Airflo Airtex 2 Wading Boots Review

In this guest review fishing instructor and qualified guide Ben ‘Fly Guy’ Fox takes a look at a wading boot for all situations – the new Airtex 2 from Airflo!

With the latest Airflo kit impressing anglers up and down the country, including myself, I was pleased to get the opportunity to test out one of their latest additions, the Airflo Airtex 2 wading boots. Building on the excellent design and functionality of the original Airtex boots the new boots are a great example of modern features and materials.

Airflo Airtex 2 Wading Boots

Airflo Airtex 2 Wading Boots

When choosing wading boots it’s important to consider design and functionality.

Grip: The boot is the anchor you look too to keep yourself safe while wading through fast water, on slippy rocks and all manor of substrate. Do these boots do the above? Simply, yes. The boots have good strong stable soles (I had the Vibram) which offered good grip on the multitude of substrate I trekked across on my test session.  I had added Kold Kutter studs, available from the Fishtec website, which I would recommend doing as they do help grip on the trickiest conditions underfoot.

Support: When on your feet all day covering different gradients and often long distances its import that your boots support your feet, particularly the soles and ankles. I had no fear of going over on my ankle, thanks to the high sides, neoprene padding and strong rubberized heal and lower sides. As for covering long distances, after walking miles of river in them my feet didn’t ache, something that has often happened while wearing other boots or boot foot waders.

Cost: Built to last with top quality hard wearing fittings and materials were some boots fall short, the Airtex push the boundaries of what can be offered for the price point. I think they are great value for money.

Tough laces and corduroy eyelets will last a lifetime

Tough laces and corduroy eyelets will last the boots lifetime

Features:

Tough laces and corduroy eyelets should last the lifetime of the boot and the robust abrasion resistant outer ensure that it will be a long one.

Options to cover a wide range of foot sizes and with felt or Vibram soles available there’s a boot for all in the range.

Light weight despite the hard wearing components. Making them easy to walk in.

Drainage – wading boots can’t hold water for any length of time as the weight would become difficult to manage, drainage holes at strategic points allow this to happen quickly on the Airtex V2 boot.

Superb grip in slippery conditions guaranteed

Superb grip in slippery conditions guaranteed

To summerise: I was very impressed with the Airflo Airtex 2 boots. As a guide I rely on my gear to get me through both my own fishing, fishing with clients and competitions on running and stillwater. These wading boots will carry me through all conditions and situations and I recommend them to anyone looking for a high quality well priced boot that will last.

Airflo Airtex 2 wading boots retail at £119.99. They are available here.

About the author: Ben started his fishing career aged just 7. Progressing rapidly from coarse fishing, Ben soon became proficient at fly fishing and has taken part and triumphed in numerous competitions. He has represented England at youth level where he has 2 caps.

Ben Fox with a magnificent fly caught pike!

Ben Fox with a magnificent fly caught pike! Source Ben Fox Facebook page.

Based in Yorkshire but operating throughout the country, Ben spends his time as a qualified fishing guide and as an instructor with Fishing 4 Schools. Should you need quality angling coaching or a guided service be sure to check out Ben’s website here.

Top 10 Christmas Carp Fishing Gifts for 2018

Stuck on what to buy a carp fanatic for Christmas? Read on - we've got you covered.

Stuck on what to buy a carp fanatic for Christmas? Read on – we’ve got you covered.

As the festive season approaches, carp fanatics all over the country will be hoping their families forgo the socks and chocs for angling Christmas presents.

Here are ten items to add to your wish list this year, from bargains at well under £50 to top of the range tackle, clothing and accessories. Start dropping hints early…

FishSpy Camera

Fishtec Fishspy Camera

BUY: FishSpy Camera from Fishtec – £129.95

Once upon a time, castable underwater cameras were the stuff of science fiction, or hideously expensive. Not any longer! Get a different view of your swim with this brilliant FishSpy Camera. As well as being fun to use, it’s a great way to find features, check your rig or even watch the fish close in on your feed! There’s some sample footage here if you want to see more.

For a limited time only: FishSpy camera’s are being supplied with a FREE carry case and a FREE device stick.

Korda Mini Rigsafe Combi

All those bits and pieces of rig that carp anglers love to carry have a nasty habit of getting lost on the bank. This tidy rig board plus accessory box comes in handy to store all your crucial components in a small space. An excellent product to keep everything safe and organised!

Prologic K3 Bite Alarms

Prologic K3 Bite Alarms

Prologic K3 Bite Alarms

While the typical bite alarm has fallen steeply in price over the last few years, it still pays to invest a little more and buy quality. Three super-reliable alarms plus a receiver is great value at £199.99 with this superb Prologic set. Great performance for the mid range budget-conscious carper.

TF Gear Banshee Carp Rods

Fishtec-carp-rod

BUY: TF Gear Banshee Carp Rods – from £29.99

For beginners to carp fishing, or perhaps for a keen angler who wants to add a marker or spod rod to their set up, you won’t find better value than the TF Gear Banshee. Correct! You get twice the rod for your cash. Hundreds of happy customers will tell you the Banshee is a great carp fishing rod, with prices starting at just £29.99. Check out the options here.

TF Gear Airflo Bivvy

Is your bivvy looking tired or falling to bits? The cooler months are no time to be without a reliable shelter on the bank. This TF Gear Airflo MK2 Bivvy performs effortlessly well, with amazingly easy “air poles” for rapid set up, and rigid, dependable performance in the worst of weather.

Ridgemonkey Compact Frying Pan

Here’s a clever idea from Ridgemonkey. It’s a shallow “breakfast” pan in four sections that changes to a deeper pan with a single flip. It’s also durable and super portable. Whether you’re knocking up a breakfast fry up or a curry on a cold night, this space saver is just the job. Click here to order.

HD Waterproof Action Sports Camera

For those who fancy some underwater filming without breaking the bank, this little waterproof sports camera has specifications well above its price tag. It has various settings from 1080 pixel / 25 frames per second film, to stills and time lapse options. Add fittings such as a head mount and selfie set and you have a very versatile camera in the style of the classic GoPro, all for well under £50!

Trakker Waterproof Thermal Core Multi-Suit

For anglers who brave the worst conditions, a warm, comfortable all-weather suit is a must-have rather than a luxury. With features such as reinforced knees and seams, along with fleece-lined pockets, this Trakker Multi-Suit will keep you toasty even when the elements are fierce. A great gift for any fishing fanatic prone to catching colds or staying out too long in the wet!

Jag Hook Sharpening Kit

Carp anglers often get fussy about the sharpness of their hooks, and for good reason. The chances of a hooked fish are greatly increased by having a “sticky-sharp” point as opposed to a less than keen edge. This special Jag Hook kit has all you need to hone rigs to optimum efficiency in one tidy pouch, bringing even tired hook points back to their best.

TF Gear Heavy duty carryall

 

TF Gear heavy duty carryall

TF Gear heavy duty carryall – £54.99

With most carp anglers carrying a fair bit of kit for longer sessions, a tidy way of keeping it all in good order is a must. Designed to hold various accessory cases perfectly, this TF Gear carryall is built to last. Packed with well-thought out features it has an extra long pocket for rig storage and space up-top for your buzzer bars.

But if you still can’t quite decide…

Last but not least, if you can’t choose between these carping Christmas present ideas, why not buy some Fishtec vouchers? Available in multiples of £10, they allow anglers to choose their own treat. Available in paper or digital versions.

Whatever gifts you choose this year, we wish all you tight lines and a very Carpy Christmas!

Airflo Airlite V2 9’6” #5 – Trout & Salmon Magazine Tackle Review

”A dry-fly dream”

Airflo’s Airlite V2 range is not new, but this 9ft 6in, 5wt is. The rod has been designed by Airflo’s sales director, the highly respected competition angler Gareth Jones, especially for delicate dry-fly fishing on stillwaters. It punches well above its price tag.

Airflo Airlite V2

Airflo Airlite V2 9’6 #5

What initially feels like quite a fast action oozes feel and depth when loaded and it delivers an incredibly stable casting loop. Casting with it becomes second nature, as does turning over a team of flies with pin-point precision. The progressive, smooth action is a delight.

We fished with it from the bank (with very little clearance behind and background snags) and it delivered a Lee Wulff Triangle Taper 5wt floater with ease, while on a boat the rod’s wand-like quality is unlocked: it effortlessly lifted a team of flies off the water, roll-casting
over both shoulders with fast, snappy changes of casting angle.

When playing a fish under the boat, with this rod you just know your tippet won’t break.
Give your cast some welly and you’ll be amazed how little, if any, fly-line is left on the reel. The rod’s that versatile.

The reason for adding this model to the V2 line-up was to meet the needs of specialist light-tippet fishing – a rod capable of absorbing a fit rainbow’s turn of pace on tippets down to 6X (3lb-3.5lb). We know it works on rainbow trout up to 5lb taken on a single dry-fly…

Gareth’s inspiration comes from his trips to Lough Corrib where light tippet fishing for big, wild brownies prompted the search for a suitable tool. If a rod is good enough for such technical lough fishing, then frankly, it’s as good a stillwater dry-fly rod as you will find.

Our only niggle is the lack of a keeper ring, which many anglers like. The green wooden reel seat, with a secure nut, was reliable on a day when the rod landed a bag limit of Eyebrook reservoir trout.

For the reservoir or loch/lough angler looking to discover the benefits of a lighter dry-fly outfit, this rod is all you need.

Airflo Airlite V2 fly rods are available here.

Airflo Airlite V2 9'6 #5

Airflo Airlite V2 9’6 #5

Article reproduced with kind permission of Trout & Salmon Magazine.

New Airflo Airtex 2 Wading Boots In Stock!

New Airflo Airtex 2 Wading Boots

New Airflo Airtex 2 Wading Boots

The new Airflo Airtex 2 wading boots (Vibram sole) are now in stock!!

Built to last, with a solid construction that is deceptively light in weight, these rugged boots feature a robust quick drying upper that is highly abrasion resistant. With superior ankle support, access and comfort is aided by a neoprene lining and looped heel pull.

Available in both traditional felt sole and genuine rubber Vibram, Airflo Airtex 2 boots allow for sure footed wading – whatever the conditions.

  • Protective rubberised outer for durability
  • Two sole options for grip in any conditions
  • Neoprene ankle padding for comfort
  • Rugged cordura lace eyelets
  • Strategic drain holes
  • Easily studded with wader studs
  • Sizes 7-13 (felt), 7-13 (Vibram)

Priced at £119.99, Airtex 2 boots are available here.

Airflo Airtex 2 boots

Airflo Airtex 2 boots

New Daiwa ProRex Predator Fishing Tackle

Late autumn is traditionally the time when predator fishing begins with a vengeance. Water temperatures have cooled down, bait fish are beginning to shoal up and pike, zander and perch are feeding hard in readiness for winter. To take advantage of this bonanza, all you need is a good set of predator fishing equipment.

For autumn 2018 and on Fishtec are stocking the new ProRex range of predator fishing tackle by Daiwa. We believe this range offers superb value for money, whether you are looking for a rod, reel, luggage or a complete set up. In this blog we take a closer look at the new ProRex items being stocked by Fishtec.

Daiwa ProRex spinning rods – From £54.99

At last, a versatile range of lure fishing rods for almost every predatory species you can think of; pike, perch, trout, zander, sea bass, salmon, saltwater species – you can catch them all. Available in 6, 7, 8 and 9 foot options, with various casting weights through the range from as little as 7 gram to a whopping 80 gram.

What does Daiwa say?

”This Prorex rod series offers very lightweight and at the same time fast action blanks. Each rod action has been particularly adopted to suit the requirements of casting all sizes of shads and plugs; hence their crisp and tensile feel. However the HVF fibre blank features an astonishing handling and loads over the whole tip section during casting – perfect for long distances. X45 bias construction reduces torque assisting higher accuracy a smooth bending curve is realised thanks to V-Joint. The Prorex rod series combines latest rod technology with a classical design at an exceptional price-performance ratio.”

What we like

The blanks are very slim, sensitive and transmit a lot of feel when fishing a shad or bouncing a heavyj jig back. Importantly, the handles are made of cork which gives them a really nice feel in cold and wet weather. Eyes, finish and reel fittings are all top class, making these rods brilliant value for money.

Daiwa ProRex XR lure rods – from £99.99

The big brother of the ProRex rod range, the XR offers even more performance with the latest technological innovations from Daiwa.

What does Daiwa say?

”The Prorex XR rods offer the very latest in blank construction thanks to exclusive DAIWA technology. Lightweight and extremely fast each features outrageously pleasant handling, enabling you to use for longer periods without fatigue. The sensitive tip action ensures an optimal lure presentation, perfectly buffering lunges and head shakes during the fight, reducing the risk of hook pulls. The use of HVF nanoplus carbon creates a more lightweight and at the same time tougher blank. The result is a quicker recovery enabling long distance casting, with large levels of power in reserve. X45 bias construction also reduces rod twisting during the cast, thus assisting accuracy and increasing power conversion. In addition the V-Joint spigot guarantees an even bending curve. The original Fuji TVS reel seat ensures a direct contact to the blank for optimal feel and lure control. Award winning Prorex XR rods offer an outstanding price-performance ratio”

What we like

The blanks are noticeably fine diameter, and the power to weight ratio is simply incredible. The reel seat is a top of the line Fuji, while the Fuji alconite line guides offer unparalleled line flow and protection from braided mainlines. Featuring Daiwas unique moveable hook holder, these rod are nicely finished and for the angler looking for a premium lure rod are a fantastic buy. A comprehensive range of lengths and casting weights means there is a model for everyone.

Daiwa ProRex spinning reels – £119.99

A good rod demands a quality reel and once again Daiwa (some would say the masters of the reel world) have come up trumps with a superb predator fishing reel range. We stock two sizes, 2500 and 3020.

What do Diawa say

”The Prorex reels are designed for hunting predators, particularly pike. They are a large capacity, quick ratio reel featuring an aluminium frame and an ATD carbon drag.”

What do we like

Solid, smooth with full aluminum construction throughout these are great reels. It’s best not to skimp on quality when selecting a reel for hard fishing predator fish and this one is built to last. The drag here is slick, firm, has no start up inertia and is easily adjustable. A total of 9 ball bearing make this reel a reel pleasure to bring in your line or a fish with. They are suitable for a wide range of species, as well as pike.

Daiwa ProRex lure bag – £49.99

The perfect piece of fishing luggage for carrying your lure collection, or end tackle and traces.

What do Diawa say

”This bag offers plenty of space for the storage of lures and supplies. The bag includes 3 big tackle boxes of the common size 36 x 33.5 x 5.5cm. The bags rubberized bottom prevents the intrusion of moisture from below. Both front pockets offer space for the transportation of smaller boxes for jig hooks, swivels etc. The padded shoulder strap ensures carrying comfort even if the bag is fully loaded and thus heavy. All of the bag’s outer material is water repellent and restrains short showers without soaking.”

What do we like

It’s fairly compact design means it is portable and not too heavy. The free tackle boxes are a nice touch, and there is plenty of room in the side pockets for all of your lure fishing tackle and accessories. The material is very heavy duty and looks like it could withstand the worst of the UK weather plus stand the test of time. A comfortable shoulder strap makes carrying it very easy.

Daiwa ProRex Landing net – £39.99

After all the hard work of getting your quarry to take your lure loosing that fish is simply not an option. To ensure your hook-up ends with a happy capture a decent landing net is a real boon. Enter the ProRex net.

What do Diawa say

”The Prorex nets feature an aluminum frame of 1.3 cm in diameter, light and strong. Their sleeve has grip EVA high density logo Prorex. Depending on the model, the frame snaps and / or withdrawal and the handle is telescopic or slides in the head to save space.

What do we like

Generously sized at 70cm x 50 cm these nets can accommodate good sized predator fish. The frame folds up, allowing for easy transportation. The extending net handle and rim is made of a super strong yet light weight aluminum material. Most importantly, the net mesh is made of a modern rubber composite, which is incredibly fish friendly and resistant to hooks, enabling you to get on with it without risk of snagging your gear up.

THE FULL RANGE OF DAIWA PROREX PREDATOR GEAR CAN BE FOUND HERE.

New Airflo V2 Fly Fishing Reels In Stock

We recently had some exciting new fly reels land in our warehouse – the new Airflo V2’s. These reels are the follow up to Airflo’s successful V-Lite range of fly reels, which we sold in high volumes for many years.

Nicely finished in silver, red and black, they are a fully machined fly reel range, made out of a solid aluminum block that has been cut to exacting standards.

Airflo V2 fly eel full set

Airflo V2 fly reel full set

On first impression, they are a fantastic looking range of reels and appear to be incredibly well built with a solid disc drag. The drag itself is completely sealed, allowing them to be used in saltwater environments with no danger of failure. Construction wise, while a fraction heavier they are just as robust and well screwed together as the old V-Lite’s, and like their predecessor provide plenty of backing space thanks to the deep V shaped recess found on the spool.

Surprisingly, the prices are pitched lower than the V-Lite, offering a way into the premium quality reel market for anglers on a lesser budget.

Prices start at just £109.99 for the 3/4 size. Other models include the 5/6 at £119.99, the 7/8 at £129.99 plus a 9/10 and 10/11 for the double hand and switch fly rod users priced at £139.99 and £149.99 respectively.

The Airflo V2 fly reel has a fully sealed disc drag

The Airflo V2 fly reel has a fully sealed disc drag

As an introductory offer, they also come supplied with a FREE Airflo fly line – the Super Dri Elite in the case of the trout models and a Scandi head for the double handed sizes. This makes the package as a whole incredible value for money.

With a model for everyone, the Airflo V’2’s quite simply represent the best value fly reels we have seen for many years! Get yours today.

 Premium performance and good looks
 Fully machined aluminium construction
 V cut spool for extra backing capacity
 Strong, fully sealed saltwater proof drag
 Sizes: 3/4, 5/6, 7/8, 9/11 & 10/11
 Prices from £109.99 to £149.99
 FREE Airflo fly line included

AIRFLO V2 REEL TROUT MODELS ARE AVAILABLE HERE

AIRFLO V2 REEL DOUBLE HAND MODELS ARE AVAILABLE HERE

Airflo V2 fly fishing reel

Airflo V2 fly fishing reels represent brilliant value for money

Fly Fishing Tackle New Gear – Airflo Super Stik II Rod Review

If you are looking for a mid-level fly rod that is ‘just right’ in terms of action, feel, cosmetics and performance then the Airflo Super Stik II’s could be a safe bet. Here Robbie Winram of Trout Fisherman magazine gives the range a comprehensive review – read on to find out more.

The Airflo Super Stik II fly rod

The Airflo Super Stik II fly rod

Airflo Super Stik II rods from £139.99

AIRFLO have relaunched their Super Stik rods in two ranges – the standard range consists of seven dual rated three-piece models, and the competition specials are four piece 10ft rods in 6wt, 7wt and 8wt.

The standard Super Stik II’s are: 9ft 5/6wt and 9ft 6/7wt at £139.99; 9ft 6in 6/7wt and 9ft 6in 7/8wt at £149.99; and 10ft 6/7wt, 10ft 6/7wt and 10ft 6in 7/8 at £159.99.

While the old Super Stik’s featured bright red blanks, the new ones are a subtle olive-green colour. The other difference is in the cork handle which now has a ‘flexible’ 1.5-inch section of composite and natural cork rings, aimed at reducing wear in this high-pressure area.

I had the 9ft 6in 6/7wt rod on test which I set up with a 6wt floating line. Even with a relatively short length of line on the water the rod loaded smoothly, all the flex coming from the top quarter. I was able to generate some good line speeds and nice tight loops. As I started to get a feel for the rod, working longer head lengths outside the tip, the blank flexed a little deeper, almost to the midway section, living up to its rating as a middle-to-tip action rod. But it handled these longer lengths competently.

My casting stroke was quite long and I found it a very relaxed affair with the rod doing the majority of the work. With overhead and double hauling taken care of I moved onto continuous motion casts such as the roll and switch. Here, the softer flex in the blank really paid dividends with some nice casts going out onto the water.

Fishing and casting with midge-tips through to fast intermediate lines also saw good results and nice turnover. Only when I tried out some medium to fast sinkers did I feel the rod working a good deal harder to perform at the same level. I just had to shorten the head lengths and watch my timings for those distance casts.

VERDICT:

A great all-round rod for floating and sinking line work. The dual 6/7 rating means this rod will also take a 7wt line so I spent a good bit of time with the heavier floating and sinking density lines as well. The 6wt balanced the rod just right for my casting style but what the7wt gives you is a little bit more help with loading the rod, a real bonus if your casting isn’t quite up to scratch.

Airflo Super Stik II competition special rods £169.99

THE 10ft Super Stik II competition specials are available in 6wt, 7wt and 8wt, and are all four piece models so are easier to travel with and store out of the way in the boat.

Airflo say the rods have slightly more ‘steel’ in the butt section than the standard models, which not only helps to knock fish over so you can get them into the boat quickly, but also helps when striving for those distance casts to cover fish at range. This slightly different action really makes light work of sinking lines.

The 10ft 6wt that I tried out was also proficient with floating and intermediate lines, giving good turnover and presentation. When it came to roll and switch casts it was nowhere near as smooth as the standard 9ft 6in 6/7wt, but with overhead and double hauling it had a beautiful feel and I could aerialise very long casts with little effort.

Airflo Super Stik II Comp special

Airflo Super Stik II Comp special

VERDICT:

This is not a difficult rod to cast so will find favour with anglers of all abilities. It does have a bit more steel than the standard Super Stik II model so is very good at pulling fish quickly to the boat and also fishing a range of dense sinking lines.

Airflo Super Stik II fly rods – ‘Tackle testers choice’

Fly Tying Gear – Hardwear Fly Tying Tool Range

With the winter months on the horizon many anglers now begin fly tying over the cold, dark months so their fly boxes are well stocked in time for the start of next season.

If you are thinking of starting, or need a budget conscious set of quality tying tools then the Hardwear range could be the answer. Here, Trout Fisherman magazine talk us through the range.

Fly-tying gear: Robbie Winram brings you news and reviews of the latest materials and tools to hit the market.

Tools to get you started

These ‘entry level’ Hardwear tools will get your fly-tying journey off to a good start without breaking the bank.

1 Rotary hackle pliers £3.49
The revolving feature of these pliers ensures the hackle doesn’t twist out of line when you wrap it around the hook shank. The sprung-metal jaws holds materials firmly and the knurled aluminium handle ensures a comfortable and reliable grip.

2 Dubbing brush £3.49
The wire brush is fairly stiff so when you are picking out dubbing and other fibres just tread carefully. It is set into a knurled aluminium handle which makes it easy to grip and comfortable to use.

3 Deluxe whip finish tool £2.99
While it is possible to create a whip finish with your fingers, if you’re not that nimble fingered or have rough skin you might find a whip finish tool an easier solution. Once you get used to how it works it is very easy to use and produces a neat and secure head (visit www.troutfisherman.co.uk and search for ‘the whip finish’ for a demonstration).

4 Hackle pliers £2.50
These traditional English-style spring-loaded hackle pliers have a set of long jaws and two finger pads to depress for opening and closing. The inside face of the jaws are not ridged or raised so I would add a little bit of silicone rubber tubing on one jaw to give extra grip on slippery materials.

5 Bobbin holder £2.99
A traditional spring-arm design with a stainless steel tube and brass feet. It will take a range of small and large bobbins. While the thread tube is very smooth it is not ceramic lined so don’t overwork your thread in one place or you could weaken it.

6 Four-inch scissors £3.99
These have 1.25-inch blades and are non-serrated, giving a clean cut on a range of
materials.

7 Arrowpoint spring scissors £4.99
These are five inches long and being spring loaded are ideal for repetitive cutting strokes. Just depress the handles between thumb and forefinger to cut, then release the pressure to open the blades. The scissors have three quarter-inch long blades with extra fine points, ideal for close in, accurate cutting.

8 Fly-tying scissors £3.99
The same size as the four-inch scissors, but these have extra-large open finger loops. They would be a good choice if you have chunky fingers, but my personal preference is for the standard loops as I find them more comfortable. The fine point blades are super sharp for an excellent close cut.

Hardwear fly tying tools are available here.

 

How To Fish For Back End Barbel

Landing a winter barbel

A winter barbel
Image courtesy of Dan Whitelock

Leaves are falling and the nights have drawn in. There’s tinsel and tat in the shops and a lot of anglers have hung up their rods for a few months. But come the first frosts, a group of dedicated anglers will be taking advantage of the fact that the weed has died back, biting insects are a faded memory and the barbel are big!

According to Dan Whitelock, this is one of the best times of year to go out and bag that special fish. Here are his tips and tricks for snagging a good sized winter barbel.

Get to know your venue

Winter barbel fishing can be hard, but it’s also be incredibly rewarding if you follow a few simple methods and invest some effort. For the most committed anglers, winter barbel fishing starts in early summer. By walking the banks, making note of gravel runs, depressions, cattle drinks and snags, you’ll greatly enhance your chances of catching once the floods have cleared the weed and coloured water has rendered the riverbed invisible.

When to go winter barbel fishing

There’s one critical factor when it comes to winter fishing and that’s the conditions. Barbel are synonymous with low pressure, mild air, warm water and steady flow. Group those together and you’re more than halfway towards finding the fish. We’ll come to location and swim choice in a moment, but let’s look first at when to go fishing in order to maximise your chances of catching.

During the summer, it’s a fair bet to say you can pick any day between June 16th and early October and, barring a massive unseasonable flood or freak cold spell, you’ll only have to worry about picking a swim and finding some fish (see our Beginner’s guide to barbel fishing for summer tips).

However, in winter, it’s vital to look at weather patterns and consider the effect on the water – notably the temperature. If the temperature suddenly falls, air pressure rises, the skies clear and a frost forms, you may be wise to seek an alternative quarry.

On the other hand, if there’s been a period of cold weather, high pressure and frosts, followed by a warm southwesterly and falling pressure – this is the time to plan your trip. The rise in temperature triggers the barbels’ metabolism and feeding instinct and they go on the search for food. Couple this with a rise in river levels to wash some food down and you’re onto a winner. There have been entire chapters written on conditions for winter barbel, but if you look at it in a simplified way and fish in the above conditions, you’ll definitely increase your odds.

Of course, barbel being barbel and habitually forgetting to read the script, they do turn up from time to time in the frost and snow. In fact the last two seasons have seen a stretch of the Upper Great Ouse produce barbel over 17 lbs to chub anglers fishing with cheese paste on crisp, clear nights! While it isn’t recommended to target barbel in these conditions, there’s always a chance.

Using a feeder

If you do choose to fish for barbel in low, clear conditions, or you don’t have the luxury of being able to fish at the drop of a hat when conditions suit, then there’s no better way to find winter barbel than with a maggot feeder. I must stress that overfeeding will guarantee a barbel blank. They don’t need much food in cold water to fill themselves up. A pint of maggots steadily fed through a feeder in a swim will suffice for a day’s fishing in really cold conditions.

Pick a swim with a nice gravel bottom, steady flow and good depth and keep hitting the same spot with the feeder. If your swim has a large feature such as an undercut bank or overhanging tree, even better. This approach may entice a lethargic barbel to feed should it be resident, and it’s a method well deployed on venues with a good head of fish such as the Trent, Wye or Middle Severn.

Best locations for winter barbel

A flood is the perfect condition for winter

A flood is the perfect condition for winter barbel fishing
Image courtesy of Dan Whitelock

A flood is one of the favourite conditions for all winter barbel anglers, but a high river is an incredibly daunting prospect and can put beginners off. I must stress that you need to be familiar with your river here. Flooded fields, steep muddy banks, undercuts, strong currents and rapidly rising levels can be very dangerous. Anglers have died in pursuit of winter barbel so please, be wise, know your river and don’t take any silly risks. It’s a hobby at the end of the day and no fish is worth a life.

When you arrive at the river, go for a walk to find some swims. It’s four or five feet up from normal summer level, the last rain was early yesterday and most of the rubbish has been flushed through. Perfect. A rising river can, and does produce fish, but it can be incredibly frustrating dealing with leaves, weed, branches and flotsam coming down and fouling your line. If you have to fish at the peak of a flood or a rising river, then choose a steady flow with good depth and gravel close in. (Remember your summer homework?) This will enable you to fish with the rod pointing downstream and as low to the water as possible in order to present a bait with minimum pressure on the line. Whilst barbel aren’t the brightest of buttons, they rely on instinct and know what isn’t natural. A bowstring tight line running through their habitat, with a load of surface junk floating seemingly out of place isn’t natural and their instincts will tell them there’s danger.

Barbel like a nice steady flow. A boiling, whirlpool of a back eddy is a waste of time. All that river junk spinning about over their heads just isn’t comfortable. What you’re looking for is the classic crease swim where fast water meets slow, at least five feet deep with a nice clean bed on the edge of the main flow. This is where the fish will be holding up, waiting for food to wash down and settle. The summer cattle drink is perfect here.

Another great swim is the back of a raft behind a fallen tree where the flow steadies and food collects. The inside of a bend will often provide a good holding spot in the highest of floods. Couple this with the gravel bed that you found while walking the banks in the summer and you’ve another good swim to fish. Any depression or depth change is a key spot to fish and again, the summer legwork with a plumbing rod or fish finder will pay off. A fast walking pace or slower is ideal.

It pays to keep mobile

Assuming you’ve got several of these swims on your venue, you’ll need to decide how to approach them. In winter, it pays to keep mobile. The fish tend to hold up so if you’ve sat for three hours and not had a bite, there’s a pretty good chance that you’re simply after a fish that isn’t there. An hour in a swim is more than enough. Ten minutes in the right spot is much better than ten hours in the wrong one.

When it comes to bait and baiting, forget the baiting part. You’ll be filling fish up and decreasing your chances of your hookbait getting taken. A big, smelly single bait will out-fish a load of free baits in flood conditions. The critical factor is where to swing out that bait. If your swim has a really long run, then it’s simply a matter of starting at the head and moving down ten or twenty yards every half hour or so. Trundling or rolling a big lump of luncheon meat is worth a go here. You could give the quiet swim behind the fallen tree an hour, but after that it’s worth a move. You can’t catch what isn’t there!

Best bait for winter barbel

Don’t overthink your bait. Barbel are incredibly stupid. Put some food in front of them and they’ll eat it until they’re full. In a flood, the latest fancy bait won’t catch any more fish than a chunk of luncheon meat or a lobworm. In coloured water, a decent chunk of meat, a paste wrapped boilie or a big old lobworm are the top three baits. Don’t get bogged down in worrying about choosing the ‘’right’’ boilie for winter barbel. Conditions and location are far more important.

One bait that isn’t so effective in winter is the pellet. The oils inside them are no good for the fish in cold conditions and they don’t break down. Leave them at home until the summer. In low or clear conditions then feeder fished maggots are hard to beat. Small boilies fished with a small stringer of half a dozen freebies are also very effective but again, don’t overfeed these as you’ll ruin the stretch of river for several days.

Should you pre-bait for winter barbel?

Pre-baiting can work to an extent, but bear in mind that if you’re fishing a popular venue, the chances are there’ll be several other anglers filling up the swims and the barbel won’t be hungry when you come to fish. Small river venues are particularly vulnerable to over-baiting.

Think about this: if an angler walks a stretch of a few hundred yards, picks out the best six classic winter swims and throws a dozen boilies in each on Monday, Wednesday and Friday morning ready for his Saturday session, he’ll be full of confidence when he turns up and puts his boots on. Quite rightly so.

If a couple of local retired anglers are fishing on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday while it’s quiet and throwing in a few freebies to ‘’get them going’’ that’s another load of food gone in. Add three or four more anglers to the mix and by the weekend that’s several kilograms of highly nutritional food that’s gone sailing right into the barbel’s homes. The two or three barbel that are resident in each swim will each eat half a dozen baits and then hold up to digest for a day.

The angler goes home Saturday night frustrated at the rubbish new bait that he paid £12 a kilo for and tries another that’s supposed to be better. The cycle continues, and the stretch gets a reputation for being hard or devoid of barbel! The odd, greedy big double gets caught, more anglers turn up to catch it from that snag swim and the process snowballs.

It’s been witnessed first hand on the Great Ouse, Ivel and Nene over the years. Please think about what you’re throwing in the river, especially during the winter. Less is more, I promise!

Tackle for winter barbel

playing a winter barbel on a centrepin

Playing a winter barbel on a centrepin
Image courtesy of Dan Whitelock

It’s important to have the right tackle for winter barbel fishing and it must be up to the job. Strong hooks, strong line and powerful rods are essential. For big rivers in high flood conditions, a stepped-up barbel rod with a test curve of around 2lbs is ideal. It’s very rare and completely unnecessary to fish with anything heavier – you’re fishing nice and close in on most occasions, especially in a flood. You need that progressive action to absorb the powerful lunges in the flow – if you start using carp rods you’ll get hook pulls.

On smaller rivers you can get away with slightly less. I prefer an 11ft rod with a 1.75lb test curve for my winter fishing. It’s light enough to present a bait close in on local rivers, but has enough power should a big barbel take the bait and move out in to the flow.

Rigs are best kept simple – a running rig with a lead to suit the conditions is all that you need. A lump of plasticine three feet behind the running ring will pin everything down nicely. It’s best to fish with the rod pointing downstream and almost parallel to the bank to minimise line pressure and bottom weight required. Bites are still unmistakeable!

Don’t spook the fish

One final point that’s often overlooked in winter barbel fishing is stealth. Maintain the same quiet manner on the bank that you use in the summer. Even in a flood, the fish are looking up into the light and can see movement and silhouettes on the skyline.

In the same vein, vibration can ruin your day before you’re within twenty yards of your swim. Next time you’re in the bath, lay back with your ears underwater and gently tap the side with your finger. It’s surprisingly loud. Sound is magnified and travels well in water. A barbel’s senses are far more advanced at detecting sounds and vibration in the water than the human ear. Bear this in mind when you dump your rucksack in the swim, unfold your chair and shout to your mate upstream.

So there we have it, winter barbel fishing in a nutshell. A river in winter is a special place to be. The birds are easier to spot without all the foliage and there’s a unique and peaceful atmosphere that you don’t get in the warmer months. The fish are much bigger than in the summer, the riverbank is a much quieter place and the rewards are great. Enjoy your fishing and tight lines!

More about the author

Dan Whitelock grew up in the North Bedfordshire countryside and learned to fish on the famous Upper Great Ouse above Bedford that ran a few miles away from his home. He started barbel fishing at the age of thirteen and has an impressive list of fish to his name from the Ouse, Ivel and Nene. He devotes a lot of spare time to his local angling club and maintains a healthy balance of fishing for all species, photography, family and work.

How to Fit Wading Boot Studs

The addition of studs to the soles of your wading boots can make a huge difference to grip and traction on slippery surfaces.

In this blog post we look at how best to fit and install wading boot studs to felt sole wade boots.

Pick your studs

There are various wading boot studs on the market, including Simms, Greys and Kold Kutters. All work in the same principal way – you screw them into your boot sole. However, this seemingly simple process needs to be done with a bit of care and consideration.

We are going to use Kold Kutter studs in this guide. Kold Kutters are a DIY stud option that are massively popular in the USA. They were originally designed for tyres of vehicles used in ice racing and they provide brilliant grip in snow and ice. They also make perfect wading boot studs, being made of hardened steel with a 3/8 inch diameter thread.

How many studs per boot?

Adding too many studs is a bad idea because you still need flat areas to make contact with the river bed – or you could end up skating precariously on the tips of the studs. 10 studs per boot sole will be about right. This allows you to spread the studs out nicely. Our preferred pattern is 4 in the heel and 6 in the toe area, with the studs near the outside of the sole for best traction.

What do I need?

A packet of 20 studs, Stormsure or Aquasure glue, permanent pen.

Everything you need to fit studs to a wading boot

Everything you need to fit studs to a wading boot

Step 1. Mark your holes

Using a permanent marker, mark the soles of your wading boot with the pattern shown below.

Mark your soles with a permanent pen

Mark your soles with a permanent pen

Step 2. Apply glue

The addition of a small dab of wader glue (such as Aquasure or Stormsure)  this helps the stud lock into place and remain secure.

Add some glue to your wader stud

Add some glue to your wader stud

Step 3. Screw the studs in

No special tools are required!! You can use a standard flat head or socket screwdriver to install the stud. Ensure the stud goes into the sole perfectly straight, not at an angle. Do not over tighten the stud.

No special tools are required to fit Kold Kutter studs

No special tools are required to fit Kold Kutter wading boot studs

Screw your studs in nice and straight

Screw your studs in nice and straight

Step 5. Ready to fish!

When wading you need to be sure footed and safe – you have gone a long way to achieving this!

Wading boot studs fitted and ready for action

Wading boot studs fitted and ready for action

Kold Kutter wading boot studs are just £3.99 for a pack of 20. Available here.

For tips and hints on better wading practice and safety, check out our ‘Wade safe’ blog here: https://blog.fishtec.co.uk/wade-safe-tips-for-better-wading