Paste is without doubt one of, if not the best attractor that you can use for drawing in barbel to the baited area. It can be used in a multiple amount of ways to increase and prolong food signals in the swim and around the hook bait. The first and most commonly used tactic with paste is to wrap hook baits; as good as a boilie is at catching fish, paste takes the leakage levels to new dimensions, as the bait has not been boiled to create a skin which hinders leakage. The best way of attaching paste is to wrap it around a trimmed down hardened hook bait, this ensures that after the paste has fully dissolved into the water, you are with resilient attractive bait on the hair.
Paste can also be used in loosefeed, by simply breaking bits of the paste off and adding them into a loosefeed mix, the small fragments will break down and release strong food signals and stimulants into the water.
As the weather gets colder and the water becomes clearer, before the heavy rains seem to come in, fluorocarbon hooklengths can really make a difference to enticing bites from the finicky feeding fish. Long hooklengths always seem to be the best option when trying to create a natural feeding scenario, as you want to try and mimic the action of the hookbait to the loosefeed that will be fluttering in the gentle flow. As a rule, a hooklength from 1-3ft in length is a reasonable start, with this varying depending on the level and intensity of the flow. Longer hooklengths are best when combined with a large lead in a steady to moderate flow, what you would usually find on a big river.
Nothing needs to be overcomplicated with barbel, a simple knotless knot to a strong hook is all that is needed to trip up these wary feeders, considering the bait and the conditions are right and you are situated where they are confident in feeding.
Without doubt, the more accurate you can get your bait presentation, the greater the results will be. Especially when fishing for shoals of barbel, very much like on a busy day ticket venue, enticing the fish to feed on a tight bed of bait will make catching them much easier when they are in numbers.
By far the best way of achieving this is through the use of a bait dropper, this allows you to deposit a good amount of bait hard on the riverbed, without the problem of the flow washing away bait items in all directions. If you clip up the bait dropper to the required distance, ensuring you are lining up with a marker on the far bank, you can quickly and easily build up a good bed of bait in next to no time at all.
Bait items such as hemp and chopped boilies will hold the lakebed much better than large, round items, which can simply move with the current. Hemp becomes lodged in cracks and debris on the lakebed, while flat-sided chops remain in place in the flowing water.
The use of oils, even in the colder temperatures, have the ability to carry food signals in the river for long distances, which is key to drawing barbel upstream to the baited area. Oils work well in all layers of the water and provide a distinctive, powerful scent trail. Fish oils are among the most potent oils available, with Smoked Salmon and Tuna Oil being some of the most effective, year-round oils for barbel. These can be used for glazing baits, adding to loosefeed or simply boosting the attraction of hookbaits and PVA bags.
The levels of oil simply cannot be over done, as the flowing water will disperse the oils much greater than say when compared to fishing still water.
It might seem obvious, but dawn and dusk are without doubt the best times to be catching barbel. If out for a day session, try and hold out as long as possible to ensure you are hitting the right times when the fish start to feed. This is quite often minutes before dark when the river can seem to come alive, so ensuring your rod is still in the water at these times, even when doing a day session is vital.
If you are looking to fish a stretch of river, try to get down a few days or the night before to watch the water, just on dusk for signs of activity. Having an idea of where the fish want to be before your session comes around will already put you in a good position of catching a few.
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