Coarse fish

Coarse fishing is a term used in the United Kingdom and Ireland for angling for coarse fish, which are those types of freshwater fish other than game fish (trout, salmon and char). The sport and the techniques used are particularly popular in the United Kingdom and mainland Europe.

The term coarse fishing originated in the United Kingdom in the early 19th century. Prior to that time, recreational fishing was a sport of the gentry, who angled for salmon and trout which they called game fish. Other fish were disdained as coarse fish.[1]

Tackle and technique

Depending on the situation, different types of fishing tackle can be used. Most common is the rod and reel, the rod being typically between 8 and 13 feet (4.0 m) long, and manufactured of tubular carbon fibre or splits of Tonkin bamboo. A reel is then attached near the base of the rod to hold a long length of line, which is run to the tip of the rod through eyelets. Once cast out, the line can be retrieved by winding a handle on the reel.

However, the use of "poles" is also now widespread. Here, the line is fixed to the very tip of the rod, with no reel used: in order to retrieve the line, the pole itself is taken apart until the line can be swung to hand. Poles are often very long in order to increase the angler's range—up to 16 metres.

The main techniques used are float fishing, legering and spinning.

  • In float fishing, the bait is suspended beneath a float made of hollow plastic, wood or quill. The top of the float is usually painted a bright colour and bites are indicated by the top of the float dipping under the surface of the water, or moving up in the water.
  • Legering does not use floats. Instead the bait is held on the bottom of the lake or river by a sinker or large weight. Bites are detected by watching the quiver tip of the rod for movement, or with the use of electronic bite alarms, and more advanced tackle such as polyvinyl alcohol bags, or mesh.
  • Spinning. Either a brightly coloured lure or a small fish attached to a hook is towed through the water to attract carnivorous fish such as pike, zander and perch.

Fly fishing techniques may also be used for certain species, such as grayling or chub.

For float and leger fishing, groundbait is usually thrown into the water to attract fish to the area. Typical baits include nightcrawlers, maggots, bread and sweet corn. Lately, advancements in technology and market competitiveness have led to many types of other ingredients being introduced, including chemicals, such as betaine, that stimulate the feeding response in fish. Boilies are popular baits for carp fishing.


The nature of coarse fishing varies with the dedication and attitude of the angler:

  • Pleasure angling: describes anglers who go out to enjoy a relaxing day's fishing, and are content to catch whatever fish they can.
  • Match angling: anglers, in teams or as individual entrants, gather together at a venue to catch either as many fish as possible in an allotted period of time, or the greatest total weight of fish. Contests are held at local, regional, national and international levels.
  • Specimen hunting: the aim is to catch a large fish of a specific species. Some specimen hunters will fish only for one particular species, with large carp or pike being popular targets in the UK.

Target species

The main target species for this type of angling include:

Name Image Variants
Carp Grass, Common, Crucian, Leather, Mirror
Wels catfish

There are also some lesser species that can be caught in the United Kingdom and are not normally sought after. These include:

A full list of the heaviest fish weights by species, caught on rod and line in the UK can be found at Rod Caught Fish Records UK.



  • Cooper, Dave (2004). "First Class Fishing". Fishing Magic.
  • Lowerson, John (1993). Sport and the English middle classes, 1870–1914. Manchester University Press. ISBN 0-7190-3777-8.
  • Tranter, Neil (1998). Sport, Economy and Society in Britain 1750–1914. Page 101. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 052157217.

Further reading

External links

  • DMOZ
  • Coarse fishing: The sport of gentlemen
  • Fishing for fun
  • Henfold Lakes: Coarse Fishery Pictures from Surrey, England
  • Anglers net:
  • Coarse fishing venues on google maps. Angling Social Networking
  • Some basic information on choosing coarse fishing tackle a.k.a. carp fishing tackle
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