THE DAWN OF A NEW SEASON, GLORIOUS WEATHER, WHAT TO TARGET?
For many years now my summers have been spent burrowing through overgrown banks in search of summer chub. My favourite way to catch them – lures, topwater and crankbait. Targeting chub on light tackle with small lures is heaps of fun, they are often visible, tempting and frustrating. The gut-wrenching lows as a fish misses the lure are soon superseded by the adrenaline rush of an explosive top-water take, coupled with a ripping drag as you hold on for dear life, hoping to keep them free of the many snags. Writing this prior to opening day, my heart is pumping and I’m longing to get out on the banks and target them.
This week I’ll cover the techniques, tackle and lures I use to fish for chub.
A sensitive yet soft rod is ideal for chub fishing with lures. They can hit the lure very hard, often making big runs. A rod with a soft tip will reduce the chances of hook pulls. Rod class depends largely on the venue and size of fish. Ultra light models 1-5g, through to medium light models 5-20g, cover most scenarios and pair nicely with 10-20 size reels. I favour a longer rod, giving me a little more control when battling fish out of the close-in rafts, especially when bank fishing. My main combo is the 3-16g 8’6″ Custom Predator, paired with an Okuma Helios 30 size reel. Although it’s a very fast action and strong rod, the tip is forgiving enough to absorb the takes. I also carry a 6ft 1-8g Ultra Light. This combo’s perfect for tiny lures on small streams, and loads of fun to use.
For me braid is the way. High tensile strength, low diameter, floating and lightweight. These factors help present small lures, while cutting through the dense weed that chub love to try and snag us in. Breaking strains fall between 6lb and 18lb depending on the job. On my heavy rod I use 17lb to cut through weed and vegetation. On the lighter combo I use 8lb, offering strength while retaining a reasonable cast. HD4 / 4 strand braids are my favourite. They hold up to abuse, but slicker 8 strands often present better. For my leader I use fluorocarbon between 6lb and 15lb, usually in a 30inch length. I often use a fine wire trace if I’m not sight fishing and where pike are present, wire doesn’t seem to put the chub off. I carry all my terminal tackle in a waterproof backpack, perfect if I decide to wade.
Crankbait, topwater, spinners, micro spoons and soft plastics. All of these make up my chub fishing armoury.
Crankbaits are perfect to fish through deeper runs, they bounce and deflect off gravel, giving an erratic action and strong vibration chub love. My favourite technique is to cast them upstream on a gravel run and rip them back fast. The takes are aggressive and big fish fall foul too. Crankbait fishing for chub has produced fish up to 7lb 1oz for me.
Topwater fishing is my favourite method, using either micro poppers or small insect imitations. Casting them blind to cover can lure fish out, but my favourite technique is sight fishing. Creeping along the banks and targeting a specific fish can be deadly. It’s a great way to pick out the biggest fish on many venues. A few summers ago I stalked and sight fished an amazing chub at 7lb 2oz. A simple retrieve, either straight or with small twitches, often does the trick.
Spinners are an age-old classic, timeless and deadly to this day. They work year-round for chub. I enjoy fishing them against the current with a super-slow retrieve. They work their way into slacks and cover. I’ve often watched chub swing out of a close-in raft to engulf a spinner. Not my go-to for picking out the larger fish, but they have produced quality fish to 5lb.
Micro spoons can be deadly, particularly on fast gravels. I like to cast them upstream, fluttering and dancing them through the flow. I’ve mainly used micro spoons to target smaller chub on intimate little streams.
Finally, soft plastics. These can vary from larger imitation crayfish and fish to tiny imitation insects. Casting them into cover and jigging them back can be effective. I enjoy using tiny plastics on small 1-2g jig heads. Casting them to sighted fish and twitching them slowly can produce great takes. Jigging them back through fast is a lot of fun. Chub big and small will readily take micro plastics.
When looking for early season chub I’m searching for faster-flowing water. Often fish lay in numbers on gravel runs. Bankside rafts and large overhanging trees also hold fish. I always start on a venue downstream and fish my way up. Chub have amazing sight and easily spook if you don’t take caution.
Chub are amazing fish to target with lures. If you haven’t tried before why not have a go this summer? Prime time to catch chub on these methods is usually June 16 – late September.
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