The second favourite course fish targeted by UK specimen chasing anglers is the Barbel. Although not as popular as the carp "in fishing terms" they have a large following of devotees who spend many hours in pursuit of this, the strongest fighting fish. Barbel have a streamlined shape which hugs the bottom closely in fast flowing rivers. In recent years the barbel have been introduced to many lakes by fishery owners who want to add more variety for their customers. Barbel are now present in many commercial fisheries.

Barbel baits

Maggots, Casters, Worm, Hempseed (loose feed),Luncheon meat, Boilies, Sausage meat


More and more rivers are producing big barbel. Their average weight is increasing year on year. Many be-leave that this is because of the high protein ingredients that make up boilies. Boilies are being used more and more with carp anglers and now all most specimen hunters realising the benefits of using them.

Signal Crayfish

On many rivers there is little doubt that the explosion in American Crayfish populations has had a direct impact on Barbel weights. Barbel and Chub will eat juvenile signal crayfish as well as adults while they are shedding their hard outer skin. There is little doubt that this high protein diet has helped to boost weights.

Tackle to catch Barbel

Because barbel fight so hard strong tackle is needed. A mainline from 5 to 10lb will suffice in most situation. If snags and weed are present then using a heavier and stronger line of 10lb will be required. On commercial fisheries where there will not be snags a 5lb line would be enough. The hook will need to be strong and in size 8, 6 or 4. You can float fish for barbel or use ledgering tactics. On fast paced rivers the latter would be the better option.

A barbel for Bob Roberts

Barbel rods

Float fishing for Barbel requires a rod with a fast tip action and an all through action. The rod should have a fare amount of power. A rod of around 12 - 13 feet will help to pick up line quickly when striking, 1.2lb to 1.5lb test curve is ideal. For swim feeder and ledgering tactics a slightly heavier rod will be used. A progressive action 1 ¾ lb T/C will deal with most situations.

Barbel rigs

Fishing a static bait on the bottom or even a rolling bait is a very effective Barbel presentation.

Barbel rig

UK record Barbel

The UK record barbel stands at 21.01lb. Caught by Grahame King from the Great Ouse at Adams Mill Bedfordshire on 22/04/2006.