Light Rock Fishing (LRF) is a style of fishing in which anglers use extremely light gear to catch the 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 that focused 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 ever-increasing amount of tackle and equipment available to anglers who want to try this style of sea 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 that are tiny by usual UK fishing standards. As a general rule 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 bizarre to anglers used to using heavy beachcasting rods and 6 – 8oz weights the whole point of LRF is to use very light gear to target small species of fish which are found in very shallow water close to shore. Rockling, blennies, gobies, sea scorpions and similar species are all targeted by LRF anglers. 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 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 in size. LRF is sometimes summarised as a style of fishing which allows anglers to take pleasure in catching fish that are actually there, rather than spend time trying to catch fish which are not present.
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 between 6 and 9 feet in length. The lightest LRF rods can be rated to cast 0.5 – 5 grams, while heavier LRF rods may be rated to cast lures of 8 – 30 grams. Provided a rod can cast lures of 10 grams or less it will be suitable for LRF. Anglers should ensure that the rod they are purchasing is specifically designed for Light Rock Fishing as some cheap spinning rods are rated to cast very light lures but lack the sensitivity and subtlety of an LRF rod.
The Penn Rampage II is a 7.4ft Light Rock Fishing Rod which comes with two tips. The first tip is ideal for the lightest of LRF fishing as it is rated to cast 0.5 – 5 grams, allowing the smallest and lightest lures to be used. The other tip gives the rod a little more power and is rated to cast 5 – 12 grams. This rod is made with a carbon blank and includes all of the usual Penn refinements such as Fuji guides, EVA grip and is supplied with a Cordura tube to store and transport the rod in. The choice of two tips means that anglers have all LRF situations covered making this a great choice of rod. Available from Amazon for around £60 – 65 by clicking on this link.
The Fladen Maxximus Dropshot is a Light Rock Fishing rod that is ideal for LRF fishing around the coastline of the British Isles. It has a casting weight of 5 – 20 grams when selected in the 6ft length or 8 – 32 grams when the 8ft variation is selected. Both of these rods can be used for LRF fishing but can also handle larger lures meaning that they can also be used to target bigger fish. This is a two-section rod which is made with a mixed carbon blank and cork handles. At only £30 this is an adaptable and capable rod which can cover Light Rock Fishing and spinning at a very competitive price. View and purchase this rod from Amazon by clicking here.
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 over small multipliers 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, although others use light monofilament. While most of the major fishing tackle manufacturers make reels which are specifically designed for LRF many anglers are happy to use a small and inexpensive fixed spool reel, such as the Abu Garcia Cardinal in the 50 and 51 sizes which can be viewed and purchased from Amazon by clicking this link.
Terminal Tackle for LRF
Line: Both braided line and monofilament can be used in LRF. If braided line is used it is usually around under 10lb in breaking strain and used with 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 abrasion with rocks. Anglers who are new to LRF may prefer to 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 between 3 – 8lb breaking strain is used in LRF.
Spinners: Very small spinners (compared to those used for mackerel, bass or pollock) can be used when Light Rock Fishing. Anglers can use spinners weighing just a few grams to catch a range of mini species, while there is also the change that a larger fish may take the spinner if LRF gear is used to fish deeper water marks. Just a few years ago there was only a small selection of spinners under 10 grams for sea anglers to choose from meaning that many had to use spinners intended for freshwater fishing. However, the growing popularity of LRF means that there is now a much wider range of small LRF spinners and similar metal lures for anglers to choose from.
Jelly Lures: There are a huge range of jelly and soft plastic lures that 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 also full of scent and amino acids which provide an additional attractor to fish. They are also completely biodegradable and harmless to fish if consumed. Marukyu Power Isome lures are one of the best available for LRF but can be expensive as they are imported from Japan. Cheaper alternatives such as these Power Worms which imitate the appearance of a ragworm are also effective for Light Rock Fishing.
Weights: While many of the lightest LRF rods are able to cast very small lures sometimes it may be necessary to add additional weight to a lure to make it heavy enough to cast. This is usually achieved by adding sliding weights, such as those pictured to the right, to the line. Most anglers who regularly go Light Rock Fishing will carry a range of weights from a few grams up to 10 – 15 grams so that they can choose the right weight for the situation they are fishing. Split Shot – metal weights which are cut through the radius and can be pressed over light line – can also be used.
Hooks: 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. 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 hooks down to size 6, but going smaller than this may require purchasing hooks that 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 as they are much easier to remove from both the small mouths of mini species and any seaweed which they may become snagged on.
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. Light Rock Fishing 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 are 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 works. From piers, breakwaters 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 mackerel, greater sandeels or small pollock and 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 the sound and vibrations caused by a lure hitting against rock or dragging through sand 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 light or white coloured lure may work best, while in clearer water a more natural type of 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 using trial and error until anglers find what works for them.
Which Species Can Be Caught?
The species which can be caught when Light Rock Fishing include, but are not limited to the following:
- 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 many of these species spend their entire lives within the shallow water of the intertidal zone LRF is a way for many anglers to catch new species for the first time.
Light Rock Fishing can take place all year round, but the mini species listed above are generally more active and willing to take an LRF lure in the warmer months of the year, meaning that most LRF fishing takes place between the spring and autumn. It is, however, perfectly possible to catch all of these species in the winter, although deeper water rock marks or harbours may prove more productive during the colder months of the year. Anglers may of course catch more common species when Light Rock Fishing with species such as codling, pollock, bass, dab and flounder all possibilities, especially from deeper water LRF marks. Many anglers take a landing net with them so that they can land any larger fish which are caught when they are Light Rock Fishing.
Hard Rock Fishing
Hard Rock Fishing (HRF) is a type of fishing in which anglers use rods with a casting weight usually between 10 and 28 grams to lure fish for species such as wrasse, bass bream and pollock from rock marks. It uses similar techniques to LRF but specifically targets larger species of fish with heavier gear.
Light Rock Fishing (and Hard Rock Fishing) is a discipline of sea fishing which has grown in popularity throughout both the UK to the extent that it is now seen as a mainstream form of sea fishing. 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 beach or rock mark fishing. As LRF continues to develop the techniques, equipment and methods will change and adapt and this type of fishing is set to continue to rise in popularity for the foreseeable future.