"Gotta be a good Ling", I said to my buddy who was looking at me with his usual quizzical expression….one day he is going to believe me first time!! The fish fighting routine soon settled into the slow time pump and reel action so familiar to those who have caught ling before.

Ling are not the streamlined speedy reel strippers like the coalfish and pollack, but they do give good value for their weight with a dour resistance, accompanied by some aggravated head banging! You need heavy duty tackle, because this constant strain and persistent stubborn resistance will soon seek out any weak spots in your set-up. It will pay dividends, as it does at any time when fishing deep water wrecks, to make sure that your tackle is up to the task and that you have taken those few extra moments to check that your knots are well tied and tightened by a good hard pull. Presenting a tempting squid/mackerel bait hard on the bottom in close vicinity to a fish holding haven such as a pinnacle rock or a long forgotten wreck could result in a fish of a lifetime seizing your bait, so make sure your tackle is up to the job. Hard luck stories are no fun if you are the one telling them.

A conventional 30lb class rod is ideal, but if you really want to give the fish some welly then a stumpy stand up rod combined with a fairly high speed retrieve reel loaded with 30lb mono or superbraid is well capable of landing the largest Ling or Cod that you are likely to encounter. My favourite 30 pound class outfit in recent times is the Shimano Antares 30/50 which I reckon is an absolutely brilliant 30 pound rod for Cod, Ling, Ray, pirking for Pollack, Coalfish etc. Match this rod with a TLD20 or a Penn GTI-20 and you will have a very capable combination.

For general bottom fishing, end tackle is simple, a simple running paternoster using fairly short trace of about two feet of 50lb fluorocarbon or heavy monofilament. My personal preference is for 50lb fluorocarbon, which can be knotted using blood or uni knots to tie on the hook and swivel. Make up a dozen or so traces using 7/0 or 8/0 O’Shaughnessy or Circle hooks if you like them, with a 1/0 or 2/0 swivel at the other end. Don’t skimp, use a decent Berkley or Veal’s swivel. At the end of the day you will find that some of these traces will be scrapped, so salvage the hook and swivel. Dry and re-sharpen the hook, give the swivel a squirt of WD40 and re-tie the trace with a length of new line. This is not being mean, this is re-cycling!!

An alternative to the running leger is a simple two dropper paternoster, with a baited pirk as a sinker which is sometimes used by skippers and crew fishing for the boat and a very effective method it is. Truthfully, catching big fish like this, two sometimes even three at a time, is bordering on commercial fishing. I see no valid point in taking more than you need, after all we fish for our own enjoyment and we have a vested interest in conserving fish stocks, even in our own individual way.

Ling work hard at qualifying for the title of "Dustbin of the Deep", they will take almost any bait you care to tempt them with, as well as pirks and even Eddystone eels. But by far the tastiest items on the lings' menu are Squid and cuttle baits with mackerel flappers, and whole mackerel sides not far behind. In fact, cocktails of squid padded out with a side of mackerel will make an economic and highly effective bait for Ling and Cod. One of the reasons for using a medium to large hook such as an 8/0 is so that a decent sized bait can be presented without masking the point of the hook.

Baits that are predominated by squid and cuttle are much favoured by cod and this bait and rig is sure to tempt them if it is fished on or very close to the bottom. A useful tip for making up squid and mackerel sandwich baits is to take a spool of elasticated cotton with you and use it to tie the head of the squid to the line above the eye of the hook before inserting the hook. One of my pals slides a muppet up the line, when the bait has been tied and hooked, he slides the muppet over the top of the bait as an added attraction. This fancy bait has been so successful that many others (including me!) have adopted it as standard practice.

Playing a good fish up from 60 metres depth on a 30 lb class outfit can be hard work. As a minimum use a comfortable butt pad, the Shakespeare pad is available for about £15’s and is functional. Most anglers remove the stainless bar from the pad and simply use the rod with its end cap straight into the butt pad cup. Ensure before using it that the pad strap is the correct length to suit your arm length and stature. Adjusting straps whilst playing a lively fish is something of a fraught adventure.

Get your tackle right, knots tight, set the reels drag correctly and have the confidence to play the fish in your time. When the fish begins to dictate to you what it is going to do, that is when you are most likely to lose it. Have fun !!

Any questions to russ@reelfoto.com