Match fishing – an obsessional pass time?

There is a phrase, “the more you put in, the more you get” match fishing has many types of angler. During my time fishing matches over the years I’ve met anglers from all walks of life. Yes its a fantastic hobby, we all know that, It gets you out the house in all types of weather and health and wellbeing benefits are well known.

Match anglers are all different, some are happy to fish with a few mates on the local pond with a competitive edge and then on to the anglers where fishing competitively completely dominates their life. But is this also a good thing and can pressurised match fishing actually be bad for your wellbeing? I must admit during the first Covid lockdown when we were allowed to pleasure fish I really enjoyed the whole experience. I always though pleasure fishing was a bit boring. But since then I’ve done more of it, no pressure to do well in a match and risk the mickey being taken out of you when the match hasn’t got well. Pleasure fishing is deafinitely good for your wellbeing but I’m not so sure the same can be applied to match fishing.

Chasing the big money

There are various types of match angler ranging from the once a week Sunday angler to the top tackle company sponsored anglers. Many of these companies positively promote their sponsored anglers on their social media channels promoting their goods and many of these anglers are also very active personally on social media which has become part of the job these days. Many chase the big money qualifiers but it must be remembered for many, this is their job. Lets be fair anyone can enter one of these big qualifiers but chasing the dream is really only possible for these types of angler. They have the time to do it, time for all the tackle prep the know how and expenses covered, but for the average joe the odds of actually winning the final are virtually nil. If you have the time to practise on the venues, can afford the entrance fees, bait requirements and travelling expenses go for it. In reality even winning a qualifier is going to be hard. These top anglers are in the public domain and the cream of the crop, many are full time professional anglers but yes you can pay your money and fish against them. I don’t know another sport where this can happen. To compete with these anglers requires a great deal of dedication, skill and luck in the draw bag. Fishing qualifiers for these pro anglers really must be an obsession. They must spent hours on prep work so they have all bases covered.

Social media

We all like a good pat on the back when we do well and many younger anglers who have grown up with social media are heavily influenced by it. Many posting on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram their latest match results and then counting the ‘likes’ and comments they receive. Many hoping a good run of results will get their name some recognition and the possibility of a little sponsorship from the local float maker or tackle shop. This determination to succeed in my view can be great for some but for many others maybe not. We are not all the same. Personal circumstances for some anglers means they simply cannot afford the gallon caster for a shallow fishing in the summer in a 15 peg match where the winners only going to win £40.00 but if you have it on your bait tray you may bag up on F1’s and post your ‘win’ all over social media. In an attempt to raise your profile. Where as the ones with a few tins of corn or meat and a bag of pellets ‘just had a nice day’s fishing. Is this fair? Some fisheries now have bait limits which is a good idea but how many times have you had your bait tray been checked in a match? Never for me!

Fishing several times a week – good or bad?

Many older anglers now have move free time to go fishing often being semi retired from 55 and starting to take out their personal pensions. Often fishing several matches at the same venue week in week out. They become ‘venue experts’ knowing every peg like the back of their hand and the best methods and baits. This makes it difficult for the once a week angler to compete with them which can lead to disheartenment and not good for their well being . Some of these retired anglers have become brilliant anglers on these venues. They’ve put the hours in and reap the rewards. But is there more to life, fishing on the Saturday, the Sunday and maybe twice in the week. If you live on your own and you want to do it that’s fine. But if you have a family how do they feel? To fish several times a week must lead you to constantly think about fishing 24/7. Are they missing out on other pass times?

Thinking fishing 24/7

I only generally fish once a week being in full time employment and after the tackles gone got back in the garage from the last match I’m already thinking about next weekends match. My first job is checking what items of tackle are going to be needed. What I’ve used and need to replace either off eBay for small tackle items or off to the tackle shop. Tying up rigs, changing elastics etc. At least if I do it then I’ve got all week to sort it all out. Then the rest of the week before the match consists of checking the weather for Sunday, every day! researching the venue on the internet if I’ve not been there and watching hours of youtube video’s. Most evenings are spent pretending to watch TV with the Mrs when really I’m sat in the front room with my iPad all over whats app fishing groups, looking at 2nd hand fishing gear on eBay and facebook marketplace and reading about everybody’s match reports on their facebook and Instagram pages. Then the weekend comes and the Mrs mentions that we’re going out Saturday night and all I’m thinking what time are we home. I’ve got to get up early Sunday morning to get to the draw on time! Plus I’ve now got to fit in buying my fresh bait and preparing my pellets before we go out. So if all this sounds like you I guess your obsessed with fishing just like me.

Then for me there is the updating of this website, posting match reports, tackle reviews and other useful bites of information which I do all for free. Yes match fishing is obsessional, its in my DNA !!

Does this sound like you? Leave a reply below

The Angling Metric and Imperial Battle

Anglers really are a strange lot when it comes to the terminology we use when fishing. We frequently mix between metric or imperial units of measure all the time. With not a lot of match fishing happening at the moment I turned my thoughts on this, to create this latest blog post. It must be very confusing to the new comer to the sport! 

We commonly refer to poles being 13,14 and 16 metres long (metric), probably due to the fact that the Europeans starting using them long before us and we just adapted to using the same terminology. Yet when it comes to Rod’s we are happy being old school. Using 10, 12 and 13 foot match and feeder rods (imperial). Bomb/match cubes come various sizes, 15g-45g (metric) and using a heavier one will allow you to cast that extra 20 metres which does fit the same metric terminology yet we refer to them as 1/2oz and 1 oz leads (imperial) and so on.

This got me thinking, what else do we confuse the new comer too! Landing net poles are sold in metric in sizes but we go back to imperial with 3/8 male and female thread sizes to attach the landing net and then we keep in the imperial theme regarding the diameter for our landing nets in imperial. Often sold in 18-24 inch sizes. 

Then it gets even more confusing with anglers often saying they pole fished at 13 metres all day in 6 foot (imperial) of water feeding a pint (imperial) of maggots/caster and kilo’s (metric) of ground bait. All very confusing! Then when its comes to pellets we have 4mm, 6mm, 8mm and so on yet these are often sold by the pint (imperial) or by the kilo (metric) in larger bags. Fishing the running line doesn’t get any easier. Often fishing the feeder with 4-6lb (imperial) mainline with 0.10. 0.12, 0.14 (metric) bottoms etc. Again all confusing! Hooks are a different kettle of fish and sizes vary from manufacturer but that’s another story. Then when we come on to pole float these are sold in either grams and styl sizes using 0.3g (metric) etc silicone rubbers blah blah blah. 

We do however have a bit of uniformity when we tie our own pole rigs up having dropper shot spread 2 or 3 inches (imperial) apart from the bulk 18 inches (imperial) from the 4 or 6 inch (imperial) hook length but then when you buy the readymade pole rigs these go back to metric and are sold in 2 or 3 metre (metric) lengths. Now pole elastic’s are jumping on board and confuing us even more going from numbered grading to diameter. Confusing even more when many top kits have elastic rating up to 20 and then that shiny new elastic packet says 1.8mm etc.

When we come to match fishing we often weigh in with old school imperial lbs and oz’s while the bigger national contests seem to be going down the metric route now using digital scales. Hopefully getting the scales set correctly on metric in-between weighs. We’ve all been then, yeah. 

And there you have it. Just a light hearted observation between our use of metric and Imperial terminology and something to blog about during the current Covid lockdown when I’m unable to blog about my matches.

 We really are a lot of confused anglers. 

Make the best of Lockdown and get out and practice

Well there’s not much happening for us match anglers at the moment is there. But thank god we can still just pleasure fish. I haven’t had anything to blog about for ages. All anglers really do have a lot to thank the Angling Trust for getting the green light from the government allowing us to be still be able to go fishing. The angling Trust isn’t everyone’s cup of tea and the majority of anglers are not members of the trust but if it wasn’t for this great work they’ve done my mental health and wellbeing would be at an all time low. It least I can still get my weekly fishing fix staying within the guidelines and staying local. I consider my £3.00 subscription fee money well spent. 

Join them HERE

Some fishery’s remain open for pleasure sessions during this Lockdown and I’m lucky to have Manor Farm Leisure on my doorstop so I’ve taken my weekly pleasure fishing fix there in recent weeks. But other local fisheries such as Woodland View have closed allowing them to make fishery improvements for when they reopen. So this Lockdown period has seen all my Spring/Summer match preparation completed but It’s only pleasure sessions for me at the moment. 

A lot of match anglers say pleasure fishing isn’t the same as a match. This is true I miss the buzz of a match and meeting my angling mates at the draw but pleasure fishing really can be a benefit for when we can finally match fish.

It’s the time to practise different and styles and tactics. I fish matches where fishing the pole often dominates, setting up multiple top kits and leaving my set up feeder and waggler rods alone. During matches I’d sometimes throw out a rod for five minutes and then chuck it back up the bank returning to the pole when it’s not worked.  So during this 3rd lockdown I’ve left the pole in the bag and used my rods more often. I’ve had some good days catching a few fish even in the depths of winter. Using these rods for longer periods of time has been an education. Trying out different baits and set ups. In fact its been a pleasure to do so without the pressure of a match, just trying to catch a big weight as quickly as possible. I’ve taken my time, enjoyed my day and not had to worry about getting left behind in a match. I’ve actually really enjoyed my fishing trips. We all know angling is a great pass time but I’d not being taking the time to enjoy the other experiences fishing gives you. Pleasure fishing during this lockdown has shown me the different side of angling that I’d long forgotten. Taking the time to actually enjoy the fighting fish while playing it and then looking and enjoying the fish I’ve caught which has been a revelation. 

It’s the whole experience of the day I’ve enjoyed, from choosing my peg rather than drawing the normal no hoper. Taking the time to study my swim and deciding how I’m going to fish it. Rather than setting up all my kit in a rush before the ‘all in’  to the “one last cast” before I go home. 

In fact it really has been a pleasure to pleasure fish after focusing on my fishing matches for the last 20 odd years and I’ll be doing more of it going forward. 

Get your pole rigs organised

Where do we start with commercial poles rigs? What’s pole type float? Which line?, stotz’s or shots? What Shotting to use? What size hook length and what type of hook? Its all very confusing and you can get lost spending many hours watching Youtube clips from the Country’s leading matchman. There’s lots of content out there and I’ve spend hours watching and learning from these excellent video’s from the likes of Jamie Hughes, Des Shipp and the like. 

These anglers will run though all their float selections and shotting patterns, better than I could even do. So with this post I just explain how I organise my pole rigs in a way best suited to me. Giving me all the options I need.   

So there do you start. Well for a start as commercial venue match anglers we need to have pole rigs ready for all types of pegs we may draw. You can spend hours tying up rigs but I have condensed these into just two trays in my seatbox. These rigs cover 95% for my fishing and I carry close to 100 pole rigs in my seat box. I keep track of these by keeping a excel spreadsheet. This gives me a good overview as to what I have available and what I need to tie up.

Pole float choices are vast and I just use 10 pole float patterns now. I’ve returned to the readily available main brands of Preston innovations and Guru now after using handmade or hand assembled ones in recent years. The big tackle companies have really stepped up to the plate now regarding their pole float patterns and the days of poorly made, mass produced pole floats have long gone. The same can be said about pre-tied lengths and I’ve stopped tying my own now completely, just buying the Preston GPM’s and SFL ready tied ones and the Guru SLWG banned ready rigs for hard pellet fishing. The quality of these main branded pole floats and hook lengths are excellent. I read reports on social media as to them breaking easily but I think this is more down this anglers using unbalanced tackle and if used correctly there aren’t any problems. 

20cm Tray – (Preston Absolute box) This gives me the option of storing 28 winders of Guru Diamonds and Wire Pingers

Rig choices really depend to the weather, the time of year and what size/type of fish you are looking to catch. But to keep it easy for me all my long and short line summer carp rigs are tied up on 20cm winders using 0.19mm Guru N Gauge main line. Guru Wire Pingers for windy days because of their rugby ball shape and wire stem that gives good stability and for the short pole line my choice is Guru Diamond again tied up on 0.19mm mainline. The long glass stem and Diamond shape gives me the stability I’m looking for and the 1.7mm hollow tip also allows for large carp baits to be used. So all these summer carp pole floats are stored in just the one tray in my box ranging from 0.15g to 1.0g using the rule of 0.1g for each depth of water. This way I have all depths of water covered and if its a windy day I can cut down a heavier rig to aid presentation. For calm summer days with little wind and no tow I go to my 2nd tray where I have all sizes of the slim Preston Carp Pellet rigs tied up, again on 0.19mm mainline. The 2mm tip is ideal for supporting a large pellet. 

All these rigs are shotted with Preston Stotz’s because you can easily get no.11 stotz’s onto 0.19mm mainline and these can be moved up and down the line to adjust shotting patterns without damaging the line. Using an 0.19mm mainline means hook lengths can go up as high as 0.17mm in the height of summer. 

18cm Tray – (Preston Absolute Box) Stored on double winders I can get 60 rigs stored in the tray

My 2nd tray consists of all Preston innovations pole floats tied onto 18cm winders meaning I can get 60 rigs in the tray (Preston Absolute box) this has the bulk of my other rigs for F1’s, Silvers and winter Carp. Using the full range of Preston innovations commercial pole floats. F1 fine, Chianti’s, F1 Maggot, F1 Pellet, Carp Pellet, F1 Shallow, Dibbers, and Edge floats. One of the big advantages of returning to using the Preston pole floats was that they print the name of the float on to the body of the float. This just means selecting the right float on the day without having to rummage though my pole rigs is even easier. Sometimes the simple things are best! 

Apart from the Carp pellet and the Edge floats which are tied on 0.19mm mainline I drop the mainline diameter to 0.15mm for the F1 Pellets and F1 Maggots which are a better option when visiting venues holding small Carp or F1’s as hook lengths go from 0.13mm to 11mm. but I step up to 0.17mm for the shallow rigs as it’s more durable and leads to less tangles when slapping.

In the depths of winter when bite detection is harder I drop the mainline diameter down to 0.13mm. You have to use a sensitive float and get the tip dotted right down. I use the F1 fine’s because of it’s 1.2mm tip to show up the smallest of bites with small baits like maggots and pinkies. Silvers come into play in the winter especially when the Carp aren’t biting and I also have a few Chianti’s tied up in all the sizes. 

So with these two trays of pole rigs available in my seat box I have most of my options ready to go for any time of the year. Yes I have a few paste and margins rigs in another box but these two trays of rigs mean I’m well organised and ready to fish a match when ever I wish. 

Read more on my pole rigs and watch video’s on how to tie and use them HERE

I couldn’t fish affectively without my excel spreadsheet !!

Light line diameter when winter carp fishing

As the days get colder going into winter should you use lighter lines when fishing on carp venues? I think the answer is NO!! Silvers or F1 fishing is a different kettle of fish so to speak but I generally believe using lighter lines on pole rigs when you are fishing for carp doesn’t make a blind bit of difference.

Many anglers sitting on the bank biteless during a match in the winter often decide to change to a lighter line diameter rig and also change to a small hook trying to induce a bite. I’ve done this to and also not done this during many matches that I have fished. I have talked to many anglers that do change to lighter rigs because they believe this is correct. This may be because when they have historically fished on rivers and canals for silvers in the past they have caught on lighter tackle and most magazines and internet sites encourage you to do this. 

I gauge my opinions around my previous matches and what I have experienced, when I’ve either been too lazy to change to a lighter rig or I’ve not prepared for the match and a only have heavy carp rigs in my seatbox. I’ve used these on countless times in the past and found absolutely no difference. 

I’m a human being and can hardly see the difference between 0.18mm main line and say 0.14mm mainline. So how a fish can tell the difference in cloudy water is nonsense to me. What the difference is the speed on which the rig sinks through the water and whether it looks natural to the fish, if you are using the small bait, which is the case when fishing for silvers or F1’s.

When I’m fishing for carp on the bottom I generally use a large bait, it sinks quickly and will never look natural on the drop. I believe a Carp will take the hook bait if it’s hungry and feeding. On the days when you can’t get a bite, it’s not because of the diameter of the line it’s simply because the Carp aren’t feeding or there are no carp in the place you are fishing. I have lost count on the numbers of times when I can’t get a bite and then moved to another place to fish in the swim with the same rig and caught a Carp straight away. This is why I am convinced line diameter doesn’t matter when fishing for carp. The important factor is to get your feeding right and to get the Carp feeding confidently at some point during the match. In winter these Carp may only come on the feed for 30 minutes in a five hour match and a low weight may only be required to frame. So if you hook a Carp in the winter you want to land it. I have lost many Carp and therefore many matches because I have used a light hook length in the winter, but not these days!