In the colder months I tend to avoid boilie fishing to some degree. I find that the fish aren’t looking for meals as such, but small quantities of hemp, corn and maggots in particular have proven to be a great choice over the years I’ve fished for carp. A ‘bits’ approach prevents the carp from filling up too much and the maggots are almost unavoidable for a passing carp and will ultimately lead to a pick up. I come from a match fishing background so maggots have always been a staple bait for me, and unlike others, I tend to fish PVA bags of maggot differently to the norm for several reasons.
You will often read and hear about anglers using gallons upon gallons of maggot which, although it can be very effective, the cost and necessity of using those quantities has prevented that approach from featuring in my angling. I much prefer to fish for a bite at a time in the colder months, so a solid PVA bag of maggots is more than enough to entice a cold-water bite. If I’m fishing at range, then I will opt to fish a rig over 4 or 5 medium spombs of maggot but that’s a rarity – my go to maggot presentation is always the helicopter solid bag.
There are several reasons why I prefer this set-up over a traditional solid bag with the rig enclosed inside, one of those being the potential to mask the hook point. I am extremely anal when it comes to my hook points, and placing a rig inside a bag with live, wriggling, soft maggots is a recipe for disaster in my book. You can add powder around the hook to prevent this I know but it all seems too much unnecessary fuss to me, so tying a solid bag of maggots around the lead on a helicopter set-up ensures two things, the rig will always cast well as the lead is at the bottom of the bag, ensuring all of the weight of my set-up is at the front. And secondly, my hook is always on the outside of the bag, free from obstruction, whether I choose to nick it into the outside of the bag, tie it to the bag with PVA string, or simply allow it to flutter down in the water column. With the use of a small bright pop-up as my hook bait I can ensure the hook bait will always land on top of the bag as it hits the lakebed, something I’m not always confident of when inside the bag itself.
Confidence is a huge thing for me in my angling, and those little niggles in the back of my head equate to bad angling on my part, so all of the one percent’s, pardon the cliché, really do add up. The visual aspect of mixed coloured maggots are phenomenal on the bottom too, but have it in the back of your head that live maggots will crawl and hide under the detritus on the lakebed too so be aware of what you’re fishing over.
One of the small edges I particularly like with fishing a helicopter set-up in this way with solid bags of maggot is the ability to use the Gardner Drop Out Chod Safety clips. The small ‘C’ shape of the clip allows me to fish a helicopter style lead arrangement, and pulling a sleeve over it keeps it in place until the need for the lead to break away. With the lead packed into a solid bag it ensures the clip holds firm on even the longest of casts but keeps the whole set-up super safe if there’s a lot of weed around or snags present – something that’s very important in my angling.
Tip 1: Using a groundbait or powder to dry your leads/rigs before tying a new bag. I use the Crafty Catcher Cloudy Spod mix, it prevents any melted bags during the tying process.
Tip 2: A small bright pop-up will stand out over the top of your maggots, sitting proud and giving the carp something to hone in on. I like to match the colours of the maggots and often use a pink/white boilie.
Tip 3: A safety clip allows my lead to detach from the set-up in case of a crack off or snag situation, but importantly it won’t drop the lead every time, something I try to avoid.
Tip 4: A small shot just above the hook will ensure the hook always falls in the water, into the bottom lip of the carp sucking and blowing on the rig, giving you a better chance of hooking the carp.
Tip 5: By tying a solid bag of maggots around the lead on a helicopter set-up, you can ensure you don't mask your hook point by pricking a moaggot inside the bag.