Why not turn your attentions to roach this winter? These tips will help you catch more and bigger redfins.

THE humble roach continues to be the nation’s favourite and it’s easy to see why. Many anglers cut their teeth catching small roach from tiny pools through to sprawling pits, and the odd capture of a weightier specimen is an impressive sight.

A specimen breaking that magical 2 lb barrier is the ultimate goal for many roach fans, and the rapid growth in commercial carp pools have also resulted in plenty of big roach, which thrive well on all the highly nutritious feed thrown in for greedy carp.

Although fingerling roach are easy to catch, a big one is a different matter altogether, and they can be frustratingly tricky customers.

To succeed by design, especially in the dead of winter, you’ll need to radically fine-tune your gear to be in with a chance.

Fine float tackle

The most rewarding method is to float fish with a delicate insert waggler, shotted to a mere pimple on the surface to indicate the very subtle bites characteristic of large roach.

Winter roach hug the bottom, so either fish at dead depth or lay on an inch or two if surface drag or tow is a problem. A big roach will not tolerate a drifting bait.

For bait use a single red maggot on a size 20 fine wire hook, but be prepared to wade through stacks of juveniles. Casters are more selective and small soft or hard pellets are better still if nuisance fish are a pain.

Overcast, mild winter days are prime conditions for targeting big roach, but they don’t always play by the rules. Many roach fans have enjoyed memorable sessions in extreme conditions where the line freezes to the rod rings and cat ice is forming in the margins, so be prepared for that fish of a lifetime even when conditions seem dire – you never know what that tiny dip of the float might produce!

1. Roach are widespread and big specimens can be found in virtually every location, from tiny farm pools to huge gravel pits and reservoirs. Winter is the prime to catch big roach, so make the effort and arrive at dawn which is prime feeding time and also the most likely period of the day when they give their whereabouts away by priming on the surface. Fishing on until darkness is also well worth doing.

2. Catching endless juvenile roach can be extremely frustrating but a big one is something else and it’s easy to see how many anglers become addicted to fishing for them. For me, nothing beats catching stillwater winter roach in the margins on a finely shotted insert waggler. Leaving a mere pimple of visible float tip shows up the shyest of bites and lines need to be sunk to prevent drift and baits need to be anchored with a couple of dust shot to prevent any movement.

3. Big roach love red maggots, but unfortunately so does everything else, and that includes tiddlers. Nuisance juveniles can be a real pest, even in the winter months, but it is possible to feed them off, but don’t get too carried away with freebies at this time of the year – you don’t want to fill up the bigger ones too! Other baits such as casters and bread flake can be more selective and small pellets can be better still, especially on commercial carp pools.

4. Liquidised crumb fished in conjunction with a flake hook bait is another great cold water tactic, but needs to be used sparingly to prevent overfeeding. Make sure you blend it for plenty of time to ensure a fine crumb with no big lumps in it. Scale the hook bait down to a pinch no bigger than a five pence piece. Better still use a punch to produce perfect little discs, which fluff up in the water and help mask the hook.