Ask any all-round angler and they’ll tell you there are few better sights in fishing than a big roach.
I’ve caught a few of these in my time, but nothing can ever prepare you for the awesome sight of a ‘two’ or even a three-pounder coming over the front of your landing net.
Most of us grow up catching small roach but when they grow to specimen proportions they’re almost like a different species altogether.
As with most big-fish angling, locating the fish you want to catch is paramount.
Fortunately for the roach angler they have a habit of rolling at dusk and dawn. At dawn, in particular, they will often roll while it is nearer to dark than light, but as long as the water is calm you can generally see the ripples they make, even if you cannot see the actual fish.
Quite often their rolling activity only lasts for a few minutes so it pays to be looking at the water as soon as dawn starts to break.
Although roach are more likely to show themselves at dawn and dusk, they can be caught throughout the day in winter.
I have found that a short burst of feeding activity can occur at any time and it pays to be organised so you can take advantage of any such purple patches.
Make sure you have spare hooklinks set up and scales and camera to hand so that you can maximise your chances when the roach switch on.
Generally, the colder the weather, the shorter the feeding spell. While overcast conditions are generally best in the winter months, I am sure roach will feed at some point in the day regardless of the weather, so don’t be put off if the conditions appear to be less than ideal.
Over the years I’ve used many rigs for roach but I’ve found one to be head and shoulders above all the rest at putting a specimen fish on the bank – a simple heli rig.
TOP ROACH TIPS
ALWAYS USE SOFT RODS
Big roach are finicky feeders. My favoured rig incorporates fine hooks and lines, so it needs to be used with a soft rod to prevent line breakages and hook pulls.
I like a rod with a soft tip and a test curve of 1.25lb or less. Currently I am using Korum 1.25lb Neoteric rods which have a lovely soft tip but can still cast a feeder well over 50 yards.
FISH WITH TIGHT LINES
The bolt effect of the rig is enhanced by the use of heavy bobbins that keep the line tight.
Some bites can be very vicious so I like to use reels with a freespool system.
Alternatively, you can slacken the drag off on your reel to ensure a big roach does not break the hooklink on the take.
PLAYING ROACH SAFELY
Big roach fight really well on light tackle with a distinctive jagging style. Play them with ‘soft hands’ and take your time. If you try to bully them they are far more likely to come off.
This rig makes it easy to make changes, be they to the hooklink, hook size, distance from the feeder, maggots colour, the number of maggots, even the size of feeder. Give it a go and ring the changes to bring a big roach to your net soon.