My top tips for spring tench

The cold winds are starting to abate,so now is the time to get out there and target tench. My favourite species can be maddening to catch at times but when everything comes together they really can deliver brilliant fishing. Here are my top 5 tips to get the best out of your tench campaign.

1.Watch the weather

Northerlies and easterlies can be an absolute killer for tench. If it’s a northerly aim for sheltered bays out of the wind,if it’s an easterly and you have the option postpone till the conditions improve. If there are warm mild spells in May get out there,they don’t always last!


If the rules allow and the location is accessible pre-baiting can crack the hardest lake.Spread the baiting out to perhaps every other day for a week beforehand. I’m conscious many people don’t have the time for that so do as much as you can. Use Vitalin as a cheap base and add corn and hemp plus a hand full of pellets if possible to get the tench rooting around. The simple rule is the more you bait the more tench you attract.That’s nature.It’s like your garden bird table.

3.Hook bait

The one constant through my tenching life has been worms. Amazing! Lobs are No 1 and dendrobaenas a close No 2. They work on there own or as a cocktail with maggots or corn.I know that is not necessarily a revolutionary insight but it’s the truth. They work. Of course maggots,corn,pellets and increasingly boilees can be very successful baits in certain lakes and conditions. Lots of silver fish can make maggots or corn a problem but sometimes plastics can get over this. However the most exciting bait for me over the last few seasons has been the caddis grub. I’ll put a soft landing net in the margins to see how prolific they are in each swim and if they are I will carefully place 2 or 3 on a size 14 or 12 hook. I have had a situation where i spent 2 days on a lake with barely a bite and out of frustration i switched to Caddis and within a hour i had 4 fish on the bank and after 3 hours we had caught 20 between myself and my guiding client. So my tip here is don’t be afraid to ring the changes and experiment. Even slugs have worked for me when all other baits have failed!

4.Float vs Feeder

I would say the majority of my clients favour float fishing for tench. But there are occasions when feeders are the way to go,obviously when the fish are at distance but not always. On bright sunny days a float and line cutting through the surface can spook the tench and in this case a feeder (maggot or Method) with line pinned down on the lake bed can catch them out.

I have to confess float fishing with a centrepin is my preferred approach,up close and personal if you like. Teamed with a 14ft sensitive but robust rod and strong line 6lb minimum and if there are big tench of 8lb+ present 8-10lb line is essential. A 10lb tench fights unbelievably harder than a 6lb tench.

There is something so captivating about seeing a float disappear and playing a hard fighting tench on a pin where you are completely in touch with the fish.

My one particular tip here is perhaps obvious but often overlooked-accurately locating the depth. 2-3 inches of line on the deck is a good place to start but again don’t be afraid to extend this to 5-6 inches or more.


So that’s it. Nothing complicated but with these approaches you will succeed.Unless of course those easterlies blow in!

John Bailey