Beginners Sea Fishing Tips

Beginners Sea Fishing Tips


I have put this Beginners Sea Fishing Tips page together to give some pointers and assistance to anyone primarily interested in fishing while afloat. Without a doubt, fishing from a boat will consistently produce better results than fishing from the beach or harbour wall.

Of course, that does not mean that results are guaranteed, as the vagaries of tide, water clarity, atmospheric pressure, wind, time of the month etc etc all play a part. Some of the days fishing afloat can be just as difficult as being on the beach. Although, thank goodness, not many of them are.

The main advantages of being afloat are in the multitude of grounds and marks that can be visited. (Not all in one day mind you) And the number of different species that can be caught. Also, the many shipwrecks in the channel that hold some of the biggest fish in the UK waters.  There are approximately two hundred shipwrecks that are within reach from Shoreham and Brighton.

Fishing Tackle

If you are new to boat fishing and going to sea on a charter boat, it is probably better to hire your fishing tackle from the skipper the first couple of times. Just to make sure you like it and it is for you.
Typically, I hire out a 20-30lb class rod with a decent multiplier reel loaded with 25lb monofilament line.  This basic setup caters pretty much for the entire variety of fish likely to be caught. Even a large Conger Eel can be handled on this if done with care and yet it is sensitive enough to play a Bream.

Fishing Knots

There are a few knots that are used in fishing. I confess I can only bring to mind the three that I use.
1.    1/2 Blood loop for tying nearly everything from hooks to swivels.
2.    Full Blood loop for tying mono line to mono line.
3.    Shock leader knot for braid – Dozens to choose from, everyone has their favourite.

If you can learn (1). or a variant of it you are on the way. Better still learn to do it with your eyes shut and it will become natural when sorting out a tangle or re rigging on a moving boat.

If you like charter boat fishing, at some point you will want to buy your own equipment. With ALL sports there is probably NO limit to what you could spend. There are thousands if bits and pieces you could buy to fill your tackle box. There is nothing wrong with that of course, go ahead and spend what you wish to. It’s your hobby and sport.

BUT I’ll let you into a secret. The fish don’t know that your rod is made of the latest super duper material with super duper eyes and reel seat and that it cost £150.00 +. Or that your reel is gold in colour with 20 ball races that has been machined to the highest possible standards in military grade materials and costs £450.00

You do not need to spend a fortune, but on the other hand there is some cheap and nasty gear out there that will work for a while and then be useless at the end of the season.

I have seen some amazing fish caught on gear I would not hesitate to consign to the rubbish bin. You just have to laugh at it!

Fishing Rods

There are literally hundreds to choose from and again it comes down to how much you want to spend.
But for me, if I wanted a good all round rod that can do everything, I would choose something about 7-8ft in length, rated at 20-30lb and NOT with a very fine tip. (I’ve broken a few)
I like my “Shakespeare Ugly Stick Braid 20-30lb”. At a push it can do everything. Even cope easily with a 2lb lead weight.

Fishing Reels

I will say this. The hand cranking business end of your setup (The reel) I think it is well worth spending a bit more than just 50 quid. It is better to get something of reasonable quality in this area. I am talking multiplier reels here. I haven’t used a fixed spool for a long time. (Nothing wrong with them, just personal preference.)
Load it with 22-25lb mono or 30lb braid (You need to know some knots)

So however much you choose to spend, the fish only sees a baited hook or lure. It will go for the one it is tempted to. You could argue that bait presentation is more important than anything else.

But there is nothing better than having the right tool for the job. We have to strike a balance and my humble suggestion is that you pay a visit to your local fishing tackle shop, look at what is on offer and listen to the advice of the staff. Also speak to other experienced anglers. I do not know a single one who is shy about giving his opinion of fishing tackle.

Trace Line

Line for traces is another requirement. For most fishing I use something in the 15-20lb range.
Cod fishing I use 50lb trace line as Cod have sharp teeth.
Conger fishing I use 150-200lb trace line as they have even sharper and bigger teeth.
I would always use a clear un-coloured mono or fluorocarbon trace line.

Fishing Hooks

A range of hooks from a size 1 to 6/0 is a good place to start. I mainly use 1, 1/0, 3/0, 6/0s and 8/0 when Conger fishing.
You tend to get what you pay for with hooks. Some are much tougher and sharper than others.

Fishing Weights

A selection of lead weights from 4oz to 2lb depending on what we are doing. (Don’t bring 2lb leads with you unless you know you are going to need them) Its a lot to carry. My preference is to use a weight that is rounded. A square sided weight can spin in the current. Especially when wreck fishing on the drift.

Fishing Methods

My personally preferred method of fishing is with the simple running ledger. I attach a weight slider to my mainline (Zip slider) Then slip on a small beed and then tie on an american snap swivel to the mainline. The beed helps to protect the knot so I am told.
From the snap swivel I attach my trace with a barrel swivel and then the trace runs down to the hook.

Conger eel

I make an exception here when fishing for Conger eel. When Conger is on the menu, I tie my mainline to a large barrel swivel instead of the snap swivel and then the 150lb + trace is tied to the other eye on the barrel swivel. I have seen too many snap swivels straighten out with the weight and pull of a large eel. The more knots there are, the more that can fail under extreme strain.


Carefully bait your hook making sure the hook point is visible and not covered up. Important to use the right amount of bait for the size of hook and the fish you are after.
Lower it carefully and smoothly to the seabed. Check the drag setting on the reel to make sure line can be pulled off the spool when needed to play the fish. If your lead can’t hold on the bottom you may need to put a heaver lead on.
IMPORTANT. Your bait will become washed out after 20-30 minutes, so keep it fresh and replace it regularly.

There are hundreds of booms, sliders, bits and bobs to choose from to make any rig you prefer, but the more complicated it is the more tangled it can become and the more weight it requires to keep it nailed to the seabed because of drag.

Wreck fishing

When wreck fishing, strangely enough you can use the running ledger again. You have a longer trace 8-10ft tied to a lure. It does help if there is a bit of tide flowing to keep it all straight. You can also use tube booms, French booms etc. These booms will help to reduce line tangles especially when there is little tide flowing.
My favourite all-round lead to use when wreck fishing is the 10oz. It is important everyone aboard uses the same amount of lead though.
Carefully drop your lure over the side and let the tide trail it away, then carefully lower your weight quickly and as smoothly as possible to the bottom.
AS SOON as it hits the bottom. QUICKLY Put the reel in gear and get 2-3 fast turns on. (This will reduce tackle losses) Then wind up at about 1/2 – 1 turn a second. After 35-40 turns lower it back down and repeat the process. Do not stop at any time, even when you get a take.

These are the basics. There is much much more to learn.