If you think it, do it!
Top match angler Darren Cox begins a new monthly column in which he shares his thoughts about improving your pole fishing performance.
Over so many years of match fishing I have witnessed some amazing feats of angling, where anglers from all styles of competition fishing have ‘pulled out all the stops’ and do something really special! These times are rare, though, and often a good peg with a decent angler on it will usually win.
However, put a top-class angler on a good peg and he is virtually sure of winning! Well, that’s obvious, you might say, but what makes it obvious?
In my opinion there are many factors. First and foremost, the angler has skill, and normally a vast knowledge he has gained from experience over the years. Most anglers have a good memory and can remember what they did last time in similar circumstances, be they weather conditions, the peg form, what baits they used and suchlike. They can reference that memory to the current situation and convert it into results. It is that inner desire to win, to get things perfect, to get the very best result possible every time they sit down.
When I am talking to anglers I often use the phrase “Don’t make do”. I see this far too often in fishing situations. We have all done it, we have all said to ourselves: “I should do that or change to that.” But how many of you actually do it then and there?
My view is: “If you think it, then do it”, because I believe that’s my angling brain sending me a message. My brain is working things out without me consciously feeling like I am doing it.
That is what many will call natural ability, but I believe it’s brain training from years of good practice and thinking about what is going on and trying to interpret the situation. It’s a bit like driving a car and doing things automatically because you have done it so many times before; but I also believe that if you don’t listen to what your angling brain is telling you then you miss out, big time!
Firstly, because you will never know if that change would have worked. Secondly, if it does then that will lead to success and possibly on to the next decision-making step, triggering a chain of events that will certainly teach you more lessons.
The worst case is that it doesn’t work, but then you have eliminated that option and can move on in another way. Ignore those signals and that is the slow road to disaster, in my opinion.
If you are ‘going through the motions’ in match fishing, then you will be very lucky to do well in this day and age, where fishing tackle is at its very best and most people have the best poles and every other item that gives them an advantage. Now the only advantages are the angler using it and the peg you draw.
So why do so many anglers simply go through the motions? There are many little things that seem insignificant at the time but I constantly see anglers doing things wrong, and they know they are wrong but don’t change.
Here is one of the very basic but most common examples of what I mean: Pole roller positioning.
Yes, we all get it wrong now and again, even the top anglers! But what sets them apart is that when they realise their rollers are set incorrectly they will get off their box and sort them quickly rather than make do.
How many times have you thought, it will be okay? Then 10 minutes later you ship out and the pole end drops off your back roller, and you either tangle your rig or empty your pot of feed in completely the wrong part of the swim. Or even worse than that, it results in bumping fish or losing a big fish because they weren’t quite right! I see it happen regularly at all levels.
There is no science to getting it right as there are so many variables, and again it comes down to experience. The way I do it is to sit down at my peg on my box and work out the following: Where am I likely to be fishing in the swim? What distance?
Fishing at 16 metres and six metres will require totally different positioning. For example, when fishing a ‘top two plus two’ short carp meat line I like to have a roller close enough and slightly to my right so that I can ship back, sweep the fish away from the swim and unship two sections, which then sit safely on the roller and in my pole sock while I play the fish. On some venues this can be your front roller for the long-pole line, but often it is too close and gets in the way for me. So if I am fishing very long at 16 metres I will want two rollers specifically for that.
You also have to consider the length of the rig you will be using. I like to trail my rigs in and out on top of the water as it dramatically reduces tangles – it’s what most anglers do. So think about it if you are fishing tight to an island or shallow long; then your pole tip will need to be very close to the water when shipping, so the roller positioning may need to be high at the back roller to bring the tip down, especially if you are sat on a platform high up off the water.
However, it will need to be just high enough to take a big loaded pole pot if you intend to use one, otherwise you will have issues when it comes to feeding as the pole will bend and the pot will dip into the water. In deeper water you have more rig to drag in the water so the pole can be higher off the water than with a shallower rig. But if you are using both then you need to set the position to suit both.
Generally, I like to keep my rollers as low as I can as I believe that it keeps the pole safer, but there are times where you need to work over, under or around obstacles such as trees, walls and fences, even other anglers. So you must be flexible in how you set them up and work to the environment rather than having a set position every time you go out.
The best positioning of your rollers is what suits where you are fishing at the time. Can you ship in and out smoothly and quickly, feed and land fish comfortably without any issues? If so, then it’s correct. If not, then get off your box and sort it quickly!
You may be saying that this is all common sense, but so many anglers don’t make those changes when they should. Don’t be one of them, don’t make do. If you think it, then do it and become a better angler!