A soft bag with "just enough" tackle in a rig wallet, spare reel, sarnies, biscuits, mars bar and flask is all you really need.

Most traces that an angler needs for boat fishing can be tied up from a small box of bits and a few spools of line en route to the wreck, reef or sandbank. Heavy duty traces for conger and shark or a maybe some sets of feathers are realistically the only ones that need to be made up before you embark on a trip. What is absolutely essential, is the ability to tie reliable knots and knowledge enough to know what rig will fish best for the species and ground over which you are going to fish. If you donít know, ask the skipper, he will show you the best rig and tell you the best way to fish it...then if you have got the makings, you can do exactly what you have been told by the expert, who is watching fish being caught every day he/she spends at sea.

But first there are some basics which have to be adequately discussed, because often they are glossed over in articles of this type simply because they are not the easiest or most interesting subject to write about.

Line.

Ask me to answer honestly and I will tell you (in my humble opinion!) that monofilament is best if you are going to cast it, e.g. uptiding, spinning, floatfishing etc. Superbraid is without question the dbís for downtiding, whether it be ultra light drifting for bass in skinny water or the full-blooded heave and haul of congering over a deep water wreck. Where the problem arises is when you have a boat full of anglers, one half using mono and the other half using braid, because a mono/braid tangle is the worst sort of tangle you can get. From your own boat or with just a handful of anglers aboard a charter boat, then braid line is fantastic to use.

For leaders I donít think monofilament will ever be superceded unless it is by fluorocarbon, a new leader material which is being tried by many trout anglers because of it's near invisibility in the water. But until the price of fluorocarbon materials drop to the low levels found in Japan and America I cannot see it being extensively used by the majority of anglers. Personally I think it is excellent and I think it does give an advantage when things are, shall we say, "difficult!"

If you choose to use superbraid line, whatever the brand, put a monofilament shockleader between 20 and 30 feet long at the front end to take all the wear and tear. Use a double uni knot with four or five turns to join the monofilament and braid. Snug the knot nearly tight, then apply a drop of superglue before finally tightening, so that the superglue penetrates within the knot. If you are using 20lb braid, use 20lb monofilament, if you have to break out of the bottom, most of the time the knot to the boom will go before the superglued join.

A final word about monofilament, it does deteriorate with the passage of time and there are all sorts of technical reasons why this is so. If you want to be on the safe side, renew monofilament every year, whether it has been used or not. Particularly the lighter breaking strains.

If you are knotting a hook or swivel then, with the application of the tightening force, the knot fails, this is often deterioration of the line, not your knot tying talent at fault. Dump the line and get some new. Sometimes the big bulk spools are a false economy if you are not using it up on a regular basis.

Swivels.

Are essential if you are using natural baits such as worm, sandeel or cut fish baits. If you are using artificial baits such as Eddystone eels or jelly worms then it is not so essential that you incorporate a swivel or two in the rig, providing the lure is hooked so that it swims without spinning. Even so, I still think it a good idea to use a swivel or two in the leader.

The swivel fulfils two important functions, first it helps eliminate line twist caused by baits that twist and turn as they sink into the depths. Secondly, a function which is often overlooked, they provide an ideal joiner between lines of different breaking strains.

Which size of swivel do you choose? A rough guide is to use the smallest swivel that will handle the breaking strain of the line which you are using. I tend to use size 10 and 7 Sampo or Berkeley swivels. Size 10 has a breaking strain of about 40lbís and is realistically the smallest size you want to use. This size is excellent for pollack, bream and bass leaders.
Size 7 has a breaking strain of about 70lbs and is still a small swivel which is good for use with a 30lb class outfit.

There is sometimes a misapprehension that the larger a swivel, the better it works; this is not the case, quite the reverse in fact. A smaller swivel is much more efficient at reducing twist with lighter lines, especially so with ultra limp lines such as some superbraids.
On a personal note. I will only use branded swivels, Berkeley, Mustad or the Vealís Mail Order swivels, which bear a remarkable resemblance to Sampo swivels, which are the very best. Cheap unbranded swivels will often only save you a few pennies, I prefer to know that I am getting the best value for my money.

Booms.

Skinny booms such as the Knotless fine wire or traditional fine wire booms present a very small profile to the surge of the tide and therefore reduce even further the weight of sinker which can be used to present your lure or bait.

Booms made from plastic tube so that the rig can be fished as a running boom also present a fairly small profile. Some anglers prefer the tubular booms because of the direct contact when a fish takes the bait. In 50 metres of water I do not think it makes a lot of difference, but it is what you feel comfortable and confident with on the day. For heavier fish such as ling and conger then a sturdy boom such as the Ashpole Sea boom or the Knotless Lineslidaís are necessary to carry the pound or two of lead that might be necessary to nail a big bait to the bottom.

Hooks.

There are thousands of hook patterns and sizes available these days and choice of hook is to a large extent based on personal preference, weight of the tackle being used and the species of fish.

Except for species such as shark and conger, many anglers have moved to wire hooks with needle points, some of which have been chemically sharpened even further. There is a battle royal going on at the moment between the daddy of them all, Mustad, and the Japanese manufacturers such as Kamasan and Verivas. Whatever your preference of manufacturer, the quality of hooks available to us now has never been better. Often forgotten by all but the fly fishing market, Partridge of Redditch still make some superb sea fishing hooks, including a modern generation of wire hooks which are as good as any from Norway or the Far East.
Aberdeen patterns made from slightly heavier wire than the traditional Aberdeenís are the modern trend. Look at the Mustad 3261BLN, Verivas "Big Mouth" or if you can find them the Partridge SW61BLN. All are superb hooks, ideal for use with bait or jelly worms.

Knots.

There are two essential knots that todayís angler needs to know how to tie. They are the Tucked Blood Knot and the Uni Knot, or its close relation the Grinner. Both knots can be used for similar applications, tying on hooks , swivels, booms etc. My favourite is the Uni knot, I feel it just has the edge on the Blood knot for reliability.

In the past it has always been advised to just snug knots up. Modern thinking is that the knot should be well lubricated with saliva and then tightened as much as you can get it. I have followed this advice for the last couple of years and feel that it has been beneficial.

Any questions to russ@reelfoto.com. Take a look at www.reelfoto.com