Summer Sea Fishing Safety Tips

Men fishing from rocks in Rhossili Bay, South Wales

Men fishing from rocks in Rhossili Bay, South Wales
Image source: David King Photographer

Fifty people lost their lives while sea fishing in the four years from 2011 – and most of them were shore anglers who were, to quote the RNLI, “fishing from exposed areas of shoreline.”

Not only is this staggering loss of life tragic, it’s also unacceptable. Failing to take adequate precautions to stay safe while out fishing gives the whole sea fishing community a bad name, risks the lives of the people who come to rescue you, and – worst case scenario – means you never get to go fishing again.

To make sure you don’t become a statistic, check out all the safety advice you can find online. The Angling Trust is a good place to start. And while you’re at it, here’s our guide to staying safe while you’re sea fishing from boat or shore.

Shore Anglers

Fishing from rocks can be exhilarating.

Fishing from rocks can be exhilarating.
Image source: Mogliami

You get a buzz from fishing from those hard-to-get-to secret spots using light rock tackle, but you want to enjoy your day and get back in one piece? Or perhaps you love nothing better than standing thigh deep in the surf, spinning for bass? Great. Here’s what you need to do to survive the experience:

  • Fish with a friend. If you fall, who will raise the alarm? The minimum unit of survival is two, so if you’re searching out an isolated spot from which to wet your line, always fish with a buddy, and always tell someone where you’re going and when you’ll be back. If you don’t have anyone waiting for you at home, a quick phone call to HM Coastguard to let them know your plans is a good idea, but do remember to tell them when you’re back or they’ll send out a search party.
  • Wear a life jacket. Today’s life jackets are comfortable to wear, inflate automatically, and don’t get in your way. If you hit the drink, a little gas canister inflates your lifejacket, and you don’t drown. Why wouldn’t you wear one?
  • Wear boots. If you’re clambering over rocks, no matter how hot it is, nothing less than a stout pair of fishing boots will do. Beach casting? Wear crocs – if you tread on a weever fish with your bare foot, you’ll know all about it – the pain is enough to make a grown man weep.
  • Wear sun protection. Wearing suncream and good quality sunglasses protects your skin and eyes from sun damage. But it’s absolutely essential to wear a hat. It does more than keep the sun off. A hat prevents you from overheating which is when the unpleasant symptoms of heat exhaustion morph into lethal heat stroke. What’s the difference?
Heat exhaustion – too much sun makes you dizzy, pale, sweaty, feverish, and nauseous. You’ll have a headache, your pulse might race a bit, and you might throw up, but a cool drink, a seat in the shade, and a lie down at home should see you right.

Heat stroke – sees your core temperature rise. You’ll stop sweating because you’ll have no more fluid left to sweat; your skin will grow rosy red, and hot and dry to the touch; your pulse becomes rapid. You’ll get confused, restless, and possibly aggressive, you may suffer seizures, but as time passes, you’ll lapse into unconsciousness, and eventually die. If your buddy starts showing signs of heat stroke, don’t mess about, cool them down NOW! Chuck a bucket of cold water over them, strip them off, wet them, fan them. Get them out of the sun. Call the emergency services. You don’t have time to hang about; heat stroke kills.

  • Be prepared. No matter how competent you are, accidents happen, so always be prepared. If you’re fishing from rocks, be aware that even when it looks calm, swells can sweep unwary anglers into deep water. Take a rescue throw rope with you – not only does it come in an easy-to-handle bag, the bag doubles as a grab handle, the rope also floats, and the bright colour makes it dead easy to see when you’re thrashing about in the water.
  • Make sure your phone is fully charged. And carry it in a waterproof case. If there’s no reception where you’re going, consider taking an inshore flare pack and a waterproof strobe light.
  • Pack a basic first aid kit. Have enough basic equipment to deal with minor incidents and injuries without spoiling an entire day’s fishing.Be sure to wear appropriate clothing to deal with a soaking, as-well-as a decent waterproof coat which should be brightly coloured because if the worst happens, you want to be found – never trust the forecast, even in summer. Coastal weather changes fast.
  • Know your tide times. The coastguard, RNLI, and lifeguard service would have a much easier life if only anglers knew their tides and didn’t get cut off by them. Buy yourself a local tide timetable and learn to read it – remember to check whether your tide table adjusts for BST or not.

Boat fishing

Conditions can change quickly when fishing out at sea.

Conditions can change quickly when fishing out at sea.
Image source: Federico Rostagno

Everything you’ve read already applies to fishing from a boat or kayak. If you’re using your own boat, you need to make sure you get your engine (plus your auxiliary) serviced regularly, especially at the start of the season, or after a long layup. The emergency services don’t call the summer the “silly season” for nothing – make sure you’re not the one they’re wrapping in a warm blanket while they carry on the search for your missing crew mates.

  • Educate yourself. The Royal Yachting Association (RYA) offer myriad power and sail boating courses run through yacht clubs, and commercial outfits right across the country and beyond. As a bare minimum you should know how to safely pilot a boat in familiar waters by day – check out the range of courses on offer in your area, and make sure you know what you’re doing before you head out onto the blue.
  • Carry safety gear. It might seem like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised just how many people get into trouble because they don’t carry any safety gear. If you’re heading to sea, you must carry everything you need to get you out of trouble. That’s everything from spares, fuel, and tools, to oars, plenty of rope, a compass in case your GPS packs up, a comprehensive first aid kit, and an inshore flare pack. On a boat? Always wear a lifejacket.
  • VHF Radio. Your mobile phone cannot be relied on at sea, so make sure you invest in a decent VHF radio – either fixed or handheld, and do take the RYA’s radio operator course – there’s no excuse not to because you can do it online.

No matter how good the weather or how confident in your abilities you feel, never underestimate the ocean.

About the author:

As well as being a keen sea angler, Robin Falvey is an experienced surf lifeguard and has been a lifeguard instructor and assessor for the Surf Lifesaving Association of Great Britain. He has worked closely with the RNLI and Coastguard on rescues and first aid incidents at sea and ashore.

Clothing Review – Hodgman Aesis Shell Jacket

Looking for a new jacket? Then you might find some inspiration here. In this review Ceri Thomas takes a look at the Aesis Shell fly fishing jacket from American tackle firm Hodgman.

I’ve been on the lookout for a decent breathable jacket for a while now. Mobility is key when I fish, so comfort is a must, as are decent pockets for accessories and fly boxes. When we started stocking the Hodgman range of fly fishing gear, I really liked the look of the Aesis shell jacket, which ticked all of the boxes for me. So after a bit of deliberation over the winter I decided to pick one up for the new season ahead.

I often think in order to write a ‘proper’ review you need to give something a real test on the water; not just a few hours. So after a full month of pretty hard usage, I feel I have now gotten to know this piece of outwear inside out. So here are my thoughts.

The Aesis shell jacket on the bank

The Aesis shell jacket on the bank


Wearing it

The cut of the jacket is good – it’s clearly been designed by a fisherman, with fly fishing in mind. The arms are generous and articulate well, allowing for easy casting. The sleeve design is practical, with velco adjustable cuffs that help keep the water out. The inner cuffs are also nice and soft. I found the sizing to be pretty generous though, and opted for a Large, rather than my usual XL.

When trying it on in the house, the wife remarked ”Do you have to wear that for fishing?? It’s quite nice!” And it is a genuinely good looking jacket. You could get away with wearing it pretty much anywhere, as well as the river bank. It has a clean, modern look and is a nice carbon/grey, a neutral colour, so you wont stand out like a sore thumb, in the pub for example.

Initially it was obvious that the jacket was very light indeed, but still retained a durable feel. When wearing it you don’t feel weighed down or constricted in any way. It almost has the feel of a packable 2 layer. It’s actually a 3 layer, so reliability in heavy rain is assured. You can tell from the material that it’s not going to let you down. I’ve been out in some extremely foul conditions this spring, and every time the water has just beaded off, literally like water off a ducks back. So full marks for waterproof ability.

Regarding breathability, I have done quite a lot of mountain lake fishing this year, which involves a fair bit of rock hopping and scrambling up steep hill sides. I have also been doing a lot of urban angling on the South Wales rivers; which again can be quite physical and requires a lot of effort to get in and out of the water. Compared to other jackets I have worn (including premium GoreTex) the breathability is right up there. You can break into a heavy sweat and still feel comfortable in the Aesis shell.

Urban angling with superb breathability!

Urban angling with superb breathability!


Is it a wading jacket or a 3/4??

It’s kind of both. It’s not overly short, so provides decent cover for your back area. Neither is it too long and flappy. I guess it was designed for American anglers fishing from drift boats, who sometimes need to get out and wade. You can use it for river, bank fishing on the fishery or drifting across the loch in the boat; it is genuinely multi purpose.

The Hodgman Aesis shell jacket is multi purpose

The Hodgman Aesis shell jacket is multi purpose

For extreme deep wading its actually designed to be tucked inside your waders if required. There is a ‘belt catch’ loop that helps you do this. I haven’t used it like that as I seldom need to wade that deep, but there are drain holes in the lower hand pockets that actually worked.

Neat little touches

The hood is well designed and easily adjustable. Even when fully up your field of vision is still clear. The chest pockets, whilst not enormous, are generous enough for most standard fly boxes, several accessories and spools of tippet. Two of them have waterproof seals, so are a good place to keep your car keys or a small point and shoot camera.

The flap of each breast pocket has a velcro fly patch built in, and interestingly a small magnet with the Hodgman logo on it. Great for holding a fly while you change your leader. There is also a small inner security pocket for valuables.

Back of the Aesis shell jacket

Back of the Aesis shell jacket

There are built in reflective strips on the back of the hood and around the shoulders. These are not obvious but show up in low light; quite handy I guess if fishing with a buddy on a dark night or if crossing a road at dusk. They also look pretty cool.

There is a rear D ring and also one in a breast pocket. One slight issue is the net D ring is quite low on the back – so it can be a slight pain to get you net back onto it without twisting your arm a little. But that’s about the only negative I can think of.

Verdict

After a solid month I am starting to think this is one of the best jackets I have ever owned. It’s functional, comfortable and a pleasure to fish in. It’s now a permanent occupier of my car boot, ready for action at any time.

Moving onwards, I’m looking forward to using it right through the warmer months, and maybe through the winter with thermals underneath. Its going to get a hammering but I am confident its going to last me a good few seasons.

At £239.99 it’s starting to enter the premium price bracket, but I feel the outlay is worth it. You pay your dollar, you get the goods! Great effort by Hodgman – keep it up the good work guys.

Hodgman Aesis Shell Jackets are available here.

Want to know more about the Hodgman brand?? Check out our blog post here.

How to Dress for Winter Sea Fishing

The coldest months are the best time to target species such as cod, but dress carefully to stay safe and warm. Image source: Alan Yates

The coldest months are the best time to target species such as cod, but dress carefully to stay safe and warm.
Image source: Alan Yates

Winter can be one of the most productive times for shore fishing. The largest cod – those well into double figures – are caught during the winter months, while species such as whiting, flounder, dab and coalfish can all provide action for anglers who are waiting for big cod to bite.

The best winter fishing usually coincides with strong winds and rough seas. While these may be the best conditions for catching large fish, they’re some of the most challenging for anglers. Chris Middleton tells us how to stay safe and keep warm when the cold bites.

Why it’s important to keep warm

ice-fishing

Anglers fishing in the coldest conditions – such as Iceland – rely on thermal suits.
Image source: Shutterstock

In winter the temperature can drop well below zero, with cold winds, rain or sea spray making conditions even worse for anglers. Failing to wear suitable clothing makes for uncomfortable fishing, and in extreme cases can put an angler’s health, and even life, at risk. A two degree drop in body temperature is all it takes for you to suffer hypothermia. A mild case will result in irritability, confusion and unconsciousness. Ultimately it can end in death.

The good news is that the right clothing can make winter sea fishing one of the most exciting sports you can imagine. Advances in materials and fabrics mean that modern thermal suits, flotation suits, jackets, hats and gloves will keep you safe, dry and toasty warm while fishing in any type of weather.

Thermal suits

Fishtec-thermal-suit

Some anglers find one piece suits warmer, but two-piece are more versatile.
Featured product: Imax 2-piece Thermo suit from Fishtec

If you’re serious about fishing in winter, a thermal suit is an essential investment. Today, two piece suits which offer a separate jacket and trousers/braces bottom are the most popular option, although one piece suits are also available.

As thermal suits are very effective, anglers don’t have to wear too many layers underneath them. Many find that a T-shirt and sweater along with jogging bottoms is sufficient, but those looking for extra warmth could always add additional layers.

All good thermal suits feature a heavy-duty outer shell and a warm thermal lining – a combination with keeps the wind and rain out and allows anglers to remain warm. Other features include a detachable hood, thermal-lined exterior pockets, Velcro adjustable cuffs and an interior pocket with a zip (ideal for keeping a mobile phone, car keys or other valuables.) The Imax Thermo Suit from Fishtec provides all of this for just £89.99. Alternatively, the Imax ARX-20 Ice Thermo Suit allows anglers to fish comfortably at temperatures as low as -20 degrees.

Flotation suits

Fishtec-flotation-suit

Not a replacement for a life jacket – but it could help save your life.
Featured product: Daiwa Sas MK7 2 Piece Flotation Suit from Fishtec

Flotation suits offer the same warmth and protection from wind and rain as thermal suits, but with the added advantage of buoyancy for anyone unlucky enough to fall into the sea while fishing. These suits offer a higher level of security for anglers who fish from rock marks or other exposed fishing marks.

These suits typically offer 50 Newtons of lift (less than a life jacket which is designed to be used in tidal waters) so they’re not designed to be used in place of a regular life jacket. But they will help keep you afloat if you fall in – potentially saving your life. There are two choices of flotation suit – a one piece style, or a two piece that consists of a jacket and separate trousers with shoulder straps. Most people find the two-piece version more versatile as you can wear the jacket alone when it’s not cold enough to warrant the whole thing. The Daiwa Sas MK7 2 Piece Flotation Suit from Fishtec is a high quality option from a well-known manufacturer – a good investment at £114.99.

Jackets

Fishtec-sea-fishing-jacket

Fishing jackets have corrosion-resistant zips, ideal in wet, salty conditions.
Featured product: TF Gear Force 8 Waterproof Jacket from Fishtec

Of course not all fishing takes place in the coldest or most extreme weather! Mild winter night fishing for cod, or an autumn evening lure fishing for bass will require a warm jacket rather than a full flotation suit.

Modern jackets constructed from breathable materials don’t restrict movement and allow you to cast to your heart’s content. However, they are very warm and waterproof, meaning that you’ll be protected if the temperature suddenly plummets or there’s a flash downpour. The TF Gear Force 8 Waterproof Jacket is an ideal example – totally wind and waterproof with polar fleece lining, comfortable elasticated cuffs and a lined hood with draw cord.

Hats and gloves

Fishtec-gloves

A quality pair of fishing gloves make long winter sessions much more comfortable.
Featured product: Imax Oceanic Gloves from Fishtec

It’s important to invest in high-quality, effective hats and gloves. Indeed, insufficiently warm gloves could allow your hands to get so cold you’ll be unable to carry out basic sea fishing actions such as tying knots, reeling in or unclipping terminal tackle. In serious cases gloves that don’t protect the hands properly have led to anglers getting frostbite. A pair of high quality thermal gloves – such as the Imax Oceanic Glove – are an essential item of clothing for winter anglers.

And don’t forget your head. While most thermal and flotation suits come with a thermal lined hood, many people also wear an additional woolly hat as extra protection from cold winds. Peaked, fleece lined hats which cover the ears are popular with some anglers when the sun is setting. Polarised sunglasses are also useful. The anti-glare properties help anglers spot fish such as mullet feeding just below the surface of the water. These Bolle polarised fishing sunglasses are a popular choice and a lanyard is probably a good idea!

Footwear

Fishtec-thermal-boot

Standard wellington boots may keep feet dry, but they won’t keep feet warm enough during winter fishing trips.
Featured product: TF Gear Thermo Boots from Fishtec

During a winter fishing session your feet can become very cold, especially if there’s snow on the ground or in frosty conditions. Invest in boots with a heat-retaining thermal lining that are specifically designed for harsh winter weather.

Indeed, many anglers have learned the hard way that normal walking boots or wellingtons are simply not warm enough on cold winter nights, even when worn with thermal socks. The TF Gear Thermo boots are an ideal example of this type of footwear and will keep feet warm down to temperatures of -10 degrees.

What should I wear for winter sea fishing?

Don’t get so caught up in decisions about rigs, venue and bait when planning a sea fishing trip that the correct clothing becomes an afterthought. Inadequate clothing will not only spoil your enjoyment, but could even threaten your health. Here’s a quick summary of the essential clothes you’ll need for winter sea fishing:

  • A good quality thermal or flotation suit
  • A wind and waterproof, thermal lined fishing jacket
  • High quality, thermal gloves, purpose designed
  • A warm, woolly hat, with peak if sunny
  • Thermal boots
  • Polarised sunglasses

Camo Vests Pack A Lot In – Airflo Outlander Vests Review

Robbie Winram of Trout Fisherman Magazine reviews the Airflo Outlander Covert
vest backpack and mesh vest – a best selling range of fly fishing clothing that has recently been re-vamped.

Airflo’s Outlander vest backpack and mesh vest have been given a new ‘stealth’ look for this season and are now made of a digitally developed ‘camo’ pattern to help break up the angler’s outline (although the vest backpack is photographed over a high-vis jacket to show it off!).

Airflo covert vest review

Airflo covert vest review – with Robbie Winram

Both are available in ‘one size fits all’ with adjustable shoulder and waist straps, ideal for a range of body sizes and also means you can clinch them down over lighter garments in the summer, or loosen them off to go over more layers in the winter.

The main difference between the two is weight and storage capacity. The vest backpack has a 25-litre capacity and weighs 2lb 12oz while the 15-litre capacity mesh vest weighs 2lb 1oz.

The vest/backpack (£69.99) consists of a waistcoat at the front and a small backpack at the rear. Padding across the shoulders and raised cushioned sections on the back of the pack add to the comfort, load distribution and ventilation.

Every bit of space on the front of the waistcoat has been utilised and includes eight zipped pockets of various sizes including two drop-down fly trays, plus two small open top mesh pockets. There are eight plastic D-rings, four cord loops, a rod holder, two pigtail retrievers, two quick-release clips and assorted webbing loops. All the zips feature easygrip pull tabs.

There are two closure options – a 10-inch main zip and a quick-release bayonet fitting on an internal elasticated strap, a good choice on a warmer day. On the rear is the backpack set-up that incorporates two double-zipped cargo spaces, both of which have gusseted side panels to prevent contents spilling out when they are open. The cargo space on the front has a couple of internal mesh dividers and an open mesh pocket on the front, while the main cargo space is large enough for a set of waterproofs, a flask and accessories.

The pack will also accommodate a hydration bladder (not supplied). On the inside, there are two horizontal zipped mesh pockets, and two large open mesh pockets with Velcro closures.

One neat little feature of this pack is the expander pocket system: undo a double zip that runs around the outside of the pack to give that extra bit of storage room.

Extra features include side compression straps to tighten and secure the load, three large D-rings on the shoulder yoke, various webbing loops and tabs.

VERDICT:

Both vests represent very good value for money and the vest backpack in particular offers a huge amount of storage capacity, capable of taking everything you need for a day’s fishing.

Airflo Covert Vest and features

Airflo Covert Vest and features.

Article reproduced with Kind permission of Trout Fisherman Magazine, October/November 2017 issue. For full details and to purchase the Airflo Covert vests, visit the website here.

Winter Grayling Fishing – 5 Tips for keeping warm on the river bank

Cold winter weather can herald some of the best river fishing of the year – Grayling time! Grayling feed willingly on the coldest of days, even with thick snow on the ground and ice in the rod rings.

Fishing in these conditions requires you, the angler, to be comfortable and prepared for a full day in the outdoors. Paying close attention to your clothing and layering choices allows you to do this.

Winter grayling fishing in sub-zero conditions

Winter grayling fishing in sub-zero conditions.

These winter grayling fishing tips cover how to keep yourself comfortable, and therefore fishing productively for grayling in even the coldest extremes.

1. Invest in cold weather headgear. Your normal baseball cap simply wont cut it. A beanie or woolen piece of headgear is what you need. Something like the Simms chunky beanie is ideal and worth every penny. The neck is also a much neglected area. A polar buff makes a stylish wind blocker and helps keep the warmth from your torso escaping through your neckline.

2. Use a fleece undersuit. When worn as part of a layering system an undersuit is probably the most important garment you need for grayling fishing. The thermolite body suit by Airflo is a great example of what you need. Remember to wear an undersuit on top of everything else.

3. Eat and drink to keep warm. Yes, calories keep you warm! Hit the greasy spoon before you head out to the river. A good breakfast and coffee definitely allow you to keep grayling fishing for longer. Bring a thermos flask with a hot drink. A warm cup of tea can revive even the coldest angler.

4. Keep your hands warm. Numb cold hands affect a lot of anglers. By learning to fish with gloves you can help avoid this problem. A lot of grayling fishing is short line nymphing, requiring a simple flick of the rod, so fishing with gloves does not hinder you. Another tip is to put your free hand into a hand warmer pocket each time you track your bugs round, and switch hands occasionally.

5. Feet are important. You loose a lot of heat through the feet. A double pair of socks will help, but make sure they are not too tight or blood flow could be restricted; negating the benefit. Nothing compares to adding another layer of neoprene round the foot – the Ron Thompson Neo Tough socks take some beating. But make sure your wading boots have enough room to accommodate them.

The reward - a grayling in the cold.

The reward – a grayling on a freezing cold day.

6 Toasty Tips For Winter Fishing

Keep warm in winter - Dave Lane with a winter carp.

Keep warm in winter – Dave Lane with a winter carp.

Now’s a great time to get into some big winter carp. And for sea anglers, winter is the season for decent cod. You’ve got the know-how, the patience and the tactics. We’ve got the lowdown on what to wear to keep you warm, dry and comfortable while you fish.

If the thought of braving frosty temperatures leaves you cold, look no further than our handy guide to keeping warm by the water.

Layer up

staying warm

Image source: shutterstock
What’s under your coat matters

It’s not exactly your clothes that keep you warm, but the insulating air those clothes trap within and between their fibres. This is why the best way to retain your body heat is to wear plenty of layers of clothing.

Top angling blogger Leon Bartropp is a firm believer in layering up:

“There is nothing worse than being cold when you are out in the elements fishing. I’ve found through trial and error over the years that a three layer system will keep you as warm as toast.”

Base
Your base layer combines two functions. One is to keep your core warm, the other is to draw moisture away from your skin, stopping cooling perspiration from drawing heat from your body. Worn next to the skin, merino wool is a great natural insulator or for those who find wool a bit itchy, you won’t go wrong with a quality two piece microfleece.
Mid
Wear a thick wool jumper or fleece as your mid layer and for your bottom half, we suggest you go for a pair of TF Gear Hardcore Waterproof Trousers. They’re super-warm, and constructed so that if you get your feet wet, the water won’t seep up your legs.
Top
An extremely knowledgeable winter cod angler, Glen Kilpatrick who writes for Whitby Sea Anglers is also keen on layering for warmth:

“The best clothing for rock fishing is light breathable layers worn underneath a pair of studded chest waders and a waterproof jacket or smock.”

A waterproof jacket is certainly one option, or alternatively, a flotation suit will do exactly what the name suggests, keeping you afloat should the worst happen. And because it’s 100% water and wind proof, your under layers can do their job, keeping you toasty while you reel in the fish.

Keep your head warm

warm hat man

Image source: shutterstock
Warm head – happy angler. Beard optional

The “fact” that you lose most of your body heat through your head is actually totally wrong. The claim stems from a 1970 US military handbook that stated that without a hat, you lose 40 – 45% of your body heat through your head. The statistic originated from some vaguely scientific studies conducted in the 1950s but is manifestly untrue.

In fact left uncovered, you’ll probably lose something in the order of 10% of your body heat through your head. But anyone who’s ever experienced a case of ‘icecream head’ – the agonising pain caused by the cold wind rifling through your sodden hair – will know the value of a wooly hat!

Hands

yan tan gloves by gemma garner

Image source: Gemma Garner
Go fingerless

Fingerless gloves are ideal for keeping your hands warm without getting in the way of reeling, casting and baiting up.

For added warmth, invest in a pair of hand warmers. They have changed the way that blogger, Gurn from the Intrepid Piscator fishes:

“The petrol fuelled models by Zippo and Peacock are excellent. I use two, one for each side pocket. They keep the fingertips and the core of your body warm. I cannot emphasise enough how much these items have enhanced my angling.”

Happy feet

warm socks

Image source: shutterstock
Numb toes are a no-no. Just make sure you wear your boots, too!

Keep your feet toasty with a good quality pair of Gore-Tex lined boots and a pair of thermal socks. Take the Intrepid Piscator’s advice and you won’t go wrong:

“If your feet are cold then so are you, and once they’re cold they are nigh impossible to warm up again. Good thermal, waterproof footwear is essential”

The good news is, we have the ultimate antidote for cold feet. Our battery-heated fleece socks warm up in one minute flat and are ideal for wearing with your fishing boots.

Gimme shelter

igloo

Image source: shutterstock
The ultimate winter fishing bivvy!

Being comfortable will help you catch more fish, says angling blogger, Ian Brooke. And that’s particularly true during the winter months. Ian’s advice is to invest in a quality clothing to keep you warm and dry because despite the weather,

“Carp look fantastic in their winter colours and are usually at good weights. They are harder to catch but then it was never meant to be easy.”

But a coat will only get you so far. Investing in a bivvy that’ll stand up to the worst the elements can throw at it means you can get out of the weather, keeping you fishing for longer and in worse conditions.

Writing in his series of posts on winter carp fishing, Ian recommends making sure your bivvy has a substantial groundsheet. He says it’s “essential to keep warmth in and damp out.” And he adds, “I also like to have a piece of carpet with me to use as added insulation.”

Fuel up

flask of tea

Tea. Best drink of the day.

Hot comforting food and drinks are a must when you’re angling – and never more so than in the winter. As Ian Brooke points out, “…a cup of tea is an amazing morale booster”.
Take a large insulated flask filled with tea, coffee or soup. If you are planning a longer session and don’t want to carry excessive weight, pack a compact stove and stay fuelled with dried packet mixes or reheated meals.
Biscuits and chocolate bars will also boost your energy levels.

So what are you waiting for? Switch that fire off, stop making excuses and get out there! In Gurn’s words, “There’s no such thing as too cold….just the wrong clothing!”
Got a few tips of your own to share? Let us know how you keep warm when fishing during the winter on our Facebook page.

Wade Through The Debate – Felt vs Rubber

wading boots underwater

these boots are made for wading…

Should you give your felt wading boots the boot? Damp felt soles can harbour invasive species of flora and fauna that destroy native river ecosystems. And as anglers tramp from swim to swim, they can spread damaging plant and animal life far and wide.

In fact, the issue is so serious that in New Zealand and some US states, felt soled wading boots are banned outright. In the UK, the Stop the Spread campaign highlights the dangers posed by non-native species. They say: “We are seeing fisheries in rivers and lakes being destroyed.” So should you take the next step and bin felt in favour of rubber?

The Environmental Issue

So, a few sneaky species make their way into our waterways. Is it really such a big deal? Yes it is – without natural controls to keep them in check, non-native flora and fauna spread disease and outcompete our native species for space and food.

Take the aptly named killer shrimp. A highly aggressive predator, it’s one of the most damaging invasive species in Western Europe and can spread at an estimated 124 km downstream each year. How? It’s facilitated by human activities, like angling and watersports.

In a study conducted by scientists in New Zealand, researchers tested the survival rate of the invasive algae Didymosphenia geminata on a variety of different materials. They discovered felt soles harbour the cells “much more successfully” than all the other materials they tested, including rubber.

The Stop the Spread campaign advises anglers to Check, Clean and Dry their kit. But the researchers in New Zealand discovered that because dense felt is so hard to dry thoroughly, it kept algae alive for at least 36 hours, with the potential to sustain the invaders for weeks.

But if felt is so damaging to the environment, is rubber a viable alternative for anglers?

Re-boot

felt and rubber sole wading boots

Image source: Kenny Clarke
both types have been extensively tested

Facing an outright ban on felt soled waders, anglers in the US were forced to make the switch to rubber. So let’s find out how they got on.
Alaskan blogger Tom Chandler carried out a year-long test on rubber and studded rubber boots. His conclusion?

“Studded rubber soles offer a practical, all-around substitute for felt and studded felt.”
The clear winner for him was The Orvis Studded Rubber Ecotrax Soles, thanks to their “aggressive, four-bladed stud design.”

But not everyone agrees that rubber can match felt for grip on slippery surfaces. Take US based outdoor writer and photographer, Zach Matthews, who writes that despite efforts by manufacturers:

“no rubber boot made to date can match (or frankly even come close to matching) felt soles for traction. Consequently, slips and falls with rubber soled boots are absolutely more common than they would be if everyone used felt.”

Which is why if you do go for a pair of rubber boots, wading studs become an important consideration

Hey, stud

As Steve Zakur, who writes for US angling mag, Hatch Magazine says: “like all rubber soles some sort of grip augmentation is recommended.” Though of course the noise of your cleats grinding against submerged rocks might spook the fish.

You can either add studs yourself or buy pre-studded boots. But a word of caution if you decide to take the DIY route – it’s all too easy to put a stud in the wrong place and find you’ve gone right through the sole!

A final word

fisherman's boots

Image Source: shinyredtype/ Flickr
best boots for the bank?

There are of course many other ways non-native algae and other invasive creatures can spread from one waterway to another, and anglers’ felt soled wading boots are only a small part of the problem. But if you do decide to make the transition to rubber – always buy the best boots you can. As Bankrunner, a member of the fishing forum, ifish.net writes:

“Get mid to high end quality boots if you are going to spend time on the river.”

And while he admits his fancy boots haven’t helped him catch more fish, at least, he says: “my feet were comfortable.”

An important consideration, indeed!

How much fishing tackle do you really need?

dog with heavy fishing barrow

Image source: Fishtec Coarse facebook page
The dog’s not going to be pulling this one…

Have you ever stopped to ask yourself: “how much fishing tackle do I really need to take?”

Judging by the barrow-loads of tackle some anglers cart to the riverbank or lakeside, you’d think the answer was, “you can never have enough”. But fishing is supposed to be about relaxation, so why keep burden yourself with excess baggage?

Less gear means less stress. So to help you declutter, here are some great tips from minimalist anglers to help you lighten the load.

Rods and reels

Unless you’re planning to fish a three or four rod water, two fishing rods and two reels are plenty. Remember, the more rods you take, the more gear you’ll need. More gear equals more hassle.

Take blogger The London Angler — when it comes to cutting to the bare essentials, he’s a true believer. As far as he’s concerned, all you need is:

“landing net, weighing scales, unhooking mat, rod rests, chair (I am not sitting on the muddy bank!), ground baits, hookbaits and a tackle box full of rigs, hooks, weights and other items such as boilie drills, stoppers… the list goes on”

His message is clear: Why take more if you can do fine with less?

Tackle

car full of fishing tackle

Image source: Bath Angling
To the riverside – are you really taking everything?

Excess kit is dead weight. Work out how many leads you can realistically expect to use in a single session. Take what you need in a small tackle box and leave the rest in the boot of the car.

Remember, less tackle doesn’t necessarily place a limit on the number of species you can catch. According to Josh Mann who writes the, Minimalist Approach, you can simply adapt a small range of tackle to a wide range of uses:

“When I know I’ll only be fishing with live bait. The only thing [my tackle box] has in it are size 1 hooks and 1/8 ounce split shot sinkers, which are really all I need in a wide variety of situations”

While he admits it wouldn’t be the ideal tackle box for every situation, his attitude is to take a little less stuff, and make it work.

Tackle box

small fishing tackle box

Image source:Fashionstock/ Shutterstock
Neat, tidy, and light

In fact, why not dispense with a tackle box altogether by making like a fly fisherman and wearing a fishing vest? With its many handy pockets it makes an ideal, wearable, tackle box.

And for those who really like to travel light, simply clip all your essential fishing tackle to a fishing lanyard, and slip it around your neck. It’s the ultimate hands-free fishing experience.

Bait

colourful fishing bait

Image source Bukhta Yuril/ Shutterstock
Bait is beautiful – but you don’t need your whole stock

Boilies, glugs, pellets, and pastes — how much bait do you really need? Not much if you’re Ian Gemson. Writing in The Fishing Magic blog, he certainly thinks less is more:

“…maybe a kilo bag of boilies, a few pop ups, and some plastic baits would work well, offering me another huge weight saving of nearly 20kg.”.

Save on kilos and on cost by baiting wisely. Try looking for tell tale signs pointing to an area a previous angler has already baited. And try not to over-bait – more is not necessarily better!

Comfort

We’d never suggest you skimp on comfort, but do check the weight of your couch. Looking for a new chair? Go for a lightweight option like the Indulgence Nomad Ultra-Lite, which weighs just 4kg. Overnighting? JRC Stealth X-Lite Bedchair is the lightest around.

Food and drink

Remember, you’re going fishing, not crossing Death Valley, so only take the fluids you’ll actually need.

Fancy a brew but don’t fancy carrying the kitchen sink with you? Here’s another top tip from blogger, Ian Gemson:

You don’t always need the extra weight of a stove bag and its contents, you can take hot water in a thermos flask to make hot drinks.”

Lastly, there’s your little rucksack of creature comforts — things every angler takes along on fishing trips, like a few cans of loosening-up juice. But we wouldn’t want you to skimp on that one!

How To Take Care Of Breathable Fishing Clothing and Footwear

Hi tech modern fishing clothing is seemingly indestructible… or is it? There is a lot of misconception about modern fishing clothing and footwear. It does need some maintenance to stay in full working order! Read on to find out why it is necessary to take care of your precious fishing gear, so it performs well in the long term.

All of the waterproof, breathable fishing clothing sold at Fishtec has a durable water-repellent finish applied to the outer surface- also known as DWR. This makes the water bead up and roll off, rather than soaking into the fabric. You will find this on fly fishing waders, fishing jackets and bib and braces, and  waterproof wading boots.

Waterpoof breathable fishing boots - in need of a quick clean and re-spray

Waterproof breathable fishing boots – in need of a quick clean and re-spray.

If the water is allowed to soak into the fabric it will impair the breathability.  A build up of dirt and fish slime will do this over time. If the breathability is impaired, moisture will build up inside the garment, so the fisherman will get wet and uncomfortable from this condensation.  When the DWR process fully stops working over time the outer fabric will actually start to soak up the water, this is known as ‘wetting out’.

It is therefore essential to look after your breathable fishing gear, and maintain the Durable Water Repellent finish, to keep it at peak performance. We always recommend the use of a spray on treatment such as Grangers fabsil , applied after the garment has been washed and cleaned of dirt. In the case of footwear the same thing applies – maintain the DWR finish, and the water will not start to soak in and seep into the material  and seams making your feet clammy and damp. Brush and clean your boots down and spray them with a treatment every month or so.

 

 

 

 

 

What every angler wants in their tackle box this Christmas

With Christmas just around the corner it’s likely that friends and relatives will be scratching their heads about what to buy you this year.

So in order to avoid the unwanted reindeer sweater or the cheap toiletries that you’ll never use, why not drop a few hints about what you’d really like for Christmas this year.

That’s where we come in, so please allow us to assist with a few gift ideas that anglers everywhere will appreciate.

Upgraded fishing clothing

Fly fisherman fishing for trout in river.

Image source: Goodluz
Put a new pair of waders on your wish-list.

Keeping warm and dry is obviously high up on the list of priorities when out for a long period of time fishing. So how are you fixed for waders, an all-weather jacket or even a Thermo Skin bib and brace, which traps your own body heat? Somebody is probably gagging to buy you a dodgy sweater, but some actually useful fishing clothing would be a way better alternative.

A trip of a lifetime

Boats at Pranang cave beach Railay Krabi in Thailand

Image source: Im Perfect Lazybones
A fishing escape to Thailand? Yes please!

You’ll need wealthy friends if you’re expecting to find air tickets to some dream fishing location in your tackle box on Christmas Day. Cat Island Lodge on the shores of Trout Lake in Ontario, or bass fishing in Florida are just a couple of the more exotic locations for fishing holidays. Or what about catching big carp in Thailand? Closer to home how about a weekend of sea fishing on Chesil Beach in Dorset? There’s a wide variety of fish that swim these waters depending on the weather and sea conditions, so an enjoyable challenge.

Secret fishing location

Multiple fishermen silhouette at sunset.

Image source: viczast
A shared secret spot is fishing gold dust.

This one is free, but potentially priceless in the right hands. Only catch is that it could be hard for somebody to share information about their closely guarded fishing spot. But it’s a nice gesture from one angler to another and a wonderful gift that will keep on giving.

Bivvy

Birds eye view of a fisherman with a rubber dinghy and bivvy in Serbia.

Image source: ollirg
Time for a bivvy upgrade?

The Great British bivvy is the angler’s castle. No matter how far away you are from civilisation, your bivvy has your back and will serve you well through day and night. Invest in quality and you’ll be well prepared for a range of weather conditions whatever the elements throw at you. Is it time for an upgrade?

Flies

Handmade flies used for fly fishing

Image source: KML
You can never have enough of these!

If a younger member of the family asks you what you’d like for Christmas this year, be sure to explain what you mean by ‘flies’ or else trouble is on the menu for Christmas dinner. But the fun of choosing which fishing flies to buy you would be an activity that would be enjoyed by the youngsters. There’s an idea.

Fishing tokens

Different coloured squares with fish cut out.

Image source: Blan-k
Affordable and super useful!

Fishing tokens are a wonderful idea for a Christmas gift and most affordable too. Many regional rivers and trusts offer token and passport schemes which usually invest the money back into the upkeep and protection of the river and fish stocks. Simply exchange a token or two and you’re free to fish.