Cycle touring and lure fishing are both passions of mine. Whilst cycle touring I have often come across excellent opportunities for some great fishing. Both interests require a fair amount of kit and because of this I never combined fishing with my cycle touring. Over the years both interests kit requirements have become lighter mainly due to advances in the gear itself but also through experience of knowing exactly what I need and more importantly what I don’t!
The single biggest advance is my introduction to lightweight lure fishing. This is a new take on lure fishing using very sensitive tackle with the emphasis being fun fishing on the move. It originated from Japan and has steadily been adopted across Europe with UK anglers now catching on to the benefits of fishing super light and stealthy. This ultra light lure fishing goes under several different guises; ‘LRF (light rock fishing)’, ‘Touch Fishing’, ‘Finesse Fishing’ or ‘Street Fishing’. It’s not worth getting bogged down with the details and differences, ultimately it’s ultra light lure fishing.
Years ago my fishing involved using heavy rods, reels and lead weights, I would also need to carry smelly frozen or fresh baits. As a kid I would cart all this kit around on my bike but this was a short ride to the seafront from my house in Southsea. Taking all the gear that I used then on a cycle tour just wouldn’t be possible. The basic fishing kit I used then probably weighed twice what my entire cycle touring kit weighs now.
Light weight fishing Kit
The beauty of modern lure fishing kit is that it’s ultra lightweight. The lures I use are between 1 and 12 grams. The rod, reel and line are also super light weight and very sensitive so such light lures can be fished effectively. There is no need for a bag full of decomposing bait just a small soft bodied plastic lure presented on a small lead headed hook.
This is obviously the most cumbersome item of tackle but it shouldn’t get in your way. If you ride a bike with a straight top tube this is the ideal place to attach your fishing rod. If you don’t have a straight top tube, travel rods will pack down into 6 sections measuring 30-40cm. Such small pack lengths will easily fit in to a pannier, along your rack or even on your seat tube. On average a seven foot rod weighs in around 150 grams.
Only a very small 1000 – 2500 size reel is required. Most lure anglers prefer a front drag model although a rear drag reel is perfectly ok. A 2000 size reel will weigh around 250 grams.
Look for a ‘braid’ rather than normal fishing line (monofilament). Braid is a massive improvement on the fishing lines of the past. As the name suggests, it is made up of several strands. It performs much better than regular line, it’s much thinner and stronger. Due to the very thin diameter of braid, it cuts through the water easier, is less effected by tide and therefore allows very small lightweight lures to be fished. The difference in feel back to the angler using braid is infinitely better than using regular fishing line. For your light lure fishing outfit go for a braid rated around 6 – 10lb, although the important figure to look out for the ‘PE’ which is the diameter of the braid. A 0.4-0.6 PE rated braid is ideal.
The other line required is ‘flurocarbon’. A short length of flurocarbon (18 inches to 3ft) is tied to your main braid. This protects your braid from all the rough stuff on the bottom and adds a bit of stiffness between your braid and lure. Flurocarbon is also invisible under water so it should improve your catch rate. Your flurocarbon should be rated lower than your braids breaking strain. If you are using a braid with a 10lb breaking strain, buy a flurocarbon rated to 6lb.
The lures are made up of two parts; the lead head and the soft plastic body. The lead heads are sold in various different shapes, sizes, weights and colours. The lead head comprise of the weight and hook. There is another method of presenting the lure which is called a ‘drop shot’ rig. This is where the hook and lure is tied higher up the leader from the weight which is at the bottom (see techniques). Buy different lures and lead head patterns and try them all. Different combinations will be more effective than others, on other days a change of lure may pick out the bigger fish or a different species. Ecogear make some great little pocket size kits, this is all you need, see here.
Another benefit of this style of fishing is it’s versatility. Sea or freshwater, these lures will catch you fish. You’re looking for a pier, jetty, rocky outcrop, canal, river bank or anywhere you can fish at close range. Whilst you’re getting a feel for it, find a venue with easy access and without tide, canal fishing is ideal.
Get a feel for the sea/river bed, this is easiest when you’re fishing the lure directly under your feet or a short cast away. Watch the line leave your reel as the lure drops to the bottom, when the line stops your lure has reached the bottom. Reel up or raise the rod tip to take up the slack line, you now have control of the lure. It takes very little movement at the rod tip to impart action into a small soft bodied lure. Just the passing water will bring these lures to life. I often get bites when just holding the line taught with the lure on the bottom. On other days the fish need to be triggered with more action put in to the lure.
Drop-shot fishing is fished in the same way but the lure presented on a drop-shot hook just up the leader above the weight. Again slight movements, bouncing the lead on the bottom and raising and lowering the rod tip will encourage bites.
Lead heads can also be cast and retrieved or cast, sunk and drawn. The speed of the retrieve will be trial and error as will the pattern of raising and lowering the rod tip to sink and draw the lure.
When you are tuned into the feel of the lure, try fishing some water with tidal movement. Using a lure presented on a lead-head cast up tide and let the lure reach the bottom. Raise and lower the rod tip so that the lure lifts off the seabed in to the tide flow, the lure will be moved by the tide as it drops to the seabed. When the lure reaches the bottom again repeat the action, this method uses the tide to cover a large area.
Just do it
The important thing is to get out there, experiment and enjoy it. Whether you’re species hunting or trying to catch the days dinner, Lure fishing is fun fishing.
Lure fishing references