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Float fishing for Barbel

Terry Simner

Senior Member
Totally agree re. the Silstar, but I must admit that I've never used a slider for barbelling ... mainly as the swims I've fished have been no more than ~7ft deep. But from your comment, @Jon Frisby "On the strike you pull the line up through the float, so no thrashing the water, when you hit or miss a bite", I certainly intend giving it a go, even in such relatively shallow waters. Should increase the hooking rate : bite when fishing at distance (>30m).
Re. catch rate vs. feedering ... a fair few times I've lazily sat feeder fishing in the sun for a few hours without a touch, only to hook into a barbel within the first three casts of a float. Yep, as you say Jon, (often) in the summer they want (or will only take) a moving bait ...IME.
 

Richard Isaacs

Senior Member
I’ve never float fished for barbel before so I find this thread a very interesting read.
I caught one many years ago trotting on the Swale for graying and chub but an accidental (lovely surprise) catch so doesn’t reacount.

the rivers I’ve always fished have been small to medium rivers targeting single specimens using good water craft and in the summer day time a moving bait has always (for me too) been far far more productive than a static bait for seeking out those big girls.

On the smaller rivers I simply roll, bounce, run baits down under trees and between streamer weed to snuff them out.
banded big pellet free lined on the ivel was killer for a couple of big doubles in its hay day.

I’ll be making some Trent trips later in the year and I’ll be taking advantage of some fine days trotting for those barbel when I do.
Trotting has got to be my all time favorite way to catch fish but yet I only ever seem to do it in winter for those big chub when the river has some clear runs.
Great thread Jon. No doubt I’ll be picking your brains for some Trent trotting tips very soon.
 

Bill Walford

Senior Member
Brilliant thread Jon...I’ve been promising myself a go at Barbel on the float for the past two seasons and never gotten round to it but this season (whenever it starts) I’ll definitely be having a go....thanks to all for your contributions it’s all helping me. 👍👍
 

Mike Thompson

Senior Member
I agree Bill, a great thread. Really got me thinking.
Might have to try a few rigs in my garden pond. Already been practicing under arm casting on the lawn.
Do you float guys tend to use olivettes or big shot ?
 

Ian Sewter

Senior Member
Shotting a float is a subject in its own right and takes at least a chapter! One of the things I have noticed is that if the barbel are say lying along the far bank of a narrow river, or in a channel on a wider river, when a light float is cast the light shot tend to arc and sink under the float which is then a few feet from the barbel and the bait ignored. Using heavy shot or weight the float glides across the water surface and follows the shot to their point of entry rather than the other way round resulting in the bait against the far bank and WALLOP! So on a river I tend to use 2 swan shot and a short clear Drennan loafer. It makes sense to use olivettes especially on deeper and / or fast paced swims, but you need some distance between a heavy weight and the hook for the bait to behave "naturally". But don't forget a moving bait includes a falling bait as well as a travelling bait. So if barbel are up in the water I might use a light float with light shotting to replicate falling feed. I am worried about pinching swan shot on the line causing damage and have used thin foam or pole float rubber on the line as a buffer with mixed success. But as the lines are relatively robust I just pinch it on softly and replace if they come off. I notice Jon uses line stops for his olivettes and I suppose you could use line stops with heavy putty or pinch swan shot on a separate short link. Just check the line regularly for squeezing or fraying - which you should do anyway. Just one cast with new tackle on the Wye catching a barbel is sometimes enough to require cutting out damaged line and replacing! For those of you aiming to try float fishing I find it thrilling and amazing that sometimes because you are both holding the rod and holding back the float, you seem to feel a WALLOP thump on the rod tip transmitting up your arm like an electric shock before the float even disappears! Sometimes I have trotted just round a bend or clump of rushes and can no longer see the float so hold it back and the method of bite indication is when the rod tip WALLOPS over and the cork is nearly pulled out of your hand!
 

Cliff Turner

Senior Member
Ian, I often hold the rod when feeder fishing for that very season, I love to feel the knock and plucks and then the rod hooping over, I only use a rod rest when Im in lazy mode ! On the float I have had much more success in shallow faster swims in summer that on deeper slower swims. Im interested in hearing how people fish those slower swims as I have yet to crack that one.
 

Jon Frisby

Senior Member
Loads of questions and answers coming from this thread. My use of float stops is to minimise knots etc and stress on the line. Barbel will find the weakest point. The Guru ones are the best I have found. You can reuse them too. Reason I use an olivette is that it can move up and down the line during the fight and bulk shot doesn't and theres a good chance of it weakening the line.
Pegs I look for, well it could be any tbh, deep slow fat and shallow. If it has form, then you will catch on the float.
Feeding wise, if its deep then I will put a bed of hemp down with a dropper or spopper. If its deep in front, it's no good dropping straight out, 5 to 10 yds downstream depending imo. Think if you loose fed maggots, where they would end up.
It's a vast subject and theres been some great ideas and views already on this page from experienced anglers.
It's about keeping things as simple as possible, dont over complicate things. I wouldn't want anybody reading this thread and thinking its complicated.
Most pegs I fish on the Trent have downstream wind, that makes life hard. Another float I use a lot is the speci wags. Dsve Harrell brought these to the fore to fish shallow pacey rivers laid on. I use them on deeper water with an olivette etc and because you sink the line they are unaffected by the downstream wind. Its just a little ungainly on the cast.
 

Paul Richardson

Senior Member
You will get away with a light line no probs, but I like to get them in as quick as I can tbh and with 10lb I can really lean into them. Rods wise, most match rod you can probably get a good 2lb of pressure on any fish and that's quite a bit tbh. Ever tried tying a line on a Barbel rod to some weigh scales.? You would be amazed how much you are pulling poundage wise. Something to do in these lean times. Rods I use are a Daiwa 14ft xp, and a daiwa 15ft longdistance. Rods are a personal choice, ideally you want one that's light enough to hold. Just because I have long rods doesn't mean a 12foot will suffice, it most certainly will. I have long rods for the rivers I fish.
The fights I had were magnificent and the 16' rod is a pleasure to use, but I'm guessing I'd hooked the early season hooligan fish that are 6-7lb but feel twice that size. I just couldn't stop them when they decided to bolt towards willow roots and I had to clamp down hard.
I know of other anglers who fish lighter than 6lb and do hook lots of fish but lose a lot too, and even if it's a 16 hook I'm just not comfortable playing that game, especially not in the middle of summer
I'm going to order some 8lb Float line from Dave Harrell and risk it. Also fancy them Speci Wagglers he does.
And that's another good point, I will be doing some tests with the old spring balance this weekend on various hooklinks/ knots
 

Paul Richardson

Senior Member
'm going to order some 8lb Float line from Dave Harrell and risk it.

And to clarify that's risk the rod as it's only rated for 6lb line but I got it for barbel fishing and will have the clutch set- what could possibly go wrong?
 

Bill Walford

Senior Member
'm going to order some 8lb Float line from Dave Harrell and risk it.

And to clarify that's risk the rod as it's only rated for 6lb line but I got it for barbel fishing and will have the clutch set- what could possibly go wrong?
Paul,
Don’t worry too much about the rod, I think modern rods have more about them than we like to think. I’ve had Carp to 19.75lb on my Drennan Power Float (rated 4-8lb Line) on the Silstar 10.1llb BS while Tench fishing. The line was recommended on here a year or two ago by Jon. I used it because of the risk of hooking Carp while after Tench. It’s diameter is .22mm so probably equivalent to others 5or 6lb BS line which was influential in my decision to use it.
 

Cliff Turner

Senior Member
I use the speci wagglers for fishing across the river in the faster swims, as Jon says I keep it simple ... I use a 4 or 5 swan shot float held in place with AAs as they don't damage the main line as much. Normal depth approx 3' so I set the float at abt 5' to drag line on the bottom and slow it down a bit. Main line 8lb, i use a swivel to attach the 0.21 hook length as this helps to stop spinning on the retrieve which is a problem with banded pellet hook bait if you wind in too fast. Usually I don't have any other shot down the line unless faster flow dictates its need. Normal bait is 6mm pellet but I do vary the size during the day, also fish this way with hemp and 6mm meat cubes, can be deadly especially for the chub.
 

Terry Simner

Senior Member
My basic (far side) setup is self cocking 6-8g waggler (cheapo, off eBay), Silstar 10.1 main, swiveled hooklink quick-bead, and 8.2 (0.18mm) Grand Max Soft+ hooklength. For below-float weight I use a couple of float stops or tungsten drops with tungsten putty moulded around. I often use a short (1cm max) tube (apple corer) of meat as bait in summer. Feed is hemp, corn, pigeon conditioner (grey pats/peas :D ), and shreaded/diced meat... with feed pellets added to mix a bit at a time, as they clag up the mix.
 

Jon Frisby

Senior Member
Great thread Jon,
I was inspired to try float fishing for Barbel by the great Keith Speer who's articles on the subject were very informative too.

This is a float caught 17lb beauty which was published in the angling press. Sadly Keith died a couple of years later, a sad loss:(

View attachment 10537
Sadly took from us before his time. Still a massive inspiration to all. Keith kindly wrote some articles for BFW, a great read for is all.
 

Richard Isaacs

Senior Member
Great thread Jon,
I was inspired to try float fishing for Barbel by the great Keith Speer who's articles on the subject were very informative too.

This is a float caught 17lb beauty which was published in the angling press. Sadly Keith died a couple of years later, a sad loss:(

View attachment 10537
I’ve seen that pic before I didn’t realise she was fooled on float tactics.
A fish of a lifetime on any method or river but to get something like that on a float (especially in the snow lol)
Some seriously excellent angling there.
sad to hear he’s not around anymore.
 
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