Freeline for chub Five brilliant baits working on clear rivers right now
Martin Barnatt’s river chub menu
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.”
ON THE MOVE
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.
SHORT SESSION SUCCESS
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. chubstudygroup.org.uk
move fishing hopes dashed
A 5lb 8oz Ivel chub taken freelining.
A big wary chub leaves its lair.