Barbel Fishing - Angling for the Barbel Species

Barbel fishing has become more and more popular over the last decade in the UK. Barbel are one of the hardest fighting fish (pound for pound) found in British rivers.

Although carp angling is probably the most popular type of course fishing in the UK, once you have hooked, played and landed a Barbel in a fast flowing river (like the River Teme), you will understand why barbel anglers value this species so much.

What are the best baits for Barbel?

Barbel will take many of the conventional, natural coarse baits, including maggots, casters, sweetcorn, and worms.

They will also take an array of artificial baits such as boiles, paste and more.

However, at, we think one of the best baits is a nice big rough chunk of luncheon meat, about 3-4cm square. The meat can be flavoured if required by using artificial or natural flavourings.

When you are fishing for any species of fish, the venue, swim, weather and many other parameters come into play when choosing the best bait and method.

The way you present your bait in the water is just as important as the type of bait you are using. As with all fish, bait presentation is the key to getting hooked into some great fish.

What are the best methods for catching Barbel?

Barbel can be very wary of the angler's hook, especially during the daylight hours.

Barbel will usually be holding up in deep pools or underneath overhanging trees and vegetation. The right method will depend on which of these areas you wish to target.

Barbel in deep pools

The running ledgered hair rig is probably the most effective method for targetting barbel which are sitting on the bottom of a deep pool. Bear in mind that barbel tend to feed off the bottom so a split shot near the hook will help get the bait to sit close to their feeding zone.

When ledger fishing for barbel do not walk away from your rod unless you have a baitrunner (freespool) reel with the freespool mechanism engaged, as their take can be absolutely rod bending, if you leave your rod unattended it may not be there when you get back!

Typically the bite from a barbel, depending on the bait, will either be a few taps followed by their trademark powerful take or you may have no warning at all and just see your rod bending round.

Barbel located underneath overhanging trees or in river vegetation

There are, amongst others, two very successful methods for getting a bait in front of barbel holding up underneath branches or within vegetation and other snags.

The first is to simply use a waggler or other suitable float, cast upstream of the target fish and let the bait float downstream. It can be difficult to entice a wary barbel out of his cover so the depth of the float rig would have to be perfect.

The second, which is our favourite, is to freeline your bait using the current to naturally take your bait downstream and into the feeding zone. You will need a bit of weight attached to keep the bait rolling along the bottom, the amount of weight will depend on the speed of the flow. Usually a couple of BB split shots will suffice, especially if using a sinking bait such as luncheon meat.

Cast the freeline rig upstream of the fish, open your bail arm and control the run of the line off the reel with your finger. Alternatively, if using a bait runner, engage the freespool mechanism to allow the release of the line. Keep in contact with the rig as it flows downstream, when you feel the take engage the bail arm (or disengage the freespool mechanism) and set the hook.
For more general information on the barbel species click here

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