Sen­si­tiv­ity train­ing

When scal­ing up your fish­ing, is there a grey area where LRF tac­tics meet HRF?

Sea Angler (UK) - - LRF ANGLER -

In the short while since the term Light Rock Fish­ing cropped up in the UK, the sport has grown mas­sively. The per­cep­tion and ap­pli­ca­tion of fish­ing as light as pos­si­ble has be­come a com­mon fea­ture up and down the coast, and for a mul­ti­tude of dif­fer­ent species. Although the style was a very Ja­panese con­cept in the be­gin­ning, an­glers in the UK have de­vel­oped it to suit their sea fish­ing. Tech­niques and tackle have been de­vel­oped to help tar­get our great sport­ing sea fish from mini-species to big­ger quarry.

Yes, LRF has had a great im­pact, es­pe­cially on my own pur­suit of sea fish species. By fish­ing ul­tra-light I have re­fined my var­i­ous lure fish­ing tech­niques, none more so when step­ping up to us­ing heav­ier gear.

Is there a grey area where LRF meets HRF (heavy rock fish­ing)? In the strictest sense, no, be­cause LRF is de­fined by line di­am­e­ter used and the rod’s max­i­mum cast­ing weight rat­ing. That’s lines up to a PE0.6 and cast­ing weights of up to eight grams, but go over this and it is HRF.

This is the ba­sic de­scrip­tion of the terms, but the grey area is where the cross­over in styles and tech­niques oc­curs.

WHEN TO SWITCH

There are not many an­glers out there who solely fish LRF, but for those of us who count this as their main style, the ben­e­fits be­come re­ally ap­par­ent when you step up into HRF ter­ri­tory.

Just be­cause you are step­ping up in line di­am­e­ter and lure weight doesn’t mean you go straight for the 50lb braid and 100g rod ap­proach. In­stead, my rods tend to pick up where my LRF gear leaves off in that grey area of cast­ing weights.

Now my stan­dard LRF kit is a rod ca­pa­ble of cast­ing a lure from 1-10g (which is al­ready 2g out­side of the stan­dard LRF de­scrip­tion). My lines range from 4-8lb, de­pend­ing on tar­get species and un­der­wa­ter ter­rain. My HRF gear is a rod ca­pa­ble of cast­ing 5-30g with lines from 10-20lb break­ing strain.

I am com­fort­able when tack­ling big fish, like wrasse and pol­lack, on my LRF gear be­cause I have de­vel­oped an un­der­stand­ing of how far I can push my LRF tackle. I also know when the time is right to step up the gear strength, which is usu­ally dic­tated by the type and size of fish I am tar­get­ing.

When I know there are 5lb-plus fish avail­able, I switch to my HRF gear, es­pe­cially when I am fish­ing rough ground. It means I stand the best chance of be­ing able to land the fish on this gear.

“My rods tend to pick up where my LRF gear leaves off in that grey area of cast­ing weights”

ON-THE-DROP GEAR

One of my biggest LRF-re­lated ben­e­fits comes from on-the-drop tech­niques, and par­tic­u­larly when I use heavy metal jigs.

‘On-the-drop’ refers to the act of a lure fall­ing through the water. The rate at which it falls is dic­tated by the weight and style of lure, along with the con­trol sup­plied by the an­gler.

A light lure gen­tly fall­ing through the water is a nat­u­ral pre­sen­ta­tion for the fish. When you are fish­ing through the water col­umn like this, the ma­jor­ity of bites come as the lure is drop­ping, rather than when you jig the lure up to let it fall down again.

Con­trol­ling the lure as it drops through the water col­umn is cru­cial, and the main point is to keep in con­tact with the lure with­out im­ped­ing its ac­tion as it falls. The two ways in which the lure falls un­der my con­trol are curved fall, where the lure swings back to­wards me on a tight line, and ver­ti­cal fall, where I feed line through my fingers, or drop the rod tip to al­low it to fall straight down.

Solid-tipped LRF rods are re­ally great for on-the-drop tech­niques be­cause when the lure falls through the water the line is gen­er­ally slacker than when work­ing a jig along the seabed. A solid-tip rod gives you a great visual in­di­ca­tion of when a fish bites ei­ther by spring­ing up, in­di­cat­ing that a fish has grabbed the lure and swum up, or by nod­ding down, show­ing the fish has bit­ten.

Gen­er­ally, the fish takes the lure con­fi­dently be­cause the solid tip of­fers very lit­tle re­sis­tance, while giv­ing the an­gler a visual in­di­ca­tion of when to strike and set the hook.

SOLID V HOL­LOW

That’s all well and good, but a soft, solid tip can be more of a hin­drance than a help when step­ping up to us­ing heav­ier metal jigs. Rather, the per­fect rod for me has been a tube tip, but with a softer, more par­a­bolic ac­tion than my stan­dard ul­tra-fast ac­tion rods.

My cur­rent two favourites for work­ing heav­ier jigs are the Hart Boushido and Hart Bloody Off­shore Evo light. Both have a 5-30g cast­ing rat­ing and a fast ac­tion. How­ever, they both have a softer, more through ac­tion when it comes to play­ing a fish. There is a bal­ance, though. If I went too soft with rod choice, I wouldn’t be able to con­trol the fish. Go­ing too stiff with my se­lec­tion would lose feel­ing and have more of a chance of bounc­ing off the fish due to lack of stretch in the braid.

Both rods curve nicely down about twothirds of the blank and have a good bit of power in the butt sec­tion. This softer top sec­tion can be great when work­ing jigs be­cause the rod works the lure on the lift with a slower re­cov­ery (like a slow-pitch jig­ging rod) rather than most of the work be­ing done by the arms.

The tube tips com­bined with braid still give great sen­si­tiv­ity, es­pe­cially when us­ing lines around PE1.5 di­am­e­ter, and it is still pos­si­ble to get a great visual in­di­ca­tion of a bite by us­ing high-vis­i­bil­ity braid. This watch­ing of the line is an­other of my main­stay LRF tech­niques. As the lure falls, the line, es­pe­cially on a curve fall, will gen­er­ally bow be­tween the rod tip and the water. By us­ing a high-vis­i­bil­ity line you can keep track of its de­scent. A sud­den slack­ness or the bow straight­en­ing mo­men­tar­ily are in­di­ca­tions that a fish has grabbed the lure. These sub­tle takes are very

“A light lure gen­tly fall­ing through the water is a nat­u­ral pre­sen­ta­tion for the fish”

com­mon when fish­ing on the drop, and LRF has taught me to look for these in­di­ca­tions so I can strike be­fore the fish spits the lure

When it comes to crossovers, us­ing heavy metal jigs from 18-30g seems a world away from us­ing a 2g jig-head and a lure of only one-inch long. They are so closely linked in my style of fish­ing that they are vir­tu­ally one and the same. The only dif­fer­ence is, my lure falls faster.

When it comes to tech­nique, it is just the same, and work­ing jigs in this way is all about feel. First, you need to be in con­trol of how the jig drops through the water. Hav­ing a good un­der­stand­ing of this is vi­tal to al­low­ing the lure to fish it­self as it drops through the water col­umn or swings back to­wards you on a curve fall.

THE PAY­OFF

This sen­si­tiv­ity con­di­tion­ing de­rived from LRF has been high­lighted to me again in re­cent ses­sions. It started with a visit to a pop­u­lar mark to catch a few mack­erel.

With a 28g Hart Bony metal jig, I was cast­ing and us­ing a curved fall to work the water col­umn. While watch­ing the line and wait­ing for the rat­tle as it fell through a shoal of mack­erel, the line sud­denly paused. Be­ing aware this was a take, I struck and was re­warded with a squid an­grily wav­ing its ten­ta­cles at me.

I en­joy fish­ing for squid, but catch­ing them on a stan­dard metal lure re­quired me to use all my fi­nesse skills. Takes are so sub­tle when the squid grabs the lure with its ten­ta­cles. Be­cause the squid is hold­ing the lure, it can sense it is not real and you have a tiny win­dow of op­por­tu­nity to set the hook. Again, I am used to these tiny in­di­ca­tions when fish­ing LRF so I was able to turn these takes into hook-ups.

I was fish­ing along­side other an­glers who tried but couldn’t feel or see the takes be­cause they were not used to the sub­tlety or fi­nesse ap­proach of work­ing lures in this man­ner. We were all us­ing sim­i­lar gear and fish­ing the same area, but it was my LRF train­ing that en­sured I could sense when the squid had my lure.

For most LRF an­glers I will be preach­ing to the con­verted, but for those who do see LRF and HRF as two dis­tinct styles, pos­si­bly un­suit­able for your tar­get species or ter­rain, then look again. LRF tech­niques im­prove your heav­ier fish­ing (bet­ter tech­nique and bet­ter feel­ing) and re­sult in fewer tackle losses and more fish – it’s that sim­ple. ■

A fine pol­lack on a 35g metal jig

This cod was lured on a 35g metal jig

While fish­ing for mack­erel with a 28g Hart Bony metal jig...

...an an­gry squid took the lure

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