Switch­ing to tackle of a lower line class gives you a mas­sive edge over both your fel­low an­glers and the fish

Sea Angler (UK) - - CONTENTS -

Change your gear and get bet­ter sport.

It’s not that long ago, 20 years or so, that 50lb-class rods were the main­stay of UK boat fish­ing. More en­light­ened think­ing in the quest for greater sport, and a re­al­i­sa­tion that big fish could be landed on lighter, well-bal­anced tackle, saw 30lb-class rods be­come the king­pin gear more than a decade back.

Nowa­days, 30lb rods are looked upon as some­what heavy for av­er­age an­gling, with 15 to 20lb-class rods the more typ­i­cal choice for ev­ery­day sit­u­a­tions. This has been brought about by mod­ern tech­nol­ogy and the de­vel­op­ment and man­u­fac­tur­ing pro­cesses re­gard­ing the ma­te­ri­als used in rod mak­ing.

Rod ac­tion and blank power in re­la­tion to a low weight are the ob­vi­ous ad­van­tages. This also ap­plies to the de­vel­op­ment of reels as re­gards weight, gear­ing, size in re­la­tion to line ca­pac­ity, and drag per­for­mance. Mod­ern braided lines also come into the equa­tion.

There’s an­other rea­son why many an­glers are adopt­ing an even lighter ap­proach to their fish­ing when con­di­tions al­low, but first we need to look in de­tail as to why this is the case.


A lot of sea an­glers dis­miss the in­tel­li­gence of fish to sur­vive in what is a hos­tile and ul­tra-com­pet­i­tive world. I’m not sug­gest­ing fish are Ein­steins, but I don’t find that fish are thick ei­ther.

An ex­am­ple is when drift fish­ing over sand­banks for flat­fish. When the weather is good for a long pe­riod, the banks get ham­mered and the fish­ing gets harder. In shal­low­ish, clear wa­ter, it’s likely that the fish be­come aware of the tackle con­stantly pass­ing by and be­come ul­tra-wary. This would also ap­ply to any fish that are pricked and lost.

It’s no sur­prise that a change to much lighter tackle and rigs sees catches in­stantly im­prove.

The same can be said for reef ground where cer­tain species such as wrasse and pol­lack are, to some ex­tent, ter­ri­to­rial. Heav­ily fished reef ground can ‘go off’ and needs a rest be­fore sport re­sumes at a rea­son­able level. But again, a switch to ul­tra-light gear can keep the fish com­ing.

With the ma­jor­ity of an­glers fish­ing 20lb-class for much of their ev­ery­day fish­ing, we need to have the op­tion of go­ing even lighter when the sit­u­a­tion al­lows. This hap­pens with many of the more ex­pe­ri­enced an­glers drop­ping down to lighter gear and stay­ing one step ahead. It’s not rocket science, just a pro­gres­sive step to lighter, more bal­anced tackle.

This re­al­i­sa­tion that lighter tackle can bet­ter main­tain catches is re­flected in the in­creased sales of 6lb, 8lb and 12lb-class rods over the past few years. Such rods can be fished with small, tough, com­pact mul­ti­pli­ers, such as the Abu Revo Toro se­ries, or sim­i­lar ex­am­ples from other man­u­fac­tur­ers.

Many an­glers fish with spin­ning or lure rods, with light com­pact fixed-spool reels, which give even greater ver­sa­til­ity. Some an­glers may not be able to af­ford a gen­uine 6/12lb­class rod and reel set-up ei­ther, but it’s likely they may have a spin­ning rod and reel that can be pressed into ser­vice.


I’ve used my spin­ning out­fit to good use in Nor­way tar­get­ing big cod, coal­fish and even hal­ibut, which some­times want a re­ally small jig or spin­ner worked pirk style. Its ver­sa­til­ity is that you can use it shal­low, use it deep, but also cast away from the boat with it. A lot of an­glers now take spin­ning gear with them to Nor­way, and it of­ten pro­duces the best fish of the trip.

Back on home soil, I use mine for some of my smooth­hound fish­ing. They re­ally pull back on the spin­ning rod, and the fun is tremen­dous.

I’ve been us­ing light spin­ning gear for tope fish­ing over shal­low clean ground for more than 30 years. It gets pressed into ser­vice over deep-wa­ter wrecks over slack wa­ter when there is lit­tle tide run, and makes the most of pol­lack, cod and ling on lures, as it will on reefs with ei­ther lures or bait on light rigs.

My lad and I have used this spin­ning gear to tar­get blue sharks off Ire­land, and that re­ally is an en­light­en­ing ex­pe­ri­ence; nei­ther do we lose any fish. The op­por­tu­ni­ties can be pushed as far as you want them to be pro­vid­ing your tackle is bal­anced.

Why is this light tackle so ef­fec­tive? It’s ba­si­cally more sen­si­tive than heavy gear, so the an­gler is more in touch with what’s hap­pen­ing at the lure or bait, re­sult­ing in bet­ter bite de­tec­tion and quicker re­ac­tions to set the hook. Equally, this more sen­si­tive tackle is less ob­vi­ous to a tak­ing fish. The sup­ple tip gives a lit­tle as the fish takes the bait, mak­ing it less aware that some­thing is wrong. This is a re­ally im­por­tant point when tar­get­ing shy-bit­ing hounds and bass, as an ex­am­ple.

I also feel that the pre­sen­ta­tion is more sub­tle. Be­ing able to use smaller links and swivels, thin­ner di­am­e­ter lines and lead­ers, and smaller lures and baits that be­have more nat­u­rally adds up the per­cent­ages more in our favour than the fish’s. This light gear with min­i­mal drag from the tide means small lures can work more ef­fec­tively.

Fish tend to take small, fast-mov­ing lures eas­ier than big bulky lures worked on heavy lines that be­have more un­nat­u­rally, es­pe­cially on those days when they seem re­luc­tant to feed.

The next time the fish­ing goes off, make the change to light spin­ning gear and drop down to smaller lures, rigs and baits, and it’s a good bet that you’ll start catch­ing again. It’s a mas­sive edge to have over both your fel­low an­glers, if you’re of a com­pet­i­tive na­ture, but, more im­por­tantly, over the fish.

If you haven’t al­ready joined the Light Bri­gade, you’ve been miss­ing out.

A lovely cod caught on light tackle

Small jigs are good over reefs fished on light spin­ning tackle

Small jigs can take big fish

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