Tackle and Tactics
Mike Ladle


Information Page


Many years ago lines were made of natural fibres and were thick, weak and highly visible. Reels were all of the rotating drum kind, either centrepins or multipliers. These limitatins meant that it was only possible to cast any distance by having a heavy weight on the end of the line. Lure fishing, in those days, was a pretty crude business involving heavy metal spoons or spinners. To use lighter lures such as rubber eels or plugs a lump of lead had to be attached to the line or trace.

The development of nylon monofilament lines and fixed spool reels with slipping clutches made it possible to fish easily with small lightweight lures. Unfortunately, these developments were not understood by the trout and salmon fishermen of the day who, having a 'monopoly' on light lures and fly tackle, looked down on this "threadline" approach. This prejudice has never really been overcome. Even today many people think of sea fishing as a crude business. They don't know what they are missing!

Of course "light" tackle does not mean silly tackle. Lines must be able to stand the strain of a powerful cast, to resist the yank of a taking fish and, above all, to tolerate the stresses imposed by playing and landing big fish in weedy, rocky terrain and rough seas. Fortunately nylon lines and particularly modern braids are extremely tough. By making the most of fine lines, long, powerful rods and fixed spool reels, it is possible to cast even small, balsa wood lures twenty or thirty metres and to hurl heavy metal or composite lures well over one hundred metres. Combining suitable tackle with well chosen vantage points and judicious use of chest waders it is often possible to cover huge areas of water by casting lures from the shore.

So! "What is the best lure?." Of course the answer to this question depends on what fish you are after and what conditions you are fishing in. I have lived in Central Southern England for many years now. The tides are small, the water is often shallow and the ground is very snaggy. The main, lure taking, species close in are bass, mackerel, scad, garfish, pollack (+coalfish) and ballan wrasse. Mackerel, scad, garfish and pollack are only to be had, in numbers where there is deeper water close in (piers, steep rocks and storm beaches) so I tend to concentrate on bass and wrasse. Both species can largely be caught on the same tackle and lures.

In "Operation Sea Angler" I describe how we came to use buoyant, shallow-diving plugs to overcome the problems of catching bass from the shore. At that time the number of lures available was limited - now there is a huge range of makes and types.

In using plugs the jointed versions are by far the most popular. They cast better and 'work' more effectively, particularly in the larger sizes.

Of the various makes Rapalas are soundly constructed and have consistent actions. Apart from the 13 cm (J13) version (1.5m) they are very shallow divers, particularly the J11 (less than 0.5m). In addition the smaller ones are relatively bulky and very lightweight (J11-9g) and do not cast well into a wind. They are available in a fairly wide range of colours but compared to some of the plastic lures they have rather dull paintwork. The black and silver and blue and silver versions which, I still use more or less exclusively, have a 'matt silver paper' type surface. Having said this it does not seem to stop them catching fish.

There are a number of jointed plastic plugs, roughly equivalent in length to the J11 and J13 Rapalas, which also 'do the business'. Rebels (J10 - J30) are still popular, the J20 and J30 dive to about 0.6m. Again the finishes are drab. The Storm jointed Thunderstick weighs 17.5g and dives to about 0.3m. The Bomber Long A weighs 10g, casts well, dives to about one metre and has an excellent silver finish. All these and several others have their adherents but there is probably not much to choose between them in terms of fish catching.

Depth is the thing to consider first. Casting distance can also be a key factor at times. Size does matter. Colour is usually very much a minor consideration.

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 - docladle@hotmail.com


Spinning from the shore.


Rapala J9.

An excellent shallow diving small plug made of balsa.

Rapala J13.

This larger, deeper diving plug is no good in very shallow water but again is an excellent bass attractor.

Rebel J20.

Less bulky in the body and with a slower wiggle this (and the larger J30) is another first class bass plug in shallow water.

Bomber Jointed Long A.

With a superb, indestructible silver finish this is yet another first rate lure for shallow, snaggy conditions.