A stunning roach fish

Many anglers nowadays are after elusive big fish such as carp, pike, and catfish. But what about all the smaller fish that thrive in our waterways? There are plenty of smaller-sized freshwater fish that are well worth targeting. One of said fish is the mighty roach. So let’s have a look at how to catch roach.

The roach is a shoal fish that tend to hang around in large numbers in almost all venues including lakes, streams, canals, reservoirs, and ponds. Even though they don’t grow as large as carp, and other big fish, they can be great fun to catch on lighter fishing tackle. Because roach are found in large numbers, once you get them in a feeding frenzy they can provide you with some good sport for hours on end.

When targeting these stunning little silverfish certain baits generally work better than the rest. So let’s look into what kind of baits you will need for catching roach.

A nice little roach fish
A stunning little roach

The Right Bait For Roach


Maggots have got to be one of the most versatile baits going. All fish will go for maggots and roach are no exception. 

Maggots make a perfect hook bait. I use a size 18 or 20 hook and just nick the hook through the flat end of the maggot (the head) and be sure not to burst the maggot.

Roach will almost certainly go for any colour of maggots but personally, I prefer to use bronze ones. In between casts just throw in a dozen or so loose maggots to keep the fish feeding in and around your hook bait.


Maggots, before they turn into blue bottle or green bottle flys go through the stage of being a caster. Casters are just the maggots encased in small shells that the fish find irresistible. You can buy casters from most of your local tackle dealers and cost about the same as maggots do. Casters can go mushy and bad quite quickly, especially in the summer months. Be sure to keep them refrigerated and don’t let them get too warm.

When you are out on the bank fill up a small bait tub with water and put a handful of casters in it. Look out for any casters that float. These are dead and no good, just throw them away. The ones that sink are the healthy ones that you will want to use.


Bread is another popular hookbait for catching roach. If you are going to start using bread as a bait it is well worth getting yourself a bread punch. A bread punch pushes into a slice of bread and compresses a small bit of bread ready for the hook. Because it is compressed and the perfect size it will stay on the hook longer and will be presented nicely to the roach. 

The good thing about using bread is that it is readily available and cheap as chips to buy. Perfect if you are on a budget.

A loaf of uncut fresh bread
Bread is the perfect budget bait for roach fishing

Hemp and Tares

Hemp and tares are brilliant bait for roach, especially in the autumn months. Hemp is what you will throw in as the loose bait to attract the fish to your swim. Roach just cannot resist the smell and irresistible oily slick that comes off the hemp. A good tip is to buy your hemp raw and boil it up yourself.

It really is very simple to do and this will keep the price down quite dramatically. 

Due to the softness of the hemp, it is practically impossible to use as a hook bait. This is where the tares come into it. Tares are very slightly bigger than hemp and quite a lot firmer. For this reason, they make a much better hookbait.


Sweetcorn is another roach bait that is readily available in supermarkets and fairly cheap to purchase.

I always find that roach are a bit harder to catch whilst using corn. But usually, the rewards are worth it. In my experience sweetcorn quite often sorts out the better stamp of fish. One grain of corn on a size 16 hook usually does the trick.

If you go to the freezer aisle in your local supermarket, you should see that they will sell frozen sweetcorn in big bags. This is a lot cheaper than buying it by the can and is just as good.

Learning how to use sweetcorn as bait can help you catch some nice big roach.

An open tin of sweetcorn
Sweetcorn is a great bait for the bigger roach

The Right Tackle For Catching Roach

Regarding the tackle for catching roach, keep it as light as you can get away with. Although roach don’t grow huge, they do put up a great fight for their size. For this reason, keep the tackle light so you can fully appreciate this stunning fish. I like catching roach mainly on my local river. My preferred method is using a stick float and trotting it downstream. I find this presents the bait in the most natural way possible. Roach can be quite wary at times. If it doesn’t look like it’s falling through the water naturally it might just put them off and they will move on from your swim.

For this type of fishing, I use a light float rod a Daiwa 3000-size fixed spool reel, a 4lb main line, and a 2lb hook length with a size 18 micro barbed hook. Always have your mainline slightly heavier than your hook length. There is a good reason behind this. If you happen to get snagged up or snapped up by the fish, the line will snap down near the hook. The last thing you want is metres of the line being left in the fish’s mouth or left in the water.

A lot of roach anglers will use a centrepin reel whilst trotting on a river, which is ideal due to the way the line gets released from the reel smoothly. But if you are a beginner to fishing I would suggest a fixed spool reel, you will be less likely to get in a tangle.

If you are planning on fishing large venues such as gravel pits for roach you may want to get yourself a feeder rod. These have a bit more backbone than a float (match) rod and are designed for casting swim feeders. Due to the extra weight of the swim feeder, you can get more distance when casting. Learning how to use a swim feeder can prove vital on bigger venues. A cage feeder with ground bait or a maggot feeder will both work well.

Sometimes, you will want to get to places a float rod just won’t reach.

The Best Weather For Catching Roach

Like with most freshwater fish the weather can play a big part in whether you are going to have a good day or a bad day fishing. As a general rule, the fish do not like high-pressure or scorching hot days. If possible aim to fish on days with low pressure. Preferably when the pressure is settled and has been low for a few days. This is usually when fishing is at its best.

Low pressure clouds over a lake
Low-pressure days are perfect for roach fishing

A sudden big change in temperatures can also make the fish think twice about feeding. It’s all about settled conditions when it comes to the ideal fishing weather.

This is only a guide though, fish, including roach, can be very unpredictable at times.

What Is The Difference Between Roach And Rudd?

Whilst fishing for roach there will be a good chance if there is rudd in the venue you could well catch a few. Rudd are also stunning little fish that fight hard for their size. But how do we tell the difference between a rudd and a roach?

The first main difference is the mouth. Roach are classed as bottom feeders. Therefore the top lip overhangs the bottom lip slightly. With the rudd, they are surface feeders. So the bottom lip protrudes further than the top lip. This is probably the biggest giveaway in identifying these 2 fish.

The eyes are another key feature in telling the two fish apart. Roach have a very prominent red eye that really stands out. The rudd on the other hand has more of a yellow colour to its eyes.

When roach and rudd are young their bodies are very similar in colour, making them hard to tell apart. As the fish get older the roach tends to stay more of a silvery colour, whereas the rudd turn a bit more of a slightly golden yellow colour.

If you follow these guidelines you should be able to tell the difference in no time.

Conclusion On How To Catch Roach

Learning how to catch roach can be one of the most enjoyable ways of fishing. In general, it shouldn’t be too hard to find them. Once you do find them keep trickling the loose bait in and keep them interested. Groundbait is well worth a look at as well. If done correctly you could easily be bagging up on fish in no time at all. Above all else enjoy your fishing!

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I catch roach all year round?

The simple answer is yes, roach are a good fish to target all year round. Not only can you catch them in the warm weather, but the cold winters are just as good. In the winter months, it is worth trying punched bread as a hookbait.

Do roach grow to a big size?

Roach certainly are not one of the biggest fish, but they are a lot of fun to catch. A roach of 2lb is a dream fish for many anglers, but they have been known to go up to 4lb in size. The good thing about roach is that they are a shoal fish. If you get them on a feeding frenzy you can certainly soon get a good netload. Usually, an average size roach would be around 6oz.

Do roach feed on the bottom?

Yes, they do, but they are just as happy feeding in midwater as well. This will be dependent on the depth of the water, weather conditions, and the venue where you are fishing.

Can I catch a roach on a river?

You certainly can catch a roach in almost all rivers. Roach are very adaptable and can be found in most bodies of water including, rivers, streams, canals, lakes, and reservoirs.

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