Beginners Coarse Fishing- Tackle, Tactics & Tips

The Complete Guide to Coarse Fishing

Get Your Fishing License

You MUST have an Environment Agencies fishing license to fish for freshwater fish in England, Wales, and Scotland. 

The only exception to this rule is if you are aged 13 or under. Senior and junior anglers can purchase a fishing license at a concession price.

For coarse fishing, you will require the Environmental Agencies Trout, Coarse Fish and Eel license.

Fishing without the correct license may result in a hefty fine and your tackle being confiscated.

This fishing license is available in a 1 day (£6), 8-day (£12), or 12 months (£30) duration. The license covers you to fish using up to two fishing rods for coarse fish. If you wish to use a third coarse fishing rod, you must purchase a specific 3-rod license. 

You can purchase your rod license from the government website, post offices, or by calling Environmental Agencies with ease.


Fishing Season

Rivers and certain sections of canals are closed for three months during the “close season”.

Most commercial fisheries will likely remain open during the rivers close season.

The close season begins on the 15th of March and lasts until the 15th of July.

This angling prohibition was first introduced as part of the Freshwater Fisheries Act 1878 to allow the fish to spawn and breed in “peace and quiet”.

The close season only limits river fishing and some stretches of canal.

A list of affected canal sections can be found here

Environment Agency and determined volunteer bailiffs will be carrying out regular checks to ensure that the fish are left to spawn undisturbed.


Coarse Fishing Explained

Coarse fishing is the most popular type of fishing in the UK. This type of fishing is for sport and enjoyment rather than food, adopting a catch and release approach. 

Coarse fishing is easily accessible for most of the UK population. There will likely be several quality tackle shops and well-stocked fisheries in your area.

For complete novices, most tackle shop owners will be more than happy to give you some useful pointers. offers fantastic fishing courses across the country, providing a great way to get you and your family started. 

There is little scientific difference between coarse fish and game fish, such as salmon, trout, and arguably grayling. The only real noticeable difference is that coarse fish typically favour warmer and stiller environments. 

Fishing was originally reserved for the enjoyment of the upper classes and gentry. These privileged anglers only targeted salmonid game fish, which were the most desirable to eat.

There is a wonderful variety of coarse fish to catch in the UK. Here is a list of the most highly sought after species;

- Barbel
- Bream
- Carp
- Catfish
- Chub
- Dace
- Eel
- Grayling
- Gudgeon
- Perch
- Pike
- Roach
- Rudd
- Ruffe
- Tench
- Zander

All of the above fish require different approaches and tactics in order to catch the different species.


Coarse Fishing Success

Any angler will tell you that it’s easy to get carried away in the tackle shops, but you don't need to spend a fortune to kit yourself out with all the tackle needed to put your first fish on the bank.

Ask more experienced anglers for advice and guidance on what tackle to buy. The vast majority of anglers will be happy to help.

Most anglers will be keen to help out a fellow fisherman and may even offer you their spare kit to borrow or purchase at a much cheaper price than usual.

 It’s also well worth checking out eBay and Facebook Marketplace for “job lot” fishing tackle steals. 

There are plenty of inexpensive baits that are guaranteed to catch fish. The most successful of these include sweetcorn, bread, luncheon meat, and peperami.

Here we have comprised a list of the basic fishing tackle you’ll need to net your first fish;

- Rod and Reel- you won’t get far without a fishing rod and a well-balanced reel.
- Line- we recommend using a fishing line with a breaking strain between 8-10lbs.
- Floats- Loaded floats are perfectly weighted, regular fishing floats, however, will require split shot weights to balance them in the water.
- Split shot weights- Look for the pack offering the widest range of sizes for increased accuracy. 
- Hooks- we recommend using a fishing hook size between 10-14. Using hooks pre-tied with a loop at the end may be easiest to begin with. 
- Plummet- this weight can be attached to your hook to help measure the depth of the lake when setting up your float position. 
- Landing net- this will make getting larger fish on the bank a lot easier and safer. 
- Unhooking mat- this will protect the fish whilst unhooking. The mat should be wet to protect the fish’s slime as well as from the hard ground itself.
- Disgorger- this will help to easily unhook fish with those hard to reach hook holds.
- Scales- measure the weight of fish for match angling or just your sense of pride!


Float Fishing Fun

Float fishing is the most simple and effective tactic for beginners. 

It is important to set up your fish care and safety equipment first. Plan for success by ensuring that your landing net is ready for action, with the unhooking mat wet and a disgorger in a comfortable reaching distance.

A fishing rod rest makes life a lot easier but isn’t strictly necessary. 

Here is a step-by-step guide explaining how to set up your fishing rod;

1. Assemble the fishing rod, ensuring that the eyes are aligned.
2. Open the bail arm on your reel and thread the line through the eyes of your fishing rod. 
3. Carefully slide the fishing line through the eye of your selected float. 
4. Loaded floats can be fixed in place using rubber fishing float stops, or a small elastic band thread through the line and float.
5. Regular fishing floats can be set in place using split shot weights.
6. If you’re fishing with a regular float, keep adding the split shot weights until the tip of the float sits upright just above the surface of the lake.
7. Attach your hook to the mainline. We recommend using a loop to loop knot and pre-tied hooklengths.
8. Attach the plummet to your hook and measure the depth of the lake.
9. Adjust the distance between your float and hook until the float tip is sitting beautifully just below the surface of the lake.  
10. Replace the plummet for some irresistible, tasty bait and you’re ready to cast.

Remember to bait the area with accuracy. A little and often approach works well. The most important rule in fishing is to find the fish! 

Tangles in your fishing line is all part of the fun in learning how to fish. You may need to re-spool your reel with fresh fishing line after a few catastrophic tangles, but that’s all part of the learning process. 

Here is a useful video on how to tie a loop-to-loop knot. 

Here is a useful video on how to tie a regular eyed hook

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