Tom Scholey explains a deadly feeding tactic to help you catch everything that swims this winter…

I want to tell you about a sneaky little method that has won me loads of money over the last few years. It doesn’t work all the time, but when it does, it can be nigh on unbeatable.

The secret is in the feeding really. I’m normally an angler who LOVES to loosefeed. This positive way of feeding pulls lots of fish into your peg, and gets them moving around through the water column. It means positive bites, a peg that often gets stronger through the day, and as a result, big weights of fish.

Sadly it doesn’t always work in the winter though - and what I am going to talk about today is pretty much the polar opposite of my standard loosefeed approach. It’s a more negative feeding pattern, which means you can concentrate the fish very tightly on your bait. I often feed it as a throwaway line, and let the fish tell me whether it’s the right thing to do. And when it is, you are in for a treat!

Let me explain the basic concept first. The attack centres around feeding a very dense, damp ball of attractant-rich feed that sinks straight to the bottom, and breaks down very slowly. Yes, we use groundbait - but unlike the usual groundbait approach which revolves around laying a large bed of feed and letting the fish settle over it, this is much more about using groundbait as an attractant rich binder, to help get fine, micro food particles to the bottom without fish eating them.

When it works, you find the fish compete for this single food source, and because you are feeding in a small, neat area, and nailing fish to the bottom, with the right rig, you can catch them very effectively.


There is no hard and fast rule about what you need to put in your dirty bomb. I’ve had success feeding these dense little balls with dead maggots, dead pinkies, worms, casters, micro pellets, Fjuka micros, chopped worms and even sweetcorn in the past. Id say match your bait choice to the size of fish you are after. If its roach, skimmers, and small-mouthed fish like crucians, maybe finely chopped worms, pinkies and micros are the way to go. If its bigger fish, maybe the odd bigger particle is a good idea - but I would always make sure that there are some micro food particles included, so you hold the fish in your peg for as long as possible every time you feed a ball.

It's important to use the right kind of groundbait. You want something with a good amount of crumb in it, that can be squeezed into a hard ball. If your mix has too much expander in it, you will find it goes between your fingers like a damp paste - so be mindful of this.

I’ve been enjoying experimenting with different mixes this year so mine today is a ‘multi brand special’: one part Blakes pole mix, to one part Sonubaits Natural F1, and one part Dynamite Black Swimstim. I add a generous squirt of Fjuka Sensate Fish Accelerant to this as I mix it up to really up the level of attraction. Mix this on the dry side to start with, as more moisture will be added when you add the particles before feeding.

The next stage is to make a ‘parti mix’ of whatever you are wanting to include in the bomb. We are on Folly Pool at the Riddings today, and I am adding final chopped worms and micro pellets, so I mix these together thoroughly. Next, I add groundbait a handful at a time, and keep mixing the lot together until a consistency that can squeezed firmly together is achieved. I then make myself a ball, squeeze it very firmly, and the bomb is ready to be dropped!


One thing that its important to understand about this sort of super concentrated feeding technique is that the fish then feed in a very concentrated way. Because your feed probably ends up spread over the size of a dinner plate, the fish are feeding in a very small area, so bites can be very slight indeed. I often find a pellet-type rig is best, with a small strung bulk to a short, four inch hooklength. Have no more than an inch of line on the bottom, so when a fish picks up your bait, you know about it!

Three other minor points about the other end of the setup: Firstly, use a fine bristle float and dot it down, so you see everything. Secondly, use a couple of backshot to help you really nail your rig over your feed. And finally, a nice soft elastic is a must. Remember, the real strength of this method is the fact that it catches fish of all sizes, maybe a small skimmer one minute, and a big tench the next, so you need elastic that will allow you to land everything. Im using a single Preston No4 Slip today. Mainline is 0.11mm Reflo Power, to a 0.08mm Drennan Supplex Fluorocarbon hooklength. Hook choice is a size 16 Gamakatsu Green Gama, stepping up to a size 16 Guru F1 pellet if the stamp of fish dictates it.


A key point to consider where possible is the kind of bottom you feed the worm bomb on. Sometimes, you have no choice but to feed it on a silty bottom, and to be fair, I’ve caught lots of big weights fishing this tactic on silt - but if you can find a firmer bottom anywhere - maybe on a gravel bar, or just creeping up a slope towards an island, even better! 


The great thing about this way of fishing is it generally brings an instant response - its not like you are feeding a big bed of groundbait and waiting for the skimmers to settle over it. The fish attack this small ball of particle rich bait, and I never wait too long before I have a look on it. Today I fed the worm bomb, then had a quick look on a pellet line for ten minutes, which brought one small solitary skimmer before going on the dirty line!

Interestingly, this brought five small skimmers in the time that it took me to catch one on pellets. See what I mean about the peg telling you what’s right? On other days, you might be met with a disappointing response on the dirty bomb - and then I would pick up the catapult. 

I managed to catch for about 40 minutes on just one initial ball. Some nice skimmers, plus a couple of bonus crucians and a small tench. You can usually tell when its time to top up, as bites drop off  - and that is exactly what’s happened today. I always make my top ups slightly smaller than my initial feed - I kicked of with a tangerine sized ball and topped up with golf balls. The fish were straight back on it though!

In terms of hook baits, I alternate between a worm head, and a Fjuka micro. In the slower spells, the Fjuka micro seems better, but when there are loads of fish in the swim, for example, straight after feeding, the worm head proved more resilient - and I could catch several fish off just one small hookbait.

Strangely, after my third top up, I started to suffer a few missed bites. If this happens - always slip the plummet back on, as sometimes the fish will burrow out the bottom, and you can find yourself fishing off the bottom without realising! Thats exactly what happened today-  I added an inch of depth, and once again the bites were clean and the fish were hooked clean in the mouth. 


Its a great short session to be honest, three hours fishing on one line, and well over 30lb of mixed fish. Carp, crucians, tench, bream, roach and perch have all fell in to the trap today.  The ‘Dirty Bomb’ can make for a very simple days fishing, and a net that contains a little bit of everything!  


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