Trotting for fish

Angling with a rod.
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Trotting, sometimes called ‘swimming the stream’, is a method of float fishing in flowing water where the float and bait are allowed to travel with the current. The depth at which the bait is fished depends on the when fish such as dace, roach, chub or barbel are feeding off species of fish being sought and at the bottom, the float fishing technique of trotting – which what depth it is most likely to feed.

Presents a moving bait – can be used to great effect Generally, the float and bait are cast into the swim level with the angler and allowed to travel downstream until the end of the swim is reached. The procedure is then repeated.

When to trot

Trotting is employed in order to achieve as realistic a presentation as possible. The hookbait travels along with the current in the same way as the groundbait or natural food particles. Trotting is very effective in summer, and can be successful in winter too. Specialist dace anglers fish this way almost exclusively, while both roach and chub often prefer a moving bait.

Clear or fairly clear waters are more conducive to good sport than coloured waters, especially where they flow fast and where the bait, because of reduced visibility, is less likely to be seen by the fish.

Allowing the bait to rise

The manner in which the float and bait are allowed to travel downstream is important. Usually they should move at the same speed as the current but sometimes, when fishing with a stick float and caster, for example, the float should be held back allowing the bait to rise up in the water. This may be done either at the end of the swim or, if it is a long one, several times as it passes through it.

In fast shallow water, the angler sometimes wades with the rod pointing downriver. The float, depending upon the whim of the angler (or a bite from a fish), will be checked very slightly as it travels downriver, making the bait rise and fall as it travels through the swim. This method of presenting the bait is especially effective on such waters as the Avon and Kennet when barbel and chub are the quarry.

Trotting for chub

On the Upper Thames, many chub are taken by trotting the opposite bank. For this technique the float is cast out in line with the angler and retrieved when it is some 15 yards below him. Bites can be expected at any time.

Unlike trotting under one’s own bank, or in the centre of the river, the float is often fastened bottom only to facilitate easier casting. A float fastened to top and bottom will loop over and produce tangles unless heavy shotting is used.

Tackle is important and should be as light as possible. The rod should be a long one, 12ft or 13ft with a ‘tippy’ action for roach and dace and an all-through action for dealing with the bigger fish such as barbel, chub and bream.

It should also have plenty of rings to prevent the line sticking to it in wet weather. Line strength varies, depending upon the species being sought, but should be between 2-4lb b.s. Although most present-day anglers prefer a fixed-spool reel, there is no doubt that for trotting at close range a centrepin is far superior for control of the tackle.

Mending the line

Sometimes, especially when fishing across river, a ‘bow’ will appear in the line which must be corrected to ensure that when the angler strikes the hook is driven home. This is achieved by flicking the rod back against the direction of the current thus making the line straight. This is called ‘mending the line’. Because of this the line must float and although some monofilaments will float reasonably well, for perfect tackle control the line should be greased before fishing. Hooks de-pend upon the bait and will vary from a No. 20, for caster and single-maggot fishing, to a No. 6 when using big bread-crust or flake.

Choice of float

The kind of float is very important. In fast-flowing waters a float carrying between one and four ‘swan’ (SSG) shots will be necessary and must have a fairly stout tip. This will ensure that the float remains visible even in turbulent water. The same kind of float should also be used for trotting bread against the far bank when fishing for chub, and when using minnows to catch barbel. These floats are attached to the line both top and bottom.

In waters of medium flow, lighter floats can be used. For roach, dace and bream, one with a short, thin antenna will make for more sensitive fishing, although in choppy water it may be difficult to see all of the time. In this situation, a float with a slightly stouter antenna would be better. These floats are attached either by the bottom only or top and bottom (double rubber).

‘Waggler’ floats

In recent years ‘Wagglers’ have become popular. This float has a stout body, usually made of balsa, situated at the bottom of a length of peacock quill or Sancandas reed.

The ‘Waggler’, which is a rather heavy float even in its smallest size, takes a lot of shot and is fished by casting across from the angler and retrieved when it is below him. It is attached to the bottom only with two equal sized shots an inch apart, one either side of the float, and fished with the line sunk.

‘Stick’ floats

Another popular float is the ‘Stick’. Used mainly for caster fishing it consists of a tapered body made from varying proportions of cane and balsa. Best used for fishing close or fairly close in, it is shotted so that no more than Vsin of the tip shows above the surface. Unlike the ‘Waggler’, it is attached top and bottom and fished with the line floating with the shots evenly strung out.

The manner in which the strike is made depends upon both the float used and the method employed.

When trotting against the far bank which is more than 15 yards away, or wading with the float downstream, the strike is overhead, the rod being pulled back over the shoulder. For middle-of-the-river and close-in fishing, a sideways strike against the current is preferable. When fishing with a sunken line or with a ‘Waggler’ or ‘Stick’ float, the strike is made with the rod held low. With the ‘Waggler’ float, not only should the rod be kept low but the strike should be made downstream.