Alan Stevens Sea

A study In Light.

A radical approach to glow in the dark tackle that seriously improves catch rates

Back in November I was watching an old episode of Only Fools And Horses – the one where Del Boy had acquired some cheap paint and was busy decorating a range of things from the kitchen of his local Chinese restaurant to his mums grave. It was all going so well until the evening, when as you may recall, everyone found out that he had bought tins of bright yellow glow in the dark paint. Brilliant comedy. I have seen this episode so many times but in this instance I had a light bulb moment which has become my world for the past winter months. 

Let me explain; nothing makes me happier than fishing beaches in the dark. I love the closeness to nature, the solitude and time to think and drift into my own mind under the stars with minimal interference from human activity. I don’t want to talk, read or be seen. I just want to be detached from normal life. 

For me, the enemy of night fishing is light. It dulls the senses, reduces awareness to simply what is lit up and for me at least makes the whole experience rather false and manufactured. Fishing under lights is like being at a theme park. Nothing is real. I respect the guys who fish with an array of lights to illuminate their area that would power a small town but that just isn’t me. Sure I have a seriously good head torch, but I use this for transporting my copious volumes of gear to and from the beach. Once set up I work hard to minimise light as much as possible.

The downside of my approach of course is seeing what you are doing. Specifically, casting and retrieving in darkness using multipliers adds a degree of challenge which I have always found somewhat annoying. This dear readers, is what I have found a way to solve which has supercharged my catch rates on top.

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Shop bought glow weights lack light emission but still work, even suckering this micro-flounder

I have always used glow in the dark pop up beads and luminous sabikis to improve catch rates, especially when water clarity is good, but found that shop bought luminous weights are really poor in holding the glow. I wanted to try brightly lit up weights for two reasons – firstly to add more attraction to my terminal tackle for sight driven predatory fish and secondly, to help tracking the cast and retrieve saving my night vision by not using torches. On top of this, I intended to paint two of my rod tips to eliminate the need to illuminate the rods, or, as had been the case for me for some time, attach a couple of kids party glow sticks for each session.

Extensive internet searches kept coming back to a single stand out paint – spacebars glow in the dark paint. It comes in bright green and bright aqua (blue) so I bought a pot of each. This paint isn’t cheap I warn you, but an outstanding quality product.

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Once in possession of my chemicals of magic light I set to work painting a variety of weights, some with the blue and some with green paint.

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The same with my rods – the trusted Cinnettic Continental rods which I have been totally in love with for the past year. I chose these as they give a wonderful combination of being able to launch 6 oz plus large baits whilst retaining superb sensitivity to bites yet have absolutely no wind vibration. 

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Taking advice from the keyboard warrior fans of the paint I gave my weights a coat or two of plain white paint first to cover the dark metal than preceded to carefully paint the weights and rod tips with four coats of the glow paints. Lesson one was to keep the paint colours and partially painted weights separate as they both look remarkably similar under normal light and remembering which had been coated with blue or green meant me diving in and out of the under stair cupboard to see what colour glowed in darkness.

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Job done I left the weights to dry over night and it was at this moment when, turning off the lights to retire to bed I found that tiny speckles of paint had attached themselves to the table, chairs, door handles and pretty much everything I had been in contact with that evening. Lesson two – do the painting outside. On the bright side (sorry) at least I knew that this past was seriously good at it’s job

24-hours later and I was ready to trial my new toys. The two rods were set up an hour before darkness to allow the painted rod tips to absorb the last of the sun’s rays and my painted weights were laid out similarly. My plan was to use two identical three hook flappers but with one set up using glow in the dark beads and one of my painted weights. The other terminal tackle had no light enhancement and a plain weight. Both set ups had identical baits so my aim was to test the impact of light one way or the other.

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As dusk appeared I was deflated as it seemed that my paint was useless and I began fumbling for my lanterns and head torch. However, as the final effects of daylight past and true darkness arrived my kit lit up way beyond my expectations. This paint is seriously good. Firstly the green paint exploded into light, followed by the blue which is more subtle and required much darker conditions to be as effective.

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Casting was so much easier with the glow weight, resembling a firework easily tracked by sight to the water – in fact much easier than in daylight – enabling me to control my mag 4 multiplier perfectly for maximum distance and control. On retrieve it was the same, being able to pick out the weight 20-yards from shore with ease. I was over the moon, fishing in almost complete darkness with the soft glow of my rod tips being the only thing preventing my eyesight becoming totally dominated by the billions of stars and glowing moon above my silent bubble. It seemed to be working fine.

Over time the weights in my tackle box began to diminish in light, so I put them inside my seatbox with one of my lamps switched on, charging the weights energy back up for me to switch weights periodically ensuring maximum glow was in play at all times. This wasn’t ideal as opening the seatbox to access the weights diminished my night vision. Lesson three – I should have listened to the advice of a friend who told me I would need a UV light.

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One duly arrived before my next session which is amazing at recharging the luminous weights without impacting on night vision at all. All is good

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So the most important thing is of course – does it help me to catch more fish. Well I can say, as it stands, absolutely YES. Firstly the handling/casting/precision of placing baits where you want them is greatly enhanced when you can so easily track the weight when casting. Glow weights take all the guesswork out of where you cast to at night. Secondly, I have found that in clear water conditions, glow terminal tackle increases the catch rates when fishing for sole, whiting, bass, flounder and dabs. On my first trial the glow tackle caught three times as many fish as the conventional set up. In more cloudy water the results narrowed as I guess the fish were feeding by taste rather than sight. To date I have found no adverse reaction from the fish to the presence of light.

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I have been using these weights for four months now. The rod tips retain the glow and the paint has not flaked at all. The weights however lost some paint due to abrasion with the seabed. Lesson four – coat the painted weights with clear varnish.

So am I a convert to luminescence, absolutely. In fact, I am out using this method at the moment this blog is published. I have also acquired some luminous soft plastic lures for the 2022 bass season. Fingers crossed and I hope to blog about them soon

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