“Catching barbel has become an obsession of mine,” says Marukyu’s Nick Marlow.
“I’ve spent the past four or five years targeting them on the Trent and to be honest, although I’ve caught plenty, catching ‘a double’ has always proved difficult.”
This year Nick joined a new syndicate that includes the river Derwent. And since then he’s really not looked back – bagging no less than five doubles in his last three short (8pm – 11pm) sessions.
“The Derwent is a great river,” explains Nick, “But fish location has been tough. There are two miles of river for me to go at – and to be honest, every swim looks brilliant!
“But I opted for a nice glide at the tail end of some fast water. At the time it seemed right to me, and after exploring the swim I found I had about 4’ of water two rod lengths out. So that’s where I fished!”
Nick’s tactics are, or rather were common to most barbel anglers. A fixed lead, a short braided hooklink, and a hair rig.
“This was my first mistake!” says Nick. More on that later…
4mm and 8mm JPelletz can be damped down with water. After they have absorbed it they can be used in PVA bags
Nick baited his swim with damped down 6mm and 8mm JPelletz and a handful of Credence Krill Feast boilies and plopped his rods in… one in front and one about five yards downstream. And waited. And waited.
“Around the time it got dark, I started getting signs of fish. Liners and knocks. Well I thought that’s what they were,” says Nick.
“On that first occasion I came away fishless. I was kicking myself. I knew there were fish there. I knew they were eating my bait. But why weren’t they eating the hookbait?”
You can use PVA with moistened down pellets - it's fine
It was back to the drawing board for the Marukyu and Wychwood backed angler.
“I made some phone calls and spoke to some good anglers about my experience of that night. All good anglers that know their river fishing. And the conclusion… go long – or go home!”
Nick went about changing his rigs. Off came the short braid hooklength. On went long mono hooklengths. And by long – he means two to three feet. Sometimes longer.
“The next time I went up I started playing about with longer and longer hooklengths,” he says. “Basically I kept playing about until I got a bite. I scaled down the hooks too. Instead of the size 8 I was using, I switched to a 12. And played about with bait sizes.
“So instead of using a 14mm Krill Feast, I’d use a 10mm one.
“But I quickly found that the bait size made less of a difference, altering the hair length and the hooklength was key.”
A single Krill 14mm boilie - note the hair length and the mono hooklength
And it certainly was key – as using the same feed tactics as his first trip, Nick has been rewarded with no less than five doubles in his last three trips, plus a few back up fish of five and six pounds – and has upped his pb to a whopping 12lbs 4oz.
“I’m positive there are bigger fish there,” says Nick, “but that’s not my drive. My real passion is figuring out how to catch the next one!”