Dave Har­rell Mag­gots for bar­bel

When the rivers are clear, it’s mag­gots you need!

Angling Times (UK) - - WELCOME -

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?


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.

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