Mullet Fishing: Additional Tackle Notes

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Some additional updates regarding tackle and baits:

  • Of the bread types most readily available at convenience stores and garages, the characteristics of Kingsmill soft white seem to have improved over recent times, and this is now the first choice as a hook bait. Not only does it stay on the hook well, but also presents appealingly. When pinched lightly, it still has a tendency to float. Mothers Pride also stays on well, and when pinched, tends to sink, even though it outwardly remains 'fluffy' - this offers advantages when not fishing the bait on the surface. I've noticed that Mothers Pride becomes very crumbly if it loses even a small amount of its moisture, which renders it useless as hook bait, so it needs to be protected from drying out. As an alternative hook bait, Warburtons is OK, too. In more recent times, Hovis white seems to have become very 'pasty', and is no longer my first choice, although still a reasonable fallback option

  • Kingsmill 50/50 is also a very good alternative hook bait, despite the fact it's not white

  • Kingsmill white is also OK for groundbait, as is Sainsbury's 'Fresh For Longer', and also their 'economy' brand; both of the last two crumb up very well and seems to lose their 'doughiness' quite quickly; I most often use the 'economy' loaf

  • For long casting, some tiger bread crust with the flake still attached is excellent, and softens quickly in the water (thanks to expert carp angler MarkF for this valuable tip)

  • Although I like to fish light, there are times when you need a large float to cast distances - a Drennan Middy Splash 'Em 10g is a good example

  • In 2018, I started using Drennan micro-barbed Wide Gape Specialist hooks, to enable the use of palomar knots throughout. Of the hooks I've previously tried, Preston Innovations PR355 barbed spade-end match hooks in sizes 8, 10, and 12 have proven 100% reliable, although there will always be 'hook pulls', whatever hooks you choose

  • For the main line, absolute knot reliability and abrasion resistance are probably the primary considerations, especially when fish frequent locations with pontoons, mooring lines and other snags. Any line of moderate diameter which casts easily and is not prone to unwanted knotting, tangling and overspill will suffice, and each angler will have their own favourite

  • I'm unconvinced that line colour makes much difference, but diameter is certainly important. In the past, I had been using Drennan 'double strength' main line 'straight through' and achieved good results, but there are several other very good low-diameter alternatives available. Fluorocarbon leaders are worth a try, if a floating line is not needed; some Mucilin will help these lines to float, if need be. Since the latter part of 2014, I've been using 4lb / 0.20mm Drennan flourocarbon fly leader, which has worked very well, and has good knotting properties (although I've avoided 4.4lb / 0.17mm Supplex, which has a tendency towards 'sharp shock' knot failure, in my experience)

  • A critically important factor is knot reliability, and if a 'straight through' setup is not being used, I would recommend a palomar knot to connect the hook, the leader to a swivel, and the swivel to the mainline. When tied correctly, the strength of the palomar appears to be superior to other knots that I've tried, under careful testing conducted at home. When tying the palomar, line crossover must be avoided; if tied incorrectly, a strong slow test-pull on the knot will cause it to fail with alarming ease, but if a controlled pull causes the line to start to cut into your fingers without a failure, then the knot is good. There are numerous videos on YouTube which demonstrate correct tying of the knot, emphasising and clarifying the need to avoid crossover

  • For a spade-end hook, a standard knot suitable for this hook type is perfectly adequate, although I don't use a hook tyer. Collective wisdom suggests that when finished, the line must come off the front of the spade, i.e. the inside of the hook bend. Again, there are numerous helpful videos on YouTube

  • The ABU 506 and 706 closed-face reels cope very well with being immersed in water and mud, although both the line pickup pin* and winding cup develop deep grooves caused by line abrasion. I've replaced the whole pickup pin ('injector') assembly a few times during each year, and I now have an improved solution since 2017 - 3mm x11mm hardened steel dowel pins can be obtained for just a few pounds via eBay from an outlet in China. Despite some unintentional mistreatment, these reels are still running smoothly. The placement of the drag adjustment knob on the handle is more convenient than having a rear-mounted drag adjuster, like that found on a Shimano. I would also say that the degree of adjustment on the ABU is finer, and the one-handed line release operation is a bonus. Lacking a bail arm, there's no 'clunk' on line pickup, just a quiet click. The line never seems to loop off the spool, as sometimes happens with other fixed spool reels, and I have had very few 'line' issues at all - that said, I never normally backwind, which undoubtedly helps. On final point - click here to see the warning that appears on the boxes that the reels came in

      * at the moment, in 2018, I'm experimenting with replacement pickup pins, avoiding the need to replace the whole assembly. I've managed to rotate and / or remove and reverse the worn pins, and I intend to use hardened steel dowels of the correct size as thereby avoiding the much greater cost and fuss of repeatedly replacing with original ABU Garcia parts
  • In contrast, I've totally trashed several Shimano match reels, including the Exage 300SRC (see below); these clearly don't respond at all well to the salt and silt of the mullet fishing environment. I really like using these, but although they still work, their formerly-silent operation has been replaced by a subtle grinding sound that just can't be good. I've stripped and rebuilt them, but I was unable to restore them to their former excellence; I may still have another go at fixing them - just how difficult can it be? Other than their distinct aversion to muddy water, these are excellent reels, and are a joy to use. During 2014, I almost exclusively used the Shimano XT-7 Aero Match Super, which is still performing well despite several horrendous dunkings

  • For 2017, I had added a Shimano Exage 3000SRC. I really liked the idea of the 'fighting drag', which seemed especially useful for mullet, which have a strong tendency to bolt suddenly and brutally, particularly towards pontoons and at the point of nettting. In use, I would definitely say that the additional control that this feature offered was key in executing a rapid and appropriate response in those circumstances. I've now replaced the Exage with the very similar Sahara 3000S-R, which has performed very well

  • I've been using a 24 inch triangular landing net since 2018 plus a 3m Drennan Super Specialist handle, which I very much recommend - this is light, rigid, and the twist lock allows the length to be set to whatever is most suitable - compressed, it's about 63 inches in length, excluding the spreader block and net. If kept moderately clean and free of accumulated silt, I would never expect any problems with this item, other than general wear and tear, over time. That said, for the moment, in 2020, I will be using an NGT 3m fibreglass twistlock handle, as the Drennan model has finally succumbed to years of use and abuse - the NGT handle is a very convenient 44.5 inches when compressed. Time will tell whether I continue with this arrangement. It's worth adding that a landing net float is also useful, to take the weight of the net until the mullet is 'ready'

  • When using self-cocking Drennan floats with a plug-in that provides the ring for the line and the weight, I always super-glue these in place, as they sometimes pull out on the cast, or on the strike, or when playing a fish. The plug-in will often break if it strikes an object when casting, resulting in the loss of the irreplaceable part of the float. A very good alternative is to construct some custom floats, as shown here

  • I keep any used night lights and paint these up to provide a variety of interchangeable float tips for different lighting conditions; the most useful colours for me seem to be fluorescent pink or yellow, black (some with white bands) and white

  • I drilled out some other floats and introduced a small rubber insert to accept night lights - these were invaluable in low light

  • There have been a couple of modifications to the bait bucket. The first was to add an anchor, as there have been far too many occasions when the bucket has floated away on an incoming tide while I've been overly occupied with a mullet. The second addition was a 'float caddy', so that I have a few float change options whilst away from the main tackle bag - it's proven a vast improvement over stuffing spare floats into pockets. More recently, I've added a mount for a thermometer, which is informative at the start and end of the season when water temperatures are 'borderline'

  • Until 2018, I didn't manage to catch any thinlips on the spinners, although they would repeatedly follow the lure right up to the bank; I had a couple of vicious takes in 2016, and again in 2017 - I thought I maybe needed to try varying the length of line between the lure and the hook. The bass would take the lure OK, even when using artificial ragworm on the hook at times when I had no fresh bait. I will also be trying out a larger size of spinner, as recommended by some of the articles that I've read. Finally, in 2018, I caught my first thinlip, using an artificial ragworm on a spinner that was closer to being a flounder spoon

    Last updated 25.07.20