Pallatrax Products For The Barbel Angler
By Tony Miles
By Tony Miles
As well as my well known connection with TFG, I have, over the last few years, formed a close friendship with Simon Pomeroy of Pallatrax and am now a consultant for the company. I do not accept consultancies lightly, nor do I receive payment, as I have always guarded jealously my reputation for integrity built up over nearly half a century. Obviously, I do receive products to test and use. I have always felt that the product advice of â€œangling mercenariesâ€, who jump freely from company to company, could never be over reliable and must inevitably be tainted by self interest.
In the case of TFG and now Pallatrax, therefore, I accepted consultancies on the basis that I can recommend their products without hesitation. In this feature, I would like to look specifically at Pallatrax, who offer barbel anglers a terrific choice of great gear. Letâ€™s start with the most innovative item of the lot, the Stonze weights, and see how they can be incorporated in terminal rigs to enhance presentation. The first point to make is that, of all river fish during the heat of the day, barbel are one of the easiest to catch. What we, as anglers, are up against is not the fishesâ€™ unwillingness to feed but our inability to prepare swims properly, exercise a little restraint and be capable of fishing without spooking every barbel in the vicinity. In clear water, there are so many ways to scare the fish, and careful attention must be given to every little detail to maximise chances of barbel. One of the factors is obviously the terminal tackle and it is common sense to eliminate or minimise whatever scare factors are inherent in this. A prime factor is the weight itself, especially a new, shiny lead. Although camouflaged leads are now widely available, Stonze weights I believe to be far superior, being more natural, as well as being environmentally friendly. As recently as last week, I watched a barbel turn over a Stonze as it would a natural stone; I couldnâ€™t have a better recommendation than that.
I use two basic Stonze rigs, depending on how I am fishing. If Iâ€™ve settled into a swim for a few hours, say a summer overnighter, the ultimate presentation is to use an in-line Stonze fitted with one of the special insert sleeves trimmed to exact size. This is what Simon calls his LILO presentation, or line in, line out arrangement. In other words, the main line goes in one end, the hooklink out the other, with all the connections hidden inside a natural stone. However, if my fishing is a lot more mobile, which it certainly will be in the winter months, I tend to prefer to use a swivel Stonze in conjunction with a sliding snap link swivel. This allows quick and easy weight adjustment to meet the flow requirements of different swims without having to continually break the tackle down. While this sacrifices a little of the almost perfect camouflage presentation of the LILO, I use it much more in the winter when conditions are generally murkier. It is in the ultimate clarity of a crystal clear river in summer that every edge is important.
Another vitally important spook factor in clear water is a line running through midwater, leading to line bites. Back leads are used to solve this problem and, again, nothing could be more natural than a stone sitting on the river bed. I like a small Back Stonze a few feet up from the terminal rig and these come drilled and fitted with sleeves. You will note that I never advocate lead core leaders which, if I had my way, would be banned.
As an aside, if you are into scaled down method feeding as part of your barbel fishing repertoire, Stonze weights make superb method mix holders. As they are porous, irregularly shaped and have pitted surfaces, they give terrific holding power to a quality method mix. Pallatrax produce a superb mix, and I find I am using this more and more in my river fishing. I make up a stiff mix, add fish oil in the form of a smashed up tin of tuna and finish off with bits of broken boilies.
That leads me neatly on to the bait range that Pallatrax offer, and again I have had superb results on these, and not just with barbel. Iâ€™ve noticed on the site that many newer barbel anglers ask advice about what boilies to use, whether shelf life or frozen, and so on. I can state categorically that one of the best baits Iâ€™ve ever used is the fish meal based Crave, which has caught me barbel to over 17lb, as well as chub to over 7lbs, carp to nearly 40lbs and big bream. My personal preference has always been for freezer baits, as extensive fishing has convinced me that they are far superior to shelf life, and my barbel fishing usually incorporates a frozen Crave boilie wrapped in the matching frozen Crave paste. I tend to incorporate a length of PVA tape as a stringer on each cast, and squeeze small pieces of paste along it. This simulates bait fragments breaking away from the main offering, which I believe increases the attraction.
The other bait offering that has given tremendous results with barbel is one called Elixir, which has crayfish as its main flavour along with essential oils. I havenâ€™t as much personal experience with this one as I canâ€™t tear myself away from Crave, but I do know that many huge Ouse fish have been caught on it, including the record known as Traveller, as well as numerous doubles from other rivers. Pallatrax produce this in frozen and shelf life 14mm sticks, allowing the angler to break off as much or as little as required. The irregularly shaped hookbait offers a different appearance to pressured fish from the standard round boilie.
Another real winner from Pallatrax is the hook. It is only available in one pattern, aimed principally at the big fish angler. Sizes available are from 2 to 16, barbed and barbless. They feature the classic properties of an efficient big-fish hook, with a wide gape, straight eye and offset incurved ultra sharp point. All those who have been reading my features down the years will know what I thought of that all time classic hook, the Au Lion Dâ€™or. In more than thirty years, they never let me down but when they became difficult to obtain I had to find a suitable alternative. Several patterns were tried which were generally OK but, in the Pallatrax hook, I have found a pattern the equal of Au Lion Dâ€™or. Iâ€™ve now caught dozens of big fish on them, from huge barbel and carp on size 4s to big tench on size 16s, and Iâ€™ve yet to have one pull out, break or straighten. Without doubt, it is one of the best big fish hooks available today.
When it comes to hooklinks for barbel fishing, with big baits Iâ€™ll be using Drennan Dacron, either sandy brown to rest over gravel or mud or mid green for silkweed covered beds. Itâ€™s a lovely soft and limp material, its only drawbacks being that it is slightly buoyant as supplied and is not very abrasion resistant if fishing near woody snags. The first is easily solved by rubbing the hooklink with fast sink putty, I use Kryston Heavy Metal, but where Iâ€™m fishing near sharp snags I switch to fluorocarbon hook links. These days, Gamma fluorocarbon is my choice. I will always choose a fluorocarbon hook link when using small hook baits such as maggots or for feeder fishing.
Gamma is also my number one mainline. It is immensely strong for its stated breaking strain, highly abrasion resistant and, most important for someone who plays big fish hard off the clutch, it does not kink or twist. Other otherwise excellent lines Iâ€™ve used over the years have suffered badly from line twist, which is a very annoying problem.
For consistent success with barbel, indeed any fish, it is a matter of eliminating as many mistakes as possible and offering the fish something they like to eat in a manner that doesnâ€™t scare the daylights out of them. Once the fish has been hooked, the tackle must be 100% reliable so that you can play it as hard as you need with confidence that your gear wonâ€™t let you down. In all those requirements, the Pallatrax products Iâ€™ve outlined are admirably suited to the job.