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29 Nov 2016
by Rob Hughes
The underwater truth about maggots
We send top carper and experienced diver, Rob Hughes below the surface to dispel one or two maggot-related myths

Red or dead?

What colour do you prefer? Many people opt for red as they feel that they look more like bloodworm and are thus more natural. Personally I suspect that bloodworm are attractive as a result of the smell they give off as much as if not more than the visual factor as they are buried under silt most of the time so the colour is not that important. White can stand out more than red depending on the bottom you are fishing over, and to me, orange or yellow is a great colour for a visible bed because they will stand out even more and are a little bit different to what everyone else is using. Casters have already proved themselves as devastating and they are orange in colour!

How many?

I’ve heard reports and indeed witnessed people using gallons and gallons of germs in the hope that they will attract more fish. This may well be the case but from experience and also witnessing what they look like on the bottom you do not necessarily need that many. It’s a bit like piling loads of any bait in. A PVA bag will often catch as many as bed of spod mix if it goes in the right spot in the right circumstance so if you are short of readies, don’t dismiss maggots as a couple of pints can often be enough to get a bite or two when just using PVA bags. The key is the nuisance fish. If there are loads they will ‘do your bag’ very quickly indeed so regularly re-casting is essential.

Baiting up

Firstly, as with any baiting up, you need to know what you want to achieve. If it’s a wider bed you want then a spod will be the best choice, if it’s tighter, choose a Spomb. To be honest, the Spomb could have been purpose made for baiting up with maggots as it is fast, clean, user-friendly and dumps them all quite tight very quickly which is exactly what you want. When the spod/Spomb hits the water they sort of explode out in a reverse nuclear mushroom before sinking slowly down. One Spomb will usually spread to a 1-2ft radius whilst a traditional spod will drag them much wider. Like with many areas in angling, it’s all about picking the right tool for what you want to achieve.

Get the hookbait right

Maggots, as a bait, can be a real pest to use unless you are using specialist clips. They melt PVA, get pulled off the hook by nuisance fish and often don’t last long enough! A fake maggot or bloodworm on the hook as a Line-Aligner like this one, paired with a tip of a couple of ‘lives’ works well, but most of the successful boys I see fishing mags use a pink 10mm pop-up if they are using red maggots or a yellow/white one if the they are using white maggots. It all goes in a solid bag with a heavy lead but the key of course is to match the hatch, particularly when using big beds. The fish become pre-occupied on maggots and they are not looking for anything else. We’ve seen it time and time before with various baits and it is certainly the case with wrigglers and a small balanced boilie coloured the same as the mags is a reasonably user-friendly way of fishing something similar over maggots without having the difficulties of actually using the germs on the hook.

On the bottom: weed

Weedy areas are not, in my humble opinion, the best places to fish a bed of maggots on the bottom. They do live for a short while after being submerged, probably a couple of minutes or so, and during that time can wriggle about a foot or so before running out of gas! Across a silty bottom that’s not too far, but when there’s weed around they can very easily disappear completely. I fully accept that carp might be able to see them but why halve their attractiveness by losing the visual element! Bear in mind that if you are maggoting in weed then use deads that will sink slower and end up decorating the weed rather than wriggling off and hiding underneath it. Fishing over weed means that a lot will get trapped off the bottom so
try a long slowly sinking link or a bit of a maggot Zig as a different option.

Live mags and weed aren’t the best combo for presentation. Casters or dead mags are a better choice to get a much better dusting!

On the bottom: gravel

My first view of maggots underwater was over stony ground. We chucked a bag out, I took some snaps, then went back about half-an-hour later to see what they looked like and they all seemed to have gone. As you know, they are experts at hiding under things and stones/cracks in gravel are ideal getaways. If it’s compact stuff then they can’t get away but if you’re fishing over pebbles or loose gravel the chances are that a lot will very soon disappear. If you want a big bed, you’ll have to put more out than you think or once again use deads or better still casters. To get the most from any type of lakebed when using maggots, you really need to think carefully about how you’re going to bait.

If there is gravel around they tend to work their way under stone/gravel so make sure you know what you are fishing over.

On the bottom: silt

This is where I think maggots come into their own, as silt is the natural home of the bloodworm so carp will be used to looking here and also the presentation of germs is significantly better over silt! This shot was a stocking mesh presentation rather than a solid PVA bag and you can see how visual the whites are on the dark silt. The bag has spread to about a foot in diameter, giving a nice amount of bait for a ‘one cast trap’ and did actually produce a fish. The lead has sunk into the silt because the lakebed in the bay at Baden Hall was very soft, but the maggots haven’t burrowed in as they are too light and contain air. However, there are issues with fishing over silt, and these came to light in my recent Below The Surface feature for CARPology so read on for a bit of a taste of things to come.

Silt for me is the best area for maggots. They replicate bloodworm and they cannot burrow in. Note how obvious the white are.

On the bottom: spread

The biggest thing affecting your spread of free baits, whether you are using maggots, boilies or spod mix, is your casting accuracy! The chances of you getting everything in exactly the same spot time and time again are virtually nil – and I know this from my dives whilst out shooting Below The Surface. The best and most accurate casters in the land fish over “tight beds of bait” that are about 12ft x 12ft square so unless you are putting the bait out with a bait boat or wading it out in the margins, forget the ‘bin lid’ sized baiting area! Once on the bottom, they spread out a couple of feet or so by wriggling round, but this is random and can be in any direction. If using a bag they usually spread out to about a foot in diameter (see next shot), so bear this in mind.

Almost everyone fishes a PVA bag of wrigglers and how far away they wriggle depends on the make up of the bottom.

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