oil based mix can be used to give the feeder bait a unique smell. I will describe four of them here which work best for me but one can experiment with many more smells to suit his style of fishing. Vegetable oilpure Ghee (असली घी) and coconut oil are the choice oil but mustard oil can also be used.

  • Take 50 Grams of oil in a pan and heat it lightly. Fry 6~8 lemon leaves till they become red. Care is to be taken that the leaves does not burn otherwise the mix will go bad. Store this oil in a bottle for further use.
  • Similarly fry some ground coconut (नारियल बुरादा) till it turns red. Store the mix in a bottle for further use.
  • Similarly fry 8~10 Cardamom (इलायची ) with 50 Grams oil without burning the cardamom. Store it accordingly.
  • Similarly fry 4 to 6 crystals of Hing or Asafoetida in 50 Grams of oil till they turn white and store it accordingly.

Armed with the different materials and pre-made concoction we are now ready to make our own feeder bait. Here we will discuss few of the mix which I find effective to catch my carps.

Dough Baits: Dough baits to be used with feeder are easiest to make and stay longest on the feeder but are not very effective for Catla and Silver Carp. The best base for such mix is kneaded bread or rice flour but one can also use wheat flour.

In such mix the base material should be two third of the total mix. Accordingly prepare the base. Add a bit of one of the pre- mix as described earlier {Sweetened Oil CakeFermented Wheat Flour, Handia (हंडिया)-@100 Grams per Kg mix}. Add some oil base mix (One table spoon per Kg of mix). Knead the mixture for some time to get a uniform and very soft mix. Break the mix into small pieces and add some powders (Like Wheat Flour, Rice Flour or Gram Flour @ 150 Grams per Kg) and stir it gently with your hand. One can also add a small quantity of semi ground, pre boiled nuts or pulses to make his mix more interesting. Your final mix should look like small pieces of dough wrapped in powder. To put this mix on your feeder gently press the mix around the coil using both hands so as to form a ball about the size of your fist. Before casting it out, apply a thin coating of one of the pre-made mix.

Rice Husk or Konda Bait: This bait is most popular amongst anglers from Hyderabad and finds maximum application in their traditional method called as Sing Ka Shikar (सिंग का शिकार). To prepare this mix soak 1.5 Kg of Konda (कोंदा) mixed with 50 grams of sugar for 12 hours with just enough water that no water remains after the Konda absorbs it. If there is any extra water drain it out from the mix and then rub the pre-soaked Konda with your hands for at least half hours to make it very fine. Now add some Jaggery liquid and two table spoons of pre-made oil-mix and rub it further till the oil and Jaggery is mixed evenly in the mixture. Now go on adding some ground Biscuit, soya bean flour or any other powder of your choice (Parle-G or Coconut biscuits work best) and stir the mixture gently with your hand till the required consistency to make your feeder ball is achieved. Before casting, rolling the ball in wheat, soya bean flour or milk powder gives good result by creating an immediate cloud around the feeder. This bait is very good for catching Rohu but can also give you a Catla.

Rice Flour: Add 50 grams of coconut powder with one Kg of rice flour. Knead it using coconut milk and any of the oil mix till you get required consistency to make feeder balls. It is very effective dough bait for almost all the Carps. The best oil mix for this bait is either cardamom mix or coconut-powder mix. Vanilla essence also works fine with this mix.

Boiled Rice: Sauté 8~10 cardamom in 4 table spoon of vegetable oil and then soft boil 1 Kg of rice with it. Rub about 200 grams of Jaggery with the boiled rice by hand till the Jaggery is mixed evenly. Add rice powder to get required consistency. Many Indian anglers use sugar syrup in place of Jaggery which is also equally effective.

Advance Feeder Bait: Though the above discussed baits are effective and give good results, one can design much advance baits to specifically target some record fish. To read about some of the advance feeder baits