TOP GROUNDBAITS FOR RIVER BAR­BEL

Bait ex­pect Paul Gar­ner re­veals his favourite swim­feeder mix

Angling Times (UK) - - TIPS & TACTICS -

IF any venue is de­signed for the feeder it has got to be a big river.

Be­ing able to get some feed close to the hookbait is an ab­so­lute god­send – just try fish­ing a straight lead rod along­side a feeder rod and you’ll see how much dif­fer­ence it can make.

For me the open-end feeder is the right tool for the job at this time of the year be­cause I want to fish with a mix of ground­bait, pel­lets or boilies, with lash­ings of hemp to draw fish to­wards my hookbait.

I don’t worry about the com­mo­tion caused by the feeder crash­ing down over the fish – in deep wa­ter it doesn’t af­fect them.

THE FEEDER MIX

When I am guid­ing an­glers on large rivers many are sur­prised at how of­ten I will recast. Yet, keep­ing bait go­ing in is key to build­ing up the swim. The more you feed, the more you are likely to catch, and this ap­plies just as much if I am fish­ing into dark as it does dur­ing the day.

Fif­teen min­utes is as long as I like to leave the feeder out, and my ground­bait mix is de­signed to break down in this time frame.

The ba­sis of my feeder mix is mi­cro-pel­lets, from al­most crumb size up to 3mm. Wet­ted down, these pel­lets stick to­gether well, yet they break down in wa­ter to re­lease a stream of par­ti­cles.

Be­cause the pel­lets can stick too well, I add a hand­ful of fish­meal ground­bait to help the mix bind, but still break down quickly. By ad­just­ing the amount of ground­bait added you can fine­tune the mix just how you want it.

This is a re­ally po­tent ground­bait mix on its own, but to boost it still fur­ther I use as much hempy wa­ter as pos­si­ble to dampen it. If you use ready-pre­pared hemp then drain off the wa­ter it is supplied in or, if you cook your own hemp, keep the cook­ing wa­ter back in a plas­tic bot­tle.

A hand­ful of 6mm and 8mm pel­lets is added to the ground­bait mix so you are in­clud­ing feed of a sim­i­lar size to the hookbait. Use mini-boilies in­stead if these are your pre­ferred hook­baits.

AC­CU­RATE FEED­ING

The big­gest prob­lem to be over­come when fish­ing for bar­bel in big rivers is how to feed ac­cu­rately. When faced with a river per­haps 60 yards across and 10ft deep with a de­cent flow, get­ting any bait close to the hookbait will be a chal­lenge.

On rel­a­tively slow-flow­ing rivers like the Lower Sev­ern or Thames, a spod can be used to launch hemp, pel­lets and boilies out to your cho­sen line. Use the line clip on the reel and you’ll hit the same dis­tance ev­ery time. Al­low­ing for the bait to sink, cast the spod two to four rodlengths up­stream of where you cast your feeder rig.

Spod­ding in a river may sound un­con­ven­tional, but if you want to boost your bar­bel catches it is highly ef­fec­tive.

The cloud of baits drift­ing down­stream drives the bar­bel wild, and of­ten the rod will hoop round within sec­onds of the spod splash­ing down. The spod is used as an ad­di­tion to the feeder, not in­stead of it, as it can’t match the tight con­cen­tra­tion of feed that you get with the feeder.

The old adage that the harder you work, the more you will catch ap­plies to bar­bel fish­ing with the feeder. Keep a con­stant stream of bait trundling down the swim and you will catch a lot more than with a more laid-back ap­proach.

SIM­PLE HOOK­BAITS

I tend to keep my hook­baits straight­for­ward when fish­ing the feeder. If it has done its job then the bar­bel will be on the look­out for grub and not too cau­tious, so a mini-boilie or a hard pel­let is all that’s needed.

Keep the hook­baits small, though. My favourite has to be two 8mm pre-drilled pel­lets on the hair, or a 10mm boilie whit­tled down to re­sem­ble a pel­let.

“Be­ing able to get some feed close to the hookbait is an ab­so­lute god­send”

For me the feeder is a favourite river bar­bel tac­tic.

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