The autumn and winter period are the time to target shore cod. It’s a fact that their numbers in many areas are not what they once were, but there are still good fish to be caught. However, you need to milk every opportunity in your favour to be successful and that begins with having the right tackle
Beachcasters between 12ft and 13ft 6in rated to cast 4 to 6oz are ideal for general beach fishing over clean and light mixed ground. If you’re fishing very rough ground into deeper weedy gutters and channels or very heavy rough ground you may want the same length of rod, but have one that cast 6 to 8ozs. The extra power allows you to bully fish away from snags. Distance casting can be important when fishing on shallower beaches, experienced anglers tend to prefer a longer European type beachcaster between 14ft and 15ft as this will give you more distance for the same amount of physical effort. A casting weight rating to 175g or 200g has the right power to combat sea conditions
Match the standard beachcasters to a tough proven reel with solid gearing, a fast retrieve ratio and a drag that is both smooth but powerful and can be cranked up to put heavy pressure on a fish when needed. Most important is a quick and simple to adjust exterior braking system that at the turn of a button can be adjusted to maximise casting range as weather conditions dictate. Line capacity needs to be in the region of 275yd of 18 to 20lb mono.
Fixed spool reels in sizes 7000 and 8000 suit the Euro beachcaster best. Look for one with a long cast spool for increased distance. Deep spools are designed for mono, shallow spools to load with braid. Reels with a manual bale-arm closure suit power casting best as the bale-arm is less prone to suddenly closing in mid cast and causing a snap off. Load with 20lb mono or 30lb braid and a shock leader.
- PENN 524MAG4 MULTIPLIER – RRP £174.99
- PENN SURFBLASTER 111 8000 LONG CAST FIXED SPOOL – RRP £164.99
Mainline and Leader
Load the multiplier reels with 18 to 20lb mono for clean beach fishing, but for mixed rough ground or rough ground fishing load with 22lb mono. Add a mono shock leader of at least 60lbs with a good eight turns of leader around the reel spool, up the length of the rod and leave around 5ft hanging below the rod tip. This protects the main line from casting stress and combats seabed abrasion while fishing.
30lb braid is the best mainline on the fixed spool reels and due to its relatively low diameter compared to the same breaking strain mono, and when used with the Long Cast spool design, it will work hand in hand with the longer Euro rods to give you maximum casting range. Add an 80lb braid shock leader to take power casting pressures.
- BERKLEY TRILENE BIG GAME MONO 20LBS 1000m – RRP £10.99
A pulley is the no 1 rig for all shore cod fishing. Use 50in of 60lb clear mono. At one end tie on a bait clip lead link, slide on a 5mm bead, a pulley rig bead and another 5mm bead. Measuring up from the free tag end of mono about 22in tie in a figure of eight knot. This stops the travel of the beads and pulley rig bead and forms the hook length. Slide on to the tag end a rig crimp, a 3mm bead and then an 8mm bead to form a bait stop. Then add the hook. Leave 2in above the hook and crimp the crimp in place to form the bait stop.
For rough ground use a single 4/0 to 6/0 Mustad Viking hook. For cleaner ground, experienced anglers prefer a Pennel rig comprising two hooks, one above the other, the top hook threaded on by the eye only and sliding tightly on the hook length simply by wrapping the line around the hook shank three or four times.
- MUSTAD VIKING 79515NP 6/0 HOOKS PER PACKET – RRP £2.25
A good reliable headlight is essential for night cod fishing. Ideally it needs a tough metal or impact resistant plastic body and to be water resistant to IPX-8 to withstand heavy rain and salt spray. Look for three main light functions: a flood light for baiting up, a middle range light and a long-range beam option.
The latter for locating fish and your leader in the surf. Additional safety light features such as a flashing red light in case of emergency and a low green or red light for when you’re keen to keep visual impact to a minimum are useful.
Also choose one with a wide and fully adjustable elastic head band so that you can adjust the band to be worn over hats or just on the head.
- CYANSKY TRIPLE OUTPUT HEADLIGHT – RRP £73.99
Carry Breakaway release type grip leads for general clean and mixed rough ground. Sizes 5oz and 6oz cover most situations. When fishing rough ground use 4 to 6oz plain bomb shaped weights and rig these on a rotten bottom system so that the lead can be broken off if snagged without losing the rig or a fish.
A quick rotten bottom can be made by tying a normal casting snap link with clip upside down on the base of the rig. To the eye of the upside-down snap link tie on a weak section of mono, tie the mono to the eye of the lead, then put the eye of the lead onto the clip arm. This can be cast with full force but when the lead weight hits the sea it will fall off the clip leaving you attached by the weak link only.
- TRONIXPRO BIG BAIT CASTING SNAP LINK 10 PER PACK – RRP £1.99
Black and blow lug are the top baits for cod in most situations. Make the baits big, at least 4in long to give off plenty of scent. Try tipping worm baits off with fresh mussel, a strip of squid, section of razorfish or king ragworm. In rough ground, fresh or frozen peeler crab and fresh mussel work well, as will worm baits. Use a crab bait that fills the 4/0 or 6/0 hook. The same with the mussel. Change baits at least every 12 to 15 minutes as the bait scent will quickly wash out in rougher sea conditions.