What is coarse fishing?

What is coarse fishing?

What is the difference between coarse and game fishing?

First things first we need to define the two groups which we are fishing for ‘Coarse fish’ and ‘Game fish’, the reason that coarse fish were named ‘coarse’ was due to the fact the fish were classes as a ‘lesser fish’ and they had rough skin, therefore they were named ‘coarse’. In the 19th Century UK coarse fishing was a recreational sport for the ‘Gentry’, they fished for the salmonids, which consisted of salmon and trout. The Salmon and trout were renowned to be good for eating, the other freshwater fish were known for not being so good to eat and were labelled as coarse fish. This is how the two terms came into existence and distinguished the two groups of freshwater fish.


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The main differences between coarse fishing and game fishing is that game fish can usually be taken home and eaten. Whereas when you coarse fish, it is on a catch and release basis. Game fish can be fished for on trout fishing lakes, and prolific rivers across the UK, there is usually a certain size or a limited amount of the trout or salmon which you can take home.

Another big difference is how you traditionally fish for game fish and you traditionally fish for coarse fish. Most anglers who fish for game fish such as trout and salmon will fish for them with imitation baits such as fly’s with the use of a centre pin and fly rod. Game anglers will match the hatch, use different fly’s at different times of year and can actually stalk and sight fish for the trout and salmon in the clear water. Coarse fishing is very different, this is usually done with a waggler (float fishing) set up or a ledger/feeder fishing set up. Coarse fish can also be fished for in a ‘Match fishing’ environment, using poles and different tactics to catch large numbers of coarse fish in a specific period of time.

When game fishing, anglers can cover large amounts of ground and remain active throughout their fishing session, a coarse angler is more likely to set up base and feed a swim to draw the fish to them throughout their session. Game fish can be caught with tactics such as float fishing with maggots, but they aren’t traditionally fished for in this way. With game fish being ‘predatory’ they can actually be fished for with spinners, lures and spoons, this is another common tactic along with fly fishing, imitating prey with lures, spoons and spinners.

The two types of angling also have different season’s and rules which can be seen in the link below: https://www.gov.uk/freshwater-rod-fishing-rules/when-and-where-you-can-fish

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What do I need for coarse fishing?

You will need to get yourself a rod and a reel which is suitable for the coarse fish which you are fishing for, if you are going to be fishing for small coarse species between the 1lb-10lb size. There are four main types of rods you can go for:

  1. You have a match rod/waggler rod which is used for float fishing for coarse fishing, these range from 10ft-13ft in length. Generally, the longer the rod the greater the distance you can fish.
  2. The quiver tip, can be used for ledger fishing or feeder fishing on the bottom of the lakebed. When a float is not present, and you need a different type of bite indication a sensitive quiver tip is perfect. You get different tips for different levels of sensitivity; the size of the fish and the weather conditions can impact what tip you use.
  3. A specialist rod, this rod can be used for both of the above. It can be fished as a float rod but the tips can be removed and it can be swapped over to a quiver tip. If you can only afford one rod for your coarse fishing when starting out, this can be a great option.
  4. 12ft carp rod, stiffer actioned and a lot more heavy duty with a bigger test curve, ranging from 1.5lb TC up to 4lb TC, the larger the test curve of the rod the more powerful and stiffer actioned the rod. For a beginner who wants to fish more for carp, a TC range between 2lb-3lb should be adequate for small carp on beginner lakes.

Once you have chosen your rod, you will need to purchase a reel. There are numerous types of reels you can opt for. Here is a list of some reels which you could choose to use for your coarse fishing.

  1. Small front drag reel, where the drag tension is adjusted on the front of the spool. (The drag tension, is what allows the fish to take line in a controlled manner.)
  2. Small rear drag reel, where the drag tension is adjusted on the rear of the reel. Whether you choose to opt for a front or rear drag reel, it is purely down to personal preference. Both reels also come in double handle or single handle options which is also down to personal preference. – The reel handles can be swapped either side of the reel for left handed or right handed preference.

With the two essentials purchased you will need to get yourself the following:

  • Fishing line, to spool onto the reel. (lb line will depend on the species and lake conditions)
  • End tackle – (Floats, split shots, hooks, ledger weights, feeders, disgorgers etc.)
  • Rod Rest– to rest your rod on.
  • Tackle box– to store your end tackle.
  • Bait box– to hold maggots or worms etc.
  • Catapult- to get your bait around your area.
  • Unhooking mat and weighing scales– to protect your capture and weigh it.
  • Chair
  • Seat box or luggage- to hold your tackle boxes and bait boxes.

With the above coarse fishing tackle purchased, you should be able to start getting out on the bank and coarse fishing! You should also find some YouTube tutorials to help you set up your rod, reel, line and end tackle!

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What is coarse fishing season?

The coarse fishing season is governed by the environment agency, you may be able to coarse fish on coarse fisheries all year round if the lake doesn’t have a close season. But if you choose to coarse fish on the river then you will need to abide by the rivers close season which is from the 15th march to the 15th of June.

The annual close season is put in place to help protect fish stocks across England when the fish are spawning. Fishing is not permitted in this period across rivers, streams, drains and specified canals & Site of special scientific interest still waters.

If you are caught fishing in the close season, you are breaking the law. You could face a criminal conviction and a fine of up to £50,000.

What is the best bait for coarse fishing?

When it comes to coarse fishing baits you really don’t need to break the bank, some of the best baits can be found on the supermarket shelves!

  • Cheese is often completely overlooked, but I have used it numerous times on the river with some great success catching some fantastic chub. Mature cheddar is a great choice!
  • Frozen prawns, can be another great choice of bait when fishing for carp and perch!
  • Peperami and hotdog sausages! Another great bait for carp and other species.
  • Luncheon meat, a great bait which can certainly throw up some surprising captures when coarse fishing!
  • Bread, you can use it for sea fishing and freshwater fishing! Bread crust can be used as a floating bait for carp and chub! You can also mould the bread around the hook to make the bread sink in the water columns, Roach, bream, carp and other species will take bread on the bottom of the lakebed. It can also be blended up into breadcrumb, which can be moulded into balls and used for baiting up with!
  • Sweetcorn, you can bulk buy frozen bags of sweetcorn or simply buy a tin of sweetcorn for a day session! This can be float fished midwater or ledgered on the bottom and will certainly attract a wide variety of species, it is less likely to attract predatory fish but carp, bream, roach, rudd, tench etc love sweetcorn!

You can find some other great coarse fishing baits in your back garden and in tackle shops!

  • Worms! You can find worms in your garden, or out on a walk-in fields. A trick to getting worms to rise up out of the ground is to water an area with a mixture of fairy up liquid and water, once they are on the surface you can wash the fairy up liquid off them and put them in a tacklebox with some soil to use for your fishing sessions! You can also buy different types of worms from your local tackle shop.
  • Maggots! A brilliant all-round coarse fishing bait, the most common colours are red and white, and all coarse and predatory coarse fish love a maggot. You want to hook the maggots through the end section of the maggot which looks like two small eyes, try not to hook through the middle of the maggot as you want the maggot to wriggle whilst it is on the hook! You can use one maggot on the hook or a bunch. You can also vary the colours or keep them all in one colour.
  • Pellets– Trout pellets and halibut pellets in varying sizes are great for baiting up with and using on a hair rig or in a bait band to catch numerous coarse species.
  • Groundbait– This is going to be required if you want to do some open-ended feeder fishing, or baiting a spot with some groundbait balls, you can use some blended bread to bulk this mix out. There are numerous types of groundbait you can buy and put in your groundbait mix!

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About The Author

Daniel Hughes Dangler

Daniel Hughes

CEO & Co-Founder

Being out on the bank and catching a fish is just a bonus for me, what I really love about angling is it provides us with the ability to be at one with nature and appreciate what most do not get to see. I discovered my passion for angling at the age of 9 and it has never left me, carp fishing has always been the core of my angling but I will never turn down the opportunity to target other species and enjoy what our waters have to offer.

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2020-07-22T18:12:00+01:00June 23rd, 2020|Match & Coarse|