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Paste? Shallow?

Lee Thornton gives us a lesson in using paste… shallow!

Lee Thornton has proved himself to be one of the best and most consistent anglers in the country and currently holds the Matchman of the Year title to back that statement up. His bread-and-butter fishing very much revolves around using baits such as maggots and pellets for mixed bags of fish. However, there are times when other baits, such as paste, give him much more of an edge over those around him.


Paste Shallow

There are certain pole fishing methods which, when they work, are simply unbeatable. Paste shallow is a method that on certain days cannot be competed with and there are certain situations when I choose to unleash this devastating tactic.

Paste is a method that works best when temperatures are high, so is best deployed between the months of May and October, although it can also bring success later in the year as well.

It is used when targeting F1s and carp but you will probably find that plenty of other species of fish will get in on the action as well, if they can get to the bait quick enough with bites often coming within just a few seconds of the bait landing in the swim.

With that in mind I have brought the Pole Fishing cameras to Bradshaw Hall Fishery in Bolton, a venue that is known for its fantastic F1 fishing sport and is also the venue at which a lot of my fishing took place during the 2015/16 Matchman of the Year campaign.

I have been informed by the fishery owner that some of the venue’s lakes have also been stocked with the new ghostie strain of F1, so hopefully I will be able to get among a few of them!


Change Of Plan

My original plan for the day was to fish paste short on the deck at five metres and maggots slightly further out up in the water. However, having started on paste and it not produce what I expected it to, it was clear the fish didn’t want to be on the bottom.

My maggot line was also iffy and although I could see that there were plenty of fish in the upper layers, getting a bite off one of the better-sized fish in the swim was proving to be rather difficult!

Conditions were flat calm with absolutely no ripple on the lake whatsoever, and we have had quite a dramatic change in pressure overnight that could have knocked the fish off a bit.

It quickly became apparent that something needed to change. I have been faced with similar conditions in the past and therefore knew exactly what I was going to do. A change of rig and a the addition of some slop made up of overwetted Bag ‘em Super Green Groundbait and a quick alteration to my hook paste to make it slightly wetter and I was ready to go…

Lee Thornton

If you too want to catch loads of F1s like this… go green! 


The Rig

My rigs for paste shallow are simple: a custom made Malman Paste Shallow float, two No10 shot to help the float cock that bit quicker, but not so much that I don’t have enough bristle showing to distinguish a bite from a liner. My main line is 0.20mm diameter Middy Hi-Viz, a nice, stiff main line that reduces the likelihood of tangles, and a short 0.16mm diameter hooklength with a size 14 Middy 93-13 hook completes the setup.

The hook that I use for this type of fishing is a slightly thicker gauge of hook than I would normally use for other baits but is an important factor that is required to help support my hook bait.

It is imperative when fishing this method that your float of choice is correct. The Malman Paste Shallow features a thick 2mm hollow bristle, making it very buoyant and helps the float in supporting my hook bait. Much thinner and it simply wouldn’t be enough for the paste to grip onto.

It also has a relatively thick wire stem, which makes it extremely stable and almost self-cocking; this helps the rig to settle quickly and ensuring it is ready to detect bites straight away and also ensures there is little resistance from the float that could pull the hook out of the paste. The two additional No10 shot I add also help to achieve this.

My rig is set at around 12 inches deep; I tend to not go much shallower than this when using paste shallow as I feel the fish are much harder to catch and missed bites become a problem.


The Session

Rather than throw my slop I much prefer to feed via a Cad Pot attached to my pole. I therefore have two Cad Pots at different points on my pole; the first, and closest to the tip of my pole is for the sloppy groundbait feed. It doesn’t need to be a big pot, and just a pinch of slop goes a long way in terms of creating a cloud in the upper layers of the water column.

1 Double pots

Lee uses two pole pots – one for feed, the other for the paste.


The second Cad Pot, placed around 10 inches from the tip of my pole, has the job of carrying the paste. Due to its consistency, when fishing shallow I simply could not ship it to the right spot without it falling off my hook before getting there. This pot allows me to get to the required place, turn my pole over and drop the paste into the swim along with the feed.

Another key when you turn the pot over and release the bait, is to slap the water with the pot. This serves a dual purpose of creating a noise in the swim, something that F1s seem to love, and also spreading the cloud in the water.

3 Slap water

If it’s allowed, Lee likes to slap the water with the pole pot.


At venues where slapping the water isn’t allowed I would obviously have to rely on the bait hitting the water to make the noise; however, I find it to be far less effective than when slapping the water with the cup.

Dropping in with the paste sees an instant reaction and I am soon catching a chunky F1 every single drop in. Bites are coming within just a few seconds of me dropping the paste into the swim and the only time I’m not coming back with a fish is if I happen to miss a bite.

It is worth mentioning how I make my paste. It isn’t, as you would expect, a standard paste straight from the bag. I find that a lot of readymade pastes simply don’t have the oil content needed when fishing the size of paste pieces I do, and dissolve off the hook too quickly. Instead I like to use ground high-oil pellets, the bright green colour then comes from a powder colouring that only turns green once it touches the water.

Green goundbait

The sloppy green groundbait feed…       … and the slightly stiffer green paste.


In theory you could create paste of whatever colour you would like, I know a lot of people have success with red, but for me green has always been the best colour, so that is what I stick to!


When To Strike

When fishing this method bites are extremely positive. It may take you a little while to get used to not striking at every little dip of the float, but equally it won’t take you too long to start getting to grips with the difference between a bite and a liner.

With paste you will find that your float will move about a lot. That is simply because any movement of the paste will have an effect on the float; remember it is the paste that is effectively cocking the float, so if a fish swims past or lifts it up that will show on the bristle. That is also the reason I choose not to dot the float too far down.

Only when the float shoots under or the bristle rises fully out of the water will I strike. The float popping up either means the paste has come off or the bait has been picked up by a fish – either way it is worth a strike.

Proper bites will be aggressive; once you have the right depth in which the fish are feeding you will find you will hit almost every bite!

10 F1 Ghoastie

These pretty ghostie F1s are a recent addition to the stock at Bradshaw Hall.


Too Shallow?

After a really good run of F1s, including some of the venue’s lovely new ghost F1s, I start to notice that I’m getting a lot of indications on the drop but am struggling to hit bites. If I was using pellets or maggots, the obvious thing to do would be to shallow my rig up. With paste there is a point where the fish can be too shallow, and rather than changing my depth I find it much more advantageous to start fishing slightly closer to myself.

Half a section back can make all the difference and, rather than dropping my rig among the fish that are feeding in the top few inches of the water column, I can target some of the fish in the swim that are much less erratic and therefore much easier to catch.

This works a treat and once again I start to put a run of fish together. In a standard session I may have to repeat this on a couple of occasions to keep the fish where I want them to feed.

It doesn’t take too long before I have put a really nice net of fish together using paste-shallow tactics, and what had started off looking like it was going to be a miserable and frustrating day has turned out to be brilliant.

It just goes to show that it pays to have a backup plan in place, and a couple of spare options in your carryall could just turn a poor day into a fantastic one! 

Catch Shot

When every cast is a coconut, the weight soon builds up.


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