Best Summer Barbel Rigs and Baits

Beautiful Wye barbel

Beautiful Wye barbel. Image Ceri Thomas

Summer offers the barbel angler a wonderful opportunity to catch their chosen quarry.

Consistent water levels and clarity, bright conditions, and steady water temperature all contribute to an environment which makes barbel willing to feed and easier to locate.

The Barbel Society’s Dan Whitelock takes us through the most effective methods, rigs and baits for a summer barbel session.

As mentioned in our beginners guide to barbel fishing, the biggest factor is location. Look for steady gravel runs, streamer weed beds, overhanging cover and depressions in the riverbed. If you were good in the closed season and did your homework, you’ll know where these areas are. Find these features and you’re much closer to getting those barbel to your unhooking mat.

Remember to wear your polaroids, keep off the skyline, and avoid stomping around on the bank. Be discreet – that way you’ll avoid spooking the fish before you get a chance to see them, and minimise your chances of a blank day.

Static or mobile?

A Wye barbel caught using the mobile approach

A Wye barbel caught using the mobile approach. Image: Ceri Thomas

 There are two main ways to approach summer barbel fishing. Firstly, the mobile approach on small, clear rivers with minimum baiting. Or, the static approach (‘bait & wait”) where you build a swim up over several hours and let the fish gain confidence in feeding over your baited spot. The latter is a popular method on larger rivers such as the Trent or Lower Severn, though it will also work on smaller rivers such as the Great Ouse, Lea, Teme and Loddon.

One rig to rule them all

simple barbel rig

Keep it simple and you’ll catch!

There’s one basic rig you can use for both of these methods. The key factor is simplicity. There is no need to overcomplicate your rigs and end tackle. Barbel are confident feeders and lack any hint of intelligence, so there are no trick tactics needed to hook them.

My go-to rig is a simple running rig compromising of my mainline running through a run ring, stopped by a bead, which is tied onto a quick change swivel. I thread a tail rubber onto my hooklength to lock it in place. So when I have a fish resting in the net, or I wish to change my hooklength I simply have to slide the rubber down, unclip the hooklength, pop the new one on and slide the rubber back over the clip.

quick change barbel setup

Quick change setup.

Fishing smaller rivers

For fishing on smaller rivers, use a long hooklength – at least two feet. This keeps the bait as far from the mainline and lead as possible, to avoid line bites and enhance the presentation. That said, it also pays to use a couple of pieces of plasticine up the line as a backlead, to keep the line away from fish as they move around your swim.

If you’re lucky enough to watch barbel feeding, you will see that they work their way over the baited area, sucking in morsels of food and abruptly turning downstream to the tail of the swim again. It’s this turning that gives us the classic barbel bite that we all love and I believe that the longer hooklength, light lead and slack mainline enhances the presentation, and gives the barbel the confidence to pick up the bait without feeling any resistance.

This rig is best suited to fishing with larger baits such as boilies, pellets and meat on smaller venues. Start off by choosing a section of river about two to three hundred yards long, with roughly 50 yards between each swim.

The swim

A barbel swim is simply the place you choose to put your bait. Start at the downstream end, and using a baitdropper, deposit no more than a dozen samples of your chosen hookbait into the swim. It’s best to do this in all four or five swims then return to the first one.

A Summertime barbel swim on the Wye

A Summertime barbel swim on the Wye. Image: Ceri Thomas

Swing the rig gently into position, with a small PVA mesh bag of freebies clipped on to the lead. It’s best to clip it to the lead, as when the PVA melts in flowing water, most of the bait is washed far beyond the hookbait if it’s clipped to the hook. By releasing the bait where the lead is, it drifts down and lands around your hookbait: right in the path of the barbel!

Fish each swim for about an hour before moving on to the next one. Before leaving the swim, drop in another dozen freebies in case you choose to return later. Barbel can travel quite a long way and by having five small swims baited up you’ll greatly enhance your chances of catching.

You can even try a variation on this method, fishing even more swims for a shorter amount of time, say, twenty to thirty minutes.

Staying still?

The variation to the running rig works best when you are staying in one swim and building up the feed with particle baits such as hemp, maggots, caster and corn. The rig is almost identical to the mobile approach, but uses a much shorter hooklength – it only needs to be about 4-6” long –  and a large, heavy swimfeeder. This gives a bolt effect which is required when fishing with small particle baits on the hair such as casters. Barbel tend to ‘’hoover’’ up lots of these in one go so we need a bit of resistance to be felt to encourage that abrupt turn when they pick up the bait.

This approach requires both patience and confidence but will give you a much greater chance of a bite.

Baiting up for static fishing

The best bait for this method is a hemp and caster combination, or maggots. Either way, you’ll need about a gallon of bait. With the hemp and caster combination I like to use about three pints of caster for a gallon of hemp. Start off by depositing a good couple of pints of bait in your swim using your baitdropper.

Leave this alone for about an hour for the fish to gain confidence. It’s best to select a swim where you can gently swing a dropper out with minimum disturbance to avoid spooking the feeding fish. However, it’s amazing to see just how quickly feeding fish will return to a swim following the splash of a dropper.

The swim will need topping up with a couple of pints per hour for a good three or four hours, if you can do this over five or six hours then even better. It may sound hard to fathom, spending six hours by the river and not casting a baited hook, but it’s essential to build up that confidence in the feeding fish so that when you do cast your rig out, the bites will come very quickly.

The most effective presentation of the hookbait is to use two neutral buoyancy rubber casters glued to a fine hair. This avoids the problems of smaller fish destroying the hookbait and hooking themselves. The feeder is loaded with the loosefeed, and cast into the same spot.

It’s vital that the dropper and feeder land in the same place every time. You can make sure you manage this if you sit in the same position each time, and use the reflection of a tree, telegraph pole or weed as a marker.

Mobile barbel baiting

simple barbel baits

Barbel baits are a simple matter.

A favourite bait for the mobile method is boilies, fished either whole in smaller sizes, or broken in half and fished back to back to offer something a bit different.

Any decent boilie from a reputable company will catch barbel. The fishmeal base mixes with a meaty/spicy/fishy flavour are the most successful. Halibut Pellets are a superb summer bait too, in the small quantities described, and will draw fish to your swim quickly. If bites are hard to come by, and you know that you have fish in the swim, try supergluing two small pellets back to back on the hair with a smaller hook.

For after dark fishing, try wrapping boilies in a matching paste and leave in the swim for a good hour, or fish a generous lump of flavoured luncheon meat over a bed of hemp and small pellets. Beware though, if your river has problems with signal crayfish your lump of meat won’t last long!

Go fish!

barbel swim

Keep low, keep under any cover you can find – they’re under your feet!

So that’s about it, you can’t get any more simple. Use this rig and these baits to catch barbel all over the country throughout the summer months. The tackle you need is all covered in the beginner’s guide.

There’s never any need to over-analyse your rigs, worry if your bait is working or if you’re wearing the wrong colour hat! Barbel are an incredibly obliging fish once you find them: all they’re designed to do is eat, avoid danger and make little barbel. Keep that in mind and your barbel fishing will rapidly become more successful.

Remember, though, that success isn’t always measured in the biggest or most fish. Enjoy the time on a riverbank in the summer as it’s one of the most magical places you can spend a few hours. Don’t take it too seriously and remember to smell the flowers along the way.

A hard fighting summer barbel

A hard fighting summer barbel. Image: Ceri Thomas

Always consider that in the summer the fish fight hard and can take a while to recover from the battle, so make sure you follow the Barbel Society Handling Code, and ensure fish are fully rested before release. If you release an unrested fish, they may struggle later in the day when they’re moving against the flow of the river.

Tight lines, and happy fishing!

All images © Dan Whitelock unless otherwise stated

12 Top Tips For Successful Barbel Fishing

Barbel are one of the strongest, powerful freshwater fish you will ever encounter. Such is the thrill of hooking a barbel, once you catch one you will never look back!

Barbel are now thriving in many UK rivers, so it’s no wonder barbel fishing is becoming more and more popular. Here the Fishtec team have put together their top barbel fishing tips – follow these 12 great fish catching tips and you won’t go wrong when barbel angling!

Barbel fishing is becoming ever more popular.

Barbel fishing is becoming ever more popular.

Tip 1. Bait up 2 to 3 swims before starting fishing. This gives the barbel time to settle and gives you options to move if you need to rest your first choice swim.

Feeding halibut pellets into a nice looking swim.

Feeding halibut pellets into a nice looking swim before starting.

Tip 2. Be prepared to walk. The first and most accessible swims you come across may have been hammered, so be prepared to find unfished water. The legwork involved often pays off!

Tip 3. Never forget ‘old fashioned’ baits like sweetcorn and luncheon meat when barbel have been hammered on pellets. Another tactic for heavily fished barbel is to use just a single 8mm pellet.

Tip 4. Don’t forget the Polaroid sunglasses, these are essential for spotting barbel. Remember you won’t catch them if there not there. Spend more time looking for fish, and less time sitting waiting!

Tip 5. Barbel love weedbeds. These areas are always worth paying a bit more attention too. Here the barbel can take cover and forage for crustaceans and insects.

Look for weedbeds - the barbel will be nearby.

Look for weedbeds – the barbel will be nearby.

Tip 6. Make sure you use a feeder or lead that’s heavy enough to stay put in the flow and not move when its emptied or the PVA bag has dissolved. If it moves it will be fishing on a different line to the loose feed.

Tip 7. Use a long fluorocarbon hook link. Barbel can associate a feeder with danger, so In ultra low clear water use fluorocarbon hook lengths of up to 6ft in the day time, pinned down with tungsten putty in to prevent barbel from spooking.

Tip 8. Don’t leave your rod out too long! Recast every 15 – 20 minutes. Halibut pellets break down within 20 minutes and will leach all of their flavour. Re-baiting and then refilling your feeder frequently is a good tip for best results.

Tip 9. Use different size pellets in your feeder or PVA bag free offerings. Different sized pellets will break down at different times and keep the barbel grubbing around for longer in your swim.

Tip 10. Use a quick change link – so you can vary your lead weight depending on the strength of the flow; fish as light as you can without the flow moving your feeder or lead.

Tip 11. Barbel like to feed in low light. The more pressured the water, more likely they are to follow this pattern. Make an effort to fish early morning or late evening into the darkness if you are struggling to catch.

The best fishing for barbel is often at night.

The best fishing for barbel is often at night.

Tip 12. Rest your fish. Once you have caught a barbel always make sure you rest the fish in the landing net prior to release. Barbel give their all in the fight, so make sure your catch is fully revived before you release.

Always rest your barbel in the net before release.

Always rest your barbel in the net before release.

Beginners guide to Barbel fishing

barbel-rod

Image source: Barbel Society
Avon barbel double and rod 

 

Barbel offer some of the most varied, exciting and dynamic angling in the UK. Aside from their sheer beauty and power, they can be found across a wide range of rivers. From small, shallow venues such as the Nene backwaters and Teme; steady flowing rivers like the Upper Great Ouse and Kennet, through to larger, powerful rivers like the Lower Severn, Wye and Trent.

The variety of river venues that we have in the UK offers the angler the choice of catching multiple fish of average size in a day, or putting the time in on tougher venues for a double figure fish. There is no finer moment in angling than when that barbel, big or small, picks up the bait and gives us the classic ‘three foot twitch’ on the rod. They can be caught all year round, using an endless variety of baits and tactics.

This piece shows you the very basics, along with a few simple tips to put your first barbel on the unhooking mat.

Location

barbel river

Just one of the reasons to love barbel fishing

Finding the right location is by far the most important aspect of barbel fishing. After all, you can’t catch what isn’t there! Barbel are usually found in clean, faster flowing rivers, such as  those mentioned in the introduction, although it often pays – especially in the winter months – to seek out the deeper, steadier flowing water.

Barbel love to feed over clean gravel; if you can find the gravel then you are half way to finding a good barbel swim. The most important part of your armoury in the summer months is a good set of ploaroid sunglasses. These cut out the surface glare on the water, and help you to spot the gravel beds, deeper holes, weed beds, and if you’re really lucky, some fish!

Swims to look for are areas of smooth surface movement with some cover nearby. Streamer weed beds are the classic holding area for barbel, and finding gravel channels between the weed will increase your chances of catching.

Barbel also love to have a roof over their heads so seek out overhanging trees and bushes, preferably on your near bank to make feeding and fishing easier. It’s worth noting at this point to avoid the temptation of fishing tight to the snags. It’s these areas of refuge that barbel like to drop back into and it’s easy to spook them out of the area completely if you fish right in to their front door!

The ideal barbel swim will have a deeper area of water among a streamer weed bed, about twenty yards upstream from an overhanging feature, nearside reed bed or undercut bank. The best time to find these features is simply by walking the banks in the closed season and having a good look about. You’ll soon get an idea of the river by doing so.

Tackle:

simple tackle

Pure simplicity

 

Barbel are one of the hardest fighting fish in UK waters. Couple this with powerful flowing water and you’ll need robust tackle to land your quarry. Robust tackle doesn’t mean heavy: using rods that are too stiff with very heavy lines will result in hook pulls at the net.

The ideal rod on small and medium sized rivers is a 1.75lb test curve rod with a good through-action to absorb the powerful lunges close in. There are dozens of superb rods dedicated to the species on the market now to suit all budgets. I like to have a pair of isotopes on the rod tip about twelve inches apart to aid bite detection at night and give a useful sight tip in lower light conditions.

Reels need to have a good, smooth clutch and be of medium size and reasonably lightweight. This makes them more practical while moving between swims. While baitrunner type reels are useful, their designed use isn’t recommended, especially if fishing in snaggy rivers. A barbel can cover quite some ground in a short space of time, and become snagged before you pick up the rod!

Line should be of at least 10lbs breaking strain monofilament. Don’t be afraid to go up to 12lbs if you think the river calls for it. My personal preference is Gardner Gr60, or good old Daiwa Sensor in either clear or brown. The TF Gear nantec mono is also good stuff.

All offer good strength and abrasion resistance. Hooklength material is another topic that can, and has, have entire chapters written about it. I prefer to use the new Mimicry hooklength by Pro Logic, or Airflo fluorocarbon in 15lbs breaking strain, with a short two inch piece of supple braid running to the hook as a ‘combi rig’.

This offers a superb presentation that helps to fool the wise, old barbel in my local rivers. There’s also no reason why you can’t use a decent quality soft braided hooklength in a nice gravel brown to match the river bed you’re fishing over.

Hooks need to be strong and sharp. There are dozens of good hooks on the market, and any good tackle shop will be able to offer advice. One thing worth looking for are hooks with an in-turned eye as fishing over gravel will soon blunt your hook and you’ll be changing rigs every cast!

You’ll need a selection of leads from half an ounce to two or three ounces depending on the flow, and some free running rings and beads. A simple running rig is all that’s needed for barbel with a hooklength of around two feet, three feet if the barbel are a bit wary of tackle.

A couple of small lumps of plasticine three and five feet back from the lead can also help to pin the line down to the river. Of course, you’ll also need a rucksack to carry your tackle and refreshments, a decent hat in the summer, a lightweight chair if desired, and some comfortable clothing.

A decent landing net of at least 36’’ is essential, along with an unhooking mat. Most clubs now insist on the above items and good fish care can’t be emphasised enough. More on that later.

Bait

fishing bait

A world of baiting possibilities exists for barbel

This is every barbel angler’s favourite topic and one that has also had entire books written on it! Favourite baits include pellets, both big and small; luncheon meat, boilies, paste, maggots, caster, lobworms, bread, sweetcorn…… I’m sure you get the picture! Many anglers’ favourite bait is a decent quality boilie.

You can use a variety of sizes depending on conditions and the river I’m fishing. 14mm is a decent average size for both feeding and hookbait, though it pays to have a mixture of sizes and shapes both whole and broken up. Pellets are a superb summer bait too but use them in small amounts It’s very easy to overfeed, especially on smaller rivers.

Luncheon meat is a fantastic bait, and the following preparation is a simple and cheap way to make an effective bait:

Using an apple corer, bore into the meat in the tin and halve the pieces that you remove. With the leftover oddments, tear these into small chunks and pop into a freezer bag with the cylindrical shapes you already made.

Sprinkle in a generous amount of curry powder, shake about and pop in the freezer. Thaw out the night before you go fishing and you have one of the finest and cheapest hookbaits about! The cylinders can be presented on a short hair or directly on the hook, with the rough pieces that you tore off threaded onto a PVA string and tied to the lead.

Tactics

simple fishing

Beautiful barbel caught with simple tactics

Undoubtedly the best tactic for barbel is the ‘bait and wait’ method. The theory here is that the fish build up confidence in feeding in your swim over several hours, so that when you arrive and cast out, you’ll get a bite within minutes.

You might be crying “but I don’t have time to feed a swim, I only have a day to fish so I need to get my hook in the water!” Well, every angler is in the same situation and the predicament is easily solved as follows:

You arrive at the river full of excitement and anticipation. You get out the car, pop on your polaroids, fill your pocket up with a few dozen boilies, some broken up, and maybe a few 8mm pellets.

The biggest mistake is made at this point by many anglers is that they do not move along the bank quietly and stealthily enough! Barbel will sense bankside noise and disturbance while you are still a long way from the swim, so stay low, quiet and use any cover you can.

Pick out three or four swims, and using your bait dropper (a handy item of tackle that’s neglected by far too many anglers), lower in no more than a dozen samples of your hookbait over your chosen area in the swim.

On the last swim you come to, your ‘’banker swim’’ (ideally one that’s got a lovely deep hole about twenty yards up from an old overhanging willow tree), deposit a good couple of dozen broken boilies and small pellets. Forget about this swim completely now for several hours.

Quietly wander back to your first swim and get yourself comfortable, and if possible, off the skyline. Fish with your bait and a small PVA bag of free offerings over the baited area. It’s worth spending a couple of hours in your first two or three swims before moving into the final swim.

Barbel commute along the river all day long so it pays to wait just that little bit longer in a swim to increase your chances of catching one as they swim through and find your bait. Fish with the rod pointing roughly towards the bait, low to the water, with a slack line as possible  to avoid spooking the fish with a tight line to swim into. Many anglers believe that barbel can sense a tight line ‘’singing’’ in the water.

When the barbel does find your bait, you’ll know about it! Barbel give the most spectacular bite of any coarse fish so it’s essential that you sit with the rod butt on your knee, or within arm’s reach. Play your fish firmly and keep the rod bent. With the right tackle you can stop the most powerful specimens in their tracks and it’s never good to prolong the fight.

Don’t ‘’bully’’ the fish to the net, but have faith in and use your tackle as it was intended. Once you have the fish in the net DO NOT LIFT IT FROM THE WATER STRAIGHT AWAY. Barbel give everything in the battle and they need to recover. You too will want to catch your breath and steady your hands after your first encounter with ‘Old Whiskers’!

Landing your barbel

rest fish before landing

Always ensure fish are fully rested before lifting fom the water

Make sure your net is in a steady flowing margin, with plenty of depth and that you won’t slide in. While the fish is upright and resting, wet your unhooking mat and weighing sling, zero your scales and set up your camera. With practice, the fish can be out the water, unhooked, weighed and photographed within a very short space of time.

Always check for other anglers’ hooks in the mouth, especially on pressured stretches or rivers that are match fished. Ensure a barbel is fully recovered by holding it in the flow with its head upstream. You’ll feel the fish regain its strength and only let go when you are sure it’s strong enough to swim away.

For more detail on handling this glorious fish, check out the Barbel Society’s handling code right here:

As the start of the barbel season starts on the glorious 16th of June, there’s plenty of time ahead for you to get out and find your first barbel. The methods mentioned in this piece are ideal for summer barbel fishing. But with a little bit of adapting, they can also put a big winter fish on the bank.

For further information, check out the Barbel Society Facebook page or website. Happy barbel fishing, and tight lines!

All pictures (unless stated) and article from Dan Whitelock of the Barbel Society

Barbel Fishing On The River Wye

The eagerly awaited coarse river fishing season began on 16th June, and several members of the Fishtec team were itching to get out there and fish for barbel on the famous River Wye, one of the best mixed game and coarse fisheries in the whole of the UK. Read on to find out how the guys did on England & Wales’s finest coarse fishing waterway, and what methods and tackle they employed.

The majestic river Wye

The majestic river Wye.

Many of the popular beats on the river were booked solid post June the 16th, but with the help of the informative and friendly people at the Wye and Usk foundation we managed to book a lovely stretch of the famous river Wye for the day, just a few miles upriver from Hereford during the second week of the new coarse fishing season.

Making a booking with the Wye and Usk foundation is a piece of cake- simply visit their website, select the beat and date you wish to fish and make payment by card online. Beat availability and recent catch reports are all very clearly shown on the website. Alternatively give the guys a call- they will be more than happy to give you advise on which beats are fishing well and swim availability. The beauty of these beats unlike some of the cheaper day ticket venues the fishing pressure itself is very light, and you either get the beat completely to yourself or share with just a handful of rods.

In our case the chosen beat was the lower canon bridge near Madely, which takes up to 4 rods – plenty of room as the stretch is over a mile long. Cannon bridge is in the beautiful rural Herefordshire countryside, situated on the opposite bank of the beautiful wear garden national trust property and was just a 40 minute drive from our Brecon HQ. A sumptuous good looking stretch of river to say the least.

The canon bridge stretch of the river Wye.

The canon bridge stretch of the river Wye.

Our plan was to take a half day off work, with fishing continuing into the late summer evening, with some of the other guys turning up after their shift in the Fishtec warehouse. Myself and marketing director Tim Hughes were the lucky ones with the afternoon off. We headed off to the river at lunch time and arrived at the bank approximately 2.30pm.

This beat is one of the longest walks to the fishing area on the Wye and Usk programme, being about 1/2 a mile stroll through a farm track and fields; so our intention was to seriously reduce the fishing tackle and travel very light to counteract the long walk. Despite this, after the trek to the river on what was one of the hottest days of the year in very humid conditions, we reached the river feeling a little hot and bothered. I was very grateful that I was wearing my breathable fishing waders, rather than the traditional neoprene or rubber types, an essential bit of fishing gear in my opinion for the warmer summer days.

The perfect barbel swim.

The perfect barbel swim.

After a quick scout up and down the banks we found two absolutely perfect swims – Tim’s at the head of a pool, where thick weed beds and a good flow faded into a deep area on a bend, and mine on the main pool itself, just 30 yards below him with a nice drop off on my side and partially submerged branches to my left side for fish cover. A bit of careful marginal wading would allow me to place a perfect cast onto where the bottom faded out of view. Initial observations indicated a lot of fish present – gold flashes in the depths and the odd fish topping and crashing about were quite evident in the swims.

The TF Gear Airlite reel - a great reel for barbel fishing in the 40 size.

The TF Gear Airlite reel – a great reel for barbel fishing in the 40 size.

Now for the coarse fishing tackle– as I mentioned we had traveled very light, with just one rod (a beat rule) a long bank stick, and a small carryall with all of the terminal end gear and baits, plus a net with shoulder strap with unhooking mat wrapped round the handle. No chairs or any cumbersome gear were brought along whatsoever.

My fishing rod choice was the great value TF Gear banshee barbel, fitted with a 1.5 test curve avon top, matching Airlite reel  with 12lb TF Gear nantec mono mainline. On the business end was an 18 inch fluorocarbon hooklink made up of 10lb Airflo Sightfree G3, 23 gram guru cage feeder and size 10 QMI hook with 2 x robin red 8mm pre-drilled pellets hair rigged into place. I had a small tub of halibut groundbait mixed up with some pellets, some of which we had sparingly thrown or catapulted into the swims before setting up the rod’s on the bank sticks. We took some time to walk the banks to check out further suitable swims and feed in a sparing amount of bait into the most likely looking spots.

Tim catapulting some pellets into a swim.

Tim catapulting some halibut pellets into a swim.

I made my first cast at just 5 yards out – never ignore the water close to you if it looks good, fish this first rather than blasting out to the far bank. I settled back quietly and moved slightly up the bank away from the rod, eagerly awaiting a bite.  I had angled the rod as high up as possible on the bank stick, so to avoid any untoward influence from the current. Within just minutes the rod tip jagged a few times, then pulled right over with a solid take. I reeled down and felt a thumping, kiting, head-shaking weight at the end of it. This must be a barbel I thought! And indeed it was. I gave Tim a shout and after a dogged, very spirited fight we had the first barbel on the bank – these beautiful fish sure know how to hang on!

The first barbel graces the bank.

The first barbel graces the bank.

After a quick snap I took great care to rest the barbel in the net before release; it is important to do this because barbel give their all during the fight, in the summer time dissolved oxygen levels are much lower in the water so the fish may become very tired and stressed. This ensures the barbel can swim off strongly without keeling over from exhaustion later, when back in the river fighting against the flow.

Back she goes - take care to rest barbel in the net first.

Back she goes – take care to rest barbel in the net first.

Tim Hughes into a hard fighting Wye barbel.

Tim Hughes into a hard fighting Wye barbel.

The action continued for the next couple of hours for both of us – with many thumping rod wrenching takes all round, we both landed and lost several nice barbel each. At one stage the bites were frantic – it was literally every cast, and just minutes after the feeder hit the river bed in some instances. This was great fishing -what you might call a red letter day!

A golden Wye barbel, great looking fish.

A golden Wye barbel, great looking fish.

A hard fighting golden Wye barbel

Another hard fighting river Wye golden torpedo.

As well as some cracking barbel we also had some super chub, most in the 3 -4 lb bracket. Now these chub fought in a much more sneakier fashion than the barbel- what they lacked in dogged long distance stamina they made up for by heading right into every bolt hole and snag they could find, and they definitely knew them all.

A wiley river Wye chub

Some fine river Wye chub.

Some fine river Wye chub.

Fishtec’s Warehouse manger Mike Morgan showed up at around 6.00pm, and took up a promising position on a gravel bar at the very tail end of the pool. Mike made some risky long range casts close to the farthest bank into some weed bed slots- a spot where Tim has catapulted some pellets into earlier.  This strategy paid off for Mike with three hard fighting barbel being his reward.

Mike Morgan with his third Wye barbel.

Mike Morgan with his third Wye barbel.

The barbel just loved hoovering up robin red carp pellets.

The barbel just loved hoovering up robin red carp pellets.

The bites in my swim had finally slowed down as evening drew on, up until now the fishing had been so good there had been no need to move swims. If the bites dry up then don’t be afraid to make a move! So I took a walk and baited up a few likely looking spots first, then  switched swims to a few hundred yards further downstream and cast my feeder rig into a perfect looking area just opposite an old boathouse-  depth, flow and cover all combined together in this area to make a sweet looking spot.

A nice Wye chub to end the day.

A nice Wye chub to end the day.

Four decent chub came to the net in quick succession, but with absolutely no sign of any barbel in this area.  The clock had finally ticked down on us – doesn’t time fly when your catching fish? So we called it a day with a dozen barbel and eight chub landed between us, plus numerous other chances and fish lost. A productive and fun afternoons fishing on this majestic river to say the least.

 

Barbel success, with the new Fishing Rod!

Cliff Hatton Barbel

At the beginning of this year I wrote of my enthusiasm for the TF Gear Classic Nan-Tec Barbel rods I’d bought for the coming season, would I “…christen them with a double?” I asked. Well, as it happened, I was unable to get out in June and July as much as I’d have liked but early August saw me doing regular after-work sessions on my local stretch of river. As a rule I use the finer, very sensitive top section for my barbel fishing despite the disconcerting bend it adopts on hurling 4oz of bait-packed feeder to the far bank; but I’ve taken to using the standard tops which are sufficiently tactile to show me when a fish is interested.

And so it was a couple of Mondays ago. Fishing alongside His Wyeness, Geoffrey Maynard of Hay, and sharing a recently acquired Korum Rod River Tripod, my unblinking attention to my rod-tip was rewarded by two or three slow pulls; there was nothing rhythmic about them so I discarded any suspicion that my rig had merely rolled in the current or had picked up a twig or something. My right talon poised for action, I watched the rod-tip bow a fourth time and on this occasion it went over just a fraction further and stayed there! The classic barbel fishing rod was swept back with some enthusiasm, (I assure you!) taking on a pleasing bend just past the perpendicular. At this stage the fish might have been of any size but only a few seconds passed before I was able to state – and I did – that “This is a good fish, Geoff – a big one”

His Wyeness – it must be said – was a little nonchalant and reluctant to look up from his PVA activities. “Tell me if you need the net” he said; his head down in concentration, apparently uninterested in my increasingly lively barbel-battle.

“Well…I’m pretty sure this is a double” I replied as the fish yanked-down the rod and tore ten yards of 8lb mono off the Shimano, but Geoff had seen too many five and six pound ‘doubles’ to stir his complacency.

“Ok…give us a moment”

Normally I would net the fish myself but the bank at this point necessitated the assistance of an extra pair of hands. Not before time, His Wyeness stood and took in the scene: 2lb test curve barbel fishing rod arced and repeatedly stabbing at the water, Shimano issuing short, staccato bursts of complaint, great patches of flattened water and one very excited angler…the penny dropped and he was soon in serious mode, net poised for the job.

Before long, a bulging, glistening net was placed on the grass and parted to reveal what was clearly the best fish of the season from this stretch. On the scales the needle settled at just 2oz short of 12lb – a fine fish indeed.

 

The only Barbel rig you will ever need

There are few articles written about barbel rigs because, let’s face it, they aren’t usually that difficult to hook. But there are considerations to be made and some of the dog’s dinners I’ve seen anglers using or have found on the river bank have made me shudder.

Let’s get one thing straight from the off – barbel are not carp. Most Coarse fishing tackle is fine, it does what it says on the tin. If you use carp tackle, especially lead clips, you are risking damage or death to fish in the event of a break off. I have recovered rigs with lead clips that I have had difficulty pulling apart with my hands so a tired, tethered barbel would have no chance.

Over the years I have tried numerous adaptations on a theme and have made all the mistakes that everybody else makes but, I have kept experimenting. I now have a rig that I haven’t changed for two or three seasons which means that I am quite happy with it. It ticks all the boxes and I believe that it is just about perfect – the only one I and hopefully you, will ever need.

The hook and leader are adaptable to conditions, more of that later. The important part for me is where the lead connects to the hooklink. This area is where we have to place most consideration to the fish’s welfare as a fish towing a lead is in severe danger. Also, and of great concern to me, was the number of times I lost a fish when the leader wrapped around the lead link. A barbel in full panic flight will make short work of most leader materials if they are tangled around a lead or link swivel, recovering a short, broken hooklink is usually a sign that this has happened. I tried beads, sometimes two or three in a row between the swivel and link swivel to create a stand off effect and this usually worked but not always, the same is true of tail rubbers. Using a link swivel is always liable to create a tangle just by virtue of the amount of drop from the main line. Any movement of your lead as it rolls along the bottom, something we often do to provoke a take, is likely to tie the whole lot into a knot.

So, let’s get to the point – Korda anti tangle sleeves (Kats), the answer to the barbel angler’s prayer. The pictures will show what I am on about. Immediately it is apparent that the stand off effect is exaggerated which helps us no end. But the clever bit comes when we eliminate the swivel from the link to the lead. By taking the swivel out of the equation we remove most of the problems associated with tangles.

By using just the link and attaching it directly onto the Kats we create a semi-fixed, self-hooking rig that is generally what we are looking for when barbel angling. The taper of the sleeve allows us to fine tune the amount of tension on the link and, in the event of the fish snapping you off and by carefully attaching the link at the correct point on the Kats, the lead will easily slip off and the fish will not become tethered. It really is simplicity itself and works with leads and feeders.

But, I hear you ask, what about when I want to use a running lead? Easy, just slide the link off the Kats and away you go, a running lead.

If you want to be cute and, in true Boy Scout manner, prepared, simply add a bead above the Kats when you set up. Now, if you are roving and altering your approach in different swims, you simply reattach the link above the bead which will stop it from riding up the Kats and give you a perfect running rig. You can even tease the bead over the end of the Kats for a neater set up.

You can even do away with the swivel at the end of your mainline and use a quick-change link. This allows you to switch and swap your terminal gear as well as going from fixed to running lead with the absolute minimum of fuss.

My last bit of fine tuning is to cover anything shiny (usually the link which can become shiny when its been on gravel for a while), with bits of modelling clay which will stay in place as there are no moving parts such as you have when using a link and swivel.

For the bit between the Kats and the hook, well that’s a whole article in itself. I am certain that many of you have your own opinions of hooklinks and I have tried them all. For the record, I generally start off with a length of Fluorocarbon which gives me a hooklink that will sink and sit well on the bottom. This may go directly to the hook or, when I feel it is necessary, I will form a combi-rig by attaching a short braided hooklink to the fluoro via a mini swivel.

There you have it, a simple rig with minimal bits and pieces needed to construct it which means less odds and ends to carry with you. If you stick to this simple set up you will find it efficient and adaptable to all of your barbel fishing needs.

Written by Dave Burr