Beginners Guide to Coarse Fishing Tackle


Like rods, fishing reels remain true to (heir past. Even the centrepin, which is little more than a simple winch with a revolving drum, still has its followers, especially those who prefer trotting the stream. This is a style of float-fishing where the bait is set just above the bottom and the current is allowed to sweep float and bail downstream. The simplicity of the centrepin allows line to flow off without hindrance.

Modern fixed-spool reels, too, are still basically the same in operation as the fust ones designed by Illingworth at the turn of the century. In these reels the cylindrical spool is in line with the rod. and the line comes off the forward side. This enables casting distance to be achieved with light tackle without fear of overrun and the resulting bird’s nest – a tangled mat of line which makes fishing impossible until it is sorted out.

An advantage of fixed-spool reels is that spools are available with varying capacities to suit different thicknesses of line. Obviously, the shallow spool will accept a given quantity of light line, and a deep spool the same amount of stronger, and therefore thicker line. This means that match anglers, who use light tackle, and specimen hunters are able to select appropriate spools for the same model reel. These reels are also available in different sizes, making it possible to choose a small reel for line legering using a light rod. and a larger reel for carp and pike, where the rod is correspondingly heavier.

The fixed-spool reel does haw a disadvantage, however. In windy conditions, especially when the wind is blowing into the angler’s face, casting can be difficult. The line tangles behind the spool, round the spindle, or over the bale-arm. The awareness of this problem led to a major improvement in fixed-spool design: the closed-face reel. This type of reel has the spool enclosed in a cover, so that loose coils of line cannot become tangled in the mechanism.

When loading a fixed-spool reel take care to fill it correctly, to within ‘/sin. (3mm) of the lip. If the spool is over-filled, there will be trouble when casting, as loops of line will pull away and create bird’s nests. If the reel is under-filled, casting distance and accuracy will be impaired because ol the unwanted friction created as the line scrapes over the rim.

multiplier reel for coarse fishing

Above: Multiplier reels are used mainly for spinning by course anglers, as they have a fast retrieve rate. With practice they also permit very long casting.

The usual method of filling a spool is to mount the reel on the rod – the butt end only is sufficient. Pass the line through the ring and under the bale arm. and fasten it to the empty spool. Take care with the knot, for it must not come loose. A line spooler can also be used. As you wind the line on to the spool keep it under constant tension by letting it run through the lingers of your free hand. Ensure that the line is wound on evenly, and does not form a hump in the middle.

Multiplier reels are basically similar to centrepins. but a gearing system is fitted between the handle and the spool so that one turn of the handle results in two or three revolutions of the spool. This gives a much faster rate of retrieve, which is useful when spinning. There is also provision for free-running of the spool and braking. These reels usually have an additional refinement in the form of a line distributor which spreads the line evenly over the spool, a valuable safeguard when line is being retrieved quickly. A slipping clutch allows adjustment to be made so that if a fish which is being reeled in suddenly makes a lunge, the line does not break but the spool slips backwards instead.

The free-running spool makes distance casting easy, as line Hows off without hindrance. But some expertise must be shown when the tackle hits the water, for the line will cease to be pulled off the drum which will continue to turn under the momentum. This is the perfect situation for a giant bird’s nest! The technique of using the thumb as a brake at exactly the right moment to avoid the bird’s nest has to be achieved by practice: it is not difficult. but it is vitally important.

Multipliers are very good reels for casting large lures long distances and for throwing out large baits such as herring when pike fishing.

With all reels, it is important to achieve a balance between rod and reel. It is pointless to mount a small reel which only has capacity for line line on a rod designed to throw heavy baits, and vice versa. Balance is achieved when the rod is matched with a reel that carries the correct line for the kind of fishing intended.



Above: Line winders are convenient for storing pole fishing lines and tackle. They allow a variety of rigs to be made up in advance.

There are further moves in reel design on the way, mostly in the direction of weight saving. Extra* strong plastics and carbon fibre are being used in the manufacture of reel spools and bodies.

There are two or three methods of reel attachment. The simplest is by metal rings which slide along the cork handle of the rod. The rings are slid over the feet of the reel, lodging it into the desired position. Another kind of reel fitting is in the form of a sleeve which (its over the corks. The sleeve has a screw thread which matches threads on the rings, so the reel can be securely fixed on the rod, preventing any awkward movement while a fish is being played on the line.


Nylon monofilament is a man-made substance which many years ago replaced the old silk and flax lines, then the only medium available. Nylon is now the most popular line for coarse fishing, indeed for all sections of the sport, and for roach, rudd, bream, dace, and soon, breaking strains (b.s.)of2 lb to 6 lb C0.9-2.7kg) are favoured, depending on the conditions. The breaking strain is the weight needed to fracture the line underwater. For large fish, such as pike or carp, lines of up to 12 lb (5.5kg) b.s. and stronger are used.

While all nylon monofilament is manufactured by the same method of extrusion under pressure and heat there are many different brand names which are commercially available, and they vary in cost and quality in about

equal proportions. The experienced angler will soon find the brand of line thai best suits him and his pocket, bin the beginner will be wise to select one of the well-known brands. The specialist retailer will always give good advice on line purchase, as he will on all other items of tackle.

Nylon line comes on spools holding from 25 yards (23m) to 100 yards (91 m) or more. Most brands are packed in boxes of many spools which are still linked together. This enables the buyer to purchase unbroken lengths in multiples of the spool length if he wishes. Some anglers buy the smaller-capacity spools for making up hook lengths and leger links.

It is important to realise that once a knot has been tied in nylon it will adopt a permanenit kink in that spot thereby creating a weak area. Shon traces should only be used once, so quite a lot of nylon will be used by the angler during his fishing year.

Line winders

For pole fishing, anglers often prefer to have the terminal tackles made up ready for use. In order to keep them tidy and prevent loose line from becoming tangled with tied-on hooks. wooden or plastic line winders are employed. Fach line carrying float. weight and hook is wound round a winder, all ready to go into action.


A bent pin with a worm impaled on it may well enable you to catch a fish. but not consistently and subtly. The modern hook as used in angling is a precision-made item and quite complex in its small way. A hook has a shank, bend. eye. point, and barb. each of which is part of a manufacturing process which at onetime was done by hand. It is now accomplished by machines,


The angler who wishes to fish for all the coarse species, found in very different water types and under different conditions, using the huge range of baits available, will need to be equipped with a full set of hooks of various models and sizes, ranging from the liny No. 24 to the No. 4. The choice of hook size depends upon the bait selected which, in turn, depends on the quarry. A small hook will be needed when, as in most match fishing, large numbers of small fish are required; here a single maggot oleaster is usually the bail. The hook size, in general, rises with the average-size of the species to be fished for.

The hook size has of course to be matched with line breaking strain. This, in turn, must be balanced with the correct type of rod.

Hook types

The type of hook—Crystal, Kirby, straight bend, curved-in point, hollow point, long or short shank – depends on the bait, the fish sought, the casting method and the water conditions.

main types of coarse fishing hooks

Above: A selection of hooks: 1 A Model Perfect, a classic design. (2)A treble. 3 A long-shanked hook. 4 beak hook, with a curved barb. 5 A barbless hook. 6 A baitholder.

Some hooks are designed for particular baits. For instance, hemp can be difficult to hook, and for this a model with a flattened bend has been devised which is pressed into the split which appears during the cooking of the seed. For coarse fishermen who want to use live or dead insects, there is a hook which holds the creature without destroying its appearance.

Hooks with two barbs, called doubles, and with three barbs, called trebles, are used when attached to plugs and spinners. A modern trend is to cut one of the three barbs off a plug. both in consideration for the fish and to make unhooking less traumatic.

Never keep numbers of doubles and trebles in the same box. Somehow they always manage to become entangled inio a mass of intertwined sharp points which lakes a deal of lime and pricked fingers to sort out.

Many anglers are beginning to prefer barbless hooks. For the maichman their attraction is the speed with which fish so hooked can be released inlo the keepnei -a vital mailer when lots of fish are being caught. Secondly, a barblesspoint causes less harm to the fish, a matter which all thinking anglers should be in favour of. Lastly, they present a greater challenge to the angler’s skill. When a sizeable fish is taken on a barbless hook a light line must be kept all the lime until the fish is over the rim of the landing net. One moment’s lack of concentration when the fish turns, a brief second when the line slackens, and the fish is free.

Fishing with barbless hooks should be encouraged, especially if spoil is to be the criterion, and not the accumulation of fish in a keep net. The angler who can fish well in this way can really claim to be an expert.

Using hooks

The hook can be attached to the line by two methods, depending on whether the hook is manufactured with an eye at the top of a shank or flattened area called a spade-end. Spade-end hooks have to have the line

Below: Most anglers keep a good range of split shot, which is used mainly for float fishing.


whipped on, and on a size 14 hook or smaller this needs considerable skill. lived hooks are more easily attached by passing the line through the eye and lying it with a special knot such as a Domhof thai will not slip.

The efficiency of a hook depends on the sharpness and temper of the point. One can hone the barb of a hook to extreme sharpness, but if the metal is not properly tempered it may well

snap during a fierce strike either by an angler or by a taking fish. The eye must not be capable of being pulled open as a powerful fish is being played; some anglers carefully check hook eyes and press them shut with pliers iI there is any suggestion ol a gap between the bend and the shank.

Hooks are the essential link between angler and fish and no effort should be spared to ensure thai this vital link is not jeopardised. Never use a hook showing the faintest sign of rust. This quickly affects the strength of the metal, and the rust also gives it a rough surface which can wear line-away – so check every hook before use.


In coarse fishing, weight in some form is needed for mosi of the techniques employed. An exception is freelining. but this method is only used by the experienced angler and demands precise control over a free-running bailed hook. Unless the bail is heavy enough to cock a float or hold bottom when legered. weight is needed.

The traditional material for angling weights is soft lead, which is easily moulded to shape and very heavy in relation to its bulk. Unfortunately it is also toxic, and following allegations that British swans have been poisoned after ingesting lead shot lost in the water, it has been recommended that lead weights should be phased out. The National Anglers’ Council of Britain, while protesting that the case has not been proven, is nevertheless supporting the recommendation, on the assumption that acceptable lead-free alternatives will be developed.

At least two forms of lead substitute are now commercially available. They are non-toxic mixtures which must be moulded by hand and pinched on to

the line. Their efficiency seems 10 be equal to that of lead, but the old lead shot was simpler to manipulate. Lead is still available, and the substitutes are not yet universally used in all sections of the sport. In consequence this section will describe the uses of traditional lead.


Split shot is squeezed on to the line in order to cock floats and also to form simple legers. It is the same shot that is used to fill the cartridges employed in 12-bore shotguns. Sizes range from the largest, SSG, of which 15 weigh an ounce (28g), to No. 8, a tiny dust shot of which some 450 weigh an ounce. The various patterns of shot placed on the line are arranged according to the depth, the buoyancy of the float, the current and the technique used.


Above: A selection of weights: 1 Plummet. 2 Arleseybomb. 3 Pear-shaped paternoster lead. 4 Capta leger lead. 5 Hillman anti-kink. 6 Bored barrel lead. 7 Bored shot on clip swivel. 8 Foldover anti-kink. 9 Bored shot. 10 Split shot. 11 Jardinc spiral. 12 Trolling weight.

Handy dispensers are available holding a selection of shot sizes, but the experienced angler will buy his shot loose in the quantity needed, keeping each size in separate non-spill containers in his tackle box.

A brand of shot manufactured for light fishing has the vivid name of ‘mouse droppings’ given it for obvious reasons. Those familiar with the ‘evidence’ of rodent activity will immediately recognise this useful little aid to the float-fisherman’s art. They are made of very soft lead and are less likely to lead to false bites registered as the fish mouth them instead of the bait. They are ideal as weight when hemp fishing.

Leger weights

Legering methods are popular and highly successful angling techniques and a wide range of weights has been developed to cater for their special needs. Each has its particular use and there is a range of sizes.

The Arlesey bomb is a pear-shaped lead fitted with a swivel. It was devised for long-distance casting, and the swivel helps prevent line twist during the cast or while the weight is rolled along the bottom by the current.

using a plummet

Above: Threaded on to the end tackle and secured by the hook, the plummet is used to find the depth throughout the swim, to ensure that the bait is presented properly. The float is adjusted until it is properly cocked in the water; neither too low or too high (centre). The plummet is then removed and the hook baited up.

Some pear-shaped weights, also called paternosters, are fined with wire loops for threading on to the line. and prevented from sliding down to the hook by shot pinched on below them. A clip swivel can be attached to the loop, and the line passed through this, allowing for a quick change of weight if necessary.

There are other weights designed to hold the bail on the bottom, even in a last current. These have names such as ‘coffin’ (its name indicates its shape), and a pyramid-shaped lead complete with a built-in swivel called the Capta. This hugs the bottom, even in a current, due to the flow acting on the sides to press it clown.

Spinning weights

Spinning is an active form of fishing which involves casting the lure out and retrieving continually. This is often carried out at depth and so special weights are needed both to hold the spinner at the required depth and to prevent the line twisting with the action of the spinning vanes.

Named after its nineteenth-century inventor, the Jardine spiral lead comes in various weights and sizes and is easily attached. The line is simply wound round the spiral grooves and held in position by small wire spirals at each end.

The Wye spinning lead, again complete with swivel, is tied into the line or trace, its shape acting to prevent line twist. Other types of anti-kink or anti-twist weights are half-moons, barrel leads and Hillmans.


The plummet lead is used to find the depth of the swim. The best is a conical-shaped lead with a strip of cork at the base and a loop at the top. The line, with hook attached, is passed through the loop and the point of the hook lodged in the cork. When

cast out, the float will not cock on the water surface if it is set too high, and it will disappear below the water if it is set too shallow. In either case an accurate adjustment of the float can be made quickly so that the bait hangs exactly where the angler wants it.


Stick a small forked branch in the ground to support a fishing rod. and you have a basic rod rest. If the branch is strong enough and the vee of the fork is smooth that is all you need. Today there are many purpose-made variations on this basic theme, and they all carry out the same function.

types of rod rests

Above: A selection of rod rests: (1) Wide rest with rubber stretched across the fork, ideal for match anglers in a hurry. (2) A narrower version. (3) Simple rest shaped to hold the rod butt. (4) and (5) Plastic and rubber moulded rests. (6) Rest on adjustable bank stick, with a notch to clear the line. (7) Simple front rest for use with (3).

The all-year-round angler usually has several rod rests in pairs, since two are needed to support a rod horizontally, one for the butt and the other for the top section.

When float fishing, the front support should be wide so that picking the rod up and putting it down may be done quickly. Some models have round-section elastic suspended between the forks, an improvement on the simple vee. The rod rests should be positioned so that the rod is level, and at such a height that the angler can pick the rod up quickly when he gets a bite.

Legering needs a different rod rest technique, particularly when carp fishing. In a wind of any strength it is a good idea to position the front rest very low, with the rod top close to, or even just below the surface. This avoids much of the wind’s effect on the line. The shape of the top of the front rest is important. It must have an additional indentation at the base of the vee to allow line to run freely while the rod is laying on the rest, offering no resistance to a taking fish. Carp anglers often mount an audible bite alarm on the front rest.

Sometimes bites can be registered more quickly if the rod rests are positioned to hold the rod parallel to the bankside; here, the line runs out at a right angle to the rod and a bite shows immediately as a twitch of the rod lip. This position is often used when a swing!ip or quivertip rod extension is employed.

Most types of rod rest can be screwed on to a bankstick; others are moulded in rubber compound or plastic and can be pushed on to any stick of suitable length.

Below: A piece of folded silver paper acts like a bobbin. With the bale arm closed a pull on the line will lift the indicator.



Anything that informs the angler that a fish has taken the bail can be described as a bite indicator, and the term is used to cover a range of devices from very simple mechanisms to electronic gadgets that buzz, whistle, bleep, (lash or ring when a bite occurs.

Many commercially-made bite indicators are available. One type is a hinged lightweight metal bar which is clamped to the rod just in front of the reel. The line runs through a clip-ring at the free end, which hangs down to pull the line into a vee. If the line comes under tension the metal bar snaps level -a clear bite indication.

There are a number of electronic indicators which are attached to the rod resis, and are triggered off by the movement of the line which is placed between sensitive feelers. The alarm can be a sounder or a Hashing light, and is very useful for night fishing.

The most efficent indicators for legering by day are the rod tip extensions – the swingtip. quivertip and springtip. Most leger rods now have a special tip ring lilted that has a threaded hole at the front. The extensions can be screwed into the tip ring, and are available in various sizes.

The swingtip is a simple pliable extension which gives a sharp twitch when a fish bites. It can give false indications when the wind is blustery, however, and in these conditions the stiffer quivertip is fitted. This indicates a bite by a sudden movement at its extreme tip. The springtip is an extension which is attached to the rod by a spring.

When legering with these tip extensions the rod is set on rod rests positioned parallel 10 the bank, producing an angle between rod and line with the result that any bite is registered by sharp movements of the tip extension. These can be made more obvious by using a target board, which is set on the ground immediately behind the tip extension from the angler’s point of view. The board is painted in clear contrasting markings so that the slightest movement of the indicator shows up.

Below: A cork with a hairgrip pushed through it makes a good indicator. Tethered to a bank stick, it flicks off during the strike.

home made bit indicator

A useful indicator which can be made by the angler is the spring. which consists of a piece of springy wire connected to a bankslick. The free end is bent into a hall-loop. When the line has been cast out, the rod is set on the rests and the spool released so that more line can be pulled off, just enough to enable it to be laid over the loop in the spring. Again the rod may be parallel to the bank, and a bite is registered as a twitch in the spring.

Bites can of course be detected by other means. The float acts as a bite indicator, and when legering the line-can be held lightly between the fingers to ‘feel’ a bite. If calm waier is watched carefully at the point where the line enters, a bite will appear as a series of radiating rings on the surface.


The function of a float is two-fold: to support the bait at some preset depth and to indicate by its movement whether or not a fish has taken the bait.

There are very many floats commercially available, some painted in bright, even fluorescent colours, some in dull matt black and white. Experienced anglers know that the effectiveness of a float depends on it not being obvious to the fish while-being visible to the angler. It is best, therefore, for the beginner to buy a small selection based on the advice of the fishing tackle retailer, and then to find from experience which floats best suit the style of fishing and the waters in which he will pursue his sport.

At one lime, floats were large quills from birds such as swans and crows. or carved from wood, cane or cork. Today, plastic forms the body of many floats, and buoyant balsa types are also in demand.

Popular designs

The waggler is one of the most widely used floats employed by river anglers. It does not have the traditional bulge in the body, but is slim, long and has one eye at the foot. There are sizes to suit all types of water and to fish at different depths. The body of the waggler may be sunk well down in the water, leaving just enough tip above the surface for the angler to recognise a bile. Just as iis name suggests, this is registered as a distinct ‘waggle’.

A peacock quill, from the tail feathers of that beautiful bird, is used in making various floats, and porcupine quills are popular, producing large, very buoyant floats.

Stick floats are another type that have no rigidly-defined shape, but they are usually long and slender. They are ideal for running water, and trotting in a light upstream wind.

The famous Hampshire Avon in southern England has given its name to a float. This strong-flowing river has long channels between weedbeds, and fishing it demands a float that will take heavy weighting and can be seen as it is carried at a pace downstream. The Avon float bulges at the top and is attached to the line top and bottom.

A fairly recently devised float is the zoomer. well named for its ability to be cast well out in rivers or stillwaters. This float is long, with the bulge well down, and it is attached to the line by short lengths of rubber tubing at top and bottom. This method of attachment is common to most floats. The zoomer is bulky enough to carry a lot of weight, which aids casting.

Balsa floats are large bodied and very buoyant floats which will carry enough shot to get the bail well down to bottom-feeding fish even in a fast-flowing river. The balsa float can also be used as a slider float, one that is attached so that it can slide freely up and down the line. During the cast the slider float will stay on the surface while [he bail is laken down to as


Above: A selection of floats:

(1) Crow quill, fixed by a top rubber

and the bottom eye. (2) Avon.

(3) Waggler, of the bodied type, with

locking shots. (4) Peacock quill,

with locking shots. (5) Balsa.

(6) Stick float, fixed with top and

bottom rubbers. (7)Dart, fished as

a slider and located by a stop knot.

(8) Perch bung.

much as 25ft (7.6m). The sliding float is then halted by a stop-knot tied above it. Split-shot should noi be used to stop the slider float because they do not slip through the rod rings freely during line retrieval, and any line longer than the rod cannot be recovered; this makes fishing impossible. The porcupine float can also be used as a slider.

Crow quill floats have a characteristic bend in them. They make very efficient floats and have been used for very many years. Crow quills are light and sensitive, but can be affected by wind, so they are best for very quiet Stillwater fishing.

The dart is another sensitive float designed for accurate casting. It is mainly used on canals and slow-flowing rivers. It must be shotted to take most of the float below the surface, leaving just a very short section of the antenna visible.

A very old kind of float. which is traditionally called the bung, is a large fat-bodied model which is used to support the weight of a live or dead fish bail. The bung is used when pike fishing, and a smaller float, a perch bob, is for perch.

In general, the colour of floats is very important. To the beginner, those pretty red and green floats sitting in rows in the tackle shop seem attractive and ‘fishy’, and in the right conditions they are very effective, but under bright conditions they may practically disappear into the background. lithe water is coloured -that is it is carrying a lot of suspended matter – it can appear almost black or dark brown. A red and green float might stand out well, but a white-tipped float is sometimes easier to see. White shows up well on dark water and in the shadowy reflection of foliage on the far bank.


The swimfeeder is basically a lead-weighted plastic tube bored with holes, which is packed with bail particles. The baited feeder is attached 10 the terminal tackle in place of a leger weight. There are two basic-types: the closed or blockend feeder and the open-ended feeder. The closed or blockend type is packed with maggots, casters, hemp, cloudbait or samples of whatever hookbait is in use. The tackle is cast out and as it comes to rest on the bottom water enters through the holes bored in [besides and the contents trickle out.

The open-ended swimfeeder. the same shape as the blockend. is also packed with groundbait or hookbait samples and the ends are plugged wiih

bread groundbait which has been mixed to a consistency that will hold during the cast, but break up when the swimfeeder is resting on the bottom. releasing the contents on to the bed near the bailed hook.


This accessory may be similar to the swimfeeder in appearance, and it performs a similar task in that it deposits particle bail to attract fish to the nearby hookbait.

The dropper is a perforated container with a hinged lid, which is attached to the terminal tackle by passing the hook through a fixed ring at the top and lodging the barb in a strip of cork at the base. Maggots, casters, hempseed or other items of feed are packed into the container, the hinged lid is closed and the dropper is swung out with an easy underarm action and lowered on to the bed of the water. This method is particularly suitable in swims thai have a good lishabledepih.

When the dropper hits the bottom a trip mechanism operates to open the container, and the contents drop out exactly where the hookbait will be fished. The dropper is retrieved. removed and the baited hook is cast to the same spot.CATAPULTS

casting bait with a fishing catapult

Angling catapults are specially designed to shoot loose particles of feed and hookbait samples to fishing areas which cannot be reached accurately by throwing, particularly in windy weather. There are various frame designs and an assortment of pouches available, and the choice depends on the material to be thrown from them. The simple schoolboy catapult is not at all suitable. Using an efficient design, it is possible to get tight groupings of bait right into the place required, even when using small particles, and a catapult has now become an essential part of the freshwater angler’s kit.


Some fish are small enough to be brought to the bank without a landing net, but when using light line anything above the ‘tiddler’ size should be drawn into a landing net. Large fish, of course, have to be banked this way.

Landing nets come in various types and sizes. The frame can be either round or triangular, and the latter type is preferred because of the correct method of using such a net. A fish must be drawn over the sunken rim which is not moved until the fish is safely over it, and the square front of the triangular net is the ideal shape.

The usual length of a handle is 4ft (1.2m). but there are longer versions and telescopic models double the length. Specimen hunters take no chances of losing very large fish, and they use giant-sized nets, so large they have to be reinforced by side arms nearly 3ft (1m) long. These huge landing nets can accommodate a fish weighing 50 lb (23kg).

The choice of landing net depends on the species and size of fish to be caught, and the nature of the bank. An extendable handle will be necessary if the bank is high.


The modern trend is to discourage the use of keepnets unless they are necessary, such as during match fishing when the total weight of fish caught must be assessed at the end of the match. Here, the fish may be retained in the keepnet for as long as five hours, so the net must be capacious enough for them not to be crammed together. Another reason for using a keepnet is to hold a fish safe until a photograph can be taken, if it is a particularly good specimen or perhaps an unusual species.

Below: A triangular landing net is held with the front submerged as a tench is drawn into it.

traingular landing net

A keepnet must be the biggest the angler can afford, because the health of the fish he will put in it is a prime consideration. Once, keepnets were made of a harsh cord, with large knots. Modern nets are manufactured in a soft, knotless mesh, the finest being called micro-mesh. This helps a great deal in avoiding harm to the fish through having scales torn away and fins damaged by the abrasive action of the rough knotted netting.

Keepnets are held in position by being screwed into banksticks, metal rods with pointed ends which are pushed into the ground and positioned so that the open mouth of the net is in exactly the right place for fish to be put – not dropped – in. Telescopic banksticks are available for awkward situations.


This is a very useful item which carries an assortment of at least four different hookbaitsand holds them in just the position for rebaiting without losing concentration.

The tray is set on a metal rod. like a bankstick, and positioned by the fishing area. It carries built-in trays or bait tins, each of which is loaded with an alternative, or change bait, which can be selected in a moment.

Sometimes one part of the tray is used for holding small items of tackle that might be required quickly, such as scissors, a plummet, leger weights. a disgorger, a packet of hooks, or shot.

Another useful attribute of the bait tray is that it can be used on waters where it is necessary for the angler to wade out and stand in perhaps up to 3ft (1 m) of water while fishing. The bait tray can be positioned in shallow water close to the angler, saving him creating vibration and splashing when wading back to rebait the hook.


There are various types of disgorger. the simplest being no more than a metal rod with a notch at one end. To remove a lodged hook, the disgorger is inserted into the mouth of the fish and the notch pushed on the barb to release it. Another type is a slotted cylinder which is slid down the line, to press on the hook and release it.

Today.such disgorgers have largely been replaced by artery forceps. The forceps are gently inserted into the mouth, and the clamps lodged round the bend of the hook and locked. A gentle push forward usually releases the barb and the hook can then be withdrawn.

This accessory is especially useful when dealing with large fish and those with sharp teeth such as pike. Using the forceps keeps the fingers well away from the jaws of a pike, and even if the hook, which might be a double or treble, is well back it can sometimes be removed by inserting the forceps very carefully through the gill covers.


The showcases of tackle shops are full of brightly coloured plugs and spinners of all types, shapes, and sizes and all are designed either to wobble. spin or perform erratic movements through the water as they are retrieved. Most ol them represent small fish and their actions reproduce the halting, jerky swimming movements of sick or injured fish.

Plugs are all non-spinners and their actions vary from floating or wobbling to deep-diving depending on the rate at which they are retrieved. They can be in one piece, double or triple jointed. Vanes on the Hanks can sometimes be adjusted to vary the depth of dive.

Spinners and spoons are usually made of metal and come in a wide variety of shapes and colours. Most spinners are called bar-spoons, which means that the spinning blade rotates round a metal bar. These spin rapidly even at a slow rate of retrieve.

A very effective spinning lure is the Devon minnow, which has a torpedo-shaped body with large eyes painted on the front. Two adjustable vanes stick out where the pectoral fins are in living fish; these control the rate of spin. The Devon is excellent for taking pike and perch, and is also a traditional lure for sea trout.

Both plugs and spinners can be fitted to pairs of double or treble hooks. They are best carried in a partitioned box. for if left loose in a tackle box or tray they will soon get into a terrible tangle.


Apart from its temper, the most important feature of a hook is that it must be sharp. For this reason anglers should always carry a small carborundum stone in the tackle box. This can also be used to keep the fishing knife in good condition, for constant close proximity to water tends to dull the blade.

To sharpen a hook, hold it by the shank and gently rub the point on the stone, moving it away from the barb. Carborundum stones of just the right size and shape for angling use can be bought from the best tackle shops, but they are also available from hardware stores and tool merchants.

Below: Designed to imitate the appearance of small fish, metal lures spin, wobble and flash as they are drawn through the water, and attract predators such as pike.

metal lures


For anglers, the umbrella is not just for keeping the rain off. although this function is very welcome! It is also used as a windbreak, for silting in a cold wintery wind for five hours or more can be very unpleasant.

Angling umbrellas are larger and of stouter material than the standard model. The material is nearly always green, and the polo is stout, with a pointed metal end that can be stuck firmly in the ground. The best models have a tilt device in the pole. This allows the umbrella to be tilled to provide the best protection from driving rain and wind.

Some types have guy lines lilted so that the umbrella can be held stable in a strong gusty wind. A tent-cover can be used in conjunction with an umbrella, and the result is a ‘brolly tent’ in which anglers can sit and fish well protected from bad weather.


Among the accessories which an angler should carry in his tackle box are an old hand-towel, scissors, knife. spare float rubbers and polarised glasses. The towel keeps your hands reasonably clean and dry. especially when hunger strikes and the lunch pack has to be opened.

Scissors are essential, not only for cutting line when assembling traces. but for cutting up and removing unwanted nylon line. This must never be left on the bankside. as it can entrap the feet of birds, and even their beaks. killing them slowly and painfully.

Most anglers have a pair of polarised glasses. Their special optics enable the angler to see beneath the surface even when sunlight is glaring off the water, and they should be considered part of every angler’s basic equipment.

A method of weighing fish can be carried in the form of a spring balance. The scales that include a dial and a tray usually take up too much room, but a simple spring balance occupies very little space. It is always nice to be able to verify the weight of a good fish.

If groundbait is to be mixed at the waterside – and some say that it is best to use water from the swim for this purpose instead of out of the tap-a shallow plastic mixing bowl is useful.

The groundbait mixture can be carried in the bowl during the journey to the water.