Although current wisdom says that these are line bites and fish just tugging at the line this is often far from the case. Twitches can also result from fish feeding very confidently and anglers must judge what is going on in their swims to get the best from the situation. If you think that you can just ignore these twitch bites, then just look at dace. Often, particularly when ledgering, dace will give lightening fast twitch bites which result in the bait (normally maggots) coming back smashed up. How many dace bites do you miss? Do you believe that all of these bites are not worth hitting?

Even worse is the situation that you can get where the bait appears untouched and there is no indication at the rod end. Although this can happen when float fishing it is again much more likely to happen when ledgering. Again, it is easy to believe that it doesn't make any difference. Why not just believe that you aren't getting any sort of indication? I reckon this happens a lot more than most people believe. Just imagine what can be happening when using heavier leads at long range. Many, many bites may be missed or not even seen if the fish eject the bait soon after picking it up.

Tight baiting patterns, often written about so glibly as being the ideal situation, can often count against you. When feeding confidently over a concentration of food fish need move only a short distance to capture the next item of food. When feeding on these dense food patches the fish can often be thought of as being preoccupied. The fish become completely fixed on feeding on one type of food and ignore other food items. Fish which are feeding in this manner are often found in studies of fish diet. It is common to find fish that are absolutely stuffed to the gills with an invertebrate which, although rare in the environment as a whole, is common in small isolated areas. Those fish lucky enough to find these patches will gorge themselves before moving on to the next feeding opportunity.

As the fish do not need to move far to find their next mouthful there is no reason for them to swim any distance. If the hook length is too long the fish will reach the next food item before registering a bite. All that will result is a chewed up bait (that being if you are using quite soft baits). Carp anglers used to complain about bite-offs, which were another consequence of these tight baiting patterns. The astute angler will shorten their hook length and feed less often to force the fish to move further between mouthfuls. When the fish are in this kind of mood it is also worth fishing off of the main bed of bait. After all, once bait has been introduced you can't remove it, so try fishing where it is less concentrated.

One method that I use quite a bit is to fish with a very short hook length and longer link to a large swim feeder. When cast slightly away from the loose bait this will create a little pile of bait with the hook bait a few inches apart. Often this can result in steaming bites as the fish try to get to the main pile of food after picking up the hook bait.

How short a hook length you need is up to you to experiment with. There really is no reason why you cannot go as short as an inch, so don't be afraid to experiment. One of my favourite (if somewhat crude) tench rigs revolves around fishing a bait popped straight off a swimfeeder by no more than three inches. This is a deadly method when fishing for cruising fish over gravel bars. Generally though I prefer to use a short hook length with a long lead tail. This result in an indication at the rod end before the fish feels the weight of the lead. Obviously, there is no point in doing this unless you are fishing very light balanced bobbins, but get it right and you will experience very confident bites.

Although twitches are generally thought of as fish feeding cautiously, I think that the opposite is more often the case. When feeding confidently, the fish will not move far after each mouthful. A fish which senses something is not quite right will often move away at considerable speed after each bait has been picked up. This can lead to twitches if the hook doesn't catch, but most rigs give a good chance of the hook catching in the fishes mouth. The only problem can be when fishing for finicky feeders, like zander, or when fishing with hard baits on the hook. My first change would be to try a hair rig to see if the exposed hook pricked the fish as they moved off. The confident fish will not move off and so once again bite indication can be poor.

Don't believe that twitches are caused by nervous fish as in many instances the opposite is closer to the truth!