Barbel fishing in Extremadura

The barbel is one of the species that I have been most passionate about fishing. Since I was a child when I started fishing with the typical fly strings or with a rudimentary coup, barbel were always the fish I was most excited about. I remember when I was a teenager, when we “discovered” that barbel could be fished with lures…. At first we fished them with simple spoons. Later we started with small hard lures that we bought the few times we had the opportunity to go to the city. Nowadays bass occupy 90% of my fishing trips. However, since I am a predator angler, there hasn’t been a single one in which I haven’t spent several days barbel fishing in Extremadura.

Techniques, barbel fishing in Extremadura

Iberian barbel in Alange
Big barbel of Alange lake

Despite the fact that we can catch barbel with practically any of the existing modalities: fly, feeder, match, carpfishing, coup, lure fishing, etc… In this article I am going to focus on lure fishing and the different techniques we can use. Also within lure fishing we can fish in multiple ways: with hard lures, soft lures, on topwater, suspended fish, close to the bottom… It is a fish whose behavior, mainly in the summer months, becomes quite predatory.

Iberian barbel
Precious gold ingot from Cíjara

Anyone who has caught a single barbel of a certain size knows that the first few runs are unmatched, making it one of the most powerful freshwater fish. For me, along with black bass and trout, it is one of the most sporting species I have ever fished. Below I will focus on the main techniques for barbel fishing in Extremadura, or at least the ones that have given me the best results, either from the shore or from a boat. If you don’t know where to go, the reservoirs of Cíjara or Alange have a very good population of quality barbel.

Barbel fishing with soft plastics

barbel fishing in Extremadura
Nice Becero barbel caught with a small vinyl, sight fishing from the shore

I’ve mainly fished for barbel sight-fishing. It is true that we can use a texas rig, drop shot, carolina…. Practically any rig we use for bass can work with barbel. However, for me, the most fun way to fish is to see the fish and present the lure in its face.

The most effective is usually to use small weightless vinyls of no more than 4″ in the shape of worms or small shad jerks. Sometimes they prefer to take the lure on the bottom, in this case using micro jigs of up to 7 grams can also be very interesting. As for the type of vinyl, match the hatch, it will always be a winner. If they are feeding on fish, then fish-shaped vinyls, if they are eating small invertebrates, using any form of vinyl with a similar color will help us to have more bites.

We can practice this fishing both in reservoirs and rivers, as long as the water is clear enough so that we can see the fish and present our lure discreetly. They are very suspicious fish and if we fail in the cast, many times our chances of catching them will vanish.

Hardlures, barbel fishing in Extremadura

barbel fishing in Extremadura
Iberian barbel, who attacked a hard jerkbait

If we decide to use hard lures, we must keep in mind that there is a high chance that the trebles will open up, so I recommend taking plenty of quality trebles. As in the previous case, it is important to observe the behavior of the fish before choosing the lure. If the wind hits hard on a bank, muddying it, we can use almost any lure, but when we face rough water conditions, things get complicated.

Linear retrieves are very often effective with this fish, so carrying crankbaits or lipless is almost mandatory. As in the previous case, small size lures tend to work better. We can also catch them with chatters and spinners, although they are not usually the most effective lures. If we see the fish wandering along the shore looking for food, using small jerks can also be very productive, but always picking them up quickly. I have caught barbel with 17 cm jerks, but this is not usual, so I recommend the use of jerks between 7 and 10 cm.

Common barbel in winter
Common barbel in a crankbait

However, if we are lucky enough to face one of those days when the barbel eat on top layers, topwater fishing is undoubtedly the most entertaining. Small stickbaits, propellers, poppers… will give us unforgettable casts. As basic tips regarding the equipment to use, I recommend M or ML rods, preferably parabolic and with the reel brake quite loose to avoid as much as possible the triple openings. Normally with spinning rods we can better cast really small lures at long distance, but we can use casting perfectly well.

Searching for the deepest barbel

As spring progresses and the water warms up, if we talk about fishing in reservoirs most of the barbel look for deeper, cooler and more oxygenated water. We can catch them close to the shore in the early and late hours of the day, but most of the day they will be more comfortable deep.

Common barbel
Good specimen of common barbel that bit with a piki at quite a depth

It is not a fish that suffers too much with depth changes, as it can happen to pike, black bass or zander, but I don’t like to fish them below 12 meters. I don’t like to fish the fish too deep, it seems to me that it is producing unnecessary suffering, the risk of them dying increases with depth and there is always a way to catch fish in less critical layers.

If we are confronted with a reservoir in which there are shoals of small fish, we have several options: fishing for suspended barbel or “scraping” the bottom in knobby areas.

vertical fishing

If we decide to catch suspended fish we can drop the lure at the right depth, move the boat very slowly and see if they react. Many times this technique is really effective but I personally don’t find it too “meritorious”. So I don’t usually use it, unless I’m really lost and I’m not able to get bites in any other way.

The few times I decide to fish vertically, I prefer to spin around with the lure in my hand and only cast it when I locate a fish with the fish finder. This way we will cheat less fish, but we will cheat them ourselves, moving the lure in the way we consider best until we get the desired bite.

suspended fishing

barbel fishing in Extremadura
When barbels are suspended hunting…

When fish are suspended in the middle of great depths, scraping the bottom is not an option so we have to use suspended fish techniques. What I usually do in these cases is to make a couple of passes with the sonar in the area to see how deep the fish are. We can also see if they are hunting or not. I then make long casts (usually with a pikie), let it go down to the depth I think is key and bring it back to the boat on a continuous retrieve. It’s very important to hold the depth to be more time in the “hot area”.

Some days they prefer fast retrieves, others slower, others sawtooth…. Sometimes they come after the lure up to the vertical of the float tube or boat. This is when our expertise comes into play to see what kind of movements they want. We can also use other types of lures such as lipless, blades or small spoons. It’s all a matter of trying and seeing with which lures we get the most bites.


When the fish are deep and we can’t catch them in the first 4 meters of water, this is the fishing I like to practice the most. It is also important to make several laps with the fish finder to see if there are small fish in the area. If we cast where there is no food, the density of barbel will be lower and therefore the chances of a bite.

barbel fishing in Extremadura
Barbel that attacked a shad scratching the bottom

Using a small pikie is usually the most effective and easiest way, scraping the bottom or fishing as close to the bottom as we can. After a while of fishing we will locate the most productive depths and cast our lures there in order to provoke more bites. It is not the same to fish between 4 and 10 meters than between 6 and 8…

As in the previous case we can also use lipless, blades, small spoons…. But in this case, if the bottom has many hooks, we will lose valuable time unhooking. If this is the case, we can also use rigs in which the hook is not uncovered. We will miss more bites but we will also spend more time fishing and less time unhooking, so we will surely catch more fish.


In general for this deep fish fishing we will use a bit more powerful equipment than in the previous case. The use of braid is more than recommended. If we fish close to the bottom it is also practically essential to use a fluorocarbon leader to avoid breakage. The moment it is hooked, the barbel pulls to the bottom like a shot. It is probably the species that looks for the bottom the most, so it is important to use the right leader.

I hope these small tips will be useful and you will be encouraged to try barbel fishing in Extremadura. In the summer months when fishing for other species becomes more difficult, it is an excellent and very entertaining option.

Chatterbait fishing

Chatterbait fishing is currently in fashion… and it is no coincidence because it is one of the most versatile lures that exist. However, it is a lure that has been used for many years in competition, even a humble angler like me has been using it for more than 15 years…

la pesca con chatterbait
We can fish for any predator with chatterbait.

For me the chatterbait is not a magic lure. It is a very versatile lure that will allow us to cover many meters of shore in a short time, mainly in the shallowest layers. Many times I have more bites with this lure than with another one simply because in the same period of time I make more casts and more meters of shore, period.

However, fishing with chatter is much more than just casting and retrieving, there are a series of details that many anglers overlook. The purpose of this article is simply to help you to take these details into account, as long as they are useful to you, of course, because as always, every master has his own book. I don’t want to go into the subject without thanking Manute and Fabriche, because a great part of what I know about this lure and about bass fishing in general is thanks to them.

Weights, chatterbait fishing

For me, as with most lures, the half ounce is the most versatile weight for chatterbait fishing. It allows us to make really long casts and play in a “comfortable” way with the depth of the lure. 3/8 oz is a weight more and more used, because it is very useful in shallow scenarios such as the river or big beaches… And also for fishing algae areas, more and more frequent in our rivers and lakes such as for example Orellana. The great advantage of the 3/8 is that we will “hook less” and thus gain precious fishing time.

la pesca con chatterbait
Different chatterbait sizes

I’ve only been using 3/4 oz chatterbaits for a short time, but I’ve found them especially useful in those situations where it’s necessary to go deeper. Mainly with pike, but also when the big bass are still a bit separated from the shore.

Even so, the half ounce, if we know how to play with lines and trailers, will be the weight that will allow us to cover 80 or 90% of the fishing situations. If you are going to start using this lure, I think you should start here. With 3/8 you will lose casting distance and depth and with 3/4 you will hook too much, if you are not able to adapt the retrieve rate to the depth.

Trailers, chatterbait fishing

There are multiple shapes and sizes of trailers that we can use, however I will focus on the ones I consider most useful, at least for the fishing scenarios I usually face. Most anglers simply take into account the “match the hatch”, the imitation of the predominant prey species. Of course this is important but I believe there are many other factors that influence chatterbait fishing and I will try to explain them below.


black bass con chatterbait
This lure fishes in all types of conditions

For me, despite not being an excessively realistic imitation, if a chatterbait resembles any living being it is a craw. A craw emits vibrations when it swims, I don’t know if they are similar to those of a chatterbait or not, but more than those emitted by a fish. On the other hand, I quite like to use the chatterbait by dropping it to the bottom from time to time, getting quite a few bites even when stationary. For this and other factors I often use a craw as a trailer.

In turbid waters or windy days we can use craws that also vibrate “ultravibe” type. If the waters are rather clear or the conditions of the day are quite clear, without wind, I use more discreet craws. On the other hand, we must not lose sight of the fact that the larger the volume of the crab, the slower the sinking of the whole. So we will use large craws either when we want to give more volume or when we want it to sink less. The latter would be valid for any type of trailer and many fishermen do not take it into account…


Putting a worm as a trailer will always be a good choice, since we will form an “all terrain” set. There are times of the year when we want a set with a lot of mobility and here we will bet on long worms. Whether they have a vibrating “tail” or not will depend on the stage conditions as in the previous case.

Generally with a worm our chatter will go deeper than with a craw. The thinner and shorter the worm is, the deeper it will go. Therefore we will opt for this type of trailer when we need that “extra” depth. We must also keep in mind that if there is a lot of algae on the lake, a worm will “catch” less than a bulkier trailer such as a craw or a criature.


la pesca con chatterbait
We can play with the colors as we wish

When there is a lot of shad or any other species of grass fish, using a small paddle tail or vinyl trailer jerk will always be a good option. If we opt for a paddle tail, it is important that it does not have too big a tail, as the whole would be unbalanced and would not swim well. If we opt for a vinyl jerk without a paddle tail, we will have no problem.

In this case I simply take into account the above: bulky trailers to give volume to the set, fish slower and go shallower, more discreet trailers to create a more compact set and be able to go deeper with the same retrieve speed and churn more water.

Colors and blades

In this case I am going to talk about the color of the vinyl and the skirts as well as the color of the blades for chatterbait fishing. In general I like to use natural and realistic colors, but with this kind of lures there are times when flashy colors are a plus. If we want to fish for pike or zander, we can play even more with this kind of colors like yellows, whites, bright greens?

la pesca con chatterbait
Chatterbait with a golden blade

If our target is bass I generally try to play with “matching” sets. When I put a craw trailer, I will use a craw color chatter. If I put a fish type trailer, I will use a fish type color and so on.

As for the blade, there are multiple opinions but we can play with 3 options. Black or dark paddle in very clear water and pressured scenarios. The theory says silver paddle on cloudy days and gold paddle on sunny days…. Besides, the golden blade is not usually used too much in our country so I consider it a plus sometimes.

Retrieving in chatterbait fishing

Lastly I want to talk about retrieval in chatterbait fishing. As I said at the beginning of the article, I believe that chatterbait fishing is much more than just casting and retrieving and I’m going to try to clarify that.

lucio con chatterbait
Pikes drink them…

In 90% of the situations we will cast to a target (or not) and retrieve the lure. There will be times when the fish will want faster retrieves (usually happens post-spawn). There are other times when the key will be to retrieve at the minimum speed we can do it without the lure stopping vibrating. This speed is not exactly low, we can never retrieve at the same speed as we would with an unweighted paddle tail…

Different ways

However, if we do not have too many obstacles and the fishing is very slow, we can make periodic stops allowing the lure to contact the bottom. We can even stop it on the bottom for a few seconds. Anyway, if we want to make many stops on the bottom, there will always be better options such as a jig. I simply want to show the versatility of this lure. When I need to cover more water than with a jig, but I know the fishing is hard, this is what I do.

When zander are in the shallows, it is a very effective lure.

Finally, I would like to emphasize that the chatterbait is a pure power fishing lure. It is a lure that causes most of its bites by reaction and its main strength lies in its ability to sweep a large amount of water in a short period of time. With a chatterbait we will mainly catch the most active fish and leave another fish behind. But if there is a high enough percentage of active fish…. With a chatter we will cover much more water than with slower fishing and therefore we will be able to catch more fish.

Cheers and good fishing.