The team focuses on blockend (block end) or maggot feeders with a look at what’s out there and how to get the best from them..

What’s a blockend or maggot swimfeeder?
It’s a swimfeeder that closes at both ends but one of the ends can be opened to allow you to put bait in. They are also known as maggot feeders as that’s the main feed used with them, although a ‘caster and hemp’ approach is very effective on rivers. The bait stays in the feeder on the cast, but when it sinks to the bottom it escapes through the holes (or in the case of hemp and casters on rivers is washed out by the flow) creating an area of feed close to your hook bait to draw fish to it.

When would you use one over a groundbait or open ended swimfeeder?
The blockend feeder is a standard approach on rivers and is excellent for targeting fish like chub, dace, even barbel. The exception would be when targeting slow-flowing, deeper stretches holding bream and skimmers when a groundbait feeder approach would be more appropriate. Blockend feeders are used less than open-ended feeders on commercial stillwater fisheries because the fish respond so well to fishmeal groundbait in these venues. They can still work though and in summer a technique called ‘speed feeder’ fishing, which involves casting every couple of minutes to get loads of maggots into the swim, can get fish in a feeding frenzy. In winter when the colour drops out of the water and the fishing becomes harder, a small maggot feeder approach with a long hooklength can be deadly on commercials. You only need to feed very little in such conditions and a good tip is to put a bomb inside the feeder to stop you putting too much bait in.

Is size important?
For the feeder to be effective in running water, it needs to hold bottom, but only just. You fish with the rod pointing at a 45-degree angle upwards with the flow putting a bend into the tip. The idea is to balance things so that the feeder holds bottom, but if you get a bite, it’s dislodged. This registers with the tip dropping back (a ‘drop-back bite’) and usually the fish is already hooked. To help you achieve this you can add strap leads (also known as ‘dead cows’) that fold into the holes in the feeder. Putting a bow into the line between you and the feeder also helps the feeder hold bottom. On stillwaters you need to balance things between the distance you need to cast, how much you need to feed, and the time of year. For long-range work look for the bullet-nosed feeders, which are very aerodynamic. Generally speaking, in winter a small feeder that doesn’t create too much disturbance when it hits the water will be best.

Can they be used with worm?
The main use for a blockend feeder with worm is when you are after quality perch. Chop up a couple of lobworms into inch-long pieces and put them into the block end feeder. Once the rig is out in the swim, the juices will be released to attract fish in, but because the lobworms are too thick to get through the holes in the feeder, the only morsel of food the fish can actually eat is the one on your hook!

Can you use blockend feeder on canals?
Absolutely. One of the most popular winter tactics is to target eels or perch when the waterway is carrying extra water after heavy rainfall. A small blockend packed with a semi-chopped lobworm and cast down to bottom of the track with maggots or worm on the hook will attract eels and possibly a bonus skimmer. The same method can also be used to target perch close to the far bank, especially if there are overhanging trees and reed beds present. Casters are another good hook bait to fish with this method, as tench and carp often patrol far bank features.

Can you vary the speed of release of the bait?
Some feeders have mechanisms that can close up some of the holes and that will result in the bait coming out more slowly. You might want to do this when bites are hard to come by, or when fishing in deep water to stop bait coming out as the feeder sinks. Another way to slow things down is to wrap electrical tape around the side of the feeder, meaning that the bait can only escape through the holes in the top. On rivers when fishing caster and hemp, it’s a good idea to enlarge the holes with scissors to ensure all the contents are quickly released from the feeder.

What’s a ‘dink, dink’ rig?
This is a blockend feeder set-up that you don’t see used much these days, but when river fish are active it can be brilliant especially with dace and small chub. A standard ‘dink dink’ set-up has the feeder at the end of the line and one or more short paternoster hooklengths (only around six inches long) coming off the mainline above. It’s effectively a bolt rig, the fish hooking themselves against the weight of the feeder as they dart around grabbing food.

Is the colour of the swimfeeder important?
For general fishing not really. However, educated specimen fish that have been caught before can shy away from the sight of a light-coloured swimfeeder and so many specialist anglers try to choose a coloured feeder that will blend in with the bottom. A good tip is to camouflage your feeder using a permanent black marker pen.

Are there any uses from swimfeeders in predator fishing?
If you fish for pike, zander and eels, using a feeder full of chopped fish can dramatically increase your catch rate. These fish have an excellent sense of smell and will home in on the flavours released from the chopped fish. The large, flat-sided Drennan Oval Blockends are ideal for this use.

Three Deadly Swimfeeder Set-ups – running rig (top); big roach stillwater rig (middle); river rig for chub that attack the feeder (bottom)

Blockend Feeders

The tcf team focuses on seven of the most popular blockend feeders around

Drennan Carp Feeder
These cylindrical feeders are produced in three sizes and are ideal for summer maggot feeder tactics on commercial fisheries, as the position of the weight allows the angler to cast accurately over a distance of at least 50 yards. The smallest of the three feeders is also spot-on for winter fishing when reduced amounts of bait are used on cold-water venues. The weights are interchangeable, so you can, if required, launch a small feeder that extra distance.
Kamasan Black Cap Feeder
One of the most popular blockends around, in the smaller sizes these feeders are used primarily on stillwaters where running line tactics are favoured for roach, perch, bream and tench. The bigger, heavier models are very popular with river anglers as the flat weight holds the feeder to the deck in the flow although it’s easily dislodged to register drop-back bites. Each of the three sizes comes in four different weight choices.
Drennan Oval Feeder
A popular choice with river anglers who target barbel and chub with maggots, casters and particles. The feeder’s flat shape and weight location prevents it from rolling on the riverbed in the current with the heavier of the three models favoured on the largest rivers, as it will hold station in the stronger flow. The feeders come in two colours – green and brown – to blend in with a variety of river bottoms.
Fox Match Rotary Ended Finned Feeder
As part of a range of finned blockend feeders, this model has a unique twist-cap system at either end that allows the angler to adjust the rate at which the feed can escape. The integrated swivel cuts down the risk of tangles and the fins give a more stable flight during the cast. Made in three sizes of differing weights, this is an out-and-out commercial feeder that can be fished on a free-running set-up or paternoster-style.
NISA Long Range Feeders
If it’s distance you require for your stillwater blockend tactics then these in-line feeders are just the job. Coming in two sizes and four different weights, the streamlined shape and the bullet nose lead enable the angler to make extremely long, accurate casts with ease. The fact that the feeders are fished in-line means that you can achieve a greater distance than with conventionally fished models. This is a great feeder for fishing short hooklengths bolt rig-style, similar to a Method set-up, for carp on commercials and bigger lakes.
Dinsmores Maggot Feeder
These not only have a lead strap along the side but also a removable heavy bulk at the base. The weighty base allows the angler to cast a long distance if the feeder is used on large stillwaters or when used on a river with the extra weight helping pin the feeder to the deck. The lead strap on the side has an important use as it tips the feeder over, ensuring the line, whether running or fixed, is held tight to the bed, so avoiding tangles. The smallest of the three sizes is ideal when targeting perch with worm baits as it will hold a large, chopped lobworm that won’t escape through its very small holes.
Dinsmores Plastic Pig Feeders
This is the most basic model of blocked feeder around. Available in three sizes of differing weights, the cylindrical-shaped feeder is just as at home on the river as it is on a stillwater, although even the smallest size carries a lot of bait, so it’s best used in warmer conditions when heavy feeding is needed. This model is also one of the more flexible on the market as it can be modified to be fished in-line with the end caps removed to create a large groundbait feeder.