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UK Sea Fishing FAQ Sea Angling Techniques. Ways, strategies to use to catch different kinds of UK Sea Fish.

UK Sea Angling Techniques

U.K. Sea Fishing FAQ   -   Pysgota Mor y Deyrnas Gyfunol


UK Sea Fishing Techniques


6. Techniques
  6.1 Beach Techniques
    6.1.1 What is a paternoster?
      A paternoster is any style of hook rig where the leader is tied
      to a fixed lead, the hooks then are on droppers above the lead.
      Usually one to three hooks are used on a paternoster rig depending
      on the species you are after. The droppers can be either blood loops
      tied directly in the leader or more often a stop knot, bead, swivel,
      bead, stop knot arrangement is used.

    6.1.2 What are bait clips? Why use them?
      Bait clips are designed to hold the hook, bait and hook trace close
      to the body of the rig during casting. They are usually made from
      wire about 1.5 inches long, with the last 1/4 to 1/2 inch bent back
      at 45 degrees, a piece of tubing holds the clip in place against the
      main line. The clip is positioned that the hook bend is held in the
      bend of the clip. The clip will hold the hook and bait in place
      during the cast, but on hitting the water the clip will release as
      the trace collapses due to the deceleration of the lead.

      Bait clips are used for two main reasons
      a) Distance is increased as the tackle is kept more streamlined.
      The trace lengths and clips can be adjusted so that the bait is only
      a few inches behind the lead and rides in its slipstream.
      b) The bait is not buffeted and flapping loosely during casting so
      better bait presentation results.

      There is a more streamlined form of bait clip that incorporates a nose
      cone as well as a clip to hold the hook during the cast - this is an
      IMPACT SHIELD (diagram on WWW version). Breakaway's impact shields provide
      maximum proyection for the bait from buffeting during the cast and minimum
      distance loss due to drag.

    6.1.3 What is Double Patting?
      Double patting is a speed fishing technique.  The name comes from
      double paternoster.

      Rather than tying a paternoster rig directly in the leader, a quick
      release link is tied to the end of the shock leader. A Mustad oval
      split link size 2/0 is the link I use. If you use a swivel make sure
      it has a breaking strain of 80lb plus to take the stress of casting.
      The rig is then tied separately with a swivel or ring at the top so
      that it can be clipped to the link at the end of the leader.  When
      fishing, when you cast out your tackle, get another rig out and bait
      it up ready BEFORE you retrieve your gear. When you wind in, simply
      unclip the old rig, regardless of whether there are any fish on it
      or not. Clip on the prepared trace and cast.  You can unhook and
      re-bait the first trace at your leisure without loosing any fishing
      time. This technique is very popular in competition fishing, but
      check that the rules allow it!

    6.1.4 What is a rotten-bottom?
      A rotten bottom rig is designed for fishing over rough ground, so that
      the lead will break-off from the rig if it snags, and leave the fish
      and the rest of the gear to be retreived.

      The simplest rotten-bottom tackle is when the lead is attached to the
      rig using a line with a breaking strain at least 5lb below the
      main-line. This is only suitable for dropping a line down the edge of
      a pier say and MUST not be used when casting.

      To use a rotten-bottom when casting, some means of having full shock
      leader strength to the lead whilst casting must be maintained, with
      a weak link allowing the lead to break-off if snagged on the retreive.

      One way of doing this is to tie a loop in the line where you would
      normally attach the lead. Tie six inches of weak line to this loop,
      the other end of the weak line is tied to the weight. Before casting
      push the loop of leader through the loop of the weight and put a
      metal pin about 3/4 inch long through the loop to stop it being pulled
      back. The weight will prevent the pin from falling out. On casting,
      when the weight hits the water, the pin will fall out, leaving the
      lead attached by the weak link.

      A better way of casting with a rotten-bottom is to use specially
      modified leads. Make your leads with a single tail wire that projects
      about 1-2 inches from the weight. For normal fishing, this single-tail
      can be bent into a loop (like the eye of a hook). For rotten bottom
      fishing, just bend the last 1/4 inch of the wire through 135 degrees
      so that it forms a simple hook. Tie a loop and weak-link on your rig
      as before, and tie the weak-link to the bend in the wire on the
      weight. To cast it is now a simple matter of hanging the weight on the
      loop in your leader, the lead will drop off the loop when it hits the
      water, but will still be attached by the weak-link. This is now the
      only rotten-bottom rig I use for shore fishing, and can even be used
      when pendulumn casting. (Diagram on WWW version)

      REMEMBER - Until you are sure that your rotten-bottom rig will cast
      safely, always test a new rig away from other people for safety.

  6.2 Boat Techniques
    6.2.1 What is uptiding?
      Uptiding or boatcasting is a technique that involves casting your
      bait uptide at an angle of about 45 degrees using a grip lead.
      This was popularised in the Thames estuary during the early 1980's. The
      idea is to present a bait outside the "scare area" caused by the noise
      of the tide against the boat's hull and anchor warp. Another benefit of
      uptiding is that much lighter tackle can be used than with normal
      downtide fishing. With uptide tackle it is possible to fish with
      18lb line and 6-8 oz leads, where 30lb class downtide gear would not
      hold with over 1lb of lead! Specialist rods and casting reels are
      necessary rather that conventional boat gear.

      Trevor Calder ( writes
      "Uptiding was developed much earlier than the 80's. I was doing this in
      the early 70's and it wasn't new then. I think it may date as far back
      as the 30's or so ( I can vaguley recall something about this from
      talking to some old anglers from the Bradwell area.) It only started to
      spread beyond Bradwell/Brightlingsea/Maldon area about 1965? or so,
      mainly due to Cox and Rawle bringing in some large bass. It was a
      well known technique along the Essex coast by 1970."

    6.2.2 What is a flying collar?
      A flying collar is a rig usually used when fishing for pollack or
      coalfish with an artificial eel.

      The rig consists of a long boom, either a wire boom (L or French), or
      a tube boom, about 10-14 inches long, which is tied to the main line.
      The weight is connected on a short line (6 inches) to the boom. The
      lure is then connected on a long trace to the boom. Traces are usually
      10-15 feet long. This length of trace allows the lure to have a
      natural action. The boom prevents the trace from tangling with the
      main line on the descent to the bottom. Tangles can be further
      prevented by holding the lure in your hand when dropping the lead
      until both the trace and main-line are taught, and then releasing the

    6.2.3 What is free-lining
      Free-lining is when a bait is drifted away from the boat with no
      weight attached. This is only possible where there is little tide run
      if you are after bottom dwelling fish.

      Sometimes there may not be enough tide to get the bait far away from
      the boat, this may be especially true in shallow water. A trick with a
      balloon will get round this though.

      Blow up a balloon to about the size of a grapefruit. Whilst knotting
      the baloon double a 12 inch length of mono line through the knot. This
      line must be doubled through the knot so that it can be pulled free
      with a sharp tug, this MUST NOT be  a permanent connection. Pull on
      one end of the mono so that there is only a short loop holding the
      baloon, you should have one long end of line free. Tie the long
      end of the line from the balloon to your trace within a few feet of
      your bait. Drop the bait over the side, and float the bait away from
      the boat. When the bait is far enough away from the boat, engage the
      reel and strike hard a couple of times. This will pull the line
      through the knot, and allow the bait to drop to the sea bed.

      I have used this technique to freeline baits over 100 yards behind
      the boat in less that 20 feet of water. You may have to watch out for
      gannets diving for your bait as it drifts back!

  6.3 Casting
    6.3.1 Why use a shock leader?
      A shock leader is a length of strong line designed to absorb the
      stress during casting. If you try to cast a lead using light line
      you are liable to crack off, and the lead will go in any direction.
      A fishing lead may kill someone if it hits them!


      Lead weight   1 oz      Minimum Shock leader  10 lbs
           "        2 oz                "           20 lbs
           "        3 oz                "           30 lbs
           "        4 oz                "           40 lbs
           "        5 oz                "           50 lbs
           "        6 oz                "           60 lbs

      The shock leader must be long enough to have at least six full
      turns around the reel, and continue from reel to the lead.

    6.3.2 How do techniques like pendulumn casting get more power.
      Think of a rod as an elastic band. If you stretch an elastic band at
      first it is flexible, but a point is reached where the band can no
      longer stretch. Any further movement at one end of the band must
      cause the other end of the band to move, otherwise it will break.
      The elastic is now 'locked' solid. In terms of casting, a normal
      overhead cast first has to bend the rod before the lead can be
      accelerated. a lot of casting energy is lost in this initial
      bending, so the cast is inefficient.  Powerful casting styles
      (pendulumn etc) aim to bend the rod until it is locked before the
      overhead part of the cast is reached, in this way all of the power
      of the cast is used to accelerate the lead, and casting distance is
      much increased.

    6.3.3 How do you tune a multiplier for distance casting
      Most shore anglers use small multipler reels, these were not designed
      for casting 5 ounces of lead over 100 yards, but for fresh water
      spinning with weights of about an ounce. To get the most out a
      multiplier for beach fishing some minor conversion work and a small
      amount of tuning is necessary.

      a) Before you can hope to improve your distance you must remove the
      level-wind (if the reel has one). Most good tackle shops sell solid
      conversion bars which can be fitted in place of the hollow level-wind

      b) Remove the top bar (if the reel has one). Use a junior hacksaw to
      remove the top bar on the reel and file off the cut edges to remove
      any burrs.
      NOTE - Only do this once you have replaced the hollow level-wind bar
      with a solid conversion.

      You can avoid canibalising you reel like this by either buying a reel
      which does not need this work done (Daiwa 7HT, ABU 6000CT Rocket),
      or if you are converting an ABU 6000 reel, buy a replacement CT cage.

      c) Oil the bearings. To prevent the bearings slowing the spool during
      the cast they should be lubricated with light oil, not grease. First
      any heavy oil or grease in the bearings should be removed. Soak the
      bearings in WD40 or petrol to flush out the old oil, then dry the
      bearings on some absorbent paper. Place the bearings in an old spoon
      and cover them completely with light oil. I use 3-in-1. Warm the spoon
      and oil over a gentle flame, this thins the oil and also causes any
      air in the bearings to expand and be replaced by oil as it bubbles
      out. Leave the bearings in the oil until they cool. This treatment
      should only be necessary occaisionally.

      d) Make sure there isn't any grease on the phosphor-bronze shims
      inside the spool end-float control. Check shims in both sideplates.

      e) Reassamble the reel. Make sure you put the largest brake blocks
      you have on the spool. Use two large blocks in a 6000 size reel, four
      large blocks in a 7000. Remember the reel will be running faster than
      you are used to and you will need all the help you can get until you
      are used to it.

      f) Load the reel with line. 15lb breaking strain line (0.35mm
      diameter) is the usual line for distance casting, though some anglers
      use lighter line. The first 50 yards need to be wound on very
      carefully, with each coil of line butted up against the next "cotton
      reel" style. You will find that your reel holds more line without the
      level-wind.  300+ yards of 0.35mm line on a 6000 reel.

      g) Adjust the reel end-float. The screw cap which adjusts the
      pressure on the reel spindle is NOT a casting brake. This should be
      adjusted until there is the smallest amount of movement perceptible
      when you try to wiggle the spool along the length of its spindle. The
      spool should not rattle if you shake the reel!

      The reel is now tuned for distance casting - this is for casting 5-6
      ounce leads for distances of over 100 yards with bait. Remember - Neil
      Kelland has cast 5 ounces alone on 15lb mainline is over 300 yards!!!!
      The reel will run very fast, you will have to watch the flight of your
      lead and brake the spool with your thumb as soon as the lead hits the
      water to prevent a bird's nest.

    6.3.4 Why remove the top bar from a multiplier for distance casting?
      These reels were originally designed for spinning with much lighter
      weights. When you try to cast using a powerful casting style, on a
      reel which has not had the top bar removed, only the tip of your thumb
      prevents the spool from slipping. It is impossible to pendulumn cast
      safely without the bar removed, there is always the danger that your
      thumb will slip off the spool and the cast will release early.

      Remember - if a 5 ounce lead hits someone it may well kill them!

    6.3.5 I have removed the top bar from my reel, but still cannot hold the
          spool securely whilst casting.
      Cut a length of rubber from an inner tube 4 inches long by 3/4 of a
      inch wide. Tape one end of this strip below your reel seat, so that
      the other end can be held between your thumb and the spool. You should
      now find that you can cast as hard as you like without the reel

    6.3.6 UKSF Casting Records
      The official body for keeping casting records in the U.K. is the U.K.
      Surfcasting Federation.  They organise National, European and World

      Here are the multiplier records

      125g       228.07m                          Brian Holden
      150g       257.32m    281yd 1ft 3inches     Neil Mackellow
      175g       246.72m                          Neil Kelland
      4oz        236.21m    258yd 1ft 0inches     Paul Kerry
      6oz        245.36m    268yd 1ft 0inches     Neil Mackellow

      To qualify a potential cast must be made on a UKSF laid out court, at
      an Open UKSF competition with at least two UKSF committee members
      present as witnesses. All competitors must use a mainline of at least
      0.35mm diameter with a 0.80mm shock leader. The line must be measured
      at least every 10m immediately after the cast and either side of any

      There have been several unofficial casts over 300 yards!!!

  6.4 General Techniques
    6.4.1 Is night fishing better than daytime?
      Usually the answer to this is yes. There are a few exceptions such as
      wrasse, but most predatory fish are far more active at night. Of
      course other factors such as the colour of the water have an effect,
      fish can be caught more readily in coloured water in daytime compared
      to clear water.  Some species are only worth fishing for after dark,
      shore caught rays are rare in daylight, also cod feed far better after
      sundown. Other fish follow the rising plankton as the sun sets and
      feed far higher in the water as the sun sets. Pollack are well known
      for this.

    6.4.2 Do luminous attractors work?
      I have been experimenting with luminous tubing and small cyalume
      sticks when night fishing over the past few years. I have been
      attaching a one inch length of luminous tube to the hook trace next to
      the bait. I shine my headlamp onto this tube for a few seconds before
      casting to increase the light given off by the tube. I have found that
      I am getting better catches on the baits with the tube, and now
      incorporate luminous attractors into all my rigs for night fishing
      from rock platforms into clear water. Since using tubing I have caught
      three ling from the shore, usually a rare shore catch in Wales. Also
      three bearded rockling are attracted by the glow from the tube and I
      have caught two of these over two pounds since using luminous
      attractors. Of course beads and light sticks are just as effective.

    6.4.3 How long can a bait be left in the water?
      Baits can be left in the water far far longer than most people think
      and still be effective. This statement needs some clarification. The
      type of bait and its size has a bearing on the length of time the bait
      is effective, as well as the activity of bait robbers such as crabs,
      shrimp or small fish. A single lugworm cannot be fished as long as a
      whole fish bait. I have found that when fishing into deep water with
      large fish baits from shore rock marks, fish can be caught on baits
      that have been in the water over an hour! This has even occurred in a
      tide run of a couple of knots which would have washed a lot of the
      scent from the bait. I am not saying that all baits should be left out
      this long, but there are cases when this can be a useful technique.

      I use this method only when I am fishing extremely rough ground from
      which is is almost impossible to retrieve gear even when using a
      rotten bottom. The answer is to use a large bait on a pulley rig and
      leave it out until you get a bite. Obviously you may have to
      experiment to see how active bait robbers are on a particular mark to
      determine how long a bait remains intact. It also helps if you are
      fishing two rods, one can be left with a large bait, the other can be
      checked more regularly at say 20 minute intervals.

Jun 9 1998, 12:00 am


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U.K. Sea Fishing FAQ - Pysgota Mor y Deyrnas Gyfunol - Compiled by : Colin Albert
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