Dace

The common dace is an active fish that is commonly found in fast-flowing running water such as rivers, streams and around weir pools. They can also be found in still waters and lakes that are fairly well oxygenated, first arriving into this type of water either by being introduced by humans, or when a river has flooded.

Fishing for this type of fish is simple: a single maggot, caster or bread mounted upon a small hook (size 20 or smaller), trotted down a river on a sensitive float offering minimum resistance on the line.

Leuciscus Leuciscus - Dace Fish
A photograph of the Dace fish.
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Record Common Dace Weight (lb.oz)

Fishing Methods

  • Use a light stick float for minimum resistance
  • Expect bites on the drop (from when your bait enters the water to around mid-water level)
  • Set your bait shallow to the surface as this is where this species typically feed
  • Loose feed maggots, casters and hemp seed further downstream in your swim
  • Use a maggot or caster as bait
  • Cast your float further upstream from where you have be throwing the loose feed

Dace are notoriously shy biters and if they feel any resistant from your line then they tend to drop the bait straight away, it is therefore important to take this into account when making your rig to fish for this species.

A popular technique is to use a very small stick float with minimal shot on the line to minimise the resistant. Dace are often located in the mid – upper levels of water and will take bait either on the drop as it enters the water and begins to descend through the water levels, or when the bait is set shallow and nearer to the surface then the waterbed.

It is best to introduce loose feed into your swim a little down stream, this is because of the dace taking a bait on the drop and it proving difficult to identify whether your float is showing a shy bite, or just settling in the water. Once you have then cast out into the water, your float will have time to settle before reaching the area where you have previously introduced the loose feed. Any movement on the float will then signify the interest of a fish.

This fish is not a fussy eater and will take most baits including popular maggots and casters. Combining both of these baits with hemp seed to use as a loose feed to get the fish biting in a certain area is a winning combination.

They are commonly caught on bread flake / bread punch, a small garden worm or bloodworm.

As with most types of fishing, the loose feed should go into your swim in small batches regularly. Dace will occasionally leave your swim and return a few minutes later, and adjusting your loose feed is vital to continuing a good fishing session for dace. Reduce the amount of loose feed going in if you spot the dace (typically in a shoal) leaving your swim, and then start to reintroduce more loose bait when they start to come back into the swim.

When tackling up, get your kit ready away from the swim as the dace is a wild fish that will spook if you are making noticeable vibrations next to where they are located. Once you and your tackle are ready to fish, quietly approach your swim and minimise movement and noise when approaching your chosen swim.

A fast slowing river in flood. Dace love fast water!

Tackle essentials for catching a Dace

Hooks

You’ll need a very small size hook as this is a very small fish. Kamasan are always a good choice for hooks, combining quality manufacturing with a reasonable price-point. This particular type of hook is barbless and uses a chemically sharpened hook point.


Reel Line

Keep it light! You only need line on your reel around a strength of 3lb. This is probably the best trotting fishing line available on the market in our opinion, and judging by the reviews on Amazon for this product, it’s clear that others also think the same!


Hooklength Line

The line used on the hooklength only needs to be around 1.8lb to 2lb in strength.

Split Shot

If you are targeting the large specimen Dace, then you’ll need to get through the smaller fish quicker (see more about this further up the page under the ‘Fishing Methods for Dace’ section). Split shot will help pull your bait through the water levels quicker than if the bait were to fall naturally.


Trotting floats

These drennan floats are probably the best on the market for trotting for Dace. Known for their quality products, Drennan have created this product specifically for trotting for species such as Roach, Dace and Rudd.


Float rubber stops

If fishing with trotting floats, then you’ll need to pick up some rubber float stops. These allow you to quickly adjust what depth you are fishing in depending on the conditions and state of the river.

The appearance of a Dace

The common dace is closely related to another freshwater fish – the Chub, but the fins of a dace (both dorsal and anal) are different from it’s close relation. The fins of the common dace are concave where the fins on a Chub are convex and red in colour. As a dace grows, the similarity between itself and a chub grow closer, with the appearance of the two fish very similar.

The physical appearance (size and overall shape) is actually very similar to the Roach but the eye colour differs – the dace has yellow eyes and the roach has red eyes.

Detailed appearance

Dorsal spines: 2 – 3; Dorsal soft rays: 7-9; Anal spines: 3; Anal soft rays: 8 – 9;

Unequal jaw (bottom jaw protrudes further than upper lip). The upper lip extends to approximately level with the center of the eye.

Overall length does not exceed 30 cm.

What is the lifespan of a Dace?

The approximate lifespan of a common dace is between seven to nine years and this fish spends most of their life travelling in small shoals of fish, maximising protection from predators.

What is a specimen sized Dace?

A dace of a specimen size is typically considered as a fish weighing in double figures – ten ounces or more.

What is the best time of the year to catch a Dace?

The Dace can be caught throughout the year but the best times for targetting this fish is in spring from around Mid March, April and May.

What colour maggot is best for catching dace?

Maggots that feature a bronze colour are often seen as being the best colour to use for dace fishing. Although there is no definitive proof of this, once you get the dace feeding, the colour of the maggot used does not matter so match.

Any tips for catching a specimen size dace?

Larger specimen dace are caught by ledgering bread paste. The bait should rolled into a ball and in a circumference of around 10mm.