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Saltwater Fishing 101 – Spinning, Bait & Surf Fishing

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When you think of Saltwater fishing, images of speeding fishing boat, amazingly blue waters, diving seagulls and big fish get conjured in your mind. Well, all that is true, as the oceans around the world offer a huge collection of species to be targeted and a deep sea adventure will give an adrenaline rush like never before.

From small coral fish to huge monsters, saltwater fishing/angling in the seas can be very exciting and adventurous and is definitely not for the faint-hearted. First-time anglers should definitely stay away from it. One should have some practice from the inland and shore-based angling before deciding to head out on a boat for some deep-sea adventure.

Saltwater Fishing Techniques Overview

A variety of techniques and equipment are used to target different species. We will do a quick overview of the most popular types of saltwater fishing techniques which should help you get started. Always remember to start angling under experienced anglers and boat captains. Please note the target fish has been discussed as per seas around India.

Spinning (from the Rocks or boat or Jetty )

Spinning from the rocks


To master this saltwater fishing technique, all you need here is a spinning rod and spinning reel. A plastic lure is cast out into the sea from a rocky area on the shore or towards some rocks from a boat and then retrieved slowly back. The lure will mimic an action of a fish when being retrieved and will attract predators. The lure type should be decided to target different species at different depths.


different types of lures


 You will need the following equipment for spinning – a Spinning rod which is preferably 7ft to 9ft in length as longer rods would, in turn, mean greater casting distance. The Spinning reel with 8 to 12 kg drag and spool size for 200 to 300 yards of 30 to 50lb test braid line. Flurocarbon leader of 5-6 feet tied to the braided line to provide protection when brushing against rocks.

Terminal tackle can be a snap or clip tied to the end of the leader for easy lure changing. To attract the fish, plastic lures of different sizes with varied lip sizes for reaching different depths having good quality split rings and treble hooks, are required.

A simple thing to remember in saltwater fishing is that small lures mean small catch and vice versa and lures with bigger lip means greater depth! Do keep in mind that there are more small fish than big fish in the sea so plan your equipment and fishing accordingly.

Target Fish:

Mangrove Jacks or Snappers, Groupers, Barramundi (Sea Bass), Rock cods, Barracudas.

Bait fishing (Live or Dead)

Bait Fishing

Baits are typically smaller fish which are part of the regular diet of the predatory species of that area that are used to lure the bigger ones. Some popular dead baits are – mackerel, sardines, and squids. The hook at the end of the line is passed through a chunk of bait and cast out in the water with the help of weights attached 1-2 feet behind the hook.

In this type of saltwater fishing technique, the angler should lightly hold the line in his fingers and wait till he can feel the nibble of a fish. You need to wait a few more seconds for the fish to take the bait fully in its mouth and then strike hard to set the hook and let the fight begin. The smell of the bait in the water will attract the predators to it.

A variation of this technique is with live baits, and this seems to be more effective as they attract predators faster. The baitfish will appear like a wounded fish struggling to swim and presents an irresistible opportunity for predators lurking around.

The challenge here is to catch a live baitfish and hook it from the mouth and release it back in the water before it dies. Live bait can also be caught in numbers and put in containers with water to keep them alive for a longer time.

A rod-reel setup can be replaced by a handline rigged with weight and bait, cast 5 to 20 meters from the shore by twirling the weight around and releasing it in the desired direction for the momentum to carry it to the required point. This requires some practice before one can land the bait accurately in the desired area.

Bait fishing rigs


You will need normal spinning rods (7 feet to 9 feet long) and spinning reels in the 4000 to 8000 series range with 300 yards spool size to hold 30-50lb test braid line, that can be rigged with live or dead baits. Handline can also be used which are 50 to 100 lb test mono line. Terminal tackle can be weights half ounces to 2 ounces and hooks size #2 to 2/0 (bigger hooks need bigger bait presentation targeting bigger sized fish)

Target Fish:

Groupers, Rock cods, Sting Rays, Barramundi, Travelly family, and Snapper family.

To read about some of the most interesting fishing techniques, click here.

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