Wednesday, June 23, 2010

How to catch a cod

Cod is the largest of the Cod family; defined by having a single barbule under the chin. There are two clearly defined types of cod in waters of Atlantic Europe - the yellow cod and the red cod. Both are true cod; the only difference is that the yellow cod migrates between Arctic waters and Europe annually, while the red cod remains there for an indeterminate period of time.

Cod is also the number one target for anglers. Every angler who has ever caught a cod, even a small one, has felt a certain satisfaction. Although  not renowned for their fighting  qualities, good cod have a tendency when hooked to use their sheer body weight and bucket-sized mouths to hold against the tide, giving  the angler  the feeling of being snagged on something other than the bottom. Cod are often called the dustbins of the sea, because some of the items removed from the stomachs of gutted cod are almost unbelievable. Large stones, squashed beer and mineral cans, plastic cups and even empty shotgun cartridges. Cod have an enormous appetite and will eat almost anything in the sea.

Top baits for cod are peeler crab, lugworm,  ragworm, razor fish, shrimps, squid, sprats, herring, pounting, sand eel and mackerel. A cocktail of any of these baits will also prove successful. Every angler that I know has a favourite bait and tactic for catching cod and no two seem to be exactly the same.

Artificial lures are also an excellent way of catching cod with red gills, jelly worms and hokkais the most effective. But the chrome-finished pirk is the most successful of all, especially over wrecks and offshore reefs. The first of these pirk-type lures were invented by scandinavian fishermen for catching cod, ling and pollack. They comprised simply of shiny lead covered with hooks, known as ripper. There are now thousands of pirks on the market, in many different shapes and sizes.

Homemade pirks are also very effective and are much cheaper than shop bought ones. Cheap pirks are needed if you are fishing over rough ground or on wrecks where tackle losses will be quite high. You pirk must be on or near the bottom in order to catch cod, as they a bottom-feeding species. The shape of their mouth, with top lip protruding over bottom lip, allows them to hoover their meals off the bottom.

 The pirk is simple enough to use; it is attached to the strong main line via a good quality swivel and then dropped over the side and allowed to sink to the bottom. Once it hits the bottom it is retrieved it two or three turns. The angler then begins the sink and draw movement by lifting the rod tip up in the air and dropping it again; thins movement is continued until a cod is caught - it’s a simple as that. A baited pirk  will usually be more successful than an unbaited one.

White and blue feathers are also pretty good for catching cod.
The flowing trace setup used to catch pollack will also prove very effective  for catching cod. although heavier mono should be used on the flowing trace as cod will wear down the mono faster than a pollack would.

Remember not to put more than two or at most three hooks per trace; cod are a shoal fish and three good cod on a trace at any time will take some sort of miracle to get them to the surface.

The above methods are among the best for catching cod, provided they are in conjunction with large baits and large hooks and fished  as close to the bottom as possible. And of course, the cod need to be there and playing ball:-)

Good luck!


  1. 4/5ft running ledger rig with a pennel. size 6/0 to 8/0. biggish baits, couple of squid or whole cuttle. dont go to light. i use 60lb minimum but regulary go upto a 100lb if theres alot of conger about.
    fishing heavy end gear doesnt put the cod of, and when hooked you dont want them to come of. ive seen alot of cod lost to poor end tackle, normaly fishing to light. big cod have big teeth! do you use crab lures

  2. Cod fishing often means using big baits, so it's a good idea to carry a selection of hooks with you at all times..!!

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