TF Gear Compact Rods

Looking for a new rod to kick start your spring campaign? Look no further than the TF gear compact range of coarse fishing rods, ideal for those starting out in the sport and the seasoned veteran alike.

What are the compact rods you ask? Well the concept is these coarse fishing rods are shorter in length than the traditional fishing rods on the market. This confers many advantages to the fisherman.

  • Easy maneuvering – in tightly spaced commercial fishery swims, or on the river bank when you have to clamber through heavy bank side foliage.
  • Greatly reduced weight – These fishing rods are also significantly lighter in the hand making your fishing more pleasurable.
  • Easy transportation – these rods are guaranteed to fit in your car!
  • Better casting accuracy – with less leverage to deal with and a quicker recovery time accurate casting becomes much easier.
  • Improved control when playing a fish – its much easier to put the pressure on a decent fish and change angle of play quickly with a shorter rod.
  • Reduced cost – shorter length equals less carbon used. This cost saving has been passed on, so higher quality blanks and components are used in manufacture. You get a better quality product for less money.
  • Fish playing fun – feel everything, and put the thrill back into a fight! While at the same time there is enough power to quickly tame large specimen fish.

TF Gear produce a compact rod for every fishing scenario you will ever encounter. There are two ranges – The original compact rods, which and have a classic brown ground matt carbon finish, and feature smooth mid-tip progressive actions. These rods are great value, but no compromise has been made on quality or finish. Secondly the lighter weight and higher modulus carbon nantec range, which feature slimmer blanks and a slightly faster action. In addition most of the nantec rods come with a free TF gear Airlite reel, making them an incredibly competitive package.

The TF gear compact allrounders must be the best seller best in the range. These highly versatile rods offer you numerous options, you can go from a 8 to 10 foot length with a two foot extension piece. They are also supplied with 3 x push in feeder quiver tips and an avon top, allowing you to fish multiple methods – float, feeder, touch ledgering, surface fishing or even spinning.


The TF Gear Compact commercial float and feeder rods are available in either 8 foot or 10 foot configurations. The feeder rods come complete with 3 push in quivers. They are ideal for small fishery work, from roach and rudd to tench and bream, these rods handle them all. The 8 footers in particular are ideal for really crowded swims, and also make superb rods for youngsters to easily use.

TF Gear Compact carp rods are 10 foot in length with a 2.5 test curve. These fantastic rods are not just ideal for carp, they can be used for barbel, large specimen tench, chub or even pike and zander fishing using a float and deadbait presentation.

Alex Bones, expert carp and match angler talk us through the nantec compact carp rod.

Alan Yates Sea Fishing Diary Oct/Nov 2013

The warm summer weather rolls on and at the time of writing this blog it is still very warm for the time of year and although the winter season has started to kick in the codling are marked by their absence in many regions. In Kent its masses of whiting and dogfish and its difficult to get a hook back without a fish on it after dark – Seabrook is producing some record number of whiting with 50 in a three hour contest fairly common. Check out next month’s Sea Angler magazine for the low down on how the match anglers are managing to catch so many fish in such a short time.

My latest competition was the three day Dover pier festival, in days gone by over 200 anglers fished each day, but in line with match fishing generally the event was down to a dismal 60 odd rods. To blame in undoubtedly the lack of bigger fish and the whiting and dogfish snatchers making it difficult for the average angler to compete and most are know no longer giving their hard earned cash to the matchmen. The event was won by Folkestone angler, Mick Tapsell who landed 95 fish over the two days. I managed a respectable second with a poor start on day one setting me back, although I came through from tenth on the final day. The biggest fish prize over the three days went to John Chalk from Herne Bay with a bass of 1.116kg, he also landed the best fish on Monday, a codling of 950 grams, which was the best of three landed from the breakwater and is an example of the size of codling coming from the shore in the region at present…

Other events I have fished recently included a club evening match on Folkestone pier and that turned into a dogathon. Dogfish two three at a time for three hours is exhausting with the winner landing 35 plus, not that enjoyable. One event I did not fish was at Princes Parade at Seabrook where Kent angler, Paul Gunner won with 57 whiting for 23.15lb. Second was Cliff Sharp of with 20.50lb and third Ronnie Warne of Hythe with 18.55lb. Fourth place went to Linton Warne of Hythe who landed his best ever catch of 38 fish, but didn’t make the top three! However, worse was for Ashford angler, John Smith who landed a cracking 9.65lb bass in the contest, a new Seabrook Angling Society all time record and he didn’t make the frame either – Sometimes I think we have our priorities wrong, such a splendid fish deserves more credit than a bunch of scrawny whiting.

All of this adds to the call for a change of approach to match fishing, we need a new system, but what it’s going to be I have no idea? More sea fishing tackle prizes?!

Staying with sea fishing competition’s it was a pleasure to fish the 41st City of London Thames Fishery Experiment competition, at Gravesend. This annual event is organised to help establish the environmental condition of the river and is fished from the Gravesend foreshore on the Kent side with anglers zoned adjacent to the Port Health Lower Thames office. 8 County teams of 8 and three school teams compete for an array of different trophies, fishing over three hours. The event started in 1966 and first arranged by the Thames preservation Society who together with the City of London Corporation shared the organisation from 1971 to the present day. Event sponsors include the Fishmongers Company and the Port of London Authority with the Environment Agency also represented. The points scoring devised by the Natural history museum reflects the species rarity etc in the river.

This year the match times arranged around the banquet (rack of lamb with mint sauce)  after the fishing , missed the best of the high tide, although several anglers caught fish on their last cast. Best of the catches though came on his very first cast to Essex captain, Mick Sharp who beached a 44cm bass by far the best fish of the day and along with whiting, flounders and eel was easily the best individual score of 75points which gave victory for Essex County almost on his own, the team score was 145points winning the Lady Howard trophy. Runners up were the Charles Stanley Angling Team on 85points and third The Thameside Angling Team on 80points. Schools winners were the London School for Girls with 25pt.

In total 99 fish were landed including bass, sole, eel, flounder and whiting. The poor catches, last year the event produced nearly 600 fish,  being blamed on a number of factors including local dredging for the new port nearby and the late spring/summer season, although the short tide was mostly likely to blame.

Thames Winner

I am looking forward to a trip to Norway in February to fish a shore competition organised by Tin Tur’s Ian Peacock. Cod, haddock, coalfish and a halibut are the target species, but its going to be chilly with sub zero temperatures and just maybe – snow. Details: E mail Tel. 01914472363

Check out Fishtec TV because I have a blog on there about the forthcoming cod season. Details:

Tight lines,

Alan Yates

Dave Lane Carp Fishing Diary | August

Well I’m back from this year’s MNDA charity bash at Linear Fisheries and it all went ok. I say just Ok because the fishing wasn’t spectacular this year, but that’s just the way it goes sometimes. It fished alright, it was just that the area we were in was a bit patchy and, unusually for me, I decided to stay put rather than go off hunting them. On previous years we have been very lucky with the weather, there has always been at least one full day suited to floater fishing and it’s been on this day that I have usually spent my time trying to ensure a decent fish or two from any of the other many lakes on the complex.

This year’s event coincided with quite a brisk North Westerly wind throughout and the conditions actually looked perfect for the swims we had been pegged in. Along with myself there was Paul Forward and Ian Stott and we had a trio of guys between us, all friends and all on their second visit.

Despite a slow start we soon had the lad’s spodding and casting accurately and in time the fish started to arrive. My swim was particularly tricky because of some snags out in front but we were situated on the causeway between Brasenose one and two so at least we had options.

Of the six of us carp fishing there was only one dry net at the end but, to be fair, he did have to leave a night early for a prior engagement and, because of this, he missed the most productive period of all.

One of the lads, Jack, had about six fish I believe, so he went home with a big smile on his face.

Besides the fishing though we all had a terrific time and there was a live band on the second night, and a hog roast (Paddy the carp dog’s favourite part of the whole three days) In fact the food was amazing across the whole three nights we were there, egg and bacon in the mornings and a nice hot meal at night with plenty of cold beer and socialising. The whole event is geared towards enjoyment and it has no competitive atmosphere whatsoever, the main criteria is to make plenty of money for the charity and for everyone to go away happy, having had a time to remember.

I believe that this year’s event amassed more than £24,000 pounds in total so a big well done to everyone that freely gave up their time to make this happen and a big thank you to everybody that donated, from the paying anglers to the many tackle companies and individuals who gave towards the raffle. The biggest applause must, however, go to Len Gurd, Fran, Roy Parsons and the whole of the team who helped to organise the event, man the bar, make the food and keep everyone involved happy and content throughout, well done.

Alan Yates Sea Fishing Diary July/August

A great days fishing recently from Dover’s Southern breakwater, not that I caught lots of fish, but for the sheer fun of trying something different, which came off. Currently the breakwater is alive with dogfish so avoiding them is a priority for freelance anglers and other than fishing a giant crab bait for smoothhounds most anglers have been targeting the bass. Why, because the fish swim around the breakwater wall well up off the sea bed and away from the dogfish, well that’s the theory, although I must admit to catching dogfish well up the wall on occasions.  So a head hooked ragworm, or two, dangled into the tide via a set of booms up the wall is the way to fish.

On this occasion I thought, why not fish a float and so I rigged up a slider on my TF Gear Delta All-rounder and trotted a float down tide along the wall. On the business end was the standard 1.5oz bullet lead, it was a big bright float and a two hook wishbone on the end with size two carp hooks which are very strong, bait was head hooked ragworm, nice and wrigley. Into the tide the float drifted away – the harbour entrance was where I wanted the float to end up and although it took twenty minutes to get there, a whole spool full of line, my reward as soon as the float rounded the wall and went out of sight was two school bass. The long haul back was exciting because although they were both around the 36 to 40cm mark, they got the tip bending against the tide. Bass big enough to keep but the conscience says they had to go back unless they are Barbecue size (45cm). I managed to reach the pier entrance four times and on three occasions hooked a double of bass, one the fourth no bite and when I retrieved I found the hook length tangled around the float! Other shorter drifts caught wrasse, pollack, mackerel and a lone scad before the tide turned and I could not reach the killing zone. The beauty of the sliding float is that apart from the fact you can work the bait continually over new water you can lift, drop and tantalise and keep it moving naturally in the tide and this the fish just cannot refuse. One word of advice and that is to keep the snood line light – I used 8lb which fools the fish, you do though need a soft tipped rod like the Delta to avoid snapping the light snood line and a net in case you hook a biggy.

Angling litter has been an age old problem and more than one venue has been closed because of it, but the majority of anglers who are members of an angling club have got the message. Most clubs have serious rules governing litter as do the major National organisations, others have not and I would be as bold as to say that in the main its freelance and occasional anglers that are responsible for a majority of the rubbish left on beaches and piers. In my region it’s the mackerel bashers that pee on the pier, cut bait on seats, pinch lifebelt ropes and leave barbecues and rubbish everywhere in summer, whilst in winter the beaches get cluttered with flotsam which exaggerates the problem, although cod angler’s bait paper, beer cans and discarded line are prominent and a disgrace to the sport.

In Northumberland, Amble pier has recently been highlighted as having a litter problem and the local club and anglers are worried that it will effect the future of the pier and that applies to several other piers around the country. Please take your litter home with you or discard it sensibly. All it takes is a couple of plastic bags in the kit for the rubbish to go into after you have finished fishing. Staying with that subject please remember when discarding rigs, hooks and line that will eventually get to a rubbish tip and could be a potential hazard for birds. Cut line into short lengths, take bait off hooks and think about where you are disposing of the rubbish, mine goes in the garden rubbish incinerator.

August has been a bit slow in my region of Kent although things are just starting to improve with the first codling and the whiting returning. Some big bass, sole and still the odd big smoothhounds are showing and as the light evenings fade and the temperatures drop sport in general should improve, so don’t miss those early weeks of autumn – lots of anglers think the cod season starts in October well they are wrong in many regions codling are showing now, don’t miss them. It’s also the time to catch a rare species with the red mullet and the trigger fish among the species likely to show up as the summer species leave and the winter species arrive – its crossover time!

Some say junior anglers are on the decline because of computers etc, but I reckon the main problem is that junior coaching now requires so much paperwork and vetting, plus the litigation laws and general political correctness that lots of clubs and anglers will no longer get involved. Take me, I qualified as a coach in 1979 and taught angling at the local school every year for more than ten years. I have a certificate on my wall to prove it, but nowadays I cannot coach because my qualification doesn’t count anymore.

In my region there are a few clubs that look after the juniors and Deal 1919 AC are one – Check out the pic of their recent junior festival with club president, Pat Heath asking how big the one that got away was.


A competition date for the diary is the TF gear sponsored Kent Classic Open. At Sheerness on the 17th of November. The fishing is from 9.30am until 2.30pm. The match is pegged and pre book only contact is Trevor Back 01795 483676.   Email –

Coming soon is the Dover Sea Angling Association three day Pier Festival fished on Dover Breakwater on October 12/13/14th (Reserve venues: Sat: POW Pier fishing 12noon until 5pm. SUN: Admiralty pier fishing 8.30am until 1.30pm; MON: Admiralty pier fishing 9am until 2pm) Its one of the few open events that I organise nowadays because the Penn League keeps me busy. And the Southern Breakwater at Dover is a popular venue because of the fantastic fishing it can offer from both the outside and inside wall. It’s only reachable by boat and the boat only runs in winds under force seven so that’s why there is a reserve venue each day. This year the date has been moved to early October in an attempt to find some calm weather. A big prize list of catch and tackle is on offer from sponsors and a total pay out of the entry fees.

Entry fee £20 per day, optional pools £5 per day. All three days are for Penn points. Enquiries Dover SAA 01304 204722 or Alan Yates 01303 250017 E Mail:

Alan Yates Sea Fishing Diary Line Myths

Back home I am now looking forward to fishing for a few smoothhounds and bass, although getting my hands on some peeler crabs for bait is always a major problem. The short peeler moult from Kent shores was even more disrupted and curtailed by the recent bad/good weather, which incidentally is still with us and the crabs are in short supply. Best of all the baits are edible peelers and they too are as rare as rocking horse manure. I tried the Far Eastern soft crabs sold frozen in the local fishing tackle shop, but they seem next to useless. Talking about new baits the latest to hit the headlines is the Peanut worm – read about it in next month’s Sea Angler magazine or check it out on YouTube, could be it’s the new Bluey!

If you watched me on Sky TVs Tight Lines recently you will see I was on about line diameter. I micrometer all my fishing line nowadays, because I found that so much of my carp line was much larger than it said on the tin. That prompted me to test sea line as well because a bigger diameter means stronger line but most anglers want stronger line with a smaller diameter. In fact 0.35mm is around 15lb and fanciful claims of strength way above that are bullsxxht! Well the upshot is that some line makes have a smaller quoted diameter and a larger quoted strength so beware. TF Gear’s Nantec came out spot on and like the other genuine lines does not make any fanciful claims. One line manufacturer actually had the same diameter lines on spools of different breaking strains, whilst others were as much as 0.05mm out!

The 2013 Sea Angler Clubman competition is well underway. Clubs all around the British Isles enter the results of their monthly evening competitions and the event includes tackle prizes from Penn for the best teams and individuals. The competition has proved very successful in recent years and because it is at grass roots, all club anglers can get involved. Points are awarded from 1st to 5th in each match with a minimum of ten competitors to qualify. Clubs can also enter three teams of four. If you are a club angler, give it a look. E Mail me on Tight lines, Alan Yates.

Dave Lane Carp Fishing Diary May

Well I had two more trips after my initial success on the North Met, only these were not quite as successful, mainly due to the fact that the fish were practically living in the out of bounds areas, either that or deep within a huge reed-bed, just trying to make the most of the pretty poor levels of sunlight we were having.

On my fourth visit to the water, a short one night trip due to the bank holiday stealing half of my session, the weather had picked right up and it was actually hot for a change.

I set about walking the entire circumference of the lake and determined not to set up until I had found something to fish for.

The first thing I noticed, being the day after bank holiday, was the litter everywhere, not from anglers I hasten to add but from the general public as the North Met is actually part of the Lee Valley parks and is used by a multitude of different people. Just why people think it is alright to leave all their discarded wrappers, bottles, bags and even used nappies laying around the place I do not know. If they turned up for their picnic and found the public areas looking like a rubbish dump then they would be disgusted and go elsewhere but they think it is totally acceptable leave it in this state, just who do they think cleans up after them every time?

Anyway, rant over, but I do so abhor litter in any form whatsoever and there is just no need.

I took a long slow stroll around the lake, with the dog charging on ahead at every opportunity and chasing anything that look stupid enough to run, squirrels, other dogs, ducks, sparrows, he’s not particularly fussy although he couldn’t actually catch his own tail but that never stopped him trying.

After a good hour or so of looking I climbed a small tree situated on the mouth of a dead end bay. It was a perfectly situated swim as it sits adjacent to a gap that the fish have to pass through on their way from one end of the lake to the other, a natural bottleneck with a small bay set to the side for resting and sunbathing in. A very shallow bar cuts across the swim about twenty five yards out and forms the mouth of the bay so that, once the fish have passed over it, there is nowhere else to go but into the bay, passing right through the little swim I was now standing in.

I stood up the tree for a bit and then saw what I was after as a carp appeared over the bar and slowly cruised beneath me, shortly followed by three more and this was all the encouragement I needed, I was off like a rabbit for my carp fishing rods.

Luckily I had stashed the barrow about five hundred yards away when I arrived, being almost at the end of my first circuit meant that I was nearly back to the fishing gear anyway and it didn’t take long to get everything into position.

Before casting I spent another ten minutes up the tree just to make sure I was picking the best spots and then I flicked out three rigs into the best looking interception points, scattering about a dozen free baits around each one.

It was one of those situations where you just know you are going to catch, definitely the best chance I had since starting on the lake and I wasn’t at all surprised when my left hand rod signalled a drop back after only half an hour of casting.

The fish had kited around into the bay, away from the bar and the small island in front of me, perfect really and it was a good tussle in deep clear margins that followed. I could see about ten feet down into the water so I knew it was a decent fish way before I got him into the landing net.

He was a nice long and old looking mirror of thirty one pounds, almost a leather along his flanks with a great big head, what a way to start a trip.

With the photo’s done and the rig back out there I put the kettle on and sat back to bask in the sunshine but not for long!

This time it was the left hand fishing rod and that was where the danger really was, the shallow bar had a snag growing out of the top and, had he managed to clamber over it into the main lake than I really would have been in trouble, I was a real battle of wills for a few minutes and huge surges of water washed up the side of the bar as he tried over and again to gain the sanctuary of the open water.

Eventually he realised I wasn’t going to give in that easily and he tried to make it into the bay but he’d gambled his biggest energy reserves with the bar and I soon had him under control.

Once again I could see him way below the surface and this time I knew I had hooked a real biggie. Every time he turned and twisted below the rod I could clearly see his deep flanks and huge shoulders and I knew he was somewhere around the forty pound mark; quite a scary thing really knowing just how big they are so long before they are beaten.

Beaten he was though, eventually, and into the net he went with a last defiant slap of his tail.

On the scales he stopped just short of forty, just a few ounces mind and still a real whacker.

This one was more of a big pit chunk, a real deep bellied, broad shouldered beast and he looked just fine with the sunlight bouncing of his orange flanks.

With two fish under my belt I knew I was staying put for the night, even the swim was tiny and barely more than a little grassy slope to the water.

The night was quite eventful as well, I had a further four takes before it grew light, two of these I unfortunately lost but a pair of twenties finished the session of perfectly. As if often the way at this time of year I awoke to a completely different day, the sun had been replaced by cloud and rain and the fish had moved off to find more suitable areas to live in but I packed up happy with my results.

Next week I will be starting my campaign on a huge 250 acre clay pit, full of bars and mystery with an unknown stock, right up my street!

Alan Yates Sea Fishing Diary – April

I’m just back from a fortnight in Gambia fishing the West African Beach Championships organised by Bernard Westgarth and his wife Barbara. I finished fourth with a last day draw finishing my hopes of winning, although my son, Richard took the Championship’s first place with three zone wins and a third which would have been virtually impossible to beat anyway. Second place went to Nick Westgarth, another youngster with a consistent performance included an end peg on the final day, which he used to perfection. Third was Sheerness pensioner and great friend, Roger Weeks who landed a 9lb butterfish on the last day to also win that days biggest fish prize.

During the trip I landed a number of big fish with a 13lb cassava and a 15lb sand shark amongst my best, not in the matches though, whilst Richard topped the 20lb mark in the match with a 23lb captain fish and then added a near thirty sand shark from a freelance mark close to the border of Senegal. Some say the fishing is not as good in Gambia as it once was, which may be true to an extent, but going on what I saw there are plenty of speedy giants to catch, especial at this time of year (April).

13lb cassava

15lb sand shark

What was particularly pleasing for me was to see Richard catch his best two fish using a 15ft three piece Force Eight beachcaster. He was a fan of the old Fox Matrix I designed way back, but I persuaded him to try the TF Gear version and it was a hit straight away, especially in terms of the distances he achieved with it. Like everywhere around the world long range is the get out of jail card when the going is tough, especially in match fishing conditions with those vital extra yards the bonus that so often win. One of the great things about a hot country like Gambia is that casting distances are dramatically increased by the hot air and the warmer oil in your reels – The skies the limit and there is nothing more pleasing to a shore angler than to see the lead and bait vanish over the distant surf line.
For details of Gambian fishing contact Bernard Westgarth at: E Mail:

After from the Gambia the foreign currency is now directed at Portugal where I have the World Club champs at Granola in a matter of days. I am fishing for the Dover Sea Angling team and hopes are high despite two pensioners being in our team. After that there is the small matter of the Magrini Championships in Sardinia – Italians know how to put on an angling event and its hard to really get into the fishing because the organisation, HQ, food, banter and wine is so enjoyable. The three hour weigh in after midnight is a feature most fear if they blank because it’s read out load!
In both events I will use the TFGear Delta All Rounder with fixed spools and light mono line. Species are small with small hooks required and a delicate hook length (5lb), which has to be protected by a softer actioned rod. I also use a very light continental quiver tip because most of the fishing is at medium range. Yes the advert is true the Delta is my favourite sea rod, but I would add that I don’t use just one rod all the time. The Delta is for match and snatching, the Force 8 for long range and doggie hauling and that apart there is spinning, LRF, mullet and boat fishing which all require a different action, length and rating.
Between the two Continental matches I have a DVD to make at my home venues in Kent for Sea Angler Magazine and TF Gear. It’s an instructional video – all you need to know about sea angling from the shore. Something of a challenge in an hour, but I am sure we can manage with the help of Sea Angler, feature writer Paul Fenech.

Here at home it looks like the winter has finally ending with some blossom on the cherries and the first peeler crabs likely to appear as I write. Spring codling, thornback rays and plaice are amongst the species turning up on the Kent shores, although most anglers will now be looking towards the smoothhounds arriving. Their presence on a host of summer venues really do make the summer the best time to fish for big fish nowadays. Forget about winter cod that are almost impossible to catch from the shore and head for a smoothhound venue in June. They are now all around the British Isles. Here are a few to try. The Lincs. Coast is a smoothhound boom area with Chapel St Leonards and Ingoldmells amongst the many hot spots. Into Suffolk and Orford Ness is the venue to head for there, whilst on the Kent coast there is Sheppey, Reculver, Sandown and the Dover piers. In Hants the Solent is smoothhound central with Selsey, Pagham, Bracklesham red hot. Into Dorset there is Chesil beach, whilst the Bristol Channel on both the England and Welsh side boasts a host of venue from Minehead to Barry. Over the Irish Sea check out Rosslare Point and Courtown in Wexford. Next on the Welsh side is Anglesey, whilst the species are now commonly found in Lancs (Gynn Wall). and Cumbria and they are staring to show north of the Solway too. Good luck and remember not to leave your rod unattended and to loosen the drag!

You can catch me on Facebook from time to time – I am afraid I am a bit of a wind up merchant and like to see if I can get a “bite” with my posts. Indeed if you need to contact me for a question or something important its best to e mail me direct on: rather than use Facebook because I only check it when the mood takes me, whilst I work all the time on the computer.

Tight lines,

Alan Yates

Alan Yates Sea Fishing Diary

Two open sea fishing competitions were fished from my local Kent shoreline recently and they illustrated the differences in the types of shore fishing contests available to sea anglers. At Dungeness the World Dab Championships attracted 216 anglers to compete in aid of the Dungeness RNLI, whilst at Seabrook 42 anglers fished in the Anyfish Anywhere sponsored South East Open series. The Dungeness even with its tongue in cheek “World” title was a go anywhere rover with all the entry fees going to the RNLI, whilst the more dedicated match anglers went for the pegged, cash prize South East Series event.

It could be said that the two required a different level of skill to win with the bigger element of luck required at Dungeness because of a 25cm dab minimum size limit, which is a great leveller in terms of angling skill.

However, no one had factored in the force seven westerly winds, which turned the dab event into a battle against, wind, sea and weed with more than half the entry catching nothing and the more skilled (The matchmen in fact), who could handle the conditions catching the most sizeable flatfish. Meanwhile, at Seabrook the dogfish turned up in numbers at the eastern end of Princes Parade and those anglers with a low number draw enjoyed a fish feast with 176 dogfish recorded. The results of both competitions reflect the influence of both luck and skill in angling and prove that neither can really be manipulated and that there is no real substitute for skill on a majority of occasions.

Winner of the World Dab Championship title was Ian Harnett of the Isle of Sheppey who landed eleven dabs over the 25cm minimum size limit for a weight of 4lb 11oz, incidentally just 1.5oz more than I weighed in.  Winner of the Anyfish Anywhere event at Seabrook was Martin Jenkins of Dover with 13 dogfish for 8.900kg.

Staying with big entry shore competitions it was the case in the past that a single big fish could often win. I re

member a 2000 entry European and All England championships fished in the last century at Folkestone and Hythe, were I also came second and was beaten by a giant conger eel. The species were fairly common back in the seventies, but nowadays are unheard of from the Kent shore, Yes, the demise of the bigger species has had a big effect on competition entries because match anglers have concentrated their skills on catching the tiddlers to the extent that the average angler cannot compete unless the event carries giant minimum size limits, or is for the biggest fish!

Events are nearly always about who can catch the most tiddlers like, dabs, rockling, flounders, whiting and in more recent times, dogfish. That species is having a dramatic influence on competitions around Kent with a move to specialist doggie bashing. The good news about dogs is that at least you can see them bite and they do pull the string. But lots of anglers hate them and because they are unwanted they promote catch and return, which is again not that popular amongst the average ability competition angler. Should dogfish be returned or culled, that’s a hot topic amongst lots of clubs and sea anglers. I pioneered a system in the Isle of Man, which involved keeping three fish, and returning the rest for a set score (500 grams is commonly used) other conservation systems involve retaining just one dogfish, the biggest. The irony of the subject is that anglers return the one species that there are plenty of and kill those that are rarest. It’s all down to the plate at the end of the day.

I have just had a meeting with others in the Dover Sea Angling Association team about fishing the World Club Championships in Portugal – The event in May is supposed to be club teams from all over the World, but as is usual in competition of all kind, there are always those that seek to bend the rules. In the case of the World Clubs its countries that pick an international team and then call it a club. Disgraceful really, but it goes on and that includes one of the British Isle teams. My team has a couple of international in it, but also a 76 year old and all members have been members of Dover SAA for over ten years.

Species of the month is plaice – They are showing already from Brighton so I hear. The complete opposite to the dogfish, plaice are rarer than rocking horse dung in my neck of the woods. That was not always the case, but because they are slow growing and easily caught by trawlers their numbers have declined in recent year. I am told that the reduction in plaice quotas for the commercials has lead to a small population explosion of the species in some inshore regions. I hope that’s the case because there is nothing like a plump red spot surfacing on the end of a trace. Tips to catch them include the customary bling, sequins, and beads, don’t forget the pop up beads and any manner of glitter, because it does attract the species. So get your sea fishing tackle out, add a worm bait, lug is best in my opinion and more the better occasionally, and that’s all there is to catching dabs.

Why do I think lugworm is the best bait for plaice? Because lugworm tastes like plaice, don’t ask how I know that!


Alan Yates Sea Fishing Diary – Late January

I am back home from the Irish Winter Beach Championships fished from the Wexford shoreline after a dismal weeks results and weather. Team mate Chris Clark won his section every day to win by a large margin – well done Chris, you should spend the money on some decent waterproof gear! Second was Scotsman, Kevin Lewis who piped Dublin’s Dave Roe on count back so it was the story of the Englishman, Scotsman and Irishman with Chris Clark taking home the 1000 Euros!

I must have upset the draw gods judging from my dismal finish in the pack of the pack, although I did win the second biggest round fish on day one, but that probably sums up my event, it was a 21cm whiting! Yes the Irish fishing on the Wexford to Wicklow shoreline has become tiddlers only and I blame catch and release with tiny hooks for doing the damage, plus of course lots of commercial fishermen.

Well done the organisers for keeping the event going, because the weather was atrocious with venues having to be selected for comfort more than the fishing. It rained all day on the second day and when I say rain, I mean stair rods continuously for five hours so when I drew a peg next to a stream that turned into a river on the third day I knew exactly what was in store. My advice to shore anglers in winter has always been to avoid areas where snow melt and rain enter the sea and avoid shallow beaches where the frosts has got at the sand. Well I didn’t want to fish where I drew, but such is pegged match fishing! The plus was that I wore a pair of Hardwear chest waders and a Delta Marine smock and stayed dry unlike many who ended the day like drowned rats.

Back home it is the season to be scratching with the shore fishing notoriously hard in February. The major species for many anglers are rockling, dabs, pin whiting and flounders – Not exactly awe inspiring and I can’t blame lots of anglers for shelving their rods until the daylight and sunshine returns. Time to top up the fishing tackle box etc and a trip to the tackle dealer or a web site, both will reveal lots of new tackle around. Check out some of my gear on: or

If you do carry on fishing and lots of freelance, club and match anglers do, then there are a few things you can do to improve your chances of catching something. First pay extra attention to your bait. A few white ragworm or maddies added to the hook can increase your bite ratio, whilst stale lugworm and sometimes shellfish, really comes into its own in and after stormy weather.

Perhaps the biggest tip I can give anglers at this time is not to cast too far. Most of the species around just love hugging the breakers and that lip or gully created by the low tide waves. A lob of 30 to 70 yards can often be all you need to reach those rockling, dabs, flounders, etc, although you also need to be aware that spring will kick start the fishing again as the light evenings extend and a ray, a spring codling or a bonus match winning dogfish could be the result of a longer cast.


February competitions include a few flounder events where a couple of fish can win some big money prizes. Events worth a look include:


3: Aberdeen thistle SAC open. Boundaries: Aberdeen south breakwater to Stonehaven harbour excluding piers. Fishing 9am until 3pm. Penn event. Registration Nigg car park from 8.30am. £10 entry 100% payout, 50% for heaviest fish, then 1st, 2nd and 3rd heaviest bag .after heaviest fish removed. Bob Blocksidge 07836646678 / 01358723198 or visit

3:  Pleasure Anglers and Kayakers Association Open Cod competition. Swansea breakwater. Fishing 9am until 1pm. Penn event. Meeting at Macdonalds, Fabian way 6.30am. 0792389088 also check web site

10: Double Dragon RNLI Open. Amroth. Fishing 10am until 2pm. Penn event. 1st Prize £250. Book in from 8am Amroth Arms. Roger Harris, Amroth Arms 01834 812480

17: The Fountain Open. Seabrook and Hythe. Fishing 1pm until 6pm. £1000 1st. 200 peg limit. Penn event. Booking in from 9am at the Fountain Seabrook. Brian Barnes on 01303 260875

24: Hornsea SAC Mark Loudon Memorial Open. Penn event.  Mark 07768342169 or John 01964 534245

Tight lines,

Alan Yates.

Canterbury angler, Leigh Chapman with a coalfish from Courtown beach, Wicklow during practice for the Irish Winter beach festival.

10 year old Ryan Rogers from Whitfield in Kent with a 4lb 3oz codling he landed from the Admiralty pier at Dover his first and biggest!

Alan Yates Sea Fishing Diary

The New Year is a great time to start match fishing, not only because most angling clubs restart their evening club match series, but because lots of anglers try their hand at the opens and entry numbers soar for the first couple of months of the year. OK, if you are not interested in competitive fishing and prefer to concentrate your efforts on catching bigger fish, then move down the page, if you are then here is some advice for those starting out.

Match fishing has become more and more competitive over the years, especially at open match level. Fishing Tackle, techniques and anglers have improved enormously and just as in most sports, winning is not quite as easy as in years past. This means that the novice or beginner starting out in competitions should really avoid the open events, especially the smaller open matches organised by matchmen for matchmen. If you want to fish opens then try the giant biggest fish contests where a greater element of luck is involved. For the beginner it is far better to start out at club level because with the thousands of angling clubs around the British Isles there is a lot of choice and many of the smaller clubs offer entry level angling. By that I mean competitions that contain anglers of an equal ability. Club fishing is more of a social occasions at many local angling clubs, competitive yes, but anglers are more likely to share knowledge or their fishing spot, a great place to learn the ropes.

Perhaps most important of all the skills required to be successful in competitions is knowing the venue and really only experience can teach you what is around at a given tide, time of year etc. Joining a club and concentrating your efforts on one venue will open your eyes to what is involved in solving the problems of fishing just one venue, let alone different ones. Undoubtedly learning to be successful will cost you money and its wiser to spend the smaller entry fees to club events to learn that spending a fortune on the more expensive opens. There will come a time when you think you are ready to compete in an open, especially one on a venue you have fished regularly.


Staying with competition fishing this month’s favourite terminal rig has to be scratching booms. I am a big fan of the very fine wire Continental style booms that allow the angler to use light line snoods and small baits without them tangling. It’s a case of horses for courses and fishing for what’s around rather than a whole Calamari on a 4/0 Pennel rig. Booms allow the delicate presentation of small baits for small-mouthed species and that’s the key. Flatties and the many of the other species have a greater liking for small wriggly worms etc and these can be fished more efficiently on a small hook and light line so they appear as natural as possible to entice the smaller fish. Of course the element of strength has to be retained in rigs and gear so that should a bigger fish come along you can land it, but overall finesse is a vital tactic to catch the smaller fish at this time of year.

For those that soldier on regardless of season in the hunt for the bigger, better quality fish and don’t want to turn to match fishing then the alternative is to travel. Access to better fishing is far easier nowadays and it really is possible if you are willing to travel to find better fishing, even around the UK.

Most years one or two regions will offer bigger codling for the first few months of the year. These are where the year class of the codling is second, third or fourth year fish. This year Cumbria has a good head of bigger codling at the time of writing and that may be the place to head. Last year it was South Wales and the Bristol Channel, although there the codling have reached breeding size and moved away completely. Alternatively take to the boats because some of the far off wrecks around the UK will produce some giant fish in late winter, through February – My tip for a real lunker are the wrecks in the English Channel with the charter boats out of Eastbourne, Brighton and Newhaven the ports to head for.

A TIP FOR WOULD BE COD CATCHERS: The fast track to catching a giant cod is to take a trip to Norway this spring or summer to catch that lunker. North Norway offers the chance of a 40lb plus cod, plus giant coalfish, haddock and more to even the greenest novice, simply because they are there to catch. Contact Ian Peacock who organises fishing in Norway with Dintur

E Mail:

Tel: 0191 4472363


My annual trip to Gambia is looming. I am fishing the Gambian Beach Championships on the 11th to 14th April 2013. Unfortunately if you have not already booked a place you may be unlucky. Contact Bernard Westgarth on Tel 01325 720113 or E Mail:


The event and the days fishing around it are my chance of a catching a bigger fish with captain fish and cassava the two species that are most likely to show. But my chances are not done after that because I have some big English and French carp to fish for later in the year and if that fails there is always a large lake rainbow or a bass later in the summer.

Yes I hedge my bets with the bigger fish during the year and don’t pin my hopes on cod alone. If you are struggling to land a biggy you should try it!

Wishing you all a Happy New Year.

Alan Yates.

Alan with a 3lb codling, typical New Year size. He caught it to win the Folkestone SAA pier Christmas competition.