Perch fishing set-ups, with UK Predator Champion Thom Hunt

Thom Hunt is the Captain of the Team England Lure Squad & an international competition angler. He founded an outdoors centre in Cornwall and works with Westin, the Scandanavian tackle company.

“If you’re just getting into perch fishing, keep it light” – says Thom.

“We’re going to go through rods, braid and a little bit about my absolute go-to beginners method, which is a jig head and a shad. This is the easiest way to fish.”

“There are a few key items in the following list. As long as you’ve got those, you’re good to go. You don’t need tons of stuff. One rod, a net and a handful of lures, and away you go…”

7ft is the most versatile length and 5-15g is the most versatile casting weight

7’ 5-15g – all rounder

7′ is the best all-round length for a perch rod. Rods shorter than that are a bit specialist and longer than that is getting into Pike territory or longer casting. A casting weight of 5 to 15g is my recommendation for versatility.

2-10g for small canal perch with tiny jig heads

“I typically use this for small perch on canals when I’m going really light on my jig heads, like 1-3g jig heads.”

“Most of your canal perch fishing is going to be for fish of 1-10 ounce. Soft lures of 2.5” or more is a cut-off point where you’re targeting pike too!”

7-21g for reservoir fishing

“There’s also a heavy version 7 to 21g which is more for my reservoir fishing.

“For an allrounder, the 5 to 15g can do everything from a bit of canal fishing (it’s maybe a touch heavy for canals but still in the ballpark), through to small-medium sized rivers. I can even do a bit of light reservoir stuff on this 5 to 15g. If you’re only looking for one rod, this is the one.”

Example rod: The Westin Finesse T&C: The Swiss Army Knife of Perch Fishing Rods

“The Weston finesse TNC stands for ‘Texas and Carolina’. This rod is what I call the Swiss army knife of perch fishing rods. As an International Tournament angler I love these rods because I can basically do anything on them.”

“For Perch and Zander, especially when fish soft plastic baits, you want a rod that has a fast, sensitive, responsive tip and the middle and butt sections remain almost straight. This creates a feel that is highly sensitive, and also allows the fastest reaction in terms of setting the hook after you feel the bite.”

So, what rod action do you reckon is best for perch?

“Fast action is desireable, but not ultra-fast.”

“The action (of the Westin T&C) is medium fast to fast action. They’re not ultra-fast, which is a bit of a trend these days, but they’re fast enough to have beautiful fish-playing action. They’re also mega sensitive and they’re brilliant all-round. I can fish a drop shot on this rod, a crankbait, a chatterbait, a soft plastic, a ned worm – I can do everything on the Finesse TNC.

“It comes in both W3 (around £99) and W6 versions (around £250) and the reason we’ve sold so many of the W3 is purely down to this action…. usually cheaper rods, due to the way they are made, amount of carbon content etc are a bit of the soft side, but even though the W3 is Westins budget range, the blank does not suffer and remains a true fast action so for the money it is exceptional. The W6 however, is even better, a slightly better/crisper action, slightly lighter and the balance is next level….. “

“Absolutely brilliant. Super lightweight, really comfortable handle, really nice detailing and it comes in at a price point which most people like.”

What size reel do you reach for when perch fishing at these competitions?

“Anything from a 1000 to a 2500 is absolutely perfect. They feel just right for your light canal small river stuff. 1000 or 1500 is fine, but if you want to fish the reservoirs or bigger rivers, maybe go up towards 2500.”

As an example, on my W6 in 5-15g I’ve got a 2500 size reel and it pairs up really nicely.

Do you have a favourite braid for perch fishing?

The braid I’ve got on there is the W6 eight-strand braid. Eight strand is super smooth and awesome this is about 25 quid. If you really want to splash out you go up to W10 premium. It’s 13-strand – the highest quality Japanese fibres. In general, I’d go for 0.08 wouldn’t go above 0.12mm.

What breaking strain braid for perch?

Thom says that 8-12lb is strong enough that he can land pike if accidentally hooked while targeting perch, but he focuses more on the details, like diametre of the line, when choosing braid.

“The one you want for general use is 0.08mm which is about 10ish pound. I wouldn’t go much thicker than 0.12mm.”

Why spending £25 on braid is necessary

“There’s probably a few guys out there saying oh but I’m a beginner I don’t want to lose my expensive lure that type of stuff so I’m going to put 25 or 30b braid on… I don’t recommend it because if you’re going to use jig heads as light as a few grams which is what a lot of perch fishing does it’s a bit like trying to fish a float with a 15b Mainline. So come down anywhere between 0.08 and 0.12mm millimeter for your thickness and in poundage terms anywhere between 8-15lb max but 8-12lb is about right.

“Braid is worth it because it’s what transmits the bite up through the rod. It’s really important to get a good quality one. £25 quid is worth spending.”

Watch your braid the way you watch a float…

“We don’t have floats in lure fishing, but you want to watch (your braid) like you watch a float.”

“You can get so much information. If you’ve got a nice thin braid, it doesn’t catch the wind too much. It cuts through the water, so you’re nice and direct with fish. If you’re around a shoal of bait fish, you’ll see tiny little jumps on the line where they’re kicking it and you know that there might be bait fish in the area.”

“Also, tiny bites – especially from zander or small perch – often don’t transmit all the way up the rod. Watching the braid like a hawk is key. Having a bright-coloured braid especially helps with bite detection.”

Leader should be about 1.5-2ft of fluorocarbon at 7lb for perch

Flourocarbon is less visible in the water and more abrasion-resistant. Braid is not suitable for tying direct to lures.

2 1/2 foot of fluorocarbon is fine for perch fishing. Anywhere between 5-10lb is about right for breaking strain. I think 7lb is a nice compromise.

Perch fishing made simple: bounce a 2.5-5g jig head on the bottom.

“Most of the time I’m using a 2.5 to 5g jig head. For beginners out there I’d be picking up some jig heads 2.5 to 5 gram jig heads. It’s a nice compromise weight because it gets you down into the water especially on rivers but doesn’t pick up too much weed and doesn’t get caught on too many rocks. You can still fish as deep as you need to for most situations.”

“I tend to use quite round jig heads because all I’m typically bouncing the soft plastic along the bottom to try and imitate a little bait fish or worm.”

But which soft plastic to rig on this jig head?

The best all-round soft plastic for perch is a little shad – it works for pike, perch and zander

“Soft plastics come in all different shapes and sizes and colors. It’s a mine field as a beginner! My absolute go-to is a simple 1 inch shad.

This is a Westin shadteez, one inch. It’s so so simple if you’re looking for an all-round soft plastic for pike fishing, a bit of zander and some perch fishing, and you just want to have one type of bait in your box then a little shad is absolutely brilliant.”

Flex in the tail is important

This is a 0.8 gram. The other thing you want to look for is a bit of flex in the tail. This is where the real action of your lure comes from. You’ll notice that on my jig heads here they’re all very soft because that tail action is what’s doing all the work. You want a nice heavy enough jig head to get you down into the water, but you want a really soft tail to give you some nice tail action.

How Spinners work and when to use them

Spinners are really good for casting out into deeper water. If you find a spot where you think there’s a few perch and maybe you’re getting some tiny little bites but they’re not committing to it then a spinner is also a really good option. It sends out a load of vibration and it’s a little bit heavier, so it gets you down into the water.

Other Essential Equipment

  • Net (you don’t need to go spending tons and tons of money but a nice lightweight rubber mesh net is going to be perfect for all situations. A rubber mesh net is a lot easier on the fish. It doesn’t strip off the slime)
  • Scissors for cutting braid
  • Pliers for removing hooks
  • Split ring pliers

“You don’t need to spend thousands and thousands on rod rests and seat boxes and all this type of stuff. You can just go fishing with a rod, reel, braid and a couple of lures and away you go.”

Cheers Thom for chatting with us, we appreciate it. And, for FISHMAG readers, thanks for reading.

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