An angler's journal

An angler's journal

Friday, 20 November 2015

Is a 10lb Barbel still a big deal?

For years, a 10lb barbel has represented a specimen fish and catching a 'double' is an undoubted sign of success. Rivers such as the Hampshire Avon and Dorset Stour are steeped in barbel history dating back to a world where Aylmer Tryon's record 14lb 6oz barbel from the Royalty in 1934 stood for the following 60 years.
The long standing record from the Royalty

Times have now changed however. A combination of high protein baits, climate change and many other factors have resulted in barbel of huge proportions. The late 90s saw the Great Ouse phenomena explode culminating in the current barbel record of 21lb 1oz. Add to this that the current list of river records shows us that almost half of the rivers listed have fish weighing in excess of 15lb. The Internet is awash with pictures of doubles on an almost daily basis so is it really that difficult? Should the benchmark be moved to reflect how barbel angling has evolved in recent decades?

Let's be honest with ourselves - barbel are not a difficult fish to catch. Finding a stretch of river with a population is probably the hardest part as once they are found they are not the most tackle aware of species. Of course, they have days when they refuse to play ball but we are kidding ourselves if we believe there's a high level of skill required, especially when compared with catching other, more finicky species. For most people, casting a likely hookbait over a bed of shop bought pellet or boilies is all it takes to get amongst some fish. Mix in the fact we live in a world where barbel are larger than they ever have been then catching a double is merely a percentage game. Rivers like the Trent afford anglers the privilege of camping on the bank for a few days pretty safe in the knowledge that their perseverance is likely to result in a hefty fish sooner or later. If you don't believe me then a look on Facebook will display an almost endless conveyor belt of fish over 10lb. So with all this in mind is 10lb really the symbolic figure it once was or is it time for a dose of reality?


  1. I believe that ten pounds is so easily achievable that it means very little these days. I think 12 pounds is about right but my personal hurdle is 14 pounds. That is very hard to achieve but not actually impossible on any major league barbel river.

    I think the equivalent of the two pound roach is the standard that all specimen hunters need to set themselves. That doesn't mean for a moment that the percentage of the record should be how it's done. 50% of that means very little when it comes to chub, for instance, but a great deal when it comes to roach. 50% for barbel is a little under ten and a half pounds but 2lb 2oz for roach. For chub just 4lb 10oz.

    Fish for all these with a vengeance for an entire season and you know what's going to happen. You're going to exceed the mark for chub many, many times over and with ease, catch plenty of barbel in excess, but be very lucky to find roach that size let alone catch one. The bar is way too low. And as you say, the sheer numbers of doubles caught tell us that.

    However, it serves as a neat round number for the majority of anglers. So I don't expect things to change.

  2. Jeff, I make you spot on. From all the magical weights we have been brought up on such as a 20lb river pike and a 2lb roach, then a 10lb barbel has become achievable for almost everyone. From the 90 rivers on the barbel record list, only 4 have a record under 10lb and over a third have records in excess of 15lb. Times have moved on and I agree that 12lb is probably the new 10lb and a fish of 15lb+ the fish of a lifetime. For the record, I've never had a 2lb roach, came close to a river twenty pike a couple of years ago but have managed half dozen doubles this season. Kind of proves the point.

  3. I've had 15lb barbel off 12 rivers so far, with my biggest off the trent at 19lb 2oz.

    Richard Easom Three foot twitch baits owner.

    1. Richard Easom full of shit as usual, 19lb 2oz hahahaha

  4. Cheers Richard, you have some great fish there. Whilst I'd like to feel there was some skill on your part there's not a chance in hell that this would've happened over a decade ago. Barbel are as big as they have ever been. Tight lines.