Maggots or as they are sometimes called 'gentles,'
are as everyone knows the larvae of flies. The word
gentle implies amiable, mild, aristocratic, courteous,
or tame; making the name 'gentle' a very odd choice
to call a maggot. Actually throughout history, maggots
have been extremely beneficial in medicine. Throughout
the wars of our human history, maggots were medically
useful because they only eat dead flesh, not living flesh.
A suitable number of maggots placed on a wound and then
bandaged, apparently actually helps in the healing
process by eating and therefore removing unwanted
infectious material. One could say, maggot's have
their role in nature, that being consuming only
Old poachers would hang a dead rabbit or hare over a
stream and leave it there. Over time the carcass would
become fly-blown. As the maggot larvae grow, they crowd
the liveable surface, but there is only so much space
and in due time, a saturation point is reached. Growth
after this point can only result in some maggots falling
out, so to speak. Growth of the maggot clump thereby
results in a constant drip of individual maggots
falling on the water. This continues until the
larvae finally hatch and fly away.
Trout soon become aware of this constant food supply
and some good fish actually take up residence under,
or just downstream from the hanging maggot infested
corpse. It was a simple matter for the poacher to
catch those fish using a small hook baited with
few maggots, or even boiled rice. Clever but
To breed your own clean maggots
Put ½ pint of well-curdled milk into a large basin,
mix in about ½ lb. of boiled potatoes (mashed and
cold). Place the basin outdoors until fly-blown. As
the maggots grow, remove and place them in small
tins containing bran - don't have the bran too
deep. As the maggots grow in the tins (in a cupboard
or sometimes buries), add small quantities of fresh
bran now and then. The bran hardens the maggot skins
and the eaten bran purges the digestive system,
thereby whitening the maggots. Some accomplished
anglers even go so far as to stain the live maggots
pink and other seductive colours.
Fishing live maggots, using thread-line or fly gear
To bait a hook using maggots, impale three or four
by putting the point of a wet or dry fly hook through
the thick end - the tail end of the maggots. They are
then slid around the bend and up the shank. Also in
the same manner, another one or two are put hanging
from just behind the barb. Baited in this way the
head parts of the maggots wriggle about like
tantalising grub-like fingers. Arguably, maggots
baited up using this tried and true technique,
produce one of the worlds most deadly trout bait's!
The movement attracts, whilst at the same time, from
a trout's point of view, the maggots most probably
look perfectly natural and highly delectable.
Generally maggot fishing is best at night, preferably
over a gravel bottom. After daybreak this bait is often
shunned by trout however later in the day when things
warm up, a single maggot hanging from behind the barb
of a tiny hook can often be extremely deadly. Night
or day, the baited hook is cast well up and across
the stream, as close as possible to the far bank.
It is then drawn back very slowly whilst the current
takes the line downstream below the angler. Throughout
the 'drift and draw,' expect a slight touch or pull.
When the bait comes on the dangle, also expect a strike.
If no action occurs the rod is gently moved up and down
three or four times working the bait against the stream,
this often get a result, especially at night. The cast
is repeated several times before new water further up
or downstream is fished.
When a trout sees or detects the sunken, slow-moving
bait it will often take very gently, only mouthing
the wriggling bait - making a barely detectable
tremble on the line. If thread-lining (using a split
shot on the line) and a fish is felt, the angler stops
drawing in the bait and simply lowers the rod, thereby
gaining time to open the bail arm on the reel. If
fly-fishing loose line must be available to let the
fish run. Maggots are real food, trout won't reject
them. Half-mouthing the bounty a trout usually drifts
for a short time seemingly examining this strange
irritable and attractive concoction. Eventually a
decision is made and the trout swims off like a
greedily seagull with a chip, searching out some
secluded spot where it can safely devour the food
in peace. You can strike quickly as the fish runs
and rarely miss the fish, or let it swim off, stop,
and eventually swallow the bait. When it moves again
it will be gut hooked.
Once it was common practice for fly-fishers having
bad days to impale a single maggot just behind the
barb of an artificial fly. This trick has gone out
of vogue and the 'purist' fly-fishing ideology of
today shuns such behaviour. Bait fishing using
maggots, even using a fly rod is acceptable behaviour
where bait fishing is legal. Nevertheless placing a
group of maggots, or even a few caddis (removed
from there cases), on the bend of an imitation fly
is utterly bad form, not sporting and totally
inappropriate behaviour. Nevertheless it works!
~ Alan Shepherd
Publisher's Note: While this method is 'old' there
still are people who are passionate about their maggot fishing.
In the UK a group even has shirts, hats and jackets
proclaiming their love of maggot fishing with the logo shown.
Most of the fishing is for "coarse fish" non-trout species. You can
read more about it at: http://www.Maggotdrowning.com