How To Catch Chub
Being willing to oblige in almost any conditions Chub have long been a favourite species of mine. Not only can they be caught in all weathers, its also the number of different methods that can be used to catch them that have always intrigued me, whether its freelining, float fishing, straight lead, feeder fishing or even lure and deadbait fishing, all can produce at the right time.
When it comes to my Chub fishing I’ve got a small number of ‘go to’ methods that are both productive and enjoyable, also suiting the short session fishing I favour.
My summer and autumn Chub fishing will revolve around a static pellet approach with winter seeing most Chub landed on float and feeder fished maggot or a straight lead/cage feeder with Cheese rather than pellet.
In summer Chub will regularly give themselves away by rolling on the surface, taking flies in the upper layers or just holding station in the current, once one has been seen its often a case of looking a bit harder and fining several more! The Chub won’t be far away from a feature of some sort, whether overhanging trees, weedbeds, snags or depressions in the river bed, they will always want a nearby bolt hole to retreat to if and when spooked.
Once I’ve found some fish I’ll look at the best area to place a bait and introduce some feed, normally small 4mm pellet, in an ideal situation I like to fish away from the cover drawing fish to the bait, that way once hooked the shoal tend to retreat back to sanctuary but will return when the commotion has died down and another chance can be had.
The response from Chub in summer is normally pretty instant, whether it’s a large river like the Wye or one of the smaller Wessex rivers, being able to see the reaction has really helped my Chub fishing.
So back to summer chub, once found and feeding my go to rig is normally a heavy in line lead, between 2oz and 4oz dependant on flow and nature of the swim, I’ll then have a hooklength of around 3ft to ensure the bait is away from the lead and mainline with a hair rigged pellet being the bait of choice. My hooklength will normally be 8lb or 10lb mono with either 10lb or 12lb mainline and a size 10 or 12 kook to match the size of bait.
I’ll always attach a small PVA bag of free offerings to the hook for added attraction but most importantly to ‘kick’ the bait away from the lead and ensure the rig lands tangle free. Whilst happy to feed Chub can be extremely spooky, minimising disturbance is key but once in the water bites can be instant and positive, regularly being mistaken for a barbel!
My static approach for Chub in the winter alternates between a straight lead and cheese paste/dumbells and a maggot feeder. Condition of the river is the guide I use as to which method I feel will be most effective, as a general rule if the rivers coloured itll be cheese and clear itll be maggots.
The choice of rig for static winter chub fishing with cheese doesn’t change a great deal from the summer pellet fishing although in some cases the lead is replaced with a cage feeder filled with crumbled barrels for maximum attraction but minimum food. Again terminal tackle will be strong and reliable, theres always a chance of a stray barbel trying to steal the rod and I want to ensure I can land one if and when the chance should arise. A specimen chub hooked on a winter river also gives a great account of itself and will search out any available snag so tackle needs to be up to the task.
Should the river be low or lacking in colour it’ll be maggots that are used and I’ll alternate between the float and feeder dependant on swim choice and how I think the fish will behave.
There are days when Chub will chase maggots and mop up every bait in the river and this is when the float if the perfect method but other days they’ll be lethargic and reluctant to move, opportunities can still be had by employing a small maggot feeder and a single maggot on the hook.
Whilst Chub can be caught in all manner of winter conditions I’ve found the most productive times to be when the water temperature is on the rise or when theres been a sustained period of consistent temperatures, something that’s been a struggles this season! I’m least confident when theres been a rapid fall in temperatures but sometimes a planned sessions can fall at this time and you make the most of what you are presented with.
A rapid fall in temperature will see me fishing a static bait with a small amount of feed, fishing for a bite at a time. On a positive note, productive summer areas can also be equally as productive in the winter but if not extra water can push numbers of fish into smaller areas of water in the winter and ‘bigger hits’ of fish can be had in the winter months. The fish won’t be far from their summer haunts but they will seek out more comfortable water, eddies, deeper glides and overhanging trees being favourite areas. The lack of weed reduces the amount of time they’ll spend mid river as opposed to summer and autumn.
A favourite winter method of mine when Chub fishing is using the float, either a ‘top and bottom float’ or a loaded waggler. I enjoy building a swim with regular baiting and inching a bait through the swim waiting for the float to dip or bury.
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.
On 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.
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.
However in some cases wary chub can ‘shy away’ from a top and bottom float setup and loaded waggler can be much more efficient, this ensures the bait falls through the water column and and gets intercepted at the chubs chosen depth rather than a depth pre determined by me!
My waggler fishing for Chub involves inching a bait though the swim by ‘feeding the bow’, in complete contrast the an Avon or Chubber float where the I tray and keep as much line off the water as possible. Bites on the waggler can see the float disappear or in some cases rise up in the water as the fish seeks their next free bait. Its then a case of winding down to the hooked fish and enjoying the fight. Waggler fishing for Chub can give a real edge, particularlt on pressured venues or end of season when ‘they’ve seen it all’!
Whether waggler or top and bottom flaot fishing my next step 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 top and bottom set up uses an Olivette, again to reduce tangles, I’ll also position a shot above the Olivette to stop the hooklength tangling up the mainline, 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.
I’ll use a long hooklength, often between 2 and 3 feet to tray and present the bait in the most natural manner possible.
Once all assembled, if possible I’ll put the landing net downstream in a suitable spot for landing the fish, pulling a chub upstream on a light gear can be a real challenge!
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.
Maggot Feeder fishing for Chub on the Wessex Rivers is normally a method saved until the winter months when the weed beds have died back and I can land fish on light albeit balanced tackle, I’ll fish a very short hooklength, often only 2 inches as Chub are happy to come right up on the feeder, ‘rattly’ bites are regularly chub shaking the feeder!
I’ll normally have three casts with no bait on the hook to introduce a small amount of free bait and then recast every 15 minutes or so, the first fish is normally followed by another quite quickly.
Again it’ll be a small hook and light line, a single maggot an a 20 or an 18 offers perfect presentation, the feeder does allow you to regulate the amount of bait introduces to the swim perfectly.
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.
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.
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.
When trotting use the rod as an extension of your arm keeping as much line off the surface as possible.
In contrast to lots of river anglers I’ll float fish with a fixed spool reel, this allows me to present a bait anywhere in the swim and I ‘dab’ the spool with my finger to release line to allow the float to travel through the swim.
When striking I’ll stop the line with the bail arm open, and walk the fish away from any snags, engaging the bail arm when I feel I can gain some control.
When float fishing close to snags a shorter rod of 11 or 12ft can be a benefit, longer rods can allow the fish to gain the extra yards needed to seek sanctuary and be lost.
When maggot fishing either float or feeder have a look down the throat of any landed chub, if theres evidence of lots of maggots, back off the feed as it’s a sign that you’ve only got a handful of fish in the swim and the risk of over feeding is high. No maggots and my confidence levels increase dramatically!