If you’re curious about the diverse and vibrant world of fishing in Scottish waters, you’ve come to the right place. In this article, we explore the various fishing techniques that are commonly employed in the bountiful waters of Scotland. From trawling and angling to creeling and longlining, discover the methods that have been perfected and passed down for generations, ensuring a successful and sustainable harvest of Scotland’s abundant marine resources.

What Fishing Techniques Are Commonly Used in Scottish Waters?

If you are planning a fishing trip to the beautiful waters of Scotland, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the various fishing techniques commonly used in the region. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced angler, understanding these different methods will not only enhance your overall fishing experience but also help you target specific fish species effectively. From longlining to spearfishing, there is an array of techniques for you to explore. So, let’s dive in and discover what awaits you in the Scottish waters!


Longlining is a popular fishing technique used in Scottish waters, especially for targeting deep-sea fish species. This method involves using a long mainline, sometimes stretching up to several miles, attached to which are numerous shorter lines, each equipped with baited hooks. The mainline is laid out horizontally across the water, allowing the hooks to sink to the desired depth. As the mainline is retrieved, the hooks catch fish along the way. Longlining is commonly practiced for catching fish like cod, haddock, halibut, and other bottom-dwelling species.


Trawling is another widely employed fishing technique in Scottish waters. This method involves dragging a large net, called a trawl, behind a boat. The trawl is designed to selectively catch fish by size or species, thanks to the inclusion of different mesh sizes in its construction. As the net is towed through the water, fish swimming in its path are swept up into the mesh, eventually being hauled onto the vessel. Trawling is used for targeting a variety of fish, such as herring, mackerel, cod, and various species of flatfish.


Gillnetting is a technique that employs a net made of vertical panels of monofilament or multifilament nylon. Scottish fishermen often use this method to target fish that swim into the net and become entangled in the mesh, primarily by their gills. Gillnets can be set at different depths and locations and are typically left in the water for specific durations. This method is employed for catching species such as salmon, sea trout, and even herring. It is crucial to note that gillnetting must be practiced responsibly to avoid incidental bycatch and to ensure sustainable fishing practices.


Seining is a technique commonly used in Scotland for targeting shoaling fish species in coastal areas. It involves deploying a large net, called a seine, around a group of fish and then drawing it tight to enclose the fish within. Seines can be either purse seines, which close like a drawstring purse, or Danish seines, which drag along the seabed. Seining is employed for catching fish like herring, pilchard, and sprat, as well as larger species like mackerel and bass. This method requires coordination and skilled maneuvering to successfully enclose and retrieve the catch.

Purse Seining

Purse seining is a specific type of seining technique where a large net is deployed around a shoal of fish and then closed at the bottom, forming a pouch or “purse.” This method enables fishermen to precisely target specific species or sizes of fish. Once the net is closed, it is then hauled aboard the vessel, trapping the catch inside. Purse seining is particularly popular for catching pelagic species like mackerel, herring, anchovies, and even tuna. It is an efficient and effective method when the fish are aggregated in large numbers.


Potting is a fishing technique that employs baited pots or traps to catch crustaceans, such as lobsters and crabs, as well as some bottom-dwelling fish species. The pots are typically made of wire mesh and placed strategically on the seabed or attached to ropes or lines suspended in the water column. Bait is used to attract the targeted species, enticing them to enter the pot through a small entrance. Once inside, the escape route is difficult for the crustaceans to find, resulting in a successful catch. Potting is a sustainable method that selectively harvests the desired species while minimizing bycatch.


Handlining is a traditional fishing technique that relies on a single fishing line with a baited hook and a weight. It is a straightforward and accessible method employed by both recreational and professional fishermen in Scottish waters. Handlining allows anglers to precisely control the depth and location of the bait, increasing the chances of attracting specific fish species. This technique is particularly well-suited for targeting species like cod, mackerel, and pollack, among others. It offers a more personal and hands-on fishing experience, providing a direct connection between the angler and the fish.


Jigging is a technique that involves using a specialized lure, called a jig, which is rapidly moved up and down through the water. This motion mimics the swimming or darting action of prey, attracting predatory fish to strike. Jigs come in various shapes, sizes, and colors and can be worked at different depths to target different fish species. Jigging is a versatile method used in Scottish waters to catch a wide range of fish, such as cod, haddock, pollock, and coalfish. It requires a dynamic and active approach, making it an exciting and engaging fishing technique.


Trolling is a popular technique used in both freshwater and saltwater fishing. It involves towing a baited line behind a moving boat, allowing anglers to cover a larger area and present the bait to a wider range of fish. Trolling is commonly used for targeting pelagic species, such as salmon, trout, tuna, and even marlin. The speed of the boat determines the depth at which the bait is presented, allowing anglers to adjust their approach to the target species. Trolling can be a productive and thrilling method, as it offers the opportunity to entice fast and powerful fish into striking.


Spearfishing is an ancient fishing technique that requires divers to hunt fish underwater using a spear or a similar device. This method allows for a more intimate and immersive fishing experience, as anglers must actively spot, approach, and target fish while submerged. Spearfishing is practiced in various forms, including free diving (without the use of breathing apparatus) or using underwater breathing apparatus such as scuba gear. In Scottish waters, spearfishing can be a challenging yet rewarding technique, offering the opportunity to catch species like bass, mullet, and even large flatfish.

In conclusion, Scottish waters offer a diverse range of fishing techniques to cater to different preferences and target various species. Whether you prefer the excitement of trawling, the precision of handlining, or the immersive experience of spearfishing, there is a technique that will suit your angling style. Remember to always practice responsible and sustainable fishing practices, respecting the marine environment and the species you encounter. So, pack your fishing gear, set sail to the picturesque Scottish waters, and embark on an unforgettable fishing adventure!

By anglinginscotland.com

I am anglinginscotland.com, and I am here to take you on an unforgettable fishing adventure in the stunning country of Scotland. With an immense passion for angling, I have dedicated myself to providing you with a comprehensive resource for all things fishing in Scotland. Immerse yourself in the breathtaking beauty of Scotland's pristine waters, from tranquil lochs to rugged coastlines. As an experienced angler or a novice seeking thrill, my website offers a wealth of information on diverse fishing locations and even top-notch accommodations to enhance your overall experience. Let me help you unleash the thrill of angling and make your fishing dreams come true.