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Targeting Wrasse

Roscoe Dolbear. SFL teamer.


Wrasse are now one of the uk’s staple fish for lure fishing. Widely targeted all over the uk, especially down in the south west, with Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly being particularly good ground for them. My name is Roscoe, I am 16 and based on St Mary’s, the biggest island of the Isles of Scilly. I enjoy wrasse lure fishing particularly throughout the summer months, the fish are all over the place, it’s shorts and t-shirt weather and even blanking can be good fun as it’s still an excuse to get out in the sun. But once it’s winter the smaller wrasse move to deeper water offshore, leaving behind mostly just the bigger fish. This is my brief guide towards targeting specifically the larger ballan wrasse.


In terms of rods, a medium light lure rod rated around 7-28g give or take a few grams is optimum, length wise I like a shorter rod than what would typically be used for bass or pollock fishing, anything under 8ft is perfect, my chosen rod is the Majorcraft Ceana, it is rated 7-35g and has a length of 7ft 6” which in my eyes is the perfect rod for bigger wrasse. Having landed wrasse on it to over 7lbs last year (2023) and not being massively expensive I think it would be worth a look if getting into this side of lure fishing.

The Majorcraft Ceana, clearly had a lot of good use!


When choosing a setup I tend to spend more on the reel than the rod, not only because there’s not much that looks better than a new shiny reel, but also as there is more to go wrong, the saying “get what you pay for” is rather prominent when it comes to fishing equipment and reels are essentially your motor, you won’t land a fish without one, so it is important to choose carefully, wrasse fishing can involve a lot of hard and sharp rocks so making sure your gear can handle it is paramount. I have used several reels in the past for wrasse, and I currently on the shimano stradic 2500, for my bigger wrasse I have this spooled with 37lb spiderwire, it’s thin diameter for its lb-test means the heavier weight rating does not make a huge difference in casting ability, and has been the difference between not losing fish and losing them. On the end I have 47lb nomura fluorocarbon, this may sound incredibly heavy but when you look at the teeth on wrasse, you may see why I choose to go quite so heavy, this mixed with the rough ground I fish I think it makes sense.

There are two main rigs I use for the wrasse, they are the Texas and Cheberuska rigs, described below.


The first of the two is known as the Texas rig, originated in Texas (believe it or not) for targeting largemouth bass. It is a completely weedless rig and is very versatile. The rig is essentially a free running cone/bullet weight infront of an offset hook, this rig is perfect for fishing shallow weedy ground where you want to slowly present a lure on, or just above the bottom. 

A Texas rig using a tungsten SFL 14g bullet weight, available on the website


The cheberuska rig or Cheb rig, as it’s more commonly referred to as is a brilliant invention, it comes from Russia and is named after a 70s cartoon due to the shape of the weight looking much like the character in the programme. The Cheb rig is  similar to the Texas in the sense there is a weight infront of the lure, but it is directly attached to the lure, giving a better feel of exactly where the lure is, this is very helpful for fishing the ground wrasse live amongst, it also means that when you flick the lure it comes down with the weight, rather than slowly coming down behind the weight as it would a Texas rig.

This beautiful Ballan was taken on a Cheb rigged Zman TRD crawz.


When it comes to tackle, I use weights between 7 and 14 grams depending on the ground and wind/tide etc (stronger wind and tide means heavier weight), hooks wise for the majority of my wrassing I’ll use hooks between size 2 and 3/0, depending on the size of target fish, but for the bigger fish I tend to use 1/0 up to even 4/0 depending on the thickness of the lure. it is important to note that thinner gauge hooks will bend out on wrasse due to their tough mouths and hard fights, so like reels and braid, good quality hooks are a necessity to get the most out your wrasse fishing.


There is no point in fishing somewhere if the target species is not present, it is important to know where and when to fish. To begin with, most of the marks I fish for wrasse are quite shallow, being less than 10 meters in depth.

I use the Navionics Chartviewer to determine the ground and depth of marks, this is a mark I fish often, you can see close in the water is less than 10-16m in depth, at high tide.

When looking for a wrasse mark I look for a few things in particular, the first, and most important in my opinion being the amount and type of weed in the area. Too much and it will make difficult fishing, especially if it is floating on the surface. Too little and there will not be a habitat for the wrasse to hide in to ambush small passing shellfish and baitfish. Secondly I think if the water is murky the wrasse can sometimes be shy to hit lures, if they even see them at all. Generally speaking if it’s been raining a lot, and has been windy this will make most shallow sandy marks essentially un-fishable as it picks up the sediment on the bottom creating a very murky environment. On days like this I try and find deep, rocky marks as the clarity will be better here.

An example of a “rocky” mark

 Another thing to take into consideration while wrasse fishing is what the tide is doing. Like with a lot of species, I have found wrasse fishing to be more productive on the flood tide, however on some marks I fish, such as a certain beach the beach goes inland some way, and at high tide wrasse can be caught off the beach itself, however as the tide drops I have found wrasse will move with it, past the rocks at the very end. so at this mark in particular for example wrasse are definitely a target at all states of tide. I also believe that on some days, the tide can be the biggest factor while wrasse fishing, for example back in November I had my best wrasse session of 2023, I wrote about it below.. 

The Zman TRD crawz were brilliant on that day.

We’d had a couple of days with no rain and little wind and the sun came out on the Sunday so I decided to hit one of the shallower marks I kne of, it’s just a beach behind the harbour wall with a few boulders and lots of sea lettuce and patches of bladderwrack making an ideal wrasse environment, with the tide having been flooding already for an hour I decided it’s probably worth a go. I started off fishing just before low tide, casting in amongst the boulders with a Texas rigged Keitech 2.8” crazy flapper, and second cast I hooked an only small, but beautifully coloured wrasse. 

A stunning, yet small winter ballan on a keitech crazy flapper.

Happy it wasn’t a blank I moved along, changing lure to a Zman TRD craw in black n blue- a personal favourite colour for wrasse. Nothing for about 10 minutes but once the tide started picking up and flooding in the hits kept coming, I cast over a bed of seaweed and slowly bounced the lure back, just as I got past the weed i paused, the lure got absolutely smashed by something, stripped some line and spat the hook, looking at my rig I realised the lure was gone!, so I put on another zman, this time in green pumpkin and cast back into the weed, again something hit it, only small taps at first but then I hooked it, thinking I was snagged at first it then turned itself around and was just a constant, non-stop fighting fish. I could tell this was something bigger as the big wrasse tend to just pull hard with constant head shakes, whereas the smaller ones are more erratic. I managed to get the fish to turn around, just before getting into the snags. As it got closer I could see the deep red of the flank of the fish, this was a big wrasse, possibly my biggest off the shore that year! I reached for my net and managed to just land it. I let it rest in the net in the water while I set up my camera, I had my unhooking mat setup and so I collected the net, brought it to the mat and just took in how much bigger it was than I thought. It went 52cm on the dot. My longest wrasse of the year on the shore. I was ecstatic and after a few photos I released it back to fight another day.

 Proper Wrasse, 52cm and well over 4 1/2lbs.

Extremely happy and also relieved I got to land it I re-tied, my leader had been scuffed from the hard rocks I was fishing amongst and now knowing the size of the fish here I didn’t want to risk losing any. I continued fishing right up until high tide and for an hour after, in that time I landed 12 more wrasse, most of which were mid 40cm wrasse, and I even landed another 52cm! This time being bright green. The fishing was reasonably consistent throughout the whole afternoon but once the tide stopped flooding it almost completely died off, I only landed one more in the hour after high tide. I think that shows how tide can be a big factor in wrasse fishing. This could be due to the fact that as the tide floods, it fills any previously empty gaps between the rocks with water, and this essentially acts as a buffet for the wrasse, they’ll come and scavenge amongst the rocks for any small shellfish and gobies which make up a large part of their food supply.

I hope you enjoyed my guide and I cannot emphasise enough how much I enjoy wrasse fishing, it is the species that got me into lure fishing and I am very happy with the fish I have landed, this year the target is a 6lb+ ballan from the shore and thankfully streetfishinglondon have plenty of brilliant lures in stock which will be a massive help! Please check out both mine and SFL’s instagrams which are listed below. Thanks again for reading! 

Here are 6 wrasse showcasing the wide variety of colourations they can be!

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1 comment

1 Comment

May 22

Very informative

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