The original uptide rig stems from the early 1970s when uptide casting was first making an impact on cod catches in the Thames Estuary. It was pioneered by the famous charter skippers John Rawle and Bob Cox.
John and Bob realised that, due to the shallow nature of the Thames Estuary banks and channels, noise generated from the tide passing either side of the hull and from people walking about on deck, reduced catches. To avoid this ‘scare zone’ they hit on the idea of casting away from the boat… and uptiding was born. As uptide casting developed, it was also found that you could fish with much less lead and lighter tackle and, by casting away from the boat, a greater area was being fished, helping to increase catches even further by forming a larger scent field.
The fish targeted were cod, bass, rays, smoothounds and tope. All these are fish that hunt the majority of their food on the sea bed. This dictated that uptiding rigs needed to have long, flowing traces and fish the bait on the bottom. The original rig was a simple sliding leger but, over time, the fixed uptide rig became more popular because it self-hooks better than the sliding version.
How it works
Both the original sliding leger rig and this fixed uptide rig use a flowing trace to present the bait hard on the sea bed where the fishhunt. This is especially effective the faster the tide run is, because fish will stay tight to the sea bed where the tide flow is lessened. This seabed presentation also appeals to a wide variety of species, making the rig multi-purpose. The main advantage of this rig over a traditional sliding leger setup is that when a fish takes the bait, it invariably does so from a downtide direction after following the bait’s scent trail uptide. As it picks up the bait, it turns back with the tide to expend less energy. With the hooklength securely crimped to the rig body and just above the lead link, when the fish turns downtide, it comes up hard against the lead weight. This action of lifting the lead weight out helps the cod, or other fish type, self-hook. That said, it still pays to wind in the slack line until you feel the weight of the fish, then lift the rod upwards to fully make sure the hook is set.
The long, flowing trace helps add some natural movement to the bait, but also gives freedom for fish to fully take the bait before feeling the lead weight. Longer traces of 48 inches or more are also best when fishing shallower, clear water because it separates the weight from the bait and avoids spooking any potentially shy fish. When uptide fishing you still need to use a shockleader for casting safety! This should be from a minimum of 50lb mono. Because of the big bow of line created when uptide casting, the rig side of the leader will be in contact with the sea bed. The shockleader then gives some insurance against potential abrasion, but also offers added strength when a big fish is up on the surface near the boat and you’re fighting it against a fast running tide. If the water is very dirty, such as in the Bristol Channel or Thames Estuary, then a brightly coloured yellow or orange leader is a good choice – because this shows you where the fish is when it approaches the surface, helping the crew to land a big fish. The leader should be about 15 feet long for a normal 9ft 6in uptiding rod, which allows enough length for the knot between the main line and leader to be on the spool should you find yourself with a big fish held at the side or stern of the boat waiting to be landed.
Scroll down to see how an Uptide Rig should sit in the water...