Tench are a freshwater species of fish with a thick set and powerful body with rounded fins and broad tail fin. The colour of the Tench varies from a pale olive green to a dark brown / green, with a beautiful golden yellow / orange body.

The eyes of the Tench are relatively small in comparison to the size of the rest of the fish, and are a striking red colour. The face of the tench features a set of barbules either side of a narrow mouth with thick lips.

Tench Fish
Tench (Tinca tinca)

UK tench typically grow to weigh between approximately 2 – 5lb with a fish 7lb or over commonly accepted as a specimen fish. A fish over 10lb can be counted as a ‘fish of a lifetime’.


A typical UK tench will grow to a size of 40 – 70 in length from the tip of the head to the end of the tail. Tench rarely exceed a length of 60cm.


Tench are thought to live up to an age of around 14 years old. This is completely dependant though on the habitat they live in, availability of food and health of the individual fish.

Tench often live amongst thick weed in silty lakebed areas. A common giveaway of tench in the immediate location is small bubbles rising to the surface of the water.

Spinning with lures, ledgering with bait, float fishing with live sandeel (top technique!) and even fly fishing.
Tench are usually most active between the months of May and September (depending on current temperatures). They are know to go quiet during the colder winter months when targeting them can prove to be difficult.
As is the case with many species of fish, they will go on the feed during dawn and dusk each day.
Zooplankton, benthic invertebrates such as molluscs.

A ‘doctor fish’

What bait to use to catch Tench?

The best bait for catching Tench A classic tench fishing combination is to use a hemp seed as a bed of bait and use a maggot feeder fished over the top of bed of hemp. The bed of hemp should be prepared as detailed on the hemp seed page on this website.

Tench are notoriously fussy eaters and it is useful to change your baits regularly if you are not catching, in order to find a bait that they fancy eating on that particular occasion.

Float fishing for Tench

It is possible to float fish for Tench, with a bait fished slightly over depth (plumb the depth of the water you are fish, then add on a few inches to this depth). Over fishing your bait when fishing for this species is the best practice as Tench will commonly play with a bait, nudging it with their mouth and head, knocking the line and resulting in lifts and drops of the float. If you are patient, then more often than not, the tench will take the bait confidently and the float will disappear under the surface of the water – strike!

Should I pre-bait to catch Tench?

Should I pre-bait a swim before fishing for Tench? The process a pro-actively baiting a swim before you fish it can help a lot if you are looking to catch a large number of tench in a relatively short space of time. Tench can be drawn in to areas that do not have classic features such as lilly pads, reeds or beds of weed. The process of pre-baiting a swim will also draw other species of fish in to the area including both bream and roach, which can prove to be a nuisance if you are hoping to target tench only.

The process of pre-baiting should be done over an extended period of time (for as many days as possible beforehand), introducing small amounts of bait in to the swim you are going to fish. The quantity of bait you introduce should be increased once you start to see tench in the immediate location, proving that they are now in your swim and are present.

As mentioned above, tench will go quiet during the colder winter months, but as the temperature starts to pick up, the method of pre-baiting can prove to be extremely effective as they wake up hungry and go on the feed!

Try the following combination for a pre-baiting mixture: Brown breadcrumb, sweetcorn, lobworms, crushed boilers and casters. Mix this into a consistent ground bait and put in to your swim.

Finding areas that Tench like

Finding areas that tench will be present in is reasonably easy during the months that they are commonly active in the year (May to September). There will often be signals that tench are present near weed beds and shelves in the bed of the water which drop in heights sharply, both of these places provide cover and will generally hold food that a fish can feed on.

Tench will produce streams of tiny bubbles appearing at the surface of the water when they are feeding. These bubbles are formed when the fish forages through silt and weed, sifting debris out before air bubbles escape through their gills. Often, tench will be pre-occupied feeding on natural baits (as detailed at the top of this page), and getting them to feed on other baits may prove to be difficult. Two options that can be tried is to continue changing your hook bait until you find a bait that the fish will take, or move to a nearby swim and try to attract them to that swim and to start feeding on your bait.

Why was the Tench called a Doctor Fish?

Historically the Tench species of freshwater fish was commonly known as a ‘Doctor Fish’. It is believed that the fish was given this name due to the healing properties of the slime that is found on the body of the fish itself. This has never been proven though, and the slime is not used in medical practices in modern times.