Nine pages of expert answers.
Q: I’m new to shore fishing and really keen to learn more. Living in the West Midlands, I need to travel, so what venue would you recommend for me to visit for some practice? CRAIG COX, STOURPORT, WORCS
PF says: I would certainly set your sights on Chesil Beach, in Dorset. With around 18 miles of shingle bank, you should find yourself plenty of space to fish. Always get an up-to-date weather forecast before heading off and let someone know when you’re likely to be returning home.
Q: I have purchased some fly-fishing kit and would like some advice. Where would you recommend I fish, and how should I approach a South Coast venue? PAUL CORDWELL, BY EMAIL
PF says: It really depends on what species you intend to target. I’ve done quite a bit of fly-fishing from the shore, targeting species like pollack, bass and mackerel. I prefer to use a fast-sinking line with a long fluorocarbon leader, and, depending on the strength of the tide and sea conditions, I adopt quite a fast strip of my lure.
I look for deep water from rocks where there is quite a bit of kelp when targeting pollack. Mackerel can be super fun too, and are usually very close to the beach.
For bass, I prefer to be in the water, casting parallel to the beach rather than straight out. I also keep moving, covering as much ground as I can.
Q: I am travelling to the sea lochs in the west coast of Scotland soon to target spurdogs, conger eels and rays. I will be using my winter cod rods and reels, but what rigs should I use? IAN DAVIDSON, STONEHAVEN, ABERDEEN
PF says: To be honest, I reckon a pulley rig or a fixed paternoster will be your best bet.
Use strong hooks of around size 4/0 or 5/0, with at least 80lb mono snoods when targeting conger eels.
It may also be worthwhile using a rotten-bottom system too, which means if your lead weight gets snagged in the rough stuff the weak link breaks and you get the rig and fish back.
Q: I like the idea of baiting my rigs at home and then freezing them. This would enable me to simply clip on the rigs at the venue to save time. However, I’m worried that freezing mono may affect the strength of my snood. Is it safe to do this? GLYN EDMONDS, CORNWALL
PF says: This is a fantastic way of utilising leftover bait from a previous session, and a tactic that I use often. Rather than throwing unused bait away, I freeze it on to several snoods and use them when bait is difficult to obtain. As far as I’m aware, the mono doesn’t suffer any effects from freezing, and I’ve never experienced any problems doing this.
Q: I use the spider hitch shockleader knot, but I’m finding it takes too long to tie again if I break off. What is the quickest and best shockleader knot to use? CALLUM CAMPION, BY EMAIL
PF says: I always use the half hitch uni-knot. I find it simple and quick to tie, and extremely strong and reliable. Rather than repeat it again here, turn to page 87 where our casting contributor John Holden explains how to tie this knot.
Q: Can you tell me the best method of disposing of old hooks? ANDREW RICHARDSON, BY EMAIL
PF says: My favoured preference is to save all of my old hooks in a plastic container. Then, I drop them into an empty baked beans or soup can, crush the can, then drop it into the recycle bin.
Q: What is the best way to clean my hands after using smelly baits? I always seem to have a faint smell, even after a good scrub. JOSHUA STANBRIDGE, BY FACEBOOK
PF says: I always keep a small tube of hand sanitiser in my tackle box. They are available from most drug stores or chemist and are extremely good for keeping your hands clean and smelling fresh. You could also use paper hand wipes that contain cleaning qualities and scent.