I favour a fairly simplistic approach when targeting barbel but by adding a few little tweaks and thought, simple rigs can help trick even the biggest and wariest of fish.
All of my barbel fishing revolves around using a running lead set-up, with the idea of keeping as much of the line around the rig end pinned to tight the riverbed. A flying back lead helps to achieve this, which is used in combination with a 2 or 3 feet length of Gardner Plummet Leadcore. I like to use a Flat Pear lead that is overly heavy to the river conditions, which allows me to leave the rig in position without the need for regular recasting, which may spook my intended quarry. The lead rests against a Target XL Buffer Bead, which encapsulates a size 12 Kwik Lok Swivel. The use of a size 12 Kwik Lok Swivel enables hook lengths to be changed with ease even on the darkest of nights.
My favourite hook length by far when fishing for barbel is Target Speciskin. There are four different colours (weed, green silt and camo), which suit a variation of riverbeds and conditions. Speciskin performed admirably during testing and I was fortunate to land barbel to a monstrous 18lb 6oz!
Unlike many anglers I like to leave the coating on my hook lengths intact. Not only does this ensure a tangle free and well-presented hookbait, but is also something a little different to what most anglers use. I always straighten my hook lengths over a boiling kettle (be careful of your fingers when doing this), which helps the hook length to sit out straight in the flow. I also like to add a couple of small blobs of Critical Mass Putty to ensure it sits flush to the riverbed.
For hook choice a size 10 Target Specimen hook is hard to beat. They are strong, super sharp and have the added feature of Gardner Tackle’s unique Covert finish. I always prefer a beaked point hook when river fishing, I find this helps to protect the hook point from the gravel on the riverbed, ensuring it stays razor sharp.
A small Micromesh PVA bag containing a handful of hookbait samples is added to the rig. This not only ensures a 100 per cent tangle free presentation but a few confidence building hookbait samples around the rig end.
How to Tie Alan’s Barbel Rig.
Step 1 – Tie a simple knotless knot using a size 10 Target Specimen hook. Alan prefers a short hair when using this rig.
Step 2 – Tie a simple figure of 8 loop knot, which makes it quick and easy to change hook lengths.
Step 3 – Add a couple of small blobs of Critical Mass Putty along the hook length to ensure it sits flush to the riverbed.
Step 4 – Attach the hook length to a size 12 Target Kwik Lok Swivel.
Step 5 – Trap the hook length in place by pushing the Kwik Lok Swivel into the XL Buffer Bead.