Maggots are possibly the most common of all the coarse baits and are available in
several different varieties. The popularity of maggots is perhaps because of their
very easy availability, reasonable price and almost universal appeal to fish of all
species, they work superbly at all times of the year and for all species of fish
and can be fished with virtually any method on just about any size of hook from a
tiny size 24 to a large hook such as a size 6, you can even get special maggot clips
now to take a lot of maggots and this is then tied to a hair rig for larger species
like carp, you can even make maggots float.
The various types are.
The standard maggot.
The larvae of the common bluebottle fly, maggots come in lots of different dyed colours
and some colours can be better than others for certain species of fish or at certain
times of year. Red and white (the natural colour) seem to be the most popular but
other colours are popular too in some areas, bronze maggot is a good example of this,
and time was when you wouldn’t consider fishing the River Trent without bronze maggot,
it was that effective. The maggot itself is about 20 mm long and it always pays to
have fresh bait, it’s easy to tell if the bait is fresh or not by the appearance
of the feed sack, this is a small dark area of feed that the maggot uses to sustain
itself after it has finished feeding on the medium it was reared on, once the maggot
has reached full size it stops feeding and the feed sack has to sustain it until
it pupates, with a fresh maggot this feed sack is about 3 mm or so long and toward
the head end and is clearly visible under the skin. Old bait usually has no feed
sack and has usually shrunk a little and the skin toughens a little too.
Maggots need to be kept refrigerated to keep fresh for any length of time and dependant
on temperatures are often past their best 3 to 5 days after purchase. It is best
to keep them in open top shallow containers in the fridge in a little fine maize
meal, make sure they are properly cooled though as if they start to sweat up they
will escape and believe me; their powers of escape are legendary, even kept in the
fridge some loss of quality is inevitable. Another way to keep them is the ‘bag’
method; all you have to do is sieve off most of the maize meal from pre cooled maggots
and place them in a polythene bag, expel as much air as possible by gently squeezing
the bag and tie the top up tight and return the bag to the fridge. Maggots bagged
like this will keep for some time without hardly any loss of quality, 5 to 7 days
is possible, the longer you keep them bagged the more bait will die during the process.
When you are ready to use the bait cut open the bag and tip it into a suitable container
so the bait is not too deep, they will all appear dead at first but they will start
to come around fairly soon, the longer they are bagged the longer they take to come
around, there could well be a little bit of wastage so once they are all moving again
it’s a good idea to sieve the bait to remove any dead maggot and add a little fine
All of the types of maggot are hooked in the same way, they have a fat end and a
pointed end. At the fat end, there is a fleshy lobe of skin, the hook should be just
nicked through this, don't use too big a hook, otherwise the maggot will burst.
Maggots can be made to float, pour just enough water to cover the bottom of a plastic
container and cover with a lid that has had a good size hole cut out of it, this
is so when the wet maggots crawl up the side of the box when they reach the hole
in the lid they will drop back in again, let a few maggots crawl around in it for
a few minutes. They will soon start to take in air and that is what makes them float.
Do not put too much water to cover the maggots or they will drown.
The natural follow on from the maggot is the caster; this is the same maggot that
has turned into a chrysalis in readiness for turning (hatching) into another bluebottle.
Casters really are superb bait and tend to be responsible for a bigger stamp of fish
too, like maggot they can be fished with a variety of methods but tend to be used
mostly when people have bigger fish in mind, they are also a superb addition to ground
bait as they will stay at the same point they was introduced with no fear of them
crawling away as is possible with maggot. They are mostly fished in singles or doubles
but it’s ok to use them in multiples if the hook and rig allow it.
Good casters are produced by using only top quality maggot, white for preference,
to use old or leftover bait is false economy as the caster is simply not as good.
The process is fairly simple, the maggots are placed in containers filled with a
good quantity of slightly damp sawdust, the maggot absorb some of the dampness and
that helps them to keep a good size, it also stop the casters drying out too quick
once they have turned and becoming floaters. The tray is then placed in a cool spot
but not too cold and after a few days the bait will start to turn into casters, make
sure the sawdust doesn’t dry out in the meantime, once they start to turn they will
need to be sieved off every few hours, twice a day is usually enough though three
times is better if possible. By sieving frequently you get casters that are all virtually
the same colour, place the casters in a plastic bag, expel the air and place the
bag in a fridge. Keep adding the sieved casters to the bag and take them to the water
in the bag.
When you get to the water tip the casters into a bait box, if you would like them
a little darker just leave them as they are, they soon colour up a bit, if they are
ok as they came out of the bag cover them with water to stop them colouring up anymore,
any that float can be used for hook baits, the buoyancy of the floating caster counteracting
with the weight of the hook and making the hook bait act more like the loose feed.
Casters do not keep very well, 2 or 3 days at most, they could be considered to be
the very ripe fruit in the world of maggots.
There are two main ways to hook them, either using a size 16 or 18 hook turn the
point into the caster and bury the hook completely just leaving the point showing,
the other way is my preference and that is to hook the caster in a similar way to
maggots i.e., just nick the hook through the end.
Pinkies are the larvae of the green bottle fly, virtually the same as its relative
the blue bottle but about two thirds the size. Pinkies are usually about 15 mm long
and should have the same feed sack as maggots. Like maggots pinkies come in different
dyed colours but as with maggot red and the natural white are probably the most common
but with one major exception, the fluorescent pinkie, a pink/red colour and devastating
at times, particularly in the winter and for the smaller species, much loved by match
men in the winter on canals and similar venues for roach, perch and skimmers, they
can also be used to add to ground bait.
Pinkies seem to keep for ages in the fridge and its not unusual for them to be going
strong after 2 or even 3 weeks if kept really cold.
Squatts are a really tiny form of maggot rarely getting to much more than 10 mm in
length, they are the larvae of the common housefly. Squatts are kept in damp foundry
sand to stop them drying out and floating. The most common use of squatts is probably
adding them to ground bait for skimmers and bream; they don’t wriggle much so they
won’t bury in the silt and balls of ground bait won’t break up in flight. They can
be used for hook baits though for small fish, usually on canals or similar venues
when the target is small roach or skimmers utilising a method known as ‘squatt and
slop’ simply a sloppy fine ground bait mix that clouds the water as soon as it hits
the surface and using a single or double squatt on the hook.