For many years now my summers have been spent wandering the riverbanks in search of chub. Lure and fly have been my go-to tactics, accounting for numerous specimen captures. As seasons have passed, lure fishing for chub has risen in popularity, widely becoming recognised as a top method to catch these spectacular fish. More anglers targeting the species have created a demand, bringing new and exciting products to the UK market. However, they all follow the same trends, and many are really designed for other non-native species, lacking certain elements that make them truly successful for chub.
Naturally, as chub get targeted on any tactic, they become more spooky. I’ve noticed, in particular, towards the end of the season the amount of aborted takes increases, leading me to fish more sensitive fly tactics through late summer and autumn. To overcome these spooky chub I’ve been out experimenting, re-visiting tactics I began to tune in a few years back.
Micro soft plastics have been a winning method for targeting chub. Fine lines and delicate weights allow you to achieve inconspicuous presentations that fool the wariest fish. Comparable in accuracy and finesse to fly fishing, micro plastics have accounted for a large number of my chub captures. Using lures like the PVC Mayfly weightless, twitched along the surface in small rivers, has produced on very tough days, but being very light they’re difficult to fish at range.
More companies are seeing the benefit of buoyant lures for finesse perch fishing applications. Certainly these can be applied to chub fishing too. There are a few soft topwaters in existence, often a little too large or slightly off with the hook positioning. Perhaps with a few tweaks many perch lures could do just the trick?
I tried experimenting a few years back with floating Stickbaits and TRDs. Cutting them down and placing a weedless hook inside. It was surprising how well they worked. Being buoyant and fairly bulky they cast surprisingly well. With a steady retrieve and bounce of the rod tip, they walk the dog and shift water, grabbing the attention of chub. While they tricked a few wary fish they didn’t quite suit the application. Now, with more designs and profiles of these lures available, surely one would be perfect.
I tried a few styles and patterns of lure, struggling to pick one with the right buoyancy and effect. There were however, two winners, a prototype coming soon and the Z-Man BugZ. After a bit of trimming and chopping, I created my desired profile and found them to remain barely buoyant with a size 1 EWG hook. Barely buoyant being the key. These late-summer chub abort the takes often because a lure is overly-buoyant and resistant in the water. They take delicate swipes and mouth at the lure, often avoiding the hook. I want my lures to be slurped down as effortlessly as one of my little foam beetle flies. With my requirements ticked off I hit the bank for a very quick session in search of late summer chub.
At the first opportunity while walking the bank, I spotted a feeder stream. The entrance was narrow, full of reeds and weed. Despite all the obstructions, there was a channel of flow with a clear path. I watched the area for a moment, soon spotting a chub. This would be a great test for a weedless lure, a long cast into thick cover. I lined up and cast as far as I could up the stream, landing in thick vegetation.
With a few jerks of the rod the lure pulled free and I began twitching it back. I reeled slowly with the tip high, bouncing the rod tip repeatedly, making the lure twitch and walk. Slam! This chub hit the lure hard! Breaching in the process with a loud splash. As it turned I set the hook and battled it through the reeds. An exciting fight on light tackle. I netted the fish, admiring it briefly before slipping it back.
I moved on in search of more chub and spotted another shoal. As I crept into position I made a little too much noise, spooking the fish. I arrived in another productive swim, with a long cast upstream to an overhanging tree. I made my cast, slowly working the lure back in the same style. Twitching and walking it along the surface. The disturbance caught the attention of a chub, which bow-waved across the river before slowing down upon spotting the lure. This was a test of buoyancy and control.
I twitched, jerked and paused the lure in various sequences trying to keep the chub’s attention, as it followed for a metre or so. The retrieve worked, and I paused as the fish mouthed delicately at the lure, taking it down before turning away. I watched the braid tighten and set the hook. The fish stripped drag and dived for cover in an intense, short battle. I tightened the drag to keep it free from the snags and steered it towards the net, landing another chub. A great test of these lures in a short session.
Here’s a comparison showing how I altered the BugZ to better suit chub fishing.
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