(Some Ideas and Theories from a normal angler!) I first started on paste around 12 years ago. I fished a summer series, and a guy on our ponds absolutely took the place apart on the stuff. Over 20 matches he won 16, winning 6 on the trot at one stage. Now this particular water had new stock fish in from 8oz to 20oz. This guy was not particularly outstanding, but he was a tidy angler, and his float went under more than anyone else's. We all knew he was using paste, but he wouldn't give anything away (Well, you wouldn't would you!) I read what I could, tried what I could, and the four matches he didn't win later in the series, I won on my paste (Salmon fry crumb, boiled water, kneaded into a paste) But I still wasn't happy, and needed to take it further. I then found out all he was using was ground trout pellet mixed with an egg. I made some, and then threw it away; it seemed too stiff, so I started mixing my own way. Another season and countless frustrating sessions pulling my hair out at dips, wobbles, full blown "gazunders"- striking and no fish, to where I am today, confident in the method.I have my rigs sorted, bait sorted, and I read the situation under the water via my bristle pretty well now too.What I have learned is just what I have done over the last few years, it may not be "right", but it works for me and sometimes well too.I would also add that there is no elixir� paste mix, and no special catch fish quick recipe. There still has to be an element of watercraft and ability involved. Saying that, once you start winning a few matches on paste, people will be wary of you. I have noticed people trying to use paste with not much thought into what they are doing (like any other method, if you don't get the basics right it isn't going to work). The main problems I see with people trying paste for the first time are: People struggle to hit bites so give up too easilyPeople have the paste too hard and dont get bites so give upPeople have imbalanced rigs, wrong type of float incorrectly shottedPeople see you bagging and get disheartened and believe you have added some magic� ingredient to your mix that they cant compete against a paste angler who has this.Thats when there seems to be a black art veil� around paste fishing, and that mystery can sometimes have your opponents half beaten before the draw!RIGS-I have experimented a lot with floats, self cocking, loaded, long bristle, short bristle, laying on or dead depth.I have settled on one way of fishing paste. This works for me I hasten to add, and I am mega confident that when I go to a new or familiar venue, I set a rig up and I know what is happening under the surface.My favourite floats are Hillbilly Rednecks, Duanes (from Robbos angling) and Sconezone "jads". I also use the excellent Jon Walker bespoke paste floats.I use the paste floats in 4x8/ 4x10 for margins and 4x12/ 4x14 for up to 6 feet and 4x16/ 4x18 for over 6 feet and towing venues.I use a Preston size 12 PR22 (Orange packet) for nearly all my rigs. I believe this hook gives fantastic penetration on the strike, it is the closest thing to a circle hook, and it has a kink� on it which helps grip the paste. I scale down for small carp, F1s and skimmers, sometimes using as small a hook as 20 in winter!If I am on an Animal water, I may switch to a Kamasan Animal, again in size 12. Although this hook has an eye, I whip the hook on like a spade end, which eliminates a weak point above the eye.I usually opt for straight through rigs, line dependant on fish. I use Preston Powerline for all my paste rigs, usually in .15, .17 and .19. Black Hydro in my top kits, which I use for most, I may use Red Hydro if I am bagging lumps or a solid 16 set tight if I am next to snags.All my rigs are shotted with STOTZ, as they don't ping off the line at all and are well suited to thicker lines.Example- 4x14- 1 x no.8 stotz directly under the float (as a depth marker) and then I spread 3x no. 8 out, either 4-8 inches apart, and starting 18-24 inches from the hook upwards, or just a plain bulk 10-16 inches from the hook.The bristle on a Walker� is around 30mm long; the shotting takes the float to the base of the tip, and then I Plumb so only 5-6mm of tip is showing with the paste on. You must have at least 3 rubbers on the float stem, and if its windy, have one on the end of the bristle too (stops tangles as you ship out) I also usually have around 12- 24 of line between float and hook, I do not fish paste to a tight line.I have a home made paste pot (A kinder cup with elastic through the bottom) on my top two and ship out with the hookbait in that. This is set back about 16 inches from the tip.My rigs do not change (The fundamental basics of the rigs stay the same), only according to depth and tow, species and size of fish.What I want from my rig is to show ANY indication, and to relay to me what is happening on the deck, and on the way down! (Sometimes you will not get fish to feed on the deck, no matter how hard you try, and with this set up and method you will soon establish at what depth the fish are) Then its time for UITW! But thats a different story!Some bites go straight under, some bites zig zag up and down, some bites dip a small amount, some bites lift a small amount, to be honest- I was striking at everything, and missing most, now I hardly miss a bite, its all about balancing the shot to make the rig balanced but sensitive, without creating too much resistance to feeding fish.A lot of the mistakes I see people make, result in a lot of foul hookers and missed bites, this eventually puts people off, if you get in this situation, I believe that the float is probably too heavy for the depth of water, and the olivette/ weight is not registering bites properly, or the fish are feeling too much resistance off such a big weight. I would also suggest that the paste is probably too hard- and the fish are knocking it around getting bits off it as they do with a method feeder- When you fish the method feeder how long do you watch the tip rattling before it flies round? Carp also "taste" with thier pectoral fins, their nostrils and an area right near the anal fin/vent- how many times you foul hooked a carp in the pecs or round the back or above and around the mouth? They also rub their body along a feed area tasting with the glands on their lateral line; I would say they "taste" the bait as it isn't easy to suck in. This all leads to a frustrating session.My advice would be to carry on striking at any movement, and you will soon start to recognise what is a bite. I have people sitting behind me sometimes, and I lift into a bite and I get comments like " I didnt even see the float move!" or that didnt go under, why did you strike?� It gets like second nature believe me! Understanding what's happening on your rig is the most important part of paste fishing. With location and feeding coming next with the paste hookbait being the least important in my opinion.Mixes-Even though I have stated earlier that the hookbait is the least important next to location and feeding, watercraft and understanding your rig, make no doubt, the quality of your paste, the ingredients and the consistency WILL be the difference between catching and not.I used to favour a very runny mix for all my fishing, using just Green Swimstim mixed about 1-1 with just water. While this is a good mix, I honestly believe that this groundbait has changed over the years, and is nowhere near as good as it used to be. I have also found that on some waters and some days the fish want a drier� mix.There are a few things to consider at a venue, size of fish, how do they react to feeding, are they fished for paste a lot, have you fished it before and what happened?For example, I will make a dry mix if the fish do not like bait dumped on them from the start, and use the paste to build the swim up (my dry mix will melt� off the hook within ninety seconds)My wet� mixes are all quite sloppy (not runny) but if you lift the hook up the hook will pull through the paste, firm up a little if you find it too runny too start with.I have a few mixes, but most are made the same way. From October to April I use a "winter mix" - Black Swimstim and Garram Massala powder.To make this mix, boil a kettle, sieve a quantity of Black Swim Stim, use a flour sieve, then an icing sugar sieve, this gets air in the mix, gets rid of any large particles and gives an even texture. I use a large Preston Kup as my measuring aid. Pour one full Kup of just off the boil water into a small rectangle preston bait tub, add 1/4 teaspoon of salt and one heaped teaspoon of Garam Massala and dissolve as best as you can, now add the Black Swim Stim measuring just below one level Kup and add to the water, mix with a fork and it will seem too wet (If not add more water so its like wet sand) let stand, and it will "set". Put a sandwich bag on the lid and put in fridge ready for tomorrows session. Fish over small pinches of hemp, a good mix against bankside vegetation cover. May to October-When I dont use bagged� groundbait, I use ground pellet. I have an old food blender, and this does a third of a kilo at a time in around 3 minutes. I do not sieve ground pellet, as the blender makes a very inconsistent powder, so there is some very fine powder and some course bits, but, this does make a smooth paste. I usually make it 1-1 the night before, and on the bank I add a little more water and remix, this makes a really light soft mix. Carp love soft baits.Anywhere that stipulates Fishery own pellets for feed�, I obtain some of these and grind up, it makes sense to make paste out of what they are being fed most of the time! Otherwise I use and feed the following-Green Swimstim PelletsSwimstim Natural PelletsSkrettings sinking pellets.I mainly use the ground pellets as the base of my mixes now, and a good rule of thumb is to mix 1 part powder to one part water. One thing I will say is that I always add the powder to the water, when first mixed it will look too runny, but give it five minutes and it will have stiffened up a bit.My bagged� groundbait mixes are made from the following-Marine Halibut- For the height of summer when the fish are really having it. Mix as above, BUT add a squirt of Marine Halibut Liquid, or Liquid pellet to the water as well before mixing. Feed the Marine Halibut pellets with this mix.Green Swim Stim/ Natural Swim Stim, you can add extra Betaine to these mixes. Feed the same make of pellets with this mix and hemp.Ground trout pellet Powder (Dynamite sell this), or Salmon Fry Crumb. This is an absolutely deadly mix where people dont fish paste or the water has new stock in. Again add Liquid pellet if its really warm. If you are fishing for stockies with this mix you will not have to feed, let the paste build the swim up or they will go into a feeding frenzy over the feed, leading to foul hookers and line bites. The Groundbait mixes are all sieved in a flour sieve, and are generally mixed just under 1-1 (more powder less water). You will have to spend time with the mixes, experimenting to see how they make up and in a tank to see the different breakdown times. Additives- I have been dabbling in adding vinegar, again just a few drops per mix, but you can use, Betaine or molasses or any Specimen additive to enhance any of the mixes. Have a play and see what suits your local venues. I have found some waters respond better to savoury and some better to sweet additives and some to none at all! I Always take a made up green and brown mix with me wherever I go, plus enough powder to make any mix up to suit on the bank.I make my mix as-Measure out required water, add to bait tub (I use smallest Preston tubs- perfect depth and shape) add measured amount of additive- make sure it dissolves. Add measured amount of powder, mix well, It now seems way too wet, and has the consistency of very wet sand. I then put a sandwich bag over the lid and put the lid on, and let stand for a while. In that time, the paste will have "set" like a mousse. It has the texture of wet sand, and is evenly wetted and mixed, and thats it, thats all I do.Less water for a drier mix, more water for a wetter mix.Dont get too carried away with the mixes, and I would advise anyone starting out or trying to improve their paste fishing, just stick with ground pellet and feed what you have made the paste from. This is an excellent starting point.So we have the theory bait and rigs sorted, now, what about where to fish and how to feed?I will look at two or three long lines�, I say long but usually no more than 6-8 metres, I will try and find two or three areas at the same depth,Just either away from the base of the near shelf, just up the near shelf or a couple of metres from the base of the near shelf. I will rotate these lines as best I can, or use all three for different feeding methods to see whats working on the day. I then will find a left and right margin swim, again trying to find the same depth each side, look for depressions, overhanging vegetation and at LEAST 18 of water, preferably 24. I then make up a duplicate 6m rig and two duplicate margin rigs, one on a heavier elastic in case I encounter bigger fish than I anticipate.I tend to fish long for the first 90-120 minutes then as I said, try to have a left and right hand margin swim, and just take one out from each side alternately. I only ever feed hemp, as it holds them better. If they are feeding, they are not looking at the bait, they are just having it.If you can catch near, you can catch quicker, and usually a better stamp of fish. It really isnt about sitting and waiting for 5 bites!I tend to cup a very small amount of feed in at the start on a long line (maybe 30 pellets, 30 grains of hemp and a couple of bits of paste) I then set up my margin line while this "rests" for 10 minutes. When I go in on the long line, I wait to see if I get a bite, if after 1 minute, I dont, I strike the paste off, (If it is a wet mix, or let it melt off if a dry mix) and go out again, but with a pinch of hemp in the pot also. I do this until I get a bite, and I dont feed again until bites tail off. Then I only feed a pinch of hemp, but if I have been fishing a green paste, I will now go out on a brown mix over that. I have found that alternating every dozen or so fish keeps the bites more regular.I will nearly always feed hemp with my paste if feed is warranted in my margin swims, hemp stays on the bottom and seems to attract the bigger fish and keeps them rooting about. On the long lines, if I have made my paste from fishery pellets, I will just feed those dampened down, with pinches of hemp.One thing on feeding hemp. I have a soft micro mesh bottom landing net, at the start of a match I pour my hemp into this and dip in my margin swim; this releases the oils from the hemp and acts as an attractor. The washed� hemp when fed in deeper water doesnt leave an oil trail in the water columns taking fish off the bottom with the slick.I have found that usually you will only get the long lines productive for no more than two to three hours maximum, thats why I rotate the lines, or simply set a new line up. The idea is that you are priming the margins for lumps in this time to go over in the last hour or two. If you have an island in front of you I always fish paste up to it, but maybe one metre away from it down the slope, fish prefer to feed looking up at the sky� or level with the hookbait. This way you can â€œpick offâ€� the fish that are cruising up and down the shelf.Some days though, I dont go further out than my top 3 in the margins, if you see movement or fish in the margins feeding, I go straight in on them. On my local water, you can win matches on less than your top3!I tend to believe that carp are allready in the margins especially when its warm and there is some bankside vegetation or cover. In my opinion, Carp naturally DO NOT like to feed "tail up" in open water, and prefer to suck baits off marginal shelves while horizontal in the water.I spend a lot of time plumbing the margins, and look for any tell tale signs of liners etc, or look for coloured water, where they are allready feeding. I look for a "flattish" spot as close to the bank as possible, giving me at least 18 inches (youll be surprised!) If I get liners while plumbing up, I will go straight in on paste and feed nothing. Again, if you "drag" your rig up the slope, and undershot so if youre not right on the money your float will not sit right, thats a good indication, plus you will see if the rig is hung up� on any underwater vegetation.Again, Im a great believer in the fact that if the fish are allready there (The margins hold more carp than you think- or they are just down the shelf, and come up to intercept the bait) why feed? If you feed you will bring too many fish into the swim, leading to foul hooked fish and missed bites. I tend to feed to fish, a kinder pot of pellet or hemp, take a fish, feed again etc. Too often I see people dumping loads of bait in the margins, and then proceed to get liner or foul hooker after foul hooker. They dont tend to shoal in the margins, but down the slope, but come in individually and seem to queue up ready to intercept any feed that comes in.I always fish absolute dead deapth where I can, if its really towing, then I will undershot the float more and lay on by as much as 10 inches.I use spread out stotz for a couple of reasons. On swims of 3 feet and deeper, I believe it makes the rig more sensitive, the fish dont feel the bulk when sucking in the paste, and lastly, If you fish it so its nearly dripping off the hook, you dont want the bulk, pulling the hook through the water faster than the paste.Because, on a dry mix the paste breaks down quite quickly, I fish a bit about the size of as 10p, certainly no bigger. I also try to make a diamond shape if on a slope, or roll the paste on my leg into a ball, if fishing on a fairly even flat bottom. I tend to feed less with a dry mix.I am in no way a good angler, I am an average clubbie, I Fish a few "opens" (30-40 pegs usually) and have had some wins on these too. Its just when the water gets a bit warmer, my way seems to work for me, doesnt mean its the right way to fish paste, and I just seem to give the fish something they want. I really enjoy going to new waters as paste works seems to work for me nearly everywhere I have been so far. Of course, there will be days when its not a paste day, but, if every time you went out and did the same thing and it worked, it would get very boring wouldnt it? One thing I will say is, there is no "right" or "wrong" way about paste fishing, and I have found a way to fish it that suits me best. You may find that you might take some of what I have said and adopt it into your way of fishing to suit you, or that you dont agree with what I have said, either way you will agree, it is the ONLY summer method!!Tight Lines.