Practical tackle


Some of the tackle in this section might be classed as luxuries by many anglers, as they are not essential to successful lure fishing. However they are so useful that I can't imagine how I would manage without them. The two that I never leave home without are my polarising glasses and peaked cap, even in winter these are invaluable. So much so that I feel completely wrong without them.

It is worth spending as much as you can afford on your shades as the better quality lenses will result in improved subsurface vision and far less eye strain through distortion. They should also offer far greater U.V. protection. Choose a pair that has as large a lens as possible, and maybe even side panels to cut out even more glare. Some manufacturers offer a choice of lenses giving different amounts of light transmission. A high transmission pair is excellent for dawn, dusk and dull days, while darker lenses are at their best in the midday sun. Having a pair of each is the ideal situation, but an alternative is to purchase a pair with yellow lenses which will give you a compromise. It has to be said that yellow lenses make everything look brighter while you are wearing them, but as soon as you take them off the world takes on a whole new colour scheme!

Peaked caps come in all shapes and sizes. Go for one that is comfortable and keeps out as much overhead light as possible in order to prevent glare from the inside of your sunglasses. An alternative for summer-wear is a visor, the type that match anglers and golfers favour. Whether you choose a cap or a visor, wide peaks are best of all, but an overlong peak can actually restrict your forward vision. In winter pull a woolly hat over the top of your summer cap, or buy a peaked trapper's hat with the fold down earflaps. Even in summer it is worth carrying the old bob hat as it can be pretty chilly before and after the sun is high in the sky.

A pair of fingerless neoprene gloves are almost as essential as my cap these days. All year round I find them useful. Being fingerless they allow me to control my reel as if I wasn't wearing them, and being neoprene they keep my hands warm even when wet. In summer I frequently just wear one, on my right hand, early and late in the day when the air temperature is low. Using a multiplier you always get water spraying from the spool which soon cools your hand down. Not so when you have a neoprene mitten on. For really cold weather I have considered a pair of full fingered neoprene gloves, but with the thumb cut away on the right hand to facilitate reel control. General clothing for lure fishing is as you would wear for any other form of piking, depending on the weather, but very much with freedom of movement and mobility in mind. Baggy jackets are a no-no as they are sure to catch on the rod butt as you are casting or working lures. One item worth considering is a fly-fisher's type waistcoat. These many pocketed garments come in really handy for carrying small pieces of kit, thereby cutting down on the number of boxes and bags you need to lug around. A waistcoat that is also a self inflating life jacket is probably the wisest choice of all, particularly if you do a lot of boat fishing or deep wading. For short evening sessions in high summer all that is needed is your waistcoat over a T-shirt, and your usual fishing pants - shorts if you like getting stung and bitten by nettles and insects! Carry Jungle Formula insect repellent and, maybe some sting-relief in the waistcoat.

Bearing in mind the vagaries of the British weather I recommend a good lightweight, waterproof oversuit for general use. Either one or two piece, and breathable if you can afford it. It is best not to go for a lined suit as these will be too warm in summer. In winter you can always add extra layers underneath an unlined suit. For dry spring and autumn days a quilted one piece suit is ideal, and even in summer it can come in useful when out afloat on a large windswept lake.

Footwear is always a problem, and there is no easy solution. Wellies, waders (chest and thigh) and moon boots all have their place, and for all their drawbacks thigh waders are about the best all round choice in summer. Waders allow you to paddle out in the margins, and to kneel down in (and walk through) damp grass, plus they help keep your legs dry in showers - a jacket keeping the top half dry. Chest waders have their uses, and can be used to help catch extra fish at times. However they are not recommended where a lot of walking is involved, being uncomfortable and sweat inducing. If boat fishing then walking boots or moon boots are the choice, weather being the deciding factor.

For the roving lure angler walking the banks, one of the biggest problems is how to carry his lures - particularly the large ones. Small lures can be easily transported in any one of a number of box types from the cantilever to the satchel type, both available with carrying handles and one or two with shoulder straps. Even the plain old Tupperware type box can be used if only a handful are required for a short session, or if taking some on a bait fishing trip. With lures that have smallish treble hooks, smaller than a 1/0, you have the option of using hook guards. These plastic devices are really useful at preventing lures tangling up in the compartments of your lure boxes. They also allow you to carry a few lures in the pockets of your jacket or waistcoat.

Plano 7910 hanging box, plug pipe, double sided Plano box and a simple Tupperware type box. Each one has its place for lure transportation and storage.

Large lures are far more troublesome and depending on how many big baits I think I will need, I use one of two transportation methods most of the time. If I am embarking on a short session of maybe a couple of hours, then I load up a plug pipe (alternatively known as a lure tube). Mine can carry up to twenty lures at a pinch which is more than enough on a local water where I have a good idea what is a likely to work. Watch how you put them in the car as they have a nasty habit of tipping over as you go round corners, strewing lures across the boot! For longer sessions, and when I feel the need to take the kitchen sink too, I might pick up a Plano 7910 hanging box which will hold sixty to ninety large baits. Very useful for boat fishing. A shoulder bag or small rucksack will carry camera, scales, food, drinks and waterproofs. The 7910 boxes are not foolproof as lures will still tangle. They are good for storing plenty of large lures in at home though. Other boxes are available that work on the same principle as a plug pipe with individual tubes for each lure, or you can fill a shoulder bag with tubes and make yourself an easily transported, lightweight lure carrier. It is possible to remove some of the partitions from a 7910 box, opening up free space for the camera etc. This reduces its lure capacity, but means you have less to carry. An alternative that I use at times is a jumbo sized (so-called) carp-carryall into which I can fit my plug pipe, camera, waterproofs and food and drinks. Although not the easiest thing to carry I have everything in one bag for a half day session tramping the banks. For longer sessions, especially where long walks are involved I resort to a rucksack for all my gear and clothing, carrying a double sided Plano with the bulk of my required lures in it. Extra lures can go in a smaller box in the rucksack. Rods and landing net are strapped together with Velcro bands for long walks. When boat fishing the rucksack is replaced by a matchman's plastic seat box. They don't look hip, but they are waterproof and robust - essential in a boat. Having tried many types of bag I can assure you that only a seat box will keep everything dry in a downpour.

When bait fishing for pike it is easy to determine the depth of water in front of you by plumbing with a float. If you are lure fishing from a boat you might well have a fish finder or depth sounder on board to make life even easier. When tramping the banks, though, neither of these options is open to you. My solution is a simple little device that is just clipped to the trace and cast out. When it has hit the bottom just wind in and read the depth off the scale. This handy piece of kit is called a Depthometer, and although it looks like a gimmick is actually quite accurate - certainly accurate enough to help you with your lure selection.

The Depthometer partialy fills with water as it sinks, the level being read off the scale giving a surprisingly accurate depth reading.

For cutting and trimming nylon lines it is worth investing in a pair of nail clippers. These are sometimes available in tackle shops as line clippers, but a better selection can be found in hardware shops or chemists. To reduce the chances of losing them, I like to attach my clippers to a key fob, or even a small plug (with the hooks removed!). Also on this key fob are a small pair of serrated anglers scissors. I find these useful for cutting up waste line into short lengths should I have to unravel a bird's nest or cut back my nylon for any other reason. For cutting gel spun braids you either need a sharp knife or, better still, a pair of the new Braid Blade scissors. These are a revelation as they are the only scissors that I have come across that will cut these braids when they are under no tension whatsoever. And the cut is clean.

Culprit Braid Blades for cutting Spectra lines. Berkley Line Stripper. line clippers and serrated scissors for cutting monofilament lines - attached to a hookless lure to prevent loss. The scissors are wrapped with a rubber band to keep them closed in transit.

On the subject of lines, one 'luxury' item I have found invaluable is a Berkley line stripper. This battery operated device makes emptying reels for refilling more like fun than a chore. Stripping line off by hand is time consuming and messy. With the line stripper you simply thread the line into it, point it at a waste bin and press the button. Hey presto, the line coils neatly and quickly into the bin. This little device actually encourages you to change your line frequently, which is no bad thing.