Solid Bags with Tom Jehu
Solid Bags will work at any time of the year but there are certain times when they work best. In winter and early spring they are devastatingly good as carp don’t tend to eat much early in the year and these small packages of food can often trip up an unsuspecting victim. It’s probably the best method I have used to get quick bites during winter sessions. Also, it’s common to get a quick response when using solid bags to cast onto showing fish.
What bait I use
When it comes to choosing what bait to use in your Solid Bag, it’s really up to you. Every angler has their own preference for a number of reasons. Personally I like to keep it simple and only ever use two baits, micro pellets or a mixture of micro pellets and crumbed boilie. The reason I always use micro pellets is because they compact the Solid Bag really tight. If I find I have an issue with distance, that’s when I choose to add a small amount of crumbed boilie to my bait mixture which helps to fill all the small air pockets in the bag and makes it a little more dense. The more compact your bags are, the easier they are to cast giving you more distance and better accuracy.
It can be a great advantage to add PVA Friendly Liquids into the bags. At certain times of the year, like in the summer, this can be very affective as it can actually draw fish down from the upper layers. Personally, I will always use oils to achieve this affect, such as hemp oil or fish oils.
Hook bait choice, much like the mix you use, is very much down to the angler. As with all of my rigs, I always choose a hook bait which is visually attractive and has some element of buoyancy. Wafters are the perfect choice from my experience.
For my rig I use something different to most people. I am yet to see anyone other than my close friend Shaun Wojnarowicz using the rig that I use in my bags. Believe it or not, I use a Ronnie Rig.
I make the rig using a 3-4 inch section of 25lb Armour Weave, a size 6 Hobo Original Straight Point Hook, Large Kicker, S-Swivel, Micro-Ring Swivel and a Hook Bead. I top this off with either a White or Pink barrel wafter.
By using a Wafter, I can ensure that the hook always lays flat on the lakebed surrounded by pellets, while the hook bait sits just proud of them like the cherry on the cake. The Lead and Rig will be covered by pellet making this one of the best methods in terms of concealment.
Although a 3-4 inch hook link probably sounds too short, I can assure you that it’s not. I have lost count of the number of fish I have caught using this setup including fish to over 30lb. They are almost always nailed in the same place, an inch back in the centre of the bottom lip. We have all seen and heard about the hooking capabilities of the Ronnie Rig in recent years so I don’t need to go over that, but with the rig being so short and the hook being so close to the lead it doesn’t give the fish chance to move very far without setting the hook in place. It’s a deadly combination in a perfect little package.
Be careful when prepping Bags in advance…
No matter where I am fishing I will always tie up my Solid Bags in advance, usually the night before, or sometimes a few hours before the session. Personally, I don’t like to tie them up any earlier than this because the pellets tend to dry out your hook-baits over periods longer than 24hrs which affects the buoyancy and stops them being balanced. A great way to get around this issue it to use plastic baits such as Corn or Maize, but most of my local waters have bans on artificial baits so it’s not an option in my fishing.
Most of my fishing is done on weedy waters and because of this I will always use a leader when the rules allow them. On heavily weedy waters it’s wise to fish drop off inlines to help minimise the risk of loosing fish. By dropping the lead you have less chance of getting locked up in the weed allowing you to be in direct contact with the fish. It can also help to get the fish to the surface quickly giving you a much better chance to land your prize.
Some anglers seem to have the opinion that you can cast Solid Bags anywhere you want, even in heavy weed, but you will never see me doing that. I have no confidence that my hook bait will be presented properly and for that reason I will always spend time searching for clear areas in the weed to cast onto instead. As long as I find a clear area where I can feel a drop, or I know that I have found a patch of silt, I am happy to fish it. It is fine to fish in silt with Solid Bags, although if the silt is very soft then the bag will sink into it over time. For that reason I will tend to cast quite regularly to ensure that my bait is always as attractive as possible because silt can tend to have an affect on the attraction of your baits.
I have also come across anglers who believe that solid bags will present over silkweed, again in my experiences this is unfortunately not the case. No matter what setup you use in silkweed it will inevitably become engrossed by the stuff so I would not recommend fishing in silkweed, ever.
When there is a leader ban on a water, up until recently it was extremely difficult to have Solid Bags prepped, but that’s not the case any more. We now have a way around this with the introduction of Solid PVA Bag Stems. With these stems you cannot fish the lead drop-off style but I’ve not found that to be an issue. As long as you keep a constant steady pressure it is possible to land fish without dropping the lead, even in weedy waters, although I do prefer to fish drop off style when fishing amongst weed.
Solid Bags made using Hobo Armour PVA Bag Stems
Solid Bags, in my opinion, should be nothing more than a mouthful, so with that in mind I always opt to use a Small Bag. As well as only being a mouthful a smaller bag is much more aerodynamic meaning they cast a lot further. You can also get them much more compact than the larger bags. I use a 3oz lead exclusively with my setup, I can cast over 100 yards comfortably with that arrangement and although it may seem a bit much, having a 3oz lead helps to set the hook.
STEP BY STEP GUIDE
1.) Take a small bag and blow into it so it’s not stuck together. Make sure the corners are separated then put a small amount of bait in the bottom of the bag.
2.) Lower the rig into place and hold the lead at the top of the bag. I try to lay my rig out so the hook bait is in one of the corners with the hook-point facing downwards to minimise the chance of tangles.
3.) Holding the lead at the top of the bag, I then fill the bag 2/3 of the way with the pellets. Then I hold the filled section of the bag and push the lead into the pellets, roughly half way down the lead, making sure I have as much separation between the bottom of the lead and hook bait as possible.
4.) I then top up with pellets so it just covers the top of the lead. Then I twist the top of the bag and compact the pellets by tapping the bag repeatedly until it becomes tightly packed.
5.) Once I’ve twisted the top to form the shape of the bag, I then use PVA string to tie the top. Some people use the twist and lick method but I find that I get them much tighter using PVA string.
6.) Lastly, I trim the excess string and bag material away. Then I lick and fold the corners to make it more aerodynamic. Now it’s ready to go.