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One of the most common questions I get asked is "what kind of rod and reel do you need to fish the heavy ground of the East Neuk",and many expect that the answer will cost them many hundreds of pounds.This need not be the case.
 
Firstly,the type of rod is generally a beach rod of 13ft or so,combined with either a multiplier reel,or a fixed spool reel.
 
The biggest problem that your chosen rod and reel will encounter is not necessarily the size of the fish,but the kelp and rocks that you will be fishing into.The vast majority of the marks will be 'rough ground' and be a mixture of kelp,rocks,reefs and skellies.This is not a problem if you are prepared for it for one thing,and be prepared to lose some tackle for another.
 
A lot also depends on whether you are fishing a pier or rock mark,and common sense really will tell you the difference between the two as far as the problems you will encounter are concerned.From rock marks you will be low down to the water and so whenever you try to retrieve,you will be pulling through kelp and rocks for the most of the distance of your cast.This is easily countered by shortening your casts when fishing low water marks,and using a stiffer rod which will give you more power to pull your rig or fish through the jungle of kelp.
 
On the other hand,fishing a pier gives you more height and therefore a more steep angle with your line in relation to the water which will mean your rig or fish will be in clear water much quicker.With this in mind you can use a softer rod,and cast further.
 
The amount of money you can spend on tackle is pretty ridiculous really if you go for the top of the range rods and reels,but suitable set-ups can be bought in a vast array of names and styles for prices to suit most pockets.
 
At the top end are rods such as ZZiplex,Connoflex, Century, Greys etc,which will cost you from 200 or so,to 400 or more.
 
At the opposite end of the scale you have rods such as Leeda,Ron Thompson,Fladen etc,which will set you back less than 30,but of course will be less well made,less strong,less able to handle differing situations,but will catch fish,and will be fine for beginners and youngsters if used within their capabilities.
 
Personally I'd suggest chosing something in the middle ground with makers such as Daiwa, Penn, Abu, Shakespeare, Shimano and others producing rods from 50ish to 130ish,which will be very well suited to fishing any situation you'll find in this area,and will last you for many years if you treat them with a little bit of care and attention.
 
There are literally hundreds of rods on the market and many new anglers can become bogged down in the minefield of advice given on what is the perfect rod for any situation. I'd prefer to say to people getting into angling,just to look around and see what you can afford firstly.Identify two or three rods that you think might be worthwhile and then try to read any reviews of each rod,and more importantly try to speak to anyone who has one or has had one.make your own choice based on what information you can gain,and then buy and try it. The very best way to find out what rod will suit you in the longrun,is to use the one you can afford for a year or more.Find out what it can do and can't do in your own hands.Find out how you can cast it,how it handles fish,how it shows bites,how it handles high winds,rough seas,how it handles getting snagged up.Only by gaining this experience of any rod,will you be able to eventually realise what you personally need from a rod,and then,and only then,will you be able to choose the ideal rod for your usage.
 
For the East Neuk,as a general rule though,you are looking to use a rod likely 13ft long or so,in conjunction with either a fixed spool reel or multiplier reel.
 
If you want to try for smaller species without casting into the kelp, lighter rods like bass rods, flounder rods, spinning rods and surprising freshwater carp rods are ideal and should be matched with lighter line and smaller reels.
 
Choices of reels as with rods,is virtually endless,but basic types are probably two-fold.There are fixed spool reels and multiplier reels.

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Fixed spools,as the name suggests,has a fixed spool of line at right angles to the rod,on which the line is wound via a bale arm which rotates around the reel.This is also known as a spinning reel and is likely the type of reel that most people will have encountered at the start of their fishing experience.They come in various sizes,usually denoted by the numbers 020,030,040,050,060,070,080,which are just a guide to their size from small to large.To fish for cod and wrasse in the East Neuk you need a reel able to hold probably 150 metres or so of 30lb or 35lb line.This would be the 070 and 080.Manufacturers again are many and varied,and expect to pay in the teens of s for the bottom range,to well over a hundred for the top range. As with rods,there is a middle range of probably 30 to 80 which will be very able to give years of good usage if treated correctly. The useful thing with fixed spools are that they can be used with no specific technique to start with,"out of the box",as they say,but as you gain experience you'll find out by yourself that your technique will develop with time which will improve your casting and general ability to get the most out of it.
 
Multiplier reels have the spool in line with the rod,and therefore work more like a winch. The engineering of a multiplier reel is probably more important than a fixed spool and therfore cheaper models will be very much inferior to the top brands,and probably not last very long. With that in mind you will likely need to spend between 70 to 150 or so for a suitable multiplier,but it will be well made and last you for years with the correct maintainace. Probably the downside of a multi reel is that it does require a technique to cast it,and this can take a wee bit to master. The spool of a multiplier revolves very quickly during casting and it's very important for you to keep this under control by using your thumb on the revolving spool,not allowing it to spin faster than the line is going out,resulting in a "birds nest",which is a tangle of line. Saying that though,modern multipliers do come with magnetic brakes and centrifugal brakes,and are not as difficult to use as some anglers might lead you to believe. The only way to learn to use a multi is to own one,simple as that.Use it,learn it's ins and outs,and for the first wee while,carry a fixed spool as well.This way of you do get a problem,you can still fish.Within a few weeks you'll be using it with few problems.
 
Very important to remember though is that multiplier reels to be used for casting have differences to those made to use from a boat.Be very specific when buying your first one to make sure that it's the beach casting type you get.
 
When fishing for smaller species on softer ground or with floats,try to match the size of the reel with the type of rod. For instance a 12 foot carp rod ,bass rod or flounder rod, should be matched with a reel to suit. A 040 or 050 fixed spool ,or a baitcasting multiplier, which is just a smaller style of multiplier ideal for spinning and light rod work.