A note from John
Once upon a time barbel anglers were content to use traditional baits and of course they still work today. But times change, and in over 40 years of bait development I have worked with many accomplished barbel anglers who have come to understand the benefits of using special baits and the tactics that have evolved with them. Barbel will respond positively to a ‘little-and often’ diet of easily found bait, and most experienced anglers know how and when to target them. River flow works in anglers favour as the smell of the bait attracts fish from a long way downstream. A good bait is a highly attractive prospect to a hungry fish, providing it is applied in proportion to the amount of barbel are believed to live in a particular stretch of river. It’s been proven that freshly made paste, boilies, or chop-up’s, will often single out the bigger fish. Specific bait recipes can therefore be used to target known fish. These days there are less barbel about in our rivers than there were a few years ago, which is more reason to give them food they are likely to actively look for. Barbel will instinctively know these baits are beneficial to them which means pre-baiting is not usually required.
When targeting big fish in winter its vital to keep freebies to a minimum, particularly when lines are in the water. A ‘high-attract’ hook bait or a small piece of fresh paste and a PVA mesh bag or stringer, is all that is needed on a typical short trip. The best time to throw in a few freebies is when the session is over, and in this way the fish will have a free meal when all is quiet. On big rivers, such as the Trent, Wye, Thames and Severn, the same tactics will be successful, but in a slightly different way. Regular casting with feeders or large PVA bags will deliver bait down on the riverbed. This should draw the fish into the area without over feeding them. It must be remembered that pellets, in all their forms, are still widely used and on most rivers, they are an easy option and for this reason are often over-used. It therefore makes sense to use a different bait, change the diet, and provide the barbel with an alternative nutritious food source. This is best achieved with a proven recipe and, when possible, a freshly made bait. Lots of bait options for specialist barbel bait can be found on this website. Please make the most of my flavours and ingredients. It has been my life’s work to make them available to all anglers, and I can guarantee they work!