The number of baits that have been successful for tench is lengthy, but there are three offerings I wouldn’t leave home without: worms, casters and bread. Maggots can also be excellent, but are liable to draw the attention of nuisance fish, so as many as four or five on a size 10 or 12 hook is often a better option than a small bait.
Tench respond well to feed, but how much you add depends on circumstances. If you are confident that tench are in the vicinity, bombarding the water could spook them, so just a little loose feed is a sensible starting point. If it is likely to be more of a waiting game, laying down some groundbait laced with samples of your hookbait, is a good policy to attract any passing tench and hold their interest. My all-time favourite combination is a potent mix of chopped worm and casters, bound together with a little continental groundbait. A red worm and caster cocktail on the hook would be my first choice; although if the Cut is alive with small fish, sweetcorn or even pellets can be invaluable. Bread is an excellent choice for clear weedy water, as a good pinch will settle gently and not disappear into the bottom.
Stainforth And Keadby Canal Fishing Photo Gallery
The specimen fishing scene is awash with leger rigs for tench these days, but for the canal angler, float fishing remains the staple diet. A waggler set-up, or indeed the classic ‘lift method are two ways to proceed. Neither can match the precision of pole fishing though. This is an incredibly accurate way to sneak a bait among lilies or slap bang down the far slope of the canal.
There is little place for delicate tackle with tench. These are fish which can surge hard in the direction of cover and decimate light rigs. They also have fairly poor eyesight. That said, they can be resistance-shy, and this is perhaps one reason that carp-style set-ups are poor in comparison to balanced float tackle, set with sensitivity.
The exception to this rule would be a wide section of canal, or blustery days, when a swimfeeder set-up forms the best option. I like a groundbait feeder packed with the same sort of chopped worm and caster mix I prime my pole fishing swims with. Accuracy is paramount, and just as important as when you’re targeting bream
With no closed season on most canals, traditional rules don’t always apply. Russ Hilton took this thirty pound
The pole is far and away the most efficient way of catching canal tench.
Line of 4lb should probably be regarded as an absolute minimum strength, even in very open swims. Usually, a low diameter hooklength of 4-5lb breaking strain is sensible, but I would go as high as 6lb straight through in weedy locations. They are not desperately tackle-shy and if you can get the fish feeding hard they won’t balk at fairly robust tackle.
The pole fisherman should use a tough elastic where snags exist, and look to guide a hooked fish away from sanctuary immediately. This does not necessarily mean wrenching the pole back, which can cause a hooked tench to fly off in a frenzy. Better to guide the fish away firmly but steadily from danger, and if you can get the tench into the clearer, central channel before he builds a head of steam up, so much the better.