How To Catch Chub – The Full Guide!
So you want to catch chub and you probably want to catch big ones, too. Well, you come to the right place, because in this blog, I’m going to cover the main key topics of how to get the best out of your chub fishing.
Chub definitely prefer flowing water. Whilst you can sometimes find them in lakes where they’ve been stocked, or on occasions, you can also find them in canals relatively pacey, flowing water is the best place to find chub. Rivers up and down the UK hold chub, certain water courses with a decent amount of depth and nice amounts of cover are places you’re more likely to find them.
Chub are omnivorous in their feeding habits, so that means that they’ll eat a wide range of foods. When they’re quite small, they’ll often feed on weed growth, plant matter and small bugs and little insects. When they get larger, they become more and more predatory, eating other fish, crayfish. In some cases, chub have been known to eat mice and even rats when given the chance to take them.
The one species that you may sometimes be a little bit confused about is the dace. Dace look relatively similar to a chub but with a smaller mouth. Dace also have a concave anal fin (see drawing) but on a chub, the anal fin is convex. It sort of comes out in a more of an arc outwards away from the body.
I think the British record is just over 9lb, but if you catch 3 1/2-4lb chub you’ve caught quality fish. In my eyes, the distribution of chub across the United Kingdom is definitely more heavily concentrated in the Midlands and the south of the country. When you get really far north, up close to Scotland and into Scotland, you’ll find less chub. Chub prefer to lay their eggs and spawn in quite shallow water in fast-flowing well oxygenated runs. They will do this around June time.
So you’re on your session and you’re looking for chub along your local stretch of river. The best areas to look for are areas of a medium paced flow. In the spring and summer when it’s very warm and they’re thinking about spawning, they will of course move up to very fast-flowing and very shallow water, but they don’t feel so safe spending the majority of their time in that area of the river. When you’re fishing for chub, it’s best to look for a medium flow, not dead slack with no movement, but also not really shallow and fast-flowing areas.
So let’s say you found some chub and you want to go about trying to catch them. The first thing I would recommend is try not to scare them off. Chub can be very wary and their eyesight, I think, is better than the eyesight of a barbel. The reason I say that is I’ve crept up on barbel in the past and I stood about 1 meter away from them in shallow water and I’ve dropped the bait in front of their face. They haven’t got as as chub have. On the other hand, if you’re fishing clear water, they can be so spooky. You just cast a shadow across the water or a stick snaps underneath your feet and they’re zoomed off and they’re spooked.
In the early season or in quite warm weather, you can actually get chub feeding on the surface. Just stand upstream and throw in little pieces of bread, little chunks of crust work perfectly, drifted down and sometimes you’ll actually see the chub start coming up and hitting that bread on the surface. This is an incredibly exciting way to catch chub and you can actually pick out the largest fish in a shoal just by paying off line and holding the bait back when you see the smaller ones coming up for the bread.
Later on in the season, once other people have done it on the stretch that you fish, the chub are probably going to wise up quite quickly and become very difficult to catch off the surface. We often find there are only one or two days in the summer early on in the season where you can fish like this, the rest of the year you’re going to need to use a different approach.
Fly fishing and lure fishing can also produce chub and again be a very exciting way to catch them, especially the larger chub, which are quite predatory, will chase in a small crank bait or soft plastic lure. However, just like the surface fishing with bread, conditions have to be just right. You’ve got to have the right clarity in the water. The chub has not been fished for too much and yeah, they just have to be really hungry.
A more predictable and realistic way to go and catch chub consistently, whatever the conditions, is to fish with a ledger or a feeder. The setup that I quite like to use for chub fishing revolves around a sliding swivel on my line and beneath that is a small weight.
Sometimes I’ll pinch split shot onto this little piece of line, meaning I can add and remove weight depending on the flow.
As an alternative to the link ledger setup, you can also use a simple feeder rig. If you want to use a maggot feeder, a or ground bait feeder, that will work great.
Consider your hook size compared to your bait size, this is quite important when you’re mounting your bait onto your hook. I’ll use a size 16 hook for a couple of maggots, a size 12-14 for worms, a size 8-10 is perfect for a chunk of bread or a bunch of worms and finally when I’m free lining with a big lump of bread or spam I’ll go for a size 6 hook. If you get the balance between the hook size and the bait slightly off it can result in missing bites or not getting as many bites.
Another tactic is float fishing, using a float can be a really effective way to catch chub in the right location. What I mean by that is, if the river has multiple different depths in a short space it will be hard to trot a float effectively and you may end up getting stuck on the bottom. You will need to find a swim where it has a nice amount of similar depth, steady pace and room for you to trot your float downstream. As you watch the float trot down throwing out a pinch full of maggots, hemp and bread is an incredible way to spur fish into feeding.
When I am float fishing for chub I will often bait the area up before I have set up my kit. This gives the fish more confidence feeding before I have even cast out, I do this not just for chub but with most of my fishing.
Particularly when ledgering what I like to do is bait 3 or 4 spots up with ground bait, I will then walk back up to the first spot I’ve baited and work each swim and cover more ground.
When chub fishing I like to bring the minimum amount of gear as possible this is because it makes me more likely to move swims, cover ground and end up catching more fish than I would have done bringing loads of gear and sitting in one swim for the whole day.
My choice of rod is to use a relatively short quiver tip, mostly because the majority of the rivers I like catching chub are quite small, so something like a 9-10ft rod is ideal. If you fish larger rivers like the River Severn or River Trent you are definitely better of going with a 12-13ft rod. The important part of the rod is that it has a nice, soft and sensitive quiver tip I like to use 3/4 of 1oz. The reason you need this for chub fishing is for better bite indication.
The reel I like to use is basically any small fixed spool reel that is relatively light with 6lb line, this is a really good solid go-to strength to have on your reel.
Always bring spare tackle, a couple of extra feeder cages, spilt shot, hooks etc. This will come in handy if you snag up and lose what you are fishing with.
Some more equipment you will need is a small landing mat, a net with a long handle and a bank stick to rest your rod on.
I hope you can now go out on one of your local rivers and catch your first chub 🙂
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