As an island, the UK has plenty of coastlines that provide plenty of opportunities for sea fishing whether it's offshore or beach fishing from the shore. This guide will help you compile the ultimate sea fishing starter kit, covering rods, reels, shelters, line and more.
The type of fishing style you intend of performing will dicatate the type of tackle you are going to need. Options for sea anglers tend to be:
Float fishing: Used to catch fish from rock marks, harbours and piers, this method involves suspending bait underneath a float in mid-water. You will be watching for your float to bob under the surface to indicate a bite.
Spin Fishing: Involved spinning a lure to entice fish in deeper waters such as the end of piers, jetties and at rock marks.
Feather Fishing: Using feather lures which tend to be cheap and effective when targeting mackerel, pollock, coalfish, and more similar species.
You will also require specific types of sea fishing tackle when fishing on the seabed, on rocks, from cliffs and when fishing from the beach. For beginners, it is heavily recommended to start with beach or shore angling.
Starting with the basics, you are first going to need a rod that caters to your sea and beach fishing style and preferences.
Surf rods: A fishing rod that can be used from the beach. Some are short, some are long, some are stiff so they can cater for using with artificial lures and baits or natural baits. This is a broader term to cover beach rods.
Beach Caster Rods: Also referred to as shore rods, this rod type is usually used from the shoreline and are known for its outstanding casting ability. Beginner anglers tend to use beach casters paired with a fixed spool reel with a rod length between 12-14ft. Best for distance casting with heavy leads (ranging 4-8oz), this rod type can help anglers hold the bottom better, in a plethora of conditions.
|TOP TIP: Seeing your rod tips in the dark is essential when sea fishing at night time. With night shore fishing being fruitful, be sure to either purchase a shore or beach caster rod with painted tips or use some white gloss on your guides.|
Spinning Rods: Ideal to use from the shore, if you are going to be mostly spinning and float fishing then a 7-9ft spinning rod will help with presenting both artificial and natural baits. A longer, 9ft spinning rod is ideal for feathering methods.
Light / Light Spinning Rods: Ideal for feathering with a small reel, light rod prevent aching arms so you can locate the fish before swapping to a heavier rod option.
Telescopic Rods: Providing convenience and portability, these travel rods are easy to carry and generally not expensive. It is not recommended to fish with a telescopic rod if you're going to be doing a lot of feathering and spinning as they tend to be quite heavy.
Uptide Rod: A mini version of a beach caster rod, the Uptide fishing rod is ideal for casting from a boat when fishing in up to 100ft deep water during a strong tide.
Big Game / Stand Up Rods: Suited for offshore fishing for shark, stand up rods are short and stout that usually fit in a belt to help get the most leverage possible when battling hard fighting fish on a boat.
Boat Rod: These can be spinning or caster rods but usually on the shorter and stiffer side and therefore ideal for trolling.
|TOP TIP: When fishing for fish of small sizes such as a stickleback to extremely fine use of a rod and line is required. A small fishing net is probably a better option when fishing rock pools for these small types of fish species.|
You won’t find a duff rod in our sea fishing collection! Zziplex, Century and Shakespeare are just a few of the top name brands we’re proud to include in our collection of sea fishing rods. We also stock an extensive selection of Daiwa rods, and as we’re the leading stockist of Daiwa goods we can offer exclusive deals across the range.
AD’s collection of sea fishing reels have been specially developed to withstand the highly corrosive nature of saltwater and maintain their high performance in the toughest of conditions, helping anglers cast, retrieve and land a nice sea species.
Multiplier reels are geared so that one turn of the reel handle actually multiplies the number of times the spool rotates, giving a quicker retrieval rate. Troublesome for beginner sea anglers, multiplier reel types can easily get your fishing lines tangled if you are not used to casting with them. Despite this complication, multiplier reels are favoured by many sea anglers for offering a compact reel design and its fast-revolving spool which does require some mastering!
Ideal for the absolute beginner angler and beach fishing, fixed spools are simply a non-moving spool pointing forwards, making them one of the easiest reel types to use no matter your level of fishing experience. Unlike multiplier reels, fixed spool reels are less likely to cause line tangles and are available in a wide range of performance abilities.
As the fixed spool is the reel of choice for beginner sea anglers, here are a few more tips to help set up a fixed spool reel.
1.) Filling the spool correctly: The line needs to be very close to the lip to avoid friction impinging on casting distance. It also prevents ‘jerking’ as the line hits the spool on the way out.
2.) Wear a fingerstall /casting glove: Especially when using a braid line, casting can cause nasty cuts.
3.) Shock leader knot position: This should be at the base of the spool to allow the line to peel smoothly from the reel before the knot.
4.) Fully retracted spool: Make sure the spool is close to the body of the reel when you cast.
5.) Using the Clutch: Make sure that the clutch is fully locked in the on position and wound down as tight as you can prior to casting. A slipping spool on the cast can cause tangles and line cuts.
|TOP TIP: When fishing for bigger sea species offshore, like Sharks, use a multiplier reel size 6,500, or if you prefer a 4,000-5,000 sized fixed spool.|
|TOP TIP: If open beaches dominate your fishing style, the lighter distance reels will help you get the extra yards, even in adverse conditions.|
If you are looking for a complete rod and reel outfit, be sure to check out our Rod and Reel Combos we have paired together, ready for beginner anglers to use.
We stock reels from a variety of the very best sea fishing specialists the industry has to offer, including the likes of Daiwa, Penn, Abu Garcia, and Shimano. Shakespeare sea fishing reels are manufactured in Britain and therefore make great UK reels fit for our seas and weather conditions.
Sea fishing line manufacturers face a unique challenge when making their products as not only do the products have to be able to remain submerged in water for extended periods of time without disintegrating, but they also have to be able to withstand the highly corrosive nature of saltwater.
Line Type and Line Strength are major factors to consider when choosing the correct sea fishing line for your style of angling. A detailed guide into lines and braids can be found on the AD Blog, but for now, we will cover what to use for sea angling.
Braid: Known for its chunkiness, braid is only useful in cases for shore fishing as otherwise, it becomes an uphill battle against the tide for casting.
Monofilament: Cheap and effective, this tends to be the better choice for all-round sea fishing, especially float fishing methods.
Fluorocarbon: Ideal for when using big sea fishing lures or natural baits, fluoro line sinks faster than other lines, making it equipped for fishing sea beds or spinning methods. It also offers more stealth with its choice of invisible colouring and boasting the same refracted index as water. Its toughness is also noted for anglers fishing near built-up areas such as rocks or piers.
For fishing line colour many anglers will opt for a bright colour as it's easier to see when fishing at night, or in deep water. Brightly coloured fishing line can also help avoid tangling with other near-by anglers, especially when boat fishing. Your line type choice and colour can differ depending on your target fish, for example; Bass are a cautious species so it's best to stay clear of the hi-visibility line and opt for clear mainlines and leaders of mono and fluorocarbon.
When it comes to sea line strength, it can vary on the area you’re fishing but generally pick a sea fishing line between 12lb to 20lb for UK coastlines. When you are fishing strong tides from the shore you will require a tougher fishing line of around 15lbs but be sure to check the instructions that come with your chosen fishing reel.
A shock leader of around 40-50lb breaking strain is also recommended as this greatly reduces the risk of crack offs and provides a safer space for other anglers around you, especially on charter boats!
|TOP TIP: For bigger, harder fighting fish, ensure the breaking strain is high. We suggest for shark species opting for a 30 - 40lb or stronger line. Also, try and equip yourself with a 40lb mono leader.|
Sea Fishing, as with all of the angling disciplines, wouldn’t be possible without a full selection of terminal tackle. Terminal tackle really is the business end of the fishing experience, and without the right kit you may well have not shown up to the beach or boat.
As a major aspect of terminal tackle, specialist sea fishing hooks, need to withstand the highly corrosive nature of saltwater. You can choose from the short shank, bait holder, j-hooks and circle hooks.
|TOP TIP: Hooks should always be matched to the size of fish targeted as well as the bait used, i.e. BIG HOOK = BIG FISH and SMALL HOOK = SMALL FISH.|
There are ready-tied rigs for a quick easy and efficient way of getting the right rig. You can of course tie your own rigs and we supply a full range of rig building components to allow you to tie your own rigs. There are a huge number of rig patterns out there for you to try at a range of difficulties in tying. The simple running rig is effective as is the 2-hook loop rig, pulley pennel rig and a 2 or 3 hook flapper.
Commonly used in coarse angling, the sea angler will also benefit from using floats either ashore or afloat during the summer months. Typical types of sea fishing floats are cigar floats and bubble floats.
Other terminal tackle items to add to your sea fishing tackle box would be weights. Weights such as leads are attached to the bottom of your sea fishing rig via a lead clip and come in two main formats, those designed to hold the bottom with a wire protruding or a plain lead are available in various shapes and sizes.
For most beach anglers, it is recommended to use leads that are 4oz and upwards, to combat the wind and also the waves/current. When offshore fishing for species such as shark and bottom-feeding fish (flatfish), your fishing lead should be heavy enough to keep in contact with the seabed.
|TOP TIP: Try ‘Breakaway Leads’ that are able to dig into the sand after casting but are able to break away from your rig upon retrieval.|
It is also worth noting that when fishing for sea trout (which are migrated brown trout) or any sea species slightly upriver, you can use fly fishing tackle and techniques when targeting them.
Like in all disciplines of angling, bait is an important part of sea and beach fishing. Luckily, much of the live baits saltwater species love such as worm and crab can either be collected from the seashore or purchased from local tackle shops.
|TOP TIP: Invest in a quality cool bag for your live bait or frozen baits so you can keep it in the best condition for longer when at the beach.|
Most fish for sea fishing love small crustaceans and shellfish, sand eels as well as a well-presented worm. See below for the different types of baits anglers use for sea fishing.
Lugworm: Usually found in muddy areas under the sand, this marine worm is a common bait used for targeting cod and small species of flatfish.
Ragworm: Ideal bait for smaller species, if you are a beginner to sea angling and are fishing from the shoreline, we recommend using ragworm as bait. When hooking, be mindful on the ragworms pincers and hook at the mouth of the ragworm, threading the worm down the shank of the hook.
|TOP TIP: Baiting needles can help to make it easier to bait up with worm baits|
Squid: Great for targeting larger species such as cod and conger eels. Squid is usually fished whole but can also be cut into strips to make smaller baits.
Sandeel: Similar to lugworm, this bait is ideal for targeting species of ray or winter sea species such as cod and whiting. It is readily available from tackle shops, mostly in frozen form. Best to use with light tackle from shore or boat.
Peeler Crab: Can be used live or frozen but should never be used dead. Bait elastic helps to secure the crab on to the hook. Note that this choice of bait can be expensive. Some anglers remove the legs and use the meat inside for bait. See ways to use Peeler Crab here.
Strips of Bait Fish: Using strips of recently caught mackerel or herring work well for species such as Haddock, Ray species, Pollock, Bass, Cod, Ling, and some larger flatfish such as Turbot. It is available both fresh or frozen.
Whole Fish Bait: For predator fish like Tuna, Skate, Hake and species of shark, the best baits include whole live or dead fish baits of cod, pollock and coalfish.
Lure fishing is an extremely popular form of sea and beach angling too. Many enjoy using artificial lures designed for saltwater to attract different species. Angling styles include float, spinning and feathering.
|TOP TIP: For tuna, and other saltwater predators that hunt by sight, squid jigs or lures are successful just make sure the hooks are well hidden!|
When shore anglers are trying to lighten their load and are seeking protection from seaside elements, a beach shelter can be a great investment.
Cool boxes and cool bags full of your lunch or your fishing bait function a lot better when kept out of direct sunlight, but a sea fishing shelter also acts as a perfect windshield. There are just a few things to consider.
1. Size Matters: Compared with the bivvies used by carp anglers, shore shelters are generally small and lightweight and have relatively compact ‘footprints’. Bigger shelters offer more space, but also boast extra weight.
2. Skirts: These lie flat on the ground so that they can be covered by stones and shingle to prevent the shelter from being blown away. They also help prevent sand from being blown into the shelter. While some shelters offer pegging systems, these are best used in conjunction with skirts rather than as the main method of securing them.
3. Ups And Downs: Consider the ease of putting up, taking down and packing away of a beach shelter and even consider practising in the back yard first.
We have covered the higher priority items but let us not forget to mention a few more sea tackle must-haves to consider packing!
Gloves or a Finger Guard: Not only ideal for handling fish with rough skin, sharp teeth or rays these will also protect your finger from being cut when casting.
Rod Tripod: A beach tripod to put your rods ensures shore anglers get less dirt and sand in the reel components and is ideal for bait fishing or ledgering. Be cautious of the tide though when sorting your rod tripod set up! Also, when using a tripod, give your reels a loose drag so that if you get a strong take your rod does not snap!
Head Torch: It can be extremely dangerous to fish at sea during the night so only do so if you have the right equipment and know-how! Always get good lighting so you can keep an eye on the shoreline and tides.
Sea Fishing Luggage: With a plethora of possible sea tackle to take on your beach fishing adventures, you may need more luggage like a trusty beach rucksack, a bait cool bag or a sea fishing rod bag.
Sea Fishing Seat Boxes: Used as both tackle storage and a sea, a seat box can certainly save a sea angler’s achy back. Most sea fishing seat boxes are much more durable against rough, gritty surfaces – making them great for beach and cliff anglers.
Sea Fishing Clothing: An obvious, but invest in decent clothing for wearing all day at sea, from waders to a sunhat.
Landing Nets: Although some fish can be swung on board when it comes to large fish, you’ll need to scoop them up in a landing net instead to not only minimise harm to the fish but to avoid losing the fish entirely too. When boat fishing, an extendable net pole may be wise for getting close enough to the fish in the water from deck, with a large net head for bigger species and preferably a net with a rubber mesh or rubberized coating.
Bucket: An essential to many freshwater anglers too, a bucket can be used offshore or on the shoreline to hold extra gear, to be flipped over and sat on or filled with water to store your live baitfish. You could also fill a bucket with soap water to wash those fishy hands down at the end of a session!
Long-nose pliers: When it comes to unhooking sea species, many have sharp teeth or spines. To help, grab a set of long nose pliers that can remove hooks from fish but also be used in setting up your rigs too with bending hooks and trimming leaders.
Line Grippers: Unlike pliers, line grippers can be used to grab the jaw or mouth of a fish to prevent them from biting down when unhooking them.
Braid/ Line Scissors: With how thick the sea fishing line can be, pack a pair of braid scissors so that you can cleanly cut the line without damaging the spool or yourself.
Baiting Needle: Used with some elastic thread, a baiting need is just what you need when attaching baitfish (live or dead) to your rig.
Sharp Knife: If you are catching your own baitfish, a knife can be useful to either chop up chunks of fish to add to your bait bucket. For this reason, a chopping board is good too.
Binoculars: Usually an item for bird waters, anglers needing to look further into the distance will certainly benefit with a pair of binoculars. Not only can you avoid feeding your bait to seagulls but spot fish feeding spots such as weeds or rocky areas in the water.
Sunglasses: Any angler needs sunglasses, even on overcast days, protect those eyes whilst trying to spot the fish.
Scales /Ruler: Depending on your measuring standards for fish, having a set of fish scales or measuring equipment is a must especially when targeting certain sea species that can only be kept if a certain size.
Camera: Capture your fishing memories! Maybe a good idea to invest in a waterproof cover for all your tech, especially when offshore angling.