Method Feeder Fishing For Carp (Gear, Setup, and Tips)

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The world of carp angling is quite a bit different than what you would find in all other types of freshwater fishing. 

These fish are a unique breed that can be caught with special techniques. The Method Feeder Rig is one that’s perfect for anglers looking to maximize the amount of action they’re hoping to get.

If you fish commercial waters, you’ll find that this method is far and away the most productive. 

In this article, I will cover: 

  • What is a Method Feeder? 
  • What Are The Types Of Method Feeder?
    • Flat Bottom
    • Banjo
  • What Is An Inline Method Feeder?
  • Method Feeder Weights And Sizes
  • What Fish Can I Catch Using A Method Feeder?
  • What Fishing Gear Should I Use With A Feeder? 
    • Rod
    • Reel
    • Bite Alarms
    • Line
  • How to Set Up a Method Feeder?
    • Attaching The Method Feeder
    • Best Hook Length When Using Method Feeder?
    • Best Hook Sizes Using Method Feeder?
  • Best Mix To Use With A Method Feeder?
    • How To Load The Method Feeder With Bait?
    • How To Mix And Load The Method Feeder?
    • How Long Does The Mix Take To Disolve?
  • Best Hookbaits To Use With A Method Feeder?
  • How Often Should I Cast A Method Feeder?
  • Final Thoughts

What Is A Method Feeder?

Inline method feeder – with quick release

A method feeder is an open feeder for holding pellets or ground bait together in an egg shape. Your baited hook sits on top of the groundbait or the pellet mix. These feeders can be either a free-running inline feeder or an attached elasticated feeder.

The most common type of method feeder is the flatbottom feeder. Once in the water, it falls through the water and rests on the bottom face up. 

As the feeder sits on the lake or river bed, it eventually begins to fall apart and expose the baited hook. Once the fish grabs the big pile of bait that the hook is sitting upon, you’ll see the classic double-tap on the rod tip and the hook will be set in the fish’s mouth. 

You’re able to enjoy your fishing by sitting and waiting for a bite knowing that there is quite a bit of work being done below the surface with the groundbait or pellets breaking apart and attracting carp or other target fish right next to your bait. 

What Are The Types Of Method Feeder?

Method feeders are beloved within the coarse fish fishing community, and as years have passed, new method feeders are being designed. However, the flat bottom and banjo method feeders are still at the top of the list for most productive! 

Flat Bottom

A flat bottom method feeder is easy to imagine based on its name. These types of method feeders are bottom-weighted, so the bait faces up while the feeder sits on the lake bed. 

Once you cast it, it’ll right itself and drop to the bottom with your bait facing up the entire time. Unless the bait falls off of the feeder, you don’t have to worry about it being stuck on the bottom. It’ll always be facing the surface!

Banjo

The other common type of method feeder is a banjo feeder. The banjo feeder looks like a banjo due to the stem and weight that are attached. The weight is removable, making the banjo feeder a bit more versatile than the flat bottom feeder. Depending on how much weight you need, you can attach different weights to the stem. 

What Is An Inline Method Feeder?

An inline method feeder was created for fish conservation purposes. If you hook into a fish and it snaps your line, the method feeder will fall off of the line and not be dragged around by the fish!

In many fisheries fixed method feeders are banned, and most reputable manufacturers such as Drennan, Guru, Preston, and Korda have stopped producing these fixed feeders.

Method Feeder Weights And Sizes

The most common weights the feeders come in two sizes, a small base with weights of 24gram and 36gram and a large base with weights of 28gram and 45gram. This does vary slightly from each method feeder manufacturer.

Choosing which one is best for you to use is based on the distance you plan to fish, and the fish species that you are targetting. The heavier the feeder means you can cast it further, and the small base holds less bait than the larger base.

I carry all the different options in my tackle box. I recommend that you have both the small and large versions with you and at the different weights. They are not very expensive and should last a fairly long time.   

What Fish Can I Catch Using A Method Feeder?

Carp, like this size of around 4lb are a prime method feeder fishing target

It’s hard to find fish that wouldn’t be attracted to a method feeder. The excess of food that’s easily eaten is too tempting for fish to pass up. Method feeder fishing for Carp is the most common fish, however, the method feeder can catch all types of fish including bream and tench.

Smaller feeders can also be used to target roach, skimmers, and F1 or during the winter months when the fish do not need as many free bait offerings.

What Fishing Gear Should I Use With A Feeder?

Rod

There is no special rod that is needed for method feeder fishing. Most anglers carry a ledger rod which can also be used for any type of feeder fishing.

The best type of rod to use when method feeder fishing is a feeder rod. Typically, the rod would be between 9 feet long to 11 feet long. The 9 feet are better for short-distance fishing and the 10 or 11 feet are better for long-range casting.

These rods are light and have a wonderful action. They are not meant to be used to target massive fish in extremely tough conditions. You can make casts up to 100 feet or so and handle small to medium-sized carp up to 15lbs.

These rods have extremely sensitive tips, which means it’s easy to detect whenever a carp takes up your bait. The tips are often coloured to give you an even better idea when your bait ball is being eaten off of the bottom.

Many feeder rods that you purchase often come with two or more tips to give an option when fishing with either the smaller or larger method feeders. But in most cases, this is not required.

My personal favourite feeder rods are the Guru N-Gauge Feeder Rod, Freespirit CTX Power Feeder rod, and the Daiwa N’ZON method feeder range. These are reputable and make your time targeting carp that much easier. 

As a side note, If you’ve spent any time fly fishing, you may see some similarities between a Euro Nymphing rod and a Feeder Rod. 

Reel

You want to make sure your reel pairs well with the rod you have for feeder fishing. You want to fish with a reel that’s between 3500 and 5500. Reels this size can cope with all the range of method feeder weights and sizes.

If you’re fishing with any type of feeder, especially a method feeder then baitrunner reels such as the Shimano range are critical to use. The fish will “bolt” once it takes your bait and without the baitrunner clutch and free running it’s likely you will lose your rod in the water! 

If you do not own a baitrunner then you want the reel to be smooth, especially if you’re letting your bail sit open and allowing the carp to take the bait for a while before you set the hook.

A strong grip, tough drag system, and high winding power are the keys to a great feeder reel. As long as you feel that you have a strong balance, you’ll be good to go. 

You can read more on my best Shimano baitrunner reels in my article here!

Bite Alarms

Bite alarms can be used when method feeder fishing, however not essential. The bites from fish are quite aggressive and it is easy to detect a fish has taken your bait. 

I would recommend only using electronic bite alarms if you are night fishing and away from your rods. At short distances such as margin fishing then bite alarms serve very little purpose.

Line

The next decision to make is what size line is going to work best on your method feeder setup. Typically, the fish targetted would be best with monofilament lines between 4lb and 10lb breaking strain or test.

They aren’t overly heavy lines, but carp have extremely good eyesight, so you don’t want to put yourself in a situation where you spook them away with a line that’s too thick. 

As long as it’s strong enough to sustain a medium-sized carp, you’re good to go. 

Always keep the line tight between your reel and the method feeder, this will ensure that when you get a bite the fish will hook itself.

How to Set Up a Method Feeder? 

A closeup view of an inline method feeder – You can clearly see the swivel end where you tie the hook length

Setting up a method feeder for the first time is a bit confusing. You’ll find that the challenge comes with wondering where and how to place the method feeder itself. Once you’ve done it the first time, you’ll find it’s super simple after that. 

Attaching the Method Feeder

Setting up an inline feeder isn’t overly complicated. The feeder has all of the weight you already need attached to it, so all you need is the feeder and a hook. Your first step is to put the line through the hole in the method feeder and pull it through to the other side. 

Slide a bead onto your line so it can act as an absorber when the method feeder moves around. Also, after you’ve attached the bead, attach it using an improved clinch knot.  Once the method bead is on the bottom side of the method feeder, you want to attach a swivel.

Once the swivel is attached, you can tie on your hook length section to the swivel. This small section of leader should either have a hair rig below the hook or you can attach the bait directly to your hook. You should try to disguise the hook as best as you can. 

Best Hook Length When Using Method Feeder?

When you’re choosing your hook length for a method feeder, a hook between four and six inches is going to be your best bet. You can buy ready-tied 4” hook lengths in all fishing tackle shops. 

The short 4” hook length ensures that as soon as the bait is picked up the bite will result in the fish usually hooking itself. Longer hook lengths can be an issue by getting tangled and not sitting correctly on top of the bait. I strongly recommend the Drennan Method Bandits – Carp Feeder or Carp Method hooks to nylon.

So keep the length short to maximize your catching chances. 

Best Hook Sizes Using Method Feeder?

Method feeder fishing targets the fish around the 1lb to 15lb in weight, therefore most anglers will use a range of hooks from a size 16 down to a size 10.

Best Mix To Use With A Method Feeder?

A method feeder loaded with groundbait – note that the hookbait is not yet positioned on top of the bait

There are a variety of baits you can use on your method feeders. Some of the more popular options include crushed boilies, pellets, and groundbait made from bread.  

If you are using pellets or crushed boilies you need to soak them first, so that they can be mixed together and then molded when applied to your feeder. Likewise, bread-based groundbait requires water to be added to get the right consistency. Basically, we are creating a bait ball that sits firmly on the method feeder.

The trick with these is that you don’t want it to be too wet that it’s going to break down and expose your hook. You also don’t want it too dry so that it’s going to break down as soon as it gets wet. This process takes a few tries to master but it is something every angler must learn to do correctly. 

Also, the bait must stay on the method feeder when you cast!

Alternatively, If you struggle with this process you can buy ready-made method mixes, which are easier to get into the right consistency. Whilst they are more expensive, they do have additives and other attractants in them to help draw the fish to your bait.

How To Mix And Load The Method Feeder?

To get the perfect combination, you want to wet your pellets and let them soak for 10 to 15 minutes in a bucket or container. Once they’ve soaked, get rid of all the water in the container and let the pellets dry for 10-15 minutes.

Start forming the pellets and test their quality by dropping them in the margin. If they start breaking up after a minute or two, then you’re good to go. 

Once your rig is all set up and you have the bait at the proper consistency, you can begin to assemble the feeder. Mash the feeder into an egg-shaped bait ball, so everything is neatly attached, and then squeeze the mix onto the top of the method feeder.

Your method feeder should come with a mold that is correctly sized for the specific method feeder. The plastic mold makes it easy to have the right shape and firmness so you can press the bait onto the feeder. 

Once the bait is properly attached, you can cast it to where you would like your bait to sit. 

How Long Does The Mix Take To Disolve?

A well-made mix should start dissolving after one or two minutes as it’s sitting on the river or lake bed. After 10 minutes it should be spread all around the bait, if there are fish already surrounding the bait then the mix will break up even faster. 

Best Hookbaits To Use With A Method Feeder?

Loaded method feeder ready to cast – sweetcorn is the bait of choice on this rig

Other than pellets my favourite hook bait to use when method feeder fishing is sweetcorn. I have had great success catching carp and bream on these bright yellow kernels. The combination of the corn sweetness and the colour sitting on top of the groundbait really seems to attract them to take the bait.

Other alternatives that work well are maggots (both live or dead), worms, and also small boilies.

You can read more on the best fishing baits of all time here!

How Often Should I Cast A Method Feeder? 

You should be regularly casting your feeder out, this is not like bating a spot and waiting for the carp to come in.

Personally, I find that leaving the feeder a maximum of 30 minutes is a good guide but on some more prolific commercial waters, I will cast as often as every 5-10 minutes to get more bait in and find the right spots.

Once you have found the fish, always try to cast in the same spot each time as the fish are likely to continue to feed and go back to that same area.

Final Thoughts

When targetting Carp and bream around the 2lb to 10lb range the method feeder can be extremely productive. 

Whether it’s pleasure fishing or in a match fishing scenario, method feeders are one of the best fishing styles you can use. They are a small investment and can be used with most of the common fishing tackle that you own already! 

I hope you enjoyed this article and are now ready to go out and fish method feeder style.