One of the most frequent forms of questions asked by new anglers, and many more experienced anglers, too, is regarding uptiding for cod. It’s the most successful method of fishing an area of fast tides, takes a large share of the larger double figure fish, and keeps you more active throughout a cold winters day.
It’s biggest asset is because the baits are cast well away from the boat, it keeps everybody’s baits fishing more as individuals and virtually eliminates tangles, unlike standard downtide fishing when the anglers lined up along the gunnels are always at a disadvantage compared to those fishing from the stern.
WHAT IS UPTIDING?
Originally introduced to combat the so called scare area created around an anchored boat by both the slap of the water on the hull and the “drumming” noise caused by a fast tide flowing around a tight anchor rope. The idea was that by casting away from the boat outside the scare area, more fish would be caught.
Logical, but often fish are caught lobbing the bait only a few yards from the boat and in shallow water and very fast tides, so maybe the scare area has less to do with uptidings success than stated. It’s success is possibly more to do with the increased width of scent trail passing downtide created by those spread apart baits.
The technique of uptiding is simple. A cast is made not across the tide, but at an angle into it. As the lead hits the water, after first stopping the revolving spool to avoid over runs, the angler then releases line feeling for the lead to hit bottom. When the lead is felt to “touch down”, more line is released to create a large bow in the line and to pull the wired lead deep into the seabed and anchor it.
The distance needed to cast and the amount of line to release depends on the speed of the passing tide. At times of reduced tidal run and in shallow water, a cast of only 25yds is enough and releasing upto 20yds of line. In depths over 75′, then casting upto 45yds and releasing over 30yds of line may be needed to get the lead to anchor.
BITE DETECTION AND STRIKING
When the lead grips and the bow in the line is fully taught, the rod tip is bent over to the pull of the tide. Bites are seen, first as a series of “nods” on the tip, followed by the whole rod tip pulling over and then springing back straight as the lead is pulled free by the taking fish.
To hit the bites successfully, you must first take in all that slack line. Pick up the rod and lower the tip to the horizontal whilst winding in line at the same time. As the line starts to come tight and you can feel the weight of the fish for the first time, just lift the tip of the rod towards the vertical to fully make sure the hook has found a solid hold.
Invariably, almost all the cod caught on the uptide tactic will be hooked against the static lead, but sometimes, a hook point will find solid bone and gristle and fail to sink past the barb. The striking sequence makes sure of that.
The best fishing occurs, like shore fishing, when the main run of flood and ebb tide is rushing past. Bites drop away towards slack water.
Neap tides, even on the boats are not the reliable and fewer fish are inshore and feeding during the neap tide cycles. Spring tides, especially those coming up to the highest springs are the best for fishing. All the better is the big tides coincide with a period of rougher weather that is just settling down.
Use the Ford Motor Company principle, “You can use any bait as long as it’s worm!”. Black and blow lug are excellent. But the black needs to have the guts left in and should not have been gutted for full effectiveness. Use a bait a good 9″ long, but a 6lber will easily take a full foot of worm without any problem.
King ragworm is not as good as lug, but does catch fish. The bigger 12″ plus worms are better than the smaller ones as they carry much more juice and scent.
Tipping off with squid, or making a combination bait of lug, rag, razorfish will also score. Other baits are really last resorts and should be used as such.
Where most anglers drop a clanger is in the amount of bait they buy and use. They buy too little trying to save money, yet the trip it’self has cost a minimum of 15 these days. An extra 5 for more bait so that you can use big 9″ baits will double your catch at the end of the day and balance the figures between trip expenses and fish for the freezer.
RODS AND REELS
Uptide rods are not all the same, even though they carry the name. Some are as short as 9′, while others are 10′ to 10′ 6″. Because an uptide rod needs a soft tip to both get the best casting action from a limited style of casting ie, a short overhead stroke from a pitching deck, and allow the tip to pull over into the tide and give to the pull and swing of the boat at anchor without ripping the lead free. Ideally, you should be considering rods between 9’6″ and 10′ to get the best action.
Another important point is that the rod must have a powerful butt and lower section with which power can be applied to drag big fish back towards you against the tide. Many are too soft in the action and fail to master heavy fish.
Only one multiplier stands out in the pack when it comes to uptide reels. That’s the ABU 7000 series. It casts well, is strong in the gears and has a line capacity of 300 yds of 18lb line. The other one to consider is the Daiwa SL30.
You can use a fixed spool for uptiding, too. The best bet is to go for a large capacity reel to maximize retrieve ratio and casting performance.
THE UPTIDE RIGS
Only one type of rig needs to be considered for codding. The long and low fixed paternoster.
Use 3′ of 50lb mono and tie a Mustad oval split ring to one end. Tight behind the split ring you can either tie in a blood loop for hook length connection, or use a bead trapped swivel. The swivel is preferable and does go towards limiting line twist and tangles. Use a strong rolling swivel to at the top of the rig body to complete.
The hook length needs to be 30lb to 50lb line, depending on the size of fish expect and the ground you’re fishing over. Hook lengths can vary between 4′ and 8′. It can make a difference on the day. The shorter hook length is better towards slack water periods, with the longer trace used during the peak flood and ebb periods. Hang the baited hooks on the wires of the lead for safer casting.
Two hook pennel rigs are the only real choice for all uptide cod fishing. The following one is a good presentation system.
Tie a 9″ long loop using two granny knots at the end of the hook trace. Slide a large 5mm bead onto the loop and upto the knot. Add a Mustad Viking 79510 hook with the turned down eye, then knot the loop a second time with another single granny knot roughly half way up the loop. Now push the loop through the eye of a Viking 79515 which has a straight eye, passing the hook point through the loop and then pull all tight. The top hook having the turned down eye can now be pushed into the top of the bait when it’s threaded up the leading hook and the loop and lies straight in line with the bait, rather than being angled out as other pennel construction systems tend to do.
Leads patterns can be important. In average tide conditions a normal release wired lead between 5-6oz will hold with enough line out. There is an advantage in using leads with a longer tail than normal as these pull into the seabed deeper and do not twist sideways so easily when the tail gets buried.
For very fast tides, use leads with fixed wires coming from the nose it’self. These are called Sputniks after their resemblance to the first satellites. The wires need to come forwards in a straight line for a couple of inches, then be bent up at a right angle and then bent again at another right angle to form the grip.
UPTIDE COD TIPS
Cod have soft tissue around the mouth and hooks can tear free should a cod be lifted aboard by the trace. Take your time and ask the skipper to net the fish for you to guarantee the catch.
Cod sometimes lift off the seabed during slack water periods and bites die. Try removing the lower hook length and clipping on a sliding swivel on the leader between the rig and main line to leader knot.