by Angling Times |

What is the best bait to use when roach fishing? Well we are about to answer that for you and give you five great roach fishing bait options for you to try next time you’re on the bank.

Here are five of the best roach fishing baits…

For more great tips from top anglers head to this year’s The Big One Show


I have often noticed that smaller silver fish tend to become a lot less active at this time of year, owing to the low water temperature, while the larger fish remain active. This can make maggots a viable bait.

Ask your local tackle shop on what day they receive their maggot supplies, and try to buy your bait as soon as it comes in. This will ensure you get the freshest and largest maggots. To keep the skins soft I store them in maize flour, changed every few days to keep it fresh.

Pineapple essence is the quintessential winter roach flavour, and its highly volatile esters leak off even when the water is very cold. Other citrus flavours are well worth using too, but there’s no substitute for fresh bait, especially where big winter roach are concerned.



Our barbel rivers see large amounts of pellets going in all summer and autumn, and naturally roach tune in to this extra food resource. Fishmeal is a good fish attractor, even though we don’t normally associate it with roach. Try mixing some ground pellets with your liquidised bread and you’ll see what I mean.

For roach, try scaling everything right down to a 6mm tough hooker pellet fished on a bait spike and size 16 hook. Fill a Black Cap feeder with hemp and hard pellets. Don’t worry about the water temperature – roach will still eat pellets in the depths of winter, so I plan to use this tactic a lot this year.



When I have filmed roach underwater no other bait has attracted and held them in the swim like hemp, yet they often pick it up and blow it out many times before eating it.

For this reason I tend to feed the seed sparingly. A tin of hemp is generally enough for a day session. Feed it a pinch at a time to maintain a continual release of hemp flavour into the swim, rather than have it slowly dwindle away.

I don’t often fish hemp on the hook, but I will combine it with my other four baits. Hemp and pellet is a modern classic, in my book, and well worth trying, especially on barbel rivers.



As with pellets and hemp, roach see a lot of boilies as a by-product of carp and barbel anglers’ feed. Some of the biggest winter roach are caught by carp anglers on boilies, and this is a very effective way of singling out the bigger fish.

A 10mm boilie is just about the right size for a 2lb roach, and I can think of a number of times that this bait, along with a small PVA stick of pellets, has allowed me to get through the small fish and select just the big ones from the shoal.



There is no better bait for roach than bread. Very cheap, it selected big fish from rivers and lakes where we never dreamed the roach grew so large. Knowledge of how to get the best from bread is slowly ebbing away, but that doesn’t make it any less effective, just unfashionable.

Back in the day I’d use heavy trotting gear with an 8mm disc of punched bread on the hook. A nugget of liquidised bread fed every cast would be all the feed that was required.

I am sure these tactics would still work just as well today and I plan to try them again soon, especially on running waters, where a bright, obvious bait would be difficult for any big roach to ignore.

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