The Ultimate Guide to Silver Fishing

30 Sep 18


In recent years it seems that many anglers have become more focused around carp fishing and targeting the biggest fish they can catch.

Many fisheries have seen this trend of anglers ditching the traditional approaches of silver fishing and have decided to stock their lakes with mainly carp in an attempt to increase the popularity of their fishing venues.

My first memory of fishing was catching small roach from my local lake using a floater setup and I still love watching the float dive under the water to indicate I have a bite. This type of fishing is very exciting and does seem to me, to be more attractive than sitting behind a set of carp alarms and waiting for some action which may never come.  

In this article we are going to cover all things silver fishing.

Are you ready? Then let us begin.

What is Silver Fishing?

I see many beginners anglers confused by the term 'silver fishing' and quite frankly I can totally understand why. It is not obvious what this term actually means and trying to find a clear answer can be difficult. I have seen various answers to this question over the years and to be honest I don't think there is a definitive answer. 

silver fishing

I personally would explain the term silver fishing as targeting fish that are silver in colour and would consist of the following fish. This list is not exhausted but will give you a general idea of the species of fish you would be expected to target and catch if you were to say be taking part in a silver fishing match.

  • Bream
  • Chub
  • Roach 
  • Dace
  • Rudd
  • Bleak
  • Ide or Orfe

You will notice that a very popular species is not on the list and that is the carp.

As I touched upon earlier, many specimen anglers specifically target carp and from this popularity, there are a huge number of lakes that are almost overrun purely by carp of all shapes and sizes. These lakes are stuffed with carp and are incredibly popular for many anglers but are also a real challenge if you are silver fishing. 

There are a number of anglers who take part in silver fishing matches where the total weight of fish caught decides the winner and in silver fishing, only these specific species count to your total at the end of the day. Often competing anglers will have extremely close total weights and even a small fish or two could decide the winner, which makes silver fishing matches like this very exciting.

Not only are the margins very fine, pun intended, but during the match, you should be catching fish consistently throughout the day, unlike carp fishing where you can sit behind a set of buzzers or alarms for days on end and catch nothing! I am a fan of many different kinds of fishing and I would encourage anyone to try out a particular method and see what you prefer.

You would most probably use a floater rod or pole for silver fishing. If you were to really get into this type of fishing and start to think about entering matches you would need a pole. A pole is very versatile and allows fishing at many different ranges whilst remaining highly accurate which is a must if you are to be successful when competing. Check out this excellent article about match fishing tips - Match Fishing Tips

So you may be thinking, how do I target specific silver fish? I mean surely if I put a maggot on a hook I could catch a chub, or I could lure a carp which is not the desired silver fish. This is a very good question and is a real skill when silver fishing. You have to use the correct tactics if you are to be successful at silver fishing but the rewards can be great. 

You also need to consider which type of silver fish you are targeting. If you are fishing for pleasure say on a weekend this is not a massive issue, but if you are fishing in a match then this is a real consideration you have to take on board.

Let's say you are catching lots of small roach, these small fish are easy to catch, take very little time to get into the keep net and will be adding to your total nicely. However, what about targeting a big bream, for instance, these fish will be harder to catch and take longer to land but the reward of a good weight could put you miles ahead of your competitors. 

These types of tactics are a huge challenge in silver fishing matches and I also believe are one of the main reasons why silver fishing is so popular and addictive. 

How Do You Target Specific Species When Silver Fishing?

For any occasion where you are targeting certain species when silver fishing, you need to be using groundbait which will be fed little and often throughout your session or match. There are a number of bait manufacturers that have developed specific groundbait for silver fishing which I have found to be very effective. Dynamite baits, for instance, have a range called 'Silver X' which actually targets individual silver fish species.

For example, their 'Silver X Bream' contains fishmeal that they say holds shoals of bream in your swim. Another groundbait on offer is 'Silver X Roach' which contains hemp and coriander seed which are highly attractive to roach. They are very effective so give them a try for yourself. 

Dynamite Baits Silver X Bream

Dynamite Baits Silver X Original

Lets first talk about how you may go about catching some of the species mentioned earlier. 

How To Catch Bream 

Species such as bream will travel in shoals and if you manage to hook one you have a great chance at landing multiple fish from the shoal which is excellent in a match scenario. You should be using baits such as maggots, casters, sweetcorn and chopped up worms to attract this species. 

A top tip is to constantly change your hook bait which seems to get more bites when fishing for bream.

chub silverfish

How To Catch Chub

Chub is a torpedo looking fish with a rounded head. They are very greedy and will eat almost any baits such as maggots, casters and worms. Chub is also a shoal fish and if you can get them feeding on say maggots you have a good chance at catching many fish as they will compete for the food you put out.

I would recommend a constant supply of maggots or castors and you will eventually get bites from the greedy chub.

How To Catch roach

I love catching roach as I think they are a very beautiful and delicate looking fish. I would use castors fed little and often to catch roach with many anglers catching good specimen size fish with this bait. Castors are the chrysalis of a maggot in a shell-like form and you will find not only roach but all silver fishing species go crazy for this bait.

I would go as far as saying that castors would be my choice of the best bait for silver fishing

best silverfish bait

How To Avoid Unwanted Fish

If you are fishing in a silver fishing match that does not count species such as carp you need to ensure you employ the best tactics to avoid these species of fish. 

Carp can grow in excess of 50 lbs and in order to get this size they need to eat a lot of food. Once you lure several carp into your swim they can eat vast quantities of bait and you could find yourself catching carp all day long, which is great if you are fishing for pleasure but not ideal in a silver fishing match.

The point I am getting at is, do not put out too much bait and stick to the little and often rule. Remember you can always add more but you cannot take bait out.

I tend to put out a very small handful of maggots or castors and perhaps some very small pellets. This will be enough to catch silver fish and even to land a few decent size bream for instance but will reduce the chances of attracting greedy carp that could ruin your chances of placing in a silver fishing match.

When you are baiting I would also ensure you are accurate and try to keep the bait in a tightly compact area as best you can. Again, this approach will be enough to attract shoals of roach, bream and orfe but not enough to bring in the carp.

Once you get on a shoal of roach, for instance, you could win a silver fishing match by simply re-bating after each bite and picking them off one at a time. I have seen many match anglers finish in first place after landing purely roach, so do bear in mind these small fish can easily add up to a winning total.


Hopefully, this article has given you a much clearer understanding about silver fishing and has got you wanting to get out on the bank and start catching as many silver fishing species as possible.

This type of fishing has decreased in popularity in recent years with many anglers being lured away by carp fishing. There is still much fun and excitement to be had when silver fishing and is without a doubt a method you should try for yourself. I still like to get out on the bank and catch lots of silver fish.

You can use a simple float setup with a relatively small and inexpensive set of bait and catch many lbs of fish. I will normally also fish with a carp rod whilst I am float fishing which gives me the best of both worlds. 

Perhaps you are planning to enter a few silver fishing matches to test out your skills. Remember the baiting approach of little and often with as much accuracy as possible to ensure you avoid those unwanted fish. 

Make sure you have a pint of maggots and castors complete with some small 4mm pellets which will catch you all kinds of silver fish. Do not forget to mix up some groundbait and feed this often throughout your session or match

Whichever method you decide just make sure you are having fun and catching lots of fish, which at the end of the day is, of course, the most important thing.

We hope you enjoyed the article, see you soon.

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