A question asked recently by a reader on the fishing-blog was how do I detect a bite when I am sea fishing. There is no simple answer and it depends upon a lot of factors which I will try and explain in a bit of detail below.
How to detect a bite
There are many factors that effect your bite detection when you are sea fishing and they can all effect one another to give you a misleading picture about what is happening under the water. The ways of detecting a bite are as follows,
- Rod movement
- Line movement
- Indicator movement (eg float)
Detecting the bite
The basic key to this is practice and vigilance. Watching the rod, line and/or indicator for any movement, not in time with the sea or wind. Looking for a jerking motion on the rod tip or line, a bobbing on a float, even a rattle. Trout fishermen are always watching the line to detect that sneaky take. You will notice the line move without being able to feel it!
Holding the fishing line and rod is best practice. It will focus you and allow you to feel the rhythms that are going on under the sea. You will be able to tell the type of sea bed with a little practice. It can be hard work and tiring holding a rod while stood in the surf waiting for that Bass to bite, but its worth it.
Use the factors below to consider what might be happening. The are many variables and patients and practice will teach you how to assimilate all those knocks and taps and detect the bite you have been waiting for.
Primary bite detection factors
Species – The type of fish you are targeting will play a massive part in your bite detection technique. Getting the right balance of tackle, to species, to conditions is the aim. Sole and Mullet are known for very gentle almost un-detected takes. Bass and Eel can pull your rod out of the rest. Wrasse can be felt by sharp tugs, flounder and plaice vibrate a rod tip.
Tackle – Balancing your tackle to the species and the conditions / environment is very important to accurately detect bites. Light gear in heavy seas, or trying to hold bottom in a fast current full of weed will over stretch the light gear causing the rod to lock up, not showing by rod tip movement the action your terminal tackle is getting. The type of fishing line is also important, braid has very little stretch offering great detection qualities, mono has a lot of stretch, softening bites indications.
Tide action – As the flood starts to speed up the resistance of your line to the current will lower bite detection at the rod tip. The positive side is a fish will generally swim down tide after taking your bait and the tide will help to magnify this.
Wind conditions – The wind will have a massive effect on your bite detection ability. It can cause your line to belly creating a large amount of slack in the line, reducing the effect of a taking fish on the rod tip. Guests can cause a fake bite, tugging the line causing a false detection.
Sea state – this can have a negative impact in larger seas. Huge surges and swells can lift your tackle and move it yards across the sea bed. Calm days allow for better contact with your end gear.
Secondary bite detection Factors
Sea weed – High build levels will give you false bites and reduced sensitivity in most types of fishing applications.
Skill – When you have been fishing for a while you will start to recognise the species mouthing your bait. This ability will come in time and increase your catch rate as you can tune your fishing to match interested species.
Sea bed – The types of sea bed offer a subtle contrast to each other. Sand softens takes where pebbles give a lot of false bites.
Bait – A bass hitting a live sand eel is normally a very sudden thing, best described as an explosion. However, when they take a dead bait thy can give a very gentle slack line bite, very hard to detect.
Available light – Even with tip lights night fishing takes on a new challenge. Subtle bites go missed, heavy bites seem like your eyes are playing tricks on you. In the dark fishing takes on a whole new aspect.
Your mind set – There you are freezing your nuts off. No bites, canâ€™t be bothered anymore, and wallop you get, and miss your first and only take of the fishing session. Stay focused and positive all the time. When your eye is off the ball the action will happen.