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I love us­ing a cen­tre­pin, but for all the ad­van­tages of line con­trol and set­ting the hook in a split sec­ond, it does have its dis­ad­van­tages, es­pe­cially when fish­ing close to snags. Where giv­ing line may let a bar­bel find a snag, a fixed­spool reel with a tight clutch will stack the odds in your favour. But a de­gree of line con­trol will be lost, and the bail arm click­ing over will cost you fish. Back­wind­ing is an op­tion, but also an art!

REEL CHOICE

4

It’s not a mon­ster. It’s what I would con­sider a stan­dard-sized bar­bel for this swim, around 4 lb 8 oz, but oc­ca­sion­ally a much big­ger spec­i­men barges in, twice the size. I have two land­ing nets with me, one used to let each bar­bel re­cover af­ter be­ing caught. I po­si­tion this close by and make sure the fish is fac­ing up­stream, and when it looks a bit lively I hold it in the wa­ter and al­low it to swim off strongly from my hands. It’s also com­mon that bar­bel en­ter the swim in small groups, and while one is re­cov­er­ing, an­other fol­lows next cast. And that’s ex­actly what’s just hap­pened, as I’m in again.

5

My de­ci­sion to use a cen­tre­pin reel has back­fired, as af­ter those two mod­est bar­bel I’ve lost a cou­ple in the snag be­cause I wasn’t able to stop them. I have been hav­ing to get closer and closer to the snag to get bites, so not want­ing any more loses I have swapped to a fixed-spool reel, and af­ter bump­ing a fish, which left a scale on the hook, I’ve found my­self play­ing a re­ally pow­er­ful fish. Set­ting the clutch to give just a lit­tle line, and with the rod well bent and some side strain ap­plied, I’ve been able to get the bar­bel into open wa­ter, where I can now en­joy the fight.

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