How to catch tench on the float

by Angling Times |
Published on

These days, bolt rigs have turned many heads, but some have stayed loyal to their roots and continue to floatfish at short range for their ‘tincas’. Korum-backed big-fish expert Mark Dunwell is one of these anglers, and his results in recent years have validated his decision to stick with the traditional ‘Crabtree-style’ way of catching tench.

Pick the perfect haunt

Tench are unlikely to be found in every swim in your chosen lake, but doing a little homework will put you in the right area. As you’d expect, swims with cover are likely to be hotspots – lily pads, reedbeds and overhanging trees can be absolute bankers.

Such features are only part of the story, though. If you are fishing at close range, you’ll need a suitable depth. You want at least 3ft-4ft, which you can often find close-in. If it’s deeper than that, say 6ft-8ft, even better, as this extra depth helps to prevent the fish from spooking when they are close to where you’re sitting.

The final part of the jigsaw with regard to location is picking a spot in your swim and sticking with it. Building up several piles of bait only gives the fish options, and you could, for example, have a baited rig in one spot to the right while the tench are busily grubbing away to the left. Concentrate on a single area and any feeding tench are likely to be within a whisker of your hookbait.


Accuracy will land you more tench.
Accuracy will land you more tench.

Take a variety of baits

Just as with us humans, the appetites of fish can change by the day. One moment they’re keen to gorge on a certain bait, the next they won’t look twice at it! With this in mind, I always have a range of offerings with me to make sure I am never caught short, so to speak.

I always feed maggots over the top of the float, and I believe they have a couple of positive attributes. They’re a soft bait with minimal food content that you can feed in large quantities to hold tench without filling them up, and they’re also great for distracting other species that may come into the peg.

A couple of balls of groundbait are fed over the float at the start, with a small quantity of micro pelletsand a few grains of corn and some prawns included. A few brightly-coloured SonuBaits Lava Rocks also go into the mix to help boost the bait bed’s visual appeal.

Corn and prawns are among the best hookbaits, because they are so visible, and the fish will spot them quickly in murky water. Adding a few tasters with the groundbait makes sure your hookbait doesn’t stand out like a sore thumb and look too suspicious.


Tench can be fussy so take plenty of options.
Tench can be fussy so take plenty of options.

Use appropriate tackle

I always fish off the end of my rod, as this allows me to be in contact with the rig quickly on striking, so I hit far more bites. A 12ft-14ft Korum Glide Power Float rod has several benefits, the first being the strength it has to haul a tench away from the cover that it will inevitably head for. A rod this long also allows you to get out into that slightly deeper water, while still having the float close to the rod-tip.

Mainline is 6lb Preston Innovations Float Max to a 6ins hooklength of 4lb mono and a size 14 Korum Super Steel All Rounder hook. A float with quite a thick and buoyant tip is important when using big baits such as prawns, so that the weight of the hookbait doesn’t impact on the presentation. I use a semi-loaded Preston Innovations Dura Waggler, with a 1.5g version being perfect for a short-range session.


Tench are strong fish so make sure your tackle is upto catching them.
Tench are strong fish so make sure your tackle is upto catching them.

Vary your presentation

Visit a venue with a decent head of tench and the first fish that enter your swim are likely to do so with very little caution. Often they will take the hookbait soon after they arrive.

The disturbance that those fish cause can put others in the vicinity slightly on edge, and this is when you need a few little tricks to trip them up. I have two styles of hooking my bait that I rotate between during a session. The first is to simply straight-hook a prawn or kernel of corn, rather than hair-rig it, and leave the point showing.

If you start to miss bites, it’s likely to be down to the tench not mouthing the bait confidently. Their interest leads to the float dipping, but you’ll strike into thin air. Switching to a hair-rigged bait is the answer. Tench can now mouth the whole offering without feeling the hook and, once they try to swallow it, the hook goes in and it’s too late to eject it.

I tie a Korum Specimen Quick Snap Swivel on to the mainline, and this allows me to switch between hooklengths with ease.


How you hook your bait can make all the difference.
How you hook your bait can make all the difference.

Have one last cast

Most anglers plan to head home at a certain time, but we all know that the famous one last cast is likely to happen before you wind in for the last time! When tench fishing, I’d suggest hanging on in a session as late as possible, because there‘s no doubt the bigger fish begin to stir at this time of day.

On heavily fished waters they’re in tune with unused bait being tipped into the margins, feeding on it without suspicion because they think it offers a ‘safe’ meal. Dipping light levels also stimulate a better response. Bigger fish that are often more wary finally drop their guard and feed more vigorously.

Get your tactics right and you will catch plenty of tench on the float.
Get your tactics right and you will catch plenty of tench on the float.

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