For all the blurb and modern advances…


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Are we really catching more or bigger fish?

Statistically, for the bigger fish at least then yes but, overall, and all things considered…

Me says no!


Because, if the circumstances were the same for our Angling predecessors I still reckon the fish would get caught just as big as a result of experience and a good Angling mind.

OK a fine rod will lessen the chance of the occasional hook pull but by and large I reckon that our forefathers would do just as good today on relative gear as many of us do now given the odd exception such as extreme range.

Or have we already done that on Arlesey Lake?

Let’s face it, the sheer volume of HNV baits that enter our waters today is massive compared to the days of say Walker etc. and on a level playing field would our forefathers have done as well?

On this one, me says yes.

Maybe the question should really be did our forefathers put in more effort?

It’s now and has for many years become standard practice within Carp fishing to sit or lay in a tent until the alarm goes off but what about the days and achievements before alarms?

Would you stay up all night, night after night, without electronic assistance (c'mon it's a bloody fish for God's sake) manually detecting what might be the one that hits the headlines before packing up the gear and carting yourself off to work for the day?

And on a non-Carpy vein many of us will remember the early 80’s hay days of the rivers Bann & Shannon where 100lb+ nets of Roach barely made the headlines and if the Bream turned up… Well?

And those blokes knew how to and the effects of feed.

These were not commercials, these were rivers and what price would the same headlines demand in today’s commercially spun, sponsored driven market?

Nope, for me it’s all in the marketing and I don’t subscribe.

I appreciate there will be other and very valid points of view which I may not have even considered but I reckon Angling’s all gone a bit SkyHD and when you cut through the Carp (anagram) I reckon very little has changed from the days when those who pioneered make-shift bolt and heli rigs were netting fish on the equivalents of the readily available, off the shelf offerings of today.

We buy it, go out and catch it, then pat ourselves on the back because we did what the marketeers said it would do but do you ever step outside the box and consider that you could have arrived there at the same point without them?

If you have and do, what’s your greatest achievement for doing so?

It’s rather modest for me, I go out with what is usually the bare minimum of gear and catch fish whilst admiring my hand woven wicker basket which was produced by using 100% natural materials and replaced the numerous precision moulded plastic and fibreglass predecessors which were all the rage at the time.

And to which I would hurridly beat a path to my local tackle shop to buy!

Nowadays, for me…

I've kind of gone full circle, I've tasted everything on the menu and I feel that I’ve finally arrived where I began except that I'm equipped to go out and do what I want to achieve but in a more mental and knowledgable, rather than equipment driven, state of mind and with equipment which pleases me rather than beckons me to 'keep up'.

But I appreciate I’m not necessarily correct in all this, I’m just pedalling my own ideals.

It's a lot to take in and fully consider and I just wondered what others thought about where Angling in general is heading and what your thoughts were on some of the comments made and questions raised?
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People like to buy things and it seems they like to make anything simple and clearcut into a complicated ordeal. As an example, a simple runing rig requires you to go and buy god knows how many componants to build it, when in reality all thats needed is a split shot, a weight and a hook!
Angling has become so commercialised nowadays as manufacturers/companies all compete to make money.
I know I have chinks in my armor, and nice float rods and centrepin reels are my biggest weakness :eek:mg:.

I do know a chap who has a huge fetish for hardy rods and pins :wh.


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Angling in general is heading down the same path as a lot of things in life and that is instant gratification. This is already catered for in the Carp world. You want 20, 30, 40 pound carp we will give them to you and if you don’t catch we will put some more in till you do.
You want massive bags of easy to catch carp they are every. Send they punters home happy and they will return.
Angling is becoming a one species business.

Could our angling predecessors catch today, yes and they would find it a whole lot easier.


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There's flaws to your argument, like **** Walker was using a bite alarm to catch his record carp and sleeping in a tent - if I recall. But also many truths that I agree with.
As Tigger implies, there is a multi million £££s industry built on selling "stuff", most of which is based around ignoring KISS (keep it simple, stupid) in order to make that money.
But whatever floats people's boats I suppose, human nature is always looking for short cuts to success and 50 + years ago if anyone mentioned a "magic new bait" we would all have killed for it.
Nothing much changes.

sam vimes

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I don't particularly care where angling, in general, is heading, only where my own angling journey goes.

If my angling results have improved over the years, it's largely down to the waters available to me and the extra experience garnered over that time. Though it goes against the grain for some, I have little doubt that better quality (but not necessarily new) rods and reels also play their part. Gear has become half the fun of the fair for me. It's not about keeping up with anyone, just the enjoyment I get out of trying to find something that is "better" than I already have. There's no delusion that this "better" gear makes me a better angler or improves my results.

Sadly, I believe that the overall quality of the more natural local fisheries is actually diminishing steadily. The local rivers don't appear to have the diversity, numbers, or size, of fish that they once held. The odd (well managed, but not necessarily heavily stocked) stillwater bucks the trend, but too many are pale shadows of former glories. Even a few short years ago, I could never have envisaged switching much of my attention from the closest river to one just a little further away. I'd barely fished this river in over thirty years, but such is my disillusion with the closest river.

I actually dread to think how miserable the local fishing might be if I didn't have plenty of experience. I can still manage to winkle out a few winter grayling where many seem to be really struggling. However, I'm getting a little bored of fishing that's getting to be a little too much like hard work. I suspect that I may have to regularly join the hordes on the commies. Sadly, I can see that day coming even if age and infirmity doesn't force my hand.


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I would say I catch more fish than when younger, not through the gear I use though. A bit more experience in choosing on the day the right methods, species, venues, baits etc.
Did they catch as many fish or more than modern days? I think if all things were equal apart from the gear and baits they wouldn't. The gear/bait and methods are better. Better designed to attract fish and land them, more comfort available, better warmer clothing and shelter from the elements, a lot more choice of tackle and bait for every situation, generally lighter to use;sharper hooks. All these things must help more fish onto the bank.
If two anglers, one using all the modern stuff available today, the other only what was available say in 1940/1950, fishing over a series of matches on the same venue, the same day; I would have to put my money on the modern angler. But then again, it is fishing we are talking about which is like quantum physics that even Einstein couldn't figure out.
I still like some of the old stuff but not because I think it catches more fish.
Another aspect to consider is that records continued to get broken from the old days, fish must have got bigger. How many records still stand from pre-1960 say and have been broken more than once after that date.
Are there more fish to catch? difficult one, river's generally may not be as prolific but then there were no commercials and far less stocking back then, but they didn't have cormorants, otters and as much pollution; not an easy one to determine
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Fishing is analageous to most activities and most hobbies in that it inspires ambition, materialism and contentment. Things move on and sometimes we like to go back to a byegon age tinted by an inaccurate recollection of what life really was like. As kids growing up I loved my bike, going to the library , getting a new football and going to the chippy. I choose not to remember smog, rickets, poverty, world wars, death shortly after retirement, cross ply tires, carburettors, leaf spring suspensions, going on a bus and i could go on. I wouldn't want a car even for a moment without all the creature comforts and safety features we take for granted. I wouldn't wear flares and platform shoes or smoke but I once did.

Fishing is a hobby and a sport and like all hobbies and sports some participants are far better, keener and more skilful than others. However we do it for fun, for enjoyment, escapism and entertainment. It isn't really expensive to pursue, you don't need loads of kit( I'm ignoring the hypocrisy of this statement)but we all like something new like a car, shirt, rod or reel. Who really needs 6 13' float rods; no one. Who wants 6 such rods; We all do.

Anglers now can and do make a living by fishing in competions , writing articles, promoting gear and selling it. They like Ronaldo and Messi are however the few. Most anglers like me are anonymous bods sitting quietly on the bank trying to catch fish, watching nature, having a chat, admiring their new rod or reel, listening to the footie results and usually relaxing in the process.

It's why we do it and just as in other fields we aspire to have the best boots, car, golf clubs, rod, pin, clothes, phone, broadband, bivvy, kitchen equipment , hifi, colour TV, fishing chair and so on. Yes you can yearn for yesteryear, and it's no bad thing, yes you can use older tackle (i do and love it), use valve amps, vintage cars, have a pony tail and yes you can do what you want. Very few of us cannot go fishing because we cannot afford it. It remains an activity loved and enjoyed by millions and from all walks of life. We should enjoy it while we can, while the world as we know it exists, whilst we retain good health and pass on our enthusiasm and skills to others.

When we can no longer participate we will retain those precious memories of that new fangled rod, the 3lb roach or the one that got away. Those memories cannot be taken away save by illness.

So Steve enjoy your Marksmans,your Conquests, your wicker basket and your fishing and I express the same sentiments to all. Vive la France.:wh
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My kit is basic, cheap, old and manky, bit like me really. Gets me plenty of fish and I have a great time using it.

Anyone who thinks premium gear will get major results is an idiot, marginal gains perhaps but that's easily offset. Some folk like to use the best gear but that's got to be down to how it feels rather than the perception that success is granted as a result, least I hope so, if not they are in for an expensive wake up call and some gear will be going cheap on ebay.

Some modern advances really do work though, there's a guy I saw in my club who caught a barbel on hair rigged pellet, with a small barbel feeder rod - nothing out of the ordinary there, until he took out a split cane with a fine looking centrepin attached and proceeded to take a photo of that next to the fish, alongside a float that cost more than my entire set up. The moral of this story if there is one is don't believe all you see and read and make up your own mind what works for you. The fish will always get bigger for you, PBs will come regardless and if it feels good it's good enough regardless of how it looks


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Quite a few decades ago a float and earthworm were the only rigs I used to catch fish. Didn't catch much fishing from shore, but expectations were high before every outing - same as today. But isn't that what fishing is all about to most of us - expectations?

Negativity, positively, has no place in the endeavor we call angling. As much as I learned from others when I fished in tournament clubs, fishing with a few egotists started affecting my outlook in a way that quickly lessened my desire to win anything or beat the competition - goals that were and are antithetical to the reason we cast a line to begin with. If fishing with others has told me anything, it is the diverse ways one can catch fish.

Granted, commercialism continually taints the truth and in new ways yet to be read or watched on the tele. And like political candidates that make promises they can't keep, claims of newer and better are rarely newer or better. But anymore angling has become a necessary luxury many can afford that won't break the bank like buying stuff where loans must be taken out - unless one feels the necessity to do so as in the case of buying that spanking new boat that cost over $60k, loaded with every conceivable gadget to include that 200 HP motor.

Gadgets are fine but only if I make them myself or use what I already own. I have an old bass boat in my driveway rarely used, preferring my 10' aluminum row boat for the small waters I prefer fishing. For one thing it's much cheaper and far less of a hassle ! For another, quality and quantity are actually much better when considering that slowing down now is not optional.

As I said - and as many have seen from the many photo examples in my posts, the feeling of satisfaction comes with even moderate successes after a day on the water. Feeling lucky is a big part of the satisfaction in that it is derived from the simplest novel experiences such as incredible cloud formations reflected off still water or catching a 7 lb catfish on an ultralight rod and tiny lure. If all one fishes for it to plainly just catch fish, that's fine. But for many of us it goes beyond just the catching; hoped for revelations and possibilities fill the brain, crowding out daily frustrations and irritation. In my case, proving theories and disproving the many BS claims that have tainted the sport, are signature goals that bring that feeling of ahhhhh YES - IT WORKED ! No one can take that away with disparaging comments or disapproval because the proof is in the catching.

So in closing I must thank Aknib for his well written commentary as well as those posts that also reflected the opinions many of us share in that there is so much more to discover, learn and consider when it comes to connecting with a wild dumb animal that is actually less dumb than many people we know.
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I liked Steve’s going back to where he started point. Much as I love fishing, I often think how great it would be to get the same kick I got when I first used to go, badly equipped, inexperienced and often fishless, but thrilled to bits to be there.

Much as we like to get away from it all, angling doesn’t happen in a vacuum, and in many ways it shares in the general tendency to reduce life to a kind of theme-park experience, the kind available in the shopping mall, the retail park and the food court. There, you just get what you pay for. I think there’s something in fishing that can’t be bought and can’t be recreated in a fish-filled swimming pool.

I probably do catch more fish these days than in the past, but only by dint of hunting out waters I like and bringing a lifetime’s experience to bear. I leave the places where they catch a carp every few minutes to those who like that. Two out of four of the rivers near me are in very poor shape, and the gear stacked high in the angling supermarkets exists alongside the broader decline in our natural environment and the disappearance of those little islands of community and culture, tackle shops.

I like fishing gear, and I used to be keen to own the best rods and reels. Rightly or wrongly, I arrived at thinking the endless new models offered expensive change without real progress, and besides, what I really wanted was good fishing, not to a new rod with a few grams shaved off the weight, or a reel with the spec of a Rolls Royce engine. I’m not looking to new gear to increase my fishing enjoyment, but I live in hope of stumbling across good mixed fishing in nice surroundings.

I'm not about to argue we don't have our individual choice about the kind of fishing we like. But what an individual can choose depends on what's out there, and the direction it's all heading in. They can't go the tackle shop that's closed, join the club that's folded or fish the waters that are polluted or abstracted to death. It will be a shame if, like the trees in the tree museum in the song, the only fish left in numbers are in the commies.


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I am very fortunate, I go fishing usually three full days a week so my fishing tackle is basically overused and battered: but I still do quite well. Yes, I could go and buy all new stuff and lots of useless gadgets, no need.

I do not like commercials (too mickey mouse), nor pastie carp (too easy), I like my venues to have unnamed and unknown fish where you are not surrounded by other anglers. Such places still do exist!

Find venues and a style or species you like, the expensive new tackle is not important.


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I think there is some opinion that global warming has allowed fish to grow bigger, longer feeding periods with more natural food. If true, our angling forefathers did not have that to contend with!
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But our angling forefathers did not have to put up with cormorants, otters, signal crayfish, mink, flotillas of canoes, swim wrecking dopey pastie carp, inconsiderate boaters - I'll shut up here because of my blood pressure!


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I am still using the methods and approaches I used fifty years ago, quite often with the same tackle. I attempt to make as much of the gear I use as I can. My results are sufficient to satisfy me and I enjoy every minute of it. It appears time has passed me by and that is a situation I'm happy with. It is a point worth mentioning that the forward thinking anglers of fifty years ago are the ones that kick started the advances in the design of modern tackle in as much as most manufacturers are reactive not proactive. Pete.


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But our angling forefathers did not have to put up with cormorants, otters, signal crayfish, mink, flotillas of canoes, swim wrecking dopey pastie carp, inconsiderate boaters - I'll shut up here because of my blood pressure!
Keep it up and be grateful, low blood pressure and you might faint and fall in the river. There's always an upside:)


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One thing I always get from these threads is how diverse all the ways we fish are and what we enjoy individually. Be a dull forum if we all did the same thing. And the basic enjoyment never changes, they are still the same as Issac Walton tried to explain to his huntsman companion, which by the way; is still a worthy read.


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I'm definitely catching far more now than say 30, 40+ years ago. But it's got nothing to do with the kit used then or now.


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Personally I choose to fish in a very simple manner. I have to be honest and say that I get a real kick out of catching a couple of decent fish on a homemade float or a simple sliding drilled bullet rig, using cheap (or free) bait, whilst others with huge amounts of kit sit by their bivvies, blanking with expensive gimmicky baits.
The problem I have with the direction of course fishing is not what kit other anglers use, but the effect it has on the varied fishing I enjoy.
I enjoy cycling, I like to ride off road trails and get out in nature, away from traffic. I refuse to use any technology, such as speedometers or cycling computers. Part of my enjoyment comes from escaping phones and screens. This is very much the ethos I bring to my angling, I enjoy simplicity. If other cyclists wish to dress like Chris Froome and ride mega expensive carbon road bikes, utilising built in power meters and GPS etc, this has absolutely no effect on my cycling experience. The problem I'm finding in angling is that other people's (probably the majority) angling preferences have a detrimental effect on how I would like to fish. Having had a long break from angling has thrown the changes into quite sharp focus for me. The dominance of carp fishing has had a massive impact on lots of nice mixed stillwaters I used to fish. I honestly do not care if the person fishing next to me is using twenty grands worth of kit, but I don't like that there are very few stillwaters where the dominance of carp has not impacted upon the diversity of the fishing. I find myself more drawn to the canal, while the fishing can sometimes be hard, it is one of the last bastions of "natural" fishing environments close to me.
I'm prepared to accept that I've become a grumpy old git; long gone my youthful joy at flicking through the new Shakespeare catalogue and wanting to buy everything. Yet I think the danger of losing many natural and varied fisheries is that less and less youngsters will learn the craft of angling and fishing for over fed carp, who hook themselves, in over stocked fishing complexes will be all on offer.