Shropshire Union Canal, Llangollen Branch, Nr Chirk



Parking is next to the Canal on the left as you turn off the B5065, the section we fished is too the left under the first bridge and approximately half way before you reach the next bridge fishing directly facing a holly tree. The tow path is wide, with plenty of space to store your gear at the back of you with a  high bank, good thing is the canal is narrow and you should not have the need to break your pole down.
The tow path was quiet with the occasional dog walker and cyclist, however it is a popular stretch for boats. The stretch belongs the the Water Ways and day tickets our collected on the bank.


Roach on Hemp and Caster.

Fishing the canal is something I have done before, however a moving one is a different matter, the basins and wide canals I have fished before have had no locks near or constant change in the flow every time the locks opened or closed, or boat after boat. Graham Tasker from the team is local to this stretch and has been taking it to pieces over the last few weeks so I was dying to have a go, and with Graham looking over m shoulder I was hoping for a few red fins.

Graham was confidant we would get a few fish, and decided to give me a free coaching session.  We started off early morning with a hope the boats would not give us too much trouble, we parked up and strolled down the canal to the peg Graham had been having so much luck from. The tow path is very wide and the dog and bike traffic was light with the quiet section of the canal around us and over hanging trees a clean bank, I was looking forward to getting my line wet.

We only took castor and hemp, if maggots or pinkies were used you were guaranteed more bites but a lesser stamp of fish. Graham took me through the feeding pattern and how to trot the pole float through the swim, how to time the drop of the castor and hemp with the rig, when to hold up the float to help give the castor on the hook a more natural appearance as it moves across the bottom. He took mw through the different areas of the swim we were trotting through, explaining you want the bites to come in the middle as the castor reaches the bottom, as this will show the fish are confidant and are queuing up.

Practicing this type of fishing was very interesting, it took me a while to get used to trotting the pole float, and timing it through the swim, making sure it was at the same distance each time and the same speed, trying to keep the castor looking natural as possible, Graham stated if it looks the slightly bit off the fish will ignore it and let it flow past them. This was no easy way of fishing, not for the faint hearted and was hard to grasp and I was a far way from mastering, however for a short time it all came together, the bites were constant and in the middle of the swim with the feeding and timing right the fish started to come. The carried on for about half an hour then the boats showed up. Majority of the boats on this section of the canal slowed down and coasted through the swim, with a little wake and fishing staring after trying to get some of the Roach that would be darting in and out trying to get the natural feed in the wash. The second boat came through at full tilt and basically turned my swim into a swirling muddy silt mess and it all had to start again.

The more the boats that came the harder the fishing got, Graham said he does most of his in the afternoon into the evening with less boats and better conditions, but this still didn’t deter me from giving it another go as soon as I can. The time spent working hard on my swim, trying new things and being well out of my comfort zone was a little revelation, I feel spoilt now fishing commercials and stocked still waters, there is defiantly more to fishing than puddles with more fish than water. The fish I caught on the canal were worth ten on a commercial because you really had to work for them and it took real skill to build your swim to make the fish feed, which is going to be a work in progress for myself. I got bottomed out a few times and lost a few good fish, which we think were big hybrids, I took Roach Perch and Dace for a nice small bag of hard worked for fish. 

I used size 18 micro barbed hooks, with single castor, 0.09 main line with 0.08 hook length, 0.2 and 0.3 pencil floats, fished just of the deck to the bottom of the far shelf at about 5 meters.Feeding 4-5 castor at the start of the swim and pinch of hemp mid swim.Big thanks to Graham for taking me and I am looking forward to my next visit.

Llangollen canal