Tackle and Tactics
Mike Ladle


Information Page


Nowadays it is commonplace to add bait to lures. Boat anglers fishing for ling or other big predators will bait their pirks with strips of squid or fish. Similarly (but in reverse so to speak) when fishing for plaice, the addition of coloured beads or sequins is said to increase catches. Presumably the idea of this 'baited lure' approach is to attract the fish with the artificial and then to induce them to bite by giving them something edible.

The first person to write about this baited lure approach, from the standpoint of actual experience, was J.P Garrad in his articles and his much misquoted book 'Sea Angling with the Baited Spoon'. Garrad's experiments, in which he used baited and unbaited lures, showed that it was possible to select for the species which you wanted to catch simply by the way you fished the lure. Flounders, eels and bass were all present in numbers where Garrad fished but he was able to pick out which one he wanted (on identical ragworm baits) simply by slightly changing his tactics. He was also able to select the size of flounders which he caught by changing the size of the spoon.

Later on French anglers began to use rag baited spinners to catch thin lipped mullet and the tactic was introduced to Britain by anglers fishing for mullet at Christchurch. The use of this method was, thereafter, more or less restricted to Christchurch until Mike Tomlinson and myself extended and developed it, with great success, in a number of other south-coast rivers. I have now landed fifteen species of fish on baited 'mullet' spinners and no angler should be without one or two of these 'gadgets'.

This week I'll just say a bit about the principles of using the baited spoon. So called 'flounder spoons' are now commonplace in tackle shops. However, I have NEVER seen one which even remotely resembled the design which Garrad painstakingly evolved. It is a fact that flounders (and other fish) can be attracted to any moving object (I have successfully used old luggage labels tied to the trace). Nevertheless, attaching a lump of coloured plastic or metal in front of a baited hook and dumping it on the sea bed (or even retrieving it) does not even approach the benefit to be gained by using a proper baited spoon.

Baited lures are effective for three different groups of fish. Out and out predators which don't care about the bait but would take a spoon or spinner anyway (for example pike). Fish which have catholic tastes and would take the spoon or spinner but find it even more attractive with a worm or other bait attached (for example perch, gurnard, bass or flounder). Lastly there are fish which would hardly ever take an artificial lure but are attracted to the bait by the presence of the lure (for example mullet, dace or roach). That's enough theory to be going on with - more next time.

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.


Spoon caught pike.

No need for any additional bait when fishing for dedicated fish eaters.

A pike caught on a baited, plastic bodied bar spoon.

The bait may not matter but this fish baited spoon can be retrieved very slowly.

Mike Tomlinson.

One of the first catches on a mullet spoon.

A nice perch on a baited spoon.

Ragworm seems to be an effective perch bait.

A good sized wrasse also taken on a rag baited spoon.

We know now that ballan wrasse will take plugs but a baited spoon is also very effective.