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Chub Fishing….A Revelation

Let the one who has the intelligence and the scales measure and calculate the number of the wild beasts that occupy the depths of the Trent, for it is a man’s number and that number is ‘Six!’

Six… Six…Six!



A revelation by Lee Swords

Revelation 6:7 and when he opened the seal upon the fourth tub of bait, I heard a strong voice say “Chub!” 8 And by the water’s edge I saw a pale Korum seat and the one seated upon it had the name Lee. And all Hell followed close behind him.

four-horsemen-of-the-apocalypse sooty

My chub fishing of late has been nothing short of Biblical in its proportions; I have had a fantastic time landing many fish, some of which have broken my personal bests.

I love to break a personal best; it improves my mood no end but to regularly improve one’s limits a fisherman has to understand that 12lb line with 6oz feeders full of loads of loose feed combined with barbel style hook lengths is not the alpha and the omega when it comes to connecting with a steady procession of chub rather than barbel.

Lee Swords with summer Chub

Although I would forgive anyone into getting the impression that chub are an easy fish because I always catch a fair few chub during the early part of the season when I am fishing for barbel; but it is not the normal state of affairs, over the course of the season, things change.

When the weather fails and the river cools to the point that fishing for barbel becomes a pointless exercise in futility performed only by those deluded souls that have far too much spare time and optimism for their own good it is time to switch your priorities but I must add that if you are going to switch targets then you should do so completely and embrace the change totally, don’t just stick with the same rods , the same mainline and the same basic end rig, simply changing the strength of hook length and choice of bait…that will not work, you have to change the whole lot. It is everything or nothing, the change has to be complete.

Rev 6:1 I watched as Martin Womble opened the first of the seven tubs of bait. I heard him say in a voice like thunder, “Come and see!” I looked, and there before me was a white paste. I held my rod high, and I rode out as a conqueror bent on conquest and domination of the Trent.

Fishing for chub does not need my usual 12lb Snyde main line, so I am using a matt blue 6lb line from Preston called  Reflo Power Max I find it to be very good and I recommend it wholeheartedly, nor does fishing for chub need the specialised combi-rigs that have been so devastating for my barbel fishing, all I am using is a length of 6lb Incognito Fluorocarbon tipped with either a size 16 Preston PR 39 hook that is a little lighter in gauge to my usual Drennan BSS or an Owner Iscema size 11 for when I want a bit more ironmongery to hang my bait on.

My Mark Tunley ‘Big River’ rods are exquisite but well over gunned for the job at hand so they have been replaced for the time being by my Greys Prodigy rods which are still a little hefty but better balance the needs to fish the river as well as the fish themselves.

Lee Swords Mark Tunley rod


Rev 6:3 When I opened the second seal, I heard the living creature say, “Come and see” Whereupon another rod came out from the Korum Holdall . Its user was given power to take chub from the Trent and remove peace from the river and to make fish slay each other in their eagerness to please him. To him was given a name Big Swordsy.

And this is something that has to be taken into account when choosing to fish the bigger rivers such as the Trent, the angler has to be able to command the river as well as the fish in it otherwise the river will dominate his tackle and render everything futile. The Trent is a beast of a river and very rarely tolerates the ill-prepared.

Also something to consider when fishing for chub rather than barbel is the habit of placing of rods on big shiny pods or long poles and pointing them at the sky whereby the angler will be alerted to a ‘fish-on’ by means of nodding rod tips and an audible alarms, this is counter-productive and will lose the angler more fish than they catch.

Lee Swords on the Trent

Fishing for chub means a quantum change in angling mechanics and mind-set, first off the rod needs to be on your knee with your hand on the rod butt waiting to strike, chub do not possess anti-eject mouths like barbel, chub are masters of spitting a bait out before you ever have chance to make contact. Yes, some will hang themselves and need only to be ‘wound in’ but most bites will need to be struck if the angler is to have any hopes of getting a fish on the bank and avoiding a sub-zero blank.

So with these changes borne in mind what else have I been doing of late to make contact with fish rather than endure the blanks that seem to become far too common once the temperature drops?

Well, I have been playing around with my bait for a start!

I could use maggots…But maggot fishing for chub involves a fair amount of risk as well as outlay. For something as basic as the grubs that fall off the carcasses of dead creatures maggot prices are now through the roof as far as I am concerned, I suppose this is all thanks the European meddling in the health and safety issues involved in farming the things, forcing smaller suppliers to close allowing those that survive to monopolise the market and choose what they charge.

I fondly remember the Sheffield maggot war of the early nineties when I could get a gallon of feeder maggots for a fiver…happy days!

Whatever the reasons that have fuelled the cost issues of supplying maggots at a reasonable price they pale into insignificance when compared to the ‘risk’ element, the wrath I would reap if I was to release a couple of pints of fresh bronze gentles on the carpet (again) would be truly biblical in proportion.

Rev 6:12 and when she saw the open seal of his sixth bait tub, a great earthquake occurred; and her mood was as black as sackcloth and Lee’s entire face became as red as blood.

The stars would fall from the heavens and she would destroy utterly my entire collection of fishing equipment by means of a great pestilence leaving only a canister of Mr. Sheen and three thousand assorted dusting cloths so that I may take them up and polish the whole house from top to bottom as means of punishment.

So I don’t generally risk it.

So instead of maggots I have been using another small protein rich bait in my feeders, one that can be purchased at reasonable cost, is guaranteed not to crawl out of its tub and can be kept with no issues in the home fridge or freezer…Minced meat.

Usually I use  beef but I have messed around with lamb and pork and found little or no difference in results, my only concern being with cost. I try not to g too cheap because the stuff is all fat and fat and cold water do not go together at all well, the excess of fat would seal in the water soluble blood sugars, amino acids and proteins lowering the attraction levels of the stuff.

Too expensive and I would be sorely tempted to turn it into a spaghetti bolognaise and be dammed the consequence to my waistline, so I go for the general mid range budget stuff that looks nice and red and not the fatty stuff that is pinky white or even grey

I know that there is nothing new in using mince in the feeder but I do play around with it a little bit once I get to the river’s edge, I like to give mine a little boost by means of some Teme Severn Barbel Pro.

Now it has to be said that I am a bit like Ken Hom, the Chinese chef that uses Soy Sauce in 90% of everything he cooks, I use T7 Barbel Pro in or on 90% of the baits I use, that’s because I know it works, I know it improves the attractant spectrum, I know what’s in it and what it was designed to do.

It also helps to separate the little bits of meat when combined with a light dusting of Teme Severn Stick and Mix powder, now unlike the Barbel Pro which I wouldn’t switch from under any circumstances this is something that could be done by other means, Dynamite Baits, Swim-Stim would also be a very good choice to help separate the grains of meat as would something cheap and easy to get hold of like polenta/ corn meal.

But if the angler really cannot face the hassle or extra effort involved in giving his bait a unique edge that nobody else on the river is able to replicate then he or she could simply use the mince straight out of the butcher’s bag but that would be very lazy and rather foolish in my opinion.


I use a lot of Barbel Pro and Activator

As the old saying goes “Preparation, Preparation, Preparation!” well it’s either an old saying or a line from the film Sexy Beast quoted by the character Don Logan played by Sir Ben Kingsley.But whatever the origins it works for me.

Rev 9:14-15 And He heard the one voice say (Tina phoned my fishing partner Martin Womble when she had finally calmed down after the maggot incident) “Untie the one that is sat upon the Korum seat besides the great river Trent”  And Lee was untied and he had been prepared for the day and month and year, to catch a third of all fish that swim in the river.

It’s true you cannot have enough preparation and forward planning when it comes to fishing and that goes for rigs, think about your rigs. Think about what you want them to do. I am using two rigs at the moment, one I call the “Sliding paternoster” The other I call “Fred” for no other reason than “Semi-fixed big ring low profile self-hooking feeder rig” is a bit of a gob full.

The sliding paternoster is nothing more than an adaptation on a short hook length roach rig, all I do is put a long hook length on and I am left with a fully functioning paternoster rig that has caught me a lot of fish, the bonus being that the stops that hold the swivel in place slide forwards and reduce the length of the paternoster tail that holds the feeder/lead. This in turn reduces the risk of the trailing feeder catching on any snags as I play the fish in.


The Trent is full of snags and anything you can do to avoid catching on them has to be a bonus.

The Semi-fixed big ring low profile self-hooking feeder rig (or Fred to its friends) is something more akin to what is to be found on commercial carp puddles its strengths being that it gives very positive hook-ups and because of the way the hook length is connected to the feeder the whole lot rides high and does not easy snag. For anyone that has concerns over the safety of this rig, I have tested it and it completely breaks down on destruction into its component parts leaving no possibility of tethering. I am very happy with this rig and if at some point it becomes popular amongst anglers and it were to go the way of the “Jan Porter” rig and adopt its creators name I would be very proud if it became known as the “Monkey Boy” rig.

In fact it was the original prototype of the Monkey Boy/Fred rig that secured me the first of my six pound fish this season. I needed a rig that was not going to be prone to snagging as I was fishing for barbel very close to an overhanging raft of large woody debris; I did not want anything hanging loose that could possibly catch if the fish got too close to the snags.

The rig fished wonderfully and I landed a procession of lumps but the 13lb 8oz barbel aside the most notable part was the increased hook ups I was getting from the chub. Instead of big juddering jolts as the chub played with the bait I was getting complete wrap-a-rounds as they came a cropper of the rig and found themselves well and truly hooked.

Lee Swords with Trent Barbel

 A one time PB of 13lb 8oz


Rev 6:5 When I opened the third seal, I heard the living creature say, “Come and see!” I looked, and there before me was Martin Womble! And he was holding a pair of scales in his hand. Then I heard him saying, “Another Five pound chub on steak , and three four pound chub on bread flake for a day’s fishing”

Now this may not be to the taste of some barbel anglers and I would understand if they chose to not use this rig because of the increase in chub landed but I am not afflicted by the viral infection known as haemorrhagic single species mononucleosis that is more commonly known as “Big Carp Fever” or its closely related phage more usually associated with moving waters “Barbel ‘shit or bust’ Fever” therefore I am not that focused as far as species is concerned. If the chub are averaging 5lb a piece it is my opinion that they warrant a visit to the bank and I won’t get all huffy if they don’t have a set of whiskers when they get there.

Anyway back to the first 6lber of the season…It had a taste for lob worms and a penchant for underwater snag swimming but the rig held up well and the fish had to endure a rather explicit photo shoot with yours truly.

I made her endure all the usual poses and left her no dignity whatsoever but like I said to her at the time “At the end of the day your mother does not have access to the Internet nor is she likely to see her rather chubby looking daughter on the front cover of the bottom shelf monthlies” so with promise of more lob worms to come I told her to “lighten up a little and spread your pectorals for the camera”

That early chub driven chapter of the season really set me up for a crack at a bigger fish once the weather cooled off and the chub began to reach their peak in both weight and condition so as soon as the barbel fishing became a pointless exercise in time wasting and the small drains I like to fish for pike froze over I was straight on the Trent and after the chub!

And they duly obliged with several fives taking a liking to the meaty offerings upon my hooks and gracing the folds of my landing net on the first session, which was soon to be followed by another session that saw me land a six pounds twelve ounce beast (I like to say it like that…it sounds even bigger than 6lb12oz) in a four or five fish haul that included another six pounder all of which had a taste for small strips of beef brisket.

Lee Swords with 6lb 12oz Chub

Now when preparing for a session of meat and mince fishing do not be fooled into thinking that you need a massive amount of bait…you don’t!

A half pound of mince and a couple of ounces of hooking steak will be ample, even on my busiest of days I have struggled to use a half pound of meat and what I have had left has been thrown out as freebies rather than taken home and refrozen to use later because that’s when accidents can happen.

It still looks like human grade mince…but it isn’t…and if the wife thaws it out and makes a chilli out of the stuff you will quite possibly regret having ever been born.

Rev: 16:3 And the cheapskate one poured out his bowels into the pit of despair and out of his bottom came fountains of brown water and they became as blood and the prophet known unto God Almighty Jehovah as the ‘Trent machine’  said unto the afflicted one ‘ you didn’t want to do that’

It makes more sense to throw the stuff in the river and let the chub get a taste for the stuff, they are also immune to things like Leptosprosis also known as Weil’s disease or the Rat Catchers Yellows and other such lovelies as Cryptosporidium or Clostridium perfringens, all of which would be far less pleasant than spending another couple of quid on fresh bait for your next outing.

A final point on hook baits is to always have an option and for me when the river is ice cold and the margins are icing up that option is lobworm but if lobworms are unavailable to you then a quarter kilo of Dendrobaena worms or ‘Dendras’ will suffice at a pinch, in fact on my last session I couldn’t get hold of any Lobs (I do not buy them) and I had a feeling that worm would score  I used a tub of Dendra’s to great effect taking a seven fish haul that included another two six pounders with the final score being 4-3 to the steak!

So remember…there is more to life on the Trent than barbel.

And the number of the beast is 6…6…6!

( Although I have a mind to change that to 7!)


( This article has been previously published in Coarse Angling Today, a monthly magazine which I cannot praise highly enough nor urge anyone strongly enough to track down and take out a subscription for!)

3 Responses to “Chub Fishing….A Revelation”

  1. ;-)

  2. I really enjoyed that article and after being in the Irish Republic for eleven years, with no chub, I am now very homesick!
    I’ll be returning home soon and will be catching chub in the northern rivers as I used to years ago.
    Great bit of reading and a man of biblical proportions.

  3. No chub! Good God!!

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