Updated: Dec 3, 2021
Light rock fishing or LRF is a relatively new form of angling. It is the process of using a very lightweight tackle to catch small species of fish. LRF originated from Japan and has become very popular within the UK. The reason for this is that larger species have become scarce within European waters due to overfishing.
Lrf fishing is prevalent within species hunt competitions. Anglers can quickly catch many species using simple, straightforward setup methods (this will be discussed more later in this article.)
Exceptionally light rods are used within LRF. Generally, these miniature rods will not cast a weight heavier than several grams. The reason for this is that the rods do not need to be thrown far. This is due to the species targeted living close to shore. A great example of a rod and reel suitable for LRF is the 1.6m telescopic sea fishing rod and reel.
LRF fishing uses tiny lures to attract fish. The equipment setups are much simpler than the average beach casters setup. Due to the size of the equipment, you can do LRF fishing almost anywhere. The reason for this is that travelling with this equipment is not a significant issue.
Braid vs Fluorocarbon Line
Braid is very strong and has a thin diameter helping you to cast further. Fluorocarbon is almost invisible, abrasion-resistant, sinks well, but it has a thicker diameter. The wider diameter means that you should not exceed a 4lb breaking strain to get the best out of the line. It is up to personal preference what you will choose with benefits and negatives to both.
Species That Can Be Caught Within The UK
The following is a list of species that can be caught within the UK when light rock fishing:
The following is a summary of the most common LRF species -
The scorpionfish are approximately four inches in size. They feed on small fish and prawns. Despite its miniature size, the sea scorpion can attack and kill larger species than itself. It has adapted to its surroundings with its superb camouflage ability. The sea scorpion can very easily be mistaken for a small rock.
Gobies are small fish species that are very abundant. They live within waters less than twenty metres deep. The head of the goby is significant, and its body tapers away into a minor point. Gobies lifespans are very small (approximately one year.) There are various types of gobies, sixteen in total.
Blennies, once again, this fish species is small with an elongated body. They have similar features to eels and hide close to rocky terrain. Blennies are generally bottom-dwelling fish. There are a massive amount of different blennies types.
The European sprat is an abundant fish within the UK. They form into large shoals and feed on tiny larvae and plankton. They are small silverfish, an essential food source for marine wildlife such as gannets and herring gulls.
There are nearly two hundred types of dragonets. This fish species lives over sandy or muddy areas. The females colour pattern is very dull, and the males colour pattern turns bright and multicoloured within the breeding season. Smaller dragonets can sometimes be confused with gobies.
The shore rockling is a mottled brown, small, elongated fish. This catfish-like fish has three barbels on its head. There are three main types of rockling species: the shore rockling, the five bearded rocklings and the four bearded rocklings.
Location and Geology
There are various beautiful locations for LRF fishing around the UK. Harbours are brilliant starting marks for any light rock fisherman. Harbours easy access, shelter provision and large species variation means it is a must for any beginner.
Fishing at different depths will help increase the chances of catching multiple species. LRF can be carried out amongst any rocky coastline. Other great spots to try light rock fishing is around artificial places such as piers. Overall, anywhere with good shelter, rock structure, or hiding places for smaller species are great locations to try.
Methods and Techniques
There are not many methods and techniques for LRF. The lack of variation means it is hard to differentiate yourself from other LRF fishers. This means you must choose the correct lure suitable for the type of fish you are targeting. The kind of fish will affect your choice of lure from
colour, size and weight. A top tip is to purchase lures with amino acids in them. This is because the miniature species do not hunt by just visual representation but also smell. It is essential to choose the lightest possible lure you can use within the fishing conditions. This is because a lure that drops slowly through the water column will look more natural. Therefore, a fish is much more likely to hit it.
LRF Jig Head Rigs And Techniques
From my personal experience, I highly recommend a jig head LRF rig. I feel these are one of the most versatile and effective LRF fishing rigs. These rigs are extremely cost-effective. They are simple to set up and can be used with simple techniques.
How To Setup A Jig Head Rig
Jig heads can be purchased for 20/30p in any good tackle store. Jig heads are a small weight with a barbed hook attached. These hooks are used to represent your bait’s head. For LRF fishing I recommend a two to three-gram jig head. This weight allows optimal casting distance as well as being small enough for miniature species to consume.
When fishing LRF it is important to note that smaller fish species that you are targeting are less likely to be hooked by larger hooks. It is best to use minimalistic gear. The fish will be less intimidated by smaller hooks therefore, in theory, they are more likely to strike the lure.
Once you have purchased a jig head you must purchase your artificial bait. Artificial bait is very common when fishing for LRF. As LRF is extremely popular in Japan some of the best-scented lures can be purchased from Japanese companies. Although, my favourite artificial lures can be purchased in the UK. I highly recommend Berkley Power Bait Rag Worms. These worms represent the common ragworm found in all UK waters. Rag worms are some of the best bait for fishing in the UK. Therefore, it is to no surprise that this bait is effective.
A scented lure is when lures are a rubber consistency that can absorb liquid. These lures are stored in a potent liquid. The lures will absorb the liquid. When you are fishing with these lures they can release a scent trail. A scent trail will attract fish within the area. Aswell as this they can cause a fish feeding frenzy. A fish feeding frenzy is when fish start to consume lager amounts of food within the area. When fishing in feeding frenzies you are evidently more likely to catch a fish.
When fishing with jig head rigs you must push the hook through the artificial worm’s body. Ensure the worm stays straight on the hook and does not curve. If the worm curves on the hook it will not move through the water correctly. The worms movement is of utmost importance. The movement must create specific patterns in the water to increase the chance of a strike.
There are three main techniques for jig head fishing. I recommend switching between the three when angling.
1. The first jig head rig technique is the common retrieve. After you set up, cast far out into the water. With your spinning reel retrieve the worm.
Your retrieval speed will determine the outcome of your cast. If you fish slowly it is more likely to catch bottom feeding species such as flatfish. If you retrieve fast you are more likely to catch mid-tier species. If you let the rig sink before retrieving it will be easier to target bottom tier species.
2. The second method of jig head LRF fishing is to cast the artificial wor out into the sea. Allow the weight of the jig head to sink to the bottom of the sea bed. Do not retrieve the lure. Fish will be attracted to the scent of artificial worms. Hold the line of your rod. Wait until you feel the take of the fish striking the lure. Then gently pull up setting the hook into the fish. This method can be slightly trickier but very effective on calm days when the water is not moving. This method is extremely difficult in seaweed. I would not recommend attempting it if there are large amounts of seaweed.
3. The third and final technique is best suited for pier fishing. I feel that is the most effective LRF fishing. Any large structures such as saltwater piers attract large amounts of fish. These fish are attracted by the plethora of food around the pier from fishing trollers and other fishermen throwing bit.
When a fish comes to the pier many species will move in tight to the pier wall swimming around it or living in cracks within the pier wall. These species can be extremely difficult to target with normal spinning techniques therefore LRF is extremely beneficial in this scenario.
You should drop the rig from the pier edge. Allow it to sink. Once the rig has sunk gently twitch your rod. This will move the artificial worm in the water. Thi movement pattern represents a dying or distressed creature.
Meaning smaller predator fish are much more likely to strike it. As well as the benefit of movement the fish that move from the pier are more likely to see this bait and strike.
Try using this method at different positions on the pier. If you find a shoal of fish you will continually catch them every thirty to fifty seconds. To really enjoy this style of fishing an extremely lightweight rod is needed.
As these fish are too small to be consumed the main befit of fishing for them is enjoyment.
It is clearly evident that fishing with a jig head rig is effective. These rigs being low budget, simple setup and have their versatility means they are perfect for any beginner LRF fisherman. As well as these benefits, children can fish using this simple technique. For all LRF setups, it is vital to purchase the correct LRF rod and reel combo. Doing so will make your LRF experience much more enjoyable. If you fail to do so you most likely will not enjoy LRF fishing. Catching miniature species can be fun on the correct equipment but using incorrect equipment means it can be extremely difficult to feel a take and strike.
Overall, light rock fishing provides a fantastic abundance of miniature species available to any angler. Keeping lures small such as the Minnow fishing lure (3.8cm), and using more undersized tackle such will massively help improve your success. Creating variations when retrieving lures and pausing temporarily mid retrieve could help force a fish to strike your interest faster. The simplicity of light rock fishing has helped it expand due to it being suitable for beginner, intermediate and experienced anglers of all ages.
by Daniel ONeill