Darren Cox's five top tips for float fishing for big roach

A lot of species almost switch off the feed when the temperatures plummet but, for some strange reason, roach seem to do the complete opposite. On days when ice is lining the margins or worse, you can still rely on those redfins to provide a bite every chuck.

The shoals can consist of literally hundreds of fish, so how do you go about picking off the biggest ones in it? This week England international and Garbolino-backed Darren Cox shows you how to keep quality roach coming thick and fast.


1) Light rigs

“The biggest of the roach in the shoal are going to the oldest and wisest, and they will ignore a bait that isn’t presented properly. “Light rigs play an important part in this process so you should go no heavier than 0.12mm mainline and an 0.10mm hooklength to a size 18 hook. “Pay special attention to your shotting pattern, making sure it allows your hookbait to enter the feeding zone at a slow pace.”

2) Finiky Feeding

Roach will change the way they feed almost every day. “It is important to work out early in the day whether the redfins are intercepting the bait as it falls through the water or picking it up off the bottom. “If they are plucking at the bait as it sinks, it’s time to use a strung-out shotting pattern to really slow the fall of the hookbait.”                 

3) Unbeatable Baits

“If there are two baits that will guarantee big roach they are hemp and tares. “A size 16 or 18 Kamasan B511 is a light pattern of hook that is perfect for a tare or a grain of hemp. Float choice is also important. and a Garbolino DC12H provides the slow fall of the hookbait that is required. “Feed regularly, firing in 20 grains every few minutes.”

4) Waggler Winner

When the water is clear a waggler can often outscore the pole. “Cast out the float and then count how long it takes for the hookbait to hit the bottom. “You can work out when the bait has touched the deck by placing a small shot just above the hooklength – this will register and make your float sit how you want it once the hookbait has touched bottom.

“If you find that it takes a count to 10 before it hits the deck but the bites are coming by the time you count to five it means the fish are sat at half-depth and it is time to shallow up.”

5) Keep on feeding

“Make sure the feed is going in little and often and you will get the stamp of fish you wish for at some point. “Keep a few maggots trickling through the water column, not letting this rhythm stop at any point during the day. If you do, your chances of bringing specimen roach into the peg will quickly diminish. “If small fish refuse to back away, switch to feeding casters and use two on the hook.”