Freshwater rod fishing rules

4. Tackle you can use

There are rules on how many rods you can use at a time, and the types of lures, bait, nets and weights.

Read the local byelaws for your region.

Fishing rods

The number of rods you can use at the same time depends on the water you’re fishing in and the fish you’re trying to catch.

You must make sure that the distance between the butts of the outermost rods isn’t more than 3 metres when fishing with multiple rods and lines.

It’s illegal to leave a rod and line in the water unattended or over which you don’t have sufficient control.

Lures, bait and tackle

In England and Wales you must not:

  • use crayfish as bait
  • use another fish you’ve taken as bait unless you’re doing so on the same waters where you caught it
  • keep fish you’ve foul hooked (caught with a hook puncturing anywhere but the fish’s mouth or throat) - these must be returned alive
  • use a gaff (a pole with a large hook at the end) or a tailer (a loop of cable or wire at the end of a pole)

Before 16 June you can only use artificial lure and artificial fly to fish for salmon, which must be returned unharmed to the water.

Dispose of your tackle safely to avoid harm to wildlife.

Lead weights

You can only use lead weights if they’re .06 grams or less or more than 28.35 grams. This means lead shot weights from size 14 to size 8 and lead weights over 1 ounce.

Lead is toxic to birds, so if you’re using lead dust shot make sure the containers are spill proof.

Keepnets, keepsacks and landing nets

Keepnets must:

  • have no knotted meshes or meshes of metallic material
  • have holes smaller than 25mm
  • be more than 2 metres long
  • have supporting rings or frames less than 40cm apart and more than 120cm in circumference

A keepsack must be:

  • made from a soft, dark coloured, non-abrasive and water permeable fabric
  • at least 120cm by 90cm if rectangular
  • at least 150cm by 30cm by 40cm if used with a frame
  • used to hold no more than one fish at a time

Landing nets

You can’t use a landing net with any meshes that are knotted or made of metallic material.