Flyfishing for Barbel and Chub in Switzerland- take up the challenge !

Barbel & Chub flyfishing – totally underrated !

Does it always have to be trout or pike ? Flyfishing for barbel and chub is very productive and a lot of fun. Additionally it can be done on a variety of waters throughout Switzerland.

Let’s be honest…. trout fishing is just great. Unfortunately it becomes more and more difficult finding productive trout waters in our country. It is a sad fact, that the trout populations had to endure a massive decline in the last 30 years. Good waters for trout are mostly private waters or mountain creeks these days. Many lowland waters simply are not productive anymore. There is many reasons for this, which are not to be discussed here and now….

Fortunately there is some great alternatives. Flyfishing for barbel and chub has a number of advantages, which I’d like to name here:

  • Excellent fish populations in many rivers and creeks
  • No fishing pressure
  • Large and strong fish
  • Classical dry fly fishing for chubs
  • Challenging deep nymphing for barbels

The European Chub (Squalius Cephalus: Wikipedia) is a fish in the family of the carp and is widely spread accross Switzerland, often disregarded as a lesser fish, for reasons I cannot understand.

The chub lives in fast creeks, large rivers and lakes. Juveniles often group together and favor surface foods of all kind. Large chubs live a solitary life and often hold by good cover, as sunken trees, under bridges and in pools and eddies.Very much trout-like his favorite spots include the slow water behind large rocks.

The chub eats mainly insects and other invertebrae, sometimes also plants. Large specimens become widely carnivore and will happily take on bait fish and amphibians. Therefore we can say that the chub is not picky and will eat almost anything, if properly presented.

And this is exactly the reason, why flyfishing for chub is a lot of fun and can be closely compared to flyfishing for trout. The chub can be caught on dry flies, nymphs and streamers. The best time to fish for them is during mid-summer, when the chub readily takes big terrestrials as hoppers and beetles off the surface.

The chub is a smart and very elusive fish and nowhere easy to fool, which adds to the satisfaction of landing a big one on a flyrod.

Equipment for flyfishing for chub:

  • Rod weight # 4-5, length 9 ft
  • Floating line, tapered leader 9-12 ft
  • Tippet 0.15 – 0.20mm or 6X – 4X
  • Dry flies: most classical patterns, terrestrials as ants, hoppers, beetles
  • Nymphs: all classical patterns, sizes # 14,16,18
  • Streamers: all your smaller trout streamers will work

The barbel (Barbus barbus: Wikipedia) likes to live in groups and mostly holds near the bottom in fast flowing rivers. The name barbel derived from the Latin barba, meaning beard, a reference to the two pairs of barbs on the side of the mouth. They eat invertebrae, snails, mussels, fishroe and to a lesser part plants. Large barbels are also known to become partly carnivore and take bait fish.

The barbel can grow large and heavy. It is not rare to encounter specimens of 60-70 cm with 2-4 Kg. The largest barbels I have seen were close to 100 cm. I call the barbel our freshwater bonefish for its strength and willingness to fight hard for its freedom. It is in my eyes the best fighter in our rivers, often positioning its body sideways into the current when hooked, making it a great challenge to land on a 5 weight flyrod. Regularly even average size barbels will take you into your backing !

As the barbel is a typical bottom feeder, we can leave the dry flies at home when flyfishing for barbels. Best method is deep nymphing with heavy nymphs, I personally favor Tungsten beaded nymphs for this type of fishing. A rule of thumb: if you do not hook up to the bottom regularly, you are fishing too high.

Interestingly many fly anglers have a hard time- or even totally reject- nymph fishing. Fact is, a nymph will produce fish in any conditions and far more reliably than any dry fly. Additionally this method is great fun, once you have mastered some of the basic difficulties. Keep in mind that most of my nymph fishing is done on sight, for clearly visible fish, which adds another thrilling dimension to this type of flyfishing.

In other words: a perfect opportunity to perfection your nymphing skills on a very challenging, numerous and strong fish- this is flyfishing for barbels !

Equipment for flyfishing for barbels:

  • Rod weight 5, length 9-12 ft.
  • Floating line, tapered leader 9-12 ft.
  • Tippet: 2 ft of 0.18 – 0.20mm or 4X-3X
  • weighted nymphs, Tungsten beads, Hares Ear, Pheasant Tail, etc.
 Flyfishing for barbel and chub

School of barbels in a pool. How many fish do you see ?

My trips are customized to your level of experience and willingness to adventure. When flyfishing for barbel and chub all trips are on a 1 to 1 basis, this means only you and the guide. I will take a group of friends up to 3 guests- upon your request only. No mixed groups !

Flyfishing for barbel and chub in Switzerland – Prices and information

  • Guiding: CHF 790 for the first person / day
  • additional persons:  CHF 150.-  (max.3 rods, only upon request)


  • full day on the water
  • transportation from/to your accommodation Interlaken area
  • Leaders, tippet, flies

not included:

  • Rental fishing equipment (optional): CHF 30/day/person
  • Fishing license (mandatory): CHF 32/day/person (will be organized by your guide)
  • Picnic, Snacks, drinks


Please contact me via my contact form to reserve a specific date or if you’d like more information.
Once you are ready to book I will kindly require a deposit payment of 50% of the total.
You can comfortably settle the deposit payment thru my payments page (credit card or PayPal).


Your deposit payment goes towards your total costs for the day.
The remaining balance will be due in cash on our fishing day. (CHF or EUROs)


For any cancellation from your side, you will loose half of your deposit payment.
For no-shows- the full amount due will be charged to your card.

Should our trip be cancelled from my side due to weather/water conditions, the deposit payment will be returned to you.

For questions or bookings, please use my contact form.

I very much look forward spending an interesting day on the water with you, flyfishing for barbel and chub !

Pascal Zeller