I used to fish for barbel amost exclusively using various artlure methods many years ago. Caught some on popper, but not many.
My buddy and I used among other things, a rig we called a "blooper". It consisted of a red cork float with a big black lead-head suspended below the cork. It was cast out, and fished similar to a popper. The noise attracted the barbel, but the strike rate is much higher than a popper, because the barbel take a bait below the surface much more readily than the popper.
- Barbel are far more aggressive in muddy water than clear water.
- The warmer the water the better
- Cover water, and look for barbel breaking the surface, they actually like to school. If you find them schooling, in muddy, warm water you will catch them, guaranteed.
- Wade. It is way more efficient than any other approach.