Effective Barbel Rigs – Part Two

After reading Part One I’m sure that some of you were left thinking, “Is that it? Surely there’s more to it than that! It’s not fair! You must be keeping a secret up your sleeve…”


But the plain truth is, no, I’m not holding anything back. There is no Holy Grail out there; there is no top secret rig that only the most successful anglers use. What I described is exactly what I used for the vast majority of last summer and very effective it was, too, although it is not the only rig I use. You should remember that.


Just put away your distrust for a moment and try to believe me when I say simplicity is best. If your rig is tied up with multiple fancy gizmos and trinkets then the chances are it is unnecessarily complicated and will probably let you down when you least expect it to.


But let’s move on. A rig in isolation is NOT the key to success. A good rig will convert more pick-ups into hook-ups but location and correct feeding is far more important and if you think otherwise then you are wrong, plain and simple.


Around a year ago I appeared on Sky TV’s Tight Lines show and caused quite a stir because I stated, live on air, that I didn’t think barbel anglers introduced enough feed. Boy, did that light a fuse up the backsides of certain individuals on the web forums, so I’ll say it again:




Did you get that?


When I made that statement on air it riled Graham Elliott in particular so much so (although judging by his comments it’s clear he didn’t watch the programme) he actually wrote a complaining email to the show’shost, Keith Arthur, who it must be said gave him very short shrift. Apparently, he claimed, the anglers who fish his piddle had begun piling in kilos of pellets and his pet poodles were now proving impossible to catch, or words to that effect.


Of course, any statement I make about baiting is subjective. It is completely dependent upon prevailing circumstances but within the constraints of a live TV show you are there to provide concise statements, one-line replies rather than eulogies, because it’s not your show and frankly no-one really cares about one man’s piddle. You are there to speak about your own experiences rather than make generalisations on the subject being discussed. On average you get about 30 seconds for an answer and you must use it wisely.


You certainly do not start making exceptions or apologies for rivers that you have never even seen, never mind fished, or ever have any intention of doing so. To even contemplate that would be ludicrous. No, you tell it like it is, as I am doing now, based on personal experience of the waters you  have fished.


Perhaps you now see what those two humorous cartoons in the December Blogs were all about – yes, I was taking the Mickey out of his reaction!


Of course it’s different if you are fishing a piddly little stream that only contains one or two recognisable fish that get caught repeatedly but we try our best to give the viewer credit for having the nous to understand that your scenario may be different to the one I describe. Even so, the notion that a kilo of pellets here and there makes a whole lot of difference is actually quite ludicrous.


What proof is that statement based upon? What evidence is there to support the case that introducing a kilo of pellets is damaging other than hearsay and speculation? Can anyone back up this claim with a single shred of factual evidence?


You failed to catch a fish, therefore it is someone else’s fault.


I rest my case.


I’m sorry but that is a theory based on paranoia rather than proof.


Extensive filming underwater has given me all the evidence I need to be able to state categorically that pellets break down in water, the resulting mess is swept far and wide on the current and it is eaten by all manner of living creatures from crustaceans to bugs, minnows and even tiny fry. Very little of the food we introduce is left after an hour unless the swim borders on being stagnant and that’s without the arrival of a single barbel.


I’m sorry if that upsets some folk but I like to deal in facts rather than fanciful theories.


Anyone who has attended one of my live shows recently will be under no illusions whatsoever as to what happens to the bait we introduce to flowing rivers. Few anglers in history could ever lay a claim to have been as successful as Phil Smith in recent seasons. What did he catch? Double figure barbel from something like 17 different rivers in one season? That’s the kind of mixture of success and wide ranging experience that no-one can seriously contradict.


Phil attended a recent show given by Stu Walker and myself to the Barbel Specialists AGM. In the show we revealedunderwater footage of how pellets behavein a river, how quickly they dissolve into mush, how every living thing in the swim including tiny minnows eat them, how they absorb water and then roll away, never to be seen again, how the wafting of fishes fins lifts pellets off the bottom causing them to be swept away on the current, too. This isn’t theory, it’s fact. We provide evidence. What you see is not fanciful notions, it’s not something I’ve dreamed up, it’s categorical physical evidence that you can see with your own eyes.


After the show Phil came up and thanked us for having ‘changed the way he will be fishing in future’.


That’s what you call impact. If Phil Smith can be convinced I rest my case.


So how have I applied this to my own fishing this summer? Take the Tidal Trent, a river that is wide, swift flowing at certain stages of the tide, and full of barbel. Apparently they only feed in the dark and if you want to make a good catch you should turn up as dusk approaches and erect a bivvy.


What utter bunkum!


Again, we have folklore traded as fact when it isn’t even the basis of a good theory. Last summer I only fished daytime match hours. Not once did I require a starlight or head torch. Each session spanned the so-called worst part of the day and I paid no attention to the tide tables, yet I have caught fish after fish. The average catch fell as Autumn kicked in but overall it was pretty close to ten fish per trip. I call that good fishing and suggest to you that I must be doing something right.


So, what exactly am I doing?


Well, having filmed the fish’s feeding reactions to all manner of baits Stu (Walker) and I have developed a barbel mix based on a variety of different sized pellets bulked out with equal proportions of cooked hemp. If you only feed large pellets they are mopped up quite quickly by feeding fish. These fish return to the swim seeking more food but when they determine it’s not there the return visits become infrequent and then non-existent. In other words, they may be stupid but they see no point in turning up to a restaurant that is closed.


When we’ve fed small pellets they are effective for as long as it takes for the pellets to break down which is often a lot quicker than you imagine. They are also more attractive to nuisance fish and get washed straight out of the swim in anything like a decent current.


Hemp in isolation can stimulate positive feeding but the risk is pre-occupation. Hemp also washes away.


For your feed to be effective it helps tremendously if the riverbed is made up of pebble and stones. Fine gravel and sand will not hold bait.


Through trial and error we have arrived at a mix of mostly small to medium pellets of different types which have varying breakdown rates. This combined with the hemp will lodge in the gravel, behind stones and other obstructions. We’re not only happy to accept that some of the pellets will float off downstream, we positively want this to happen. Adding an oil based glug to the mix encourages this, as does pre-softening with a little water.


My opening attack when I arrive at a swim is to put out 15 to 20 droppers of bait, sometimes more, in an area about the size of a dining table. I have the line clipped up for this so as to ensure I am baiting accurately.


Trent anglers are the world’s worst, I reckon, when it comes to accurate baiting and casting. They THINK they are keeping the feed in a tight area but beyond ten yards out they haven’t a clue. As for placing their rigs on the money, it gets worse. I know this from regularly watching anglers on the opposite bank and around me with their scatter gun approach.


When the initial feed has gone in I always lay out the dropper line on the bank and mark out the distance from dropper to rod tip. That then enables me to place both rigs exactly where I want them to be, allowing a little extra distance for the downstream casting angle.


This is not rocket science! It is simply the belt and braces of fundamental accuracy which can be recreated with ease should you lose a rig or maybe realise your bites have dried up because you’re actually casting onto the wrong line.


Place your rig on the right line every time and your catches will increase significantly. Place it three yards away and you are reducing your chances to luck and wasting money on bait.


Of course, crashing a dropper into your swim 20 times causes a lot of disturbance and this will frighten any fish within 50 yards, won’t it? No it bloody doesn’t! In fact it will frequently attract them.


We’ve filmed fish that have sat in shot while a dropper opens and they then approach the feed before the dropper has been removed. Clearly we must have terrified them into feeding.


On several occasions this summer I have hammered in a load of feed, cast out a rod just downstream of the dining table and it’s hooped over before I’ve even got the second rod out. On one occasion I had three fish before managing to get two rods in the swim at the same time.


Now one or two of you will be wondering where this swim is that I’m fishing but it isn’t one red hot swim, far from it. I have been fishing different swims on each visit as I search for the mythical sweet spot, because somewhere out there I reckon there must be a really hot swim that contains a few bigger specimens, so let’s rule out the idea I’m targeting one particularly good swim. I am not.


It has been the norm for me to get some quick action but there have been occasions when I haven’t caught a fish in the first hour. This tells me that they are not in residence and will have to be drawn towards me. If I don’t catch within 90 minutes I re-bait with half the opening amount but I don’t really know what the next option is because it’s never happened yet.


What does tend to happen is that I’ll get into a nice rhythm of catching fish at steady intervals. It’s not uncommon to catch two or three fish in thirty minutes, then you get a rest for an hour before the next group arrives but if I go much longer than an hour without a bite I will reach for the dropper and give them ten droppers in quick succession.


Two weeks ago I had 7 fish in a short session, four came immediately after the initial baiting, then the swim died. Only when I put in another 15 droppers did I catch again.


Don’t forget the feeders are constantly topping up the swim, too.  Each rod is recast after ten to 15 minutes without a bite. I time this on my phone because it’s easy to lull yourself into a feeling that you’re doing okay. You’re not. There are more fish to be caught but to catch them you need to work harder.


Now I realise this isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. It’s hard work and you cannot keep it up indefinitely. Much easier to turn up at dusk, chuck out two bolt rigs and let the fish find you, or just sit back and read a book. Well, it’s each to their own. Before I retired I was in danger of becoming a lazy angler but times change and without the grind of the day job I’ve become more focused. To be a successful angler you can develop a match angler’s mentality or you become a time bandit. Either way you’ll do okay.


So let’s have a quick look at the hook bait presentation I’ve been using.


It’s hardly revolutionary but after sharing it on the TV programme I was accused on BFW, by Graham Elliott, of copying his ideas. Why he frequently tries to discredit me I don’t know. I’ve never even met the guy, never even read an article written by him, but he reckons he knows someone that I know so clearly I’m incapable of an original thought and that’s how I arrived at what we will now close with.


When competitive feeding is achieved in a swim, particularly on small baits, barbel frequently suck up whole mouthfuls of gravel and other food items. This can clearly be seen in our DVDs and it is evident that the fish are not selecting individual items of food. Somehow the food is separated from the gravel in the barbel’s mouth and the gravel is ejected.


Consequently I decided to replicate the small clusters of pellets that collect on the riverbed by gluing four, sometimes six small pellets to the standard hair. It has paid off handsomely when applied over our multi-pellet approach.


I first experimented with multiple particle baits on hairs over 15 years ago when fishing for carp on the St Lawrence River in Canada. Indeed I wrote an article revealing how I created two hairs, one from the standard knotless knot, the other a reverse hair emerging from the hook’s eye. The reverse hair was loaded with sinking particles of maize while the normal hair contained maize topped off with buoyant yellow rig foam which caused the hook to sit vertically, claw-like from the river bed. Hook-ups were one hundred per cent efficient in the lower lip.


But maybe that’s something for us to think about in the future…


Right now I see no reason to fix what is working remarkably well.


In a future article I will blow away a few myths about PVA. Again these aren’t theories, they are evidential truths, all of which will be revealed in the next two Barbel Days and Ways DVDs.




Let’s wrap this article with some further reading. There’s a thread on BFW begun by Mr Elliott called ‘Piling In The Bait’that you should read. It was launched in January 2010, straight after the coldest snap we’ve experienced since 1963, and Mr Elliott claims he witnessed an angler on a tiny river feed around 5kg pellets and a kilo of boiles prior to fishing. The angler was fishing a short session and following the advice of a couple of anglers who are known to ‘pile it in’.


Now I have little experience of using boilies for barbel. I’ve rarely used them because other baits have been remarkably successful. When I fished night sessions on the Trent regularly I used them on the hook because I quickly realised that pellet hook baits would melt and disintegrate after an hour or so, thus leaving me fishing with a bare hook most of the time.


I know one thing though, introducing 6kg of bait in one go using a bait dropper would take an eternity – try it sometime, you’ll soon see exactly what I mean…


I suspect the whole episode is the figment of a warped imagination. It simply didn’t happen and the thread was started maliciously. No-one in their right mind goes around introducing £30 worth of bait on a regular basis unless they are catching on it, do they?


But let’s for a moment imagine the scenario was true.


I can easily understand the dismay caused by witnessing someone doing it when you’re blanking, but has anyone really thought this through? Is it any worse than not switching on a car’s headlights in broad daylight?


You see, the fish aren’t even feeding. No one is catching, are they? The anglers out there fishing for barbel right now (January 2010), let’s face it, are going through the motions. In terms of rod hours, how many barbel have been caught this past month? One fish for each 200 rod hours, or 500, maybe a thousand? It could even be greater.


If this guy had stayed at home the chances are everyone would still have blanked. He had no impact on any one’s fishing, least of all his own. The idea that this bait lies around until it gets eaten is a complete fallacy, a myth. Within two hours there would be no sign of those pellets, they would have dissolved and washed away. It certainly isn’t a case that every barbel in the river would suddenly have switched on, eaten every last pellet and then not fed for another month.


Think it through. It doesn’t make sense. It is not logical.


It’s just a convenient way for some people to explain their own failings and if you want to disagree, at least come up with some factual evidence to support your statements. Facts – like pellets don’t dissolve. Facts – like pellets do stay exactly in the place they’re introduced. Facts – like you’re not simply feeding your own paranoia.


I’ve backed my theories up with irrefutable facts, with physical evidence, with film footage in real rivers – can you do the same?


And for the record, I am not, nor ever have been, paid a single penny by any bait company to promote their products.


If you enjoyed this article then you may also wish to read Part One.


Of course our four remarkable barbel films, full of technical and tactical advice are still available. Click HERE to purchase Barbel Days And Ways DVDs


If you prefer to pay by cheque or other means you can email Kate Walker at Kali Productions and she will make the neccessary arrangements:


37 thoughts on “Effective Barbel Rigs – Part Two

  1. Dear Bob
    So glad you have finally seen sense and put some provisos in on your previous blanket statements about feeding.

    It certainly is good that you are atarting to become a “thinking angler” Although your rubbishing of Southern anglers and their rivers shows that the Ambassador role is still vacant. When will you learn. It’s those sort of comments that make people dislike you, and got you banned from BFW.

    As you know most of the excellent anglers on BFW think your advice is…how shall we say………suspect. Like saying that medium pellets dissolve and cause no problems in 2 hours in this current weather. Yes………

    Never did get a reply from Keith, you probably “sorted” him out like GM.

  2. Well, here’s a man who’ll never let facts get in the way of his ego, eh?


    Why are you complaining to me that Keith Arthur didn’t reply to you? Do you think that I’m his secretary or that I have some kind of influence over the UK’s most influential angling broadcaster?

    And by the way, I have copies of BOTH replies Keith Arthur sent to you…

    I don’t think Graham Marsden would subscribe to your theory that I ‘sorted him’, either. Graham is very much his own man with his own opinions.

    And who are these Southern anglers that you claim I am rubbishing? Name one…

    Re: BFW: I love the way you pretend not to know that it was I who emailed Andy and asked him to remove my name from the membership list.

    I’ll also gamble that one or two people will be somewhat stunned to learn you’re now the spokesman for ‘most of excellent anglers on BFW’.

    But I’ll take the positives. It’s so flattering to be told by you that I’m now ‘starting to become a thinking angler’.

    What a patronising prat you are Graham!

    Like I said following your last post, close the door on your way out. Your attitude and your manners are not welcome around here. Please don’t bore us with a response as I’ll only delete it.

    Bob Roberts

    Footnote: Graham ‘Silverfox’ Elliott will be running guiding trips on the River Wye this summer with his good friend Steve Pope, Chairman of the Barbel Society. You’ll find details on their web sites.

    Breaking News: Cancel the above. Graham has fallen out with Steve and is now at daggers drawn. No surprise there then!

  3. You said this in your article.

    “he actually wrote a complaining email to the show’shost, Keith Arthur, who it must be said gave him very short shrift.”

    Another made up story then.

  4. With all the rubbish going on in the barbel world recently, thank goodness someone’s putting some good articles together for us novices to read.

  5. Bob. By the way. I’m very pleased that I inspired this article by you.

    I am also pleased that the lessons I taught a pal of your some years ago regarding small items on the hair has been put to good use.

    The BFW feeling re Piling the bait in are pretty scathing of your methods you know.

    BTW the fact that pellets eventually dissolve makes you think that the food element is lost forever. Now that would be magic.


  6. Going now. You may delete these in case you feel humbled.

    AND that will be all from me – forever. Tired of teaching old dogs new tricks, and you have no doubt seen the light.


  7. Graham

    I rather think I’ll leave your replies here for all to read. After all, they say more about you than I ever could…

    But please, don’t come back with any more of your nonsense. No one cares.

    This is Davina, please leave the house.

    You have been evicted…

    Ten…, nine…, eight…

  8. Bob,

    You sir are a total legend to barbel novices like myself, that like your total ‘down to earth’ attitude towards giving us the actual facts of barbel fishing unlike the ‘dunces’ or dole dossers on BFW (look at the gallery) all drugged up night fishing smoking, drinking and probably littering, giving decent folk like you and me a bad name and spoling it for us all.

    In essence Mr Roberts I salute you….

    As for Graham whats-his-name go hide in your bivvy with your tins and your fags…


  9. Thanks again Bob for a brilliant article backed up by film evidence, so who can argue with that.

    Found your book on ledgering on e-bay (sorry theres no royalties for you. lol) It now sits by my bed side table and I have a read through most nights whilst the wife taps her fingers against the head board waiting for lights out. 🙂

    Great read. Thanks again and keep up the good work.
    And dont let the barbel police get ya down. 🙂

  10. Hi Bob.
    Facinating reading.I fish the Nene near Peterborough.On the stretch that i fish there isn’t a massive stock level,maybe 30 or so fish that i know of.Do you think this baiting approach would work on such a small stock of fish.If so what different types of pellet should i try?

  11. Hi Neil

    It’s a difficult one to answer. Depends very much upon how far these barbel are spread out and what the flow is like.

    I keep reading statements made by so-called competent anglers who tell us that if someone introduces more than about two pellets they will sit on the riverbed until they rot.

    What utter rubbish! They are talking out of that orifice which sits behind their brains, always presuming they have some and working on the principle they are kept in their scrotums!

    Anyone who watches the live show that Stu Walker and I perform will have witnessed irrefutable evidence that even in a steady flow pellets will absorb water and roll away. It doesn’t matter if the pellet is barrel shaped or an elips, they roll and so does hemp.

    Pellets gradually dissolve in water, too, and as they break down the bits that flake off are eaten by all sorts of creatures and small fry. Even if pellets get trapped between stones or in weed the one thing I know beyond any shadow of a doubt is that they do not sit there and rot. Indeed I openly challenge anyone who says differently to provide the evidence to support their case.

    I’m quite happy to review my stance should they provide irrefutable proof that is contrary to my findings.

    My stance is backed by physical evidence. You will be able to see this for yourself when we relase Barbel Days And Ways Volumes 3 and 4 in May 2010 or if you care to attend the Trent Anglers’ Night Out at Shardlow later this month.

    As in any kind of bait fishing, feed should be applied in relation to the numbers of fish in front of you or within a distance these fish can be drawn. The water temperature and time of year should be considered. The number of other species which will compete for your offerings has to be considered, too.

    Feed only works when it is in your swim. Obviously it works against you when it is washed away on the current or in a fishes belly. Therefore the concept of introducing 6kg in one go is hopelessly flawed in most circumstances. I cannot speak for those who might do this as:

    a) I’ve never done this

    b) I’ve never seen anyone ever do this

    c) I can’t imagine a circumstance where I would do this

    However, I’ve read recently that some anglers wouldn’t use this amount of bait in two seasons. If so, they either don’t fish very often or they really don’t have a clue what is happening beneath the water.

    An angler who fishes regularly for barbel and uses less than a kilo of bait in TEN weeks is deluding himself if he thinks he’s maximising his potential.

    Because they catch a few fish using single baits does not mean they are fishing effectively. More often than not I would suggest they are catching fish despite their tactics rather than because of their tactics.

    If they applied more bait they would perhaps catch more fish and more quickly. Certainly those who claim to succeeed with this approach on what are rather prolific rivers would catch more fish if they used more bait.

    For ever angler who uses too much bait I would hazard a guess there are at least a hundred who use too little. Sadly, for purely personal and selfish reasons, this kind of statement upsets certain individuals.

    One can only imagine this is because it is to their advantage if everyone they are in competition with fishes well below their potential. The less fish caught by other anglers the better as it makes their own fishing a whole lot easier.

    But they’ll never actually come out and say that, will they? The bluster and subterfuge isn’t spouted so you’ll catch more. It’s spouted in the hope you’ll catch less.

    Go figure!

  12. Hello Bob

    Enjoyed the article – but not the “handbags at dawn”. There have been similar exchanges over the years re heavy prebaiting/groundbaiting with both maggots and then hemp. Common sense (and the wallet) would indicate that we use sufficient (but not more) ground bait than needed to do the job. Fully agree with your comments around particles being washed away and that coarser gravel is more retentive. Have seen this on both the Hants Avon and Lea.

    A few years back, from a road bridge in the centre of a small town in the Vosges mountains I was able to watch a shoal of barbel in 2-3 foot of gin clear water. There was little streamer weed but the stones of the rock/gravel bottom were mostly covered by fine algae. Across this mainly greenish bottom were many table-top sized areas – which had been systematically cleared by the barbel. Fascinating to watch – especially when the fish drove their heads under stones as large as house-bricks to get at what lay beneath and what was washed away. Is this why barbel give the bites they do?

    Been reading your R Don article. Not going to claim monster catches but was successful in the late 1990s/early 2000s int the Kilnhurst Bridge area – but not behind the station at Mexborough – have things improved?


  13. Hi Bob,

    Going to give the Trent ago in a couple of week before the season finishes. If you were fishing the Trent at this time of year any chance you could let us know what your feed approach would be?

    Cheers, Stu.

  14. We’re suffering extremely low water temperatures at the moment and there’s no guarantee the barbel fishing will actually kick-in before the river season ends.

    If it does and we experience rising water temperatures then you may have an opportunity to catch. Why do anglers target the final two weeks of the season? Because they expect barbel to be feeding.

    There’s a clue there. If the barbel are actively seeking food then it would be rude not to give them some. If barbel are feeding then you can rest assured that chub and bream will be feeding, too.

    There’s no point in trying to make a good catch on the Trent in favourable conditions if you are going to rely upon single hook baits, is there?

    If fish are searching for food as they frequently are in the gradual build up to spawning and there’s none in your swim it stands to reason they’ll pass you by. Okay, you might catch the odd random fish but as an ex-match angler I regard that kind of approach as laughable. The kind of tactics adopted by pools fodder!

    Think like a match angler. Feed to how many fish you believe are in front of you. When you get them feeding ask yourself how much bait is left in the swim…

    Do you need to introduce more?

    What you put in is either eaten or washed away. It dissolves and breaks down but there’s no point in putting in 2 kilos of pellets at the outset and thinking it will still be in your swim four hours later.

    You’re far better off to keep that feed going in at regular intervals so that there is always something in your swim to hold a passing shoal. That’s why I’d recommend a good sized feeder rather than a bait dropper on the Trent at this time of year.

    Check out the ones made by Fisky’s Fantastic Feeders. You’ll find an article and a link somewhere on this site if you do a search.

    Good luck.

  15. Cheers Bob just what i was after. I’ve been in contact with Paul a couple of week back just need to put an order in to him.

    Many thanks and keep up the good work!! Looking forward to your blog / article about your latest trip.


  16. Dear Bob, Can we buy the bait you use for barbel? Like the sound of the trip to the Wye in June 2010.Like your articles.
    Regards Ron

  17. Hi Ron

    The bait I use for barbel is simple enough to create yourself. I use a mixture of three types of Elips pellets to which is added various other small pellets. The proportion of larger pellets is very small compared with the little ones.

    I normally include some 1mm soft pellets that break down very quickly.

    The idea is that the fish have to pick up various sizes and therefore cannot detect which may or may not be attached to a hook.

    The pellets are mixed 50:50 with prepared hempseed which makes them very economical to use.

    Allan Parbery at Mistral Baits has seen the mix and I believe he’s launching something called ‘Ten Pellet’ next season which is pretty similar to the mix I use. As the name suggests there will be ten different pellet sizes in the mix and it means you can just but individual bags rather than a whole load of different sizes.

    If you fanct attending one of the Wye coaching schools then I suggest you act quickly because places are being snapped up quite quickly. They do represent exceptional value for money when you consider the quality of the hotel, the food and the exclusive fishing and that’s without the coaching you will receive.

  18. Graham do us all a favour, and go away an throw your toys out your pram on The Barbel Society web site, You could not lace Bob Roberts boots,

    Ray Thorpe.

  19. Bob,

    Let me first say how good your website is!

    I have had the week off and have been on a list of jobs e.g decorating, I stumbled across the site whilst looking at reports for the river Don as I am local and have the Don and Idle on my door step, I managed a couple of hours in the cut this week and had a Jack Pike.

    I am this year more pushed for time with a young family and my Carp passion may move to Barbel, I have found your Barbel columns brilliant and I have my kit list built. I will look to be a summer evening raider on the Don, so any thoughts you may have on bait or swims would be great?.

    Your blogs and site allow you to keep an eye on angling when at times you can’t get on the bank, as we all know we are always fishing in our minds eye. Thanks for the inspiring words and I am itching to get a Don Barbel in the net.

    Tight lines and keep up the great work.

    Thank you.


  20. Hi Bob,
    I have really taken a lot in from this article, especialy the amount of feed to use.
    I myself haven’t used this much bait in a session, but I have used the match theroy of liitle but often.
    Though the last few years I have been lazy, in my best seasons I would put two fair sized handfull’s of pellets out then leave it while I set up.
    After this I would throw in around six pellets then cast in then put in another six pellets. In my mind this makes the fish put the sound of the lead/feeder going in and the free offering’s together and would often result in a take within minutes of the bait being cast out.
    Again great article, it’s really made me take note of how lazy a angler I have become.


  21. I’m back fishing again after a 15 year gap and I’ve never heard of you Bob, or Graham, until now.

    I get the impression so far that Graham has a very large chip on his shoulder.

    Chill out Graham. It’s only fishing for god’s sake.

    Simon N.

  22. just been out today looking at the tidel trent today with a view to giving it a try for the barbel at the start of the season,reading your article on baiting you use a bait dropper which dropper would you recommend and do you use a spod rod type set up to get the dropper out.Any help would be much appreciated

  23. Currently I use the small and medium sized Seymo droppers for most of my barbel fishing although good one’s are available from Fox.

    The Seymo ones are metal and very robust.

    The Fox ones are plastic and therefore lighter and slightly less splashy but the doors are prone to falling off if the angling forum comments are anything to go by. Of course, this can easily be rectified with an electricians cable tie.

    As the feeders I use on the Trent (Fisky’s Fantastic Feeders) are normally 3oz and upwards unloaded, it’s patently clear that the same rod I fish with is man enough to bait up with (Daiwa Infinity Barbel). It’s so simple to unclip the feeder and replace it with a dropper but in all honesty I normally have a spare rod set up for the dropper.



  24. Hi Harrold,

    We’re past the first frosts now and daytime barbel get a whole lot more difficult as the feeding spells tend to get shorter and less frequent.

    The key now is not volume but smaller baits, smaller hooks and lighter end tackles.

    It’s impossible to say use ‘x’ amount of pellets because that would be governed by many factors – water colour, river level, is the temperature trend rising or falling, wind direction, even moon phase.

    Be in no doubt there are days when you can catch and others when dynamite wont shift them.

    Feed in winter should be tailored to the bites you get. There’s no use ‘piling it in’ (a phrase I’ve NEVER used) when the fish aren’t feeding. But sometimes a single high-attract bait may be the answer.

    I always carry a couple of kilos with me but I will only use what is necessary. What’s left over comes home with me and in winter that’s pretty much most of it.

    The most important lesson I’ve learned is that there are other species to catch in winter that will feed more reliably than barbel. I tend to save my efforts for times when the omens are in my favour rather than against me. The blinkered ‘barbel or bust’ approach is not for me.


    Bob Roberts

  25. Hi Bob

    Loved the underwater filming old bean, really helped me develop new rigs to nail em

    So much so i picked up a Fox specimen cup in Danglers mail a couple of weeks back for a massive haul including a 16lb Barbus and a 7lb 8oz chub

    So thanks in no small part to the insight i gained from those underwater films, thanks a lot mate!

    Oh i also got banned from BFW for being more successful than the people who run the site and random strangers offering me large sums of money for guiding trips lol

    Lets face it, getting banned from there is a badge of honour that means your doing so well you make them and their pony advice look ridiculous haha!

    All the best with your fishing mate and thanks again for the insight!


  26. Hi bob, I have recently started fishing the river dove on a club ticket. When I want to get bait out on the bottom pretty far out (mid river and beyond) with baits like hemp and pellet would I do this via a bait dropper? I have tried this with my bait dropper quite a heavy one and it always seems to be a big/awkward effort getting it far out. Any help appreciated thanks.

    • Hi Jack,

      If you’re struggling with the weight of your dropper then I’d suggest you invest £4.99 in a Dinsmores dropper. There’s an article here on the site if you just type in Dinsmores in the search box. Both Stu Walker and I use them and there’s no-where on the dove we cannot flick one out underarm on the river, even when baiting under the far bank. Sounds to me that the one you’re using is too big/ heavy for your rod.

    • To get the best from your stay make your first call the following tackle shop:

      Fishing Synergy,
      469 Tamworth Road,
      Long Eaton,
      NG10 3GR
      Telephone: 0115 9722 525
      Email: sales@fishingsynergy.com

      5 minutes from your hotel and I’m sure they’ll put you straight.

      Failing that, Pride of Derby do a weekly ticket. Details on their web site. River 4 minutes from your hotel.

      Have you considered booking a day’s guiding with Archie Braddock. He lives 5 minutes from the tackle shop and knows the river around there like the back of his hand. He’s dead cheap, too, and you’ll learn absolutely loads.

      Good luck.

  27. dear bob, have tried in vain to get hold of archie braddock as to guiding services on barbel fishing the trent around shardlow! can u pass on my enquiries please as i am having no luck finding him. regards brian.

  28. hi, i have just typed into google “WHER IS THE BEST PLACE IN PETERBOROUGH TO CATCH CHUB AND BARBEL?” as i am a complete novice river fisher, i usually fish daytickets for carp, or river nene locks for pike.. but please all of you give me stregnth.. i still have not been told a good place i can go for the day near/in peterborough and catch some of the most beutifull hard fighting fish in the river.. PLEASE HELP “WHERE TO GO??????? thanks….

  29. After being a decent match angler for the past 20 odd years with a PB of 320lb of carp in a 6 hr match, one of the most boring matches I have ever fished by the way, I decided to start fishing again for enjoyment and start with the prince of the fish. After years of listening to the jealous bitches in the match fishing world I was very surprised to find out that it’s just as bad in the barbel world…..I watched your DVDs and have read a bit of your stuff and it has helped me quite a bit to help me enjoy my barbel fishing adventures, you obviously know your stuff so you will get bitched out by jealous people….carry on pal have enjoyed and learnt a lot….

  30. I have enjoyed your writing bob and i have returned to read some articles numerous times. You are an inspiring angler. I am not however very impressed with you and graham airing your dirty laundry on here irellevent of who is at fault, you should rise above the negativity. Thanks for your efforts.

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