Herring are one of my favourite fish to catch while ultra light fishing. When targeted with an appropriately light setup these little fish will fight furiously and truly give you an appreciation for their speed and explosive power. It’s very common for a herring to literally jump out the water mid fight.
They can be caught in abundance, make for good eating , can be used as bait and provide great sport when using ultra light gear.
Herring Profile and Facts
- There are around 200 different species of herring. That said there are three that are usually caught for food. They are Atlantic, Pacific and Araucanian herring.
- The size of herring typically depends on the species.
- Herring can school in immense numbers (due to their schooling nature once a fish is hooked it is very likely you will catch many more).
- They feed on copepods, krill and small fish!
- They are a fragile fish with large and delicate gill surfaces, and their large scales strip away easily with little contact (minimum and gentle handling is essential when practicing catch and release).
How to catch herring
Herring are an extremely easy fish to catch. The hardest part is finding the shoal, but once you’ve found the fish you’re likely to hook into fish every cast and quickly fill up your bag.
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The sabiki rig
Cheap, resuable and extremely effective. Realistically this is all you need to be successful at herring fishing and as a bonus these pre tied rigs will not just catch herring, they are deadly to all sorts of species of fish. A must have in any anglers tackle bag.
As I fish ultra light with a rod that’s only capable of casting upto 7 grams. I will not use a heavier sinker with this rig.
So I will often cut off the weight link at the bottom and use a 3g to 4g dropshot weight instead.
There are a few ways this rig can be fished , including casting out with a slow retrieve and gentle twitches or dropped straight over the side and jigging up and down at various depths.
The downside of the sabiki is also one of it’s greatest strengths, they are super effective at catching multiple fish every cast!
For me this is a problem as herring are a fragile fish and I tend to only fish for what I need/will use and due to herrings low survivability rate the humble sabiki causes a strange canundram for me personally. They are just too effeciant at catching fish!!!!
So genuinely I will use a sabiki to find the fish at the start of a season and once they are located I will switch to a single hook method to slow my catch rate down and add some longevity and sport to my fishing session.
The split shot rig
If the herring are feeding close to the bottom and I want to slow down my catch rate I will switch to this rig.
A small split shot weight, with a size 12 hook and a small section of isome worm. I will cast out and slowly twitch and retrieve.
Small paddle tail lure
I find this a more rewarding and skillful way to catch herring. Working a jig head and a small paddle tail lure at various depths, speeds and movement patterns amongst the shoal to temp a herring.
Drop shot rig
A simple two hook dropshot rig and isome worm proves deadly for herring. Typically it is advisable to start fishing with the first hook around 2 feet off the bottom and the second hook between 4 or 5 feet up off the bottom.
Then using the dropshot weight to vary the depth until you find where the fish are feeding.
Ovbioulsly this can be fished as a standard single hook dropshot. I tend to use two hooks at the start of the session (if i’m not using a sabiki ) then switch to one hook once I have found the fish.
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