Dave Har­rell heads to the River Trent

Try go­ing heav­ier to help with your float pre­sen­ta­tion un­der dif­fi­cult con­di­tions…

Angling Times (UK) - - WELCOME -

IN AN ideal world, float an­glers on rivers would al­ways go fish­ing when there was lit­tle or no wind.

Even bet­ter would be a gen­tle up­streamer, but in truth we rarely get such con­di­tions. In fact, on rivers like the Trent it’s rare to get any­thing other than a down­stream wind, which brings me nicely on to my lat­est mid­week ses­sion a cou­ple of days ago.

I’d been try­ing to sort a trip out with my old pal Bob Roberts for a while, so when he rang to say he’d got a few days spare, we fixed up a day on the Trent at East Stoke.

Bob had told me about the place a while back, and I’d been look­ing for­ward to fish­ing there so we ar­ranged to meet up a few days ago and give it a whirl. Be­fore load­ing the car, I had a quick look at the weather app on my phone and, while we were as­sured of a dry and sunny day, the fore­cast was for strong wind, get­ting stronger as the af­ter­noon went on.

I hadn’t been to the place be­fore so I wasn’t sure in which di­rec­tion the wind would be blow­ing. On ar­rival at the venue, I wasn’t sur­prised to see that it was gust­ing down­stream, in the ex­act op­po­site di­rec­tion to what I had hoped for!


Bob sug­gested we walk down­river to where there was plenty of flow down the near side. This would help our float­fish­ing – it was good ad­vice. With a down­stream wind on a slow-mov­ing river it can be im­pos­si­ble to get any con­trol.

We set­tled into a nice-look­ing float swim and started to learn a lit­tle about the depth con­tours be­fore tack­ling up. Too many an­glers don’t spend long enough plumb­ing the depth, in my opin­ion. For me it’s one of the most im­por­tant parts of the ses­sion, as your find­ings will de­ter­mine every­thing you do from then on.

We found 8ft of water three rodlengths out. This gen­tly sloped back to­wards us into stead­ier water, but we both felt we’d need to fish into the flow in order to make float gear work prop­erly.

“These are nor­mally stick float swims,” Bob told me. “In per­fect con­di­tions, I’d use a 6No4 or 8No4 float, but we might be up against it to­day in these con­di­tions.”

The wind was get­ting stronger all the time and we both thought that a wag­gler ap­proach might be the way to go, should stick float tac­tics prove in­ad­e­quate. We also thought that a Bolo rig might do the trick, so three 13ft Daiwa Tour­na­ment Pro float rods were set up, all with 0.18mm main­lines.


The first rod fea­tured a 6No4 Heavy Base stick float with strun­gout No8 shot spread across the bot­tom two-thirds of the line. The bot­tom No8 was po­si­tioned 10ins above the hook.

The sec­ond rod was a 4g No2 Bolo with an olivette 2ft from the hook and a No6 drop­per 10ins from the hook.

The third set-up was our ex­per­i­men­tal wag­gler rod, be­cause we weren’t sure what species we’d end up fish­ing for and what sort of pre­sen­ta­tion we’d need. For starters, I set up a 5AAA No1 Thin Speci Wag­gler. These floats are a bit thicker than pea­cock wag­glers and work well in pacey water with a bit of depth. To give us op­tions, I in­cluded eight No6 shot as well as the main lock­ing shots. For a start­ing rig, I equally po­si­tioned four of these No6s plus a No8 on top of the 35cm hook­length.

All three rods fea­tured size 16 or 18 Drennan Wide Gape hooks tied to 0.10mm or 0.12mm hook­lengths. For bait we’d got four pints of casters, four of hemp and four of mag­gots – plus half-ap­int of tares for roach.


We started off by try­ing to make the Bolo rig work, but the gust­ing down­stream wind soon put paid to that, and we both agreed that it wasn’t go­ing to play a part un­less the wind dropped sig­nif­i­cantly.

The Heavy Base stick float rig,

fished up to two rodlengths out, worked much bet­ter, and feed­ing steadily with casters and hemp, it didn’t take long to start catch­ing small roach. A few chub up to the pound mark also took a lik­ing to our mag­got or caster hook­baits but af­ter two hours, the only de­cent fish hooked and landed was a pike that grabbed a small chub!

The wind by now was blow­ing quite strongly into us, as well as down­stream, so we de­cided a change of tac­tics was in order. The Thin Speci Wag­gler was swapped for a 6AAA No1 Trun­cheon wag­gler - a thicker, top-tapered float that works re­ally well in con­di­tions like we were faced with. The shot­ting was kept the same as the orig­i­nal wag­gler rig.


The change proved suc­cess­ful as two barbel, one of 3lb and one a pound big­ger, were tricked into tak­ing our dou­ble mag­got hook­baits. A much big­ger fish was then lost as the hook­length broke af­ter a lengthy bat­tle.

I changed to a big­ger 4SSG No2 Trun­cheon Wag­gler with a size 12 Wide Gape hook tied to a 0.16mm hook­length. In the next three hours we shared a haul of 16 barbel, the big­gest go­ing over 9lb!

The day had proved to be a big suc­cess, but it was only achieved by sys­tem­at­i­cally chang­ing rigs around un­til we ar­rived at a pre­sen­ta­tion and a feed­ing pat­tern that suited the fish. If we’d stayed on the stick rig I very much doubt we would have caught the barbel. I’m also pretty sure we wouldn’t have caught any­where near as many barbel with feeder tac­tics.

Over the five hours we fed a to­tal of around six pints of bait, mostly casters and hemp. The best hook­bait proved to be three big mag­gots – two bronzes and a red.

Next time you are faced with a down­stream wind, don’t just give up and throw a feeder out. Try a big wag­gler and you might just be pleas­antly sur­prised at the re­sults!

“We thought a wag­gler might be the way to go if the stick wasn’t work­ing”

Bob with the day’s best, a 9lb barbel.

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