Hybrid Theory

First things first, Llandegfedd, or the ‘Deggy’ as the locals call it, is a big water and it’s also very deep in places. But what a place to fish, it really is stunning and it’s one of those places that’s just great to be at regardless of how many fish you catch. It can look intimidating to fish because of its size, and the hardest bit about tackling venues like this is knowing where the fish are. Generally, head for the shallower areas in summer and head for the deeper water once it gets cold, but that is a bit vague and when you’re fishing on venues like this, you can’t beat some local advice from anglers that fish the water all the time.

For today’s session I’m heading for the bank that’s just about as far away from the visitor centre, where the van is parked, as it’s possible to get. This area has been fishing well, so I get my gear into the boat with a couple of other anglers and set off for the 10-minute boat ride across the lake. There is an access road around the lake, but on some parts there are long walks. However, the guys at the visitor centre are more than happy to get anglers to where they need to go using the boats, which is great.


This is a natural venue and the important thing to remember here is that there are no carp anglers, in fact I’m not even sure if there are any carp in here at all. That means baits like boilies and pellets etc, don’t get introduced so it’s just like turning the clock back 20 years in that the fish in here have never seen those baits. Natural baits are therefore going to be favourite and the first bait on my list for this venue are casters. I’ve got a couple of pints of these and, bear in mind that I’ll be fishing the feeder today, this should be enough for a five hour session even if the fish are feeding well.

Next, I’ve got a few tins of hemp with me and I would never come to somewhere like this without this brilliant bait. It’s great for roach but, because there’s also a good head of hybrids in here, I’ll be looking to feed plenty of it through the feeder. I’ve also got some worms and when I fished here about three weeks ago, worms were really good on the hook although I don’t think they made much difference when I chopped a few up and added them to my groundbait. Next on my tray are some red maggots and for the roach and hybrids I expect these to be the best bait to use on the hook. I’ve also got dead reds to use in the groundbait if the bream are around and I’ve also done some floating red maggots because these can be brilliant on the hook when the fish are off the bottom. Finally, in terms of particle baits, I’ve got some corn and I never go anywhere without a few tins of this in my bag. I’ll be adding a few grains to my groundbait in the feeder and hopefully, later on in the session, I might be able to get a few on it. Even if I don’t use it on the hook, it’s a great bait for holding fish in the swim.

Moving on to the groundbait, which is probably the most important bait today, I’ve mixed up a bag of Super Feeder, one bag of Black Roach and I’ve also added some Pro Green to the mix which has fishmeal in it. Generally, it’s a dark, sweet smelling mix that has a few large particles including crushed hemp and maize, which I think will be important today. The mix is also quite dark in colour and I’ve gone for that because the water is gin clear. I’ve mixed up 3kg in total, which doesn’t sound like a lot of groundbait, but when it’s mixed with water it nearly fills the bucket!


The first rod I want to show you is so important on this type of venue and that’s the baiting up rod. Years ago we used to feed balls of groundbait with a catapult but this is by far a more accurate way of feeding lots of bait at the start of a session. I’m using a Preston Feeder Feeda rod, which is purpose made for the job. I’ll probably be putting in three pints of bait at the start, which sounds like a lot, but with a big baiting up feeder it will probably only be 10 casts. I’ve got 6lb line on the reel and then a 20lb braid shockleader all the way down to a large, capped baiting up cage feeder. I’m going to fish two lines today and I’ve set up three rods, two for fishing my long line and another rod for fishing short. The long line is going to be my main line and that’s why I’ve assembled two rods, which are both identical, meaning if I get a tangle or crack off or anything like that, I can pick up the second rod and carry on fishing uninterrupted.

The rods are 12ft 6in Supera feeder rods (50g) and I’ve measured up to fish at 45 metres on the long line, which is a comfortable distance for me. Distance-wise, never go to your extreme because if the wind picks up later in the session you won’t be able to cast there, and fishing comfortably is better for accuracy. I’ve got a count of nine on that line with a 1oz bomb to give you an idea of the depth. I’ve got a 25m 8lb Sinking Mono shockleader and the reel line is 0.12mm braid. I’m fishing a running rig and what I’ve got running on the line is a stiff boom, which you can buy in the shops, and this runs down to a twisted loop in the end of the main line. On the knot of the twisted loop I’ve got a No8 Stotz and that helps to create a boom. The twisted loop goes off at a right angle when the feeder is resting on the Stotz, which helps to reduce any tangles. The feeder, attached to the other end of the boom, is a five-hole bullet cage feeder. The rod for fishing my close in line is a Dutch Master 10ft 8in with mono on the reel – I’m not fishing braid on this rod. The bites I had when I was here the other week were very aggressive and if I had been fishing braid short, I would have got broken on the bite! So 6lb Sinking Mono is loaded on the spool and the setup on the business end is exactly the same with the running feeder on the boom down to a twisted loop.

The Session

I’ve measured out three pints of groundbait to feed on my long line and I’m not going to overcook this at the start. I’ve measured out (with my pole cup) about 150ml of dead reds, a small handful of corn and 150ml of casters, which are added and mixed into the three pints of groundbait and this is my introductory feed for my long line. I’m not putting any hemp in because I’m going to feed that short, which is where I’m hoping to catch the hybrids. On the short line I’ve got two pints of groundbait with 200ml of hemp, 100ml of casters and 100ml of live maggots. It’s going to take me a while to get all the bait fed but it’s worth doing properly, even if you spend the first 15 minutes of a match doing it because it sets it up for the next five hours and the only time I’ll top it up is if I haven’t gone on it for a while, or if I’m changing lines and want to set it up for when I move back on it.

It’s a good 10 to 15 minutes before the swims are fed and I’m ready to start fishing. It’s worth noting that on the last couple of casts on both lines I shook the bait out before the feeder got to the bottom to put a cloud in the water. Like I said, this is important so there’s no mad rush to get the bait in, and there’s also the fact it might take an hour to get that first bite on a venue like this. To start with I’ve got double red maggot on the hook and the hooklength is two and a half feet long. I’m putting a pinch of dead maggots and casters into the mix to go in the feeder so let’s see what happens! I’m not expecting anything straight away, but you just never know. One of the great attractions of venues like this is the unknown and I don’t know if I’ll catch… or what I’ll catch. I’m hoping to get into some hybrids and roach and maybe the odd bream, but whatever species I catch on this venue it could be the fish of a lifetime as hybrids have been caught here to 7lb! I’ve started off holding the rod because if the hybrids and roach are there (and I expect them be in the swim before any bream turn up) then I want to be able to react to bites straightaway and I can’t do that if the butt of the rod is in a rest. Because the water is quite deep, I’m winding slowly on the reel handle to keep the line tight so I can see bites as soon as they happen. I’ve also got the 2oz tip in today because if this place tows a lighter tip will bend round double! I can’t believe it when on my second chuck the tip knocks and I’m playing the first fish of the day but unfortunately it comes off… gutted! Very next cast though, I get another bite and this time I manage to get the fish in and it’s a 1lb 4oz hybrid, which has made me smile from ear to ear. Next cast I’m in again and I wasn’t expecting to get such a fast response after putting all that bait in. My second fish is another hybrid and it’s even bigger than the first… what a venue! There aren’t many places where you can catch fish like this.

I’ve been fishing for around 40 minutes now and have had five hybrids up to this point with bites coming within a minute of the feeder hitting the bottom. If it carries on like this it’s going to be fantastic. You never know with venues like this though, there are big predators around (this lake holds the British record pike) and if you get a couple of those move into the swim the fish will disappear and may not come back. They’re like peas in a pod at the moment with the hybrids all being between 1lb and 1lb 8oz, and what I did about 15 minutes ago was chop a few worms up and I’m now feeding a tiny pinch of choppy in every feederful. My next fish takes the bait within 20 seconds of the feeder going in and I’m beginning to think that these fish are off the bottom. I might have to try increasing the length of the hooklength and fishing with floating maggot on the hook to slow the drop right down in the last three feet of water. I’ve been fishing for about 90 minutes now and it’s really kicking off since I changed to the 1m long hooklength with a floating maggot and a normal maggot on the hook. Apart from a couple of roach and a trout, it’s all hybrids and the bites are coming within seconds of the feeder hitting the bottom. I’ve also changed what I’m putting through the feeder and I’m now feeding basically what I fed short at the start because the hybrids are by far the dominant species. So I’m feeding plenty of live maggots and hemp to make the most of the hybrids because there are definitely quite a few in the swim and it seems the more maggots I feed, the better the swim gets.

I’ve also fed the short line again 10 minutes ago with another two big feederfuls of bait but if things carry the way they at 45 metres, I’d be a fool to come off it. I might have to try closer at some point because if I can catch them there it will be quicker, but at the moment there’s no way I’m going to come off this line because it’s so good! With 50 or 60 fish of this stamp you can easily end up with 70lb to 80lb and not have a single bream. Well, what a place this is! I’m having one of the best day’s fishing I’ve had in quite a while, and I’m still catching hybrids and the odd roach and the stamp of the fish is exceptional with most going over 1lb. It’s only the roach that are under that… but only just! The 1m hooklength is working a treat and I’m being careful to make sure the bait is squeezed into the feeder enough to get it down to the bottom intact. What I don’t want is loads of bait coming out the feeder at half depth in 18 feet of water because the hybrids will come right off the bottom. If that happens I’ll have a difficult job to catch them. I’ve had to add a bit more water to my groundbait to stop it from getting too dry and coming out of the feeder early as it sinks.

We’re now about halfway through the session and I’m still catching. Sometimes I’ll get fish within seconds of the feeder hitting the bottom. When I don’t get a bite that fast, I don’t leave the feeder in for too long before recasting because the bites tend to be quick or they take too long to come. On some occasions when I have left the feeder in for longer I’ve caught roach which confirms to me that the hybrids are 100 per cent off the deck. I’ve also been feeding the inside line every 40 minutes or so without fail and I know if the long line suddenly goes on me, I’m confident I can catch there.

I’ve put a shorter hooklength on my second rod for the long line just to see what happens and it’s definitely not as good. I’m still catching the odd fish but I’m waiting longer for bites because I’m missing out on the fish that are off the bottom. I just thought I’d try it because there are plenty of fish there and I would expect some bream to have rocked up by now if they were going to. On the longer hooklength my bait wasn’t getting to the bottom so I had no idea if there were any bream in the swim or not. It’s awesome fishing though, and on the longer hooklength I’m back to catching hybrids within seconds of the feeder hitting the bottom.

I can’t tell you enough what a fantastic session it’s been today, it’s been paradise for me! The peg has died in the last hour after I lost a trout and then I was left scratching around for the odd fish. The wind died too and the sun was beating down, so maybe that had something to do with it as well? I had some fish on corn during the last hour, but they were the same stamp as the ones I was catching on maggot. Overall, it’s been brilliant and I can’t wait to get back here. In a match I would definitely have two rods set up for each line, one with a long hooklength and the other with a shorter hooklength, and I’d vary what I’m putting through the feeder depending on what species I’m catching.

I changed to mainly hemp and maggot once the hybrids had established themselves in the swim and that’s what you need to be aware of on these venues. And don’t forget, you will often catch a lot of fish off the bottom on this type of venue at this time of year so make sure you have a bottle of fizzy drink with you so you can prepare some floating maggots for the hook. What a session, I don’t know what weight I’ve got but I’m loving the net full of roach and hybrids… feeder fishing doesn’t get much better than this.