Arm yourself with a bucket of slugs, appropriate freelining tackle and a light extending landing net; prepare to stalk your chub as you would trout, and you’re ready for action Freelining slugs for chub is one of the most enjoyable ways of fishing. The angler travels light with just a shoulder bag and a landing net, seeking out the chub in small streams and those rivers where they can be spotted. The approach is very similar to that of the trout angler.
The basic equipment is a 10-1 lft hollow-glass rod, a fixed-spool reel loaded with 4lb b.s. Line and an assortment of hooks from No 2 to No 4. Spare spools should carry 5 and 6lb b.s. Lines. The landing net should be as light as possible—while a trout net is ideal it will be found that an extending net is needed in most areas. The new hollow-glass two-piece handles are very good and a strap can be fitted so that the net can be carried over the shoulder. The well-equipped chub stalker should also have an army surplus jacket with numerous pockets.
The most important item is the bait—and in these days of expensive high protein and special preparations, a free one is welcome. Most gardeners see the slug as a pest and you should be able to find neighbours more than willing to supply you with large brown and black slugs from their gardens, if you provide tins to put them in. If you can- not obtain slugs from neighbours, it is worth approaching a local allot-ment society. The Secretary will be only too pleased to give you a letter of authority and the key to the gates once you have convinced him that you are not completely mad, and really do collect slugs.
A visit in the early morning or during a rainy night will produce an ample supply of bait—the larger the better. Keep the slugs in a large bait bucket with earth in the bottom to absorb the moisture, and some food such as potato peelings or slices of melon to keep them fattened up. Should you forget the food, you will find that the slugs lose almost half their size in 24 hours. Keep the bait bucket in a cool place, out of direct sunlight. If you collect the bait some time before you need it, be sure to check it daily and remove any dead or decomposed slugs, and to replenish the food supply.
When you go fishing, you can slip the bucket on to a dog clip at your waist. Be sure to have at least two pieces of towelling for your hands and for holding the chub. Once you have run the line through the rod rings and removed any frayed sections, you can tie on the hook. The Mustad 20 Beak hook with small barbs on the shank is ideal for a fair sized slug. The barbs tend to hold the slug and stop it sliding down the bend of the hook in a horrible lump. Slugs are very slimy creatures, so if you find you cannot grip one hold it in the towelling while pushing the hook through the rear end and out at the front. To avoid spoiling your clothing, wipe your finger on the towelling afterwards.
The free-lined slug
You will find the weight of the slug ample for quite a lengthy cast in places such as weirpools and far-bank swims. The great advantage of a freelined slug is that you can cast into areas which would otherwise be inaccessible. Chub in particular lie in that type of swim—under overhanging trees and bushes, platforms of debris, moored boats, and around the heavy wooden posts which protect many bridge buttresses. Thick lily beds in backwaters will often hold chub in the summer, when the ; slug can be cast right into the middle of them.
Polarized sunglasses are essential for spotting chub. Take a quiet walk along the river, preferably working upstream, and pay attention to all likely looking swims. In areas which look ‘chubby’ it is worth your while standing by a tree or some other cover for ten minutes or so. You will often see chub drifting out from ; cover, or lying on a gravel run at the end of a lily bed or a funnel of water running through reed mace.
The slug should be cast upstream of the fish and worked back towards , them. You can control the depth at which the slug is carried by holding the rod in the air. If a chub moves V over to take the bait, allow the fish to pick it up, watching for the movement of the gills which shows that the bait has been taken from the lips to the mouth. Strike sideways and you should have it. When playing a chub you will often find that the slug has been spat out on the strike and is up the line. Other chub may try for the slug while you are playing a fish so that if you guide your fish quietly into the bank before showing yourself and netting it, you can often cast out straight away and take another fish before scaring them into cover.
How to skate the slug
Mark where the fish went and return to those spots later. Beneath overhanging trees, particularly where willows have branches in the water, it is impossible to float fish, but a freelined slug can be placed right under the tree and against the bankside. This can be done by skating the slug in the same way as you skate a flat stone across water. Make a side cast, and point the rod tip down to the water at the last moment to achieve the skating effect. When a slug skates in under cover, watch the line for an immediate take. With a firm straight pull, strike at once; but with a number of tentative plucks on the line, wait until the line starts to straighten before striking. Should you miss the fish, but retrieve a tattered and torn slug, put it back into the same spot at once, for the chub will often take the slug the second time around.
On the wider, streamy rivers such as the Hampshire Avon, parts of the Severn, or the Tees, you can work along the bank ten paces at a time, casting across the river and allowing the slugs to drift around between the streamer weeds. If you allow your line to bow, you will notice the plucks and then the straightening of the line. You will often find certain nondescript sections which always produce chub, due, no doubt, to unseen features on the riverbed. For future reference, mark these with a stick in the ground or a stone.
In the knowledge that you will succeed with this method, be sure to have a camera, measuring tape, and scales to record your catch. If you are really keen you might like to join the national body for chub anglers, the Chub Study Group.
One very useful method of freelining streams and rivers is with a detachable floating crust. This is a technique to employ when having only limited success with a slug.
Quite simply, a piece of fresh bread flake is pinched on to the hook followed by a fair sized piece of crust. The crust is only lightly pinched, however, so that a flick of the rod tip makes it break free. The baited hook is then allowed to travel with the current until it reaches the best point, when the crust is twitched free allowing the flake to sink gently into the waiting mouth of a fat chub.
Invariably this method is more effective than casting a ledgered piece of bread at the fish, as no unnecessary splash is made.
When roving the banks with my stock of slugs, I find it desirable to carry with me a change of bait. Lobworm is a chub favourite, particularly if there has been recent flooding. As the river bursts its banks many worms are trapped, so nature provides groundbait in the form of thousands of worms washed downstream in a never ending supply. Using the standard tackle for freelining the slugs, tie on a size 8 hook and lower either a single or double lobworm bait into every likely hiding place of the chub. The bite is electric; the line tightens and the rod tip is pulled viciously round, so that the fish either hooks itself or breaks free before you strike.
A bait rapidly gaining favour among the chub hunting fraternity is sweetcorn. It can prove deadly, particularly among the smaller, school fish.