When the fish are feeding well in the summer they can easily be caught in the margins, as the water is coloured. When it's colder, the water starts to lose that colour, so the margin fish start to move farther out into the lake. In the colder weather, fishing the waggler means that you can fish beyond the range of poles but it's important to fish at a distance where you can still feed accurately. That's what winter fishing is all about. Pick your mark and feed a tight area - and I'm talking about an area the size of a dustbin lid. I know that we can't catapult maggots or casters quite that accurately, but that is the aim.

Use the reflections of the water surface as a map and know exactly where you are putting your feed. Don't make the mistake of feeding where the float is. Feed your marked spot on the surface of the water. In the colder months, a smaller amount of feed is required. Let's say we are feeding with maggots. I'll start off with two small pouches of maggots, maybe a hundred plus maggots in all. To keep these in a tight area, you'll find that a catapult with soft elastic is best, in fact a pole catapult is often the best one. Heavier elastics seem to blast the maggots out and they go everywhere, softer elastic launches the maggots together and keeps them in a nice tight area.

The floats we are going to use: Wagglers! Without a doubt, the best wagglers are made from the tail feathers of the peacock. There are two sorts, the insert and the straight waggler - and each has its own purpose. What we must do, especially in the winter, is to fish a still bait. First we plumb the depth and then we attend to the shotting pattern.

First of all, put enough locking shot around the float. Estimate the depth and if the float takes a couple of AA's then put an AA on either side of it. What you should be left with is about half an inch of float sticking out above the water. Now, take a AAA or swanshot and just pinch it on the hook. This is far better than a plummet. You don't want to be casting a plummet three rod-lengths out, especially with the fine line that you'll be using, for a couple of reasons. First of all, it goes in with an almighty splash that frightens anything that might be there and also, it's not easy thing to cast, especially on fine line.

Talking of which: Line diameters needs to be kept to a minimum. If there are carp around then try a .010 line. These modern lines are brilliant. One I'm going to mention is the new Shakespeare Targa line. Without doubt it is the best line that I have ever come across. The .010 breaks at around three pounds. It is a very, very fine line which is remarkably strong - normally a .010 line is a one pound line, but this breaks around three pounds, giving the finesse of the diameter and the power of the breaking strain. What is more, it sinks very well, which is very important for winter waggler fishing.

Okay, so put the big shot on the hook and cast it out. If the float disappears then you know that you have not got it set deep enough. Go six inches deeper and repeat this until you have found the correct depth. Then add about eight inches, so this eight inches of line will lay on the bottom.

Now to put the shot on. The first shot, a No10, is placed about nine inches from the hook. Ideally, that should sit about an inch off the bottom. Four inches above it, put another No10. Four inches above that, put another No10 and four inches above that, put another No10. And that's it.

Always cast beyond the baited area and put the rod tip under before retrieving some line to pull the float back into position and to sink the line - and believe me, that Targa line sinks like a stone. The float should settle with the smallest amount of float that you can see, dot the float down! That float should be perfectly still, but we have wind, and some stillwaters do move. They have a flow, called tow (undertow). If that is the case and the float is moving from right to left (or vice versa) then add six inches to the depth to put the first two shot on the bottom. Think of those two shot as being two small anchor points. They are not big enough for a fish to feel, so the fish will still bite confidently. If the float is still moving, add more line to the depth. It's simply a matter of increasing the depth until the bait is anchored. I have fished at times when, not only have I had to put all four shot on the bottom, but all four shot on the bottom plus three feet of line! That's only in really adverse towing conditions. Think of it like a boat at anchor at sea. If you just dropped the anchor, no way will it hold the boat in place, but if you drop the anchor and give extra rope, then the anchor will hold.

I mentioned that there are two types of waggler. There's an insert waggler, which has a thin piece of peacock protruding from the top and there's the straight waggler, which is a thicker diameter at the tip of the float. Now, if there is not much wind and not much tow then you'll get away with using an insert waggler. When there is some wind and a bit of tow then the thicker tip of the straight waggler will come into it's own. When that float is acting still and you know that your hook is on the spot, then it's just a matter of waiting for bites. There is nothing more that you as an angler can do, except have confidence in the method. That said, perhaps you could just trickle a little feed in. Ten maggots every twenty minutes or so. Then just wait for the fish to start feeding.

Sometimes it can be a long wait. I have waited an hour, two hours sometimes for my first bite, but once you have had your first bite, it is often followed by a procession of bites into the last few hours. I believe that it is all the work you have done leading up to that first bite which is the important thing. You leave that venue usually very satisfied that you have fished as well, if not better, than any other angler there.


Any queries? Call Ian Heaps at the School of Angling - 01437 541285