Bow on Rivers

Zerkalo

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I've been told fishing a bow is an essential part of fishing a feeder on rivers and it will improve my fishing if I master this technique.

Now I do two types of feeder fishing on rivers...

1) Barbel fishing with usually 2oz feeders on the Severn depending on how much water is on.
2) Maggot feeder fishing on a small River.

I feed out more of a bow on the Severn depending on flow and where I'm casting, feeding out more of a bow on 'upstream' or at least out in front of me lines.

Now I'm told I just be expecting drop back bites, but these are rare compared to a 3 foot twitch, is this unusual or to do with technique and the amount of bow? Should I also be feeding out a bow on downstream casts?

On the small river weir I can only cast downstream, a short chuck of around 15m. The bow I fish is developed from placing the rod on the rest, not feeding out any line off the reel. What happens on the weir is the feeder will sometimes gradually roll downstream if I'm in the main flow and not right over in the slack. This is with a 50g Black Cap Feeder as I found 40g to be just too much on the light side and got carried with the flow more than I want.

So on this weir, should I be feeding out a bow off the reel?
 

tee.bee

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bites can vary to slack line most common is the tip bouncing but you can still get the rod pulled off the rest
 

Zerkalo

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Makes sense.

I would expect drop back bites more often than what I get them but maybe I'm not feeding out enough of a bow on the Severn. I'll be honest most of them time I cast just downstream, or ahead of me and by the time the feeder has settled it is already downstream, with one rod and don't feed out too much of a bow.

I've watched anglers fishing a proper bow for silvers on powerful rivers, something I don't do, and almost every bite is a drop back.

On the weir I fish, it is playing on mind after I've been told I should be fishing a bow, every bite except one I remember when a Barbel was swimming upstream is a wrap round.

I'm happy with my successes so far, I catch a lot of fish, but I'm always looking to perfect what I do when I'm given advice.
 

Ken the Pacman

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You would not fish a bow if you are fishing directly downstream normally.
You would fish a bow if you were casting in front of you and fishing slightly upstream or downstream.
The reason you get drop back bites is that the feeder moves as you need to be using the correct balanced weight of feeder that just holds in the flow so that the bite moves the feeder, most effective with the loop method or similar.
 

Zerkalo

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Cheers Ken, makes sense and confirms what I thought in a way... No big bow on the small river as it's a downstream chuck only from the peg available.

I have found on the Severn if there is no extra water on a 2oz 60g feeder is about right. But when it's had extra water on sometimes I struggled to hold bottom even with a 4oz 120g feeder depending on swim. I'm told a bow enables you to fish lighter but you would have to cast in front of you for that to happen. When I cast in front of me the feeder goes downstream before it settles in those situations anyway so I would have to cast upstream.

All a learning curve a stuff I plan to practise next season.
 

Northantslad

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Don't mind saying that i have simply never mastered this art (feeding out a bow) and have subsequently felt that it sounds like a bit of one of those easier to say than it is to do things, a bit mystical, a bit like Zerk, the brushing on the line thing the other day.

However to achieve what a bow apparently helps with, less lead, less pressure on the line, i do this by having my rods as high as possible, look ridiculously high in fact, but when added to being aware of line diameters too- the thinnest i can get away with for the highest b/s, it makes a massive difference. to drag and i am convinced possibly more than the bow does, i will convince myself of that because i can't do the latter! I do like to be fishing downstream mostly too anyway.

Quick point on the related bit on leads, i am reading my latest addition to my Barbel books currently and it talks about the 'using the lightest lead you can get away with' as too much of a fixed rule and can actually not be a god idea when factoring in certain baits and their presentation, So...., will see on that one.
 

Zerkalo

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That's quite a reassuring post to me @Northantslad cheers.

There was one eye opening video I have seen which was Matt Godfrey on the Tidal Trent, not a place I fish, and he was using a 3oz feeder fishing for Silvers and feeding out a bow and every bite he got was a drop back. It seems to me the critically balanced feeder is more 'critical' when fishing for silvers compared the almost bolt style rigs I use, but I couldn't say for sure.
 

Northantslad

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No probs, Silvers yes i can see that. Bit i am reading at the moment and Barbel specific, is fascinating about the bait size dictating whether or not the Barbel try to turn upon taking it or if they intended to carry on picking up offerings.
 

smiffy

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That's quite a reassuring post to me @Northantslad cheers.

There was one eye opening video I have seen which was Matt Godfrey on the Tidal Trent, not a place I fish, and he was using a 3oz feeder fishing for Silvers and feeding out a bow and every bite he got was a drop back. It seems to me the critically balanced feeder is more 'critical' when fishing for silvers compared the almost bolt style rigs I use, but I couldn't say for sure.
Even a rig for Silvers fishing a bow will be a bolt rig. The art is to balance the feeder against the flow so that it should barely stay put. You shouldn’t even mind the odd breakout. The drop back is the fish feeling the hook,bolting and dislodging the feeder. In the process they hook themselves. This is why you shouldn’t really need to strike.
 

Zerkalo

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Even a rig for Silvers fishing a bow will be a bolt rig. The art is to balance the feeder against the flow so that it should barely stay put. You shouldn’t even mind the odd breakout. The drop back is the fish feeling the hook,bolting and dislodging the feeder. In the process they hook themselves. This is why you shouldn’t really need to strike.
Makes sense, just something I've not tried as I haven't really feeder fished for silvers on the river. More fun on the float to me.
 

Silverfisher

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I'm quite glad I mostly fish slow flowing rivers where you barely have to put a bow out as I've never really got the hang of it on quicker rivers in terms of judging how much to,play out. I do find you have to get quite a big bow out before you start getting drop backs though, most bites I get from just playing out a little line are fairly typical rattles and pulls.
 

Zerkalo

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I definitely wish I had a river like that near me, the closest I've got are the slower and deeper stretches of the Severn, but they're a difficult nut to crack for me. Would love to try the Thames myself sometimes.
 

dave brittain 1

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Cheers Ken, makes sense and confirms what I thought in a way... No big bow on the small river as it's a downstream chuck only from the peg available.

I have found on the Severn if there is no extra water on a 2oz 60g feeder is about right. But when it's had extra water on sometimes I struggled to hold bottom even with a 4oz 120g feeder depending on swim. I'm told a bow enables you to fish lighter but you would have to cast in front of you for that to happen. When I cast in front of me the feeder goes downstream before it settles in those situations anyway so I would have to cast upstream.

All a learning curve a stuff I plan to practise next season.
Zerkalo how can a correctly weighted feeder go downstream when there's no tension on the line?

If you cast upstream, level or just slightly downstream and leave the bail arm off, the feeder providing you've selected the right weight cannot bounce along the bottom until you click the bail arm over at which point the line will go tight and your tip will bend over as the flow takes up the slack.

Good feeder anglers will cast out, pay enough line out so that the feeder can hit the bottom and form a small bow and then click the bail arm over and slowly backwind feeding more line out until they are happy with the size of the bow. The other option is to pay out line and not click the bail arm over until you are happy the bow is big enough.

Bites are usually a small dink and a good drop back as the fish dislodges the feeder which is critically balanced due to the tension on the bow. You don't even have to strike as the fish has generally already hooked itself against the feeder.

You also need a balanced tackle. Your 1.75 TC rod will be at its best with around a 10lb main line and a proper 8lb hook length, (optimum performance if I remember correctly is TC x 5). Note standard 8lb line doesn't have the same shock absorption or abrasion resistance as low diameter line. If you go down the low dia route I'd recommend nothing less than 0.21 diameter Power line or 0.23 minimum in any other brand.

If you are fishing much lighter hook lengths then the tackle isn't optimally balanced and you may find that this is part of the problem.
 

smiffy

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A good place to learn the technique is on tidal Broads rivers. They have a good flow, not like the Severn or Trent mind, and are solid with Silvers. It’s knowing that you’re on loads of fish that gives the confidence to keep trying.
I know you’re not local but knowing you have a load of fish in front of you is really important to learning new technique. Try to fish similar pegs where you are.
 

Zerkalo

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Zerkalo how can a correctly weighted feeder go downstream when there's no tension on the line?

If you cast upstream, level or just slightly downstream and leave the bail arm off, the feeder providing you've selected the right weight cannot bounce along the bottom until you click the bail arm over at which point the line will go tight and your tip will bend over as the flow takes up the slack.

Good feeder anglers will cast out, pay enough line out so that the feeder can hit the bottom and form a small bow and then click the bail arm over and slowly backwind feeding more line out until they are happy with the size of the bow.

Bites are usually a small dink and a good drop back as the fish dislodges the feeder which is critically balanced due to the tension on the bow. You don't even have to strike as the fish has generally already hooked itself against the feeder.

You also need a balanced tackle. Your 1.75 TC rod will be at its best with around a 10lb main line and a proper 8lb hook length, (optimum performance if I remember correctly is TC x 5). Note standard 8lb line doesn't have the same shock absorption or abrasion resistance as low diameter line. If you go down the low dia route I'd recommend nothing less than 0.21 diameter Power line or 0.23 minimum in any other brand.

If you are fishing much lighter hook lengths then the tackle isn't optimally balanced and you may find that this is part of the problem.

It's not that I mean to question your advice, more that it makes me question how I fish, which is probably a good thing. Sorry if it seems like I ask too many questions and thanks for replying. (y)

I've been told varying things about a feeder moving in the flow, some seem to advocate it. Myself I prefer a more static feeder for various reasons, usually because snags on the small river let alone presentation.

There's two ways a feeder can move down a river.

1) Just after you've cast in before it reaches the bottom.
2) If it's near enough critically balanced then it can still roll occasionally.

The second point I think I understand your advice that a bow will prevent that, but is that possible when you can only cast a short way downstream as per my small river?

My 1.75lb rod for the Severn I started with the exact line you mentioned, 10lb to 8lb, but have stepped it up to 12lb to 10lb, I think I know you think this is heavy, but I will soon see if it does what I want it to do.
 

Silverfisher

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I definitely wish I had a river like that near me, the closest I've got are the slower and deeper stretches of the Severn, but they're a difficult nut to crack for me. Would love to try the Thames myself sometimes.
When the world eventually resembles something like normality you'll have to give the Thames a go. The Avon is a similar proposition though and much closer for you in the meantime.
 

squimp

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I'm quite glad I mostly fish slow flowing rivers where you barely have to put a bow out as I've never really got the hang of it on quicker rivers in terms of judging how much to,play out. I do find you have to get quite a big bow out before you start getting drop backs though, most bites I get from just playing out a little line are fairly typical rattles and pulls.
Even on the Bristol avon, which is not a fast flowing river it is easy to miss roach bites if you cast downstream and tighten up to the feeder. You get a fast rattle on the tip and then wonder why there is nothing there when you strike !

once we started casting just upstream and then balanced the feeder weight with the amount of line in the water (a small bow and alterations to the elevation of the rod tip); we then got serious drop backs that were virtually unmissable.
 

dave brittain 1

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Zerkalo the point of balancing the feeder is so it doesn't move unless a fish dislodges it. The bow allows you to hold with less lead as there is less tension against the line. The less lead you use the more you reduce the chance of, a) being cracked off on the bite and b), the fishing using the feeder either to shock the line and break it or bounce the hook out of its mouth.

The problem is, one minute you're posting about using 0.16 dia and 0.18 diameter lines for barbel on the feeder and then not pulling as much because it's a smaller river and the next you are telling me that you use 12lbs to 10lb hook length.

I'm happy to help but it would help if you were consistent. Barbel are powerful fish and you should always fish as heavy as you can get away with regardless of the size of river.
 

Silverfisher

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Even on the Bristol avon, which is not a fast flowing river it is easy to miss roach bites if you cast downstream and tighten up to the feeder. You get a fast rattle on the tip and then wonder why there is nothing there when you strike !

once we started casting just upstream and then balanced the feeder weight with the amount of line in the water (a small bow and alterations to the elevation of the rod tip); we then got serious drop backs that were virtually unmissable.
Yeah I very rarely cast downstream and completely tight instead I prefer out in front with a small bow. It's the quick rivers where you have to virtually uptider it that I struggle on.
 

Zerkalo

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Zerkalo the point of balancing the feeder is so it doesn't move unless a fish dislodges it. The bow allows you to hold with less lead as there is less tension against the line. The less lead you use the more you reduce the chance of, a) being cracked off on the bite and b), the fishing using the feeder either to shock the line and break it or bounce the hook out of its mouth.

The problem is, one minute you're posting about using 0.16 dia and 0.18 diameter lines for barbel on the feeder and then not pulling as much because it's a smaller river and the next you are telling me that you use 12lbs to 10lb hook length.

I'm happy to help but it would help if you were consistent. Barbel are powerful fish and you should always fish as heavy as you can get away with regardless of the size of river.

I understand that might seem strange that Barbel vary in their power so much to me depending on venue. I've made threads on it before it surprised me so much myself, at first I put it down to using a lighter feeder and lighter rod, the less you pull the less they pull back kind of thing.

But I stand by that the Barbel don't fight very hard on the Worcs Stour, they seem to come in, go on a couple of runs which you can easily handle on the clutch (even though I've been told I should be backwinding by some people) then just pop up. They don't hold in the flow and really scrap under the tip like on the Severn, including the double you said I shouldn't have been able to lose on 8lb line.

The Barbel on the Worcs Stour are only 4lb fish, biggest 5lb 13oz, but even those on the Severn need strong tackle, 8lb+. 0.18 line is 8lb but hi tech and not always suitable for the Severn to me.

As for balancing the feeder it's definitely something I need to work on so do appreciate your advice! I assume the best way to do this is by Dead Cow weights though as I only have a selection of feeders in various fixed weights, 60g for the Severn in most situations, 50g for the Worcs Stour Weir.
 
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