Watford Rod, Stuart, can lend his hand to both running and still water. Stuart fished Adams Mill on the River Great Ouse in its prime, and has since caught big Barbel from the Loddon and the Kennet too. When not chasing record shaking Barbel, you can find him nestled away on “Rota” on the hallowed banks of Savay in the Colne Valley.

As an all round angler I have accumulated a mountain of fishing tackle over the years, different rods, reels, tackle boxes, landing nets and so on all designed specifically for certain styles of angling. There is however one extremely important tool which will help catch all species yet takes up no space in the tackle bag and is arguably the most important item that we possess…our eyes!

Whether it be stalking carp from the margins of a beautiful lake or watching barbel glide across the clean gravel of a summer river, virtually all aspects of watercraft revolve around what we can see.

The importance of visually locating my target species before even thinking about actually fishing for them was made very obvious to me many years ago while targeting big barbel in the clear water of the Great Ouse. On arrival at the river, rather than just setting up in the nearest comfy swim, it become second nature to me to first walk the entire stretch scouring the riverbed for signs of fish. Once found, only then would I consider lacing up a rod and introducing a baited rig to them. Those of you that have ever watched barbel go about their business, even in very clear water, will know just how difficult they can be to spot at times as they blend in extremely well to their surroundings. On occasions all you get is the faintest glimpse of a coral pink pectoral fin silhouetted against the gravel below or maybe an inch of tail protruding from under some wafting streamer weed as a fish rests beneath. Locating your quarry, whatever it may be, is the biggest hurdle to overcome in all forms of angling. Once you know where they are, the hard part is done!