Coarse fishing - how to get started

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It's an often-repeated fact that fishing is Britain's most-popular hobby - and millions of us love getting away to a riverbank or lakeside to sit and wait for a bite in our spare time. If you fancy joining the ranks of the nation's anglers then read on for a basic guide to the hobby and some tips on what kit you might want to invest in...

So what does it actually involve?
The majority of UK anglers participate in what's known as coarse fishing – which basically covers all freshwater fish apart from salmon and trout. This takes place on rivers or at lakes – some set aside just for fishing and some which are more shared use. Some anglers specialise in larger fish such a carp or pike – and specialist rods, tackle and other kit are available to handle the demands of these species.

And what doesn't it involve
The other main forms of fishing in the UK are game fishing - basically salmon and trout – and sea fishing – which (as you can probably guess) covers fishing from the shoreline or from a boat.

Choosing a rod
You'd think this might be straightforward, but newcomers are met with a baffling array of rods to choose from - and you can spend anything from £10 to hundreds of pounds on one. It will help immensely if you start with some idea of what you're planning to do. Your height will be one consideration, since rods vary in length – often from 10ft to 15ft. The weight of the fish you're hoping to catch also comes into play, though the rods at the lighter or heavier ends of the spectrum tend to be for specific niches of the sport.

You should also consider where you'll be fishing – as a stiffer rod will be needed if you're angling in fast-flowing rivers. The two main types of rod are float or ledger varieties. The former holds bait to float in the water while the latter balances it on the bottom of the lake. Carp and pike rods are more sturdy, but this tends to be an area of angling that people move onto anyway.

Along with a rod you'll also need a reel, which is a cylindrical device that attaches to the rod, enabling the line to feed out and be wound back in when necessary. There are a few varieties but you're most likely to start with a standard spinning reel.

Other essentials
You'll also need to get hold of a line (3lb or 4lb monofilament line should suffice), hooks, floats, bait, a disgorger (to release the hook from your catch), a landing net and pole and something to sit on. Many UK anglers also view an umbrella or shelter as an essential.

New or secondhand? Shop or internet?
There are no shortage of bricks and mortar tackle shops where you can go and get advice or view your potential purchases, and of course internet shopping also offers some keen prices if you already know what you want. Alternatively classified adverts and auction websites can be a useful source of used equipment – which can offer a bit more bang for your buck and might even give you the chance to purchase an entire set-up at a knock-down price.

Don't forget the licence
Just like driving or watching the TV – two of the nation's other favourite passtimes – fishing requires a licence. You can pick up a rod licence for £27 (less for concessions) for a year from the Post Office, by phone on 0844 800 5386 or online. Fishing without a licence can carry a fine in excess of £2,000.

Respect the close season
While you can fish on ponds and lakes all year round, there is a "close season" on coarse fish from 15 March to 15 June each year.

Have you recently taken up fishing? Leave a comment now...

A Guide to Coarse Fishing Rods