There are many ways to catch Chub, after all they are known to be “greedy” and take any number of baits. But for me, there is no finer way to fool them than long trotting a fast flowing river with a centre pin. I’ll qualify that even further by saying it needs to be in mid-winter and the fast flowing river usually has to be the Dorset Stour.
I was born and bred in Bournemouth and lived a very short walk from Throop Mill, until the demands of a young family and career led me to London and elsewhere. But I still consider the Stour, and particularly Throop, to be my angling home. As a youngster I was encouraged to use a ‘pin and explore every swim I chose to fish. Forty or fifty years later it is still my method of choice.
I know I can probably increase my chances of a really big Chub if I employ the maggot feeder, particularly the deadly Kamasan Black Cap, allied to an ultra-short hook length, and I’m not averse to giving it a go in some circumstances. Indeed I’ve had a few of Throop’s “7’s” on that very method. But give me a fat balsa, a load of AAA shot and several pints of maggots and I’m a very happy angler.
Throop has a superb history and pedigree, plenty of text book trotting swims and the potential to give up a truly huge Chub or two at any time. It’s very challenging fishing, those Chub have seen most things, but with a bit of effort and confidence, the results can be highly rewarding.
I’m fortunate that I know the fishery extremely well. Some areas don’t appear to have changed much since I skipped school to chase the Chub and Barbel. But it’s that knowledge that gives me the confidence to make the 150 mile round trip as often as I can. I rarely leave home to head for a given swim or even a specific area.
Throop is a popular day ticket choice and can get pretty busy, especially as the season races to its mid-March end. I need plenty of room for my chosen method and if necessary, I will pick swims with little or no prospect of anyone on the far bank, or someone planting themselves within 100 yards downstream of me. Not always possible, but with a little thought and maybe compromise, I usually find a swim I’m comfortable in.
I try to keep it simple but one cardinal rule is to keep feeding the swim. The mantra “little and often” is perfect but I prefer “little and very often”. I start feeding red maggot via a small catapult as soon as I arrive. Tackling up and getting comfortable takes a while as I’m always adding another pouch to the swim throughout the whole process. Once I’m ready I’ll often just keep the feed going in while I have a coffee. Eventually that first float goes through the swim, maybe at mid depth, and it’s amazing how often the first Chub arrives there and then. When things are going really well, I’ll often feed at what I call “top and bottom” of the trot. A few maggots before I cast and a few more once I’ve reached the bottom of the trot.
I fish with heavy floats and big bulk shotting. I need to dominate and “boss” the pacey flow to ensure I present the bait where I want it. But just because I may be using a 7SSG+ float with most of that bulked down the line, it doesn’t mean I’m not fishing with a degree of finesse. For the most part I fish with a single red maggot on a #20 to .12 dia. Sometimes it’s necessary to go even finer to get the bites.
I have all sorts of floats, traditional cork on quill Avons, big stubby Balsas and plastic Loafers/Chubbers, and everything in between. The Drennan plastics are excellent; they sit in the water well and have decent tips that can be seen at range. I tend to use a single bulk of AAA with a No1 or BB as a dropper although I’m a bit of a tinkerer and usually move the shotting and depth around regularly.
My preferred rod is an old Greys Power Float at 13ft. Not too heavy, quite a soft action but plenty of power in reserve. When paired with my Okuma Sheffield they are a joy to use. The centre pin is a personal choice based mainly on the enjoyment factor but its suitability for the job is unsurpassed. The level of control it offers is critical to how I present the bait. One day that may well be at the natural pace of the river, the next it could be they want it held back hard.
For me there is one other key factor the centre pin gives me, and that is the exceptional feel and control when playing a big Chub. Sometimes, on the strike, it seems I’ve locked onto a snag or weed. It really does pay to just pause, hold the pressure for what seems like a few seconds, and all too often I’ll then feel the characteristic thump as the Chub moves. Throop Chub somehow know how to use the flow to full effect and the ’pin allows very close and fine control as I try to coax them back up the swim towards the net.
As far as I am concerned there is no finer sight than the bronzed flank of a big Chub finally sliding over the rim of the landing net.