Targeting fast and shallow swims flanked by willow trees for big chub and barbel is adrenaline-pumping stuff.
You’ll have a real battle on your hands once a fish is hooked – and the tactic needs a very different top and bottom float set-up to a traditional stick float rig.
Owing to the pace, you need to fish a heavy Avon-style float taking several AAA shot to not only give you great control of the rig but to also get the bait down to the bottom quickly.
Lines and hooks also need to be strong, as your tackle will take a lot of punishment over the course of a five-hour session. It’s not really for the faint-hearted, but the results can be truly satisfying!
A) Float size
With the river running at full pace, your float won’t be in the swim for that long because it will soon trot out of the peg.
To get the bait to the bottom at the head of the swim, pick a big top and bottom float taking 4-5 AAA shot. This will let the float cock immediately and begin fishing because a bite can often come right at the head of the swim.
B) Pile on the pressure
When a fish is hooked, don’t stand back and admire the curve in the rod – the fish will do you in a snag! Instead, wind right down and pull hard on the fish to subdue that first run and put you in charge of the fight.
A through-actioned rod will help here, absorbing the lunges and runs without the danger of a snapped hooklink.
C) Bulk shot
In shallow swims you’ll not get bites on the drop and the aim is to get the bait down to the bottom in seconds.
This means a very simple and positive shotting pattern made up of all the float’s weight grouped into a bulk just above the hooklink. Typically this will be made up of large BB or AAA shot.
D) Proper tackle
Not only are the chub and barbel you’re aiming for of a decent size, but the riverbed may be uneven, with lots of rocks.
Naturally, a hooked fish will do its best to cut you off by rubbing the line against these snags.
It makes sense then, to use heavy tackle with a hooklink of around 0.16mm or 0.18mm and a strong size 14 or 12 hook for fishing big baits.