Most saltwater fishermen seem to end up specialising in either shore
fishing or boat fishing - just one of them, seldom both.
Perhaps the sheer volume of tackle required to do both effectively - and its cost - is the limiting factor.
But it does make sense for even the most committed boat angler to have some shore angling gear for those days when it's just too rough to get out in a boat.
And it's not just boat anglers that need to have a good working knowledge of tides; shore anglers do too.
Why? Well, for two good reasons:~
So it would be as well to know about this before you head off for the shoreline, especially if any bait-digging is involved.
But it's pretty broad term, shore angling, including as it does:~
We'll get back to these shore fishing venues later - along with the primary shore fishing techniques of:~
First though, let's take a look at the tackle and equipment you'll need to cover these aspects of shore fishing ...
Clearly, the sheer variety of fish species, techniques and shore fishing venues rules out any chance of a single rod and reel outfit satisfying all your expectations.
Take shore fishing rods for instance. You'll need a specialist surf casting rod if you're to stand any chance of getting your bait out past the breakers on a gently sloping beach.
And spinning for bass? There's a huge choice of spinning rods available for casting a lure to this, the most popular by far of our inshore fish.
But before you rush out and buy a casting rod of any kind, you'll need to decide on what type of reel you intend to use with it. Why? Well, if it's a baitcast reel (a small multiplier) you'll need a rod specifically designed for it. As this type of reel is used on top of the rod, then the line guides will be small and closely spaced to keep the line clear of the blank when the rod takes up its maximum power curve.
If a spinning (or fixed spool) reel is your preference, which is fixed below the rod, then there'll be fewer guides and those closest to the reel will be of a larger diameter to accommodate the coils of line that come off the fixed spool during casting.
Shore rods are marked with their casting rating, either in ounces or grammes, and this relates to the range of lure weights or leads they're intended to be used with. As a rule of thumb:~
Here you have a choice:~
In the end it will probably come down to personal choice, but let's take a look at the main strengths and weaknesses of each type:~
Fixed Spool Reels:~
For general shore fishing, 15lb breaking strain monofilament (0.35mm diameter) will be about right, so when choosing a reel for this purpose, look for a model that holds 250m to 300m of 12lb to 20lb line. For rough ground fishing you'll need a reel of capacity for at least 200m of 25lb to 30lb line (0.45mm diameter).
You've got just two types of main reel lines to choose from:~
Monofilament Lines for Shore Fishing ~ These are made from liquid nylon, by drawing it out in a single continuous strand until it has reached a predetermined thickness. Small diameter mono lines are made by continuing the drawing-out process until the desired thickness has been reached. Breaking strain is obviously related to diameter, so it will come as no surprise that thinner lines are less strong than thick ones.
Modern production processes ensure that today's mono lines are highly consistent in terms diameter and breaking strain when new, but this happy state of affairs soon changes after the line has been in use for a while. Exposure to the sun causes a structural change in the line - ultra-violet degradation - to occur, and this together with the inevitable nicks and abrasions soon mean that the actual breaking strain of your mono line is only a fraction of what it said on the spool. Fortunately, mono line is relatively cheap - and it's a wise angler that replaces it regularly.
Braid lines for Shore Fishing ~ The acclaimed features of braided line - narrow diameter and high strength - bring both benefits and disadvantages for shore fishing. For example:~
And just one more knot to learn - the rather unimaginatively named braid knot.
When casting from a crowded beach, the last thing you need is a crack-off. You must use a shock leader to prevent this happening.
As a rule of thumb, the breaking strain of the shock leader should be ten times the weight of the lead (in ounces) in pounds, if you see what I mean. That is, for a 4oz weight use a 40lb shock leader, for a 6oz weight use a 60lb shock leader and so on.
Not only should the shock leader be of adequate strength, it should also be low stretch - which sounds strange for something intended to absorb shock. The reason is because the dynamics of long casting requires that all of your energy is transferred into compressing the rod.
If the line is capable of stealing some of this energy by stretching, then your rod will get less of it and your casts will be shorter.
Which is why specialised shock leaders of either nylon monofilament or fluorocarbon are manufactured with the required balance of high strength, small diameter and low stretch.
The essence of a good terminal rig for shore fishing is that it should:~
If the ultimate long-range casting isn't an issue, two baited hooks will lay down a more intense scent trail than one. A three-hook rig may be even better - but no more, or you'll be asking for tangles and hang-ups on the retrieve. As a general rule, use a single-hook rig on broken ground and save the multi-hook rig for clear, snag-free seabeds.
Not sure how to make the various terminal tackle rigs up? Then cheat!
How? Buy one of each sort that you'll be likely to use from your tackle supplier - and copy them shamelessly.
These are the main ones for shore fishing with bait:~
For better bait presentation, make use of the two-hook Pennel Rig for larger baits.
How much shore fishing equipment you need to lug around depends on your chosen technique. For example, you could:~
My guess is that this latter approach will leave you fairly static on the shore, and probably not too far from where you parked the car!
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