How Do You Fish For Barbel?

In simple terms, think big!

One of the most powerful fish in uk rivers, Barbel fishing is no place for fine lines and small hooks. With feeders up to 8oz bouncing around, you need strong lines and big hooks. Regular casting is key, instead of casting out a big bait and waiting for hours, draw fish into the area by keeping bait constantly running through your swim.
One of the best barbel fishing tips that I can give you is to be patient. Often the tip will knock, and bounce as fish bangs into your line and feeder, but you must wait for either the rod to properly arch over, or bounce back as the fish dislodges your lead. There is little mistaking a true bite from a barbel!


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What's the best bait for Barbel?

Bait options give a better chance of finding barbel.

What is the best bait for barbel?

Commonly, Barbel catch on luncheon meat, boilies, pop ups, wafters, maggots and paste. Pay attention to bait colour. Black is a traditional barbel bait colour, and though good on occasions, barbel can prefer other colours. All bait can be improved with an attractant like Sensate™ fish accelerant.

On trickier waters, playing about with hookbait size can be a killer edge. On some venues, a small, 5mm hook bait will fool the fish, but on others moulding several pieces of Fjuka together into a 15mm or even 20mm lump will bring results. Just remember to increase your hook size accordingly!


Brad's double-digit barbel  

Tom Scholey's 12-5-0 Barbel

Tom Scholey's PB barbel of 12-5-0

Ant Molyneux River Severn Barbel

Ant Molyneux's river Severn beauty

Tommy Pickering's PB Barbel

Tommy Pickering's PB barbel

What are the UK's best barbel fishing rivers?

Here are ten of the best barbel fishing rivers:
  • River Wye - Herefordshire
  • River Trent - Staffordshire, Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Lincolnshire
  • River Avon - Bristol, Hampshire, Warickshire
  • River Nene - East Midlands
  • River Severn - Shropshire
  • River Derwent - North Yorkshire
  • River Ouse - Yorkshire
  • River Colne - West Midlands
  • River Tame - West Midlands
  • River Anker -Leicestershire, Warwickshire, Staffordshire

Where is the best place to catch barbel?

Barbel enjoy highly oxygenated medium to fast flowing rivers, weirs and gravel runs, but can also be found on commercials too. You'll find barbel close to forms of cover and natural features, like weeds, rafts, overhanging trees or snags.
Barbel Fishing

A beautiful early morning Barbel.


Early mornings or late evenings, into dusk are great times to catch Barbel.

What's the

What time of year is best for barbel fishing?

If you want to catch a barbel in the double figures, autumn and the last few weeks of March are prime times. Catch rates tend to slow down in cold weather, but you can still catch a personal best.

What is the best time of day for barbel fishing?

Many anglers fish for barbel an hour before sunrise, and hour after sunset, but big barbel can be readily caught throughout the day if you follow a few simple tips.


Fancy banking your first barbel this weekend? River record holder shares his secrets

What is the best rig for barbel?

If ever there was a species to gear up for, then it’s the barbel! When you catch one, you will see why. They are pure muscle! Big, forged hooks are they order of the day. Use as big as a size 8, and no smaller than a 12, matched to a minimum 0.19mm (8lb) hook-length. A simple running rig is best, with your bomb or feeder running down to a swivel stop. This way, if you should get snagged or broken, the fish can pull free of the lead. Long hook-lengths can be deadly, I use a minimum of a metre to allow your bait to waft in the current, away from your leger. Go for 10lb reel line with a 12ft or 13ft heavy feeder rod, for maximum control when you hook a fish.

Gear up for barbel!


Barbel expert Brad Hancock helps Tom catch a NEW PB barbel of 12-5-0.

He explains, the timings, tactics and baits that you need to know to catch yourself a double-figure barbel.

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Watch More Barbel Videos

Tommy Pickering's bags his personal best barbel on Fjuka.

Watch Tom Pickering catch his PB barbel on first cast with Fjuka.

Early season barbel.

The River Trent is the destination In search of big river chub and barbel.