Chub on the simplest rig – Martin Barnatt
It’s probably the most exciting, and easiest, way of catching fish. Martin Barnatt explains why you have to catch a chub off the surface this summer
CAREFULLY, you drop a floating bait with pinpoint precision next to a snaggy lair that screams big fish before camouflaging yourself among the foliage. Minutes later a giant dark shape ghosts out from beneath the tangled branches and a teasing vortex appears on the surface. You hold your breath and your heartbeat steps up a notch when a pair of lips engulf your hookbait. The strike is met with ferocious resistance as the fish realises its mistake and surges off, creating an almighty splash in the process. The pressure is piled on and shortly afterwards your prize is safely nestled in the mesh of your net. Your hard work has paid off.
Tempting fish to feed off the top is arguably the most exhilarating style of angling. For some reason, though, only carp and perhaps rudd seem to be targeted in this thrilling manner. But ask river fanatic Martin Barnatt about surface sport and he knows that there is another species can’t resist a floating bait. “On shallow, clear rivers you really can’t beat floating bread for big chub,” revealed Martin. “They love to feed on the surface and if you get your tactics right you can have a cracking day’s fishing.”
Priming the swim
Carp anglers targeting fish on the surface will spend long periods building up the confidence of their quarry by catapulting pouches of bait. They won’t cast their hookbait until the fish are feeding with gusto and competing with each other to eat every single free offering. It’s a completely different ball game when chub are the focus, explained Martin. “They aren’t used to seeing large quantities of bait floating past above them and they soon wise up that something isn’t right. “If they see bait on the surface they swipe at it and can easily spook at the same time. If that is a piece of loosefeed you’ve ruined your chance of it taking your hookbait. “Excessive loosefeed can also drift into snaggy areas that are out of reach for your rig, taking the fish well beyond where they can be caught.” Martin tears off just one piece of bread the size of a 50p coin and throws it in, standing slightly upstream of where he thinks the fish will be before watching it run down with the flow. “If fish are there the bread will be taken in an instant. If it doesn’t, I throw in one more piece of bread and if that still isn’t eaten the swim isn’t worth fishing.” Once Martin locates a fish it is a case of hooking on a piece of bread and running it through the swim.
Fishing’s simplest rig
All of the best anglers gain their results by keeping things simple, but I can confidently say that Martin’s set-up is the easiest of them all to
to sit near Chub love this raft cover like Always try of weed. these close to fishing
put together. In fact, it’s difficult to even call it a rig! “All you need to do is tie a hook to your mainline – that’s it!” stated Martin. “It is then a matter of keeping the bail arm open to release line and let the hookbait run through the swim. “Keep your finger close to the spool, though, as you’ll need to trap the line with your finger should a fish take the hookbait to create the resistance needed to set the hook when striking.” Martin uses an 11ft feeder rod with 7lb Drennan Double Strength mainline to a size 6 or 8 hook. “I find that a tip rod gives you a little bit more sensitivity, providing more of an indication as to how well the fish has engulfed the bait when you see those lips go for the bread.”
No matter which river you choose to try this exciting style of angling, you can guarantee that its inhabitants will all live in swims that have similar hallmarks. “Chub love to sit close to cover so pegs that have obvious features should be your first port of call. I’ll never walk the river first to get a feel for it without any tackle as there is every chance you’ll see fish. Then you have to head back to the car and by the time you arrive back, more often than not they’ve disappeared. “It is better to go from your starting point and fish swims with large rafts of debris, overhanging trees or other areas of dense vegetation.” Once you have caught a fish from a spot it is only worth one more run through because the likelihood is that it won’t produce another bite. Chub wise up quickly and any remaining fish will back away as a result of the commotion. It is then time to move on but don’t be afraid to revisit later as the fish will resettle and there could be another opportunity. Once you have enjoyed several sessions on a certain stretch of river, you will notice patterns emerge. “Chub very rarely leave their homes and a swim that contained chub a few weeks ago is almost certain to still do so. Floating baits are highly underrated when it comes to catching chub but there is no more exciting way of picking them off at this time of year,” concluded Martin.
If chub are present they will take the hookbait almost instantly
Chub provide fantastic sport on floating baits in the summer