Catch fish with Mike Ladle.

Tackle and Tactics
Mike Ladle


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Dan and I are soon to go on holiday for a couple of weeks (Back on 26 February) so here is the first of a series of pieces dealing with sea angling topics - for you to read while we are away. Hopefully there'll be some holiday fishing pictures when we come back.


By far the most correspondence relating to the web site has been about fly fishing in the sea. In view of this I have decided to give an account of how I tackle it these days.

If you have read the relevant chapters in "Operation Sea Angler" you will be well aware of the whys and wherefores of my fishing. However, I know from the questions that people ask that there are lots of details that are not in the book. The essence of it is that fly fishing is still the most effective way of getting small, almost weightless lures out to the fish and that's how I approach it. If I think a bigger lure is more appropriate or will be more effective I use spinning tackle.

As with any branch of the sport by far the most important aspect is to be in the right place at the right time. Of course, on any day, there may be more than one "right place". Fly casting from the shore (even if you cast better than I do) generally restricts you to a range of a few tens of metres at the most (unless you can safely wade) so " knowing and reading the beach" is vital. However, if you are to make the most of your opportunities it is ESSENTIAL to be properly dressed. I don't mean whether you wear an Yves Saint Laurent dress, a fancy hat or 'Kiss Me Quick' underpants but if you are to investigate the best spots and fish effectively you must be equipped for the job.

Nowadays I ALWAYS wear chest waders. Not only do they give you the option of standing in the sea and gaining a few extra yards but more importantly they are wind proof and they KEEP YOU DRY.

As you concentrate on casting to the fish, waves breaking in the edge of the sea tend to splash up your front. Believe me there are few things less comfortable than a permanently wet crutchpiece. In earlier times we used to wear wellies (plimsoles in high summer) then we graduated to thigh boots, but on at least half the trips I came home soaked, with the boots full of water. The introduction of cheap 'chesties' was the biggest leap forward in my fishing for many years. A waterproof top pulled down over the outside of the waders gives added protection. Even now the occasional rogue wave finds its way down inside the collar of my jacket.

Of course footwear is a matter of personal preference but I usually wear 'Ocean' waders with rubber cleated soles. On the dry rocks they give a really good grip and I find them comfortable to walk in (for miles). Of course it can be a bit sweaty tramping along the shore in hot weather but there is the bonus of being able to cool off by standing up to your waist in water at the end of the route march. On wet, slimy surfaces (and believe me there is NOTHING slippier than an film of algae on a smooth stone) only great care will (might) save you from a nasty fall or a ducking. Over the years I have cracked a couple of ribs, badly wrenched my knee, sustained various shin bruises and smashed a couple of rods - usually through my own carelessness.

If you have any comments or questions about fish, methods, tactics or 'what have you.'get in touch with me by sending an E-MAIL to -


Fly fishing from the shore.

How to dress.

In the old days - even before the time of welly boots - I used to fish in my old shoes. Shorts and plimsoles are still fine in hot weather.

Playing a mullet on fly gear.  Fortunately the sea was flat calm and the weather was warm.

Whether you are bottom fishing, spinning or fly fishing chest waders are the best footwear. Note the waves breaking in the water's edge and the cleated 'chesties'. I've used this picture before but it illustrates the point well.

The water glistening on the waders shows how wet you could get even on a calm day like this.  The cleats are fine on wet rocks unless the latter are coated with an invisible film of algae.  Test every foothold.

Try to ignore the fish and the glassy eyed expression. On a rough night, blowing a gale and pouring with rain the waterproof coat on top of the chest waders did the business.

Despite the terrible conditions there were two other idiots fishing with me that night.  If I remember rightly Steve Binke took the picture.

Steve Pitts playing a decent mullet in a heavy swell.

Dressed to stay dry.  In these conditions the undertow rolls the boulders and tends to take your feet from under you.