Five Tips For Early Season Salmon Fishing

With over 20 salmon under his belt last season, Welsh all-rounder Tim Hughes certainly knows a thing or two about salmon fishing. In this blog post Tim shares his top 5 early season fly fishing tips for catching these elusive silver tourists. Read on to discover how best to bag yourself a springer!

An early season bar of silver

An early season bar of silver.

Tip 1: Get deep

Spring salmon like to rest up rather than travel rapidly, due to cold spring water temperatures, so it pays concentrate your efforts in deeper resting areas such as pool bodies and tail-outs. Deep and slow is often the key, salmon being cold blooded need the water to get up above 50 degrees before they start chasing flies higher in the water, but as temperatures increase be aware extra movement can help induce a take so it is worth carrying a streamside thermometer and checking the water throughout the day.

Tip 2: Use a modern Shooting head set up

Years ago spring salmon fishing was a real chore – heavy duty 15 foot 12 weight rods, full double taper sinking lines and a lot of shoulder aching effort was required to fish. Today shorter 14 foot rods teamed up with the modern shooting head lines such as Airflo Skagit compact G2 with one of the T series sinking tips or polyleaders to match the flow regime allow you to cast further, with less effort.

A modern set-up makes salmon fishing so much easier

A modern set-up makes salmon fishing so much easier.

Tip 3: Fly density and colour

Pay special attention to fly weight. Consider how your fly will sink and behave. Heavy tubes made of brass with coneheads are often the ones to reach for in your early season fly box. Large colourful patterns in orange, yellow and black are ones that will show up well in dirtier spring water. If you get your fly to the correct level the takes will come!

My recommended early season salmon fly list:

Cascade Brass Tube
Willie Gunn Feelers Brass Tube
RS Super Snaelda Cascade Conehead
Francis Brass Tube

Early season salmon flies

Early season salmon flies.

Tip 4: Do your research

Choosing the right beat is half the battle. Regularly check the online fishing reports, social media, forums and sites such as FishPal. Look at long term beat records and work out which beats historically do better in the spring. Don’t be afraid to ring the fishery booking office or contact the gillie/river keeper for updates and advice on fish location. Keep a close eye on the weather forecast and as the river starts to drop after a spring down pour the fish will be running – so make sure you get out there and make the most of it; a week later might be too late!

Tip 5: Check your tippet materials

There is nothing worse than losing a salmon due to a dodgy leader. Check and renew your tippet selection at the start of your season. Strong fluorocarbon is my choice spring fish aren’t leader shy – Airflo G3 in 15lb or Airflo Platinum in 20lb is a dead cert for spring fishing.

Spring on the river Wye

Spring on the river Wye.


How to fit a new rod tip eye

We are sure most carp and specialist anglers have broken either a rod tip or damaged a tip eye during their fishing career!

In this blog we look at how to fix a broken rod tip ring quickly and effectively.

What do you need?

1. Hot melt glue (available from any DIY shop)
2. A lighter.
3. Pair of forceps or pliers.
4. New rod tip ring.
5. Sandpaper or Stanley knife.

Step 1.
Separate the damaged tip eye from the rod blank by heating it with a lighter for about 4-5 seconds. This will allow the old glue to release. Once heated up, use the pliers or forceps to pull off the old eye.

Heating a rod tip eye to soften the glue

Heating a rod tip eye to soften the glue.

Once heated pull the old eye off with forceps

Once heated pull the old eye off with forceps.

Step 2.
Get the rod blank prepared for the new eye by sanding the tip section to smooth off any excess glue or graphite shards. This can also be done carefully with a stanley blade.

Step 3.
Use your lighter to melt the end of the glue stick for a few seconds.

Heating up hot melt glue

Heating up hot melt glue.

Step 4.
Apply a small amount of hot melt glue to the prepared tip section.

Step 5.
Slide the new eye into position. Ensure to line it up with the other eyes quickly before the glue hardens. Peel off any excess glue and you are good to hit the bank again!

Once coated in glue slide the new tip eye back on.

Once coated in glue slide the new tip eye on.

Great tips for staying warm when winter carping

If you carry on fishing through the winter for carp quite often you will be limited by the temperature. These tips for keeping warm will keep you comfortable, cosy and fishing at your best in even the worst extremes.


Layers – Multiple thermal layers are essential. A base layer, mid and outer will keep you warm and feeling snug. For example the TF Gear thermo-skin underwear and Chill out onesie could be combined with a fleece lined waterproof jacket and trousers like the Trakker Core Multi-suit – a perfect cold weather combo.

Head wear – A lot of your body heat is wasted through the head. Wear at least a cap and preferably a nice bit of knitwear like one of the Navitas bobble hats.

Feet – Like the head these are a vulnerable to losing heat, and unless you take care of them they will get cold extremely quickly. Use extra socks or neoprene socks – but make sure you don’t wear them too tightly or you will negate the advantage by restricting the blood flow round your feet.

Bivvy choice – Use a twin skin for best results in the depths of winter. Twin skin’s capture a layer of air. This is very effective cold weather insulation. With a twin skin condensation is also reduced which means drier, warmer air. Some bivvy brands offer a ‘winter skin’ option that allow you to upgrade your summer time bankside accommodation at a reasonable cost.

Sleeping right – If you fish right through the winter it is well worth investing in a proper 5 season bag with a thermal cover. A quality bag is a god-send on those cold winter nights.
Another tip is too add a layer underneath you – a bed with a built in thermal mattress will provide a wonderfully warm night.

Food and hot drinks – Calories keep you warm – FACT. Great excuse to fire up the Ridgemonkey and cook up grease laden food in abundance. And it always tastes better in the cold….. Ditto for hot drinks.

Cold weather munchies! Image: Ridgemonkey FB

Cold weather munchies! Image: Ridgemonkey FB

Winter Grayling Fishing – 5 Tips for keeping warm on the river bank

Cold winter weather can herald some of the best river fishing of the year – Grayling time! Grayling feed willingly on the coldest of days, even with thick snow on the ground and ice in the rod rings.

Fishing in these conditions requires you, the angler, to be comfortable and prepared for a full day in the outdoors. Paying close attention to your clothing and layering choices allows you to do this.

Winter grayling fishing in sub-zero conditions

Winter grayling fishing in sub-zero conditions.

These winter grayling fishing tips cover how to keep yourself comfortable, and therefore fishing productively for grayling in even the coldest extremes.

1. Invest in cold weather headgear. Your normal baseball cap simply wont cut it. A beanie or woolen piece of headgear is what you need. Something like the Simms chunky beanie is ideal and worth every penny. The neck is also a much neglected area. A polar buff makes a stylish wind blocker and helps keep the warmth from your torso escaping through your neckline.

2. Use a fleece undersuit. When worn as part of a layering system an undersuit is probably the most important garment you need for grayling fishing. The thermolite body suit by Airflo is a great example of what you need. Remember to wear an undersuit on top of everything else.

3. Eat and drink to keep warm. Yes, calories keep you warm! Hit the greasy spoon before you head out to the river. A good breakfast and coffee definitely allow you to keep grayling fishing for longer. Bring a thermos flask with a hot drink. A warm cup of tea can revive even the coldest angler.

4. Keep your hands warm. Numb cold hands affect a lot of anglers. By learning to fish with gloves you can help avoid this problem. A lot of grayling fishing is short line nymphing, requiring a simple flick of the rod, so fishing with gloves does not hinder you. Another tip is to put your free hand into a hand warmer pocket each time you track your bugs round, and switch hands occasionally.

5. Feet are important. You loose a lot of heat through the feet. A double pair of socks will help, but make sure they are not too tight or blood flow could be restricted; negating the benefit. Nothing compares to adding another layer of neoprene round the foot – the Ron Thompson Neo Tough socks take some beating. But make sure your wading boots have enough room to accommodate them.

The reward - a grayling in the cold.

The reward – a grayling on a freezing cold day.

8 Tips for better Mobile Phone Fishing Pictures

Lets face it, almost all fishermen carry a mobile phone, making them the device you are most likely to record your fishing adventures with.

Mobile phone cameras can make great fishing images, but to ensure your snaps are awesome rather than pedestrian, follow our 8 simple tips for better mobile phone fishing pictures.

A nice casting shot taken with an iPhone

A nice casting shot taken with an iPhone.

1. Clear your lens.

Grease, dirt, dust and fingerprints can all have an effect on image quality. Before you take a picture of your prize catch take a few seconds to give your phone lens a quick wipe over with something soft, like the edge of a T -shirt or lint free cloth.

2. Get focused.

Getting your subject into focus is essential if you want a good picture. On iPhones simply tap the screen where your subject is in the frame – a small yellow square will appear to confirm. On Android you can set your camera up to do the same, by tapping on the screen exactly where you want to focus rather than using a button to take the image.

A lovely close up shot taken with an iPhone – getting the focus right was important!

A lovely close up shot taken with an iPhone – getting the focus right was important!

3. Avoid using Zoom

By using zoom you loose of lot of quality with a mobile phone. Walk closer or hold the phone right up to the fish instead. For a close up view, best option is to simply crop out the surplus in the picture afterwards.

4. Keep it steady

Keeping your phone still is very important, especially at night or in low light conditions. Phone cameras work a lot slower when their sensors pick up low light, due to more exposure being required for a decent image. Try holding with both hands for a steady take.

5. Take several shots

Take a few not just one. That way you can pick the best one out. The more you take the better the chance of getting a good one with the subject in focus.

6. Watch the background

Make sure the background is uncluttered and not distracting. If it is, a quick move of position and it can be easily remedied. Or quickly tidy things up to ensure the background is neat and not attention grabbing.

This mobile phone photo would have been much better if the clutter was removed in the background!

This mobile phone photo would have been much better if the clutter was removed in the background!

7. Remember the basics

Imagine a frame around your subject and keep them in the middle of the shot. If it’s a person holding a fish, try not to cut off your subjects head! Remember to keep the phone level so your picture is straight.

A decent mobile phone picture - nicely framed and straight.

A decent mobile phone picture – nicely framed.

8. Try not to use the flash

Mobile phone flashes are basically just glorified LED’s. Rarely are they effective, or useful. Indeed, they often ruin the shot by making your camera slower, therefore giving your fish more time to wriggle just as the picture is taken! They also usually end up going off at the wrong time so you end up with a blury, badly lit image. So we recommend you turn yours off, even on a dull day.

Want to take you photography skills to the next level? We suggest you read our Fishing Photography guide.


Wader Care – 5 Winter Storage Tips

I am sure we are all guilty of not caring for our fishing tackle in the correct way! In winter we tend to forget about our fishing equipment and throw our stuff in a shed or garage only to dig them out again next spring and find they let us down on the first trip.

Not the way to look after your waders!

Not the way to look after your waders!

Waders in particular are an essential piece of gear that need a bit of care and respect when being stored in the off season. These wader care storage tips will help you remain leak free for next seasons opener!

1. Make sure they are clean and dry  – Before storage make sure they are bone dry. Any moisture encourages mildew, which can affect the membranes breathability and cause them to leak. Not to mention cause an unpleasant smell and appearance. Brush or scrub any dirt off before stowing away, as again this can encourage mould and bacterial growth.

Here’s what Tom Bekkeli, Simms Wader customer service manager at fly fishing Europe has to say about mildew:

”Mildew will cause the glue on seam tape to disintegrate, this will lead to the seam tape coming off and cause leaks. Mildew can also cause the fabric to delaminate, again this will lead to leaks.The materials will simply break down when attacked by mildew.”

2. Do not tightly fold or crease
– Waders do not like this, long term folding can cause crush or fold leaks. Resist the temptation to stuff them into a box or cupboard out of the way. A wader treated like this wont last long.

3. Do not hang them up by the boots – We have seen this with boot foot waders many times. All winter they have been hung up by their boots. The weight of the wader has caused the boot rubber to stretch, and then perish over just a few months in storage causing them to leak on the first trip of spring.

4. Keep away from the ground – Do not allow waders to contact the ground in storage. Rodents like to make a nest in waders, with feet being a favourite! If they can reach them, they may decided to gnaw a little nest for themselves at your expense.

5. Do not hang by the straps – This will stretch the braces potentially ruining the elastic. It will also put a strain on seams if the wader is hanging on it’s own weight for months on end. The answer? Gently drape them on something – a clothes rail is just perfect.

Waders leaking and beyond repair? It might be time to consider a new pair. Check out our fly fishing wader range here.

Fly Fishing for Grayling – Tackle and Tactics

The trout river season is now over, but for fly anglers looking to extend their sport on flowing water then grayling fishing really comes into it’s own at this time of year!

This Fishtec blog article explores the fly fishing tackle and tactics you need to pursue graying on the fly this autumn and winter.

Winter graylingHow grayling behave

Catching grayling can be a fairly straightforward process, provided you fish in the correct way and understand their behavior. Grayling, unlike trout are much less skittish and you can often get quite near to them whilst wading, provided you are fairly stealthy. They also have a tendency to shoal up tightly, especially in colder water temperatures. So if you catch one grayling, keep on fishing in the same spot, there are sure to be more there. Grayling love to hug the bottom tightly, something to consider when presenting your flies.

A Welsh river grayling     A plump Welsh river grayling.

A Welsh river grayling.

Location, location, location..

It pays to look for grayling in riffles, runs, pool heads and tail outs, with a depth of typically 1 to 4 feet. Grayling seem to prefer areas like these. They are seldom found in really deep water, and often in surprising shallow spots that can be easily passed by. Basically look for where water is broken and not that deep – it is in seams and creases you are most likely to find them.

You can sometimes find grayling in deeper pool bodies and slack water, but usually this is much more common in the warmer months and early autumn, where the fish tend to be far more spread out than mid-Winter.

Autumn really is a special time of year to spend a few hours in search of grayling

Autumn really is a special time of year to spend a few hours in search of grayling.

Short Line Nymphing

The principle winter method used for targeting graying is short line nymphing. This method allows heavy nymphs to be presented on or near the river bed, in the graylings preferred taking zone.

When using this method no real fly casting is actually employed – in fact the weight of the flies help the ‘cast’ go out and turnover. The technique is to flick a team of heavily weighted nymphs across and slightly upstream, often not more than a rod length or two away.

A standard fly line can be used, however it wont be as anywhere near effective as using a monofilament French leader, or the purpose designed Airflo SLN euro line. These are both more sensitive and easier to use cast with ultra heavy flies; being much thinner in diameter, drag is reduced and line control improved immensely.

Once a ‘cast’ is made (typically from 2 to 6 meters) the flies are allowed to settle to the river bed and then the drift is tracked through in a nice arc with the rod held high, followed by a lift at the final position almost directly down stream.

The short line nymphing technique in action.

The short line nymphing technique in action.

Line control and a drag free drift are key, so ensure you track through and keep in contact with the flies. Takes can come at any time, but more so on the final lift. The indicator or junction between the tippet material and leader is watched closely for any hesitation or movement.

In the case of the Airflo SLN line the orange tip and non-stretch core really help you spot and connect to hesitant strikes in an instant. You can make an indicator out of a 6 inch piece of coloured mono easily enough for use with a French leader.

A grayling caught short line nymphing

A grayling caught short line nymphing.

Rod choice

To facilitate short line nymphing a long soft actioned fly fishing rod is ideal – for example the 10 foot #3 weight Greys Streamflex GR70, or the Airflo Streamtec 10′ #3/4. Reel choice is not so important, but look to balance the length of your rod in order to reduce arm fatigue  – you may be making hundreds of short flicks each session!

Although not essential, an Airflo castaid is a handy addition when grayling fishing – it not only helps combat arm tiredness and prevents your wrist aching the day after, it also improves accuracy and power of your delivery significantly by stopping your wrist breaking.

Tippet material

For your leader don’t make the mistake of going too light. When fishing heavy weight nymphs in winter it’s better to have abrasion resistance so you don’t loose your flies on the bottom. Our choice is the Airflo G5 fluorcarbon in 5.5lb or G3 in 6lb. Both are supple enough to give your flies natural movement but also have a low diameter and reliable knot strength.

If you are not hooking and bumping the bottom occasionally then you are simply not fishing deep enough; for this reason carry a hook sharpener with you, as a blunted fly is useless.

Grayling flies

In regards to the flies fishing a team of two or three works best – usually a heavier jig pattern with a tungsten bead on the point, and a lighter more imitative pattern on the dropper. We stock some ideal smaller more imitative grayling fly patterns from Fulling mill, which are simply ideal for your droppers.

For real bottom dredging flies, it is often better to tie these yourself, to ensure they have enough weigh to get down in strong flows. The Fulling Mill barbless jig and czech nymph hooks combined with funky fly tying tungsten beads are a great match. Wrap the fly body in glister dubbing and finish with a wire rib and you will have a fly will catch grayling all year long.

Some grayling fly tying essentials

Some grayling fly tying essentials.

Experiment with bead size and colour combinations – generally pink, red and peacock black are the most lethal colours for grayling. Don’t forget to add red tags to some of your bugs, as this can sometimes make all the difference.

A well stocked fly box full of grayling patterns for different flows

An Airflo slim jim fly box with grayling patterns.

Make sure your fly box is well stocked with nymphs with varying bead heads for different flow regimes. In regards to fly weight here’s a tip which many anglers over look – take some coarse fishing split shots with you. You can then quickly adjust your weight, depth, and presentation by simply pinching a shot on your line.

Fishing with strike Indicators

Another grayling nymphing method is using a strike indicator, with your flies suspended beneath. Attach an indicator above your flies, at a position approximately the depth of the water you are fishing. Cast slightly upstream and dead drift down and past you – throwing some slack into the line to avoid drag. You can carry the drift on downstream if necessary with a shake of the rod to let line out.

This method is most effective on deep gutters, long glides, flats and deeper pools. With an indicator we usually fish a two fly rig, with a heavy bug to act as an anchor with a dropper a foot above. Any dip or hesitation on your drift strike!

A bung like the Air-Lok is simply perfect for long line drifting – it’s ease of attachment and adjustment on the leader make it a winner. It’s also ultra buoyant so it will suspend the heaviest of bugs without going under. The Fulling Mill  fish pimp indicator is another one to try.

The video below shows the use of an Airlock Strike indicator, notice how quick and easy it is to attach. In this case it is simply added onto a french leader.

In this second video on a far larger river an indicator was attached to an Airflo SLN line and drifted across and down at range. Some of the takes were coming at over 25 yards downriver, in water to deep to wade.

The Dry Fly and Duo

The third method is the dry fly/duo combination – a great option for searching water, especially with milder weather or with surface insect activity. It’s not usually a first line approach, but it’s well worth taking suitable flies with you a you may come across some brief winter surface activity in the mid-day slot.

Copper johns - an ideal grayling fly for fishing the duo

Copper johns – an ideal grayling fly for fishing the duo.

Simply use a Kilnkhammer special or similar buoyant dry fly with a trailing nymph tied to the hook bend – a copper john is our favourite trailing fly, but any reasonably small nymph will do. Tippet length from hook bend to nymph is typically 18 to 24 inches depending on river depth. For the leader material use a tapered leader and co-polymer, rather than fluorocarbon.

A lovely autumn grayling.

A scale perfect autumn grayling taken on the duo.

Sometimes the grayling can switch onto an upwing fly hatch, so you can snip off the trailing nymph and fish just the dry fly. Surface action doesn’t happen a lot, but when it does, it’s probably the best graying fishing experience out there – nothing beats a grayling nailing a dry fly in the middle of a freezing cold January day.

Fishtec’s Grayling fishing tackle check list:

  • Breathable waders.
  • Thermal underwear suit.
  • Wading boots with felt soles and studs.
  • Warm head and neck wear.
  • Long, Slower action fly rod e.g 10 #3/4
  • Fly reel to balance rod.
  • Line suitable for short line nymphing – e.g French leader, SLN Euro, or shooting head running line.
  • Standard fly line on spare spool for dry fly/duo.
  • Selection of nymphs tied with various tungsten bead heads.
  • Strong enough tippet material for winter flows and snags.
  • Hook sharpener.
  • Set of strike indicators – Airlock or Fish pimps.
  • Split shot.
  • Waterproof phone case.

    Two grayling tackle 'must haves' wader studs and thermal suit.

    Two grayling tackle ‘must haves’ wader studs and thermal suit.


Summer Angling: How to deal with insect pests

mosquito biting flesh

Image source: shutterstock
Mosquitos are just one of the creatures that make anglers’ lives uncomfortable…

Summer angling is a joy, but spending time on or near the water puts you in the firing line as far as insect pests are concerned. But while you can’t avoid them, you can prepare to take them on. Here’s our guide to protecting yourself from the insect onslaught.

Insect repellents

insect repellents

Image source: 
The choice is endless

The old saying goes that ‘prevention is better than the cure’, and anyone who’s ever been bitten by a horsefly will know just how true that is.

There are countless insect repellents on the market, but what you have to decide is whether to go down the chemical or natural route, or some combination of the two.


As far as the petrochemical industry’s offering goes, DEET is a highly effective bug repellent. Developed by the Americans following their experience of jungle warfare during WW2, it’s great for warding off mozzies. But DEET is also a neurotoxin, and some health professionals have raised safety concerns over its use.

Over 200 million people use DEET each year and if you’re fishing in Malaria infested regions it’s pretty much essential kit, but to be on the safe side, only apply it to exposed skin and never to cuts or scratches.

Nature’s way

For those of you who’d rather not lather yourselves in N, N-diethyl-meta-toluamide, mother nature provides some really excellent alternatives in the form of essential oils.

As a rule of thumb, take a sniff of an oil –  if it stinks it’ll probably help ward off insects. Examples include citronella, tea tree, eucalyptus and lavender oils. Simply chose one you can tolerate the smell of, or for even more of an insect impact, go for a combination.

Because essential oils are potent, they can burn the skin so never apply before first diluting with another liquid like distilled witch hazel or distilled water. Natural remedies store, G. Baldwin and Co. who’ve been trading since 1844, recommend a recipe containing no less than five different oils – surely enough to send mosquitos packing.

The commercial alternative

While we were researching the best bug deterrents, our antennae detected a buzz from Mark at North West Carp Blog, who writes:

“Having fished for such a long time now I’ve got to the stage where I’ve tried so many insect repellents I’ve actually lost count, the reason for me trying so many is that midges seem to like me….a lot!, and I suffer quite badly in the height of summer”

Mark swears by Avon Skin So Soft dry which he says is “so good as an insect repellent they actually dish it out to the armed forces”. Perhaps it’s the citronella it contains that does the trick. We love Avon Skin so Soft at the Fishtec HQ as well; it has proved it’s worth against Brecon Beacons hill midges many times over, which are a horrible pest in the summer evenings on local reservoirs.

Whatever repellent you use, do remember to wash your hands after applying it, or perhaps better still, apply it using latex gloves that you can remove before handling your fishing tackle. You don’t want to attach any unhelpful smells to your bait or fly.

Insects make a beeline for you?

swarms of mosquitos

Image source: shutterstock
Swarms of mosquitos – are they heading for your swim?

It could be that to mosquitos, you simply taste great – according to research, your attractiveness to the flying pests is 85% down to your genes – but that doesn’t mean you can’t do anything to put them off.

The best way to avoid mosquitos is to hold your breath. Crazy as it might seem, the bugs home in on the CO2 you exhale, sniffing you out from an impressive if slightly depressing 50 metres away.

But if asphyxiating on the river bank isn’t for you, try that old favourite, Marmite. High in Thiamin, you may love or loath the sticky, yeasty goo but Mosquitos detest the smell of it. And don’t worry, there’s no smearing involved – you just need to eat it.


midge swarm

Image source: Sam Bradshaw
Many midges make anglers angry

If you think a few mosquitos are a pain in the proverbial, spare a thought for our angling brethren north of the border. During the early summer, plagues of midges stalk the highlands, swarming around hapless fly fishermen and turning their pleasure into a torment. Our best advice is make use of the Scottish midge forecast and steer well clear.

If you’re one of those anglers who’s happy to put their best foot forward whatever insect plagues infest the swim, then it pays to invest in some protective clothing like a mosquito head net and perhaps even invest in some insect repellent impregnated fishing clothing.

In particular, ticks are best avoided because although mostly harmless, they can sometimes carry Lyme disease, a very unpleasant infection that can prove tricky to treat if not quickly diagnosed.

Your best bet is not to wade through long grass wearing shorts and to tuck your trousers into your socks or wear your waders. A good fishing chair will also help by keeping your nether regions clear of the ground.

I’ve already been bitten

insect bites on neck

Image source: shutterstock
Buggers that bite

No bug spray or cream is 100% effective. But if you do get bitten, there’s no need to stand or sit there scratching.  Apply hydrocortisone cream or calamine lotion direct to the affected area and if you suffer a mild allergic reaction, antihistamines should do the trick but it’s always best to check with a doctor or pharmacist before taking anything.

Natural remedies like aloe vera, calendula organic cider apple vinegar and can also be effective at relieving the pain and itching of insect bites.

Insect pests are an unfortunate fact of summer fishing, but that won’t stop us grabbing our tackle boxes and heading to the nearest quiet spot next weekend. Have you had any close encounters with the UK’s biting insects? Know of any good remedies to keep the bugs at bay? Let us know on Facebook or Twitter!

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: Be prepared

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: Keep moving

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

Tip 3: Vary your bait

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: Pack your sunglasses

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: Don’t avoid weeds

Barbel love weedbeds. These areas are always worth paying a bit more attention to. 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: Check the weight of your feeder

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: Try a long hook link

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: Re-bait and recast frequently

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: Vary your pellet size

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: Change with the conditions

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: Try dawn and dusk

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 a tired fish before release

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.

Carp Safety & Photography

Carp safety and photography is a crucial part of carp fishing which doesn’t get written about nearly enough and should be at the top of the list of your fishing knowledge. Follow my easy steps on how to get things right!

It is very simple and easy, you just need the following carp fishing tackle items out ready and set up for when you catch a fish, not all packed away to keep them dry! They don’t cost a lot compared to other items of tackle e.g rods and reels. These essential tackle items can be easily maintained for many years before needing to be replaced.

1 – Unhooking mat
2 – Retaining sling
3 – Carp care kit
4 – Scales
5 – Camera
6 -Tripod
7 – Forceps
8 – Weighing pole
9 – Bucket

Follow these key steps on setting up your carp safety and photography equipment:

1Unhooking mat pegged out in a safe area which you should have already chosen for your photos.

2– Retaining sling out, next to the unhooking mat.

3Carp care kit.  Now, hands up – how many people own one but never use it?
Please think of the Carp.  I am sure we all would like them to look nice for as many years as possible and grow to be that big famous 40lb plus carp that everyone is after.

Carp care kit

Carp care kit – use it!

4 – Weighing Scales.  Now, I understand that you may not wish to leave these outside unattended but keep them handy, perhaps by the bivvy door or under your bedchair.

5 – Camera.  In this day and age there is no real issue with cameras.  You can spend as little as £35 on eBay for a camera with a flip round screen.  This enables you to see what you are up to and speeds up this process a lot.  I have used Cannon camera’s for years and found that the G range from G2/G6 are perfect, as you can use an infer-red remote. They have recently released the G1, which has a flip out screen, they had stopped making this feature for a number of years. There are a number of other options as they have revamped the original air pressing ball that you can have under your knee, as some people find holding fish and the infer-red remote tricky and these kits come complete with a tripod adapter kit.

I currently use a G6 for the night-time photo shot and a Panasonic DT70 ( check model), this has a time-lapse option that allows you to take as many photos as you like – every 10, 20, 30 seconds as you wish.

You also need to know the distance the camera should be away from the mat and the simplest way is a peace of cord attached to the tripod.

6 – Tripod. There are plenty of options here from the gadget that screws onto your bank stick to the original camera tripods.

7 – Forceps. Not always needed, but must be handy just in case of a firmly hooked fish.  You can ill afford to be rummaging around in your tackle bag when there is a fish on the bank.

 8 –  Weighing pole. These are a fantastic bit of kit that will help you lift the fish easier and steady the scales when reading the weight.

9Bucket. You should always have a bucket of water ready and always use the water.  It stops the fish from foaming up and makes for better photos.

Always think of the fish – would you like to be responsible for a fish’s death?  Just follow these simple steps and there will be one issue for you – banking your target fish!

Just think safety first, and remember it’s not all about the perfect photo in the morning sunshine or when your friend can get down to take the photos for you. In this day and ag with the advances in technology and some practice you should be able to do your own photos.  I have been fishing by myself for over 20 years and all my fish photos are self taken and some have ended up in the Carp magazines, even night shots.


Success!! A self take shot.

To sack or not to sack?
I feel very strongly about the use of Carp sacks to the point that I have not owned one for over 10 years. The invention of retaining slings has made the safety of Carp so much better, however there is still no need to leave the fish in there for hours.  Please think of the fish and not yourself and respect the fish as they are living things after all.

I hope the above article has been informative and will help you keep the Carp safe and sound, plus enable you to take better photos.

Tightlines Richard.