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!
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.
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.