River fishing tips| How to catch barbel while fishing a river.

The river season is now in full swing so to help you have your best-ever river fishing season we’ve brought you some of the best tips from top river and specimen angler Dai Gribble.

Here some of the best river fishing tips to try right now.

  • Try using small hooks

Barbel are outstanding fighters, but don’t let this fool you into thinking you must use big hooks for them.

Smaller, strong hooks can be much more beneficial, especially when fishing in daylight when they can be finicky feeders.

Scaling down your hook size can make a big difference in not spooking the fish. They also allow you to use smaller particles.

There are many small hooks such as the Korum Specimen that are strong enough in size 14 and 12 to cope with big barbel. I use them for small baits such as 8mm pellets, mini boilies and single grains of corn.

1 Barbel - hook sizes.jpg
  • Keep your rods up

We’ve had a bit of unseasonal weather at the start of this season, with many rivers carrying extra water from the high rainfall.

This makes it even more important to fish with your rods up in the air, because fishing in this way helps you to minimise the drag on the line from the current.

This lets you to hold bottom with lighter leads and feeders, giving you a more sensitive set-up with better bite indication.

Smaller leads and feeders also cause less disturbance, reducing the chances of spooking fish when you cast out.

2 Barbel - rods in the air.jpg
  • Carry a range of feeders

Carry a wide range of feeders of varying sizes and weights so that you can select the right one for the job.

Different weight feeders will be required depending on the depth and flow of the swim you are fishing, and different sizes allow you to vary the amount of bait that you introduce.

Generally the deeper, faster flowing and further across I am casting, the heavier the feeder needs to be to hold bottom. The aim is to get the feeder to quickly hold in one place after it has settled after casting.

3 Barbel feeders - weights and sizes.jpg
  • Feeding rates

As well as carrying feeders of different sizes and weights, it pays to carry different types.

This will allow you to vary the rate at which your feed comes out of the feeder. A mesh feeder will empty much quicker than a traditional-style feeder with just a few holes.

If bites are coming soon after casting, opt for a mesh feeder so that the bait empties quickly, otherwise it will still be full and empty across the river whilst you are playing a fish.

If bites are slow it pays to use a slower release feeder to ensure bait is trickling past your hookbait for much longer.

4 Barbel feeders - speed of bait delivery.jpg
  • Running rigs rule

A free-running kit is ideal for barbel. I was lucky enough to test the new Korum Bolt and Run kits and will be using them this season for all my barbel fishing, they’re that good.

With this rig the ring holding the feeder or lead is semi-fixed which provides a great bolt effect when a barbel takes the hookbait. As it is only lightly fixed it comes free instantly a fish is hooked.

Combined with an anti-tangle sleeve this rig is easy to cast without tangling as the feeder or lead stays in place and there is no possibility of it sliding up the mainline when the feeder hits the water.

5 Running rigs rule.jpg
  • Look after the fish

Anglers need to prioritise fish care over everything else, particularly in the summer when higher water temperatures mean the water holds less oxygen.

There are a number of measures you can take to minimise the impact on barbel.

Firstly, always rest the fish in the landing net for at least a couple of minutes to allow it to recover before lifting it out of the water. If possible, unhook the fish in shallow water and release it immediately.

Consider whether you really need a photograph and whether it is necessary to weigh a fish.

If it looks close to a target weight then weigh it, but if you are fishing for big specimens do you really need to know exactly what a smaller fish weighs?

6 Barbel - weighing, care and returning summer fish.jpg