What to Take When You Go Fishing

Anyone who has been going sea fishing for any amount of time will have built up a collection of tackle. From rods and reels to lures, disgorgers, lamps and the endless choice of terminal tackle it can be very difficult to decide what to take on a fishing trip and what to leave at home. Indeed, one complaint that is often heard from anglers is that they wish they could travel lighter and not be bogged down by carrying too much gear around with them when they are fishing. There is always a balance to be struck between taking the right amount of equipment so that an angler has all eventualities covered during a fishing session, and then not taking too much gear which they will not need or use.

This article looks at the suggested equipment needed for two different types of fishing session – a half-day session spent lure fishing from a series of rock marks in the summer and a longer session spent fishing for cod from a beach which will start during daylight and finish at night. There is also a separate section at the end which looks at equipment that will be useful for any kind of fishing session. In each scenario we will look at the equipment which an angler may need to take with them and what they can leave at home. Of course, this article is only meant to suggest general advice on what to take, and all anglers will make different decisions on exactly what they feel they need to take with them on any given fishing trip.

Summer Rock Mark Spinning/Lure Fishing

In this scenario we will consider what an angler needs for a summer daytime session spinning for bass and pollock (with the possibility of also catching mackerel) across a number of rock marks. It is proposed that the angler will be fishing for three or four hours and moving from mark to mark during this time.

Clothing: Clothing for the spinning from rock marks needs to be comfortable and yet let the angler move around freely. Many anglers may feel happy in a T-shirt and jeans, although it is a good idea to bring a light waterproof jacket in case of rain. Alternatively, light, waterproof smocks are increasingly popular with anglers and can prove ideal for this type of fishing. In the summer a baseball cap and sunglasses are a good idea as the glare from the sun on the sea can cause problems. Taking suncream may also be necessary.

Footwear: While some anglers are happy wearing trainers, a pair of strong outdoor walking boots is the best choice for anglers fishing from rocks. These provide the best grip when moving around rock surfaces. It is always best to choose boots which are rated as being waterproof, as these will maintain comfort if weather conditions change. Amazon has a wide range of waterproof boots for anglers – view by clicking here.

Rod and reel: In this scenario, anglers are likely be using a bass rod which is around 11ft long or a spinning rod which will be 9 or 10ft. Both of these types of rod are light and relatively easy to carry if they are fastened together with Velcro rod straps which are available from Sea Angling Shop. An angler going on a half-day lure fishing session may happily get by with only one reel, but some carry a spare reel (even if it is only a budget spinning reel) with them as a back-up in case their main reel fails or becomes damaged in some way. As anglers will be holding the rod all of the time a rod rest or tripod is unnecessary. View the range of spinning rod and reel sets available from Sea Angling Shop by clicking here.

Backpack: For the angler lure fishing from a rock mark a backpack is the obvious choice to hold equipment. Specialist outdoor backpacks are the best option as they are more secure having extra straps and pockets which can be invaluable for storing lures or terminal tackle. They are also more robust than standard backpacks, making them more resistant to damage when being placed down on rocks. Lures and other items can be secured inside in clip-shut plastic boxes. View this type of backpack on Amazon by clicking here.

Lures: Anglers need to think about how many spinners and lures they will bring with them, as many of the rocky marks which produce good fish will also be very snaggy and anglers can potentially lose numerous lures over a fishing session. Anglers can take a range of spinners in different weights and may also want to take some surface plugs or shallow diving plugs as well as jelly lures. They can then switch to different types of lures if the one they are using is not getting results. The same is true of lure colours with anglers changing between natural coloured lures and bright pink, green or red lures during a fishing session until they find one that works on the day. View the range of spinners, plugs and jelly lures available at Sea Angling Shop by clicking here.

Line clippers and extra terminal tackle items: Anglers who are lure fishing will not need to take a great deal of extra equipment with them, as there is no need to make rigs and often they can simply tie the lure they wish to use onto the end of the line and start fishing. However, they will need to take line clippers to cut line when tying on new lures, and it is also a good idea to take a few extra swivels, split rings and treble hooks in case any get damaged on spinners they are using and need to get replaced. The section below also lists some of the additional items (such as disgorger, tape measure, landing net etc.) which are not necessarily essential, but anglers may wish to take with them.

Winter Beach Cod Fishing

In this scenario, the angler will be fishing from a beach for a full day (six to eight hours fishing). It is imagined that this is taking place in winter and will begin in daylight but end in darkness. The main target will be large cod, although bass, whiting, flounder or other species could also take the bait. The angler is fishing from a beach which is mostly clean ground and does not expect to move to a different mark during the fishing session.

Clothing: In the winter beach fishing a flotation suit is by far the best choice. These are padded and insulated waterproof suits which can come in one or two-section designs and provide warmth and protection from the elements. Sundridge, Penn, Fladen and Fisheagle are some of the most popular brands with sea anglers which are available from Amazon. A hat and gloves will be necessary for the angler fishing for cod in the winter, with a pair of fingerless gloves that will allow anglers to tie knots and bait hooks without removing the gloves. Anglers fishing in the coldest weather may also want to bring a pair of large thermal gloves (such as those designed for skiing) which can be worn over the top of lighter gloves.

Footwear: In this winter cod fishing scenario the angler can also wear walking boots, although thermal-lined wellingtons may prove a better option against the cold winter weather, and also protect anglers from getting their feet wet if the tide comes in too close or they need to step into the water to land a fish. Some anglers wear waders as well as the top section of a two-piece flotation suit as an alternative to a full flotation suit.

Rod and reel: In this scenario, anglers are likely to be using a full-sized beachcaster of 12 – 15ft in length which casts weights of 4 – 8oz. If a group of anglers is going fishing together it may be a good idea to put all of the rods into a fishing rod holdall and carry them together. Many anglers take a spare reel as a mistimed cast with a multiplier reel can result in a messy bird’s nest. This can take a lot of time to sort out (and is especially difficult with cold hands) and many anglers simply prefer to switch to another reel to save time.

Tripod: When fishing from a beach a rod rest or tripod is essential. There is a wide variety on the market with higher six or seven-foot tripods the best for getting rod tips high above breaking waves. On some beaches it can be possible to use a sand spike instead of a tripod, but these are not suitable for all locations as they cannot be pushed into shingle or hard surfaces.

Fishing seat box: When fishing for a long time and carrying a lot of equipment a fishing seat box is usually the best choice. These can store a large amount of tackle inside and are designed to double up as a seat when the angler waiting for a bite. Some can be converted to be carried like a backpack, making them much easier to transport.

Weights: When beach fishing it is a good idea to take a range of different weights to cover different weather and sea conditions. As most beachcasters cast 4 – 8oz anglers should take a range of both plain and grip weights in these sizes. Lighter weights can be used in calmer conditions, while heavier weights are better if the wind picks up and anglers end up having to cast into a headwind. Plain weights are fine to use in light tidal conditions in sheltered marks such as harbours and estuaries, but in strong tides it is necessary to use grip weights to hold the rig in place on the seabed. Obviously, an angler fishing a rocky, snaggy area will need more weights than one fishing from a snag-free sandy beach, but the total number of weights taken on a fishing session is again a personal choice. Taking a lot of weights can mean an uncomfortable and heavy fishing box (something to consider if there is a long walk to the fishing mark), but running out of weights will bring an end to a fishing session. The full range of weights available from Sea Angling Shop can be viewed by clicking here.

Rig wallet or rig winders: Anglers going on this type of fishing session should have made a number of rigs in advance which are ready to use. Rig wallets have long been used for storing and transporting rigs, but recent years have seen rig winders – foam disks that have the rig wrapped around them – become popular. Winders are available in a number of different colours which can be used to colour code rigs. Again an angler fishing from a snaggy rock mark will want to take more rigs (which will likely be a cheaper and simpler design) than an angler fishing from a mostly snag-free sandy beach. Buy Zebco Medium Rig Wallets from Sea Angling Shop by clicking here, or rig winders, also from Sea Angling Shop, by clicking here.

Components to make new rigs: While anglers can take ready-made rigs in a rig wallet or on rig winders it is always a good idea to take a small compartment box (such as WSB’s Double Sided Tackle Box) with items such as hooks, swivels, crimps and links/clips in it so that additional rigs can be made while fishing. This will allow anglers to make new rigs if they run out of ready-made rigs, while it can also be used to repair rigs, for example tying on a new hook if one becomes bent when pulling out of a snag, or replacing a link or swivels which has become damaged. Obviously in order to make rigs when fishing anglers will also need to take other items such as crimping pliers, line clippers and extra line with them (see section below).

Bait elastic: Many soft baits such as peeler crab and mussel need to be lashed onto the hook with bait elastic to ensure that the bait does not come off the hook when casting or on impact with the water. Koike Bait Elastic is available in both standard and extra-fine variations and can be viewed and purchased from Sea Angling Shop by clicking here. Not all baits require the use of bait elastic but for the modest cost of this product, it is always worth having some in the tackle box.

Bait boxes: Many anglers find plastic or Tupperware boxes with secure clip shut lids are ideal for holding smaller baits such as ragworm, lugworm or mussels. Larger baits such as full mackerel can be stored in sealed plastic bags until they are required. Many fishing seat boxes also have interior or exterior clip on trays which can also be used to store bait boxes. Frozen baits such as sandeels can be stored in a vacuum flask to keep them in good condition until needed.

Tip lights: As this fishing scenario is going to finish at night it will be necessary to have a tip light fitted to the rod so that any bites can be seen in darkness. Battery-powered tip lights come in a range of different colours and have additional batteries which can be fitted when the originals run out. However, some anglers are happy to use a chemical light stick and attach this to their rod tip with clear tape as a cheap alternative, such as these Ocean Sun chemical light sticks from Sea Angling Shop which are available in two sizes. Similarly, Delta Rod Lites are very popular with UK anglers. They are available from Sea Angling Shop by clicking here.

Torches/lantern/lights: If night fishing anglers will need to take a source of light. It is often a good idea to take a lantern that will cast light around a whole fishing area. LED lanterns are common today but old-fashioned paraffin fuelled lanterns are still used by some anglers. Headlamps are now inexpensive and are widely used by anglers as they allow the obvious advantage of leaving the angler’s hands-free while they are fishing.

Additional Line: Anglers may need to take additional line with them when they are fishing. If they are going to make extra rigs when they are fishing they will need to take rig body line (which will need to be at least 60lbs breaking strain) and snood line (such as Amnesia) in order to make rigs. If anglers are using a shockleader they will need to take more of this line with them as well in case they lose their original shockleader to snags and need to replace it. Anglers may also want to take a spool of mainline with them as well in case they need to replace the line of an entire reel due to a tangle or bird’s nest.

Items Useful for Any Fishing Session

The following items can be of use to anglers when fishing in either of the scenarios above:

Camera/phone: A camera is useful if anglers are fishing on a catch-and-release basis and want to photograph their catch before returning it to the sea. It is becoming increasingly unacceptable to kill fish that are not going to be eaten, and many anglers are happy with a quick photo before returning their catch. A fully-charged mobile phone is also an essential item as any angler can unexpectedly find themselves in trouble and a mobile phone may be the only means of getting help.

Towels/cloths: An old tea towel is necessary for anglers to wipe their hands with after baiting up their hooks or unhooking a fish.

First aid: A small first aid kit containing plasters, bandages, sterile medical wipes and other items to treat cuts and grazes can be a good idea. Many high street chemists and internet retailers sell first aid kits for under £10.

Drop net/landing net: Many anglers go fishing and then only consider how they will land their catch when they have a fish on the end of their line. Even a modestly sized fish can be difficult to reel up out of the water to an elevated position. A drop net can make the difference between landing and losing a fish from these positions and a landing net can be used to land fish where anglers can reach the surface of the water. Read more about this topic on our page on playing and landing fish by clicking here.

Tape measure/scales: A tape measure is necessary to ensure that any fish which are caught and retained are above the legal limit, while scales can be used to accurately verify the weights of any fish which are caught. Angling Pursuits electronic fishing scales can be purchased from Sea Angling Shop for £7.49 by clicking here. Alternatively, simple pocket balances from Amazon can be viewed by clicking here.

Knife/Chopping Board: Essential for cutting and preparing bait such as squid, mackerel and bluey and gutting any fish which are caught.

Disgorger: A necessary piece of equipment for quickly and efficiently getting the hook out of any fish which are caught. T-bar type disgorgers are the most popular type used by sea anglers and can be used to unhook any species of fish, even those which have taken the hook relatively deep. Disgorgers can be purchased from Sea Angling Shop from only £3.19 by clicking here.