Bait and Tackle for Catching Eels
Undoubtedly the best bait for eels in general is the lobworm, but it should be remembered that such a bait will also attract the smaller eels (and small fish of all kinds). Naturally if you are after real specimens you do not want to be bothered with small fry. Therefore you should select a bait that is too much of a mouthful for the smaller eels to manage, for example part (or whole if it is very small) of a small dead fish, which would be a
ROACH, RUDD, BLEAK, Or GUDGEON. Some anglers employ sprats for this purpose but they are not always obtainable. In the Thames, whole dead BLEAK are real killers.
Whether you use the whole fish or half at a time, make sure that the hook is well buried. A baiting needle is a great help as it enables you to draw the hook length through the body and out the other end, drawing the hook well in.
Particularly large lobworms, pieces of meat, or offal have also proved to be good eel bait.
The tackle for normal eel fishing should be a stout rod of theor pike- type and a line around 4.5 kg (10 lb) of monofil nylon. Hooks can be the usual black-japanned, eyed type, or a good forged pattern around No. 4 in size. A pierced bullet or barrel lead should be run up the line and a link-spring attached to the end.
Mount your hooks to monofil of about 22 cm (9 ins) in length and of slightly less breaking strain than your line. Make sure your knots are good (have as few knots as possible). Use a half-blood knot with at least six turns to attach the hook to the monofil and a figure-of-eight knot for the loop at the other end. For this class of fishing, most anglers like to watch; a cork float or once known as the Fishing Gazette pattern ranging from 2.5-3.5 cm (1-1+ ins) is popular.
The use of a swivel when fishing for eels is essential, not only to counteract anyfrom the fish itself, but to assist in the easy removal of the hook, especially if you are after the big ones. If a plain swivel is used, attach this to the reel line with a half-blood knot, pass the loop of the hook length through the other end, and pull tight, as you would when putting a hook to nylon on your looped line.
Choice of a reel is important. You can use a fixed-spool type, but I think a good centre-pin not less than 10 cm (4 ins) in diameter is preferable. This gives much better control over a hard-fighting eel. Fill it well with line in order to get as quick a recovery as possible.
If you want to catch outsize eels, then you must use tackle of ample strength. An ideal outfit is a good, stout pike rod or light sea rod of 2.7-3 m (9-10 ft). The line should be not less than 9 kg (20 lb) monofil. Hooks should be of good-quality forged pattern, mounted to stout nylon. Some anglers use wire, such as Alasticum, which is non-corrosive. A reminder : do not forget to use a swivel.