Dai Gribble's Specimen Secrets revealed

1) Use small hooks for big roach

If you spend most of your time fishing for species such as barbel and perch then you’re likely to be using hooks of size 12 or bigger.

As a result, if you start fishing for roach with double maggot on a size 16 it looks extremely small by comparison.

However, don’t be fooled into thinking that a size 16 is tiny and that roach won’t be put off by it.

Ask any match angler and they’ll tell you that you’ll get a lot more bites the smaller you can go.

This is due to the weight of the hook and the fact that roach are delicate feeders, quite able to detect something is not quite right even with a size 16 hook.

Yes, you’ll fool the odd fish but drop down to an 18 or even a 20 and you’ll get far more bites.

Smaller hooks have thinner wire and less of it so they weigh less, which means the hookbait reacts more like the free offerings.

Take your time when playing the fish and you’ll certainly end up with more on the bank.

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2) Soft cheesepaste for chub

Chub can be caught on practically any bait you can imagine, from maggots to kids’ sweets, but few are as good for catching bigger fish right now as cheesepaste.

Perhaps the biggest mistake anglers make is that they make cheesepaste that is too firm and then cover the hookpoint when mounting the bait.

One of the main reasons for this is that they make their paste in a warm kitchen. Then, once taken outside into the cold, it becomes much harder. Whenever I make cheesepaste I always put it in the fridge afterwards to check the consistency when it is cold.

If I find it’s too hard I add a little margarine, while if it’s too soft I add liquidised breadcrumbs from a fresh white loaf.

I err on the side of it being soft. Most of my chub fishing involves short casts, and I find that I can bury the hook inside soft paste and cast very gently. For longer casts use a small bait cage on a hair to help keep the bait in place.

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3) Keep warm... fish longer

Catching big fish is often a game of patience – and few things are more certain to break your resolve to sit it out for the bite from possibly the fish of a lifetime than getting cold.

In the past I have found that it is generally my feet that get the coldest, but there are a couple of things you can do that make a real difference. 

Unlined wellies and waders should be avoided – if you really need them, go for a pair with a neoprene lining.

Make sure you pair them with good wool hiking socks. These give a massive boost to your well-being, but be sure you don’t then undermine their thermal properties by wearing them over other socks that are not made of wool.

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4) Travel lighter for chub

When roving for chub you don’t need lots of end tackle. In fact, I carry mine in a really small tackle box. 

There is no point in taking tackle that you won’t use, so leave the feeders and large leads at home and take just the essentials – SSG shot, float stops or leger stops, a few beads and links and hooks. Just add a pair of scissors and a disgorger and you’re good to go.

By only taking the minimum of tackle you will be far more likely to walk further, and that means you will fish more swims. That in turn means you will almost certainly catch more chub.

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