I always find it very interesting talking to anglers about how they approach their fishing. Some have rows and rows of rigs, all meticulously tied in a sparkling Rive box, which they mount on the end of a beautifully maintained pole, that is polished on a weekly basis. Others use kit that resembles a bomb site more than a work of art, but for their rugged appearance catch more than the vast majority of tackle tarts!
From my experiences on the bank shooting features, I quickly learned to take no notice of how people maintain their bigger items of tackle. As a well known (mucky) angler once told me, groundbait encrusted rod rings, slimed up clothing and well worn pole sections mean only one thing… and that is that the angler in question catches fish!
Match Fishing’s Joe Carass is a prime example of this. If his tackle isn’t coated in some kind of decaying matter, then he isn’t happy! What is given meticulous attention though is his terminal tackle. He spends hours modifying floats, tying hooks, making feeders and playing about with the elastic in his top kit- which is why he performs so consistently!
Jon Arthur is similar, a habitual tamperer who is constantly pulling apart floats, tying different kinds of rigs, and experimenting with bait colourings and flavourings to gain an edge. When fishing bloodworm matches, he will sometimes even don his chest waders and scrape some English bloodworm - just so he has it there on his side tray if he needs it. It really is a state of mind - the more of an edge you can give yourself when it comes to tackle and bait, the more of a chance you will give yourself on the bank. The world's greatest angler, Alan Scotthorne, doesn’t get up at 6am every morning to prepare his gear for nothing!
The other extreme of course is the much maligned minority who are said to have ‘all the gear and no idea.’ Personally, I would never criticise anybody of any ability who chooses to invest in nice fishing tackle. After all, they have earned their money, why shouldn’t they spend it? The tackle trade would suffer massively without people like this.
I can remember working tirelessly one summer while at university so I could afford the then top of the range Garbolino G995. I used to labour in the day for a friend of mine who was a builder, then pot wash in the evenings in an Italian restaurant. I believed that after buying what I considered to be the best pole on the market, I would instantly become a better angler. It didn’t quite workout that way – on my first outing with it, I think I blanked!
In hindsight, I would have been a lot better spending £1,000 on a cheaper pole, and the other £1,000 on four days coaching with a local hero like Tommy Pickering or Nick Speed, and I have since advised several other up and coming anglers to do this.
It is nice to see a lot more top anglers branching out into coaching, and in my opinion it is no coincidence that the overall standard of match anglers is improving. Match fishing must be one of the most complicated sports to get to grips with, and by enlisting the help of the best you are making things infinitely easier for yourself. What can be past on by a coach in a matter of minutes, could take you years to work out yourself on the bank.
The one thing that all top anglers seem to share in common, and improving anglers should strive for, is the amount that they think about their fishing. Whether it be bait choice, rigs, elastics or tackle, they leave as little as possible to chance. As important as the draw bag maybe, it is by doing this that you make you own luck in fishing.
Tom Scholey is Pole Fishing magazine's Editorial Assistant, and a keen match angler.