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Maggot Mania

Matt Dawes has discovered a commercial approach that’s even better than pellets…

On my last couple of visits to the Shropshire’s scenic Monkhall Fishery, a typical commercial venue with canal-style snake lakes, I found that when catching shallow on pellets it was really tricky to put runs of fish together. Now this got me thinking: surely there is a way to keep them in the peg for much longer periods. This brings me on to my maggot-shallow approach.

Now on to my plan. I choose to start across on pellets as my maggot line can take between one to three hours to kick into life. For the ‘across’ line I feed 4mm pellets over to the far-bank reeds. This may sound odd – as I said, the fish back away from pellets shallow – but my thinking is for the first hour or two I am only looking to catch 20 to 40lb, which can be 10 to 15 fish.


A typical chunky Monkhall F1 – feed them and they will come. 


The far-bank cover offers safety, which will make carp and F1s more confident to feed. While I’m fishing there I still feed my maggot line. Throughout the first hour I will just have a look with my pellet-shallow rig over my maggot line; this is because small rudd can be a problem in the early part of the match. I am looking for any sort of signs of fish, such as swirls, missed bites and even hooked fish.


Chub love maggots too, so don’t ignore them.


Once I begin to get signs and start catching over my maggots I look to change to my slim rig, which is better when fishing from 12 to 18 inches deep. This is when you can really start putting a run together, and once the F1s turn up you are ready. The reason I say I only fish 12 to 18 inches deep is because I believe the F1s here arrive in ‘balls’; what I mean by this, and it’s happened a couple times when I’ve been, is that one moment you’re not having many signs, then boom, you’re catching one every drop.

The silver fish can be a problem early on in the match, but I keep feeding to hold the F1s. Here I have found feeding twice to be key – feed once, then flick your rig over before you feed for a second time. Your hook bait is then always falling within the loose feed. This now brings me on to the slim rig.



I’ll start with the float, which is an RW Slim Shallow, a hand-made float designed by Andy Bennett. I use 0.17mm main line, and I choose a high diameter line purely to be robust and keep tangles to a minimum. This is followed by a 0.13mm hooklength and a size 16 LWG hook. I use a size 16 because I always use double maggot on the hook; it also gives a nice positive hook-hold.


Short Kit And Elastic

I use Daiwa Interlastic kits with a short No3 section. This offers me an advantage with the fish coming up within netting range, meaning I can net fish a lot quicker. The way I look at it is if I net 20 fish, each 30 seconds quicker than the next angler, that saves me 10 minutes if the match, which could be five more fish. For my elastic I use orange Hydro. It is soft once the fish is hooked but you can still have full control over it.


Handmade float, Interlastic top kit and plenty of maggots – simple stuff!



Speed Fishing

I have always been told, when speed fishing, just to try and catch one fish at a time. It’s not about rushing around trying to catch five fish when you can only catch one at a time.

My next tip would be to make sure everything is to hand, pole rollers set right and make sure you land every fish – as the well-known adage says, for every one you land the guy next to you has to catch two. We all have a story about the one that got away.

My main target is F1s as these are on average 1 to 2lb each, but there are also chub and carp around. I hear people moan about fish other than F1s and carp, but surely 20 chub all 1lb each are better than nothing – that’s an easy 20lb for me. The thing with maggots is that every fish eats them and loves to eat them, so even if you do catch fish you’re not actually after they all add up when the scales arrive. I’m one of these anglers that likes to be busy and if am confident in what am doing I don’t mind the 20 to 30lb silver fish that other people ignore.


Feed this amount, and often, to get the fish competing. 


Feed And Distance

I like to fish this line where I can throw my bait; I am looking to keep my feed as tight as possible, ideally in an area the size of a dustbin lid. I believe this creates a tunnel of feed that brings fish into the peg and creates a target area where you’re looking to catch from. I look to feed 30 to 50 maggots, and I feed that twice around every two to three minutes – the reason for this is I am looking to get the fish competing for my feed in a confident way.


That’s more than enough for a nice day’s fishing.


Tip: Pole Cones

I use these section protectors from Daiwa because they make putting sections together without damaging the female section easier; it also makes putting them together a lot quicker. Now this may only save five seconds but think how much time you could save by just having something so simple.


Tip: Ready Top Kits

Now this may seem lazy but I always seem to be in a rush setting up, because I’m normally talking a lot about what’s happened on the lake in the past couple of weeks.

I try to get some info for the match, so having my shallow rigs already on my top kits can save me a huge amount of time. This time saved can go on making sure your plumbing up and bait is spot on. As I said, if you can save time then why not – surely more time fishing means more fish? 


Short top kits quickly bring the fish up in easy netting range.


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