A taste of modern chub baits
THE advent of fishmealbased baits had as big an effect on chub as it did on barbel. After the start of the new millennium, many 5 lb-plus chub fell to my carefully prepared barbel rigs, using a PVA stick mix and a 10 or 12 mm pellet on the hook.
Long ago, I had determined that a short hair-rig was best for chub, and my baits were always virtually touching the hook.
The barbel didn’t mind a short hair either, but they certainly worked for chub, as they largely defeated their attempts to pick up a bait without getting hooked.
Some six or seven years ago, it was brought home to me what a difference pellets made when stick float fishing, of all things. I was on an upper Trent swim, which I had fished several times with a float, making good catches of roach, dace and perch. I decided to try some 6 mm meat-based pellets, but first I ran the stick through for an hour, feeding maggots and hemp regularly. As usual, roach, dace, bleak and perch all came steadily, so I finally nicked a pellet on to my 16 hook, before making my first ever run through with a pellet bait and stick float. I caught a 12 oz chub.
This was unusual in itself, as on this stretch most of the chub were over 4 lb and not very numerous. I continued feeding steadily with hemp and pellets, which soon brought a fish of
1 lb 8 oz, and from there on in it was chub all the way. I ended the session with over 30 fish, catching every year class from
The ingredients for making one of Leighton McDonnell’s chub pastes (pic supplied by Leighton). After reading his books, I started moulding paste around cork balls, catching chub with great success. 12 oz up to 5 lb 2 oz. They were there in numbers and various sizes, yet they had never shown like that to maggots, legered pellets, meat and other baits. I should have followed this up, but I didn’t, because by then I’d read an extraordinary couple of books, Fishing on the Edge and Pulling against Fish, written by a chap named Leighton McDonnell.
In the first book he detailed using big pieces of squid for chub, and also covered moon phases and weather patterns. In his later book he covers his development of paste fishing, and writes more on the moon and weather. Most significant of all, he describes moulding his paste around two 14 mm cork balls, presented on a 10-18 in. hook link.
Such a rig presents the bait well off bottom, perhaps as much as a foot in slower flows. I also recalled an article written by a respected matchman, who stated: “Chub primarily feed off bottom”. This had never really impacted upon me before, even when I managed to get them feeding off the surface during my early days of fish spotting.
For those willing to make their own pastes, I can recommend a base mix of 65 per cent sardine and anchovy meal, added to 35 per cent trout pellet powder. Other items can be added, such as wheat gluten and soya flour, but make sure that you use eggs to bind the ingredients. Testing different pastes on cork balls anchored just 3 in. off bottom proved interesting, as they could last from 30 minutes up to two hours before they started to break down.
For those who don’t want to make their own, Dynamite Baits do a good range, and I would recommend one of their Tuff pastes to start with, as it stays on the cork balls for a long time.
Coming up to date, there are far fewer chub in the Trent compared to the warm water bonanza years, but they are generally larger, including some really big fish. These are the ones that I fish for, and I use a bolt rig, as the fish will hopefully hook themselves, especially handy when you’re only likely to get one bite a trip, which will certainly come when you’re pouring a cup of coffee!
I usually use a 3-4 oz lead, along with an 18 in. hook length, the last 6 in. of which is sinking braid, with the first inch before the hook stripped back, to allow a flexible bait presentation. Bait is a 12 mm pellet with a piece of foam trimmed to the same
The only photo I have of my current best chub of 7 lb 9 oz, caught on cheese crust.