The subtle combination of boilies and a catapult isnt a thing of the past, its still one of the best methods of catching carp at close quarters!

The subtle combination of boilies and a catapult isnt a thing of the past, its still one of the best methods of catching carp at close quarters!

For many, many years the humble catapult was the main, if not only method most of us used to propel boiled carp baits out around our rigs. From crudely constructed home-made jobbies, to the powerful Black widow wrist rockets, it was almost an artform, and with practice you could put hand rolled donkey chokers down the same hole at 80 yards! Particle use for me back in those days was mainly limited to catapult work too… Tigers and peanuts were fired out in big custom pouches made just for the job and mass baits such as hemp would be limited to fishing on edge spots and marginal shelf scenarios. The big, crude early spods made from washing liquid bottles meant carrying a beachcaster style rod to launch them out and so I personally favoured a stealthier and more discreet method. Peppering areas with a boilie approach for much of my angling, especially as it consisted mainly of overnight trips in those days.

So why persevere with a catapult approach to baiting when modern day developments in tackle have made life incredibly efficient for mass baiting at all ranges with aerodynamic, spods and Spombs that can deliver any items of food you may wish to use at incredible range with accuracy? Well, there are many reasons and it is typically as subjective as many of the scenarios we are faced with as carp anglers. You simply have to read the situation and adapt an approach to suit… experience will tell you what is right on the day and as with all applications, asking questions will get you answers in your fishing world.

Most of our methods of carp fishing are fairly straightforward and the simple statement ‘first find your fish’ has always been the number one priority in my book! The problems and mistakes are generally made once this task has been achieved. The simplest of scenarios, and one I have seen time and time again on many waters is the ruination of a great chance of a bite or two through the wholesale foaming up of a swim in the desperate attempt to first find a spot and then feed the fish a bucket of bait because ‘matey’ did that last week and had few bites. What is often missed is that ‘matey’ had three days at his disposal and the fish were at the other end sunning themselves when he laid out his feast! The whole element of stealth, watercraft and fishing for an opportunity or a bite at a time has gone right out of the window in this situation and could have turned out so differently!

Of course, there are those scenarios and lakes where the fish are so hungry and tuned into the disturbance of a Spomb that they actually home in on the splash… the ‘dinner gong’ theory but I have no real experience of this so can only write what I have seen with my own eyes on the waters I fish.

To get the very best out of these opportunities I have fine-tuned my kit to make life as simple as possible. The first advantage is to use a good sinking braid mainline. This amplifies the drops you get on the lead giving crisp feedback to the rod tip saving much time leading about. Everything feels very precise with braid if the rules allow. If not, a good fluorocarbon is a great option.

I keep a small box of leaders in my rucksack tied for various applications and depending on the look of the swim or prior knowledge etc, I will pick accordingly:

1. No prior knowledge … Chod rig/leader.
2. Weed present/visible… Chod rig/leader.
3. Prior knowledge of spots/drops… standard leader/long supple boom multi-hinge rig.

With either of these scenarios I will always try to cast well beyond the fish before skipping the light lead back to the zone and carefully letting it drop in. I will then decide if I will leave these rods as singles for a while if the fish are showing signs of feeding well, or I may then ping a few baits in with the catapult if I feel they need a little encouragement to drop down. Organization plays another role here and I like to carry at least two sizes of boilie, 12mm and 20mm, to cover close range and further into the pond. The bigger baits can also be pinched then catapulted out, so they pat down on the surface… or even crumbed and fired out. Either way, I have rarely seen carp spook from boilies plopping in, it has always been the splash of a lead or a Spomb that spooks them.

When straightforward boilie fishing is my chosen approach, I have three main rigs that cover the scenarios I may encounter. The first being a Chod rig set up running on the leader. I can be confident this is fishing on any type of lakebed aside from dense forests of deep weed. This is my go-to rig for chance encounters and quick response scenarios, maybe after dark etc.

The second rig and my favourite is a long boom multi-hinge. Presenting beautifully over dirty ground, silt or light weed, the long supple boom can be fished up to 16 inches with a lovely stiff doubled section of Recoil Chod filament as the hooking section. A light lead completes the set up on both these rigs.

The third rig I use extensively in my boilie angling is a stiff D rig. The difference with this set up compared to the last two is its used with a wafter or a bottom bait out of the bag and is suited to clean, firm bottoms such as sand, silt or gravel.

I carry a variety of catapults in my armoury, from small lightweight elastic jobs for pinging out single baits small distances with super accuracy to big pouch heavy duty elastic ones for multiple baits at range. No one catapult really does all jobs so it’s best to have at least two in the rucksack or bait bucket. There’s always the spare elastics to consider and I have these with me and a few back in the van for emergencies! Elastics need a bit of care and like the rest of your kit, need checking regularly for signs of wear. UV rays, heat, cold, oils and chemicals all accelerate deterioration of the elastic and reduce efficiency, so be aware and wash/clean after use and don’t store in bait bags/buckets containing glugged baits!

One other item I always carry in conjunction with my catapults for boilie fishing is the humble old throwing stick. Again, lost in time and seemingly out of favour amongst many I would not go fishing without one.

The modern way of delivering vast quantities of small bait via a Spomb is without doubt the mainstay approach of the vast majority of anglers these days, often wrapped up to a spot with three rods fishing. Now, I’m not doubting the efficiency of this method, far from it! I’ve done that very thing and reaped rewards, but there are many times when this isn’t either possible or the best way forward. Indeed, like a lot of trends, when the wheel eventually turns again, a move back to other methods can be just the thing that trips up the crafty old ones that have seen it all lately but forgotten some of the basics!

In conclusion, I have used this method to good effect over the past few years on waters where I have to travel long distances to fish and often cannot get to the venue every week. In these scenarios, bait and wait or pre-baited spot fishing is just not viable. The ability to fish an opportunity as it presents is often a more feasible/realistic approach for many of us and although it may not always produce big hits of fish, it can often prove dividends when other methods are faltering… or even catch you the bigger, maybe rarer residents of the venue.