Float Fishing with Bread for Chub

One of my highlights of each winter is heading south to sample the fantastic coarse fishing on Hampshire’s River Test. In particular, float fishing with bread for chub.

Predominantly a game river, many beats open their doors to the hoards of coarse anglers willing to pay for an expensive day ticket and go in search of one of our most graceful and obliging winter species, the grayling, and I’m one of them! 

Plan B

Don’t get me wrong, on a frosty bright day, when the rivers running crystal clear  you just can’t beat catching ‘The Lady of the Stream’, however once booked, if the river conditions aren’t favourable and it has a tinge of colour then it’s worth having a plan B, and for me its trotting bread for chub.

Key areas

Chub swims often reveal themselves on grayling days with the odd accidental capture, yet if I didn’t know a stretch of river the two areas that I would look for first are drop offs, where shallow water abruptly drops away into deeper water, or creases, where fast and calm water meet, often found directly below wooden structures to increase the flow, at the back end of a pool or where the main flow is directed past an object in the water such as a fallen tree or bank side bush. 

Use your loaf!

If allowed, bait choice would always me maggots, lots of them but unfortunately the beat I fish ban worms and maggots as the owners want to protect the salmon and if catching salmon parr, which love maggots, can be avoided then it has to be a good thing. Sweetcorn is an option, especially when grayling fishing but the next best bait to maggots, for chub has to be bread and you just can’t beat a couple of loaf of Warburtons. Bread mush is an option, but I prefer to liquidise a whole loaf, crusts as well, the night before and feed a small ball at a time through the swim. The other loaf is kept simply as hookbait.  

chub fishing with bread 2

Resist the temptation

It’s really important not to be greedy when float fishing for chub, even when using maggots, and its worth getting the chub competing before making the first cast by feeding a small ball of liquidised bread every few minutes. By doing this, in a swim that contains chub, you are almost guaranteed a chub first trot through and if you can repeat this process and resist that immediate next cast, then sport should be steady all day.

Avoiding an abrupt end

Something worth remembering when chub fishing is, if you are allowed its worth retaining chub in a keepnet, not for too long though, as returning them into the swim will see an abrupt end to sport as a disturbed chub returns to the shoal and spooks them. Unfortunately retaining any fish on most game beats is banned so if this is the case then its best to return each fish fifty yards up or downstream.

Refined but robust

Chub are masters at finding any bank side vegetation so tackle used must be refined enough to get a bite but robust enough to extract each and every fish hooked. Float control is also vital as if the bait is passing through the swim quicker than the flow then it will be simply ignored so a 15ft, even a 17ft will provide that extra control. I use the fantastic Sphere 15’6 Spiced-Tip River Rod and team this up with MgTi 930 Reel loaded with Black Magic Gold 0.17mm/4.50lb mono. Although length is important when choosing a rod, its weight and action is also vital as it needs to be light enough to hold all day, the Sphere 15’6 weighs just 175g and has an action classified as ultra-fast and stiff, ideal for picking the line and hitting those bites, yet its soft forgiving 50cm solid carbon tip is perfect when using fine lines and small hooks. Reel choice is also important and in some most cases, especially when grayling fishing, a centerpin just can’t be beaten, yet many of the chub swims here on the Test mean trotting close to the far bank and this is where a fixed spool reel comes into play, just ensure its small enough so that your finger can cover and trap the line coming of the front of the spool. As for the rig itself this consists of a big float, one that is man enough to dominate the swim. Big traditional stick floats are ok, but on these fast flowing, often turbulent swims I prefer alloy stems and you just can’t beat Dave Harrell No1 Alloy Stem Avon’s and I keep a range of sizes to hand from 2g right up to 6g! To shot these floats I use an inline olivette, the same weight as the float (these floats take a bit more shot than stated), and trap it above the hook length with two No6 shot. The hook length, which is usually around twelve to eighteen inches and created from Cenex Hybrid Power Mono is attached to the mainline on a simple loop-to-loop basis and apart from a further No6 and two No8 spaced evenly to the hook the rig is finished off with the non-forgiving, sharp and reliable Beast in a size 12.

chub float fishing tackle

Hybrid Mono hook lengths and Beast hooks give me total reliability. 

chub float fishing olivette

Use an olivette to create a tangle-free bulk shot.

chub float fishing reel

Sphere MgTi fixed spool, perfect in this situation thanks to its brilliant line-lay and precision front drag.

Don’t forget

Two vital items of tackle are a bait apron which contains the bait and avoids constantly bending down and a peaked cap which makes spotting bites easier due to it blocking any unnecessary glare off the water.

Tricky one

For today’s session I’ve picked a reliable but extremely tricky swim, one where rapid shallows drop away into deeper water. It would be great if the chub were on the near bank but the bank side cover on the far bank mean that’s where they live. The rivers faster than normal and carrying some colour so although I’m confident of catching, it’s not going to be plain sailing but certainly far more productive than if I were to fish for grayling!

Bare hook reward

Can you believe it, whilst trotting through with a bare hook and getting my depth set I’ve hooked a chub, fair and square in the bottom lip. Things go to plan with a number of chub gracing the net in the first couple of hours before a dull in action but persisting a further four cracking chub fall in as many casts before two more late in the day send me home a very contented angler.

Chomping at the bit!

Can’t wait for a return; maybe for a grayling session next time, but how can I ignore such a fantastic chub swim.

Colin Sheppard

chub float fishing

Colin’s Float Fishing for Chub Tackle

Sphere 15’6 Sliced-Tip River Rod

Sphere MgTi 930 Reel

3g Alloy Avon Stick Float

Inline 3g Olivette

Black Magic Gold 0.17mm/4.50lb Mono

Cenex Hybrid Power Mono 0.12mm/3.70lb Hook Length

Sphere Beast size 12 Hook

No 6 and No8 Split Shot

Colin’s Bait

Two loaves of Warburton medium sliced bread  

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