The Original Feeder Master

Tom Scholey travels to Potter Heigham in Norfolk for a day with one of the founding-fathers of modern feeder fishing, Nick Larkin…

If you have ever fished open ended feeder on a river, the chances are you will have stumbled across one of the ‘Nisa’ models in your quest to find the perfect feeder for the job. 

Nisa was founded by broads legend Nick Larkin, and his late-wife Teresa (hence the Nisa name) back in 1991, and has since sold millions of feeders worldwide. 

From my early visits to the broads, it became apparent that Nick wasn’t just a talented inventor and businessman - he was a top angler too, and his results on his local Norfolk rivers are almost unrivalled.

Perhaps what impressed me the most about Nick though is his deadly simple way of explaining how he approaches the fishing on what are quite challenging venues, and how passionate he is about helping other people to understand them. He offers individual and group coaching days, and has put some of his vast knowledge on the page in his book, which was released last year, ‘Cage Fighter.’

The first video that I filmed with Nick for the Catch More Media channel back in 2018 on the River Yare has racked up over 30,000 views on YouTube, so for todays session I wanted to come to a different Norfolk river - the Thurne.

“The Thurne and the Bure are like smaller versions of the Yare” Nick explained. They are also tidal, but are shallower, and so lighter feeders can often be used. The good thing is though, like the Yare, these rivers are teaming with fish!”

To make this piece as informative as possible, I asked Nick to treat the day like a tuition day- and run me through his approach systematically. 

“The first thing to say is that these are obviously natural banks, and you do need a good set of wellies, a barrow and a platform to help you get to your peg and fish in comfort. Although there are some good walks, the good news is, being Broadland, its mainly flat, Nick explained. So none of the bad hill climbs you sometimes get on other rivers.”

It was apparent from the moment we left the car park that this is not a venue where you need a mountain of gear. Nick had just a seatbox, carryall, bait bag and his rods, all of which fitted neatly on to his trolley system. He was soon set up, using his platform, to put his box level on the top of the bank.

A feeder arm was placed at a 45 degree angle, with a padded rest just below it, to allow Nick to put his rod at two different angles - one higher than the other.

“Because we don’t have a great amount of flow here, there is rarely a need to have your rod as high as you might do on a really powerful river. Often, lower is better - especially on windy days like today.


I will use the lower position when the flow isn’t so strong, and when fishing swims that are closer to me - and the higher position when the flow is at its strongest, or when fishing further across the river. On busy days, the other advantage to having your rod low is that you are able to keep fishing while boats go past - where as with the rod high, you would have to reel in every time.”

Nick spent some time investigating where to fish, casting a bomb around, and pulling it slowly back towards him to feel for any underwater obstructions. 

“I am going to fish a couple of swims today - one just short of middle - and one around three quarters of the way across.  Having two swims is important, as resting lines can be good here. It doesn’t always have to be two feeder lines of course - you might choose to fish one feeder line and a whip, or a pole. For what I’m wanting to do today, it’s two feeder lines though.”

“One very good tip I can pass on relates to where you position these swims. Often, I like to do it straight in front of me. The biggest reason for this is that you get a better quality of bite by doing this, as there is more natural bow than there would be if you made a downstream cast which means you get a bigger drop back as the line remains slack for longer. Also, when the tide changes, you are fishing a similar area, and don’t have to start another line the other way!”

Nick stores his hooklengths on these plastic spools.

Nick's trusty reel has served him well for years.

Add some Fjuka pellets to your groundbait and you're ready to go.


“The right groundbait mix is vital when it comes to this kind of river fishing - if your feeder empties when it hits the surface, it is working against you - likewise if all your bait comes out when you are reeling in, you are pulling fish away from where you are fishing.

The biggest tip I can give with regards to getting this right is to get your hands dirty! Too many anglers rely on drills, and never really appreciate the texture of the mix as you do when you mix it by hand. One of the first things I do on my tuition days is make students mix up by hand, so they understand what the groundbait does.

Of course, once you know how a certain mix works, a drill is a very useful tool, and you can also work out exactly how much water is needed to get the right consistency, every time.

Today, I am using the same mix I have been catching on all year, a 50:50 combo of the Van Den Eynde Black Super Roach and Peg No1’s Mayhem Green. This is mixed on the dry side, but with enough moisture to make me confident that it is getting to the bottom, then emptying fairly quickly out of the feeder.”


Today I have done something totally out of character - and bought just one type of bait to the bank with me! This is David Preston’s new ‘Fjuka range. I have actually been playing with these for a few months now, and have caught plenty of fish on them. The skimmers in particular on here seem to really like them, and the fact that they are ready to go straight from the packet makes them mega convenient for a short session like this.

When in match mode, I am a different beast though - and have to bring a bit of everything, and then work out what the fish want on a given day. This means casters, dendras, hemp, tares and even some home-bred gozzers are generally prepared and bought to the bank. The key then is to work out what the fish want on a given day, and catch them!

With all the work you need for the above, you can see why taking just a couple of bags of Fjuka makes such a nice change - and brings plenty of bites too.


If there is one key concept to understand when working on flowing water feeder fishing, it is that you want the fish to hook themselves against the feeder - and move it as they do so.

Fish too heavy a feeder, and they will hook themselves and you won’t see it. Fish too light a feeder, and it will bounce along the bottom spreading your bait as it goes. So you are constantly trying to critically balance the feeder so it just holds bottom.

Two things help to make this a lot easier. The first is the right rig - it needs to be deadly simple, with the least resistance to the fish possible until they hit that dead weight of your feeder.

For me it’s a simple American Snap swivel connecting the feeder, locked in place with a grip stop above, and a small shot below. I will either fish these two squeezed together completely locking my feeder, or sometimes with a gap of a couple of inches if missed bites from small skimmers become a problem.

The second thing that helps make this critically balanced feeder setup as effective as possible, is the small Nisa clip on feeder weights that fit onto my feeders. Being tidal, the flow here does change throughout the session - so these come in 5g, 10g and 15g increments and allow me to keep the feeder holding perfectly, without having to add too much weight at once, which generally leads to a run of missed bites.

The final part of the puzzle of course is the hook and hooklength. I like to carry a range of different sizes with me, so I can play with this if needed. A good starter for ten, and what I will go with today is a size 14 Tubertini 203 tied to 45cm of 0.14mm line. If bites come on this, I will stick with it, but I may try a longer hooklength if I feel the fish are hanging off my bait. I do this by simply sliding the float stop and shot up the line, to the required length. In feeders over 28g, it sometimes takes a small overhand knot below the shot to keep the feeder in place.

Plenty of lead can be required on the Thurne.

A feeder that is designed for extra weight to be added is essential.

Nick's extra weights simply slot and slide into position.

Maximum skimmer attraction.


As you can see from the pictures, we have suffered a little from the curse of the camera on this shoot. As soon as Nick started fishing the wind really got up, and as we moved into the afternoon, the rain followed too! Still, by rotating the two feeder lines,  Nick managed to keep fish coming:

“One thing I have really enjoyed doing with Fjuka, is experimenting with bait colour. Like maggots - this stuff is the same flavour in red, white, or yellow - but its amazing how on certain sessions the fish have preferred one colour over another. 

Today, for example I’ve caught several nice skimmers on direct hooked yellow 2in1, but had very few bites on white or red. Patience is key on these rivers, as often skimmer bites will come in runs, when they move through your peg, or when the tide reaches the right point for them to feed. Today though, we have managed to keep the odd bite coming all day. 

Another nifty trick that worked well for me, was rolling a pink Neeonz between my finger and thumb into the shape of a maggot. This bought an instant response in what was the quietest part of the day. Fluoro baits are well worth having up your sleeve for this sort of situation.” 

With the rain moving in quickly, and with some nice skimmers in the net, I called time on the session and we headed for a pint. Once again, I found myself in awe of the simplicity of Nick’s approach. Proof indeed that if you can understand the key principles of what you are trying to achieve with a given method, and give yourself the tools to be as effective as possible, you can get exceptional results - and without the faff of a dozen different feeder rods, or complicated rigs.

This skimmer took a liking to a yellow 2in1 Fjuka pellet.

Nick's trusty rod.

If missed bites are problem move the float stop close to the shot.

No hair rigs required for the Fjuka 2in1 pellets.


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