The feeding habits of fish will always fascinate anglers. We learn many important things throughout our time spent on the shoreline but some of the most valuable are to do with what baits to use and when to use them. Different seasons call for different baits for different species but what if there was something else out there that could possibly give you an edge? Maybe something that tapped into the fishes’ natural feeding habits and triggered that extra bite or two?
I am, of course, talking about incorporating luminous light sources into your fishing. Luminescence is light not created by heat but by the reaction within chemicals. Many organisms in nature have evolved to use luminescence generated in their bodies (bioluminescence) to their advantage. Some deep sea creatures use these light sources as a way of communicating down in the cold abyss where no light reaches at all.
This is a great way to attract a mate or to deter predators by spooking them. Luminescence is also used by some fish for a much more sinister purpose, with certain species emitting light to attract smaller prey fish within striking range. One of the most famous for doing this is the anglerfish, which dangles a bioluminescent lure in front of its jaws, jiggling it about like a worm and entrancing any fish unlucky enough to fall for its trick and providing itself with an easy meal.
So let’s think about how bioluminescence could apply to our fishing in the UK – have you ever held a black light torch up to a lugworm? If you have, you would have noticed that they have a bright yellow covering on them, invisible to the naked human eye. This is visible to fish, however, and it triggers a feeding response. What if we could recreate this underwater light show and entice the fish to our hookbaits, giving ourselves a slight edge over those around us? Well, there are products on the market out there that can be used for just this purpose.
First of all, let’s look at isotopes. These are little plastic capsules that once cracked, mix together two chemicals that react to generate temporary luminescence. Don’t do what I did when I was eight years old though and try and crack them with your teeth or you will end up with a glow in the dark mouth! These have been used by anglers for many years (most notably as tip lights) but bear in mind that they are single use only (meaning that they’re useless once they have lost their light) which may be a drawback for you if you are concerned about your use of plastic. They can also be a nightmare to attach to your line as they cannot be fixed in place as easily as the next method I am going to discuss.
The best way I have found to add a bit of light above your hooks is to use one of the new rubber glow beads that are now on the market. There are many different brands out there but they each do the same thing, emitting light from a rubber bead, be it ball or stick-shaped. These luminescent rubber accessories are proving to be very popular with anglers. Not only are they good for enticing a bite in dark water, they work well as a normal attractant bead in the daylight, in much the same way as regular plastic beads used for fishing for plaice and other species. Also, as you thread them on your line over your hook they hold tight on the line making them the perfect bait stop too!
Having personally used glow beads for a while now, the first piece of advice I would offer would be to get a cheap black light torch. These can be readily found online (for example, from certain auction sites) and can often be had for under £5. A head torch will work but these UV light torches give your luminous bead a much greater charge with a quick 20 second burst before each cast. Once cast out, the glow on these beads will create a beacon of visual attraction to any fish swimming around the area.
Of course, these beads are no substitute for the best bait you can find but they do offer an extra dimension to your arsenal, one that could attract that inquisitive fish to your offering that may otherwise have missed it or not been interested.
Personally, my favourite species to use these for is sole. I have experimented in the past, using two rods side by side with the same baits and same rigs but fishing one with a couple of pink glow beads above the hook and found that the glow beads have produced more fish. Coincidence? Maybe. But since then, I have been using beads for sole and I’ve found that I have more confidence in my fishing when I do and my catch rate is consistent.
Other species that I have found these work especially well for are black bream (they love a bit of glow at night), plaice (I have found you can catch plaice at night by adding green glow beads to your trace) and bass, who seem to love a string of glowing beads above the hook.
Some of you may say this is all just a load of rubbish and these luminous accessories are just made to catch the anglers eye – my advice would be to give it a go before you knock it.
You have nothing to lose and now these summer species are turning up, once we are allowed back on the beaches why not try a bit of luminescence in your life? Get out there and light it up!