Best Tips For Catching Barbel

There’s nothing better than the excitement of a strong barbel tearing off at a rapid pace, testing the strength of your setup. However a good wild river barbel can be hard to find and catch so here are a few great tips to help catch more barbel.

Caught on the river Teme 2013

Caught on the river Teme 2013

1. Time of Day

Determine the right time of the day when the barbel are most active and feeding. It may be different for each location or time of the year, but I’ve found the best times to be around dawn or just after dusk as I’ve found they like to feed in low light.

2. Location

Location is probably the most important factor to consider in catching barbel. Knowing how to read a river for all the different features it offers and conditions is a skilled task and best left for a more detailed follow up post. However in general barbel like to cluster in areas which provide shelter and security such as weirpool sills, creases, undercuts, glides, weeds and fallen trees. Again the best location may change on the time of day if your fishing in the day time when its light then they will more likely feed in darker deep water in narrow sections where the water speeds up.

3. Prepare your swim

Feed the swim for an hour first before fishing it, to build up confidence in the fish. Regularly feeding a stinky bait will help attract fish to move upstream towards the source as they detect it coming down the river.

4. Start with a moving bait

A moving bait will be better to start with as the fish can be weary of static baits they will be more tempted to go for a moving bait than let it get away. Also they can take and spit out a bait so fast it would be hard to detect and strike using a heavy lead, an alternative depending on the speed of the river is to have light shots on a line and free run it down the river holding the line in your hand to feel any bites.

5. Switch to a static bait later on

Towards the later stages of a session if the free running has stopped producing switching to a static bait could improve bites. By this time you should have fed a few pints of feed into the swim so there may well be a few fish feeding over the build up that has got caught on the river bed, and so they will be more confident to go for a static bait. Either a few good chunks of ripped up meat or a boilie with a pva bag, open ended feeder or paste covered weight.

6. Alter hook length

As the fish get more confident shorten the hook length to put the hook bait closer to the food trail of the feeder or PVA bag.


On A Mission For Barbel

It’s well into the river fishing season and I’m yet to catch a Barbel. For this weekends trip we went to Stanford Bridge on the river Teme. I’ve fished there before and have had barbel out so I was fairly confident it would produce. There’s a bit of walking across fields to get to the pegs so we kept the kit light, just taking the essentials; 1 rod, a landing net, a few tins of spam and some worms. Arriving at about 4:30pm we aimed to stay until around dusk.




I started off using fairly large pieces of meat cut into cubes, and for the first hour or so there were regular bites but nothing was getting hooked. However my fishing buddy Paul was fairly quickly into something which turned out to be an eel caught on a worm. My peg then goes dead for the next few hours and all the action I see is a rat running around my boots! Paul has two more fish on, which he thinks were barbel, but gets bust on an 8Ib line loosing the lot both times!

I then decide to try tearing up the meat into larger chunks and put three big pieces on my hook. After about half an hour wait the rod suddenly takes off so fast i’m convinced it’s a barbel, but then it suddenly stops fighting and I see a nice chub pop up to the surface, which is easily landed. I carry on fishing until around 9:30pm, but there are no more bites, however the river has one last surprise today, just before I start packing up an otter calmly swims by until he spies me and quickly vanishes under the water. So no barbel today, but a very pleasant evening spent on the river Teme and the first otter I’ve seen in the wild.