The Barbel Society say that:

“ ‘Barbel Tales’ is probably the most definitive book on barbel and barbel fishing ever produced and is a celebration of barbel fishing to date, and of the impact and successes of the Barbel Society in the last fifteen years. The book is a rich blend of the best of articles published in the renowned ‘Barbel Fisher’ magazine, and of guest chapters written by a long list of barbel anglers, both those with long-established reputations and with contributions from a host of modern writers.

There are nearly 300 pages of barbel fishing stories, advice on baits, rigs and tactics, and this detailed work includes a mine of information on a range of barbel fisheries and rivers.

Guest writers include: Peter Wheat, Fred Crouch, Steve Pope, Pete Reading, John Wilson, Neill Stephen, Dean Macey, Phil Smith, Phil Buckingham, Len Arbery, Bob Buteux, Rob Swindells, Dave Steuart, Ade Kiddell, Simon Asbury and Jon Berry.”


The Barbel Society and I have a somewhat chequered history, as I’m sure Steve Pope will confirm, and although I still do not agree with a couple of the fundamental principles of the organisation I have always supported their general philosophy and, in more recent years, applauded the brilliant education, research and conservation efforts that do them, and our sport, great credit.

Before I proceed I ought to add that, despite our barbel fishing differences, I consider the aforementioned Mr Pope to be a friend and I think we have both reached the stages in our respective lives where we are happy to debate and disagree, yet to still respect one another’s point of view and to see the bigger angling picture. Indeed Steve and I are fishing a session together (our first) in July and I’m sure one, or both, of us will be writing an account for FM in due course!

But moving on…

Not being a BS member I was not aware of the quality of material published in the Society’s in house magazine ‘Barbel Fisher’, in which much of the source material for the new book was first published, I’m sure like all such publications there is much ‘filler’ and a lot less ‘killer’ but editor Pete Reading has done a grand job and selected a nice mix, and if they are representative of what is inside the mag on a regular basis I may just have to find a copy to look at now and then…Society members, however, need not worry as there is a wealth of newly-commissioned material from a diverse range of anglers too and, with few exceptions, the standard is excellent.

I have to say I do enjoy compilation books and I find it very refreshing to be able to dip in and out of different writing styles rather than having to work through a whole tome by one author (and sometimes it  is very hard work indeed…). The authors presented here are a mix of names that will be familiar to barbel anglers everywhere: Pete Reading, Trefor West, John Wilson, Steve Pope, Phil Buckingham, Phil Smith as well as some classic ‘old school’ contributors such as: Peter Wheat, Dave Steuart, Len Arbery and Bob Buteux.

Also thrown into the mix are some of the newer generation of barbel catchers such as Neill Stephen and a few new names, new to me at least, with the likes of Rinko Oosterveen and Simon Asbury.

The book starts off with a brief history of the Barbel Society itself, and why not, and if you are not aware of the background of the Society and its aims and aspirations then this is good background information that sets the rest of the book in context.

After that little hors d’oeuvre we start to delve into the main course and there is plenty to choose from as the topics written about are as diverse as the authors writing them and cover everything from the somewhat boring this is where I went and this is what I caught (yawn…) stories – of which thankfully there are precious few – to wonderfully evocative stories of barbel fishing in days gone by.

There are historical river pieces, technical pieces, some very interesting chapters on bait, some inspirational stories and yet other stories simply about the joy of being out barbel fishing. There are tips and there are tactics, there are some ‘left field’ pieces such as John Wilson’s piece on using a multiplier for barbel (quick, quick…call the Barbel Police…) and there are some pieces to be filed away for future use.

Those who know me, or who have read some of my more recent pieces on FishingMagic, will be aware that I have fished very little in recent years. Reading ‘Barbel Tales’ has lit a fuse under my old passion and has made me want to get out there and catch barbel again and for that reason alone I cannot recommend it highly enough.

The book is published in June 2013 and will be launched at the Barbel Show on 09 June but copies, costing £35 including P&P, are available to order from the Barbel Society website with a total of 50 leather bound editions (already sold out!) and 1000 hardbacks.

Alternatively, you may send a cheque for the appropriate amount to: Martin Howell: 7 Abbotts Close, Purbrook, Hampshire, PO7 5ET.