Scotthorne’s Bomb Tricks

Alan Scotthorne looks at the finer points of a deadly winter carp tactic – the straight lead!


The warmer weather through November has been fantastic for our commercial fisheries with weights still exceeding a ton on most matches at my local fishery, Lindholme Lakes, on its famous Bonsai Lake. Now, however, the cold weather has finally arrived!

I have started fishing the regular Thursday opens recently and although I have only fished the last three matches I have been surprised how different the fishing has been to what I remember from past years. F1s are no longer the prime target and carp seem to dominate the money list, so a rethink is the order of the day…

The last match I fished was much harder with temperatures dropping. I caught five early fish on bomb and bread, casting to an island, but then spent most of the match trying to catch fish on the pole with pellets for little reward, before returning back to fishing a straight lead and corn to catch a few late fish for 30lb and no cigar.

With 50lb winning a very tight match, on reflection all I needed to do was be patient and work the peg with the bomb and vary my hook baits and, more importantly, try to keep locating the fish. If I had done this all day I am sure I could have won the match.

Now you may think that there is little skill in this method, but if you look at the results of local anglers like John Allerton, Steve Mazza, and Steve Rothery, they all frame regularly with this method because they do all the elements well and also commit to it on the right days.

Tackling Up

A Drennan Quick Change Bead allows Alan to change to a different style of hooklength in seconds

I have now spent some time setting up a couple of 10ft Drennan Ultralight Bomb rods with 5lb Feeder & Method Mono with a simple swivel link to attach the 3/8oz bomb to. At most fisheries the leads have to be free running, so this is a simple but effective rig. Keeping the size of the bomb down to a minimum is important as fish spook easily when the temperatures drop, so crashing in a big lead will certainly push fish out of your swim.

For the reel, 5lb Feeder & Method Mono is a reliable choice.

Rods need to be soft with hooklengths of 0.15 mm being the heaviest I would use. With a size 18 hook there’s no room for stiff rods and quiver tips. Using a Drennan Quick Change Bead, I can ring the changes with hooklengths and hook baits to work out the best on each given day. I tie a variety of long 30cm hooklengths for banded pellets, corn and bread that I can cut down if I require a shorter tail, so this limits the amount I need to tie.



The red Revolution Caty is ideal for accurately pinging just one pellet or a single grain of corn.

The noise of just a single pellet or a grain of corn plopping in can be enough to entice an odd bite, even on the coldest of days, but be careful not to overfeed as fish will back off if too much bait is introduced.

Pinging either one or two pellets or just one piece of corn requires a good catapult to maintain accuracy. The best catapult I have found for the relatively narrow pegs on Bonsai is the lighter red Drennan Revolution Caty which has a nylon pouch that allows you to be ultra-accurate with a little practice.

Are you sitting comfortably?

Having the rod on rests so you can pick it up easily sounds like common sense but I still see people using their keepnet as a rod rest. This cannot be good when feeding accurately is so important, so get the rod on two rests to free up your hands. I use both the front and back rests from the Drennan Non Slip Rest Set on an arm off my Rive seatbox.

The Non Slip Rest Set is a simple yet useful combo for efficient winter bomb fishing.
Alan with a winter catch from Lindholme's Bonsai Lake.
Alan with a winter catch from Lindholme’s Bonsai Lake.

This method is a really effective way to catch fish in winter. You need to be patient but also keep a keen eye on the lake for fish moving around. Casting to fish topping or even bubbles and blows coming up of the bottom can result in finding those extra fish to win a match. Never give up, either, as most carp matches are won in the last hour.

Tight lines!