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Bendy Barbel

Mark Swaby

Senior Member
Yesterday afternoon i caught a very friendly Bendy 12lb Barbel. I refuse to use the term 'M**g fish' for this Girl. She has been a lot of anglers PB this season and has made a number of my clubs anglers very happy .The small river section also has another bendy girl around the same size. I have caught a number of bendy barbel over the years and they mostly seem to be adult female fish and around 11lb. I have had a couple of smaller bendy fish but they always seemed to be very old and probably males. I wonder if it is an age thing getting bent over like some older people,someone suggested its possibly caused by Electrofishing . I also seem to remember certain pond chemicals can cause kinks in orfe. Has anyone caught small young looking bendy barbel and what are your views on why it happens

Mark Anderson

Super Moderator
Staff member
Hi men,

Caught a few fish like that , and it may be a coincidence, but always in a shallow venue ?.


Alex Dalton

Senior Member
Not always on shallow venues , note the hump on my profile picture , some are not as miss-shaped as each others, some rivers like the Calder and Don have a range of stumpy fish where the tail is like a manx cats tail .

Stephen Crowhurst

Senior Member
That’s what I thought I’d see. Seen it many times, particularly in cultivated strains of Ide like Orfe. I’ve literally walked past a vat of fish one morning and next morning there’s one or more bent like shelf brackets.

There’s two primary reasons, there’s a bacterial infection that can affect fish which effects the spine and causes these symptoms. However I’d expect fish with to die within a reasonable period. If there’s been captures over time it’s less likely the cause.
Then there’s deformities causes by external stressors. These can be numerous, from pollution to some suggestions of lighting effecting the electrical pathways in spinal system.

My most likely guess would be spinal injury has occurred through mis handling, when the fish has jumped out the water and landed badly or any number of things like being chased by a natural predator, spooking the list is endless, think cricking your neck on steroids. The bulk of a fish can put a fair stress on the spine when out the water, this is why (although not fish) marine mammals such as Whales suffer when beached. If you think how much more effort this individual requires to stay in place in the current or even move about day to day, we’ll thats why it’s the mug. I’ve seen fish like this live many years in captivity, I believe there’s a pollock like this in the NMA. It’s certainly subseptable to predation and further environmental stress and its unlikely it will survive as long as a “straight” counterpart, this is exasserbated by the extremity of the deformity.
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Stuart Linton

Senior Member
Maybe they are renegade non EU regulation straight Barbel sitting in the wings ready to take over when the time comes. There was a theory that electro stunning might be the cause but I find that hard to believe.

Paul Collins

Senior Member
Once caught a barbel about 3lb which felt a bit odd when playing it. Upon landing it it was fairly obvious why it felt so strange. At some time previously it had swum into the broken off neck of a jam jar which had come to rest at the dorsal fin. The fish had obviously grown a bit with the jar neck in place because there was an indentation of about half an inch all around it's body.
Managed to pull off the jar neck and it swam off strongly.

Mark Swaby

Senior Member
It sounds like spinal injury due to various reasons as Stephen says is the cause . Has anyone caught small young looking curved barbel or does it only occur in older barbel ?.