None of the wrasse are considered as a food fish so catch and release is the way to go.
There is confusion however because the male and female have different markings. The male is the more showy, having iridescent green and gold wavy lines on his head. They show especially well in sunlight.
You will learn to hold it from the underside.
The largest of the British Wrasses the Ballan can show a bewildering range of colouration from lime green, through various shades of brown, to dark purple with white spots.
Ballan wrasse ( Labrus bergylta )
A juvenile Ballan Wrasse
Ballan Wrasse showing typical spots
It has spines in the dorsal fin so handle carefully. The British record for Ballan Wrasse fish stands at 9lb 1oz. Larger wrasse are quite happy to take fish strip, squid or sandeel, a livebait, or a lure, smaller fish tend to go for worm baits, especially ragworm.
Cuckoo Wrasse female (Labrus mixtus)
Cuckoo Wrasse male (Labrus mixtus)
there is also the Rainbow Wrasse to be added when ( if ? ) I catch one to photograph....
updated jan 2022
Cuckoo Wrasse added 04/07/11
Baillon's Wrasse added 14/08/11
Rock Cook Wrasse* added 18/08/12
* found a photo of one I caught back in 2005
to be continued.