Time for a Barbel
Our gear and tactics owe much to our carp fishing background, and in fact Graham actually uses his 2½lb tc carp rods and Regal 4000z reels. They handle the 4oz feeders or gripper leads perfectly, and the free spool facility of the Regal can be fine tuned perfectly to just hold against the flow, but cope easily when the rod hoops over, from a typical Trent barbel bite. One thing we have found is how important it is to keep a steady flow of food going in to the swim. We have been using a mix of maggots, hemp, and scalded Trigga Ice Pellets. The carp angler’s mentality is to set a trap then sit and wait, but on a powerfully flowing river, sitting and waiting is all you end up doing. We have to keep reminding ourselves to keep the bait going in, with refilled feeders being recast regularly.
One other thing that has worked for us has been the switch to long combi rigs. A combination of 30cms of soft braid next to the hook, and up to a metre of 10lb fluorocarbon for the rest of the hook-length has been significantly out fishing our more usual much shorter rigs.
Our most recent trip was one of the best, but I’ll let Graham tell you about it.
"When we arrived I could see the concern on Brian's face as the water level was well down by some feet to his previous trip, but after assessing the stretch we set up and began to fish. Me to the left, downstream and Brian to the right. I had taken advantage of Brian's wisdom and chose to use a long combi hook length, with pellet for hook bait and open ended feeder tactics filled with scalded pellet, hemp and maggot."
"I hadn't got my second rod out when the first one was away, landing a cracking 5lb barbel. A few more hours passed without action but we kept feeding the swim with pellets and boilies, then as if a switch had been turned on, we were off again. Two more nice barbel graced my net, then Brian was in, we didn't know where to look!"
"Baits recast and time to relax! Not a chance! The 'Regal' on the left hand rod was churning and the fish powered off downstream, as I hit the run I knew this was a better fish. Once landed and photographed it weighed in at just over 8lb. More fish followed through the evening and we were both thoroughly exhausted when it was time to pack up! In total we had banked 10 hard fighting Trent barbel, certainly one of my most memorable sessions of recent times and one I would happily relive again!"
So if you fancy a change from your carp fishing, then have a think about a bit of barbel fishing. On the bigger rivers, your normal carp gear will be fine, and with a bit of thought to rigs and bait application, the results can be very rewarding.
Best of luck if you decide it’s time for a barbel.