12 Dec 2010

How to Get Started Shore Fishing for Beginners

Most people who take up sea fishing start by fishing from the shore, as opposed to fishing from a boat.  Shore fishing can take many forms and, here, we are going to look at the most basic.  Legering is a method of fishing which involves anchoring a rig with baited hook, (or hooks), to the seabed with a lead weight.  To be successful shore angler, you have to be able to put your bait where the fish are and that often involves casting to some sort of feature, such as a gully or a patch of rough ground.  The nature of the area you fish will dictate what sort of tackle you will require, depending on the distance you need to cast, whether the ground is clean or rough and how strong the tide is, etc.  

Open sand and shingle beaches are, more often than not, devoid of obvious features other than subtle ridges and gullies that have been shaped by the weather and tide.  These can be anything from 30 to 150 metres from the shore so, to fish this type of beach, you need tackle that is capable of casting enough weight to hold your bait in position, a fair distance.  There is no need to spend a fortune on high performance rods.  In fact, a lot of the time, these rods will be too stiff and powerful for those just starting out and will hinder rather than help.  Ideally, you should look for a mid-range rod of 12 to 13ft, with a medium action and capable of casting 4 to 6 ounces.   There are plenty of good quality rods available which won’t break the bank and are more than capable of casting the required distances.  

Because you may be required to cast quite a long way, the lighter the line you use, the better.  This is because heavier, thicker diameter line creates more air resistance when casting and will cut down your distances.  Thinner diameter lines will also create less drag in the tide and will enable you to use lighter leads to hold bottom.   As most open beaches are relatively snag free, you can get away with using quite light line and 12 to 15lb breaking strain is ideal.  To prevent the thin line from breaking under the strain of casting heavy lead weights, a shock leader is required.  This is a length of heavier line takes all the strain of the cast.  The general rule of thumb for shock leaders is 10lb breaking strain for every ounce of weight.  So if you are casting a 4 ounce weight, you need a 40lb shock leader and if you are casting 5 ounces, then you need a 50lb shock leader, and so on.  The shock leader is tied to the end of your mainline and should be long enough to be wound four or five times around the spool of your reel, through all the rod rings and back down to the rod butt.

When it comes to reels, there are basically two options available.  You can either use a fixed spool reel, or a multiplier.  As the name suggests, the spool on a fixed spool reel remains stationary and the line is wound onto it by a rotating bale arm.  When you cast, the bale arm is pulled back out of the way and the line peels out over the front of the spool.  With a multiplier, the spool rotates in one direction to wind line on, then, when taken out of gear to cast, rotates the other way to feed line out.  For a beginner, I would recommend a fixed spool reel; simply because you will spend more time actually fishing than untangling the over runs and backlash that you can sometimes get with a multiplier.  Having said that, most modern multipliers have effective centrifugal and magnetic breaking systems built in, which help to minimise tangles.  Whichever type of reel you choose, this is one thing that you should spend as much money on as you can afford.  Cheap reels are unreliable and don’t last very long in the marine environment.  Trying to save money on a reel is false economy because a good quality reel, if looked after, will last a lifetime.  The reel needs to be able to hold 250 to 300 metres of 15lb line, plus the shock leader.  It must have a good, smooth drag system that can be tightened and loosened off quickly and easily.

If you are going to fish from rocks, or over rough ground, you will need a slightly different set up.  Deep water and fish attracting features will often be quite close in and, therefore, long casting isn’t necessary most of the time.  What is needed instead, is tackle capable of retrieving fish and end tackle away from rocks and kelp before they get snagged.  A longer and more powerful rod is required in these situations.  The length is required so that the tip can be held high whilst retrieving line to keep the tackle clear of the bottom, and the power so the tackle can be pulled free of any minor snags.  You should look for something of at least 13ft with quite a stiff tip action.  As long casting isn’t necessary, (or possible with limited room), the need for a shock leader is diminished.  Instead, a stronger mainline of around 30lb breaking strain can be used right through from the reel to the lead weight.  The lack of a shock leader is also helpful because there is no chance of weed getting snagged on the knot, getting jammed in the rod rings and slowing down the retrieve.  For this sort of fishing I would recommend a powerful multiplier with a fast retrieve and strong gears.  Again, a good drag system is essential.  Some of the multipliers designed for light boat fishing are ideal for rock and rough ground fishing.

Piers and jetties are very popular with people just starting out because they have so much to offer.  Apart from providing easy access and a comfortable fishing platform, they also act as fish attracting and holding features.  Their popularity also means they are great places to meet other sea anglers and to pick up tips and advice.   Because the pier or jetty angler often has access to relatively deep water, long beach casting rods aren’t required.  In fact, the structure itself is the feature that the angler should be fishing to and casting too far away from it will, in most cases, be counterproductive.  There are exceptions, of course, such as the scours and bars that can sometimes be created when the tide is deflected by the structure.  A rod of around 10ft in length is ideal for pier fishing.  Although it can be light, it has to be quite powerful because you may have to bully a hooked fish out of, or away from, the structure.  If you are dropping your bait close to the structure, there won’t be much drag on the line and you can use lighter leads of, say, 2 or 3 ounces to hold bottom.  You can also do away with a shock leader and use a mainline of 15 to 20lb breaking strain straight through.  (It is worth remembering that if you decide to cast away from the structure, there are often tide rips around the ends and heavier tackle altogether will be needed.)  Any good quality reel that is capable of holding 150 to 200 yards of 15lb line would be suitable for pier fishing.  A fixed spool will be more versatile but, as there isn’t any distance casting involved, a multiplier would be equally suitable for the beginner in this situation.  You shouldn’t use the reel to winch fish up the side of the structure, though.  Any fish you catch should be landed in a drop net.

Wherever you fish, make good use of local knowledge.  Speak to other anglers and pop into the local tackle shop for your bait, rather than using the one near where you live.  It is also a good idea to keep a Fishing Diary, so that you can work out over a period of time which tides and conditions fish the best.   

Good luck and tight lines!

Article written by Steve at Tacklebargains.

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