It’s prime time for a dream 2lb roach. Here’s how to get one...

...and here’s how to do it this win­ter

Angling Times (UK) - - NEWS -

ILOVE catch­ing big river roach, and only last week I hit my win­ter tar­get of a two-pounder with a 2lb 2oz fish from the Wye.

My best-ever big-roach day was in a match back in 1987 when I won a con­test on the River Sev­ern be­low Bewd­ley on a ris­ing river with 18-7-0, a catch that in­cluded three roach over 2lb! Two of them were 2lb 1oz apiece and the big­gest went 2lb 3oz. I also picked up £500, which was a good prize at the time, so it was a mem­o­rable oc­ca­sion! Since that glo­ri­ous day I’d only added a cou­ple more 2lb roach and it was long over­due that I caught another one.

Now I want another, but quite where I’ll be fish­ing for my next ‘two’ I’m not ex­actly sure. I’ve pen­cilled in a trip to the Rib­ble and am hop­ing to take in some of the rivers down south, in­clud­ing the Hamp­shire Avon and the Test.

In ad­di­tion to new south­ern venues, I’ll be vis­it­ing more fa­mil­iar haunts like the Sev­ern again, of course. I was in­ter­ested to see that new Eng­land In­ter­na­tional Matt God­frey had landed one of 2lb 7oz in the re­cent Home In­ter­na­tional on the Quarry Park length at Shrews­bury. That is one hell of a roach from the Sev­ern, and one that I would love on my list!

So how do we go about catch­ing big roach? For me, the best time to tar­get them is when the river is car­ry­ing a lit­tle ex­tra wa­ter and colour. I’m not talk­ing about heavy colour, but a colour where you can throw mag­gots in and see them around 6ins-8ins down. This sort of vis­i­bil­ity in the wa­ter means fish can see the bait and will sight-feed rather than re­ly­ing on smell, which is how they feed when the river is highly coloured.

As long as roach can see the bait com­ing at them and the wa­ter tem­per­a­ture is con­sis­tent, you will catch more on float gear than you will on static baits.

In the colder months it pays to fish swims which are deep and where the shelf is close to you. This al­lows you to present your bait more eas­ily than hav­ing to fish well out.

My favourite float pat­tern in these sit­u­a­tions is the DH No2 Al­loy Avon. This float, in sizes from 2g to 6g, is per­fect for de­liv­er­ing your hook­bait ex­actly how the roach want it in the colder months. It has a very pro­nounced shoul­der, and the ta­per at the tip of the float al­lows you to dot it right down on days when there is no wind. That means you can de­tect even the slight­est of bites and move­ments on the tip.

The shot­ting pat­tern for this rig is sim­ple. I use an olivette as the bulk and po­si­tion this about 2ft

from the hook. A No6 or No4 shot is then po­si­tioned about 10ins above the hook.

As a gen­eral guide to float size, use 1g of float ca­pac­ity for ev­ery 2ft of wa­ter. A 10ft deep swim would there­fore re­quire a 5g float.

There are sev­eral ways to present this rig when you are fish­ing deep and pacey wa­ter. The first way is to just let it go with the cur­rent, but only rarely does this ap­proach pick out the big­ger fish.

A much bet­ter way is to slow the bait down as it trav­els through the wa­ter, ei­ther by us­ing a cen­tre­pin or by back­wind­ing the rig down the swim.

I’ve had an old Leeds cen­tre­pin for many years and al­ways carry it in the win­ter months, as there are days when it can be un­beat­able on cer­tain swims. There are no han­dles on my reel and I have the line com­ing off the top.

To wind a fish in, I sim­ply put my fin­ger in one of the big holes and wind back­wards. It’s a very en­joy­able way of catch­ing big roach and the feel through the rod as a big roach kicks is some­thing I will never tire of. I keep adding shot to the bulk in BBs un­til the float tip is only just vis­i­ble. A long rod is good for this style of fish­ing, as it will al­low you to keep a tight line to the float-tip.

Back­wind­ing the rig is some­thing many an­glers still have to master, and if you learn noth­ing else new this win­ter, I’d urge you to get into this style of pre­sent­ing your hook­bait. It’s not easy, and you’ll prob­a­bly get tan­gles to start with, but in the long term it will be worth it, as it will def­i­nitely help you to hook more fish.

All you need to do is cast your rig in down­stream, let it set­tle then close your bail-arm. Now the tricky bit starts. You need to keep up with the speed of the cur­rent by wind­ing back­wards on a tight line. Once you’ve mas­tered that, you can do all sorts of lit­tle things to tempt a fish into tak­ing your hook­bait. You can slow the rig down by back­wind­ing slower than the speed of the cur­rent, or al­low it speed it up by back­wind­ing quickly. As with the cen­tre­pin, you can also keep adding ex­tra weight in the form of BB shot.

For big-roach fish­ing with these rigs, I’d rec­om­mend you to use a 0.18mm or 0.20mm main­line and 0.12mm or 0.14mm hook­lengths. A size 16 or 14 hook with two or three lightly coloured bronze mag­gots will com­plete the rig.

If, like me, you en­joy catch­ing big roach, try these ap­proaches once the lev­els on your favourite rivers state to come up. Time your trips right and we will hope­fully both achieve some mag­i­cal 2lb fish over the next few months!

Qual­ity river roach like these have seen it all be­fore.

My han­dle-less cen­tre­pin reel.


Slow your float down for the big­ger fish.

It’s high time I caught another roach like this!

DH No2 Al­loy Avons, per­fect for slow­ing a bait down.

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