Limpets and slipper limpets are often overlooked as a potential bait by serious anglers. But because they are easy to gather, they are a firm favourite with the more casual holiday angler.
Choice of two
The largest of Britain’s native species, and the most often used by anglers, is the common limpet. It is 5cm or more across and found in colonies in rock pools and on rocky shores. A tough bait with a rubbery texture, it stays on the hook well.
The round-backed slipper limpet, more correctly known as the American slipper limpet, is not native to Britain but was accidentally introduced among bargeloads of gravel. Now becoming widespread, it is common along the south and east coasts of England and also in south-west Ireland.
Slipper limpets are often found attached to the top of one of their fellows, sometimes forming chains often or more. They are considered a serious pest on oyster beds. Reaching a very reasonable size, often more than 4 by 2.5cm, they are an attractive bait.
Sometimes the stones or seaweed the limpets cling to are loosened in gales. They then become dislodged by pounding surf near the shoreline and become part of the natural food supply – so if you use them after a storm they can be a successful bait.
Flounders and other flatfish will already have tapped in and turned on to the fresh feast rolling about near the shore, so if you find any loose slippers try them. But don’t cast too far out since the fish may be feeding close in where the limpets have been dislodged.
When using limpets, and especially when fishing over the low water period, there is often no need to gather a large supply of bait. Another limpet can easily be removed when a bait change becomes necessary. Don’t gather more bait than you need.
Lug and limpet
Both types of limpet can be used as bait for small and medium sized fish. For bigger fish such as whiting, bass and cod a clump of limpets is better. Limpet alone provides the most natural and easily obtained bait when rock fishing for wrasse – but they are more usually combined in a cocktail.
Slipper limpets are generally considered a softer, better bait than commons, but both are effective as part of a cocktail. Lugworm is usually the other ingredient – and is accepted by many species of fish.
The tackle for fishing with limpets depends more on the terrain than the bait. As a rule, limpets attract the smaller species, so hooks needn’t be too big. Many anglers find a size 2 or 1 covers most situations. One exception is when fishing for cod using limpet to tip a lugworm bait. In this case use a 3/0,4/0 or 5/0.