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raja naevus thumbnail pic, courtesy of Dr Ian Lawler BIM

Cuckoo Ray, Raja naevus

Irish Record Fish: 5.69 lbs 2.58 kgs
Caught: Antrim 1975
Boat Specimen: 4.5 lbs 2.04 kgs
Shore Specimen: 3 lbs  1.61 kgs
Photo Credit:

   Rafael Banon

Introduction: The Cuckoo Ray has matching swirling patterns on either wing. It does have some thorns, though not as many as the Thornback Ray, and although it is located all down the Altantic,  it seems from recent reports that you are most likely to encounter one fishing over sand banks in or around the Irish Sea.  This ranks alongside the Spotted Ray as our smallest ray. Thanks to Dr Ian Lawler of Bord Iascaight Mhara.  

Boat tactics: For something this small, a standard 20 lbs set-up is more than enough when fishing for them off a boat.  They are typically encountered on light gear when fishing shallow waters for other species, especially flatfish.  A wire trace is definitely overkill!  Most baits from ragworm up to fresh mackerel strip attached to nothing bigger than a 1/0 hook will work. The breaking strain for the trace line will be determined by the mark you are fishing but typically it can be as little as 10 lbs (4 kgs) or less depending on the mark.

Shore tactics: As with all rays, they seem to prefer calm conditions and will come into very shallow waters, especially in broad estuaries. Sandy beaches at either end of the Irish Sea offer your best chance.  A light beachcaster allied to a Bass multiplier reel will give you a more than a fighting chance against any Cuckoo Ray.