Uptide fishing

To counter the effects of strong tide runs, try casting at an angle of 45° uptide. You will find this reduces drag on the line and that you need less lead to grip firmly

When fishing from a harbour wall, with a strong tide-run along it, a long cast straight out across the current will result in the weight being swept round and into the wall by the current before it has a chance to grip. To stop this there are several things the fisherman can do.

A heavier lead with grip wires can be used, but round some parts of the coast even 8oz will not always hold during big spring tides. If the fisherman casts out half the distance, the drag on the line will be roughly halved; a lead which before was swept round will stay where it is cast. If, however, the fisherman makes a long cast, but at an angle of 45° uptide, the drag on the line will again be halved and the lead will be half the distance from the wall that it would have been if he had cast straight out.

It can be seen that the more directly upcurrent the lead is cast, the less the drag will be, and the less weight needed to grip. In practice, it is not quite that simple, as a large and bulky bait will catch the current more than a small one, and the action of the wind on the line will assist or hinder the weight’s grip. The principle is valid, though, and an 8oz weight cast uptide will hold in almost any situation.

A fish taking the bait in a tide-run normally backs off downtide with it, unseating the lead from its grip on the bottom. If the cast has been uptide, the line is suddenly swept downcurrent in an unmistakable manner, looking as if the lead has suddenly lost its grip for no reason. Unfortunately, floating weed causes the same thing to happen, but if a fish has taken the bait, tighten up and strike – an excellent proportion of hooked fish will result, with few bites missed.


Many boat anglers are now also casting uptide, most of them using boatcasting rods and reels, flowing traces, and wired leads of between 4oz and 8oz. Compared with more conventional boat tackle, these hold the bottom remarkably well, partly due to the position they are cast to, partly due to the grip wires, and partly due to the fact that the main line is normal beachcasting monofilament – thinner than the usual lines that boat anglers use.

To ensure that the lead stays put, the amount of line between rod and lead should be at least twice the depth of the water, and preferably more. The longer the line the more the current will tend to pull the lead into the bottom rather than out of it. Remember though, that a lead cast 50 yards uptide in a strong current may be swept back halfway to the boat before the lead has even reached the bottom.

It must be stressed that it is not possible to use the uptide method properly from the stern of a boat. If the boat contained twelve anglers it would be very difficult, unless the vessel was very large, to fish uptide. Moreover, rough weather or a fast current may make the effective use of the technique extremely difficult. In such cases the rod designed for uptide fishing may be used in the traditional way – straight down from the side of the boat. Such rods are built like beachcasters, but on a small scale, and also make fair pier rods. Their design takes account of the obstacles – human or otherwise – that abound in the limited space of a boat.

Fast taper for best action

To obtain as much action as possible in this shorter length – usually 8ft 3in to 9ft – a fast taper is generally favoured. The author prefers an 8ft 6in model, comprising a 6ft 6in tip with a 2ft handle. Beachcasting rings should be used, and the author’s rods, with their very fast tapers, have seven, plus a tip ring. The author’s preference is for one-piece rods, but the best two-piece will have a top with a detachable handle and a boat screw reel fitting with counter. The top would still be awkwardly long and so a spigot joint could be incorporated above the handle, giving, say, a 3ft butt and a 5ft 6in top.

The author usually fishes traces of 3-4ft, incorporating a Clement’s boom, bead and breakaway lead. It is, in any case, difficult to use a trace of wind and tide. Many fish, even if hooked well uptide, will surface some way astern, and this may call for tact if you are right in the bows with several other fishermen stationed between you and the stern. A fish hooked uptide, and running away from you, must also run against the current. Because the strain of the rod is supplemented by the current, it becomes relatively easy to turn even a large and active fish, and lead it downstream so that it will not snag the tackle on the anchor rope.

Ultimately, distance is not essential to the proper working of the technique, and this has enabled designers to cut the length of a suitable rod to between 8ft and 9ft – short enough to be handy, but long enough to cast 6oz or 8oz 60-70 yards. The handle should be around 2ft long, to enable the rod to be operated two-handed. You will make using the rod more pleasurable if the butt is pre-weighted with lead so that, with the reel in place, the rod is slightly butt-heavy. If the fisherman holds the rod loosely and reels in against the lead until the rod is almost level, a slack line bite will immediately allow the butt to drop. I pre-weight the hollow glass butts of all my boat rods, with benefit.

The uptide outfit is completed with a beachcasting reel; the heavy metal spools of the larger boat multiplier reels make them un-suitable. But if a plastic spool is us-ed, it is a good idea to use some str-ing as a backing to lessen the chance of the spool breaking.

It should be stressed that this method is still being developed and new ideas should always be given a fair trial. Different shapes of lead all have their devotees, while a detachable butt to extend the length of a boat rod is one new idea.


It must be clearly understood that uptide fishing from a charter boat calls for a high level of discipline. Without it, the risks of injury from flying lead and hooks are high. Because of the danger, many skip-pers will not allow the method to be used; check with yours before lobb- ing out. Uptide fishing is absolutely forbidden on board West Country charter boats. But, in fairness, the depth of water makes the method impractical anyway. The technique is best suited to the shallows of the East Coast.

Even in this situation it is imprac-ticable for more than half the boat’s complement to fish uptide at the same time, but as few craft in the area carry more than six anglers the problem can be overcome by each side taking turns of half an hour at a time. This also reduces the risk of injury as those not casting can sit or stand at the angle and keep cautious watch on the opposite side’s terminal tackle. It is also essential that the anglers fishing conventionally should use sufficient weight to hold bottom within a small area. Other-wise, when the tide is running at a slight angle to the boat, their gear can be carried underneath and into the path of the uptide tackle as it works back towards the boat. Without this precaution more time could be spent untangling lines and hooks than actually fishing.