Lets start putting things all together to improve our angling let’s get onto bait presentation, again we've looked at hook lengths and tidal currents and we have glossed over what venues to fish, So the next natural step is to look at the actual bait how it's put together and presented and what rigs to use...
Obviously different venues have different challenges like snaggy ground, or distance to cover to get your bait where they really need to be.
As so many rays are now coming into our shores let’s focus on a couple of ray baits. With presentation you would ideally want you baits neat and narrow due to the size of the rays mouths which is great if we need to punch a bait out a long way as we can keep it streamlined and lighter two sand eels bait elasticated together is a great bait if too many other species are pinching one san eel on its own and then chopping of the heads just by the gill plate and the tails as well lets out plenty of scent and also in turn stops any spinning of the bait when you come to reel it in saving any tangles with your rigs.
Small eyed ray
With ray species the main object we need to achieve is to keep the bait hard on the sea bed and have enough hook length to allow the ray to easily take the bait, it has to be longer due to the way rays take bait and the way the rays anatomy is also made. When rays find the bait they tend to then move over it and chomp on it which at the rod tip translates to the rod tip normally bending over slowly and stead but don’t strike straight away wait for the second dip make sure the ray has the bait in the mouth for a good hook up. A good average and common hook length is around 30 inches (2 1/2 ft.) enough room for the ray to sit and take the bait and not too long that it takes the bait without you knowing about it and I would use a 3/0 hook size.
So let’s look at rigs… If you're fishing snaggy grounds most anglers will opt for the pulley rig which is the most suitable as it snags less and get the sinker quickly up off the floor and keeps it in front of the fish which keeps it clear of obstacles bringing fish an tackle home.
With any rigs for rays I personally tend to use a single hook one its easier for unhooking rays should it be taken deeper and is a lot friendlier for the fish and two there is less chance of your hooks snagging up whilst out there.
If its mixed to clean ground I would look for a rig that presents the bait in a much better fashion than the pulley rig so either a running ledger style or an up and over rig for a longer trace and more distance or my personal favourite a pulley dropper rig as I find it keeps the bait harder on the floor and gives off a good presentation no matter which way the currents are pulling it as the rig allows itself to adjust which in turn keeps the presentation perfect, again I would only use a single 3/0 hook. I find Pennels are not really needed and again save a lot of time when unhooking fish should it be taken deeper than normal.
So some good types of bait to use would be narrow strips of Bluey or Mackerel, Sand eel, Squid or combo baits of all mentioned paired up and kept neat and narrow and not forgetting to snip off the head and tails of sand eels or other fish baits. So its short and simple this month time to start putting it all together and hit the beaches so tight lines and good luck!