The tench has to be one of the nation’s favourite species and I love catching them! These unique, muscle-bound fish fight extremely hard for their size and are not easy to extract from a peg. Once you hook one you can expect a tussle all the way to the net as they try to bury themselves into every weed bed or snag they can find.
The other thing about tench, however, is that they are quite a timid and sensitive species. This means that even though you really want to gear up for them, if you fish too crudely they won’t go anywhere near your hook.
It’s a very fine balancing act between fishing delicately enough to fool a tench but also strong enough to get it out! But when you do, it’s so worth it as they’re an amazing looking fish!
The Tench Menu
These are my top baits for tench: Number one has to be casters, as tench simply love them; I also have two sizes of worm, both for hooking and also for chopping up as feed, as the juices and aromas are another obvious attractor. I won’t chop them too fine, though, as that can bring in tiny perch; finally, I also have some sweetcorn. This is a classic tench bait that stands out so well on the bottom. It is much more selective and a good option if small fish are a problem. I know one or two grains of corn has been the downfall of many a tinca!
Where To Fish?
Tench are sensitive to the light and love sulking in and among weed beds and tend to stay in the deeper water. They love patrolling up and down a deep marginal shelf, so that’s where I’m targeting all my efforts today.
Plumbing around before the start I have located an area of deeper water before it starts to shelve back up towards the far bank. Beyond this the bottom is too weedy and I cannot find a clear hole to fish, so targeting the edge of the weed is what I’ve settled upon. When there’s lots of fine silk weed about it’s important to locate an area with a relatively clean bottom.
It’s still quite early in the year so the water is still relatively clear and the fish are still cautious. Rather than regularly loose feeding lots of bait I prefer to ‘set a trap’ by depositing an initial amount and then patiently sitting over it, waiting for a wary tench to arrive.
If the venue isn’t towing too much I will feed via a large Drennan pole pot. However, if there is any significant tow I will use a baitdropper instead. This will guarantee the feed is exactly where I want it, rather than a couple of feet away, where it could potentially get buried in the weed.
A double caster is my all-time favourite hook bait for this species. It’s large enough to deter nuisance fish, yet small enough for a tench to view with less suspicion. With two casters I can still conceal my Kamasan B560 size 16 hook quite well.
I also choose two darker and slightly more buoyant casters, which should help to counterbalance the weight of the hook a bit more. This is what I pin most of my faith in today, although I also have worms and corn to try.
Step It Up
My main line is 0.16mm Double Strength to a 0.14mm hooklength, dropping down to 0.12mm if it’s hard. This is hopefully still strong and durable enough to deal with a tench.
One area I don’t make too many allowances for is the pole elastic. You need to be on top of tench as soon as it’s hooked. For that reason I use quite a substantial Drennan 10-12 yellow Carp Bungee, which is also tensioned up a bit tighter than if I was on a snag-free commercial. Let a tench take too much elastic and you’ll struggle to control it. You really have to show them who’s the boss!
I am using a Drennan AS6 float today, which is absolutely ideal. It’s ultra strong with a durable carbon stem and a decent 1.5mm hollow tip that I can see in all light conditions and has just the right buoyancy. A fairly round body helps give it stability and means I can hold on to it in any tow.
I’ve set up two for today’s swim, which is about six feet deep. Both are simply shotted with a bulk or olivette two feet from the hook and two No9 or No10 dropper shot below. One is a 1g size for when it’s towing and the other is a lighter 0.6g for when it’s flat calm.
Clean Your Rig
After catching a fish, you must get ALL the slime and weed off the hook and hooklength. This is one area many anglers fail to pay attention to but I’m sure a fish can detect your rig much easier if you don’t. A few seconds examining the rig and ensuring it’s free from muck will make all the difference.
It also allows you to check the hooklength for any nicks and abrasion it may have suffered. You are only after a handful of bites when tenching, so if you’re ever in doubt you must change the hooklength for a fresh one!
This can be a waiting game, so when you’ve accurately set a ‘tench trap’, using a front pole support helps to take the strain of holding a pole. It also ensures you are bang on the money; exactly where you’ve fed.
These spray bars still allow you to try above and below the feed, just by moving the pole an inch or two on the bar in either direction.
Fill In The Gaps
The match angler in me still likes to keep busy and that means I cannot resist having a go for a small fish during the day. Today I’ve set up a 5m whip and will pick it up and fish for 10 minutes or so immediately after re-feeding or whenever I feel the main big-fish swim needs a rest.
Importantly, I make sure this small-fish swim is well away from the tench swim and much closer in, so it takes little effort to fish. This swim also helps to draw unwanted small fish away from the tench zone. It’s given me a few valuable extra pounds today in between the tench action.
Not Just Tincas!
This massive perch proves that it’s not just a good tench tactic! On other days it could be a bonus bream or two, an eel or even a carp.
Keep the feed going in at intervals and don’t give up as the latter stages of a session, just as the light is dropping, are often the best time for a big fish to drop its guard.
A trio of big tench, a huge perch and a few pounds of small fish are the fruits of a fantastic session. Importantly, I haven’t lost or been broken by a single fish today. In fact, not long after this catch shot was taken I’ve gone back on my seatbox for ‘one last cast’ and successfully hooked and landed a surprise 8lb pike on the same tackle!
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