Anatomy of a canal

If you took a cross section of a canal you will find that most are the same in that they have very similar profiles and therefore you’ll find the fish residing in almost the same places.

There will be a deep central track, two ledges at either side, two shelves and two marginal ledges.

They aren’t deep venues – most canals are between 3ft and 6ft deep in the middle.

To fish them correctly, careful plumbing up is essential to locate the depth of the central track and where the bases of the ledges are and where the flat sections of the shelves are as it’s those places that you’ll find the most fish.


A The shallow far bank shelf will hold carp, tench, big perch and big roach. This is the quietest section of any canal and is therefore the place where the fish feel the safest. Try setting up a shallow dibber rig and loosefeeding casters over into the shallow water for at least a couple of hours, then trying this swim later in the session – you may well be surprised by the size and quality of the fish that you catch.

B The base of the far bank ledge is where you will find good sized bream, tench, perch and carp. Here chopped worm, casters and sweetcorn work wonders and it’s possible to keep this swim going all day long.

C The central track will provide bites from roach, eels, tench, bream and skimmers. This is a prime spot to kick start a session using breadpunch. This will provide an almost instant response. Another great bait to try here is hemp for the many roach.

D The base of the nearside ledge is best targeted with a whip as it will only be 2-4m from the bank. You’ll have to remain quiet if you intend on catching from this swim throughout the day, but it can prove quite rewarding as you’ll find perch, roach and plenty of gudgeon here.

E Believe it or not it is possible to catch perch and gudgeon from right at the side of your keepnet. Again a whip will come in useful for this small fish, but it’s definitely worth introducing a few pinkies here and setting up a short and lightweight rig for catching these little species.