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Angling Direct guide to barbel 1

Part 1: Location and Tackle

Never caught a Barbel? Always wanted to catch our hardest fighting species? The following guide will point you in the right Direction to complete that ambition.


Without doubt rule No 1 as they say is Location Location Location; you definitely cannot catch them if they arenít there. The top 3 rivers in my opinion for the inexperienced Barbel angler to attempt to fulfil their ambitions would be the Severn, Teme or Trent. Donít kid yourself thou these rivers arenít one big Barbel swim but they do contain shoals of Barbel in many stretches with plenty of double figure fish to make it interesting.

The particular areas I would recommend are as follows, River Severn: Ironbridge to Bewdley, River Teme: Ludlow to Worcester and the River Trent: Nottingham to Newark. For more specific information on the areas concerned try tackle shops local to the venue or the weekly angling publications. I am unable to give information on specific swims but would recommend walking stretches before fishing, pay attention to areas above and below fast shallow runs also look for swims with features i.e. fallen trees or deeper gullies. These deeper gullies will carry the bulk of the flow and can be very close to the bank. When fishing the Trent try to find areas where the river bed is gravel, this can be found easily using a heavy lead slowly retrieved across the bed of the river. When pulled across gravel it will show up on the rod top as a series of plucks and pulls as the lead skips over the gravel. As always look for swims with well worn banks, with less match activity these days swims with well trodden banks are usually good ones.



Forget match rods, poles and light feeder rods, a heavy feeder rod or a pound and a half test specimen type rod would be ideal. Look for one of the range of twin top rods manufactured by Daiwa, Fox or Greys, these are supplied with a heavy quiver top and a specimen top both suitable for Barbel fishing. For a reel I would recommend something similar to a Shimano 5000 or 6000 size. My choice of line would be 8lb minimum and I use 10lb when fishing with bigger leads. Leave your match luggage at home, seat boxes, platforms large net bags and rod holdalls will be difficult to carry over the rough terrain and long walks often required to reach swims. A rucksack will suffice for tackle and scales etc, I use a small quiver type rod holdall for rods and brolly, a canvas bucket will make a great bait carryall and a lightweight stalking chair will make your session comfortable.

Never take a keepnet, Barbel should be returned immediately after catching even then great care must be taken, Barbel often require a few minutes support facing upstream before they will attempt to swim away. For a landing net try the largest spoon net available, Keenets produce the mega spoon which I have used for several years they are ideal for the job.

My top ten basic Barbel tips

  • Spend some time walking venues locating possible swims

  • Look for well worn swims on popular stretches

  • Travel light, keep tackle to a minimum

  • Never use a keep net

  • Use 8lb minimum line

  • Return fish carefully

  • Never leave your rod cast out and unattended, it could get pulled in.

  • Forget early starts, late afternoon and evening sessions will produce the most fish

  • Read my other articles on, rigs and bait and winter Barbel fishing

  • Enjoy your fishing

  • For any advice on Barbel fishing matters e mail me using the contact us link at the top of this page

    I will endeavour to reply to all enquires