Free Spirit Hi-‘S’ Specialist 12′ Big Water rods – First impressions.

February 5, 2014

Ifs_logo just received a pair of Free Spirit Hi-‘S’ Specialist 12′ Big Water barbel rods in the post this week. As always I’m excited about new fishing rods; despite the fact I’ve probably about 40 odd rods in my garage. I’m particularly pleased to get these rods, as I spend most of my fishing time these days on the rivers after barbel & chub.  Although Free Spirit has primarily been associated with carp rods they have also been producing Barbel and Specialist rods for many years now.
These have not been promoted heavily in the past due to bottlenecks in their production capacity – the priority has generally been given to keeping up with the demand for the carp rod ranges. But the do a wide variety of rods including these specialist tools. Here is the catalogue description:


Utilising our ultra high modulus (40t) Low Resin Carbon the Hi-‘S’ Specialist range are incredibly slim and light for their given power. Designed to cope with the demanding needs of the modern specialist angler these rods can be held all day if necessary. The material used helps ‘transmit’ more feeling through the blank and the addition of our Clone seat, made of the same material as the rod, further aids this sensation. These rods are also finished with our ‘Perdurable’ blank technology. Read the rest of this entry »


Madfred’s Angling Mag – Number 4

January 8, 2014

Hi All
Very happy new year to everyone who reads this blog. Here’s a link to the forth edition of Madfred’s Angling Mag. It’s in French but features several articles from UK anglers, and a contribution from my good self on my barbel fishing in France.

madfred mag 04-02Here is the link:-


Read the rest of this entry »


French Barbel Fishing: One Year on. My Target Achieved.

November 6, 2013

A Oise barbel glides back to it’s home.

This year has been the second I’ve turned over to tracking down barbel in French rivers. I mentioned last year that after a life time of carp angling I fancied a change, a fresh challenge; and inspired by the Quest Baits lads Shaun Harrison and Pat Gillett and their barbel exploits in the UK, I decided to give it a whirl in France.
Those of you who read my article from last year will know that initially my quest was just to find barbel, any barbel in the local French rivers. The task was not easy due to the total lack of barbel anglers in France. But I soon found that the species is abundant if you fish the correct methods.

As time went on and I fished more and more areas and picked the brains of more and more local anglers about the presence of the fish I sought, I slowly started to get a picture of the possibilities.

I also found that while the species was present in large numbers in my local rivers, the majority of the fish were fairly small, in the 3lb to 5lb bracket. Throughout 2012 I did manage over 75 fish, but the largest were only in the 7lb range. It was clear that if I wanted to bag my target fish, an elusive double figure barbel, my research would need to dig deeper and my net cast wider.

19 sept04

Fast forward to the start of 2013. My research had established a few new avenues to explore on different rivers, where the average stamp was better, even if the fish were less numerous. But that suited me fine. Coming from carp angling I was used to waiting between takes for a decent fish, so this would suit me fine on the rivers. Read the rest of this entry »


October Diary

October 31, 2013

Evening on the Marne

Well the year is just zipping by so fast. One blink and there goes another month. October has been quite a busy and varied month with lots of little sessions on the variety of rivers I have at my disposition.
With the end of the holidays we’ve seen all the summer anglers disappear and once again the banks are deserted. So I wanted to make the most of the time left, getting out a couple of times a week,  before the winter arrives and we all go into scratching for a bit mode for our fishing.

1st  October

Today I was invited to have a go on a new stretch of the Oise. I met up with the chap Chistianin in  a bar in the quiet little village of Quiezy. I had fished with him a couple of times already. After a quick coffee we headed to the stretch of the non navigable Oise in question. Getting to the swim entailed crossing through some private land and my fishing companion for the day knew the owners, so we had no worries getting access to the river bank.


5lb 8oz Oise fish

The river Oise here looks a lot like the Aisne just down from where I live, but it certainly seems to hold more fish. Anyway we’d had a rather late start but the weather was fair and the sector looked inviting. It was quite narrow and on a bend. The level was low, but we had a fair bit of depth in front of us.  Due to tightness of the swim we fished just one rod each.

I started off with a Seafood boilie, and quickly had a 5lb 8oz fish. Second cast and it was off again with a smaller fish. I alternated 16mm halibut and Seafood boilie and in total had 9 barbel; most in the 3lb to 5lb bracket with the best fish 5lb 15oz. We called it a day around 5pm.
It was a nice bag of fish from a nice stretch of the river. Read the rest of this entry »


French Online Mag

October 25, 2013

I was asked to write a piece for a French on line mag by a chap who goes by the name of Madfred.

madfred mag


Ok it’s in French but it has some rally interesting material, and of course my piece.

Read the rest of this entry »


ESP: Two-Tone Coated Braid

September 30, 2013

esptwotoneI’ve been looking to use combi-links for my barbel fishing, and while I’ve messed around tying up braid and nylon with some success, it is a fiddly and time consuming rig to tie. I’ve  therefore been looking around for a coated braid, a material I’d used for many years for carp. But most of the carp ones are very thick for their breaking strain even if you drop to 15lb and none seem to be supplied under that breaking strain. I’ve some 15lb Snakebite in my carp tackle box, but this is way thicker than the 15lb sink Link I’ve been using this year. The Sink Link by ESP has been very good, but is still subject to frequent tangles, especially when you need to give the feeder a bit of a thump.
Enter the ESP Two Tone Striptease in 12lb & 15lb BS, and seems to exactly what I’ve been looking for. Read the rest of this entry »


September Diary

September 30, 2013

Well we should have now been getting into the best time of the year on the rivers, but so far the month of September has been unseasonably warm, with temperatures near or above 30 degrees on many days. What little rain we did have, did absolutely nothing to colour or accelerate the flow of most water courses, all of which remain extremely low.


A lovely stretch of the Meuse

30th August

The last but one day of August saw me trying a new spot on the River Aisne near Compiegne. The Aisne joins the Oise in this town, so the size of the barbel is, according to my French fishing buddies similar, that’s to say 6lb to 8lb on average.
I arrived at around 8:30 am and met Christian in the car park of a large very neat public park. Joggers passed by, along the tree lined banks of the river, which I must say looked very attractive. The margins were lined with tall reeds on a river that must have been about 60 yards wide. I set up about 50m downstream from Christian on a peg that had a very shallow margin slopping off to the navigation channel. The barges passed quite close, so as with the previous peg in Compiègne I chose to reel in for each boat so as not to lose any gear. Thankfully I was to find that the traffic was considerably less than my previous trip on the Oise. Read the rest of this entry »