On most of the canal network top anglers would use pinkies alongside squatts as the standard hookbait on a typical canal peg. Squatts would make up the loosefeed in most situations. Roach, gudgeon, skimmer bream and perch are all easily caught on pinkies.
If you are new to fishing and attend a Let's Fish! event, pinkies will probably be the hookbait that you are first introduced to.
Pinkies are bred on maggot farms and are naturally white in colour. However, they get their name from turning a pale pink colour soon after being taken off the feed. They are usually available in white, red and a bright orange colour and can be known as disco or fluoro pinkies. They are available all year round in good tackle shops.
History of the use of pinkies
The use of numerous types of maggot is mentioned in the 'Treatise of fishing with an angleby' written around 1420, most likely by Dame Juliana Berners. Along with squatts, pinkies are mentioned in RE Fletcher's 'Baits and Ground Baits for Match Fishing' published in the 1920s.
How to store pinkies between fishing sessions
Anglers store pinkies in plastic bait tins with fine sawdust, maize meal or bran added. When it's warm in the summer, pinkies will quickly pupate, typically in around a week or so. To slow this process down, pinkies are kept in the fridge. They will last in good condition for at least a fortnight.
Make sure you get permission from the fridge owner and take care to keep the lid of the receptacle tightly closed. Stories of escaped pinkies truly are the stuff of nightmares.
Motty's tips for fishing with pinkies
Advice from canal angling champion Simon 'Motty' Mottram, who trains our Let's Fish! coaches on the best canal fishing methods.
- Avoid loose-feeding with pinkies on canals. If you're not careful it can fill the fish up too quickly and they won't eat your hookbait.
- Use a single pinkie rather than a double pinkie on the hook, as it looks more natural to the fish.
- A size 22 is the ideal hook size for both pinkies and squatts.
- If you miss a bite, always check that the end of the pinkie has not been nibbled. Fishing with a sucked pinkie massively reduces your chance of getting another bite.