Raise Your Game

It never fails to amaze me how many carp anglers fish in exactly the same way each and every time they go out. Same approach, same techniques, same rigs. Occasionally, they may change bait, but that’s about it!

I’ve seen it time and time again on the day ticket waters I run, and sometimes, when I get into conversation with guests, it’s clear it’s not down to being lazy, it’s just that they’ve never learnt how to fish in other ways. I’ve lost count of the times I’ve arrived to hear anglers say “the fish aren’t having it”, when they’re sat fishing static leger baits and you can clearly see every carp in the lake is up on top gagging for a mixer! I’ll casually enquire if they have any surface gear and they just look at me with a blank expression…

Looking for signs of fishWhen I go fishing, I go in the knowledge that I may need to fish in any manner of ways to catch them; be it off the top, off the bottom, from legered baits at distance, or from a stalked approach tucked in the margins. In essence, you need to have skills in a number of techniques at your disposal if you want to catch carp – it’s no good just being able to fish in one way.

The key is in being able to recognise your own shortfalls, and if you don’t really know how to effectively apply a certain approach, make it your mission to master it, so that when it’s clear that’s the way to catch them, you’re fully tooled up and ready to go after them.

The best specimen anglers don’t just know how to use all the different methods available straight out of the box – they, too, have had to master every approach, and it’s in doing so that they become the better anglers on a water.

The upshot is that if you want to catch more fish, then you need to push yourself to improve areas where your skills are weak. Many people just chuck out a lead and wait for the fish to come to them – little surprise as it’s so easy to do – but if you actually start learning how to take it to the fish when you arrive at a water, then you’ll start to put fish on the bank much quicker and with increased  regularity!

I remember years ago when I was one of those who just turned up, chucked out a lead and waited – often for a very long time – whilst more experienced anglers around me changed methods and tactics and got the results. It didn’t take me long to suss out what was going on and I would often go round to other anglers’ swims and ask if I could just watch what they were doing. Being nice and polite never hurt, and in almost every case they would happily tell me how they approached things and you’d often get made a brew, too!

I’d then go back, mimic what I was shown, and then start to develop things to suit my own style of fishing, and before I knew it, people were asking me for advice!

Like many things in life, you’ll only get out what you put in, and it’s those who push themselves in order to increase their level of understanding that generally do much better. It seems the trend in carp fishing is that newcomers have to have a false bravado that they know everything and can do everything from the off.

Whatever happened to learning?

As they say, the most stupid question is the one you never ask…

Julian Grattidge
March 2013

Mirror carp