Millions of anglers take part in some sort of angling regularly up and down the UK targeting all sorts of species on various rods, rigs and with various tactics.

There are many different species of freshwater fish swimming in UK waters but the majority are placed into two sections which are “coarse fish” and “game fish”.

Commonly, targeting game fish is done with fly fishing techniques or flowing waters which some anglers believe is a superior, more challenging and rewarding style of fishing when placed against the standard fishing techniques used for coarse angling.

A lot of new anglers they don’t really know the difference between these two classifications of angling in the UK so that’s what I’m going to discuss today.

So, what is the difference between game and coarse fishing?

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  • What is the difference between game and coarse fishing?

    There are a lot of differences between game and coarse fishing in terms of the species that you will be targeting, the methods in which you’ll be targeting them and also usually differences in the type of waters that you will be fishing for each time.

    In the most basic terms possible, the main difference between these types of fishing is that game fishing is referred to fishing for a species that is commonly eaten as a food source.

    This includes trout and salmon species that are an extremely common food source up and down the UK.

    Game fish are all Salmonidaeso you could also classify game fishing as fishing for any salmonids family in the UK.

    Coarse fishing, on the other hand, is usually done by catch and release, and the types of fish that you will be catching are mostly classed as unedible or at least not desired.

    Due to this, coarse fishing has a much larger bracket of potential fish you can catch as it basically refers to any fish species not commonly consumed and out of the Salmonidae family.

    Let’s take a look at each angling to give you a detailed picture of the differences between the two.

    Coarse Fishing

    What is the difference between game and coarse fishing - angler coarse fishing set up

    As I mentioned above, coarse angling is fishing for any species that is not commonly consumed and generally any species that does not fall into the Salmonidae species.

    This includes the following fish that are commonly fished for:

    • Species of Carp 
    • Bream
    • Barbel
    • Dace
    • Chub
    • Roach
    • Rudd
    • Perch
    • Pike

    This is a list of the most commonly caught coarse fish, but there are other species.

    Coarse fishing is usually done with a conventional bait caster reel and rod using bottom fishing techniques such as the method feeder, float fishing set-up that suspends baits in the water column or even by spinners or lures for predatory coarse fish like the perch and pike.

    Although these fish are not commonly eaten today there are still some anglers who consume the likes of perch, pike and sometimes even carp.

    Carp were commonly consumed as a food source centuries ago but, over the years, have slowly faded out of the food chain and are now only commonly caught as a sport on a catch-and-release basis.

    Coarse fishing can be done in various places including, ponds, lakes lochs, streams, rivers and canals.

    As it is such as popular hobby, there are many commercial fisheries up and down the UK that stock quantities of these fish for anglers pleasure.

    The most common coarse fish to target is the carp as it grows to extremely large sizes, sometimes over 30lbs, and puts up a tremendous fight once caught.

    There are also a lot of methods and techniques for catching these fish which makes it a challenging and rewarding pass time.

    Game Fishing

    What is the difference between game and coarse fishing - angler game fishing on river

    Game fishing, as I mentioned before, is fishing for species of fish that are commonly consumed in the family, which happen to fall into the Salmonidae speies.

    These include:

    • Species of Trout
    • Species of Salmon
    • Grayling
    • Char

    These Salmonids are categorised by a small extra fin that they have between the dorsal and tail-fins.

    Trout and Salmon are a common food source in the UK but you don’t often hear of people consuming Grayling or any type of Char they are still in fact classed as game fish.

    Typically, game fishing is done by specialised flying fishing rods and lines with imitation fly patterns that are tried to mimic the prey of these predatory fish or any waterborne insects that they naturally consume in the water column.

    Fly fishing for these fish is seen as a far more active style of fishing as you’re constantly casting, retrieving and reading the water and conditions to decide which fly pattern will give you the best chance of landing a fish.

    A lot of the time, game fishing is done in picturesque rivers or streams, especially in Scotland, where you can find some of the best locations for salmon fishing in the world.

    As well as the coarse fishing commercial fisheries that you find up and down the country there are also plenty of still-water trout venues a lot of which are fly fishing only; however, some of these will allow bait or spinner fishing in certain ponds.

    That’s All

    The main difference between coarse and game fishing is the fact that game fish are more commonly consumed and are part of the Salmonidae species.

    Coarse fish, on the other hand, are viewed as inedible and are only very rarely caught for consumption. The vast majority of coarse fishing is catch and release.

    Often, game fish are targetted by fly fishing methods and coarse species are usually targetted with specialised baits or even spinners or lures when fishing for predatory coarse fish such as the perch or pike.

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