Tench Fishing - Tinca Time (Part One)
Mark Barrett takes a look at one of his favourite species – and NOW is the time to get out and catch them!
Tench have always been one of my favourite species and this goes right back to the days when I was a kid. Anyone who could catch one from our merry little band of anglers, at any time, assumed the position of ‘The Man’ for as long as it took for someone else to catch one and the mantle to be passed on.
In those days long off days most of my tench fishing was carried out on the Fenland drains, in particular the Counterwash Drain, with the very occasional trip to a local gravel or clay pit. As the years have passed though that ratio has changed so that now almost all of my tench fishing these days takes place on gravel pits, with just the odd trip to other venues.
Of course the biggest change from those early days is that we can now fish for tench all year around, whereas we had the torture of the three month break when I was a kid. Therefore with the hottest (although I don’t mean that literally at the time of writing!) time for big tench looming I am going to pass on my tips for catching ‘old teddy bear eyes’.
So let’s start right at the beginning as far as tench fishing goes with the tackle that we are going to need.
I would suggest that you will need a pair, or trio, of rods for legering and a rod for float fishing. Your legering rods should be of Avon or carp style in the 1.25 to 1.75lb test curve range with a nice, soft, progressive action. Fast taper rods or rods that only bend through the tip section should be avoided as there may be times when you need to use very small hooks for tench and this style of rod is far more likely to rip small hooks free.
Personally I use an old set of Fox Kevlar barbel rods and these are just the ticket as regards their action with the 1.75lb top section fitted [I agree, these are marvellous tench feeder rods – Ed] the only downside is that these rods are no longer in production and they have rather a cult following, making second hand prices very high. However, there are so many good barbel-type rods on the market these days that a perfectly suitable rod that will double up perfectly for your tench fishing can be obtained for not a lot of money.
As far as float rods go the advent of commercial carp fisheries has seen an influx of rods designed for catching carp in the 2-10lb range and many of these make superb tench float rods. My favourite tench float rod I actually bought for £15 from a car boot sale and it was a Leeda Assassin rod that could be used at both 15 and 17ft in length. This was a great rod for big fish angling but sadly I managed to trap the top section in my car door and as yet have been unable to find another one, it long since having gone out of production. As a replacement I now use a pellet waggler rod, these are only 11ft long, but fishing a sliding float gets around this and they have just the right action for big tench fishing; being a two piece rod they have advantages for tackling up and storage ready-rigged between sessions too.
Having the right rod you now need to match it to a reel. For float fishing just about any reel with a decent clutch that will hold 100 yards of 8lb line will suffice. However for leger and feeder work a freespool facility is a godsend as tench on a bolt rig can tear off in a manner that can put carp to shame and they can easily take a rod with them. Most tench anglers prefer reels in the Shimano 5000 or 6000 size, as do I, as they are nicely balanced with the style of rod you are coupling them with. Some anglers backwind but if you use the clutch for playing fish as I do then make sure the model you pick is reliable because of the small hooks you may be using and, of course, the hard fighting potential of tench.
Alongside the rod and reel you are going to need a 32 inch round or 36 inch triangular net, bite alarms and indicators, a pod is very handy, plus all the terminal tackle to make your rigs and ,of course, something to carry them all in.
So once you have got all the gear you are going to want somewhere to use it all. The choice of venue will come down to what you are looking to catch and remember that not every venue is going to contain monsters, in fact in reality few places do. Don’t get too carried away with all the ten pound plus fish that you see in the papers, to most anglers a 7lb tench is a big fish and furthermore quite attainable.
Set your targets realistically and do your homework on your water before you start, you can’t catch fish which are not there to start with! Almost certainly your water will contain carp, and therefore carp anglers, and this can be both a blessing and a hindrance at the same time. Carp anglers will often catch tench by accident, frequently big ones, but they won’t always weigh the fish and their ‘guesstimates’ can (unintentionally) be wildly out. I have been lead up the garden path more than a few times over the years by this so make sure that you get accurate verification of sizes from a number of sources.
Also take into account how old the lake or pit is that you are fishing. Tench are not the quickest growing species and will take a good length of time to get to really big sizes. A lake that’s less than ten years old, unless it’s been stocked with big tench, is, to my mind, a non-starter; in fact I would extend that to twenty years myself. However the huge number of gravel pits that were dug just after the second world war are just the type of place that you are likely to find big tench as they have completely matured, are rich in aquatic life and probably weedy - just right.
In the next part I will show you how to tie what I consider to be the ultimate all round tench feeder/ bolt rig; a rig that, with just a bit of tinkering (or should that be tinca-ing...), can be used to fish a wide variety of methods and baits without having to break your rods down.
By the Same Author
- The Angling Trust, an ‘Unbelievably Weak Governing Body’ - Not Just Teeth: December
- Fishing in Sickness and in Health - Not Just Teeth: November
- Jigging for Zander and Deadbaiting for Pike - Not Just Teeth: October
- Autumn perch and catfish - Not Just Teeth: September
- Catfish, Carp and Kids – Not Just Teeth: August
- Paying your Dues?
- Zander Fishing - Shadows in the Moonlight: Part 3
- Zander Fishing - Shadows in the Moonlight: Part 2
- Sounding Off
- Zander Fishing - Shadows in the Moonlight