Float Fishing For Chub
Updated: Jan 9, 2019
I often get asked how I approach a session on the river and as every session is different I’ve chosen to give an insight into how I fish the Wessex Rivers float fishing for chub, a species that will oblige in almost any conditions and a method that can be enjoyed by all anglers. The low river levels and clear water that we have been presented with on many rivers this winter has certainly made the fishing more challenging, however results can still be achieved with a little more planning and thought given to each session.
Whether it be Chub, Barbel, Roach, Dace or Grayling, the basic principles of float fishing on running water remain fairly consistent and by that I mean presenting your bait in a manner that appears attractive to your chosen quarry and does not arouse their suspicion, in reality presenting a bait as naturally as possible will always lead to a fair higher success rate. Winter success can often be determined by work done walking the banks in the summer and familiarising yourself with the river bed and features that will hold fish. Seeing the fish in the summer provides you with confidence that you are unlikely to be far from the fish and then it’s a case of fishing to the best of your ability to put one on the bank. Don’t be put off if you haven’t managed to find the river in the summer as often a question asked in the local tackle shop or speaking to other anglers will point you in the right direction. So back to a typical session, I’ll head to my chosen swim and spend a few minutes watching the water and deciding which area I’m going to focus my bait on, where I think the fish will want to feed and where I can land a fish should I be lucky enough to hook one. Once decided, it’s out with the catapult and the bucket of maggots, I’ll start off with introducing 6-10 maggots every 30 seconds or so to try and create a conveyor belt of bait, inducing the chub to feed, hopefully competing with each other to give the maximum chance of a fish or two.
My feeding routine will normally last for at least twenty minutes before I consider the first cast but whilst feeding I’ll be setting up rod, reel, landing net and terminal tackle. Something that can often be a problem with playing larger fish on relatively light gear is line twist and whilst baiting the swim I’ll try and reduce this by positioning the rod on two rests pointing away from the river, opening the bail arm and walking the line out across the field, then winding in with no resistance. This should take any twist out of the line from previous sessions and can be repeated should line twist be a problem at any time. Line twist will cause repeated tangles and ‘juddery’ movements on the float, all of which will be transferred to bait, reducing its natural appearance.
Once the rod, reel and landing net are assembled, I’ll still be feeding on a little and often basis, the next job is to select the right float for the swim. As you’re probably aware I’m a fan of big floats that allow me to control them, and work the swim as opposed to skidding through the swim. What I’ll look for is a float that takes enough weight to present my bait at the chosen depth and can also be held back and ‘inched’ through the swim if necessary. As has been publicised many times the water closer to the river bed is often slower than the surface layers and the Chub will expect your bait to be travelling at the same speed as the free offerings. My current ‘go to’ float with river conditions as they are is the Alloy Avon which rides the current well, ensures stability and indicates even the most delicate of bites.The float is held in place with three float rubbers, and can be changed without completely breaking the tackle down. After attaching the float, I’ll slide an Olivette up the line and tie on a micro swivel to attach the hook length and reduce line twist. Regular breaks to continue feeding are most important so the catapult is always to hand. Next is to tie the hook and attach the hook length, the hook of choice is a Super Specialist in either a 20 or an 18 tied with a Knotless Knot to a length of hook length, I find 0.11mm provides a balance between number of bites and fish landed. My preference is to put a small split shot above the Olivette, again to reduce tangles and finally a shot on the hook length to get the bait down to the chosen depth. It’s important to have the shot closer to the hook than the swivel as this will reduce the number of times the hook length twists up towards the swivel. Once all assembled, I’ll put the landing net downstream in a suitable spot for landing the fish, pulling a chub upstream on a light gear is a recipe for disaster!
As you can imagine all of the above has probably taken well in excess of the twenty minutes of feeding the swim so I’d be happy to run the float through the swim, a single maggot to mimic the free offerings is gently eased through the swim and fish can regularly be caught on the initial trot. I’ll still keep feeding and if no interest has been shown on the first few trots, again I’ll rest the swim and continue feeding. Bites are normally very positive but can just be small dips on the float, once hooked however there is no mistaking the ‘thump’ felt all the way through the rod as a chub makes its bid for freedom.
When hooked it’s a case of ‘Trusting the tackle’, leading the fish away from any snags and enjoying the fight, with a balanced set up like the one shown above its surprising what can be landed and the conveniently placed landing net downstream makes the job a lot easier. So whilst all of this can’t offer any guarantee of success, I hope it’s given some food for thought and maybe put an extra fish or two on the bank.