Ide are a freshwater fish found throughout Europe and parts of Asia. Orfe are a subspecies of ide. Ide and orfe are both sought after by anglers and for use in outdoor ponds.
Ide and orfe are both becoming more popular in the UK as an angling fish and have been introduced to many countries for this reason.
Ide (scientific name Leuciscus idus) are of freshwater species of the Cyprinidae family. This family inhabits many of our waters and includes ide’s cousins, chub, carp and roach.
The name “ide” is likely to be derived from the idus of their scientific name. The scientific part of the name Leuciscus is derived from the Greek word leykiskos which translates as “white mullet”, where mullet are a common sea fish.
Ide are somewhat similar to their cousins, chub, dace and roach. There is the potential for hybrids to arise between these species.
It is known that chub and ide can form hybrids in Europe and successful hybrids have been formed in captivity, however there is little evidence of hybrids forming in the UK due to the colder temperatures in which ide spawn. If hybrids did form, it would be very difficult to identify the fish.
There are two recognised subspecies of ide. The golden orfe (scientific name Leuciscus idus idus) is probably the most popular and is used both in fisheries for anglers and also for garden ponds where the colouration (a golden orange colour with black spots around the head) makes it very popular.
The silver orfe (scientific name Leuciscus idus oxianus) are another popular subspecies and are again used in fisheries and in outdoor ponds. In both subspecies, they may revert to their wild coloration over time.
Ide are edible and are considered to be a good eating fish in Eastern Europe where freshwater fish are popular. They are caught by nets along the Danube River for the countries whose people live along the river. In other parts of Europe where ide are native, particularly in northern Europe, ide are not considered to be a good eating fish and are not widely consumed.
Ide have some predators, however this only tends to be when they are small. Northern pike will eat the juvenile ide. In some areas of Asia, Amur catfish will consider ide as prey.
Distribution and Habitat
Ide are native to Central Europe, Eastern Europe and parts of Asia. They will generally inhabit colder temperatures and are not native to many warmer countries.
Ide are found as far north as Finland, Russia and Sweden, as far east as Mongolia, China and Kazakhstan, as far south as Afghanistan, Slovakia and Bulgaria and as far west as Germany and Belgium.
Ide are not native to the UK, however golden orfe were introduced for ornamental purposes as far back as 1875. As well as the ornamental varieties, many fisheries now stock ide for anglers to catch and return. They have become more popular in recent years.
Ide have been introduced to other European countries such as France, the Netherlands and Switzerland for both ornamental purposes and as an angling fish. It has also been introduced to New Zealand where it inhabits many lakes in the north of the country and it has been captured in the wild.
They were introduced to the USA as long ago as 1877 and was cultured by the US Fish Commission. Ide were originally distributed to seven states, however many have escaped and they are now present in at least 22 states.
Ide gather in schools in rivers, particularly the larger rivers as it is unlikely that you will find ide in smaller streams. Ide also inhabit ponds, lakes and some canals. They will usually be found in lower reaches or brackish areas of rivers and in lowland lakes.
These fish prefer clean water, and can be found in shallower waters in the spring and summer and deeper waters in the winter.
Ide can be found in the saltwater of the Baltic Sea. The larger specimens can survive in the sea and will return to the river to spawn before moving out to the sea again.
Ide look similar to many other silver fish of the Cyprinidae family. The subspecies orfe has very distinct colours so these are much easier to identify.
Ide are slender and elongated when they are young, however as they age they become stocky with deep bodies and sometimes a humped back. Ide are a dark grey or black colour on their backs.
They are lighter on their flanks and are a pleasing silver colour, sometimes with a tinge of dark green. In older specimens they can have a yellow or bronze colour to their flanks. They have silvery white bellies.
Ide have narrow heads with large, yellow eyes. Their mouths are forward pointing which demonstrates that they are happy feeding on the bottom, mid-water and on the surface. Ide have pharyngeal teeth in order to eat their prey. They have slightly squashed noses but not in an unattractive way.
Ide can have red fins as well as their cousins roach, rudd, and chub. The intensity of the red colour on their fins can vary from fish to fish. The anal and pelvic find tend to have the most intense red colour.
Ide are generally a medium sized coarse fish. They are generally smaller than carp but larger than roach, rudd or dace. What’s more, they fish in shoals so you could be in with the chance of catching a few of these in quick succession (match fisherman take note!).
Ide can generally grow on average from 30 – 43cm (approximately 12 to 17 inches) in length. In perfect location it has been said that an ide in its prime can reach up to 100cm. The lateral line scale count is 55 – 63.
The average weight of ide is between 1lb to 3lb (approximately 0.45 to 1.3kg). It is thought that any fish over 2kg (around 4lb 6 oz) is a specimen. The British record stands at 8lb 5oz (around 3.77kg) which was caught in the River Trent, Nottingham. It has been reported that in a perfect location an ide in its prime can reach 8kg or around 17lb 10oz!
Ide can usually live in the wild for up to 18 years, however the ornamental varieties can live longer so you may find older specimens in certain locations.
How they Feed
Smaller ide will form shoals with other member of the Cyprinidae family when they are juveniles but as they age they will form “ide only” shoals with fish of a similar size and age.
Ide will patrol areas of water and there is some research to suggest that they have regular areas to feed. They feed in shoals and will feed happily at the bottom, scouring through silt and gravel in order to locate food. They will also feed mid-water and on the surface.
Ide are omnivorous. They will feed on insect larvae, insects, molluscs, worms, crustaceans and aquatic vegetation. Larger ide will even feed on smaller roach and bleak.
Ide reach sexual maturity between the ages of 3 to 5. At this age the fish are usually 22cm to 43cm in length. The females will generally be older and larger than the males before they reach sexual maturity. In some colder locations ide will need to be older and larger before spawning.
The timing of when ide spawn depends on the environment. Spawning begins when the water temperature reached between 7 to 14 degrees Celsius. In some areas ide will migrate to spawn, however in general they will move to shallow areas above aquatic weeds or gravel.
The males will wait for females at the spawning grounds in the hope to fertilise the eggs which the females deposit.
The female ide will deposit their eggs which will attach themselves to gravel, weed and stones. The eggs are very sticky and adhesive. The eggs are a pale yellow colour and can measure up to 2mm in length. Female ide can lay up to 125,000 eggs, however the quantity very much depends on the location of the fish.
The eggs take approximately 7 to 14 days to hatch. The juvenile ide are between 8 to 10mm when they hatch.
Ide only spawn once per season.
How to Catch
Depending on whether you are looking to catch ide or orfe, they tend to be isolated to the areas in which they have been introduced. Golden orfe, in particular, will be stocked in many fisheries and are less common in the rivers. Ide have spread further afield and they can be found in many rivers across the country.
The good news for anglers is that, like F1 carp, ide will happily feed well during the winter months (as well as the rest of the year). This makes them a popular species for fisheries to stock so that they can remain open for business all year round.
Try fishing near to the margins in the summer months and in the deeper water during the winter months as this is where the fish will be.
In terms of bait, like their cousins chub, ide are not too fussy. You could try maggots (good wriggling ones), pinkies, casters, chopped worm, luncheon meat, boilies and good pellets. If you are targeting a larger fish then you could use deadbait such as bleak or roach.
Be aware that if you are using deadbaits you could attract larger fish such as pike so you will need strong tackle. You could also try using small lures to see if this will hook the larger specimens.
Something which does not seem to have been explored much is the use of artificial flies but this could work well in theory.
Ide are really fierce feeders like chub and will make powerful runs when hooked. Although they are aggressive feeders, they can sometimes be shy and if you have caught a couple from a shoal they can get spooked.
There are several techniques you could use for ide. Ledgering, feeder and float fishing would all work very well. Use light tackle with a main line of around 3 to 4lb (or more depending on what you are going for) together with a size 14 – 16 hook, depending on your bait.
Ide will feed on the bottom, mid-water and at the surface so you have a variety of things to consider here! We prefer to fish on float just below the surface and have met with considerable success. You could also try a crystal canal waggler on the rivers.
In order to get ide feeding, it is a good idea to get a shoal competing so that they will take your hookbait more assertively. Feeding little and often is the order of the day here, we tend to use maggots or casters as these seem to work well.
Ide respond well to groundbait and having cloudy water can help them to feed. Try to use a good groundbait that will stay in the water for a while to keep the shoal interested.
Ide and Orfe are not particularly sensitive fish, but care should be taken when handling them. Use a good landing net which is as large as the size of the fish you are aiming to catch. Make sure to fully lift the fish out of the water onto a good unhooking mat, again which is at least the size of the fish.
Ide can be greedy so they can be deep hooked. Make sure to have a disgorger on hand in the event that you need it. Although ide don’t really look like predators, their mouths contain pharyngeal teeth so be very careful when removing hooks. Do not put your fingers deeply into the ide’s mouth and cut the line as close to the hook as possible if you cannot remove it.
When you return the fish to the water, try to give a good amount of time to recover (at least a couple of minutes) as ide will use up a surprising amount of energy in fighting when hooked.
If you would like more information on how to fish for ide, or would like some further information on angling techniques, check out our fishing tips page for more information!