There are several species of fish referred to as “chub”. So, before commencing this post, we’re going to specify here that it refers to the common chub (Squalius cephalus), also known as the European chub.
Although it’s considered a “coarse” fish, like carp, barbel, rudd, or other Cyprinids, the chub is still sought by anglers due to its typical readiness to feed, the stealthy approach required, as well as the combativeness of the larger specimens.
In this post, we’re going to cover all the essentials regarding chub fishing, including required gear, weather and fishing conditions, baits, etc.
The Common Chub – Habitat And Diet
The common chub is distributed throughout Europe and Asia. It’s usually found in small rivers and creeks, but also in large streams and lakes. It prefers habitats with a lot of vegetation on the banks. Although they’re not typical migratory fish, the chub populations found in lakes can undertake migrations into inflowing streams for spawning.
Chub move quite a lot in search of food both during day and night. Juvenile chub usually congregate in shoals and stick to shallow habitats, feeding along the shores of streams, rivers, or lakes. The larger specimens, are generally solitary or roam in small groups of 2-3 fish of a similar size. Although they also typically stick to the shorelines of a water body, they can often be seen moving between the shores and the deeper sections of the swim.
Chub are omnivore fish; they feed on a wide variety of aquatic and terrestrial organisms, as well as fruit and plant matter. Juveniles usually feed on insect larvae, insects, worms, molluscs, etc. Larger specimens tend to be more piscivorous, preferring small fish as well as small crayfish or freshwater shrimp. If available on the river banks, chub of all sizes will feed on blackberries, raspberries, elderberries, cherries, or grapes.
Where To Look For Chub By Season
First of all, if a certain swim holds chub, you’ll find them there during any season. They also feed throughout the year. You can catch them in a water temperature range between 35 – 75°F (2 – 24°C) or even higher. However, it’s water temperature stability that matters the most, when it comes to chub fishing, especially in winter. They’ll also feed more when the water temperature is on the rise.
During winter, you’ll most definitely find chub (sometimes in large shoals) in places with slow-flowing water. Drop-offs with slow currents and deeper water, near places where the glide shallows up and stretches into rapids hold chub in winter most of the time, as well as other species, such as barbel, grayling, roach, or dace. During winter, chub won’t feed at the beginning of a cold snap but they’ll almost always do after the temperature stabilizes, even at 35°F (2°C). The best temperature range for chub fishing in winter is between 39 – 45°F (4 – 7°C).
During spring, as the water temperature begins to rise, chub become more active, they feed more but also become more finicky and picky with their food. As water temperature reaches 57°F (14°C), they’ll begin to spawn, and their spawning lasts between May and September. During spawning, they usually move to fast-flowing water with gravelly bottoms, so these are great places to look for chub during spring. But nonetheless, just as we’ve mentioned above, if a particular swim has chub, you’ll find at least some there throughout the year.
During the hot days of summer, chub will seek refuge in places with a lot of vegetation and cover on the riverbanks. They’ll avoid bright light and you’ll almost always find them in the shade during the daytime. So, shallow glides under shrubs and bushes are great places to look for summer chub. This time of the year, they’ll take a wide variety of baits, placed on the surface, at different depths in the water column, and even on the bottom. Also, the best times of the day to catch summer chub are early in the morning, or at dusk.
During early fall, as the temperatures are still up and there’s still plenty of vegetation, pretty much the same rules apply as for summer. Chub will stick to shallow glides in shaded places during the day. But as temperatures fall and vegetation begins to decline, they’ll move to deeper spots with a slow-flowing current.
Methods, Baits, and Tackle for Chub Fishing
Chub are rather spooky fish and they have pretty good eyesight. There’s actually a saying that “they have an eye in each one of their scales”. This being said, no matter what fishing method you employ, their fishing requires quite a bit of stealth. Most anglers even prep their rod and bait before approaching the bank and always hide behind vegetation when stalking chub.
There are four methods largely used for common chub fishing. These are:
Float fishing. Various float rigs can be used for chub fishing, but the most commonly used are simple, fixed float rigs and drift float rigs. The simple float rig is best used in shallow water allowing the float to drift along the shore taking the bait to the desired location, or passing it under bushes where chub usually hide. This float fishing method is also known as trotting. The drift float rig is best used in places with a very slow current, and deeper water.
Still fishing. This is done typically with a ledger (heavy sinker) or a feeder rig. This method is best used for deeper waters and larger rivers with faster currents. It’s also great when targeting other fish along with chub, such as barbel, carp, or nase. It calls for slightly heavier gear than for float fishing, since you’re going to cast heavy sinkers or feeders. Quiver-tip rods, heavier lines, and various baits are common for still fishing.
Fly fishing. Most anglers target chub on artificial flies during later spring, summer, and early fall. This time of the year, chub often feed in top water, on insects, larvae, fruit, or other organisms that may fall into the water. The average trout gear for this type of fishing should do, but if you’re after 4-pounders, you might want to go slightly heavier.
Lure fishing. Chub tend to become highly piscivorous as they grow larger. This being said, they can be caught on various lures. Light spinning gear, spoons, and spinning lures are great for this purpose. Light spinning tackle is the most appropriate gear for this chub fishing method.
For feeder and ledger rigs, 11-12 ft. quiver tip rods with a 1.25 – 1.50 lb. test curve are perfect if you’re targeting chub. Some of the most resonant brand names to look for are John Wilson Avon, Drennan, Darent Valley, and Daiwa Black Widow Tele Feeder.
For float rigs, you’ll need slightly longer rods, 13 – 17 ft., with a sensitive tip, but a sturdy backbone. A few great pointers to go by would be Drennan DRX Mark 2, Drennan Acolyte Plus, Maver Signature Pro Classic Float, Daiwa Connoisseur, or Korum Glide Power Float.
The universal fly rod for chub would be a 3wt, 8 – 10 ft. fly rod. Of course, if you’re targeting chub at 4-5 lbs, you may want to go with a 5wt rod. A few good names to go by would be Echo Shadow II, Moonshine Vesper, Thomas & Thomas Zone, Sage ESN, and Douglas Sky G.
Finally, for lure fishing, ultra-light or light rods with fast action within a 6’6″ – 7’6″ range, should do. A few good names would be Daiwa Black Widow, Daiwa Laguna, Fox Rage Ultron 2 Street, or Shimano FX UL.
Most anglers go with spinning gear when targeting coarse fish. For chub fishing, depending on the method used, a spinning reel within the 2000 – 4000 range should do. For example, for feeder or ledger rigs, it’s best to go with reels within the 3000 – 4000 range such as:
For float rigs and lure rigs, 2000 – 3000 reels are more appropriate. A few excellent choices would be:
Of course, for fly fishing, you’ll need a 3wt – 5wt fly reel. A few good names to go by are Lamson Liquid, Perfect Hatch, or Redington.
Line and leader
Chub often stick to submerged vegetation, trees, logs, etc. Therefore, braided line is the best choice, since you’ll be fishing in a snaggy environment because it’s highly resistant to abrasion. Chub don’t grow exceptionally large, so for float fishing and lure fishing, you shouldn’t need a line stronger than 6-8 lbs. For feeder/ledger rigs, 8-12 lbs braided is more appropriate.
When it comes to leaders, fluorocarbon is the best choice as it becomes invisible in the water. Although chub aren’t particularly tackle-shy, they do have a pretty sharp eyesight and the line may spook them at times. The leader can be slightly lighter than the main line, or have the same strength.
Hook size and type depend on the bait used. For example, if you’re fishing with maggots with or without a hair rig, size 12-14 j-hooks, circle hooks, or octopus hooks are the most appropriate. If you’re going with worms, you’ll need similar hook sizes but with a slightly longer shank. If you’re going with larger baits, such as luncheon meat, small fish, or large insects like locusts, size 10 – 8 hooks are a better choice.
Chub can be caught on a wide variety of baits. Top of the list are maggots, worms, grasshoppers, boilies, corn, luncheon meat, bread, cut bait, and baitfish. In murky water, it’s always best to go with bigger baits. For example, in this situation, serving maggots or worms on hair rigs, crammed on large maggot clips makes for a great presentation. Also, in murky waters, luncheon meat and cut bait can work wonders especially if you’re targeting larger chub.
In clear water, sizeable baits aren’t that necessary. Color and presentation matter more. Grasshoppers, locusts, crickets, and mayflies can bring in large chub when trotting. If fishing with worms in clear water, it’s always best to thread approx. 1/2 from the worm and leave the rest hanging off the hook. Colorful boilies, corn, or red maize are also excellent when fishing for chub in clear water. And finally, chunks of bread hooked through the crust can produce fairly decent results.
Flies and lures
When it comes to flies, midge and caddis fly imitations are great. But you may need different colors and variations, depending on the time of the day, lighting, water clearness, and other factors. Foam and rubber bettle and spider imitations can also work wonders.
If you’re targeting chub on lures, the ones that make a lot of noise, like spinners or crankbaits, are great, especially in turbid water. On clear water, some of the best lures for chub are floating cranks, the ones that start at the surface and submerge as you pull them through the water. Perch imitations, and in general, colorful crankbaits work better, but the colors they prefer may differ from one day to another. Finally, especially if chub are not feeding in topwater, and they’re lower in the water column, spoons and jigs can work as well.