Freeline for chub Five bril­liant baits work­ing on clear rivers right now

Martin Bar­natt’s river chub menu

Angling Times (UK) - - WELCOME -

ONE wrong while chub and your of suc­cess will be in an in­stant.

A badly cast stick float or a heavy leger crash­ing into the wa­ter is more than enough to spook a shoal of finicky chub, and once the dam­age has been done it’s game over for the day.

So how do you ac­cu­rately present a bait in a man­ner that doesn’t make a big wary chub even bat an eye­lid (if it had one!)?

Chub fish­ing fa­natic Martin Bar­natt has banked chub over 4lb from 22 dif­fer­ent wa­ter­ways, and the vast ma­jor­ity of these have fallen to one un­der­rated yet sim­ple ap­proach.

“At this time of year on small and fairly shal­low rivers you can­not beat freel­in­ing,” ex­plained Martin.

“I use noth­ing on the line and only use the hook­bait for cast­ing weight. It makes barely any com­mo­tion when it hits the wa­ter, giv­ing the chub no rea­son to run for cover.”


In­ti­mate rivers are of­ten packed out with po­ten­tial hotspots, so rather than chuck all his eggs in one bas­ket, Martin makes sure he vis­its as many swims as pos­si­ble dur­ing a ses­sion.

“I’ll only have a few casts in each swim and if I don’t get a re­sponse it’s time to move on. If there is a big chub in the area and it wants to feed, it’ll take the hook­bait al­most in­stantly.

“If you man­age to catch a fish from the swim, make a move, as the noise caused dur­ing the fight will scare any oth­ers in the shoal well away from the area.”

Venue knowl­edge also helps Martin lo­cate fish, and he al­ways makes a men­tal note of swims that have pro­duced the goods in the past.

“You can get swims that look the part, but for some rea­son the fish never set­tle in them. If you can re­mem­ber which ar­eas have form you can save your­self a lot of wasted time,” he said.


With their large mouths and a ten­dency to feed ag­gres­sively, you could be for­given for think­ing that the rod would al­most be ripped out of your hands when you get a bite… but you’d be wrong.

More of­ten than not the tini­est pluck is your cue to strike, and to avoid miss­ing any op­por­tu­ni­ties Martin re­lies on his own senses.

“Po­larised sun­glasses are the most im­por­tant thing I carry and I al­ways look for mov­ing fish in shal­low, clear wa­ter,” he said.

“If I can see the fish, I watch the bait and ac­tu­ally see the fish swal­low the bait. When that happens, even if noth­ing on the rod in­di­cates a bite, I will strike.

“Al­most ev­ery time that leads to a bend in the rod. If the wa­ter is too deep to see the fish, I will hold the line be­tween the reel and the first eye on the rod and feel for any re­sis­tance. The slight­est pluck is of­ten the fish tak­ing the bait.”

Ter­mi­nal tackle is made up of 7lb main­line straight through to a size 6 or 8 Dren­nan Wide Gape hook.


De­ter­mined to prove the pulling power of freel­in­ing, Martin in­vited us to join him on the River Ivel at Big­gleswade. With only a few hours to fish, the Chub Study Group member gave each swim a mat­ter of min­utes be­fore mov­ing on to the next.

Ac­cu­rate cast­ing us­ing just the weight of the bait helped him get un­der­neath some fear­some snags and by the end of the stint he had banked four chub to 5lb 8oz.

“I’ve lost count of the num­ber of big chub I have caught freel­in­ing. It is def­i­nitely the way to get your new per­sonal best in the net this week,” he con­cluded. For more in­for­ma­tion on catch­ing the species visit: www. chub­study­

move fish­ing hopes dashed

A 5lb 8oz Ivel chub taken freel­in­ing.

A big wary chub leaves its lair.

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