Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Bolt rig for roach - the two pound dream

Thursday the 11th to Saturday the 13th of March 2010

Up until late November 2009 my pb roach was 1lb 6oz, that had stood for about 20 years, maybe even a bit longer. Over the winter I had a little campaign locally and pushed that  personal best up by an ounce which was certainly good news though nothing amazing on a grand scale of course. More importantly I spent a lot of time using the bolt feeder method and was happy that I had got it about right, it's good to practice on somewhere prolific as you learn very little about rigs and methods when you aren't catching fish. However you can only catch what swims in front of you and big roach in Leicestershire are very few and far between but I had found a venue containing some serious roach down in the southern counties and just had to have a go at them.

Local roach

The alarm was set for 3.30 am though when I looked at the time on awakening it was 3.18am, how do we do that? It has long been a mystery to me and happens far too often to be coincidence. By 3.45 I was out of the door and starting the 3 hour journey down south. The trip had been planned for a few months and I was originally due to have a mate with me but unfortunately he lost his job earlier in the week and had to pull out. I was gutted as I would have loved to have shared the experience but in a way it made me more determined to get stuck in and do my best to achieve a result.

I arrived just before 7am to find the lake empty which was a bonus With the pick of swims I plumped for one with a gentle wind, albeit a northerly, into my face and got the rods set up, two rods both rigged with feeders fished helicopter style with hooklinks of about 2 inches in length to size 18 hooks. The hooks were to be baited with maggot and fished on buzzers with the line pulled bowstring tight and a heavy bobbin clipped on right up against the rod blank creating an efficient bolt rig.

At 8am and I had my first bite, to be honest I was feeling more than a little dazed and confused after the early start and combined with an overdose of energy drinks to keep me awake and everything was a little surreal. I lifted into the fish and gently guided it the twenty or so yards to the net where I saw that it was a cracking looking roach and blow me if the scales didn't declare it to be a pb! 1lb 11oz, I was chuffed to bits, on the first bite too!

I soon discovered how difficult it can be to photograph shiny roach

By midday I had landed five fish and what a cracking stamp of fish they were, only one under a pound in weight and the others making 1lb 8, 1lb 6 and 1lb 4, I was loving it. I rigged up a waggler and had an hour fishing it down the side but my eyes were in bits due to lack of sleep and I just couldn't fish it effectively. The bites carried on steadily all day, averaging I guess about a fish an hour and when I decided that I really had got to wind the rods in for the night at a quarter to ten I had totalled seventeen fish and pushed my pb up again to 1lb 13oz. I did in fact attempt to leave the rods out but every time I pulled the sleeping bag over my head I got a bite, I couldn't cope with that and I knew i'd be in no fit state the next day either and so the sensible decision was made.

1lb 8oz

1lb 13oz

On Friday morning I was up at 6am and started to build the swim up again with frequent casts of the feeder although it took until 8.30 to get my next bite, another cracking roach of 1lb 13oz, the next fish was at 1pm and the one after that at 5pm, it was a tough old day and no one else was fairing much better, my only hope was that it might pick up after dark, little did I know!

Late in the afternoon it hammered it down with rain and then the hail arrive. The ground was wet to start with but it became evil, really evil, and after i'd been paddling in it for hours I only made it worse. My boots weighed a ton from the accumulated clag that hung from them, everything was covered in a layer of sticky brown muck and that included me, at one stage I could hardly see the skin on my hands and the clawing nature of the mire made everything hard work.


As dusk fell everything changed, the days struggle was long forgotten as I became enveloped in a constant blur of catching fish, recasting and tying fresh rigs, it went absolutely mental. I managed to stay awake untill 1am thanks to a large quantity of strong coffee and ended the days fishing with twenty four roach. If anyone had told me that was about to happen I would have never believed it but amongst those fish I was blessed with something really special. A 2lb roach was the first benchmark specimen weight that I came to know as a kid, a fish of a lifetime that every angler aspired to and I had only gone and caught one, a 2lb 1oz bar of silver, pure magic.
Dream roach

I woke the next morning and didn't bother recasting the rods, I didn't feel the need to catch anything else, I packed away slowly and then pointed the van north. The end result was forty one roach, thirty three of which were over a pound and eleven of which were over 1lb 8oz.

Mission accomplished! 


  1. Interesting Rob. Would that still be your goto rig for roach?
    What weight feeders would you fish for setting the hook and would it still hook the smaller fish or would they just condom the maggots and leave you fishing skins.
    Questions questions questions ...........

  2. Fire away Ian all interesting stuff mate.

    On that water you can float fish for them and without a doubt that would be very enjoyable but on a longer session when I am like the living dead and particularly at night that isn't for me. When bites are few and far between such as on Linch Hill then the rig is virtually essential, anyone how can concentrate for such long periods in the hope of hitting what could well be one singhle bite would deserve a knighthood.

    Fish size - you've hit the nail on the head, for some reason smaller fish can tend to get away without being hooked sometimes. I first tried the rig on my local reservoir and no matter what I changed I never hit every indication which seems strange considering that with a bolt rig an indication should mean a hooked fish, you still hook a good percentage though I know I would put more little uns in the net fishing the tip if that's what I wanted.

    Feeder wise the lake in this piece is quite silty which adds to the bolt effect somewhat and 30gm blackcaps were fine, I did try Drennan feederbombs but couldn't tighten up to them sufficiently, probably due to their shape sitting on the silt. On Linch Hill I used either 40 or 50gm blackcaps due to the range fished, I did worry that the larger weight could cause hookpulls during the fight but it wasn't a problem.

    Contraray to some opinions so far I haven't found light hooklinks and small hooks to be essential on the bolt rig, I use 16's to 4.6lb hooklinks more often that not, with such a short link I don't think they have a chance to inspect it, it goes in the mouth and bang!

  3. My God Rob what a tale and what a catch! I think I could die happy after an event like that

  4. You're welcome Ian.

    It's all down to finding the right water George, not much effort on my part after that was sorted out

  5. Brilliant story Rob with a superb conclusion too. (dreaming of a 2)