River fishing tips | How to use a waggler on summer rivers

Small rivers in summer can be prolific and frustrating in equal measure. The problem is that often you can see hundreds of fish in the clear water, but catching them can be difficult!

Never fear, top match angler Mark Pollard is an expert on these waters, and for this week’s lesson he offers some timely pointers for the early season…


Swim selection

“Spot an overhanging tree that a huge shoal of dace is basking under, or a clump of reeds that a big chub keeps investigating, and it would be so tempting to plonk your seatbox down right in front of the fish-holding feature.

“But minutes after unloading your tackle into the peg you’ll once again scour the water excitedly and the fish will have mysteriously vanished.

“I will always place my box well upstream of where I eventually want to catch the fish. If you sit right on top of them they will definitely move off elsewhere, so it is better to try and catch them from further away.

“It is important to make sure that the area between where you are sitting and where you intend to get the bites is free of large snags and obstructions, as you will need a clear area to run your rig through and bring fish in.”

Careful feeding

Maggots and casters are the best bet when silver fish and bonus chub are on the cards. You have to keep feeding if you want the fish to feed confidently, and it is important that you do it right.

I let my rig start running through the swim and aim to have my loosefeed land a couple of metres behind the float. It will catch up with your hookbait at the point where you are trying to get a bite, making your rig look a lot less suspicious to the fish.

I want to feed the fish just enough so that they will start to compete, but at the same time I need them to find my hookbait quickly so that I get a bite each time the rig runs through.

Hookbait depends on the size and species you are targeting, but triple maggot or caster is a winner when you are trying to fend off small fish, while a single maggot works best when you are happy catching fish of all sizes.


Leave the pole alone

Waving a long length of carbon over the top of the shoal of fish will instantly spook many of them. A waggler is a much better option.

I like to run the float through the swim, allowing the current to push it through to make the hookbait move at a natural pace.

A swim that is fairly slow-moving will enable you to have full control of how the float trots. I always leave the bail-arm open and this allows me to let the float run as far as I want, while also giving me the option of placing my finger on the spool every now and then to stop the rig moving.

A 3g or 4g loaded waggler locked in place by two float stops provides the best control on small rivers, with 4lb mainline through to a 0.10mm hooklength to a size 18 hook.