River fishing expert Dave Harrell Q&A

River fishing pro Dave Harrell answers some of your burning river questions!


Q) I fish a deep river where it’s hard to get loosefeed to the bottom. What groundbait mix would you recommend in winter? 

A) I use groundbait a lot in the winter and my mix is simple. I use differing parts of Bait-Tech Pro Natural Original with molehill soil. 

If there are a lot of fish, I mix 3kg of dry groundbait with 1.5 litres of soil. If the fish aren’t as plentiful, I use even more soil, as this will just get the loosefeed down rather than feeding them. My ‘difficult days’ mix is 1kg of Pro Natural Original to three litres of soil. 



Q) When floatfishing on rivers in the winter I struggle to keep bites coming. Could I possibly be overfeeding the swim? 

A) In the cooler months two to three pints of feed is usually more than enough on most venues. I have fished matches and fed every cast but still not used a pint. A rule of thumb is feed light to start and feed to the response thereafter. 

Chub and dace will eat a lot more feed than roach, so species also dictates how much to put in. 

Try to ration yourself by measuring out half-pints into your bait tin rather than having all your bait out from the start.  


What size hooks for chub!

Q) What size hooks should I use for chub? A friend told me I’d catch more on a size 20 than a bigger hook! 

A) Chub have very big mouths. While I’ve caught them on huge baits intended for barbel, I’ve caught many more on a small hook with maggots. Always match the hook to the bait. For single maggot use a 20, for double maggot an 18 or 16, and for three or four maggots use a 14 or 12. 



Q) I want to do some feeder fishing for chub on the River Thames. Can you recommend a good reel and line combination? 

A) I’m a big fan of Daiwa reels, and I use a TDR 3012 for this sort of fishing. 

Use it in conjunction with 8lb (0.24mm) Pro Feeder line. This is a sinking line, which you can get down under the surface quickly.


How do I plumb the depth on a river?

Q) How do I plumb the depth on moving water? I struggle because the float keeps getting dragged under! 

A) Plumb before you put a rig on. Fix a small top-and-bottom stick float or balsa on the line and tie a heavy plummet or bomb to the line. 

With only the one weight to work with you’ll find the depth much quicker. Try walking downstream, plumbing up every couple of yards. Do this for at least 30m and you’ll find just how deep the swim is.



Q) Over the past few months I have been bumping loads of grayling off. Can I do anything to stop this happening?

A) Lost fish can be a real frustration at times and, unfortunately, it’s very rare to hook a lot of river fish in a session and land them all. The problem is, the fish use the current to their advantage and twist themselves off the hook. 

A few things you could try include finer wire hooks, bigger hooks and softer rods. 

All these things can help you to land more fish.