Zimbabwe, Zambia

Kariba & Middle Zambezi

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The spin on light angling

The spin on light angling

Grimwood Cooke, the fun of fishing with light line
Grimwood Cooke, the fun of fishing with light line

By : Grimwood Cooke



Ultra-light tackle angling, and in turn the Ultra Light Tackle Club, are synonymous with the Kariba Invitational Tiger Fish Tournament, in that a number of the founder members of ULTC were instrumental in setting up the first tiger tournament over 50 years ago.

For a number of years, ULTC was one of the dominant clubs taking the honours at KITFT, with many of its members employing the use of light line to out-compete their rivals.

Over the years, ULTC has been through cycles of highs and lows like any club, yet there has always been a nucleus of ULTC anglers who have stuck to their four-pound-line tricks and methods, sharing their knowledge and tips. To this day, there are a number of anglers outside of ULTC who secretly guard their success stories of the use of light line and what they have learned from the inner circle over the years.

Personally I was privileged to have met some of those founder members over 35 years ago, and to have been taken under their wings and shown the ropes. My passion for the both the sport of angling light, and passing on the knowledge I was taught by the likes of Basil Hill, John Stubbs and John Plant, remains steadfast to this day.

Here are a few of my thoughts on what can make light line angling so effective.

Firstly, the sport of angling is not about luck, but making your luck, and like any form of hunting, unless you get it all right from the preparation to the act of the hunt itself, you are going to come up short. A successful angler's little bag of tricks usually comes from a great deal of experience.

Light line no doubt has its place in this bag of tricks, and certainly so when the fishing is tough and the fish are pressurised, wary and bite shy. The stats will tell you that the catch rate among the anglers diminishes steadily, if not dramatically, over the first three days in most fishing tournaments. This is simply down to the fish becoming bite shy as a direct result of the pressure they are being put under, as well as boating activity, culling (yes a dirty word) and things called hooks which hurt.

So how does light line help? Firstly it allows for more finesse, a better presentation of the bait, along with allowing for greater distance (cast and current) away from the boat. The hooks one uses can, therefore, be smaller and hidden to a greater extent within the bait. Secondly, and herein lies perhaps the greatest secret of light line, visibility may be a factor, yet in my opinion, for larger, wiser and pressurised fish it is all about when the fish locks it jaws around your bait and feels the drag of the line through the water.

The fish is going to hang on to a bait that feels more of a natural weight for longer and thus is more likely to ingest it. Raw mathematics tells us that the drag of say 30m of 4lb line through the water is half of that of 30m of 8lb line, therefore directly relative to how heavy the weight of the bait feels to the fish as it picks it up and it takes off.

When we add other factors to the equation of the advantages of light line vs heavy, of which there are a few, it makes a lot of sense to use light line, especially so when the going is tough.

The next key factor is to have the confidence and basic principles of how to hook, fight and land a fish on light line, such as: tie a good knot; never point your rod at the fish; don’t reel it in too short; let the rod do the work; and so forth. With the right tools, light line angling is not as daunting as it may sound. The best of luck to you all in your light line angling endeavours.