Tackle and Tactics
Mike Ladle


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Match fishing magic..

I am not, and am never likely to be, any sort of a matchman. But I have the utmost respect for anyone who can extract fish from a “fishless” peg. As an avid reader of angling books and magazines I have quickly become acquainted with the jargon of the matchmen; double patting, multi-hook rigs, wishbones and speed fishing are all familiar to me.

I have been fishing for enough years to realise that any branch of angling which develops rapidly is likely to result in exciting new approaches and I have no doubt that we will all be latching on to the latest “tricks” in years to come.

Saltwater matchmen generally set out to catch the maximum number or weight of fish from a given stretch of shoreline under rules designed to “make things fair for everyone!” As far as I am concerned rules and restrictions, other than those properly designed to protect and conserve stocks, spoil much of my pleasure in fishing. This is a personal view and the main reason why I have never really become a “club man”.

However, as an outsider to the match fishing scene I can see that one or two of the ideas put forward are the first steps down the slippery slope to the “dry fly only” mentality which is the curse of so much freshwater fishing. Before considering these possible pitfalls, I’ll take a look at the likely beneficial ‘spin offs’ from match fishing.

I noted that in an international beach fishing competition points were awarded on the basis of “centimetres length of fish landed (and returned)”. At times the fishing conditions were clearly very difficult and some competitors resorted to very fine tackle and small (size 16) barbless hooks to tempt little dragonets (spiky little buggers), which rarely fall to more conventional tactics.

Of course, most of the sport in catching fish of a pound or less lies in actually landing something (anything) while your adversaries struggle. I say this because there should be no chance of being smashed up and little in the way of a “Fight” to contend with. Nevertheless, the use of very fine tackle and small hooks opens the way to the presentation of a whole new range of baits. Just as there would be little point trying to fish half a mackerel on a size 16 to 2lb nylon, so there is not much point in attempting to impale a sandhopper, marine wood louse, maggot or shrimp on a 4/0.

Whatever you may think, there can be no doubt that many fish (yes! even sea fish) do eat a lot of small organisms, and I believe that the increasing popularity of little hooks is likely to provide a constant stream of surprises for the sea angling world.

The sensible application of size limits may also be a good thing, if only that it will make more people aware of the need to return immature fish (undamaged) to the sea. The use of size limits could lead to undesirable practices such as stretching fish to reach the minimum permitted length but provided the limits which are set are large enough and intervals are sufficiently wide (inches not millimetres) there will be less temptation to try and “make” a small fish bigger.

Pegging down and zoning can be a wonderful way of making anglers extract the best possible results from a stretch of shoreline. Not only will it be necessary to learn more about what species live where and tackle up accordingly but it could often be beneficial to try and bring the fish to the hook rather than waiting for them to pass by.

I foresee a massive increase in the use of groundbaits and feed to attract and hold fish and to stimulate them to eat. American and Australian anglers do it all the time (chumming and burleying is standard practice), but we have lagged light years behind them in this area of the sport.

Now to look at the black side of things. I am no great believer in bait restrictions. Although I appreciate the difficulty of obtaining bait by those who do not live near enough the coast to dig or collect their own, this type of constraint will simply smother innovation and invention. If it is “lugworm only” there will be no incentive to try baked beans, bread or brit flavoured boilies - a sad state of affairs and one which could delay or prevent “break-throughs” in bait technology. I guess that I am suggesting a common sense attitude that doesn’t stifle ideas and initiative. It’s not that long since a friend of mine, surface fishing with Chum mixer for mullet, had a decent bass with loads of his free offerings in its stomach. Three cheers for innovation!

If you have any comments or questions about fish, methods, tactics or 'what have you.'get in touch with me by sending an E-MAIL to - docladle@hotmail.com


Match fishing.