Tackle for Eel Fishing - by Mark Salt
Test curves from 2 – 3lb, depending on size of leads and baits. Most carp rods will do the job. I favour lighter rods than most, mainly because I tend to fish margins, and have no need to fling 3oz leads to the horizon. My usual eel rods are 10ft 2.5lbs test curve Free Spirit S range. I chose 10ft rods for their lightness and ease of use, and as an ideal length for fishing up to around 40 yards range. If I do need to fish at more extreme range I use 12ft rods, again with 2.5lb test curve, but find these to be unwieldy compared to the shorter rods. Most eel anglers seem to favour 3lb test curve rods, but I cannot see the need for this much power unless it’s for casting. I have landed 30+ carp on the 10ft rods with comparative ease, and am positive that they will handle any eel that swims in British waters.
Any reel from a reputable manufacturer with a reliable drag. I find Shimano 8000s to be ideal as an all round reel, and would only use bigger reels if I wanted to cast extreme distances. Smaller reels will do the job. It’s the quality of the drag that is important, unless you’re a “backwinder”.
I’m not going to enter the braid v mono debate here, but if you choose mono, then I suggest at least 12lb, and if you choose braid, then 20lb Fireline or Power Pro takes some beating. My preference is for Fireline, as I’ve found it to be more abrasion resistant than other brands, and it lasts for a long time. I always use an in line “shock absorber” comprising of an 8 inch length of 22lb powergum with a swivel at each end to prevent hook pulls, usually positioned immediately above the hooklink and below the lead. I experience a lot of hook pulls when using braid for carp in the early days, and the shock absorber stopped this without the loss of feel or directness.
Absolutely critical to have sensitive alarms, as eels are past masters at swallowing baits with little movement at times. All the usual makes will do the job, but Delkims are ideal as you can alter sensitivity to contend with adverse conditions.
Whether you fish low or high resistance methods will dictate whether you use drop off indicators, monkey climbers, or Barry “two sevens” McConnell’s excellent “roll overs”. Whatever you use, make sure it will register drop backs as well as forward movement.
Landing nets should be as big as possible, at least 42”. I use a 50” model. Make sure that there is no gap between the spreader block, net arms and net itself. I once lost a good eel that shot through such a gap and became impossible to land, despite some choice words regarding its parentage.
Sacks are ideal for retention, with all the usual precautions regarding depth of water and relative temperatures. Just keep your fish long enough to photograph in daylight and then get it back in.
Finally, be equipped for unhooking pike, with long forceps etc. as you will undoubtedly catch them, especially at night.