I was recently asked about ‘must have’ pieces of tackle and which are those items that would see me reaching for the Kleenex if ever they were discontinued. If I were washed up on a desert island (or more likely Portland) I’d be delighted to see a box of these bits floating past! I may also need a rod and reel but this is a short article!

I have to admit to being Kamasan’s number one fan! Take the humble B940, I remember using these on my rigs in 1987 as a clueless but enthusiastic 7 year old and they’ve had a place in my box ever since! Consistently sharp and lightweight, the standard pattern in a size 2 appears on all of my Chesil rigs used to target smaller fish. The wire is strong enough that should a bonus, double figure ray ambush a small bait, I still have every confidence in seeing it flap up the beach.

A range of Kamasan hooks are Ben's go to options

When targeting bigger fish on my local Dorset coast, very often a modest sized bait fished at greater range produces better results than huge offerings dropped short. 

For that reason, I like the short shank range as they offer greater strength than the standard version and are perfect for presenting modest size fish and crab baits for Rays, hounds, bass, etc.

A well protruding short shank hook will be strong enough for most species

All of my Multiplier work sees me reach for Varivas yellow sport every time. I’ve tried nearly every line imaginable and can honestly say this has never ever let me down. 

The bright colour is perfect at night with the .30 and .33 covering all my Chesil needs. If I’m casting from rock marks it’s the .38 or .40 whilst to bother wrasse and eels the 30lb could raise the nets of the Magiris.

Varivas Yellow Sport has become Ben's favoured line

I’m the sort of sad individual that gets incredibly excited about mundane items such as bait elastic!  If there is anything better than Tronix Pro Baitex, Ive not found it yet. This stuff is revolutionary, the difference in presentation between this and the very best standard elastics is staggering. It’s like it dissolves into the bait and cannot be seen. Good presentation in clear water is vital and this really has been as important to me as the latest rod or reel. The thinnest strain covers all but the very biggest of baits and the beauty is you can put so much of it on without even seeing it.

Another product that I have used seemingly since birth is clear Amnesia snood line. I can hear the purists screaming at their tablets as I write this but for most applications that don’t require a huge deal of finesse, I cannot think of a more perfect product! If I had £5 for every time a new memory free line that’s actually not memory free at all appeared on the market, I’d probably be able to afford parking in the newly metered Abbotsbury car park for at least an hour! Seriously though, not many lines can withstand constant dogfish and pout attacks without very quickly resembling a strand of frizzy hair. I also love it for rig bodies. It’s a stiff material which has the added bonus of stretchiness. After a few fish when your snoods no longer match up to your clips, a quick pull on the rig body and hey presto they fit again! Clearly, it’s not for targeting Golden Greys or Garfish from gin clear water but for 80% of my fishing it’s brilliant.

A prime brace of Chesil cod for Ben

Yes, it’s fiddly and time consuming but I’m a power gum stop knot lover! It’s tighter than most things used to trap sequins so that your bait remains where it should be after a long cast. During spider crab season, one cast can be the lifespan of a lovingly constructed rig made with crimps. 

Power gum gets around this issue if you use two knots under the top snood otherwise it will slip during a cast causing hooks to come unclipped. Many brands on the market unravel after moving several times, 14lbs Drenann in any colour does not, it’s awesome!

Ben secures his multi hook rigs with powergum rather than crimps

Despite a plethora of baiting tools on the market my preference for whipping nice, neat baits is a good old fashioned bait needle laid alongside a strip of mackerel, chunk of crab or whatever I may be using. A good friend recently showed me a carbon fibre version from Trident Tackle which has eliminated my collection of now banana shaped wire ones which would bend if you so much as brushed against them. These new ones are rigid and make the job much, much easier!

You can get these bait needles by clicking here.

For someone who finds the game of cricket about as interesting as Brexit, I buy a fair few bat grips! VMO sell pre-cut strips of a fantastic octopus type material that offers tremendous grip on a wet multiplier spool. The unique quality of these is that they do not burn the line and at the end of a session your spool is not flecked with streaks of melted rubber as you can get with old school inner tube. The other great and hugely important factor is that they come in a variety of cool colours like shocking pink!

With the demise of many larger fish locally, one that seems to be thriving is the various species of Ray. I now spend much more time targeting these which means I do go through a fair amount of frozen Sandeel through the course of a year. For me, there is only one way to store eels on a beach, inside a wide mouthed metal food flask. I take them out one at a time and the flask sits on top of an ice block in a small but trusty Coleman cool box. I can fish a whole day knowing my last bait will be as frozen solid as the first. Frankly, I’d rather be elsewhere than fish a session with even partially defrosted sandeels, I just have no confidence in them at all. Once home the empty flask lives in the freezer, so it is cold for next time and doesn’t stink the place out! Just make sure you unscrew the lid first!!

My final must have is a Petzl Duo S headlamp. Whilst the price point is scary, it is worth every penny especially when landing fish or lighting up my area whilst casting. I owned its predecessor the Ultra for 9 years and apart from my large swede stretching the headband a little it was faultless. If cavers trust Petzl to accompany them deep underground with a foot of space above their head, then they are good enough for me! 

A lovely blonde ray for Ben Stockley
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