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Is a pole better than a beachcaster? Try Baywater Angling’s approach…

Traditionally regarded as the go-to tool of shore angling, beachcaster rods are not always that great for introducing newcomers to the sport. Sometimes used with a ‘cast it out, prop it on a stand, sit back and wait’ approach, and no doubt this can be incredibly rewarding. However, it can also lack the lightness, pace and versatility of other methods – all characteristics which can be really appealing to beginner anglers

In South Devon, Baywater Anglers has torn up any set in stone rules when it comes to showing newcomer anglers how to get started on their angling journey.

The club experiments with everything “light”. Saltwater fly fishing, the whisker-thin tipped rods of light rock fishing and even pole fishing! It’s all in the mix. Martyn Green is a club Participation Coordinator. Here are his reflections on what works…

Just a bit of background about me first… I’m an Angling Trust Level 2 Tri-discipline Coach and Coach Educator. I run Devon Fishing Guides, write books on fishing under my middle name of Lindsey and also produce a wide range of graphic art, most of it based around angling and underwater scenes. I started fishing when I was six and have loved it ever since!

When me and some friends started Baywater Anglers, we wanted an all-inclusive club that aimed to put the fun back into fishing. We tried to move away from teaching with heavy beachcaster rods towards responsibly using the lightest tackle appropriate for the type of fishing we were teaching.

Down here in Torbay, where we have such a great variety of coastline and far more modest currents than some other parts of England, we quickly found that it was a light-tackle angler’s dream environment.

To help introduce younger members to sea fishing we tried something a bit different. We adapted coarse fishing poles and used them to really hug the shoreline. And this worked – the  young anglers catch a variety of species right under their feet. It’s an amazingly effective way of fishing next to the rocks. Try it!

Here’s an example. Using this method my grandson caught forty-seven fish on his first ever trip, most of them different species of wrasse, fighting with such enthusiasm that he was firmly hooked from that moment in time forward. What a great start!

Sea fishing coaching

The poles are great for younger anglers and we find that float fishing, spinning, legering with carp rods and ultra-light continental style beachcasters offer tremendous sport for those that are slightly older. It’s a good way for coarse anglers to utilise tackle they already have too. I’m sure that barbel fishing gear would be very effective…

Recently we’ve been experimenting with light rock fishing or LRF outfits, fishing them both conventionally, and with our own hybrid tackle. This has been amazingly successful.

Most people reserve LRF rods for use with lures, and we do use them on occasion, but we’ve been far more successful employing simple bait rigs that enable us to put the end-tackle where we wouldn’t have been able to before.

On some sessions, we’ve had (…literally!) hundreds of bites and, while we didn’t manage to hit every single one of them, we did catch far more than we would have if we had been fishing with beachcasters!

Put simply, the use of light tackle enables us to explore every inch of coastline having a lot more action and a lot more fun in the process than we would have done had we stuck to beachcasters alone.

It’s also a lot more practical. A three-year old can have wonderful fun on a converted pole or a light rock fishing rod – they’d struggle to even lift a heavy beachcaster.

We’ve even started some of the younger children off with tiny little ice fishing rods and they still managed to catch!

The secret is simple really – it’s to put the fun into fishing.

As well as this we’ve helped newcomers move away from a catch and kill mindset towards gaining maximum sport from the fish that you catch and then, bearing conservation firmly in mind, aiming for a quick photo rather than a meal as your trophy.

Not that we put everything back of course, we don’t (…and fishing can be a great way of teaching kids about where food comes from), but we quickly return the vast majority of what we catch.

We’ve also been able to help a large number of people in the process, running courses at our local secondary school, holding Family Fishing events and even helping charities such as Super Natured, which aims to introduce children to outdoor activities that their family circumstances might have prevented them trying.

Michael Head, our Level 1 coach, is a great help on such events, not least because he’s such a nice guy! He’s a great example of someone who joined the club as a child, got hooked on angling and has remained passionate about it ever since. We hope that there will be more like him that stick with our club.

It would be lovely to see more young people becoming interested in fishing and that’s something that Baywater Anglers hope we can help with.

We put a lot of articles on our website – – which are entirely free for people to look at or download but we are also looking to run events too, like the Steamer Quay Charity Match at Totnes.

We want to run more events in conjunction with the Angling Trust too, which has been a great help so far.

Thanks for taking the time to read this and please contact Baywater Anglers through the website at for more info as well as those free tackle, rig and bait guides I mentioned before, plus loads of other info about how to start sea fishing.

Sea fishing

Young angler holding his first ever wrasse, caught on a light rock fishing outfit.

Sea fishing

Young angler playing a mackerel on a light rock fishing outfit.

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