3. Bait, hooks and maggots

Learn about mixing groundbait, fishing with maggots and the best hooks to use when fishing on the towpath side of the canal.

Things to remember: groundbait

  • We mix up groundbait using a little water at a time. We want to be able to squeeze it into a small egg-sized ball.
  • We use groundbait to attract the fish into our swim (where we are fishing).
  • We don’t use too much, otherwise the fish will get full.


  • Bait must look natural, otherwise the fish won't eat it.
  • Anglers use lots of different types of bait on canals: large maggots (fly larvae), casters (pupae), squatts and pinkies (small maggots), bread and worms.
  • The best baits for beginners are squatts, pinkies, maggots and bread.
  • When putting a maggot on a hook, you must thread the hook through the flat end of the maggot.


  • Hooks come in all different sizes. For canal fishing we use a size 18 or smaller.
  • When fishing for small fish on the towpath side of the canal, we use a small hook. Use small hooks for small fish.
  • If you use a big hook with a maggot, the maggot won't wriggle and the fish won’t want to eat it.
  • Use bigger hooks with bigger bait when fishing for bigger fish.

Remember: Stay safe. It’s safer to fish as part of a group, and children must always have the permission of a parent or guardian.

Before you go fishing you need a rod licence if you are 12 years of age or older. You also need permission from the fishery owner/angling club.

Last date edited: 24 December 2020