How To Fish The Cape Cod Canal


When it comes to catching fish on canals, there are many successful methods beyond the pole. Even if you do own a quality long pole, there are advantages to using a rod and reel from time to time. It allows you to sneak into tighter swims and avoid cluttering busy towpaths. You have fewer accessories and less fuss than a typical pole fishing session, making it easier to travel light and reach distant areas. Last but not least, the rod and reel approach is less likely to spook your quarry when the canal runs very clear and fish don’t appreciate a pole tip waving over their heads.

For most canal fishing, the waggler is the most useful float. Attached bottom-end only, it is also easy to avoid floating debris and surface tow by putting the rod tip under the water and giving it a couple of pulls after you’ve cast out.

How To Fish The Cape Cod Canal Photo Gallery


Fine-tipped insert wagglers or tapered ‘canal specials’ are ideal for canal fishing, providing sensitivity for shy biters such as roach and skimmers. These should always be dotted down as far as possible so you can see only a minimum of the bright tip. Thicker models are useful for larger baits and difficult conditions, whether made of modern materials or quill. Float adaptors are also a must (as seen at the base of the first float on the left on the picture) which allow you to change floats in seconds without breaking tackle down. I prefer the versions with swivels, which also help you hook fish by collapsing on the strike.

A few golden rules keep waggler fishing smooth and avoid hassle. The first is always to lock the float in place with at least two-thirds of the shot required to cock the float (so a waggler taking 3BB should have at least a weight of 2BB right by the base of the float). This helps to avoid tangles. The rest of the weight can be either ‘strung’ evenly to give a slow fall of the bait, or bulked together to reach the bottom quickly, with just a couple of much smaller shot between bulk and hook.

Another good rule is to select a float that you can cast comfortably to the distance required. If you have to force the cast, you’re more likely to tangle or miscast. Sometimes a slightly larger float gives better control when there is breeze or tow on the water.

A quality reel line is a must for smooth casting. Modern lines have low diameters, making even a 4-5lb mono capable of sending out quite a delicate float. Tackle strength will vary according to species however. A 2^-3lb reel line would be adequate for roach and rudd, but for carp you might go as high as 10lb.

Rods are a trickier area for canals, since the market is now flooded with ‘power’ or carp models designed to fish overstocked puddles. These are fine for targeting big fish, but a far better tool for traditional canal species is a light match rod. A shorter model, down to as little as 10ft, can also be useful and I have even used light lure rods to fish a small waggler.

The waggler is a great method for canals, and with far less gear required than pole fishing you can change locations quicker if need be.

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