The Barbel has become one of the countries most sought after river species in recent years especially among Specimen hunters who fish specifically for large fish of one or all species. Like Tench and Chub, Barbel have grown much larger on average over the last 20 years, which is most likely due to the more tepid climate we now live in. The Record stood at around 14lb for many years, held by a great fish from the Dorset Stour but then fish from other rivers made that record gradually climb and then came Adams Mill on the Great Ouse and the record tumbled, the current British Record of  21lb 1oz caught by Graham king in 2006 became a landmark fish, And the stretch became very exclusive. Sadly Adams Mill has seen a demise since these huge fish have passed on but other hot spots were soon found and large barbel of 15lb+ can be caught from rivers across the country and many Barbel fans believe that any of these rivers could soon produce a new Record.

A Beautiful barbel pictured in the Angling Times that may soon become a new British record


Small Barbel are like Tench in that they are rarely seen or caught, in the Barbels case this is probably because they keep to the faster shallow swims that provide the perfect nursery environment  Larger Barbel can often be seen among the weeds as they search the gravel for food but beware they are easily spooked and will disappear in a flash! 

Any river that holds Barbel, be it a small river, no wider than your rod, to a great River like The Severn or The Trent will all hold barbel in similar locations, Cover is important, Overgrown Bank side vegetation with a deeper run of water is perfect Barbel territory, as are swims with overhanging trees and bushes, Willows are a favourite haunt, They lie just out of sight until a piece of food comes by then they will briefly show themselves and be gone, under cover once more. Weed beds also offer fantastic cover and are great spots to fish too as are floating rafts of weed and debris. Areas of gravely shallows near deep slow bends are also very attractive spots and can hold some good sized shoals of medium sized Barbel, The best way to locate them is by a stealthy walk of the area wearing a pair of Polarized glasses, checking each likely spot for a glimpse of their big bronze bodies hovering over the river bed.


Barbel can be caught on both float and ledger methods but if you are new to Barbel fishing you can't go far wrong with a simple open ended feeder rig or a small Method feeder rig.

This diagram from Lumbland shows it perfectly.

You simply place the method feeder onto your main line, as Barbel are one of if not the hardest fighting of our coarse fish, you will want something in the 6-8lb breaking strain range at least, To the swivel at the bottom end of the feeder attach a short hook length of about 3-4" and attach your hook which would vary depending on your bait choice but make sure it is a strong hook or you may find that during the fight it will e bent straight! Many anglers choose to use a hair-rig (as is used in the above picture) onto which you thread your bait using a baiting needle and a hair stop. This leaves the hook free of any obstruction and seriously adds to your chances of the hook catching hold when the fish takes the bait, You can buy ready made Hair-rigs but they are easy enough to tie yourself.

When your Method rig is ready you then mold your ball of Groundbait around the feeder placing your bait inside the ball. This will mean your bait is sat attractively in a ball of tempting smelling Groundbait on the river bait just waiting to be hovered up by an obliging Barbel, perfect!

More Information On Barbel

As i have already said Barbel are fast becoming one of the nations favourite coarse species and there is a mountain of information available on how to Target, Catch and care for these magnificent fish. The organisation that has really helped bring these Fish to the fore is The Barbel Society and if you are interested in finding out more about tactic's, location, methods and fish care this is a great webite to check out. Simply click the link.


The Grayling is one of our most under sung coarse fish, This is probably because many of the best locations to catch them are on expensive Game fishing beats where they swim alongside the Trout and Salmon and are looked upon as pests by the fly fisherman who pay the fast sums to fish these area's That said they are a fantastic hard fighting fish and can be found in many rivers up and down the country, The Scottish rivers and the southern chalk streams hold some very large Grayling and you can have a great days sport if you target them, Grayling are very hardy and will feed in the coldest of conditions making them the perfect winter target.

As Matt Hayes shows here they are a beautiful fish with a large dorsal finn and pound for pound I believe them to be one of the hardest fighting fish in our rivers. Some people say they have the smell of cucumber but you will have to test that one for yourselves! They do have all the colours of the rainbow on them and are for me one of the most attractive fish in our rivers.


Grayling are happiest in clean fast flowing rivers with gravel bottoms, I live in the South and rivers near me where they can be found are the River Test, River Frome, The Itchen and the Dorset Stour to name but a few. I have said that many of the best waters are on expensive game beats but it is very possible to catch Grayling on day ticket stretches or even area's of free fishing. In=fact my biggest Grayling of 3lb 15oz came from a free stretch on the Dorset Stour. Grayling can often be found in shoals of 10 or more fish and on these clear chalk streams they are often visible, but you can easily locate them by walking a stretch you know them to be in and look for small pools or faster area's after sweeping bends, If you want to try fishing for Grayling simply ask in your local tackle shop for rivers that hold them near you.


You don't need to look for anything technical to catch Grayling, A tin of Sweetcorn and a few pints of red and white Maggots are really all you need. Keep plenty of freebies going in, as many swims will also hold Trout and you want to feed these off if possible but it is likely you may hook these too, Unhook them quickly and put them straight back as they may be out of season!


A simple trotting rig with a Chubber float is perfect for Grayling as pictured below, Simply bulk your shot and fish at dead depth with 3/4 maggots on the hook. Hook size should be about size 14 as Grayling have very hard mouths and you will want a strong 'Animal' or 'Specimen' type hook. Don't underestimate the power of a large Grayling, I would use no less than 4lb line fished right threw as when they turn with their large dorsal fin in fast water you need some sensible tackle if you are going to win the fight!

The perfect set up for a days Grayling fishing.

I love to spend a few days each winter trotting my local chalk streams for Grayling, What I have learned is that they make a great target when it is to cold for any other species but if the water is coloured or too high you just as well forget it, When conditions are right a good box of maggots and a roving approach definitely put more fish on the bank.

Fish Safety

Grayling are very hard fighting fish and often give almost their all during the fight, This is why you must take special care with them, Unhook and return the fish as swiftly as possible, If you want to take a photo let the fish revive in the landing net first, Never throw a Grayling straight back in, It will probably go belly up and float down stream! Place it into the landing net and hold it in the water as the water runs through it's gill's, ensure it is facing upstream or it will drown! When the fish looks fully revived, simply lower the net and the fish will swim away. it's not a lot to ask to enjoy catching these beautiful fish and will ensure great sport for years to come.

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