Fishing has been a part of my life from an early age. My Dad introduced me to angling and I quickly developed a passion for not only being out on the water fishing, but being outdoors. I have a fascination for catching different species of fish on lures or flies, and I’m as happy exploring the tiniest of streams as I am being out on the open ocean. I’ve been very fortunate to have travelled to some spectacular destinations, both here in the UK and abroad, trying to catch as many species as possible. So far, I’ve caught 230 species.

I work for Farlows fishing, shooting and country clothing store in London, and I’m a Consultant for Fox Rage and Salmo lures. I’m also an Ambassador for the Angling Trust and have fished for England in two disciplines - the England Youth Fly Fishing Team and the Team England Lure Squad.

Through fishing I’ve met some great people and seen some amazing wildlife and scenery, and I’d like to share some of my experiences through my blog...

Tuesday, 27 July 2021

Early season chub on lures

It’s been a while since I last wrote a blog post, and as I’ve mixed up my fishing quite a bit since the end of last season, I’ve decided to focus each post going forward on a specific type of fishing, rather than an overview of everything. Hopefully it’ll make it less complicated and easier to read!

I can’t think of a more exciting coarse fish to target on lures at the start of the river season than chub, especially on crankbaits. There’s something about swimming a crankbait in front of them that they just find irresistible! Their diet is amongst the widest ranging of any freshwater fish in the UK, consisting of minnows, frogs, crayfish and various aquatic insects, so anything that looks like food that drifts in front of them will normally end up in their big rubber lips!

Tracking them down early in the season can be quite a mission, sometimes having to fight your way through thick vegetation to reach fishy looking spots. Much of the bankside can be covered by dense stinging nettles, so long sleeved shirts, overtrousers or jeans are a must to avoid getting stung up! If you're prepared to smash your way through the vegetation though, you can find yourself with some untapped fishing.

Just as important as being covered up is to make sure you wear polarised sunglasses, to cut the glare when looking in to the water. If it looks like it's going to be overcast or I'm fishing in the evening, I'll wear yellow lenses, which make it easier to spot fish in low light levels. For brighter days, amber or green lenses are better suited. I usually put sunscreen on before I start fishing, and take plenty of water to keep hydrated, as you can sweat like crazy when walking miles in the heat!

Because the fish haven’t been targeted for at least three months, it doesn’t mean to say that they aren’t wary, so you have to be super stealthy when approaching the river, trying not to spook the fish when you make a cast. Over the past couple of seasons, I've been using an 8ft rod instead of a 7ft rod - I find the extra length helps when fishing over bankside vegetation, and also helps control a lure easier as it swims across the river.

This season, on a couple of the rivers we fish, we’ve noticed an increase in the number of otters and mink. They’re fantastic creatures, but on small rivers, they can affect fish stocks, and we’ve noticed a decline in the number of chub and barbel we’re spotting compared to previous seasons. Despite there being fewer chub to target, Dad and I have still managed to catch a few on a variety of different lures. By far the most productive lures have been shallow diving crankbaits, such as the Salmo Rattlin’ Hornet Shallow, Executor, Hornet and Butcher. They’re great choices for when the chub aren’t quite up for taking a surface lure, and when cast downstream and retrieved, can be swum underneath overhanging trees and bushes, which can often be the hideout of a hungry chub.



Chub willingly take mayflies when they’re hatching, and I’ve watched them in the past during previous closed seasons gorging themselves on them, but the hatch is normally just about over once June 16th arrives. Because we had such a cool spring through, the mayfly hatch this year continued in to early July on a couple of the rivers we fish. Surface lures were effective on these days, and the Salmo Lil’Bug in May Bug and Green Bug produced some nice chub.

When it comes to colour choice, we normally like to use natural colours in clear water. When the rivers are a bit coloured after a heavy downpour though, or when fishing in low light conditions (such as early in the morning or at dusk) we prefer to choose a brighter colour such as fire tiger. A dark colour, like Black Tiger in the Hornet range, can also be effective, as it has a silhouette when fish are looking up.

Although my favourite types of lures to target chub with in the summertime are hard baits, there are certain situations where it’s hard to beat a creature bait rigged Texas style, on either a cheb rig or offset jighead. They’re great for dropping in to gaps in the weedbeds, or when casting to structure, as they sink faster and catch less weed than a crankbait. 


Whilst targeting chub with creature baits such as the Strike King Baby Rage Craw and Ned Bug, we’ve also caught some nice perch, pike and trout. One of the perch was almost golden in colour, and it reminded us of yellow perch, which we caught in Canada a few years ago!

Creature baits and curltails can resemble small aquatic insects and crustaceans that crawl along the bottom of the river, and can work well for species you wouldn’t normally associate with lure fishing. On a recent trip, I spotted a nice mirror carp in the margins that I think may have been around 15lb. Dad and I have caught quite a few carp on creature baits and curltails over the years, so I decided to try for this fish with a tiny curltail, a Fox Rage Micro Grub, rigged on a 3g size 4 jighead. I let the lure fall to the bottom a few inches in front of the fish, and watched it hoover the soft bait up! Sadly, after a short but feisty battle I lost the fish, as it tore in to a weed bed, and when I checked the hook, it had been straightened.

It’s now been almost a couple of weeks since I’ve been on a riverbank, as I’m currently in self isolation after testing positive for covid last week. Thankfully my symptoms have been mild, and I’m looking forward to getting back out and targeting chub on lures once I’m all clear. Please take extra care though, as I’ve been wearing masks, distancing, and sanitising, but it just goes to show how easily the virus can spread. Stay safe everyone.

Thursday, 25 March 2021

End of season lure tactics for tricking difficult perch

At the beginning of the year, my Dad and I always look forward to putting a plan together for where we’re going to fish and what species we’re going to target for the last couple of months of the river season. However, with tier 4 in place at the turn of the year, followed by the start of the third national lockdown five days later, we were limited to staying local for fishing. We’re quite fortunate though to have a few different stretches of rivers very close to home, as well as a couple of gravel pits, so we were lucky we had some places to fish.

Our first outing of 2021 was more about getting some fresh air after Christmas and New Year, but it turned out to be a red letter day for my Dad. He’s written about the day in much more detail on the Salmo website, but to quickly summarise, he landed his first brace of 4lb+ perch from a river within three casts of each other! Here is the link to his feature:


Just three days later, we entered the third national lockdown. At first, it sounded like angling would not be permitted during this time, so we’d cleaned down all of our lure rods ready to be put away, when it was announced just two days later by the Angling Trust that we could continue to fish locally. Although this was fantastic news, and we were back out fishing a week later, the footpaths along the riverbanks were extremely busy with walkers, runners and cyclists. There were even swimmers at times! Fishing on weekdays or at dawn or dusk wasn’t much quieter than fishing on a weekend either. It was great to see people getting their daily exercise and fresh air, but it made keeping a distance whilst fishing extremely difficult. After a couple of short but successful trips, we thought the safest thing to do was to stop fishing on the river stretches.

In the following four to five weeks, we had an incredible amount of rain, sleet and snow, that put the rivers in flood, as well as a couple of local lakes. One of the lakes though, being situated a bit higher than the river running adjacent to it, avoided the influx of cold floodwater and remained crystal clear. After a few weeks of not wetting a line, we decided to have a go at quiver tipping for the roach there.

It would be the first time either of us had fished with bait for about three years, so it felt strange sitting on a seatbox not moving around much, unlike when you're lure or flyfishing! Fishing with red maggots, we had success on our first trip, landing some quality fish up to 1lb 7oz. The problem was though that because it was very cold and the gravel pit was crystal clear, the roach wouldn’t switch on until at very last light. With night fishing currently not allowed, you’d have a few minutes of frantic action, then it was time to pack up, which was a bit frustrating!

By late February, high pressure brought with it some settled weather, and the river levels and colour finally began to drop. Although the water temperatures were still very cold from the snowmelt, we were fairly confident that after such a prolonged period of rivers out of sorts and a lack of angling pressure, the fish could be hungry. Sometimes, I think it takes a few days for the fish to become used to the changing conditions, and there’s nothing quite like using a crankbait to switch inactive predators on.

Banging a Rattlin' Hornet or Bullhead along the bottom worked well for the perch, whilst the sinking Minnow caught a few chub.


The high pressure also brought with it unseasonably warm temperatures in to the mid teens - a nice change from the snow and freezing weather! I noticed in the coming days in our koi pond that the water temperature began to rise, and over the next couple of fishing trips, I also noticed the odd crayfish scuttling along the bottom - something I’d not seen in my local venues for a while, and it prompted us to try some of the Strike King creature baits. Strike King was one of the first American brands I used in the UK when I first started lure fishing, and when I heard the news they were being distributed by Fox Rage and launched in Europe this February, I was very excited! In the lead up to the launch, we’d been trying out some of the creature baits, and soon had a few favourites for perch and chub - the Baby Craw, the Ned Bug, and Ned Ocho.

The first of the three soft baits has large twin tail claws, that help it fall slowly when cast to structure such as overhanging bushes and trees. I’ve found five grams is a nice weight to get the claws swimming. The Ned Bug has a smaller profile, with four appendages that have a subtle action as the lure falls - a three gram ned or offset ned hook is perfect. The bottom lure in the picture above is the Ned Ocho, a ned-style worm that has grooves in the sides to give the softbait more movement. All worked well in those final few weeks of the season, and the Baby Craw produced my biggest perch of 2021, weighing 4lb 2oz.

During the lockdown, it’s been interesting fishing stretches I hadn’t fished for a long time and would have otherwise overlooked to travel further afield, but they’ve thrown up a few surprises, such as the 4lb 2oz perch. Another surprise came two days before the end of the season, whilst targeting chub with creature baits. We’d fished a stretch of around half a mile or so, catching a few pike to near double figures on the Baby Craw and Ned Bug, when we reached a spot that had produced the odd perch for us in the past.


Dad fished it with no joy, so after he moved on, I decided to scale down from the size of lures he’d been using, as I felt there had to be some perch there. I switched to a small, 5cm shad, rigged on a 3g size 2 jighead - a Rage Micro Tiddler Fast (the smallest of the shads in the picture below). A few casts later, I had a delicate bite, and struck instinctively.

At first I thought I’d hooked a big chub, but I saw the tail and realised I’d actually hooked a barbel! It tore off downstream and a serious battle followed, especially with the strong current. My 7-21g rod was bent double, but thankfully I managed to land the fish. I’ve caught a few barbel on lures during the summer and autumn months when I’ve stalked them with creature baits, but this was the first I’d caught on a shad, and the first I’d caught by accident whilst targeting perch!

Although we didn’t catch any of the chub we were hoping for, my Dad did go on to land two cracking perch on crankbaits at dusk, after a move to a different stretch.


It’s been nearly a couple of weeks since the season ended, and now it’s a case of patiently waiting until we can travel out of our area. I’m looking forward to fishing further afield - let’s cross our fingers we don’t have any more lockdowns!

Friday, 8 January 2021

Lockdown lure fishing!

This autumn and winter was always going to be different to previous years. We’ve been in and out of lockdown and it’s been near on impossible to make plans for anything, let alone fishing! I’m pleased that Dad and I spent much of our fishing during the summer and early autumn exploring new venues and venturing further afield, as we’re now unable to travel far with the third national lockdown currently in place.

Thankfully, when the second lockdown was in force in November, the weather conditions, as well as river conditions, were good for much of the month, so our fishing was mainly based on local stretches of rivers within a 15 minute drive of our house. I really enjoyed fishing them, as it was the first time we’d concentrated on them this season. Creature baits and crankbaits seemed to be the most effective types of lures, and over the course of the month we caught some nice perch, mainly fishing short sessions either early in the morning or at dusk.


One of my favourite fish of November though was an immaculate chub of 5lb 12oz (57cm), that took a Salmo Hornet when fishing in to the dark!

This year, my birthday fell under lockdown two, so Dad and I headed out fishing to celebrate! I must admit, I have a pretty poor track record of success when I've been fishing on previous birthdays, but the conditions on the river we'd chosen to fish were good - it had a tinge of colour with a good flow, so I was hopeful that my luck may change this time! After a few hours with just a small jack to show for my efforts, a change to a creature bait quickly registered a good bite. I struck in to a heavy head-shaking fish, which, as it boiled on the surface, revealed itself to be a very nice perch. I went to grab the net and one heavy headshake later, it came off! I was gutted, but I quickly checked the sharpness of the hook and cast back to the area where I'd hooked that fish, and instantly had another bite! Although it wasn't quite as big as the last fish, I was very happy to land an immaculate looking perch - a great present on a strange birthday!

We’d caught some nice fish in the second lockdown, but after a few weeks of trips fishing the same venues and stretches, we were both ready for a change of scenery. Shortly after we came out of the second lockdown and in to the tier system (tier 2 at this point!), I met up with Fox Rage media man Samim Abbas on a different river, and we put together a short film about lure choice, mainly focusing on types of lures, profiles and colour choices:

A few days later, Dad and I had our first reservoir trip since the end of October. We were greeted with freezing fog, which didn’t clear all day and made for an eery session afloat, as it was so thick at times you couldn’t see your lure land in the water!

We both started the day fishing Slick Shads, which had worked so well on our last reservoir trip six weeks before, either on a very slow, straight retrieve, or hopped along the bottom. A lot can change in six weeks though, so we had other tactics in mind just in case shads weren’t working on the day.
It didn’t take long for Dad to have a bite though, and that was the first of many between 10am and 1pm! We ended the day with quite a few perch, all over 3lb 8oz, to a biggest of 4lb 1oz. I’d managed my second brace of ‘4’s’ in two trips, and the last cast of the day also resulted in a nice pike!


We returned a week later, hoping that the perch would be just as obliging. The fishing was a bit slower than the previous week, but I think that was more down to the two of us not experimenting with more tactics, as another boat had an exceptional days perch fishing, using other methods.

A week later, our area moved from tier 2 to tier 4 in the space of 24 hours, again ruling out anywhere other than local venues. November was relatively dry apart from the last week or so, but December was a real washout, to say the least! Rivers were in the fields for much of the month, but there were a couple of days where a couple of stretches of local rivers were just about fishable with lures. Flooded, coloured rivers in the winter months are probably the most difficult conditions you can ask for in lure fishing, but when the going gets tough, you can’t go too far wrong fishing a small, bright crankbait. They seem to ring the dinner bells for inactive predators, which Dad proved with a couple of very nice perch. 

The river conditions were still pretty poor on Boxing Day, and with the rivers still quite muddy they weren't the kind of conditions you'd expect to watch a perch take a lure. Dad was just about to lift the Salmo Bullhead he was using out of the water, when a 45cm perch took him by surprise as it loomed up from the murky margins, and slurped in his crankbait as it was floating back up to the surface!

The opportunity to fish didn’t last long though - a few hours of heavy rain quickly put the rivers out of sorts again for the rest of the Christmas period! We've just had the one trip since the New Year, and Dad had an exceptional days fishing, but I'm going to save that for the next time I write on my blog!

2020 was certainly a challenging year, but I have a few positives to look back on. I enjoyed exploring various rivers I hadn’t fished before during the summer and early autumn, had some great trips bass fishing in estuaries, and also experienced some fantastic predator fishing on reservoirs. This year is going to be a tough start, but fingers crossed in a few months time the situation will be a lot better for all of us. Stay safe everyone!