pole fishing perch 1

Thames Perch on the Pole

Thames Perch on the Pole

I always look forward to a couple of hours fishing on the mighty river Thames before heading off to the office whether it be a spot of feeder fishing for bream, running a stick float through for roach or like today, pole fishing for perch.

Perfect venue

The free fishing stretch near Walton Bridge in Surrey is a brilliant venue as it has a free car park right on the river bank, so no long walks, just arrive, unload, set up and start fishing. This stretch is deep, around 10ft at 10m and the reason for targeting perch, and hopefully a few roach, is there’s hardly any flow due to the dry, hot summer. 

Rise and fall

I’ve dropped into a swim opposite the café, literally just twenty steps from where I’ve parked. It’s a typical swim with cabbages close in and deep water on the other side. There are a few fish dimpling which is encouraging, probably roach and dace plus the odd predator chasing these. First job is to plumb up and as expected it’s not far of ten feet at just nine metres. As I will be edging the float through the swim slowly, I’ve decided to fish a couple of inches over depth. This will allow me to hold the float back on occasions allowing the bait to rise and fall in the water, a good tactic, especially for perch. 

perch bait
worm pole rig
worm pole rig 2

Hazardous feeding

Although my main hookbait choice is worm, I’ve also brought along some casters which can be deadly on their day plus some red maggots just in case it proves really tough, yet usually the bleak mean these don’t get a look in! Although there is very little flow, loose feeding can be a bit hazardous in such deep water as it’s difficult to gauge just where they end up, it also attracts the bleak so I’m going to introduce three balls of Champions Feeder Black Roach groundbait, which I mixed up on arrival, laced with chopped worm and casters. This is introduced accurately, straight out using a big pole cup and will hit the bottom around a foot further down, an area that I can fish over the top and hopefully concentrate some fish to feed on. If the flow is faster I tend to use a bait dropper which might be ‘old school’ but it tells me exactly where the feed has been deposited! During the session I’m also to ping a few casters over the float which will hopefully attract some silver fish in feeding as well as dragging a few better perch from downstream and if the fishing is really productive the odd ball of groundbait will be fed. 

Straight forward

As for the rig its really straight forward, a 1g pear shaped Tangi pole float which is cocked with a single olivette positioned around eighteen inches above the hook plus two small dropper shot equally spread on the hook length. The pole I’m using is the Sphere Zero-G PT+, 1.9mm Microbore pink elastic which has a 7-9 rating, mainline is 0.16mm Cenex Hybrid Power Mono, hook length is the same but in a 0.10mm diameter and at the business end is a size 18 Sphere Match micro barbed hook which might be switched to a size 16 if the bigger perch turn up. 

Early start

The fishing always seems to be best in the mornings here, probably due to this stretch being extremely popular with kayaks and canoes, so if you’re planning a trip make sure you arrive early! First drop in with a red maggot and as expected a bleak hits the bait so its straight over to a single caster and it’s not long before the elastic stretches out as a half decent perch hits the net. A few more follow but the bleak are still problematic so it’s time to try double caster which produces a bite but soon after hooking a small perch a pike grabs it. As expected the swim slows up after the first hour so it’s time to try a worm and that seems to bring the swim back to life but its noticeable that as the clock ticks the fish get smaller, probably due to the water being gin clear, the light levels rising, that pike being in my swim as well as the boat traffic increasing. 

Angling fix

Having just a couple of hours at my disposal in the morning its might seem a lot of effort for such a small window of opportunity but it’s a great way to start the day as I miss the motorway traffic, get my angling fix and it keeps me in touch with the river as come the autumn when the roach move in or the bream turn up I will be ready and waiting.  

Justin Watkins

perch catch
perch catch 2

Justin’s Tackle

Sphere Zero-G Pt+ Pole

Microbore Pink Elastic

Cenex 0.16mm & 0.10mm Hybrid Power Mono

Sphere 18 Match Hook

1g Tangi Pole Float

0.9g Olivette plus two No8 dropper shot

Justin’s Bait

Red worm


Red Maggot

Champion’s Feeder Black Roach Groundbait

cenex line
sphere match hooks

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big roach 1

Trotting for roach on small streams

Trotting for roach on small streams - Justin Watkins

Every winter the tiny river Bourne, a tributary of the mighty river Thames see’s a massive migration of silver fish into it. This is probably to get away from predation, but for whatever reason it’s great news for anglers as it offers some fantastic fishing, predominantly for roach. 

For me it gives me some diversity and gets me away from the stillwater match scene and allows me to step back in time and remember the days when fishing such venues was commonplace. There’s a few miles of free fishing here at Chertsey Meads and today I’ve headed for the middle section which gets me away from the more pressured swims, however the swims are far tighter often with low overhanging trees to contest with. 

Bait couldn’t be easier, maggots and it allows me to use up any leftovers from the weekends matches. Bread punch is an option, especially when the rivers running really clear but today it has some colour which is good.

roach catch 1
stick float

Use a decent sized float so that you can hold the rig back without it being pulled off its line.

hooks to nylon

Sphere Match Hooks to Nylon are my choice for river fishing with maggots.

"On these tiny streams it’s a good idea to be stealthy..."

Tackle wise is also relatively simple and I’ve coupled my13ft Black Magic CFX match rod up with a Sphere MgTi 920 reel loaded with a 3lb floating mainline. At the business end is a 4×14 alloy stem stick, attached with three rubbers and this is shotted shirt button style with the size of shot decreasing as it nears the hook and the space between increasing which allows the bait falls through the water naturally and when edged through the swim the bait is slightly ahead of the float which makes hitting fast roach bites easier. Hook length is a pre-tied and shortened Sphere Match size 16 barbed hook containing two red maggots.  


On these tiny streams it’s a good idea to be stealthy and although I have bought a seat box this was set up well away from the bank and quietly poisoned along with everything else so the fish weren’t spooked straight away. In all honesty if I was going to fish all day then I would bring just the minimal amount of kit and rove around yet with just three hours at my disposal, and with a reliable swim available I’ve opted to stay put and try and build it slowly.

First few trots through with a lighter rig simply see’s tiny bleak and roach so a quick change to a heavier float and upping the feed slightly slowly see’s a few better roach netted. Ninety minutes later and the roach are coming thick and fast, mostly net fish to around 12oz along with the odd skimmer and perch. If I had more time I would be doing this so much more as it’s so enjoyable and rewarding and come the end of the session I’m amazed at what I’ve caught from such a small stream, there must be getting on for 20lb in the net including my first ever silver bream!

If you have a river close by then it’s really worth checking out, especially where it flows though rural areas as these can be full of fish at this time of year.

Justin Watkins

sphere reel

Treat your line so that it floats as this allows for a clean strike when you get a bite.

maggots for fishing

A couple of pints of maggots are all you need for this simple fishing.

big roach fishing

Small streams can hold some surprisingly big roach.

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chub float rig 1

Float Rig for Chub

Float Rig for Chub

Float fishing for chub with big baits such as bread and meat, is a brilliant way to spend those cold winter mornings. Simple, robust gear is all you need in a float rig for chub, and in this article Colin Sheppard looks at the gear he uses when fishing fast flowing rivers for winter chub with bread.

float rig for chub 1

  1. Firstly make sure you use an abrasion resistant mainline, I use Black Magic Gold 0.17mm / 4.50lb.    

float rig for chub 2

2. Thread four rubbers onto the line, a big one first followed by three small ones.  

chub float rig 3

3. Choose the right float, one big enough to dominate the swim, a 4g Alloy Avon is often my first choice.  

chub float rig 4

4. Attach the float with the big rubber that goes over the tip and then pulled down to the floats shoulder.  

chub float rig 5

5. Pull the three small rubbers onto the alloy stem. Three rubbers stop the float moving on the strike or whilst playing a fish. 

chub float rig 6

6. The first rubber is positioned at the top of the stem.  

float rig for chub 7

7. The second float rubber goes in the middle of the wire stem. 

float rig chub 8

8. The third float rubber goes at the bottom of the wire stem. 

chub float rig 9

9. Thread an inline olivette onto the mainline. If I’m using a 4g float, I use a 4g olivette.

chub float 10

10. Using a figure of eight knot create a loop in the mainline.

chub float rig 11

11. Lock the olivette onto the mainline with a no6 shot either side.

chub float rig 12

12. Choose the right hook length and hook, Sphere size 12 hooks to nylon are great, especially when using bread.

chub float rig 14

13. Remove a hook length from the spool and reduce the length of this to around eighteen inches and create a loop using a figure of eight knot.

chub float rig 16

14. Place this loop through the mainline loop. Then pass the hook through the hook length loop. Pull straight and tighten down.

chub float rig 18

15. Add a no6 shot around twelve inches up the hook length.

chub float rig 19

16. Add two no8 shot, evenly spaced between the hook and larger shot.

chub float rig 20

17. The final rig, robust enough to land any chub in the fast flowing, shallow swims. 

chub float rig components


Black Magic Gold 0.17mm/4.50lb Mono

4g Alloy Stem Avon Float

Four Float Rubbers

4g Inline Olivette

Sphere Beast size 12 to 0.16mm Hook Length

No 6 and No8 Split Shot.

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sphere match hooks to nylon

Sphere Match Hooks To Nylon

Sphere Match Hooks To Nylon


I find tying lots of hooklengths and real pain, so whenever I can I will use hooks to nylon in my fishing to do away with this chore. A pattern that I use a lot in the winter months, especially when fishing rivers such as the Wye and Severn is the Sphere Match Hooks to Nylon. 

The Sphere Match is a medium strength hook, making it ideal for maggot fishing. The wire gauge is fine enough for baits like maggots, but with enough strength to land bonus fish without me having to worry. 

The shape is ideal for maggot and caster fishing. On the river Wye I tend to use this pattern in a size 12 or 14, tied to 0.14mm line. 

All Sphere Hooks to Nylon are supplied tied to one metre of line, allowing you to cut them to length and making them suitable for both float, pole and feeder fishing. 

The unique retainer enables the hooks to nylon to be removed individually and protects the stored rigs away from UV light and dirt that can damage nylon.

A great product, and if you find tying hooklengths a chore, these are a great quality product that I am happy to use in my match fishing. 

Rory Jones


Keep up to date with all our latest match news here.

Find out more about our team of anglers here.


Visit the Browning interactive product catalogue here.

sphere match hooks to nylon 2
sphere match hooks to nylon 3
sphere match hooks to nylon 4