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Sun is out, fish have spawned, SHALLOW TIME! With the water now consistently rising the fish are spending increased time in the upper layers of the water column and are actively in search of food. This is the optimum time to be searching the depths and finding or attracting the feeding fish…where to begin?

Today’s blog takes me to Bay Malton’s Border Fisheries complex in Cheshire on a lovely water named ‘Stacey’s Pool’. A nice open water feel with 4 floating islands at 25-30 meters away and margin features all round, packed full of Roach and F1’s to 2-3lbs. I decided to start at 13m on the pole where the depth is 5.5ft, to begin I expect to find the fish sitting mid water at the start of the session and the plan is to bring them shallower and get them competing for bait.

Tackle and Bait

First are the pole changes, fishing shallow brings lightning-fast bites and hitting them requires the pole to be as stiff as possible. Most brands have developed a short number 3 or 4 section and dedicated shorter F1 shallow kits specifically for this style of fishing and employing both will make your pole stiffer and much more responsive whilst maintaining balance = MORE FISH IN THE NET.

Second are Rigs – Balance is the key here.

All rigs comprised of Hybrid elastic size 8-10, Mainline 0.16mm Preston Innovations Reflow Power but the differences whilst subtle in float choice, hook size and hook length can make a huge impact, more to come on that below.

Thirdly is bait, and the simple fishery pellets straight from the bag sized 4mm and 6mm are the only choice today. Take plenty of them to the bank plus a good catapult.

Starting your Session

Not knowing what depth the fish are sat at to start with means you need to figure it out and a light slim style F1 float 4×12 or 0.3g is ideal. Elastic and mainline as above but string out the No.10 shots evenly between the float and the hook length knot. This allows the hook bait to fall slowly through the water allowing you to see the bite as soon as a fish intercepts the bait. My hook length is 4 inches attached via a loop to loop with a fine wire size 18 hook and a hair rigged small band for the 4mm pellet to sit in. Start with the float set at mid depth (I started at 3ft), and lay the rig in to one side holding a tight line to the float so as the bait falls through the water you always stay in touch with the hook bait and you can hit the bite effectively.


I feed at least 10/12 4mm pellets to start with to draw in the fish from the surrounding water then lay the rig in and watch for the reaction. If there is no bite I will lay the rig in again as this keeps the bait moving through the water, if still no bite I feed the same again and repeat. Typically, this is feeding twice every 20 –30 seconds.

Once you start getting bites and catching before the rig has reached it’s full depth then its time to switch to a ‘deep shallow rig’.

Deep Shallow Rig

I start with this set at 2ft with about 1 ft of line between the elastic and the float, this allows me room to go a little deeper on the same rig if required. Float choice this time is a very short diamond bodied glass stem float with a 1.5mm hollow tip, size is 0.2g. These are great in this depth especially if there is a ripple on the water. Everything is the same as the previous rig but the changes are to the business end. Hook length is now 0.14mm and just 2 inches long and the hook size increased to a 16 as the pellet is now 6mm. This adds to robustness and allows the shot closest to hook to be much closer than before with helps to highlight the bites and set the hook.

I still maintain the feeding exactly as before and keep the rig moving through water.

As before, you will see that the fish are feeding shallower by line bites and missed bites, plus taking the bait whilst your float is still on a slant as it follows the hook bait down. Time for a change.

Main Shallow Rig

This rig is a duplicate of the deep shallow rig only shorter still. Set at 18 inches to start but expect to shallow up to as little as 6 inches. Once I’m bagging with the F1’s between 18 and 12inches I change my feeding to 6mm pellets and just 3 or 4 of them. It’s so important to keep them at this optimum depth as catching shallower will spook the shoal when you hook a fish, this is why I didn’t use a dibber style float on this occasion. If bites slow your options are to temporarily increase the feed to draw them up again or to maintain and drop deeper until you find them again. You WILL need to make these changes as the session progresses, simply ignoring the signs will just encourage the shoal to leave your peg.

Main tips

So there it is, everything you’ll need for a simple yet arm aching day F1 shallow fishing. Here are a few tips/golden rules to take to the bank.

  • Keep the feed going in and group the pellets tightly, if you stop the fish will go elsewhere!
  • Feed the pellets just short of your float, the bigger fish sit just back from the main group.
  • If bites stop, keep feeding and see if the fish have dropped a bit deeper.
  • ‘Read’ the bites to determine what depth the fish are feeding.
  • Laying and slapping the rig are good techniques, try both and see if it changes your catch rate of size.
  • Keep the line tight to the float, the fish will often hook themselves pulling out your elastic.

The accompanying video will soon be available on the YouTube Channel

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UP NEXT – Pellet Waggler Fishing.

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