They fly through the air with the great­est of ease, mak­ing for some thrilling float-fish­ing ac­tion

Sea Angler (UK) - - CONTENTS - Words and pho­tog­ra­phy by BRAM BOKKERS

Ex­cit­ing sport with garfish.

Re­sis­tance on the sur­face and a mael­strom be­hind the float, the garfish usu­ally swal­lows its prey on the spot, but as soon as it re­alises some­thing is amiss, the sil­ver ar­row will thrash around in panic. This is what makes fish­ing for garfish so spec­tac­u­lar.

It’s a fish that can be caught quite eas­ily, es­pe­cially when present in large num­bers (it cre­ates lots of food envy), but there are ways to do bet­ter and garfish en­thu­si­asts are cer­tainly com­ing up with ideas eas­ily ac­ces­si­ble to other recre­ational an­glers.

Here’s my view on why fish­ing for garfish is so pop­u­lar in parts of the UK, as well as across the North Sea on the coast of the prov­ince of Zee­land in Hol­land where I live. It’s a Dutch twist for your style of fish­ing, and the pic­tures show my friend Kees West­drop. Check it out!


To get the best from your garfish sport you should use a rod that is not too heavy. How­ever, this is partly de­pen­dent on the cir­cum­stances, such as when you need to cast a good dis­tance and may need a heav­ier rod af­ter all. My ad­vice would be to start as light as pos­si­ble.

I like a 13ft coarse match-type rod that can cast up to 50 grams be­cause I don’t gen­er­ally use floats of more than 40g. When us­ing a light rod, it is also a good idea to use a light, but ro­bust spin­ning reel, say, 4000 size that is suit­able for mono or braid. I like the Penn Bat­tle reel. Fill it with some­thing like Berkley Nanofil (0.04mm to 0.10mm) with a 24-25lb mono leader (one-and-a-half times the length of the rod). Nanofil is a smooth, round line, which makes it eas­ier to cast than a braided line, but it has the same prop­er­ties (strong, sup­ple and not much stretch) as a Dyneema line.

Garfish are caught near the sur­face, mean­ing the most used method is fish­ing with a garfish float, which come in var­i­ous types. In my opin­ion, a small dis­ad­van­tage of us­ing a float is that you can­not re­ally fish sharply (on feel) and that you use a sim­i­lar hook sys­tem as you do while fish­ing for carp with boilies. The dif­fer­ence be­ing that the garfish will hook it­self on the weight of the float.

When fish­ing with a garfish float it is dif­fi­cult to reg­is­ter the bites. As a re­sult of this, more bites will be missed. Of­ten the fish is al­ready hooked and will break the sur­face just as you feel the bite. There­fore,

fish with a weighted bom­barda or bomberta (float­ing), which are ideal for salt­wa­ter fish­ing. The line will run through the cen­tre of the float­ing body, and you can more or less fish with a slid­ing sys­tem, which en­ables you to see bites di­rectly on the top.

A cheaper vari­ant of the bom­barda is a Buldo (40mm di­am­e­ter), but be sure to pay at­ten­tion that the hole is in the cen­tre. You can fill a Buldo with wa­ter so that you will have some cast­ing weight. The very light ma­te­rial, in com­bi­na­tion with the slid­ing sys­tem, is a very im­por­tant as­pect in this style of fish­ing.

The bom­barda slides on a leader with a small bead be­tween the swivel (size 16 to 20) that holds the hook­length. You can vary hook­length from one me­tre to 2.5 me­tres. When there is not much wind and the wa­ter is very clear, use a re­ally thin fluoro­car­bon hook­length (16-20lb).

The hook should be as light as pos­si­ble to give the bait a nat­u­ral ac­tion. I like a light min­now hook (size 6-10) with a short shank, such as the Ga­makatsu 1310 or 1312.

Garfish are sight hunters so this last bit is very im­por­tant. In com­pe­ti­tions, two or some­times three hooks are of­ten used. It means you can present two types of bait, and if one bait comes off while cast­ing, then the chances are that there will still be bait on the other hook. A small dis­ad­van­tage is the fact tan­gles are more likely.


As with ev­ery type of sea fish­ing, the tide is of­ten the de­cid­ing fac­tor. In prin­ci­ple, you can catch garfish through­out a tide, but I find bites in­crease when the tide is flood­ing or ebbing.

Af­ter cast­ing, reel your line tight to make con­tact with the bom­barda float. Ev­ery time you make con­tact you pull the float a me­tre to­wards you in gen­tle tugs or drags. This en­sures that when you let the bait rest (10 to 30 sec­onds) it will float down calmly due to the weight of the hook, and when­ever you tug care­fully it will climb to the sur­face again – a per­fect way to en­tice th­ese jump­ing fish.

If there is a lot of cur­rent, adding some lead weight half­way up the hook­length can im­prove things, but is detri­men­tal when there is less cur­rent be­cause the bait will sink too deep too quickly, and the weight will pro­vide more re­sis­tance.

If you feel the slight­est bit of re­sis­tance while drag­ging, then the garfish has taken the bait. Be sure to give about a me­tre of line, but keep watch­ing the float’s bul­bous top. When the fish makes a run, you can rest as­sured that it has felt the hook, usu­ally this is also the mo­ment the garfish will first break the sur­face of the wa­ter.

It isn’t re­ally nec­es­sary to set the hook. Put you hand on the reel or close the bale-arm and the fish will hook it­self. If you use a fixed­float the garfish will hook it­self on the weight of the float rather than you hav­ing to set the hook when us­ing the bom­barda.

Many an­glers also turn garfish floats into slid­ing sys­tems by thread­ing their line through the swivel and clos­ing it off with a stop or a swivel, as de­scribed for the bom­barda. How­ever, in my opin­ion, the hook­length will of­ten wrap around the main­line when cast­ing and the slid­ing ef­fect is ru­ined. ■

The bom­barda float slides on the leader

A hooked garfish cre­ates a mael­strom in the wa­ter

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