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Tackle and bait recommendations for fishing on the Stour.

With the river coaching now pushed back to the following weekend (24th February), at least you will have a little more time to get some small tackle items sorted for the river.

During a chat with Ian Paulley today, I was able to ask him some questions regarding tackle which may help you to get some idea of the differences between fishing on the river and the usual Stillwater venues that we may be more familiar with.

All images are for illustration purposes only and not recommendations of the tackle items you should buy. Similar items from other manufacturers will be sufficient.

The regular 2 – 2.5 metre pole rigs that we usually use just won’t cut it on the river. They won’t be deep enough. Ian has recommended rigs of at least 12 feet (3.6 metres) are more useful because of the depth of some of the swims. It will be easier to demonstrate on the day but, a 12ft rig does not mean that you will be fishing in 12ft of water. There will be more line between your pole float and the tip of the float than you would normally be used to because of the need to ‘trot’ your rig downstream in the current. This length of line is more commonly known as ‘the lash’. Once you learn follow your float with down the river with the current, the lash will be fairly tight to the pole tip. This means that you will already be in touch with your float when it goes under with a biting fish.

You will need different shaped, much larger floats than normal. A pear-shaped float like the one pictured will be required in a minimum of 2 grams.

For floats of this size, I would recommend using Olivette leads.

These are streamlined weights that are designed to concentrate the bulk of the weight needed to shot the float in one unit rather than lots of split shot.

Personally, I like to have the Olivette 0.25g or 0.5g lighter than the float and make the rest of the weight up using shot. So, for a 2 gram float I would use a 1.75 or a 1.5-gram Olivette depending on how many dropper shots I would want to use. The more droppers I want, the lighter the Olivette.

Your main rig line should be around 0.13mm or 4lb. 0.13mm will make tangles less likely than lighter lines whilst you learn the ropes.

Hooks will need to be around 18 to 20 in size. These will normally be tied to quite light lines if you are buying ready tied hooks. This will be perfect for the small species you are most likely to catch.

If you can, go for the 15cm (6”) hooklinks. These will work better on your rig.


I thought that an insert waggler would be the correct float to use, but Ian tells me that Stick floats are far better for that part of the river. These should be of a decent size like 8x4 or even 10x4.

Stick floats are made from a Balsawood or foam top part, with the bottom being made from plastic, wire or more traditionally wood. Lignum wood is very dense and heavy that balances the lighter more buoyant balsa perfectly.

Sticks can have either a domed top like the ones in the picture, or with a slight ‘shoulder’ for faster flowing currents.

Look for a domed topped stick float with either a plastic or Lignum stem.

To attach a stick float, you are going to need some float rubbers (above). These can be used from the packet as shown left or trimmed to suit your needs. Three rubbers are recommended. One just below the coloured tip, one in the middle, and the third at the end of the stem. Used which ever size fits best.

For the coaching session I would attach the float in the manner described above and then fit the split shot during the session. Ian will show you how on the day.

Ian did mention another float type that may be worth consideration. The Bolo float (above) is a type of float imported from European styles of river fishing. Basically an over sized pole float that can be used with a rod and line. Floats of around 2 or 3 grams are best.

Lines for both pole and rod and line should be around the 4lb mark. This will be thick enough to prevent most tangles and be strong enough to land most fish.

Hooks should be the same as those used for your pole rigs and need to be small and light. Silverfish hooks of 18 or 20 are recommended to lines of around 0.09mm to 0.10mm (1.5lb to 2lb).

Bait could not be simpler (or cheaper!).

½ a pint of red maggots.

½ a pint of fluoro pinkies.

Some worms if you wish for the Perch.

Ground bait will be provided for you.

Please bring a large round groundbait bowl with you, preferably with a riddle.

You will only need one keep net.

It is not that far to walk but bring with you only that which you will need. River fishing is more natural and sometimes a bit wild compared to the grass cut commercials that some may be used to.

You will need wellies. Mud is bound to be an issue on rivers.

Finally, and by no means least, rivers are not to be taken lightly. If not respected, they can be dangerous places to be. A full risk assessment will be carried out before we get there, but you still need to be on your guard and best behaviour please…

Juniors Sec...

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