Catching Squid with a Rod and Line

Just a few years ago it was pretty much unheard of for anglers to go fishing for squid with a rod and line. However, this type of fishing is increasing in popularity around parts of the UK where squid are at their most common, and many anglers are intrigued to see if they can catch a creature which is a little different to the more common fish species that make up the majority of catches.

Squid Species and Location

The two main types of squid in the UK the common squid (Alloteuthis subulata) and the European squid (Loligo vulgaris). Both squid can be found all around the UK, but are far more common in the warmer waters around the south and south west regions of England, especially in the summer and early autumn months when the sea temperatures are at their highest. The common squid is the smaller of the two species as the mantle (body) rarely reaches more than 20cm in length. The European squid can grow to much larger sizes, reaching a mantle length of over 50cm, although these are rare and usually specimens with a mantle of around 30cm can be considered large. As squid are much more common around the south and south west squid fishing is correspondingly much more common around these areas, although there may well be squid to be caught on rod and line elsewhere in the UK, with the lack of anglers targeting this species explaining why they are rarely caught. There is more information on the squid and cuttlefish species found in UK waters on this page.


Squid jig

Squid jig

Squid prey on smaller fish. However, they do not feed in the same way that a fish does. Instead they reach out with thier arms and tentacles and entangle a fish before pulling it in towards their sharp beak. Squid are therefore not caught using usual hooks and spinners but with by using a special type of lure called a squid jig. This consists of a body (which is designed to resemble a fish in more expensive models) and a row or two of upwards facing points. When a squid attacks the lure its tentacles become caught up in the many sharp points of the jig and allow it to be reeled in by the angler. In this way a multi-pointed squid jig is much more likely to catch and hold a squid than the three points of a treble hook that are fitted to most lures. Indeed, anglers fishing with spinners in areas where squid are present may well get squid attacking their lures but will fail to catch this species due to the fact that actually connecting with a squid using traditional hooks is unlikely.

While it is possible to catch squid by casting a retrieving the squid jig in the same manner as a spinner it is much more effective (and therefore more common) to fish for squid by suspending the squid jig underneath a float in the way displayed below. Cuttlefish may also be caught with this set-up, but do not appear to be as easy to catch as squid.

Squid Float Fishing RigThe reasons for this are unclear – it could simply be because more anglers fish for squid in this way – but it certainly seems that float fishing for squid using a squid jig is the way to catch this species in British waters. For this reason heavy beachcasters are not usually used to catch squid and instead lighter bass rods designed to cast 2-4oz, or even lighter spinning rods are the most commonly used. A wide range of squid jigs is available from Amazon by clicking here.

Methods to Catch Squid

As squid jigs are presented on float rigs then simple float fishing techniques can be used. As squid feed in midwater most anglers present the squid jig at depths of around 5-10 feet below the surface. Once the jig has been cast out many anglers find that the movement of the tide is sufficient to move the float and jig in a way which is more than sufficient to get the squid to attack. However, if the water is very still it may be necessary to reel the float in a few turns every minute or so to impart some movement into the jig. Squid bites are usually fairly strong as the squid engulfs the jig in its arms and tentacles. On seeing the float dip under the surface the angler should resist the temptation to strike. This is because the arms and two tentacles of the squid are actually fairly weak and delicate and if the squid is only attached to the jig by one or two arms/tentacles then the strike may well detach the squid from the jig. Instead of striking the angler should quickly but smoothly raise the rod and reel in quickly. A strong but smooth retrieve is essential as the points of the jig are unbarbed and therefore constant pressure is needed to stop the squid swimming off the jig.

Cuttlefish caught on a squid jig

Cuttlefish caught on a squid jig.


There is the belief that squid are attracted to light and some anglers seek out fishing marks next streetlights or other sources of artificial light, whereas others attach a chemical light stick or other form of artificial light to the lures they are using. However, there is no strong evidence that these ideas actually increase catches, and many anglers report that squid feed just as well on a clear and sunny day. The weak arms and tentacles of squid are liable to snap off if the squid is hauled up to a raised fishing area. Therefore it is always best to have a drop net to hand if squid are being fished for from a raised platform or position.

Uses for Squid

Squid are of course a great bait with the vast majority of fish species around the UK being caught on a squid bait on one time or another. Squid is also delicious to eat with squid coated in breadcrumbs and shallow fried being particularly nice. This page shows how to gut squid for bait, but squid being prepared for human consumption can be gutted in exactly the same way.

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