Barbaric multiple-hook rig setup is legal and can be bought online

This gruesome device is the latest tool being used by poachers on waters across the UK ¬ yet they are perfectly legal and available on the internet for less than £1 each.

Shockingly, the rigs, which feature up to six barbed hooks attached to a single link swivel via short hooklinks, are only illegal to catch coarse fish in just one of the Environmental Agency’s 12 regions when used in conjunction with a rod and line.

This unbelievable legal loophole means that poachers have been using the barbaric set-up to devastating effect, with the rig making their ‘work’ easier because they can take multiple fish at a time.

The rigs are available to buy via a well-known internet auction site for just 80p each, advertised as ‘River fishing six in one hook rigs’. They work by holding a ball of groundbait at its centre to attract fish into taking the many baited hooks.

Fishery manager Martin Cronin can testify to the effectiveness of the devices ¬ he recently caught a gang of East Asian men using them on his Hendre Fishery near Cardiff.

“We’ve been seeing them more and more around this area,” Martin told Angling Times. “The last one confiscated was from a group of Chinese guys fishing my water.

“One of them was pulling in a bream which had one hook in its mouth and one in its eye. But these people don’t care about the damage these rigs do to the fish when they wrench them out of the water because they kill them as soon as they get them to the bank, anyway.

“I can’t believe they’re being sold legally, let alone that they are perfectly legal to fish with. They should be banned because they’re bought for just one thing ¬ illegally hauling out fish as quickly as possible.” Angling Times spoke to the Environment Agency about the use of these rigs, with a spokesman for the agency commenting: ”This tackle would be illegal to use in our Thames Region as there is a byelaw that prohibits the use of more than three hooks. However, elsewhere in the country there is no specific prohibition in byelaw if it was attached to a rod and line.

“If it was attached to a rod and line and used to cast over salmon or sea trout it would also be illegal as this is ‘stroke hauling’. This is essentially salmon poaching using a rod and line to ‘snag’ a fish rather than legally catch it.”