I was busy on Wednesday and couldn’t make the White Acres mid week match, by Sunday I was chomping at
Preparation, Preparation, Preparation!!!
Preparation! We had a request for an article about preparation, so we’ve decided to do a three piece one. It’s got to be one of the most important aspects of match fishing. Fail to prepare….prepare to fail! Many people, especially non-anglers, don’t see the preparation side of angling, and to them you simply chuck the gear in the car, get to the bank, put a worm on the hook and chuck it in, hoping for a fish to bite on the other end………I blooming wish it was as easy as that!
There are all kinds of preparation that need to be taken into consideration, the tackle side of things, rigs hooks, etc. Then there’s the bait, what bait do you need, how do you make sure your bait is high quality, what about ground bait? Then you have to consider tactics for the match. Maybe you need to think about what has happened in practice, analyse what has happened, or you need to ring around some venue experts and locals just to try to get that small edge over everybody else who all just do the same thing. In this first section, we will have a chat about the preparation of tackle.
Pole fishing dominates a hell of a lot of matches around the UK nowadays, and to fish the pole, there is one really important thing that you need…RIGS.
I like to carry with me a selection of rigs. Even if you have a good idea of what you need, it’s always handy to have a bit of a variation just in case. I have found that the Rive stack systems enable me to carry plenty of rigs, really neatly, without taking too much gear with me. I have loads of different trays with all sorts of rigs ready tied in them, from 4×8 bleak floats, to paste floats, shallow rigs, river rigs and even lollypop floats! The system allows you to simply clip on and off which trays you need, for example, if you were going carping, you could take three trays, one for shallow rigs, one for heavy duty bagging rigs, and another with some tidy pellet rigs. The trays deep the rigs dry and out of the sun, so once you’ve made the rigs up, they last ages!
I’m lucky enough to have a garage kitted out with sides and some good lights on which I have loads of room for all the items I need to make rigs comfortably. My mum also likes the setup, as it stops me trailing gear through the house, and dropping line and hooks all over the dining room floor!
I get all the items out that I am going to need to make up rigs before I start, so everything’s to hand. Line, shots, floats, rubbers, pliers and what I consider the most important thing I have ever had in fishing…a Sensas loop tier! I don’t put any hooks on any of my rigs, instead I carry a load of hooks ready tied, and put them on my rigs on the bank. I feel this is a better way, as you are using a neat fresh hook every time, and you don’t really know what hook and line you will need until you see your peg!
A rig jar is also essential, and I must say, I have fallen in love with mine! It’s about 5 feet tall, an old plastic fish thingy ornament, and enables me to put all the shots exactly where I want them on my rig, like a bulk and two droppers, without sliding them all the way up and down the line.
I place the spool of line under a heavy object so I can hold everything straight. I then slide the float along with three rubbers up the line. I like to use quite generous pieces of rubber, as it stops the float bending and keeps everything neat.
The next thing to do is to tie a loop in the line. I use the Sensas swan neck loop tier, as this gives a really strong, neat loop, which will always be the same size.
With the float secure and the loop tied its time to put shots on the rig. I really like the garbolino g-shot, as they are really soft, sit straight on the line, and can be put on heavy lines up to 0.20! I always use a pair of small plies to apply shots, as I can watch what I am doing, and biting the shot on the line has always gone through me!
When I have placed the required shots on my rig, I like to test it and fine tune it in my rig jar, using number 13 shots to dot the bristle down. A good tip is to give the float a really good lick before you test it in the jar. This will ensure the float sits that same at home as it does on the bank.
Once shotted up, I place my rigs on winders. Any float under 4×12 I make to a top three, anything over that goes on a full top 4, and anything over 1g goes on a top 5. This way, I ensure I never have to add any line on the bank; it’s much easier to shorten a rig!
I count the turns on my winder, and have measured them so that I know a top 3 is say 10 winds, a top 4 is 17 winds, and a top 5 is 23 winds. I recommend doing this, as it saves you getting your kits out in the garage and house, where they can easily be broken!
I like to have at least two or more of each rig made up so I have a spare that’s identical if I trash one whilst fishing.
In match fishing its good to try and maximise the time that you actually spend fishing. Having both spare rigs and spare hooks tied up will help you do this. many anglers say ‘it only takes two minutes to tie up a hook on the bank’, but if you have to change your hook 5 times in a match, that’s 10 minutes, which could be three more fish in your net!
It’s a good idea to have different sizes of hooks tied up to different diameters of line. For example, you might have a size 20 hook, to both 0.10 AND 0.12 diameter line.
There are loads of ready made good quality hook boxes and wallets out on the market that are easily affordable. I store all my pole Hooklengths in the Milo hook boxes. I carry one for all my barbless commercial style hooks and another for all my barbed canal and river Hooklengths. It looks hard work when you see a big box full of ready tied hooks, but I find that if you just tie say 10 hooks every other evening, that’s 40 hooks in a week, and you will soon get a big box filled up!
Another big advantage in match fishing of having hooks ready tied is that you will be more inclined to actually change a hook. If you bump a fish and feel your hook may be blunting, you can change it easily in a matter of seconds and it becomes a habit. If you haven’t got any tied up, you might have the ‘can’t be bothered’ attitude, which could just cost you that match winning fish. Also, if you’re sat fishing and feel that an 0.12 hooklength would be better than the 0.16 that you’re using, you will be more inclined to change. Besides, who wants to be sat there in the middle of winter trying to tie a 24 to 0.06?
I find that a 20cm hooklength is about right for most pole fishing, and make all of them up exactly the same length. I use the black match man hook tie. It’s the only way that I can get on with. Some prefer to use the red Drennan tie, and others can tie them by hand!
To get them the same length you simply tie you hook as normal, leaving plenty of line on the other end to tie a loop. Then hook you hook on one end pin in your hook wallet or box, and wrap the loose end around the other pin, forming a loop between your fingers. Holding the loop tight, you can gently pull the hooklength off the pins, tie the loop in the end, and it will fit in your box, exactly the same length every time!
You can also buy longer wallets and boxes for your waggler and feeder hook lengths, and even tie up some hair rigs ready for use! Surely you’re better spending an hour or so before a match making sure your rigs and hooks are tied up and ready, than going into a match with the worry in the back of your mind? If you’ve got plenty of spare Hooklengths and rigs, there isn’t much else can go wrong!