Dave Harrell’s 15 Top Tips for River Success!


15 THINGS TO TRY FOR BETTER RIVER CATCHES THIS SUMMER!

We’re into the second month of the river season and I’m pleased to report that it’s been a great start in many parts of the country! If you’ve not ventured out onto running water yet, do yourself a favour and get out there this weekend!

I’ve been giving some thought to the things that have helped me achieve good summer catches over the past few years. Give them a try yourself and put bigger catches in your net too!

PELLET FEEDER FOR BARBEL

‘The best thing that ever happened for the pleasure angler’ is how I would describe the use of pellets fished through a swimfeeder. Use an 8mm Bait-Tech Halibut Pellet on a hair rig and put 4mm offerings through a blockend feeder and if there’s a barbel in the vicinity, it will soon be interested!

ROACH ON SEED BAITS

One of my favourite summer approaches for roach is with the use of hemp and tares. It’s a really cheap way of fishing as you don’t need much either. Just feed six to 10 grains of Superseed Hemp and the odd tare then present a single tare just off the bottom with a lightly shotted pole rig and you’ll soon be putting quality redfins in the net!

TRY FAST SHALLOW WATER!

Too many anglers walk past fast flowing shallow swims and then settle in on swims where there aren’t many fish at this time of year. As long as you can find 3ft or more water, there’s a good chance that the swim will hold chub and barbel so don’t ignore swims just because they are fast.

CARP PELLETS FOR CHUB

In the same way that halibut pellets are good for catching barbel, fishmeal pellets are a great feed and hookbait for chub. On rivers where there are a lot of chub present, feed with 6mm Carp Pellets and use a banded 8mm pellets on the hook. On more difficult waters, feed with 4mm pellets and use a banded 6mm on the hook. You don’t need to feed loads and a pint or two will normally be ample.

EXPERIMENT WITH TAIL LENGTHS

This is an area of river fishing where I think a lot of anglers miss out on getting better catches by not changing anything. While 2.5ft to 3ft is often a very good starting point, try shorter tails if you’re missing bites and go much longer, up to 5ft or 6ft if you’re not getting any bites at all.

LIGHT POLE RIGS FOR SILVERS

Long poles have made fishing for silver fish much easier than it ever used to be on some of our slower moving rivers. Try using light strung out rigs and as a rough guide, use 0.10g for every 1ft of water. A swim that is 4ft deep should therefore be tackled with a 0.40g float. Use No8 shots in the main with a No9 or a No10 as your bottom shot, positioned around 6in to 10in above the hook.

HEAVY POLE RIGS FOR BIG FISH

If big fish are your targets, it can sometimes pay to go for them with pole gear but make sure everything is strong enough to cope with fish like barbel. For me, that means 0.20mm to 0.23mm rig lines and hooklengths just a little bit thinner.

Feed the swim with a pole cup or with a bait dropper to ensure accuracy.

BARBEL ON THE FLOAT

Float fishing for barbel is so exciting and if you’ve never done it, I would urge you to do so this summer! Keep things simple and use 6lb to 8lb main lines, Truncheon Wagglers or Balsa Missiles and strong hooks from size 14 to 10. A bunch of maggots fished over loose feed of casters and hemp will soon get fish feeding if they’re in your swim. Try to find swims from 4ft to 6ft deep either running up to or away from fords and there’s a good chance barbel will be present!

BREAM ON THE FEEDER

While they don’t fight as hard a barbel, I love catching big bream with an open-end feeder approach. It’s possible to put together some huge weights when there is colour in the water.

Use Halibut Marine Groundbait, casters and chopped worms through the feeder with worms on the hook. A 3ft tail that is lighter than your main line is essential in case of snags.

PERCH ON WORMS

Most of our rivers now hold very good stocks of perch and they’re a great fish to target with running line or pole gear.

If the flow is slight, feed the swim by hand but if there is pace, a bait dropper works well. Feed a combination of casters, hemp and chopped worm with worms on the hook.

SHALLOW WAGGLER IN DEEP WATER

A lot of anglers miss out on good chub catches in deep water by setting the rig too deep and not feeding often enough. I’ve had some really big catches fishing just 3ft to 4ft deep in 12ft of water but the only way you can make is work is by feeding every few seconds with a catapult. Keep busy and if there are chub in the area, you will soon find out!

MASTER THE BOLO

I won the first ever match in this country on bolo gear, 25 years ago on the Severn with a 24lb catch of roach. Back then we all thought you had to use a long telescopic rod and while these still play a big part, there are days when you can use very light bolo rigs in conjunction with 13ft and 14ft rods for good catches.

It’s a fantastic way to present your hookbait if the conditions are right.

LAY A TRAP FOR TENCH!

Not all over of our rivers hold tench but to catch them on the ones that do, it’s worth laying a trap of groundbait, casters and chopped worm at the bottom of ledges and then leaving it alone for an hour or two before trying it. I’ve used this tactic to land some really big specimens from rivers like the Warwickshire Avon.

TRY HOLLOW ELASTICS

It took me a while to get into hollow elastics for river fishing but I’m totally sold on it now, especially in situations where bigger fish play a part in winning catches. I use Daiwa Hydrolastic in black, grey and white for big fish and yellow, pink and blue for the smaller ones.

BALL IT IN!

A groundbait bombardment at the start of a session might not always be right but where there are a lot of roach or skimmers present, it can often be the best way. Try putting in six to 10 balls in at the start of a session and then fishing over it with a bulk shotted pole rig. My favourite mix for this is a 50/50 blend of Pro Natural and Pro Natural Extra with a little soil added for weight.

Dave Harrell is recognised as one of the country’s best ever river anglers. He has fished for England at World and European level and now runs his own tackle company. For more information go to: www.daveharrellangling.com


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