NEW FAQ UPDATE 06/08/2012

Q: What weight of fly rod is best for all-round saltwater fly fishing?
A: You can target mackerel off the shore on just a 5/6 weight and have some great fun as you don’t need to cast far when the mackerel are shoaling close to shore. For bass fishing, then an 8/9 weight is ideal as it has the backbone to cast a long way, and to put some real pressure on the fish when needed, but still allows you to fish relatively light. For long range fishing, also for when the weather is windy, and when you need to get down deep to target bigger fish such as bass and pollack off deep water rock ledges, then a 10-weight is the best choice.

Q: What should I do to best look after my reel after a fishing session?
A: As soon as you get home, under a lightly flowing warm water tap, rinse the whole reel off to get rid of salt depositation. Do this with the drag done up tight and avoid too much water getting between the spool and the frame and into the working internals. Make sure you get plenty of water on to braid line to flush the worst of the salt away. Now dry the reel by putting it in an airing cupboard where the temperature is warm but constant. When dry spray some WD40 on to a cloth, or the reel, and wipe the whole reel over. After say five trips, dismantle the reel and give it a basic service by re oiling the bearings etc, and checking for any salt depositation inside. Every 6 months to one year, depending on how often the reel fishes, either fully strip and service it, or send it away for a full service.

Q: Do luminous beads and attractors really work on rigs?
A: Yes! A small luminous green bead above a hook and charged in your headlight at night can increase catches of codling, dabs, whiting, rockling, coalfish and other species. In deep water, when boat fishing, a luminous lure such as a muppet or lumo tubing above a hook and baited with fresh bait can be deadly for big cod, ling, gurnards, pollack, coalfish, megrim, haddock etc. By day try different combinations of coloured beads for plaice when drift fishing or shore fishing. Good combo’s are red and white, red and yellow and green and black. Chrome coloured attractor spoons fished on a long trace with a short hook trace below the spoon are good for a whole host of species including blonde ray, turbot brill, plaice, haddock, gurnards, megrim, cod and ling.

Q: How long should I leave a bait in the water before re baiting when shore fishing?
A: It depends on sea and tide conditions, but a good way is to fish to your wrist watch. Cast the bait out, fish it for 5 minutes and retrieve if you’ve had no bites. If the bait is intact and fairly fresh, leave the next bait out for 10 minutes before checking. If still okay, then change your bait every 15 minutes. This is about the longest a fresh bait stays fully effective. Also an initial early retrieval warns you of any crab activity. Bigger baits for conger and huss, such as whole mackerel, squid and bluey, can be left for up to an hour as the scent leeches out more slowly.

Q: I’ve seen garfish jumping and moving on the surface in a local harbour, but can’t catch them. What’s the best     method to use!
A: Rig up a clear bubble float on your main line, then tie on a small swivel. Now tie on about 4-feet of 12lb Fluorocarbon line and a size 8 hook. Add a little water to the float for casting weight. The best bait is a small sliver of  white mackerel belly hooked once through one end. Cast out, let the strip sink a little, then begin a very slow retrieve, pause, then retrieve again, and so on. Garfish take moving baits much better than a static one. They’ll be on it in a flash!

Q; Are maggots any good as a sea bait?
A: Maggots will take lesser weever fish inside estuaries, occasionally smaller flounder and eels. In August time when flies lay eggs in the rotting seaweed at high tide level, the resulting maggots washing in to the sea during the spring tides will bring in bass and mullet and natural maggot can score well at this time. However you’re better sticking to natural sea baits such as lug and ragworm, mackerel strip, mussels, peeler and soft crab, squid and sandeel etc, for general fishing.

FAQ UPDATE 16/06/2012

Q: What is a casting shock leader?
A: A shock leader is tied to the end of the main line and takes the stress of casting heavy lead weights without pressurising the main line. A good formula to work to is for every ounce of lead weight you want to cast, increase the shock leader strength by 10lbs breaking strain. For example 4ozs = 40lbs of leader, 6ozs = 60lbs of leader as a minimum. For shore casting attach the shock leader to the main line, wind the shock leader around the reel spool 8 times, run the leader up the full length of the rod and let it hang below the tip ring about 3-feet or 1-metre. This is perfect for all casting rods. In some cases a longer leader is useful when full power casting is not necessary, such as when casting from deep water rock ledges targeting big fish where the leader needs to be well on the reel with the fish still in the water. However if the shock leader is overly long it will increase the likelihood of the leader knot catching in the rod rings in the initial part of the cast and may cause a crack-off.

Q: What are the best colours for plugs when targeting bass?
A: A good rule of thumb is to use brighter colours in coloured waters and in daylight. Good choices are white body and red head, or yellow body with a flank pattern, also silver. In the early morning and late evening when the sun is low, or on overcast days, darker colours are best, especially blue and black, as these give a very hard silhouette for the bass to see when looking up towards the surface.

Q: What are the advantages of Fluorocarbon for hook traces?
A: Fluorocarbon is less easy for the fish to see when fishing in very clear, shallow water and generally speaking will catch more fish in these situations. More so, when surf fishing, Fluorocarbon is slightly stiffer in character, therefore tangles less easily when fishing inside the surf tables. One of the biggest advantages is that Fluorocarbon has a harder composition and is far more resistant to surface damage than mono is. This is a major advantage when fishing light Fluorocarbons below 8lbs breaking strain for smaller species, but equally so when targeting bigger predators with real teeth such as ling and wrasse, and also conger, rays and cod that have abrasive sandpaper like teeth. I often use 80lb to 100lb Fluorocarbon instead of 150lb to 200lb mono when after big conger and ling, and find it a huge improvement over the heavy mono.

Q: When fishing a beach for the first time, how do I identify good places to fish?
A: Fish like feature as this is where the food collects. On surf beaches, look for patches of shingle, rock and boulder amongst generally clean sand, also small weed beds. Excellent feature are the deeper parallel gullies that are a feature of virtually all surf beaches. These are created by surf and tide action, and as the new tide floods in food is deposited in to these gullies bringing the fish in to feed. Other good ground to locate are mussels beds, the inclines of sandbanks, also the scoured out holes that appear at the end of man-made wooden groynes.

Q: When boat fishing, what does uptide fishing mean?
A: Uptide fishing means you cast the lead and bait away from the boat in an uptide direction. As the lead hits the water, allow line to continue spilling from the reel until you feel the lead hit the seabed. Now release a further 20-yards, or 7-metres, of line, then put the reel back in gear. This creates a big downtide bow in the line that pulls in a straight line on the release wire lead weight pulling it deep in to the seabed like an anchor. This allows lighter line to be used, but more importantly, by casting away from the boat, in shallow water this puts the bait well away from the “scare” area of the boat created by water slapping on the hull, which can put fish off. Having cast out and released line, with the reel back in gear, the tide pressure on the line bow will pull the rod tip over in to the tide. Bites are seen as pull downs on the rod, then as the fish pulls the lead weight free, the rod tip springs back straight. Pick up the rod, wind down until you feel the fish, and strike to set the hook!

Q: What is the best fresh all-round sea fishing bait?
A: It’s impossible to be specific! It’s hard to beat lugworm for general species, but baits can be seasonal. In spring and summer, peeler crab is excellent, especially when fishing inside estuaries and over rough ground. For conger, huss, tope and rays, then fish baits such as mackerel, sandeel and bluey tend to be the most successful. Combination baits such as lug tipped with mackerel will often fish better than either of these baits fished individually. Lug tipped with white rag is also a great bait capable of producing fish when all others struggle. Mackerel tipped with squid is a great conger and huss bait. When bites are hard to come by, try all the combinations you can on the day to identify which bait is taking the most fish.

Q: Which rigs should I consider carrying for surf fishing?
A: Keep it simple! For short range fishing, and to target a wide range of smaller species, go for a 3-hook flapper armed with 12-inch hook snoods and smaller size 2 to 4 Aberdeen pattern hooks. For medium to long range fishing with two hooks a 2-hook clipped up rig, again with smaller size 2 Aberdeen’s, is perfect for general species. For long range fishing for bass, rays and cod, then a clipped down 1-hook rig with a single 3/0 Viking pattern hook, or two hooks mounted Pennel style one above the other works well. For mixed rough ground a Pulley rig with a single 4/0 hook is good for cod, huss and smoothound. There are over 100 different rig patterns, but the four suggested will cover 70% of surf fishing situations.

Q: Does main reel line colour make any difference to catches?
A: Not if you use a clear shock leader…it makes no difference at all as the fish can’t see the main reel line. Always use clear mono or Fluorocarbon for hook traces and rig bodies, and always a clear mono shock leader attached to the main reel line for casting. Brightly coloured lines used direct to rigs, hook traces and lures, can and will affect catches in clearish water.

Q: How do I release fish correctly?
A: Always use a wet cloth to lightly hold the fish, never your hot, dry hand. Use long nosed pliers to remove the hook carefully. Still holding the fish in the cloth, place the fish carefully in to the water facing in to the tide or waves, hold it there for the fish to regain its senses and bearings, and when ready the fish will simply swim away of its own accord. Use the same method from the boat, but hold the fish as near to the water as possible and head down, then gently drop the fish head first in to the water.

Q: How do I know if I’ve caught a fish, that in my own mind, I can class it as a specimen or trophy fish?
A: Much would depend on the species and the geographical area in which the fish is caught. But a reliable way is to look at the local record or national record for that species, and any fish that weighs 70% of the officially recorded record, either local or national, would generally be deemed a specimen or trophy fish.

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