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Cod Fishing: How to catch cod

The Talk Sea Fishing guide on cod fishing, looking at all of the techniques to catch cod from boat and shore with bait and lures.

Cod can only really be confused with the whiting. The cod has a more blunt, bigger head, but the whiting’s head is more pointed towards the jaws. The cod’s lateral line is more pronounced and features an upwards curve above the pectoral fin. Also look for a definite black or dark spot positioned at the root of the pectoral fin on the whiting, which is missing on the cod.

When living over sand cod take on a mottled fawn or light brown colouring on the back with a white underside. But when feeding mostly over mixed rougher ground and broken shell they become slightly greener on the back for better camouflage.

They achieve sexual maturity at the age of 4-years and female cod can produce up to 10 million eggs. The fry are rarely evident, but by the end of their second spring can be found close inshore and will range from 4-inches to 7-inches in length. Overall growth is rapid and by their third year they should weigh in the region of 4lbs, though are still not fully mature.

Cod are designed with a large mouth in comparison to the body for hoovering up food items off the seabed, and sucking in the baitfish that they prey on. A typical cod diet includes crabs, worms, shellfish, shrimps and squat lobsters, but as they grow bigger and start taking live fish, they add poor cod, pouting, whiting, flatfish, sandeel, herring, and mackerel and are also cannibalistic eating their own kind.

Cod are found northward as far as the Barents Sea off northern Russia, westward taking in Iceland and the southern tip of Greenland, also off the Newfoundland coast and the eastern coast of North America. They are common off Western Europe from Norway south to the Bay of Biscay taking in whole of the UK and Ireland.

Shore surf cod fishing

How to catch surf beach cod

Location & when to fish

In Scotland and the Northeast of England cod can be caught pretty much throughout the whole year, though from September onwards numbers increase as more fish move in from deeper water. In the south of the UK, the traditional start to the cod season is again September with the first fish generally showing from the shore marks in the upper Bristol Channel, from Dungeness Beach in Kent, Chesil Beach in Dorset, The Tamar Estuary, and also from the East Anglian, Lincolnshire and Yorkshire beaches.

Numbers increase throughout October, with the peak period for shore cod November through to Christmas. Come the New Year, cod numbers rapidly thin out as the fish move offshore prior to spawning.

Cod like big seas with a good swell and a surf running. This displaces food from the sand and the cod move in to feed. Big Atlantic weather systems that bring gale force winds in from the southwest and west are the ones to watch for. As these produce surf and swell as they approach this can fish well, but the best fishing is after the gale blows through and the wind drops but the sea remains rough. Big catches can be made in these conditions.

Cod can be caught by day if the water is very coloured and ideally over 15-feet in depth to minimise light passing through the water column. But experienced cod anglers will always fish at night, as this is when the bulk of the fish move inshore to feed. Tides rising from middle sized through to the biggest spring tides prove by far the best. Once the tides peak and start to fall back in size, so to do catches of cod.

On shallow surf beaches low water and right through the flood tide to high water can be a good time, but once the ebb starts typically the fish move further out, often beyond fishing range. On deeper Steep-to beaches, often the cod come in with mid flood when the tide picks up speed, staying until high water, but it can vary beach to beach.

On shallow beaches, look for feature. Deeper sand gullies running parallel with the shore catch food pushed in by the tide and will hold cod too. Note any areas where patches of shingle, broken boulders or mussel beds lay as these will hold food and the cod will visit. Junctions of boulders and sand are good, also channels between sandbanks where the fish will pass through as the tide floods in. All these are cod hotspots.

Look at the surf pattern on deeper beaches. Any areas where the surf breaks closer in indicates deeper water and are worth fishing. Also look for areas where flotsam and Jetsam washes up as these identify a tide current that washes ashore here and will bring food with it too. Also any out jutting rock or shingle banks that defect the tide will again draw cod in to feed.

Shore surf cod fishing

Tackle

Surf cod fishing, due to the nature of the sea state being typically rough, requires powerful fast taper, 5 to 6oz beachcasters between 12ft and 14ft. Most anglers opt for a rod between 12ft 6ins and 13ft 6ins.

Over clean sand popular reels for maximum distance, which can be an advantage on many cod beaches, are the ABU 6500i TSR and the Daiwa 7HT series loaded with 15lb line and a 60lb shock leader. For very rough seas and when fishing in amongst broken ground, most anglers prefer the increased winching power of the Penn 525Mag2, and load with 20lb line and an 80lb shock leader.

How to build a clipped down pennel pulley cod rig

Surf cod fishing rig

1. Begin with a 30-inch length of 80lb Rig Body line. Tie on a Gemini lead clip link at the base.

Surf cod fishing rig

2. Slide on a 5mm bead, a size 4 rolling swivel, or better still a Pulley Rig Bead, and another 5mm bead.

Surf cod fishing rig

3. To the remaining free end of 80lb line add a strong size 4 rig body swivel. The hook trace is a 24-inch length of 30/40lb clear line tied to the end of the size 4 rolling swivel. Fluorocarbon is popular as it offers a high abrasion resistance and is stiffer than mono, so less prone to tangling in big surfs.

Surf cod fishing rig

4. The two-hook Pennel rig uses a Mustad Viking 79510 top hook, and a Viking 79515 lower hook, both size 4/0’s. Slide the top hook on to the hook length via the eye. Now tie on the bottom hook. To secure the top hook after baiting up, position the hook about an inch above the bait, wrap the hook length around the shank of the top hook three times and pass the hook point in through the top of the bait for perfect presentation.

5. For casting, put the bottom hook in the clip of the lead clip link. The hook will fall free of the clip when the lead weight hits the seas surface.

When fishing rougher ground: Tie a short section of weaker 20lb line to the eye of the Gemini clip link, then tie the free end to the eye of a lead. The eye of the lead then sits on the actual bent clip wire for casting. The lead will fall free of the bent clip when the lead weight hits the sea.

Baits

The top beach bait for winter cod is blow or black lugworm. Make the baits at least 5-inches long and bulk them out to increase scent and give the cod something to home in on in the dirty water.

Other good baits are ragworm which often fishes well as a mixed bait with lugworm, whole squid, or squid strips added to worm baits, mussel, razorfish, and bluey as strips and as half body baits. Peeler crab, especially near rougher ground, will also be deadly.

Shore surf cod fishing

Top tips for surf beach cod fishing

  1. When casting in to a strong headwind use the biggest lead weight you can comfortably cast. A 6oz weight will penetrate through a strong oncoming wind better than a 5oz, and a 7oz better than a 6oz. This is due to the momentum and masse of the lead retaining power longer, therefore travelling further to increase your casting range. Heavier grip leads also hold better in rough seas and anchor the bait where the cod can find it.
  2. In heavy seas use 40lb hook lengths as a minimum. In coloured water and at night even 60lbs will not deter cod, but gives you added strength and abrasion resistance when dragging good fish back through broken ground and heavy surf
  3. Use brightly coloured shock leaders at night. These are easily seen and picked up in your headlight beam and will indicate exactly where a fish is in the surf tables prior to landing. It also gives the man landing the fish something to hold and slide the fish ashore with until he can grab it by the gills.
  4. In water not too coloured, adding a couple of luminous green beads charged under your headlight, or better still a camera flash, will draw cod towards your bait and will increase catches. Use small beads no more than 4mm in diameter and make sure they are highly luminous for maximum effect.
  5. Getting to a beach just as a blow is dying away and prior to low water can often reveal washed out shellfish laying on the sand. These include razorfish, queen cockle, scallop and sand clams. Tipping lug and ragworm baits with these can again increase your catch as this is exactly what the cod have moved in to the surf to feed on.

How to catch rough ground cod

Those prepared to put time in in rougher sea conditions potentially could see some very good cod to specimen weight and over this coming winter. But the knack to finding the bigger fish will generally be to fish the rough ground.

Shore rough ground cod

Location for catching rough ground cod

There are generally two types of rough ground. One type is an open beach with a seabed of boulders or rocky fingers in relatively shallow water. These occur in many areas and are prime cod ground. The cod usually run these beaches from low water up to high water, then move out. The two hours after low are often the best, though high water can also fish well. Surprisingly, the middle hours of the tide on many beaches do not fish well in comparison.

On these shallower beaches the bigger spring tides invariably fish best as the increase in tidal speed scours out the ground and exposes more food. The best time to fish these beaches is immediately after a good storm when the surf remains high, but the wind has dropped. This big sea further scours out any sand washing out food such as worms and shellfish, plus it smashes mussels free from the rocks.

Because of the shallow nature of these beaches it pays to fish only at night. Even when the water is well coloured after a storm, the vast majority of fish will stay out in deeper water during daylight.

Try to look at the beach over low water. Pick out any obvious gullies or gutters that cut in towards the shore with slightly deeper water. These will catch and hold food washed along by the tide, plus are natural motorways for the fish to work through. Also identify scooped out areas around bigger boulders, small sections of shallow reef running inshore and any large rock pools, as once flooded by the tide, these all will concentrate fish hunting for food.

On these shallower beaches a long cast may be necessary to find the fish, especially over low water, but it’s far more important to have your bait in, or tight to the described fish holding features.

The second type of ground tends to be casting from rock ledges or platforms in to deeper, rougher ground made up of rock gullies filled with weed and covered in barnacles. This ground is typical along the Northeast coast, some parts of east and west Scotland, also areas such as Anglesey and Cornwall.

The gullies can be narrow and just a few feet across, or much wider with depths again from just a few feet to maybe 20-feet deep. They often have kelp and other weed growth evident, with rock covered in barnacles and mussels. These gullies are full of food including small fish such a shannies and blennies, crabs and mussels.

The deeper gullies will fish in daylight as the fish have more cover, and especially if there is some colour in the sea, but again night time generally is best for the more consistent catches.

Safety needs to be considered, but as before rougher sea conditions with a good swell tend to bring the fish in to the gullies. A good onshore wind is essential for the winter fish, though red summer rock cod can be caught in calmer conditions in a good depth of water.

This type of ground requires accurate casting, aiming to put the baits directly in to the gutters where the fish are. Sometimes you’ll take fish at just 20-yards range, though most casting will require accurate casting up to 70-yards. Good anglers, experienced over this type of ground, will fish at much longer range as appropriate to pick out their favoured gullies.

Shore rough ground cod

Rough ground cod fishing tackle

In both cases this can be brutal fishing, so a powerful, very fast taper blank rated to cast 6ozs is necessary. Length can be 13 to 14-feet, but make sure the rod is stiff to literally bully and drag fish over and out through snags.

For the shallower beach a Penn 525Mag2 is a very popular reel has it has the tough gears and build quality, but equally has the ability to hit long range. Daiwa Slosh 30’s and ABU 7000’s are also popular. Line from 18 to 25lb are typical, with a 60lb shock leader.

For the very rough ground Shimano Torium 14’s and Avet reels are making their mark. Load these with 25 to 30lb line. For short range casting there is no need for a leader, but for long range work you will still need a 60lb shock leader.

How to build a pennel pulley cod rig

Surf cod fishing rig

1. Begin with a 30-inch length of 80lb Rig Body line. Tie on a Gemini lead clip link at the base.

Surf cod fishing rig

2. Slide on a 5mm bead, a size 4 rolling swivel, or better still a Pulley Rig Bead, and another 5mm bead.

Surf cod fishing rig

3. To the remaining free end of 80lb line add a strong size 4 rig body swivel. The hook trace is a 24-inch length of 30/40lb clear line tied to the end of the size 4 rolling swivel. Fluorocarbon is popular as it offers a high abrasion resistance and is stiffer than mono, so less prone to tangling in big surfs.

Surf cod fishing rig

4. The two-hook Pennel rig uses a Mustad Viking 79510 top hook, and a Viking 79515 lower hook, both size 4/0’s. Slide the top hook on to the hook length via the eye. Now tie on the bottom hook. To secure the top hook after baiting up, position the hook about an inch above the bait, wrap the hook length around the shank of the top hook three times and pass the hook point in through the top of the bait for perfect presentation.

5. For casting, put the bottom hook in the clip of the lead clip link. The hook will fall free of the clip when the lead weight hits the seas surface.

When fishing rougher ground: Tie a short section of weaker 20lb line to the eye of the Gemini clip link, then tie the free end to the eye of a lead. The eye of the lead then sits on the actual bent clip wire for casting. The lead will fall free of the bent clip when the lead weight hits the sea.

Rough ground cod fishing baits

Over both types of ground big lug baits up to 8-inches long work well, or mix both rag and lug as a combination. You can tip this off with a strip of squid, or a full razorfish bound along the length of the lugworm.

Shore rough ground cod

Other good baits are several big mussel bound on to the hook in to a sausage shape, or peeler crab cut in to two halves to release scent and bound together with elastic thread. Whole squid can also be a good bait, especially on the west coast.

Top tips for rough ground cod fishing

  1. Leads specially made with soft release grip wires that bend under pressure often snag less than plain bomb and normal grip wired leads. The wires help keep the leads out of the cracks that weights typically jam in. These also keep you anchored in the rough ground and will not roll around in any tide run either.
  2. Some anglers prefer to use a big fixed spool reel and load with 50, even 60lb braid line to give greater lifting power, especially when fishing at short to medium range in to very heavy snags. This requires no leader, plus gives excellent bite detection when holding the rod and feeling for bites.
  3. It pays to have one rig fishing and another ready baited with a link attached to your leader for a quick change. Often a small group of cod will pass through over a short period giving you the chance of two fish if you have a ready baited rig available.
  4. Fresh mussel baits are best removed from their shells the day before you fish. Put the mussels in a screw top container in the fridge and let them stew in their own juices. This toughens them slightly, but increases their scent as the juice thickens up and cod love them!
  5. In semi coloured water, and when night fishing, adding a luminous yellow bead immediately above the hook can sometimes increase your catches. Make sure you charge the bead under your lamp or torch beam before casting.

How to catch cod from a boat

When offshore fishing, inexperienced anglers can confuse pollack with cod, but the pollack has a more tapered head and the bottom jaw extends beyond the top jaw. The cod has a blunter head, and the eye of the cod extends above the mouth further towards the tip of the jaw, plus the jaws are equal in length. Small cod may be confused with whiting too, but again the whiting’s head is more pointed, and there is a black spot above the root of the pectoral fin.

Deep water cod vary in colour from a mottled brown over mixed sandy ground, to dark brown or slightly green back and yellow mottled sides when living in deep water and over wrecks and rough reef ground.

Although big cod will grub for food on the seabed, for the most part they are predatory eating small fish such as sandeel, pout, poor cod, rockling, whiting, small cod, flatfish, herring, mackerel, crabs, squat lobster and any shellfish they come across.

Locations and when to fish for boat cod

Cod are resident on the reef and wrecks for much of the year, though tend to be smaller fish up to 7lbs during the summer and early autumn in many southern areas. In the north, off Yorkshire, the boats take good cod to 10lbs off the inshore grounds, but are always in with the chance of a 20lb plus fish when fishing the wrecks during the summer. Throughout Scotland the inshore cod run to 8lbs or so, with the occasional bigger fish throughout the year.

Boat fishing for cod

In the south, the bigger fish move inshore from September in areas such as the Thames Estuary and Bristol Channel, staying until January. But it’s from November through to March that the big cod move out on to the wrecks and gather for spawning. This is when the bigger fish over 20lbs and 30lbs are caught.

Uptiding

Uptide fishing is the most successful technique when anchoring in fast tides areas such as the Bristol Channel and Thames Estuary.

Uptiding means the angler casts the baited rig in a sharp uptide direction, then as the lead weight hits the seas surface, begin releasing line again until you feel the weight touch bottom. Release a further 20-yards or so of line, then click the reel in to gear. The release of line after the lead hits the seabed creates a big downtide bow in the line that sees the line above the rig and weight pull the grip lead deep in to the seabed and anchor the bait, much like a boats anchor rope does. The rod tip now pulls steadily over in to the tide.

Bites will register typically as a double knock, then a sharp pull down and the rod tip will spring back straight as the fish pulls the lead weight free. Lift the rod, wind down until you feel the weight of the fish, now lift the rod to strike and fully set the hook.

Typical uptide rods for cod will be between 9’6” and 10’ in length with a very supple tip, but powerful mid section and butt to give the casting power. Cod uptide rods are rated 4 to 10ozs or better still 6 to 10ozs.

Reels need to be able to cast to a good range, but have powerful gears and frames. Popular reels are the ever popular ABU 7000 series and also the Penn 525Mag2, both loaded with 20lb line and a 60lb shock leader, though some prefer to use 25lb line on the 7000. The Daiwa 7HT series reels are also popular for their casting ability. Some anglers prefer to use a big 8000 fixed spool loaded with 30/40lb braid and dispense with a shock leader. The extra winching power of the fixed spool, and its ease of casting, is well worth considering if you’re new to uptide fishing.

A simple and quick uptide rig starts with a size 4 rolling swivel and 20-inches of 80lb rig body line. Slide on a Sliding Link Ledger, a 5mm bead and tie on another size 4 swivel. To the end of the swivel add 3 to 6-feet of 40/50lb mono. Slide on a size 4/0 Mustad Viking 79510 hook by the eye, then tie on a Mustad Viking 79515 hook to the end of the line. Bait up, then slide the top hook down to the bait and wrap the hook trace around the shank of the hook three times to secure it in place. Position the hook point through the top of the bait for perfect presentation. For big squid baits use 6/0 hooks.

Baits for boat cod fishing

For uptide fishing big lugworm baits are excellent. Use one or two whole black lug depending on length, then add several smaller and juicer blow lug at the bottom for added scent. These need to be formed like a thick sausage shape, bound with elastic thread, and be from 6 to 12-inches long. After each retrieve, leave the old bait on and add fresh to maximise scent and bait size. Adding strips of squid for movement, mixing ragworm with the lug, and tipping with crab, razorfish and mussel can also be highly effective.

To target much bigger cod try fishing whole big squid or cuttlefish, or two or three smaller squid. Half and full sections of bluey, also whole mackerel and herring are also good.

Boat fishing for cod

Wreck and reef fishing for cod

Some anglers still use big metal pirks for wreck cod, and it remains an effective way to fish, but does foul hook far too many.

Modern sport fishing trends now dictate that most anglers prefer to fish artificial lures for the wreck dwelling cod. These range from artificial sandeels and jellyworms, weighted sandeel imitations such as the Berkley Powerbait Sandeels and Sidewinders, also soft shads such as the Berkley Ripple Shads fished on a lead head, and the weighted Storm and Calcutta Shads.

Unweighted lures are fished on simple Flying Collar rigs using a sliding boom slid on to the shock leader, an 8mm bead, tie a swivel to the end of the line, then tie on a long 10ft or more trace of 20lb Fluorocarbon or clear mono and the lure. To fish this, simply let the tackle reach the bottom, click the reel in to gear and start to slowly rewind counting up to 25 turns, then go back down. When a fish takes you feel the rod tip get gradually heavier. Keep winding and wait until the fish fully takes the lure and turns for the bottom pulling the rod tip hard over and setting the hook. This method is good on both reefs and deep water wrecks.

Boat fishing for cod

Another good rig is a variant of the Flying Collar called the Jumper rig. This uses the boom, bead and swivel, but then you add between 4 and 6ft of 50lb mono and tie on a weighted shad. This is released to the seabed, lifted about 6ft up off the bottom and is worked by lifting and lowering the rod tip to make the shad swim up and down. This is highly effective for big cod working close in to wrecks.

You can also fish the bigger 6-inch shads on heavier 3 to 10oz lead heads depending on depth. Again it’s just a case of releasing the lure to seabed then using the slow steady retrieve until the fish are found.

Good rods are 15 to 20lb class up to 8ft 6ins long matched to ABU Revo 60 low profile reels, 7000 series reels or Shimano equivalents. Load with 20lb braid and use a short 10ft 30lb shock leader from Fluorocarbon or clear mono.

Top tips for boat cod fishing

  1. When uptide casting, use what area you have between where you are and where the other anglers are casting. Vary casting distance and angle. Doing this you locate smaller different patches of ground, such as boulders and hollowed out areas, that consistently produce fish.
  2. When baiting with whole squid, make sure the hook comes out through the head and not just the body. Cod can often nip off the head and leave the body missing the hook completely.
  3. Carry various colours of weighted and unweighted shads as cod can have a particular preference on the day. Black, yellow, pink and orange are all good colours to try. Generally the deeper the water the darker the colour is a good rule as cod look for silhouettes above. Brighter colours work better in coloured water.
  4. Black shads are great fish catchers but often hard to find in the shops. Always carry a black permanent marker pen and use this to colour lighter coloured shads to improve the catch rate.
  5. Cod are sensitive to noise in the water and associate this with food. When bait fishing, try adding a double rattling Booby Bead about 10-inches above the bait and locked in place by a wrap of telephone wire, or a Powergum stop knot and bead.

How to catch cod on lures

Just a few years ago, if you were looking to catch some decent boat cod, then the standard approach were big triple shots of squid, whole cuttlefish, or heavy metal pirks armed with a big muppet adorned treble hook. Rods and reels were generally the heavier 30 to 50lb class. But tradition has a habit of becoming history and the soft plastics revolution is taking over fast.

Obviously cod on artificial sandeels is not totally new as some fish were taken on soft lures, such as Redgill and Eddystone Eels well over 30-years ago, but these were not generally targeted fish, just lucky captures by anglers retrieving lures up through the water column when mainly looking for pollack and coalies over wrecks. I remember using Jellyworms with jig heads off Killybegs with skipper Enda O’Callaghan and deliberately catching cod to 7lbs back in 1989 using 6lb line and light spinning rods too.

Whitby boats also had a hand in the soft plastics revolution commonly starting to use soft weighted shads around a decade ago over their inshore rough ground with good catches of codling and some better fish up to about 10lbs, generally speaking.

How to catch cod on lures

But it’s been the past 10-years, and especially during the past five or so years, with the introduction of a vast and varied selection of soft plastic lures, that the hopping method of targeting cod, that is so incredibly effective, came to fruition.

Fishing the hopping tactic

What is “hopping” then? This describes a method where the rod tip is raised and lowered slowly to work a lure up and down just a few feet up above the seabed to keep the lure in the zone the cod are most likely to be in. You’ll find the fish hit the lure when it’s dropping, far less so when it’s on the upward cycle.

The original rig used for hopping was called either the Jumper Rig or the Hopper Rig. This rig was simple having a metal or hollow plastic sliding boom on the leader, followed by a 5mm bead, then tying on a size 2 rolling swivel. The hook trace is tied to the end of the swivel and is kept short, somewhere between 4 and 6-feet in length and made from 35 to 40lb Fluorocarbon line. The Fluorocarbon has far greater abrasion resistance to teeth than plain mono does, hence its popularity with experienced anglers.

But inevitably anglers find ways to simplify things, plus it was found, in certain conditions, that the boom could put fish off and reduce catches.

The Whitby Rig came in to being by being used off the port of Whitby for those rough ground cod, and is now the main rig used for fishing soft plastics for cod. It’s constructed by tying a size 2/0 link swivel to the end of the leader and attaching the lead weight to the link. Take a second link swivel and attach this, via its link, to the bottom eye of the first swivel.  The hook trace is then tied to the free eye of this swivel and should again be 35 to 40lb Fluorocarbon.

Both rigs are best used with soft shads using either jig heads or weighted shads. Due to the weight of the jig heads and weighted shads, as the main lead weight hits the seabed and the angler lifts the weight up off the seabed, the shad on the hook trace continues to fall pulling out, and minimising any chance of tangles. Non-weighted lures can tangle sometimes though!

How to build a hopper rig with a boom

How to build a hopper rig

1. Begin with 20-inches of 60lb Fluoro Carbon or clear mono line.

How to build a hopper rig

2. To one end tie on a size 4 rolling swivel.

How to build a hopper rig

3. Choose a hollow plastic type boom about 8-10-inches long. Pass the free end of the 60lb line down through the boom.

How to build a hopper rig

4. Below the boom, slide on a 5mm bead and tie on a strong size 4 rolling swivel.

How to build a hopper rig

5. To the swivel tie on 3 to 4-feet of 40/50lb clear Fluoro Carbon or mono. Fluorocarbon is stiffer than mono and works the shad better, plus has more abrasion resistance.

How to build a hopper rig

6. Tie on a strong snap swivel link, preferably a silver/chrome coloured one for added attraction.

How to build a hopper rig

7. The weighted shad or lead head simply attaches to the link.

How to build a whitby rig

How to make a whitby rig
  1. To the end of your shock leader, tie on a size 2/0 snap link swivel.
How to make a whitby rig

2. To this snap link swivel’s eye, snap on another snap link swivel by the snap link.

How to make a whitby rig

3. To the eye of this second snap link swivel tie on 5-feet of 40/60lb clear Fluorocarbon.

How to make a whitby rig

4. To the free end of the Fluorocarbon tie on the lure of your choice. Typically a weighted shad or sandeel such as a Sidewinder or Devils Own shad.

How to catch cod on lures

5. The lead weight is attached to the link on the snap link swivel tied direct to the leader.

Lure fishing tackle

Because you can minimise the amount of lead you need to reach bottom with streamlined rigs, you can often fish with just 12/20lb class rods providing they have a modern fast action with a stiff butt and middle section, but with a supple tip and are not all through actions. Match these to a modern low profile, but powerful reel such as the ABU Revo Toro 60, or maybe a small Shimano multiplier, loaded with 20lb braid and you have a lightweight but powerful outfit.

Alternatively, when dealing with deep water and faster tides where more lead will be needed to stay in contact with the bottom, then look again at a fast taper 20/30lb blank with a supple tip designed for braid and go for a bigger reel holding 300-yards of 30lb braid, plus mono backing.

How to catch cod on lures

There are now so many soft plastic shad and sandeel imitations around, and most will catch fish, it’s getting hard to be specific as to the most consistent ones to use. However, the two I do especially well with myself are the Berkley Ripple Shads in sizes from 9cms to 20cms, these in conjunction with separate jig heads, and the Calcutta weighted shads. I’ve also done well on Berkley Power sandeels and the Sidewinder lures. I’ve noticed I catch the bulk of my fish on the Ripple Shads, possibly due to the depressed notches in the sides of the shad that increase the vibration when working them.

How to catch cod on lures

Fish of any size will take the 9cm and 11cm shads, and sandeels of 6-inches and 8-inches, and these should be the sizes you begin fishing with. However, when very big fish are resident, then the larger shads of 20cms and bigger jig heads up to 10ozs can produce well.

One last tip! To get the best from this method, you need to work the lures right in amongst the wreck. Also work the lures up from the seabed a few feet at a time up to about the 20-feet mark, but no higher, if bites are slow. The cod will be on the bottom when the tide is running fast, but may lift a little in the water column as the tide eases.

Once you’ve got the hang of working the lures, you’ll also find that tackle losses are minimal and much lower than if you were using fresh bought baits.

Those of you still not convinced as to the effectiveness of soft plastics for cod, and for ling I might add, then the photos are a sample of three fish caught on Ripple Shads, two cod of 15lb 8ozs and 19lbs.

How to catch cod on lures
How to catch cod on lures

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