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Pre-baiting for barbel and chub

Posted by Shaun Harrison on 23 July 2011 |

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Hi Shaun,

I fish a small river in Berkshire which holds some very big Chub and Barbel.

Earlier this year I brought several kgs of rahja spice 10mm to feed and some 14mm as hookbaits, I also purchased a few pots of you paste and dip.

The question is Shaun, what is the best way to approach barbel with this type of bait?

I have per-baited a couple of kilos in three swims, should i be using pellet as well?

One thing I have noticed is the paste is a bit dry, how can i make it a bit more tacky, I think the chub love and just pulling it off how ever i mount it.




IMG 6951

I prefer to mix the sizes of feed

Hi Steve,

Good timing this one really as it is something I have been doing and got terribly wrong at the start of the season which shows we should never take fish or our methods for granted. I had found some Chub and Barbel I could watch during a dog walk in the close season and they became a little bit of a fascination for me. I started feeding them Rahja Spice and Ghurkka Spice boilies in mixed sizes 10′s, 15′s and 20mm. They got stuck into the 20mm’s as much as they did the other sizes and it made it easier for me to see how much they were eating. The 10mm’s were more difficult to spot on the bottom in the wavering current.

I ended up feeding them most days and the chub and barbel appeared to become practically tame – I had simply trained them to expect food somewhere between 7.30 and 8am and as soon as the first hand full was thrown into the three swims I fed the fish turned up.

IMG 7080

Simple no knot knot with a 10mm boilie awaiting a wrap of paste

First morning of the season I was up early and very nearly set the video camera up before the first hook bait of the season was lowered in. I was that confident the bait would be taken instantly. After 5 minutes I was agitated. After 10 minutes I couldn’t believe it!

I eventually peered over the long grass and the main spot I had fed for a few weeks was devoid of fish for the first time!

I went and visited the other two swims – the same. I couldn’t believe it. First morning of the season and the first time I hadn’t watched them eat a load of bait. Whilst walking back down the river to where I had

IMG 7082

Ghurkka Spice paste around a Rahja Spice Boilie

started I spotted a group of fish where I didn’t usually see them and a free lined piece of paste wrapped around a 10mm boilie was grabbed straight away – in fact 3 chub chased for it! Now that was the reaction I had expected in my 3 baited swims.

Upon reflection they were the same fish I had been feeding in the swims but they weren’t in the swims at the time of the day I had turned up.

I had to be away for work as it was simply a bonus early morning pre-work session but I did manage to lower a bait into the swim I had started in around the time I had fed them each morning and ‘bang’ a fish was on straight away.

Subsequent evening sessions have been patchy too yet fishing at the times I had been baiting was by far the most productive. Seems so obvious now but it didn’t at the time. I had presumed that I would get them accepting the bait as totally safe due to the amount they had been fed without lines being in the way which I did. But, I hadn’t anticipated them only seemingly wanting to feed in those swims at certain times despite the fish often being there at other times. Subsequent experiments have shown them to spook if I bait at odd times which shows you can train them to suit you which is something I am going to experiment with in the Autumn. I am going to see if I can get the fish to feed as heavily as I have seen them feed but at a time which suits me perfect.

I never had issues encouraging my local fish to feed on the Ghurkka or the Rahja Spice although the Chub showed a more aggressive reaction to the Rahja Spice – possibly the colour triggered something but they certainly grabbed the first few baits before they hit the bottom where as the Ghurkka spice would be mopped up off the bottom.

As for the paste the only way I fish it is by mounting a 10mm boilie on a hair and then moulding the paste around this. The boilie gives it a good grip and if the chub pull the paste off you are still fishing efficiently with a boilie. If I need to protect the hook point from weed etc then I cover the point – just. If not I leave the point out for more efficient hooking.

IMG 7083

Hook point just standing proud

To soften the paste up a little you can use either river water, glycerine or a cooking or fish oil. The water will turn the paste mouldy so I tend to just scoop out what I need with a dry spoon and re-work just what I need at the time this way I get the option of a stiffer or softer paste.

You can add pellet or particle to your pre-baiting if you want but from my observations this isn’t really necessary unless you are wanting to hold the fish in an area for a long period – putting a larger catch together. I tend to travel light and roam about when on the river so once I have caught a fish I tend to move on. This way my boilie and paste only approach seems to work the best and you are feeding exactly what you want them to take on the rig.
Hope this helps
Best fishes


About the Author: Shaun Harrison

shaun profile pic

Quest Baits boss Shaun Harrison has put over 40 years of experience into developing his range of carp baits ” This bait range is the culmination of the bait knowledge I’ve gained throughout my carp fishing career, a journey which started in the 1970’s. It has truly been a long and winding road – frustrating at times, fascinating and rewarding at others….. Our range you’ll only find proven baits, the ones I use myself 

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