25 Brilliant Barbel Tips


Dragon Carp Direct
Sponsored by
Dragon Carp Direct

1 The five best barbel baits are: boilies, pellets, luncheon meat, sweetcorn and paste.

2 Pellets have exploded onto the scene in recent years and it’s easy to see why – barbel love them! A hair-rigged halibut pellet really does take some beating.

3 While a river in flood provides an excellent place to target barbel, you will need to think about bait choice. Things like maggots and sweetcorn have no place in coloured water – go for something big and smelly instead, like a meatball. This will give the fish something to zone in on.  

Mainline Response Flavours4 Luncheon meat is a tried-and-trusted barbel bait. But the fish can become bored with the same thing all the time. Try flavouring and adding colour to make it much more attractive.

5 Hemp is one of the great barbel attractors and can keep fish grubbing around in your swim for ages without filling them up.

6 Boilies make a great hookbait, but they’re also an excellent attractor, too. But to make the most of them, crumble up and then place in a PVA stocking or bag. This, combined with a hookbait of the same boilie, is a great combination.

Weir pools are great places to target barbel but loosefeeding in such a situation is a waste of time. So the best option is to use a feeder or small PVA bag or stringer of broken baits.
8 Try adding hemp to riddled meat and packing both into a feeder. Fish with a large lump of meat on the hook to complete the set up.

9 Worms might not be top of the list when it comes to barbel but they can be an excellent alternative, especially on a flooded river. Try one or two lobworms on a size 6 hook.

10 A flooded river might look a daunting prospect but it makes for perfect barbel conditions. The species will often lower its guard in high and coloured water, especially if the water temperature is relatively warm.

11 If you are going to take on a flooded river, be careful about where you plan to fish. If the water is in the fields, find the main flow of the river and look for smooth, quite slacks. As a general rule of thumb, turbulent, ‘boiling’ water is a no-no.

12 If you’re unsure about where to start fishing for barbel, you can’t go wrong with weirpools. The water is heavily oxygenated (something the species loves) and they also provide cover, as well as being the perfect place for fish to pick up passing items of food. Use a feeder to introduce bait.

13 On your first cast in a weirpool, aim for under the sill of the weir. Barbel often take shelter here out of the main flow. 

14 Cover is absolutely key to locating barbel on a river. Look for rafts, weedbeds and overhanging trees. Try drawing the fish out with a bed of hemp. But be patient. Introduce the feed in numerous different spots and then wait to see which areas hold fish.
15 When barbel are in a real feeding frenzy, try shortening your hooklength so the gap between feeder and hook is very short. The barbel will attack the feeder for the freebies so the closer your hookbait is to the action the better!

16 Oxygenated water is key to locating barbel, especially in summer. Apart from weirpools, you’ll find water like this where rivers narrow in width. 

17 When fishing on small rivers, barbel can become very wary of anglers and mainline running through the water is sure to put them off. You can overcome this by pinning the line to the river bed with a running back-lead.

Polarised Fishing Glasses18 Polarising glasses are an essential item in the angler’s armoury. They take the glare off the water and enable you to locate barbel in clear water conditions.

19 Travel light when barbel fishing. You want to cover as much ground as possible and you’re not going to be able to do that if you’re weighed down with kit. A rod, reel, landing net and small tackle bag/rucksack are all you really need for a session.

20 A piece of broken spaghetti makes a great hair-stop for baits like luncheon meat and boilies. It’s a much cheaper alternative than buying manufactured ones.

21 Reduce pressure from the river’s flow on your mainline by pointing your rod towards the sky. This will ensure the minimum amount of line is in the water.

22 Along with a powerful rod, you really need to couple this up with a freespool reel. Barbel bites are often ferocious affairs and the facility to allow line to be removed from the reel instantly is essential. The alternative is losing your rod in the river!

23 Hemp is one of the great barbel attractors but it can be hard to put a bed down in flowing water. The answer is to use a baitdropper. This gadget ensures all your bait reaches the river bed without being washed away in the flow.

The first couple of hours of darkness is often the best time for barbel. But how do you continue to see bites? The answer is to attach a Starlite to the end of the rod. 

25 A landing net with large diameter holes is preferable to one with smaller mesh when fishing rivers. It prevents resistance building up when the net is submerged – and that can be a hindrance when trying to land fish.

Dragon Carp Direct