- Aug 2, 2012
And to drw, glad you enjoyed it.
As a beginner, I thought this was great advice and a thoroughly enjoyable read. Thanks.2.Tackle and Luggage
Following on from the introduction, my rationale when buying tackle and luggage for Barbel fishing is:
Budget as balanced with how expensive something needs to be in order to not let me down and given how often I will be using it; essentially a good handful of trips up the Trent per year and may be an equal number of trips to the Severn, which includes an annual weekender. Worth knowing that also, these fish and the environments they live in and the banks that line them are a good test of tackle and kit. Of course, when it comes to cost of kit, each to their own and anglers spend whatever they like, this is just my way of looking at things, for example, for rods, I just couldn't have hundreds of pounds worth of rod sitting around to come out for what is no more than ten sessions per year. I would of course much prefer to be living on the river, popping out regular and enjoying the feel of an expensive custom built rod, but that just isn't my situation.
If you do read articles and dedicated books on Barbel angling, which I suggest you should, then you will come across a range of differing viewpoints, attitudes and opinions when it comes to tactics and the tackle that will be required. The common place of a rod or two pointed skywards, with baitrunner reels set in place isn't always viewed favourably by some, the latest comment on this way of fishing I read quite recently in a magazine, penned by a well known angler in his diary section, suggested that it lacks skill and just isn't fishing. Again, each to their own, personally, myself, and I have to say almost every angler I see on my trips does fish this way and I will continue to also. When reading some of the older dedicated Barbel books, you can start to separate tactics and tackle between river types and although for example ledgering with a centre pin must be a lovely way to fish, it just isn't suited to the rivers I fish and is clearly referring to some of the smaller more intimate rivers.
In terms of rods, there are choices in abundance, in order to thin this choice down for you, I would say that quiver tip rods aren't required and that you are really looking at dedicated Barbel rods between the 1.5lb test curve through to 2.5lb, this higher end of the rating does sometimes find Carp rods fitting the bill. Although it may be fair to say that many Barbel anglers are either converted or also Carp anglers, this will be the first and last time I mention the word Carp, not because I have anything against them, but it will benefit you to not think of the Barbel as a Carp, it also may benefit the Barbel too on occasion. Although related through the cyprinid family, that represents the only similarity. You will find rods by Greys, JW Young, Fox, Drennan, in fact many of the tackle manufacturers, without forgetting Korum, which is my choice of rod, that fits my rationale above, finding that a pair of 1.75/2.25lb test curve 'twin top' rods enable me to fish the rivers I do, including when the rivers are in their more aggressive moods with extra and or flood water on. Two rods isn't essential, but can be useful on the some of the wider pegs or 'beach' pegs on the inside of bends, merely to hedge your bets with tactics or differing baits. It can also be useful at times to have your upstream rod on a feeder, with a straight lead downstream of it. I used the term wider pegs, as personally, I find it a struggle to fish two rods in some pegs and can be a recipe for disaster in terms of getting in a mess and sometimes caused by a rampaging Barbel. On some days and in the right peg, both on a feeder can be good too, but prepare to be active, as you usually do need to be keeping those 'feeders' going in. In fact, one criticism a purist may have of fishing this way and an observation they make is of the lazy angler slumped in a chair behind two motionless rods, the assumption being that the angler isn't thinking nor being visibly active, how this observation is delivered will vary, but one fact is that you do need to be thinking and constantly trying to trigger the Barbel to feed and get a bite. Something I read that has stuck in my mind is that you treat feeder fishing as if you were float fishing and keeping a steady amount going in on each 'run through' would be undertaken on the float and the need is no different when on the feeder.
Whilst holding your rod and touch ledgering (feeling the line for indications) is something that is used and to good effect by some, it just isn't practical for this particular style of fishing and given the potential for busy stretches of day ticket river meaning that you may be in a peg all day, you need to be comfortable and have your hands free for prepping rigs and hookbaits. Due to this a baitrunner reel is essential and one where the freespool tension can be adjusted to suit the flow, so as to prevent the flow pulling line off. When it comes to reels I rarely deviate from Shimano and a pair of STRB 6000s loaded to the lip with 10lb line (or one of course if you go for one rod initially) will fit the bill perfectly.
Given the unmistakable and savage nature of a Barbel bite, hence the lack of need for a quiver tip rod, even a reel with a baitrunner function needs to be set up right, not just the reel itself, but your rod rest arrangement. Even a quality reel such as a Shimano won't always give line immediately on a sharp take if just mounted on one rod rest. For the line to 'give', then the rod butt does need to be fixed also, otherwise the rod butt is the part that 'gives' as the rod pivots on the fulcrum created by the first and higher rod rest, in that situation you are looking at a desperate grab for your rod. Korum/Preston do a cup type rest that can be screwed into a standard (shorter) bank stick, I have found that these anchor the butt of the rod perfectly, yet allow easy removal when you need to pick the rod up. Hence for two rods, I carry two long height adjustable banksticks for the front and two short with the cups on for the back/butt. For the front rest/s I use Korum rests with the angle tilt mechanism and for the bankstick, the ones with clip lock rather than wing nut fitting. Your alternative to this rest arrangement is a river pod, which is efficient in set up, has all the above mentioned features in one unit and overcomes the problems with rocky banks, where getting a bankstick in can be difficult.
The need to travel light is founded on two main reasons, you may be able to adopt a roving approach sometimes, although don't bank on this on busy day ticket sections, yet even beyond this, it can be a walk required to a peg you are planning on spending a day in, sometimes through several fields or 'meadows'. You do get some relief from this on some sections of the Trent and to an extent the Severn, whereby your car can be parked quite close to where you are planning on fishing. Word of caution though, both of these Rivers can rise quickly and the 'roads' are simply grass or mud, the potential for stuck vehicles is one that is present. Even if you do get a bonus of convenient parking, this doesn't then mean you have to bring your entire tackle collection, for Barbel fishing there is no need:
In a made up rod holdall or quiver:
Made up rod/s
Landing net handle and folded up net*
With rolled up unhooking mat and weigh sling velcro'd to it for ease of transportation
Sarnies and drink inside the folded up chair
Artery forceps for unhooking***
The above essentially makes 3 items to carry, on days where I may be taking several pints of maggots or hemp, I put these in a bucket and hook the handle over the chair leg to carry them.
* A deep triangular net (where the frame detaches) has several advantages other than ease of transportation: you can rest a Barbel immediately in it (important), you aren't trying to turn the whole net and handle with a steep bank behind you, you can simply unclip your hooklength and just take the netted fish to your unhooking mat rather than a rod and net handle too.
** A chair with four height adjustable legs is essential on the banks you will encounter. I have seen anglers also cope just as well with the fold frame type legs and just leave the back leg frame up, although this doesn't work too well on all banks. Some may ditch the chair all together to become lighter and sit on the unhooking mat, each to their own, I just find the afore mentioned chair the best and I do need to be comfortable in order to fish effectively.
*** A small pair of forceps is fine, you have the length if you need it to unhook a deeper hooked fish, although hooking (and landing) a Barbel in anywhere but the thick, strong and rubbery lips is rare. The strength of the metal forceps required is really due to the tough lips and the strong hooks used (section on terminal tackle and rigs to come).
Again, when it comes to much of the above, I personally feel that Korum have really nailed this aspect of fishing when it comes to specific tackle/luggage and you may well find them suiting your needs, other manufacturers also produce similar items. A bit of research and looking around will pay off. My rod quiver is a 30plus, my chair is a Korum lightweight, the original and still going strong and my carry all is a Wychwood Solace, although I would aim for a holdall that is flatter than it is tall, although on steep banks, I get around its unstability by sticking a bankstick in the ground and putting the shoulder strap around it so it sits stable and upright.
A final note worth mentioning is that no matter what kit you do decide on, consider the points above about practicalities, you shouldn't ever feel that investing any more of your hard earned will translate into catching more Barbel, when it comes to the above items, it doesn't.
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