Floatfishing for barbel is almost a forgotten art in this age of the swimfeeder but, on the right peg, running a float through can be devastating, especially when rivers are running low and clear.
Look for a swim where the main flow and the deepest water is close to the bank, because this makes trotting the float straight down the swim much easier and allows the rig to be eased downstream at anything up to a quarter of the pace of the surface flow. This is important, because the current near the riverbed, where the barbel are to be found, is always slower than at the surface.
The tackle you need
✔ 3g-8g stick, Avon or loafer float
✔ Bulk AAA/BB shot, or an olivette
✔ 8b mainline
✔ 6lb hooklink
✔ Size 12-16 hooks
- Use a big stick, Avon or Loafer float with a loading of anything between 3g and 8g, depending on the conditions.
- Place the bulk shot or olivette at three-quarters depth to get the hookbait down quickly.
- Maggots work well, but if small fish are a problem, switch to banded pellets or small cubes of meat.
- If conditions allow, feed the swim with a bait dropper to ensure accuracy.