Tench fishing

Tench fishing

Tench lakes are traditionally old silty estate lakes with large lily beds, lots of weed and are usually extremely picturesque. These venues can be a real pleasure to fish, especially to float fish. Tench love the cover provided by lilies and weed and will often be found around these features. More and more gravel pits now hold Tench, sometimes very big ones! Anglers fishing for carp will often catch Tench.


Tench spawn between April & July when the temperature hits 15 degrees C. In cold years spawning may not occur at all in the UK. A female Tench will lay about 250,000 eggs per pound of her own body weight. Tench are one of the few species of coarse fish which can be sexed accurately at any time of the year. Male tench have large spoon-like pelvic fins with greatly thickened leading rays.


The purpose of these modified fins is unknown. Eggs are laid in thick weed. Often the best place to look for spawning tench is in the thickest weedy areas. The fish will give away their presence by rolling in the weed during the early morning. As with many course fish the Tench throws caution to the wind throughout this process and are easily visible. The warm seasons are by far the best time to catch Tench. They can be caught through the winter but winter catch rates will be far lower than the spring, summer and autumn.

Float fishing for Tench

Estate lake Tench fishing

Float fishing has to be the best way to Tench fish. There's nothing like sitting and watching the tip of a float as it slowly bob's and then slides under the water surface heralding a bite. This experience is even more pleasurable when using a traditional float, like these made by George at Traditional floats. Tench can be caught with ledgering or bolt rig tactics but, float fishing is such a pleasurable way to fish.

Tench are bottom feeders so this is where you will need to present your bait. You will need to find the depth of the water you are fishing in. This is best with the use of a plummet. A float fishing plummet will always weigh more than a float. You simply attach the float to the mainline, then tie on a hook. Move the float up the line a few feet. Take the hook and pass it through the plummet loop, next push the point into the rubber (or with some cases cork) and swing the whole set-up out over your chosen spot.

Laying on float rig

A very basic float rig which can be used to catch Tench, Carp and Bream. The weight needs to be heavier than the float and rests on the bottom. You will need to set the depth so that the float is half visible above the water surface. Bites using this method will often be the float lifting and laying flat on the surface. On other occasions the float will just slide beneath the surface.

Laying on float rig for Tench

How to use a plummet to find the depth

Plummet for finding depth

Most of the time the float will disappear under the water. This indicates that that the depth of the set-up is too shallow as the plummet pulls the float under. If the float lays flat on the surface the you need to reduce the depth of the float. Keep adjusting the float and testing until the tip is just visible above the water surface. Once achieved you can remove the plummet safe in the knowledge that your bait will be on the bottom. It is best when Tench fishing to have a couple of inches of line on the lake bed.

Tench Baits

Many carp anglers have caught Tench on mini boilies, this is because the baits used to catch Carp will also catch Tench. A large Tench is more than capable of eating a 15mm or 16mm boilie. Mini boilies are a favourite big Tench bait. These are around 10mm and for some reason Tench seem to prefer the strawberry flavoured variety. You can also make your own boilies to whatever shape and size you like. Sweetcorn is without doubt one of the Tench's favourite foods. The sweet, tender, golden grains are so attractive to Tench that they will be caught on them time after time. Fishing a couple of grains on a size 8 or 10 hook is good, as is threading the grains onto a short hair. Plastic fake sweetcorn is a great way to catch Tench.

A pair of nice tench

Use one real grain and one plastic grain on a hair. Be careful when purchasing the imitation sweetcorn to buy the sinking ones. Buoyant plastic sweetcorn is good for making pop-up rigs but for float fishing the sinking variety is better. Another great Tench bait are Worms. You can either dig for worms or purchase them. There are certain advantages to buying worms, the main one's being it takes little time and effort, also the worms will be great quality if bought from a good supplier. If you decide to buy them then the Dendra worm is the best option. They survive for a long time on the hook or the hair rig and are the perfect size for Tench. Cockles are a little used bait that can at times give you a bit of an edge. Cockles and Prawns are 2 such baits. Both bait can be attached directly to the hook or attached to a hair. These 2 baits should ideally be fished under a float. Bites will be delicate and may not register when using ledgering tactics. Bread is the simplest of all Tench baits. All fish like to eat bread and fished under the float in the margins its hard to beat. The main problem with using bread as Tench bait is that the attentions of smaller silver fish will give constant falls bites. Maggots and Casters are a fantastic Tench bait. Pellets are another good bait, the smellier the better.