Dave Harrell Maggots for barbel
When the rivers are clear, it’s maggots you need!
OVER the past few years people seem to have become brainwashed into thinking you can only catch barbel on pellets or boilies.
However, I’ve found recently that I’m catching more barbel on maggots, both with float gear and through a feeder.
This week I’m going to take you through how I floatfish for barbel at this time of the year.
First of all, I’ve found that swims between 7ft and 10ft deep are the most productive, especially if they have fairly swift water flowing over a gravel bottom. But what about the tackle needed?
RODS, LINES AND HOOKS
Recently I’ve been using two models that I’ve worked on with Daiwa over the past 12 months.
The lighter of the pair is the Tournament RS 14ft Float, which I use as my ‘all-rounder’ with mainlines of 0.16mm to 0.20mm and hooklengths of 0.10mm to 0.16mm.
My hook for use with this rod is a size 12 or 14 Drennan Wide Gape, which I modify by crushing the barb to leave a small lump on the inside of the hook. This helps to keep baits like double and treble maggot on the hook.
For heavier work I use the Tournament RS 14ft Power Float rod with main lines from 0.20mm to 0.24mm and hooklengths to suit from 0.16mm upwards. My number one hook for this rod is a Kamasan Animal Spade in sizes 10 to 14, and I use three or four maggots on these. Reels are invariably Daiwa TDR 3012s.
For the depths I’ve mentioned, and to cope with flow and other influences like wind, you need a big float that will boss the swim. I’ve recently been using No2 Truncheon Wagglers up to 5SSG and No3 Bolo floats up to 10g. While these might look too big, believe me, when they’re bobbing out in 9ft of pacey River Trent
flow, they are perfect for the job.
For the No2 Truncheon Waggler I use two No4 shots for every 3ft of depth, so in 9ft of water I’ll typically have six No4s down the line. The bottom shot normally starts off resting on top of a 15inch hooklength and the rest of the shots are spread equally up the line to within 2ft of the float. I also build in an additional four or five No4 shots with the locking shot so that I can bring a few more down the line if I feel that I need to get the hookbait down faster.
For the Bolo rig, I fix an olivette about 15ins from the hook with no dropper shot.
For recent sessions on the Trent I’ve been taking two pints of casters, two cans of hemp and four pints of maggots.
The key to getting barbel feeding at this time of the year is to create a constant stream of feed, so you’ll need a catapult with a good size cup and strong elastic.
I spend the first hour of the session introducing bait two or three times every run down, half-filling the catapult cup each time. Always remember that you can only fish as far out as you can fire the bait, and get into a routine
of running the float to the end of the swim then feeding before you retrieve. Doing it this way, your hookbait will meet up with the feed when you cast out.
Feed again after the rig has settled then again when the rig is half way down the swim. After an hour or two you’ll have created a ‘column’ of feed through the swim and it’s the perfect way to switch barbel on in clear water because they can’t resist the maggots and casters drifting past them.
Another thing you will need to master is feeding the swim while you’ve got a fish on. If you don’t do so, you can go for a long period with no bait going though the swim at all and all your previous hard work is undone.
The trick is to keep them swimming along the bottom with your rod just above the water. If you look at the shape of a barbel you can see that it wants to be near the riverbed, so keeping your rod high just prolongs the battle.
Once you get a barbel moving, bring the rod round as far as you can before winding down on a tight line. Next, lead the fish further up the swim by bringing the rod round to its maximum distance again. The only time the rod should come up is when you can see the float. The next bit of the battle is when most fish are lost as the fish powers off ,so make sure your clutch is set and that your anti-reverse is off!
Wind down on a tight line to play barbel. A fine autumn barbel that couldn’t resist the lure of maggots!
No2 TRUNCHEON WAGGLER Use a float that’s big enough to control. I’ve been using 4SSG and 5SSG models.
No3 BOLO Shot this one with an olivette. The hook and three or four maggots is the dropper.
Casters are an excellent barbel bait.
With maggots, I like to use two bronze and one red on the hook. Two cans of hemp is ample. Add one can to each pint of casters.