Day Ticket Tactics to try today.
Barbel traces, how long and what should they be made from?
In this new series specimen angler Duncan Charman visits different day ticket venues each month and reveals the tactics that have been working.
I seemed to be asked these two questions more and more these days especially from anglers making the transformation from still to running water. I could write more than one article based around these two questions but it already seems that many anglers are confused so I’m going to keep things as brief as possible to set you on your way and create that all important confidence factor you need to land a few fish.
Keeping in with the main topic of the article this month I’m going to look at the river Wye, one of our most stunning of rivers and one that offers plenty day ticket fishing through the Wye AND Usk Foundation as well as exclusive beats such as my favourite downstream of the famous Aramstone railway crossing stanchions. This river sees a huge amount of anglers heading to it each season, many first timers, but before moving on let me recall a trip to the river Trent where I got things completely wrong.
I was meeting up with fellow Nash man Paul Garner, an angler at home on wide powerful rivers and one I hoped would guide me to a Trent barbel or two. Unfortunately Paul called when I was almost upon the venue and had to cancel leaving myself with the decision to either cast out or head home. Obviously I felt I was experienced enough as an angler to cope with the situation, but how wrong was I as I adopted my tried and tested Loddon/Kennet tactics, short hooklinks and suffered a frustrating night as barbel after barbel rolled in my swim, yet the rod tip failed to hoop over. I was so confident in what I was doing I just kept on going, thinking their rolling so it wont be long before they get their heads down. It was a lesson learnt and from that day I knew that tactics that work so well on certain rivers have absolutely no place on others. Looking back if I had simply increased the length of my 12’ hooklink to nearer five feet then the outcome would have been so different.
So there you have it the basic answer to the first question, on small sedate gravely bottomed rivers go short and on wide powerful rocky bottomed rivers do long! Obviously there are times when I would use a long hooklink on the Loddon/Kennet, say when I’m faced with an overhanging tree or raft and need to get a bait right underneath this but generally I keep my hooklinks to around 12’ when I visit such a venue. Starting point on the Wye though is to hold a spool of mono in one hand, grab the end with the other and stretch your arms out, basically 5ft! There are times when 7ft will work better but for myself these are rare and create a few additional problems when casting due to the steep banks as well as playing and landing fish which becomes similar to landing a carp on a set depth zig-rig. On other occasions I may find myself fishing a swim that doesn’t have too many snags or rocks and in this case I feel dropping the hooklink down to 3ft would be advantageous, especially for my confidence levels and feel that a shorter hooklink will see less barbel, as they say getting away with it.
Long hooklinks raise another ‘thinking point’ especially when tackling a swim such as The Whirli-Hole near Hoarwithy, one that always contains a good head of hungry barbel and this is, are barbel tacking the bait high in the water, on the drop so to speak? Well my answer to this is definitely yes. I’ve even caught barbel off the top on the Loddon and watched as they lift of the bottom and compete to get at pellets when in a shoal containing chub and witnessed them turning upside down and slurping casters that have become lodged on a raft on the Kennet. Look at it this way, thirty years ago I thought that carp only fed on the bottom; it was the general rule but look at how things have changed with zig-rigs evolving into a deadly method. So when barbel fishing don’t think that you have to nail a bait to the bottom, you don’t and that’s why float fishing for them is so effective as is bouncing a piece of meat around, it creates movement and lifts the bait up in the water.
Before moving onto hooklink material one area of importance that I feel needs to be addressed is weight of feeder/lead. On the small sedate rivers I have always said, use one that just holds bottom, yet on bigger more powerful rivers like the Wye I would recommend using one that doesn’t move as it will only get lodged within the rocks leading to loss of tackle. This slightly contradicts what I have previously said, yet a heavy feeder and long hooklink will have the hookbait dropping through the water slowly and enticingly, especially if cast on a regular basis.
Hooklink material is something quite personal to an angler. I personally love the suppleness of braid and feel this lays out in the flow much more naturally and is always my first choice on rivers such as the Loddon/Kennet. Saying this I feel that long hooklinks created from braid cause a major issue on bigger rivers, especially in swims that are classified as tackle graveyards. The reason is that many anglers tie up a 15lb braided hooklink and then attach this to 10/12lb mono (not good). When snagged the mainline breaks leaving yards of line and braid within the swim which just increases the snaggy nature of it, so this is where I strongly recommend using a mono hooklink, one with a breaking strain less than your mainline (well in fact this is a recommendation through all types of angling).
So there you have it, my basic recommendations if you are heading off to the Wye, Severn, Thames or Trent. These rules are not set in stone and need to be adjusted around the swim that you are fishing and yourself, and if you remember the following points then you shouldn’t go to far wrong.
Basic recommendations for the Wye.
- Use a mono hooklink which has a B/S less than you’re mainline.
- Start with a length of 5ft then adjust if needed.
- Use a feeder than holds bottom (this doesn’t mean casting a 6oz feeder out when a 3oz will hold steady).
- Keep casting, every five minutes as this will build a swim and expect a bite quickly afterwards.
- Don’t use massive baits and big hooks as a strong size 12 and a single 8mm pellet will more often score better.
Basic recommendations for the Loddon/Kennet.
- Use a braided/mono hooklink which has a B/S less than you’re mainline.
- Start with a length of 12’ and adjust if needed.
- Use a feeder or lead that just holds bottom.
- Make one cast and leave for maybe thirty minutes before recasting.
- My most successful bait is an 11mm hard drilled pellet, even during the day.
- How Long? Five Feet!
- Wye barbel, it doesn’t get much better.
- Darkness falls across the river Wye.
- Whirlpool stunner.
- Feeders, choose one carefully.
- Hooklinks make all the difference.
- Pellets, all shapes and sizes but which one?
- A Wye barbel is returned.
- Stunning location, fantastic fishing.