Roach (Rutilus rutilus)

British Record:
4lb 4oz, Keith Berry, Northern Ireland Stillwater, 2006

Scottish Record:
4lb 2oz 8dr, Mark Stone, Stirlingshire Stillwater, 2008


The Fish

Roach are probably the most popular and widely distributed fish throughout the UK – they are definitely my favourite.

While they are found in stillwaters, rivers and canals they do take on a slightly different appearance depending upon their surroundings.

In highly coloured stillwaters and canals they can look a little pale or washed out and feel slightly slimy to the touch, where as those found in clear gravel pits or clear rivers are brightly coloured with characteristic red fins and feel clean to the touch.

Predominantly a shoal fish roach do not stick to set areas and will feed at all levels in the water depending on temperature and availability of food.

This is a definite aid to the angler who, through careful feeding, can concentrate the shoal where he wants them and keep them competing for food thus increasing his chances of a good catch.


Fishing for Roach

Bait and approach for catching roach depends largely upon the type of venue and the prevailing weather conditions.

Canal roach are best targeted with the pole and a squat and groundbait approach in the summer alternating between squat and pinkie on the hook.

If the venue holds a good head of better roach then it can pay to constantly feed 6 – 8 grains of hemp every minute on a separate line and then try hemp on the hook later on in the session.

When the hemp works there is no better method for building a good weight of roach but it is very technically demanding and takes a lot of practice to perfect. Caster fished to far bank features can also produce some better samples.

On canals in the winter then bloodworm and joker, where this is allowed, or bread punch are often far more reliable approaches.

Rigs for canal roach need to be made up on fine lines (0.08 to 0.06) with small floats (4 x 12 or 4 x 10) and small hooks (24 or 26).

On stillwaters the approach will largely depend on the depth and clarity of the water but pole and waggler will both play a part as will the feeder or leger where greater distances are required. Again a fine groundbait and containing a few squats or pinkies with pinkie, maggot, caster or a small piece of worm on the hook will produce results.

In the winter a similar approach to that for canals will work.

On larger stillwaters rigs may have to be stepped up slightly however to cope with any additional depth, undertow or the possibility of bonus fish such as bream or tench turning up in the swim.

On rivers Roach can be caught on any method and the choice will often come down to the distance out that needs to be fished and the pace of the river. Loose fed hemp with bronze maggot, caster, tares or pinkies on the hook comes into its own in the summer, with the hemp replaced by a couple of balls of groundbait if the water is coloured.

In the winter a 50/50 mix of fine groundbait and damp leam with pinkie on the hook will often be more productive. Bread punch and bloodworm and joker can also be devastating on rivers in the winter, where permitted and when conditions are suitable.