Getting into Coarse Fishing can be very intimidating. Searching for fishing online will bring up all sorts of different fishing tackle, techniques and baits for all kinds of fishing and it is difficult to know where to start.
In this Coarse Fishing guide, we are going to take an in depth look at coarse fishing and break everything down in simple and understanding terms. We aim to provide practical tips to help you gain a better understanding of Coarse Fishing and how to get started.
Doing some research before purchasing the latest rod and reel will make sure that you are making the right purchase on your new fishing gear, and perhaps even make a saving in the process.
Coarse Fishing is, and can be very simple and not very expensive if you know where to look and what to buy.
What is Coarse Fishing?
Coarse fishing or coarse angling refers to fishing for freshwater fish in the UK and Ireland, these are usually in lakes, ponds, rivers, gravel pits and reservoirs. Common coarse fish are roach, perch, tench, pike, carp, dace, bream, chub and barbel. Coarse Fish are basically, any fish that is not in the sea, apart from Salmon & trout.
Some coarse anglers target specific fish which are usually either specimen carp and barbel or predator fish such as pike and zander whereas others target anything and anything. Then you have the match anglers who compete against other anglers.
So let’s get started with the basics and look at the tackle you will need for coarse fishing and how to use it.
Coarse Fishing Setup
What Tackle do I need to start Coarse Fishing?
There are lots of different techniques and methods that anglers utilise and they depend on the species of fish they are targeting, and the type of venue they are coarse fishing. There are many different pieces of tackle to get to grips with.
However, as a complete novice, we recommend that you keep things as simple as possible and begin with either a simple whip or pole or a rod and reel.
We have reviewed lots of tackle to compile a list of the best budget tackle for beginners to help you get started on your fishing journey.
There are lots of different options when it comes to fishing tackle. Finding the best tackle for you depends what you will be using the tackle for, your budget and of course your personal preference. We have therefore compiled lots of handy tackle guides for you on various different methods and uses, to allow you to find the best tackle for your needs.
What is a Fishing Rod?
A fishing rod is a long rod generally made from fiberglass or carbon fiber so they are lightweight and easy to hold and control. They are typically between 8 and 13 feet long with eyes or eyelets periodically placed along the rod to feed the line from the reel, which is attached to the base of the rod.
There are lots of different types of rods and it can be hard to know which rod will be the most suitable.
Most anglers start fishing at small lakes and commercial fisheries. We have reviewed the best rods for commerical lakes to help you decide which is the best rod for you, based on your needs and budget.
If you plan on fishing a wide variety of venues, fishing multiple different methods, then you may need a match rod.
What is a Fishing Reel?
A reel has a spool of fishing line (or fishing wire). This is attached to the base of the rod and the line feeds through the eyes of the rod. You can release the line allowing you to cast out the line, and you can also wind back the line, or reel in the line.
Why not check out our coarse fishing reel tackle guides to help you find most suitable reel for you.
What is a Fishing Pole?
A pole is similar to a fishing rod, only it does not have a reel. The line is attached to the end of the pole via elastic. You are unable to cast out with a fishing pole.
A pole has detachable sections that allow you to adjust the length in which you are fishing and allowing you to fish in a more precise and simplistic manner.
Poles vary in length and are generally between 6m to 17.5m The tackle and accessories used for pole fishing us generally a lot lighter allowing for a more precise and delicate set up. Poles generally are more expensive than rods.
What is a Fishing Whip?
A whip is a smaller pole and they are usually telescopic. They are very lightweight, easy to control and relatively cheap therefore ideal for beginners. Whips are usually utilised in small ponds and streams when fishing for smaller fish.
What techniques should I use for coarse fishing?
If you are just getting started as a new angler, we recommend starting with float fishing. This can be used with a rod, pole or whip. Pole fishing may be a little easier, but a decent rod and reel are usually the most cost-effective.
When you go fishing for the first time, there are lots of things to work out. Start by fishing on a small pond or canal, fishing for small roach and perch. This will help you get to grips with this basics.
A great tactic is also fishing down the edge of a lake or pond. This is called margin fishing and is a great way to start fishing as you do not need to cast very far and usually you will be fishing shallow so it’s easier to practice.
How to float fish?
A float is attached to your line, usually held in place by small weights or “shot”. At the of the line is a hook with your bait on. A float indicates when you have a bite (a fish is eating your bait). The indication is usually the float disappearing under the water (although sometimes it could unnaturally raise out of the water).
Once the float disappears under the water you strike by raising your rod or pole. This takes a bit of practice, and you will probably miss your first few bites.
That split second from watching your float go under and striking where you wonder what is on the end of your line is probably one of the best feelings you can have when fishing – it’s the anticipation, the unknown. What is on the other end of the line? Will I hook it?
Essential Tackle For Coarse Fishing
What float should I use?
There are many different types of floats but to get started, we recommend a waggler for rod fishing and a pole float for pole fishing. A waggler is attached to the line from the bottom of the float.
To use a pole float you thread your line through the eye on the bulk of the float. For pole floats, you will also need some rubbers which are essentially small rubber or silicone bands that you will need to thread onto your line, and onto the pole floats. Usually one at the top of the float and two or three on the base of the float.
Learn more about float fishing in windy and choppy conditions.
What Fishing Line should I use?
Fishing line comes in different strengths, or “breaking strain”. The bigger the fish the higher the breaking strain. For beginners targeting smaller fish such as roach and perch, 3lb or 4lb breaking strain is sufficient.
However, if you are fishing somewhere that stocks larger fish, such as carp, then you may want to up your line 6lb or 8lb. In this case, you may want to use a hook length, which is a lower strength line in a small section near the hook. However, to keep things simple, we recommend sticking to the smaller line. It is still possible to catch large fish on a lower strength line.
Unsure what line to use? We have created a complete tackle guide for new anglers.
What is a Landing Net?
A landing net is needed to allow you to safely take the fish from the water onto the bankside or boat. A net is usually attached to a long pole allowing for ease of use. There are different types and sizes of landing nets used depending on the type of fish you are targeting. For example, larger fish require larger landing nets.
A landing net is essential and should be the first thing you set up before you set up. You don’t want to forget to set up your landing net, start fishing and catch a big one.
Do I need a Keep Net?
A keep net allows you to keep your fish safely in the water allowing you to weigh-in at the end of your session. Generally, these are only necessary for use in competitive match fishing.
A keep net is not essential tackle for a new angler – you would be better off spending your money on more essential tackle.
What Hooks do I need?
Hooks are the most important items of fishing tackle you can buy. Without a decent hook, you are not going to catch anything.
Hooks come in different sizes. For coarse fishing, they range from size 26 to size 2. The higher the number, the smaller the hook. Always make sure the hook you are using is sharp, otherwise you will miss bites, or lose the fish as you will not be able to set the hook properly.
You should always try to match the size of your hook with your bait. This gives you good bait presentation. If the hook is too big for your bait, the fish will see it. If the hook is too small, you will struggle to hook the fish when you stike. For more on this, check out our article on why you’re not catching any fish and how to avoid missing bites.
Hooks generally come barbed or barbless. Most venues ban barbed hooks and for good reason. A barbed hook makes it harder for a fish to shake off the hook, however, they cause damage to the fish’s mouth and should your line break when playing a fish, the hook and line is likely to stay in the fish’s mouth for a long time. For the safety of the fish, we recommend that you only use barbless hooks.
What Shot or Weights will I need?
Shot are small weights used to weigh down your float and to sink your hook and bait. Place shot either side of your float to hold it in place and also use a “sinker” closer to your hook bait. Floats will usually tell you what weight and how much shot is needed.
What is a Disgorger?
A disgorger is a cheap and essential tool that allows you to remove the hook quickly and safely for the fish. Sometimes when you hook a fish you can easily remove the hook by hand if it’s on the lip or edge of the mouth, especially if you are using barbless hooks. However, sometimes you hook a fish in the back of its mouth.
Do I need Forceps?
Forceps are small pliers. Similarly to the disgorger, they allow the angler to unhook the fish in hard to reach areas. This is more important if you were to catch a pike or other predatory fish as reaching into their mouth can be dangerous.
If you are fishing somewhere like canals and rivers or large open water, it is wise to take a pair of forceps with you. If you just fishing at commercial lakes or ponds where the stock has been carefully selected, you will know whether or not they stock predatory fish as they usually have notices telling you what fish they stock.
Do I need to take Scissors fishing?
Scissors are needed to cut your line when you have tied your hooks to keep your hook and bait presentation as neat as possible.
What is a Seat box?
A good comfortable seat is needed when fishing for long hours. A seat box is useful as it is helpful to carry all of your tackle, and something to sit on. Try to keep this as light as possible as some fishing trips require a lot of walking with your tackle.
What is a Tackle Box?
A tackle box is useful for keeping your smaller fishing tackle together in a nice and organised manner. Knowing where your hooks, shot, disgorger, scissors, etc are can save you a lot of time on the bank, and more time fishing. You can keep your tackle box in your seat box and take it out when fishing.
What Is a Bait Box and do I need to buy one?
These are to keep your bait in. When just starting as a new angler, you can save money by using an old margarine or butter tub. Especially if you are fishing with worms or maggots, make sure you punch some small holes in the top of the tub.
What is a Plummet and how do you use one?
A plummet allows you to check the depth of the water you are fishing in. Attach it to the end of your line, usually by feeding the hook through the hole in the top of the plummet and sinking the hook into the cork. Adjust the distance from your float from the hook/plummet, if the float is above/on top of the water then you are “over depth” if your float disappears then you are “under depth”.
To make sure you are fishing on the bottom of the lake or pond, you should adjust the distance of the float from the hook/plummet so that your float is only just visible. Of course, you do not need to fish purely on the bottom, but knowing how deep the water is, then allows you to adjust your set-up accordingly.
Here is an example of the different different locations you can fish to, and the different depths you can fish.
- Fishing on the bottom very close in, at the bottom of a slope, above a little step.
- Fishing at the bottom of the step
- Fishing on the bottom just after the second step
- Fishing shallow between the second step and the big ledge
- Fishing just above the big ledge
- Fishing at the bottom of the ledge
- Fishing shallow after the big ledge, intercepting fish swimming up and down the ledge
Not all lakes are like this, this is just an example to give you an idea of the different options available you. By plumbing the depth and trying different things, you can work out what works best for you and for the conditions.
What is a Rod Rest and what are the benefits?
Rod rests are useful for resting your rod on when fishing. Not only does it make things more comfortable for you, but it also keeps your rod and line steady in the water. When fishing it’s best to stay as still as possible so you do not spook the fish, so a rod rest will assist with this. However, using a rod rest may slow down your reaction speed when you get a bite indication from your float so you still need to remain alert.
Do I need an Unhooking Mat?
Not always needed depending on the size of the fish you catch. If you catch a small fish you can handle it in your hands without the need for touching the hard floor. However, you may need to unhook larger fish on the floor, in this case, an unhooking mat is required for the safety of the fish. Before placing a fish on the unhooking mat, make sure the mat is wet, again for the safety of the fish.
Do I need Weighing Scales?
Scales allow you to weigh in your catch to see how much it weighs. You don’t want to catch a big fish, possibly your personal best and not know how much it weighs.
Best Bait to use for Coarse Fishing
What Bait should I use?
There are many different types of bait you could use. When first starting out maggots, casters (the chrysalis of a maggot), worms, sweetcorn, luncheon meat, and bread are all very capable and inexpensive baits. For targeting small fish, single or double maggots on a small hook (size 18 or 20) is very effective and the bait of choice for beginners.
If you are wanting to fish for bigger fish like Bream, Tench or Carp, then you may want to use larger baits like cubes of luncheon meat, sweet corn, or pellet paste.
Do not fall into the trap of thinking that buying the most expensive, premium bait will give you a better chance of catching. There are lots of great baits available in your local supermarket. Also check out our comprehensive bait guide.
How do I attract fish to my hook?
To attract fish to your bait, and to keep them there, you can throw 5 or 6 maggots (or bait of choice) around your float. We recommend feeding small amounts frequently, or “little and often”. Small pellets are also good baits to attract smaller fish, but could also attract larger fish.
Groundbait is excellent for attracting fish of all sizes. Groundbait is a mixture of lots of natural ingredients such as bread crumb, fishmeal, hemp seeds, and maize. You simply add water to the mixture and form a ball. You can then throw the Groundbait into your swim to attract fish.
You can buy different types of Groundbait depending on the type of fish you are targeting, or you could even make your own. You can mix in your bait of choice, such as maggots, casters, pellets or sweetcorn.
For a more in-depth look at baits, check out our bait guide.
Now you have your tackle and bait, where should you go?
Where should I go fishing for the first time?
For your first fishing session, we recommend a small lake or pond. There are lots of commercial fisheries that allow easy access and are well stocked with all types of fish.
Canals are an exellent option for a beginners. Canals are usually easily accessible and they hold lots of different species of fish. Small roach and perch are relativley easy to catch and there are usually lots of them on canals.
How to pick the best fishing spot?
There are lots of things to be aware of when choosing where to fish (or choosing your “swim”). For a beginner angler, we recommend finding somewhere open, with solid ground and no overhanging trees. Somewhere that gives you lots of room and allows you to practice without getting caught up in trees and snags is a great place to start.
The more confident you get with your gear, the more controlled with your casting and overall control, you can try different swims with reeds and islands.
What fish should a beginner angler target?
You will notice a theme here, keep things simple. To start with, we recommend targeting small fish like roach and perch.
We say this for a couple of reasons: You need to learn the art of playing a fish so you are better off starting with smaller fish. Secondly, smaller fish like roach and perch are typically easier to catch for a beginner. That is not to say that you won’t catch a bigger fish so always be prepared for the unexpected.
General Coarse Fishing Advice For Beginners
What clothes should I wear for fishing?
You may have noticed that lots of anglers wear camouflage or khaki clothes. The reason for this is they try to blend into their surroundings to make it harder for fish to spot them.
If you are wearing bright colours or reflective clothes then this is more likely to spook the fish and make it harder to catch them. You do not need to wear camouflage, but we recommend trying to wear darker clothes.
You should also make sure your clothes are comfortable and warm. A good pair of walking shoes or trainers with good grip are needed too. Even if it is unlikely to rain, the side of a lake, pond or river can still be very slippery so you need to make sure your footwear is adequate.
Ideally, your clothes should be waterproof and warm. You are likely to be sat still for a long period of time and being wet and cold will not make a pleasant experience for you.
How does the weather affect Coarse fishing?
Spring and summer are the most popular seasons for fishing. Both because the “fair weather fisherman” enjoys the warmer weather, and the fish generally feed better in the warmer months. That’s not to say that you cannot catch during autumn and winter, you just have to adjust your tactics accordingly.
It’s always useful to take an umbrella with you. You can buy specific fishing umbrellas, which are large umbrellas which can cover you and your tackle from the wind and rain, and also protect you from the sun. Remember to take a sun hat and sunglasses and sunblock with you for the summer months.
Should you be quiet when coarse fishing?
You may have heard stories of grumpy fisherman telling people off for being too noisy around them. This is not necessarily because they are grumpy, it is because they do not want people scaring or spooking the fish.
Coupled with the fact that people enjoy fishing for the calmness and serenity of being at one with nature, it is recommended to stay as quiet as possible and this will give you a better chance of catching.
Can you go coarse fishing all year round?
In the UK, there are some restrictions on when you can fish. You cannot fish for coarse fish on ANY river in England and Wales from 15 March to 15 June. You can however, fish for coarse fish on most ponds, lakes and enclosed stillwaters all year round. Before you go fishing during this period, it is best to check with the Environmental Agency before fishing.
Check out our guide on the best time to go fishing.
Do I need a Coarse Fishing Licence?
You must have a Coarse Fishing rod licence to fish for salmon, trout, freshwater fish, smelt or eel with a rod and line. Children under 13 do not need a licence and children aged between 13-16 are free, but they will need a licence. You can buy your licence online, in the post office, or over the phone. For an adult, the cost of a rod licence for a whole year costs £30.
Depending on where you intend on fishing, there may also be a small fee to fish at the venue, known as a “day ticket”. Day tickets usually cost between £5 to £8 per adult and concessions are available for children.
Don’t forget yourself
Remember to take plenty of snacks and refreshments. A long day’s fishing requires lots of concentration so you need to make sure you stay well hydrated and fuelled up so as not to miss that all-important bite. Not to mention staying alert on the drive home.
There are lots of things to learn when it comes to fishing. Take it steady and keep it simple. Fishing can be very simple, but it takes a lot of time and effort to master it. You will learn something new every time you go fishing.
Sometimes the most effective techniques or methods are the most simple, for example, free-lining (no float) a piece of luncheon meat into the margins and feeling for the bite. Having all the latest top tackle is no guarantee of being able to catch.
All anglers make mistakes. Just get out there and enjoy yourself and don’t feel disheartened if you don’t catch. Those are the days where you learn more about fishing than you do when you’re bagging up – think about your set up and how you could make some small adjustments.
If you are lost and unsure what tackle to use, see our starter kit guide.