Light Rock Fishing (LRF) is a style of fishing in which anglers use very small hooks and lures to catch mini species which are found around the British Isles (although other larger species may be caught as well). LRF originated in Japan and emerged when anglers began to question why the focus was always on trying to catch the largest fish and instead began a discipline of fishing which concentrated on enjoying catching the smaller species which were abundant around their shores. With a number of larger species becoming increasingly scarce in European waters it did not take long for this type of fishing to make its way across to Europe and eventually to the UK. Today LRF is a rapidly growing area of the UK sea angling market, with an increasing number of anglers becoming interested in this style of fishing.
What is Light Rock Fishing and why is it Growing in Popularity?
Light Rock Fishing is a form of lure fishing. Extremely light and sensitive rods are used which cast weights which are tiny by usual UK fishing standards – generally LRF rods will cast weights of no more than 7 grams (¼ oz), and some will even cast a weight of less than one gram. While this may seem ridiculous by anglers used to casting 6-8oz weights as far as possible LRF is all about targeting small fish which live in shallow water close to shore: rockling, blennies, sea scorpions and similar species. Catching these species requires tiny lures and ultra light equipment. LRF is a new concept to many UK anglers used to a more traditional form of beach/rock mark fishing, but LRF is certainly catching on throughout the UK.
Light Rock Fishing is all about getting back to enjoying fishing by targeting the fish which are actually present and not casting out large baits in the hope of catching big fish which may never come along. Often anglers taking part in LRF fishing will catch mini species (see a list of typical catches below) with the fun of catching these species making up for what they lack of size. LRF is sometimes summarised as a style of fishing which lets anglers take pleasure in catching fish which are actually there, rather than spend time trying to catch fish which are not there.
The usual form of beach/rock fishing may see anglers take long beachcasting rods along with masses of bait and large amounts of equipment. LRF is different in the way that anglers can travel light – other than the rod everything needed will fit into a backpack allowing anglers to travel from place to place over the course of a fishing session. Many anglers feel that LRF is a form of fishing which gets back to the fun and enjoyment of fishing for pleasure, and avoids the stress and hassle of fishing in harsh conditions with complicated equipment and techniques.
While there are already a wide range of LRF rods available in the UK, this range is expanding all of the time as LRF continues to increase in popularity. Most LRF rods are 7 – 9 feet in length and cast 0.5-10 grams. This seems ludicrously low compared to a standard 12ft, 4-8oz beachcaster, but for this type of fishing this is ideal as these rods are only designed to cast out the small lures used in Light Rock Fishing. In terms of which exact rods to buy all of the following are good for UK Light Rock Fishing:
- Shakespeare Agility LRF Sea Rod – The growing popularity of LRF has seen Shakespeare add LRF rods to their agility range. This rod is just under 7ft in length and casts up to 7 grams. At under £30 it is an ideal rod for those looking to get started in Light Rock Fishing.
- Tronix Pro HTO Rockfish UL – This range of rods from Tronix Pro cover all LRF situations. The UL (Ultra Light) is 6ft 11ins and is rated to cast just 0.5-7 grams making it ideal for anglers looking to really get into LRF and cast the lightest, smallest lures for mini species. This rod is reasonably priced at around £34.99.
- Savage Gear LRF Light Range – This range of four rods from Savage Gear offers everything LRF anglers need. From the smallest 6ft 6inch rod which casts up to 5 grams to the largest which is 8ft in length and cast up to 10 grams there is a rod in this range to suit all LRF anglers. All are priced at around £70.
The vast majority of anglers who go Light Rock Fishing use a small fixed spool reel, generally in the 1000 or 2000 sizes. Fixed spool reels are preferred due to their simplicity and ease of use. Furthermore, fixed spool reels generally work better with braided line which is used by many LRF anglers. There are a wide range of small fixed spool reels which are ideal to use for LRF available on Amazon:
- Fishzone Daytona ZF15 Micro LRF Fishing Reel– An ideal reel for anglers getting started in LRF. This reel is made with four ball bearings and takes around 110 metres of 0.20 line. It is ideal for pairing up with an LRF rod and costs around £30.
- Shakespeare Agility Front Drag Reel – This reel is ideal to use in its 035 size. It is designed for saltwater use and is manufactured with six ball bearings and most manufacturers supply this reel with a spare spool. The line capacity is 100 metres of 0.21 monofilament line. Overall, this is a great LRF reel and is competitively priced at around £40.
- Shimano Exage 1000 FD Frontdrag Reel – Moving up the price range this Shimano Exage reel costs around £60. It is made with front drag construction and four shielded ball bearings. it takes around 170 metres of 5lb line and is the ideal reel for anglers looking for a high performance LRF reel,
Line for LRF
Many anglers who are heavily into LFR favour a set up which consists of a light braid mainline (usually 5 or 6lb braid) and a flourocarbon leader. This has a number of advantages as the light braid will allow additional casting distance to be gained and the stretch-free nature of braid puts the angler in direct contact with the fish they are trying to catch. Furthermore the flourocarbon leader will be almost invisible under the water and the toughness of flourocarbon will protect against damage from impact and abrasion with rocks. However, anglers who are new to LRF often simply use a light monofilament line all of the way through on their reel due to the simplicity and low cost of this set up. Generally monofilament of 3 – 8lb breaking strain is used.
Terminal Tackle for LRF
Lures: There are a huge range of lures which are available to use when Light Rock Fishing and experimenting to find the types of lures which produce results is one of the most enjoyable aspects of LRF. Many LRF lures are extremely realistic and do not just mimic the appearance of small creatures but are actually full of scent and amino acids which provide an additional attractor to fish. They are also completely biodegradable and harmless to fish if consumed. One of the most popular LRF lures is Marukyu Power Isome. There are worm imitations which look like a British ragworm but are packed with scent and also have a great action once they are in the water. Ecogear Lures are also very popular with UK LRF anglers, and a wide range are available online. Alternatively, some anglers prefer to use mini spinners, especially if fish such as small pollock, wrasse and coalfish are the target.
In Light Rock Fishing the largest hooks which are generally used are sizes 6 – 8 (especially if larger fish such as wrasse may be caught), with size 10 being a good all round size from general LRF. However, some anglers step down to even smaller hooks when they are targeting the smallest of mini species, with sizes 12, 14 and even 16 and 18 used by some dedicated LRF anglers looking to catch the smallest species possible. Anglers can usually find sea fishing Aberdeen hooks down to size 8, but going smaller than this may require purchasing hooks which are designed for freshwater fishing such as Kamasan B980s which are a good all round pattern for LRF fishing. Some anglers prefer barbless hooks for LRF, due to the fact that they are easy to remove from fish and they can do not become stuck if they become snagged on seaweed. NGT Barbless Hooks are a good quality but inexpensive barbelss hook which is ideal for Light Rock Fishing
Weights: While many of the lightest LRF rods are easily able to cast very small lures sometimes it may be necessary to add additional weight to a lure to get extra casting distance. This can be done in a number of ways such as attaching the lure to a jig head, using a sliding weight which will be free to move up and down the line or by using split shot – metal weights which are cut through the radius and can be pressed over light line.The vast majority of sliding weights and jig heads for LRF will be 1 – 10 grams in weight, while most spilt shot is under a gram.
Rig 1 simply attaches the lure to a jig head to provide weight for casting. Rig 2 uses a sliding weight to provide casting weight, with a small bead used to protect the know, while Rig 3 simply adds a few split shot ahead of the lure to add weight.
Best Marks for LRF Fishing
The small species which are the target of LRF anglers can be found in a wide range of locations all across the coastline of the British Isles. Sheltered man-made places such as breakwaters, wharves and piers and jetties are often excellent places for LRF as small species seek out the shelter that these locations offer. However, LRF can also be carried out across rocky coastlines, as this is the natural habitat of many mini species. When the tide is out many small fish will be trapped in deep rockpools, especially those with weed cover, meaning they can be productive for LRF anglers, although mini species can also be caught from deep-water areas as well. Essentially, anywhere with rocks, structure and shelter is likely to attract mini species, meaning it is worth a try for LRF fishing.
Methods and Techniques for Light Rock Fishing
There are no hard and fast rules about LRF, and part of the fun is experimenting with different techniques to see what can be caught. From piers, breawaters and other structures it can simply be a case of dropping a weighted lure straight down the pier/harbour wall until it hits the seabed and then jigging it up and down to attract the fish which will be feeding along the structure. Alternatively a lure can be cast out and either reeled in through mid-water (where it may attract the attention of species such as small pollock or coalfish), or dragged slowly along the seabed, where it will catch the species which live and feed there. Similar techniques can be used when fishing from deeper water rock marks. When fishing in rockpools it can be productive to drag a lure along the edge of a weed bed, where aggressive species such as sea scorpions will dart out and attack the lure. LRF is predominantly about fishing with lures, but mini species do not hunt by sight alone – smell, movement and vibration are all important as well. Often it is the sound and vibrations caused by a jig head hitting against rock can be as important as the look of the lure when it comes to attracting fish, while the smell and amino acids contained in some LRF lures can also be an important factor in catching mini species fish.
There are so many different types and colours of LRF lures that many anglers keep a record of what they use and the results it produces, allowing them to work out what the most productive type of lure is. In murky or clouded water a light or white coloured lure may work best, while in clear water a more naturalistic type lure may be preferred by the fish. Anglers should also pay attention to the size of the lures they use. Some, such as Marukyu Power Isome can be cut to different sizes. If aggressive species such as sea scorpions are being targeted they may prefer a larger section of worm, whereas smaller shy biting species – such as blennies and gobies – may be easier to catch if a much smaller section of worm lure is used. Again it is simply a case of experimenting and trial and error until anglers find what works for them.
Which Species Can Be Caught?
A huge range of species can be caught when Light Rock Fishing. As many of these species live their entire lives in shallow water and will often stay in the inter-tidal zone as the tide goes out meaning that many anglers will never have caught them before – light rock fishing is an ideal way for anglers to add new species to their species list.
When fishing in shallow water, rock pools and tidal areas many mini species can be caught such as:
- Long-spined Sea Scorpion
- Common Goby and Other Goby Species
- Blenny Species
- Rockling Species
- Lesser Weever
- Small Wrasse Species (Rock Cook Wrasse and Corkwing Wrasse)
As well as these other species – which are more commonly targeted by anglers – can be caught, including (but by no means limited to):
- Ballan Wrasse and Cuckoo Wrasse
- Bream Species
- Poor Cod
Sometimes anglers fish with slightly heavier tackle to target larger species. This may include rods which cast 10 – 28 grams and jig heads with jellies and spinners weighing up to one ounce. This type of fishing is somewhere between LRF and regular spinning, and is sometimes referred to as Hard Rock Fishing (HRF).
Light Rock Fishing (and Hard Rock Fishing) is a discipline of sea fishing which is definitely growing in popularity throughout both the UK and the whole of Europe. More and more anglers are increasingly attracted to the simplicity and enjoyability of LRF and see this type of fishing as an interesting change to the more standard beachcasting/rock mark fishing. As LRF continues techniques, equipment and methods will change and adapt, but this type of fishing is set to continue to rise in popularity for the foreseeable future.