My go-to setup for roach on the feeder has to be a free-running rig as it is more direct to the tip. Fixed rigs mean that the fish has to move the feeder before any indications are received on the tip, resulting in a lot more missed bites.
Tip wise, I like to use the lightest tip possible. Factors such as the distance I am fishing, the depth and the undertow all affect how light I can go.
If conditions are good, I like to use a 1oz tip as this reduces the resistance they feel and it also enhances the bite registration, allowing me more time to strike.
When fishing on wild venues, you can generally get away with a bigger hook. A size 12 may seem big for targeting roach, but this enables me to hook more bites, which is key when speed fishing.
To mask the outline of such a big hook, I like to hook the maggot sideways. This not only helps to disguise the hook, but it also means that it appears more natural, as loose fed maggots tend to fall sideways.
Hooking them this way also enables them to act almost like a parachute, slowing the fall even further, giving the fish more time to see the hook bait.
Check your hook
When you begin missing a few bites, a lot of the time, it is down to your hook point being slightly blunt. So, have a few ready on your side tray and change your hook throughout the session. I'd rather lose time attaching a hooklink rather than losing fish.
You can normally tell if your hook is blunt when you go to hook the maggot. If the maggot bursts, it's time to change. No matter how good the hook is, it will still blunt over time with this busy style of fishing.
Like I would fish in Ireland, I generally use floating maggots. The maggots float when dropped into the water, but with the added weight of the hook, they sink, but crucially, more slowly. This creates a neutral buoyancy hook bait allowing it to act more naturally in the water and more like the loose feed.
There are many times when fish will take this hook bait with much greater confidence than they would ordinary maggots, especially when fishing shallow or like today on the drop whilst feeder fishing.
To prepare them, I place a handful of clean maggots into a bait tub and give them a sprinkling of water (less water the better). I then let them rest for 20-minutes. The maggots will then take on air and become buoyant. One tip is to make sure you have a lid that fits securely and for added ease, I like to cut the middle out of the lid to stop them wriggling out!
Hooklink Length Experiment with various lengths of hooklink as sometimes the fish are feeding more confident further off the bottom.
I’ll always start with 50cm, but If you can get away with a 30cm hooklink, the bigger fish tend to sit nearer the bottom. Just be careful not to waste too much time targeting bigger fish as you could have caught two smaller fish in that same time. It’s all about trial and error.