A taste of mod­ern chub baits

Anglers Mail - - Anglers -

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.

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