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.

Rig stackers - Take what you need, when you need it!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!

Making Rigs

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!

Keep everything as tidy as possible!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!

All rigs can be prepared at homeI 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.

Milo Hook-Length BoxesThere 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!

Longer hooklengths for wag and feeder stored in long Preston boxesYou 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!


  1. Dave

    Jan 18, 2009

    Hi … I am a 55yo who for some reason wants to start course fishing. I am finding it very difficult to source basic information on how to get started. I have purchased some kit. Rod, Reel, Line, Floats & Hooks, even a landing net. But have no idea what to do next. How do I load the line on the reel ? attach the floats and hooks … I need a basic’s idiots guide to course float fishing. Any HELP is much appreciated … thanks.

  2. Iain

    Feb 01, 2009

    Hi mate.. where abouts are you from?

  3. Dave

    Feb 03, 2009

    Iain…. thanks for getting back to me. I live in Darwen Nr Blackburn. You can email me if you want! its

  4. clark campbell

    Feb 27, 2009

    having read your article above what are your recomended hook lenghths for your pole rigs or is it different fror each rig?
    Many thanks

  5. Mark

    Mar 22, 2009

    hi i was wonder if you can help me as well as i am a 36 yr old man that wants to start course fising and i dont know the first thing about setting up a rod i have a rod and reel but i dont know the first thing about setting up the rod the things i will be using it for is fishing on the river and the cananal please help me out thanks can you please send me some info on setting up the rod and some pics or info on diffrent knots for the line thanks any info will be appreciated thanks Mark i live in the uk

  6. george

    Apr 16, 2009

    hi i was new to the sport 5 years ago and what i found out was. anything you didnt no the local angling store will tell u what to do or ‘google it’ just type in what u need to know on google or you tube and a video or advice will come up.


  7. callum

    May 04, 2009

    another day another 3.8 0z tench ha does any one know where i can buy seperate pole sections because i only have two top sections and i need some more please e-mail me with answers thanx

  8. ken

    May 11, 2009

    great web page im also a beginer thanks for the info regards ken

  9. hollants

    Jun 07, 2009

    i fish in belgium and looking for groundbait to catch bream
    can someone give me info
    hollants p
    werftstraat 8
    2431 laakdal

  10. clark

    Jun 08, 2009

    Hi, i dont know where you live in belgium but i fished in holland and always found the best ground bait was sensas 3000 bremes. i would mix 60% cumb, 30% sensas and 10% molasses(caramel) and finally some cooked hemp or stim swim hemp. Only add the hemp prior to balling in or casting the feeder or it will dry out and start to float. when you have mixed it all i woulds then add dead red maggot and caster and finally a little chopped worm prior to balling in or filling the feeder. If you are river feeder fishing try adding leam to get it to the bottom quickly without breaking up. All the best

  11. Jake C

    Jul 12, 2009

    Hello all,
    I’m 15 and have just started fishing.
    any tips for coarse fishing eg bait line hooks times of day or general tips would be great.
    Thanks in advance.
    please email me at

  12. ken

    Aug 17, 2009

    dave i went on a course fishing day 1year ago and had not caught a thing until i happened upon percys pond in hunmanby near filey north yorks .they helped me so much no one else had given me any good advice it was like a closed shop .all you need is the smallest of tips to put you right. icaught a 20lb carp last week what a adrenalin rush ken

  13. Stewart

    Aug 31, 2009

    Evening all.

    Quite a few here that are requesting info and help after just starting getting involved with fishing. Similar to you a few years back when I took it all up I was eager to learn and wanted to know everything I could from learning how to tie a hook to learning shot patterns for various situations in canals, rivers, lakes etc…

    99% of my help came from two magazines ‘The Angling Times’ and ‘Angling Mail’ …although the two magazines always appeared to be at odds with each other over every little thing…the pair of them game some amazing tips and ideas each week…and would always seem to be trying to outdo each other!

    Try them out..although they won’t be giving everyone this week or next the answers that you want now, it’s almost certain that very soon they will do. Apart from the tips and help…the rest of the magazine are good reading too!!

    p.s. I have absolutely nothing to do with either of the magazines nor have I ever.

  14. dee

    Sep 09, 2009

    Hi im 20 and want to start course fishing too! ive got a basic rood/reel/floats kit and would like some tips on where to go, what to get, knots etc im based in NW london, near wembley

  15. Stewart

    Sep 11, 2009

    Sent you a message via your email Dee.

  16. brad

    Sep 27, 2009

    i am 14
    i go fishing alot but i have never caught anything could you please tell me how far i should put weights from my float and what size hook i should use and just general advise please thanks please email you replys

  17. Stewart

    Sep 28, 2009

    Sent you a message Brad 🙂

  18. mark bradley

    Oct 12, 2009


    i have been match fishing for years now and we are having our matchs all on commercial waters now .
    i have an idea on how to fish commercials but dont no how long you should give each method you try when fishing them .

  19. Robert Coles

    Jun 11, 2010

    hi, My name is Rob, i’m 28 and recently took an interest and want to learn about coarse fishing, i live in middlesbrough and have rang Albert Park in regards to fishing there which is allowed, i would be greatful for any information on how to go about starting up as in what hooks and floats to get as i have a Shakespeare Firebird Rod and Reel which was advised to me by a guy that was in the local Go Outdoors store near me. i have some cheap floats and hooks but i don’t think they would be any good, so any information would be great also how to start fishing i.e how to set floats on the line and the hook etc. my email address is,, many thanks in advance.

  20. brett

    Feb 03, 2011

    hi all i,ve been fishing on and off since i was 4 (i am 22 now) i first started with a bit of line on a garden cane with my dad for stickle backs in the local beck and i started to get into it more and more i think next step is to take up match fishing im trying to home in on silver fish, as these seem to get neglected as every 1 is carp mad !! is there any tips any 1 can give to help me on my way to catch bigger silver fish because as soon as my bait hits the water a small rud,skimmer or perch have my bait, is feeding little and often better or worse in this senario thank you

  21. Grant

    Aug 13, 2011

    hi my name is grant love i live in scotland and like to fish but setting up my rod isnt easy, im never sure on the distance between float,weight,hook. ive been all over the web and all i want is a straightforward picture with distances plz help my email is,


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