Still the Same Skill in Modern Fishing as there was 30 Years Ago?

Graham Whatmore

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What a very sensible and well thought out article that is, excellent stuff and would that there were more as good from those other than the usual writers.

I think there is a lot of truth in what you say and I think we are all guilty of the belief that "things were better in our day" it is as true of angling as it is of everything else. We have to accept that over time things change, advancements are made, but there is also a lot of truth in the oft said "there is nothing new in fishing," its been done before but slightly different and maybe with different gear but the method is the same.

The advancement of baits is to be welcomed, they work in the main and though the basic baits of maggot, worm and bread are still as good as they ever were some new baits such as pellet are equally as good but more convenient.
 
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A well thought out and argued response. I was particularly impressed with your view that the availability of decent equipment, coupled with sources of information, has to an extent democratised angling. This has to be a good thing.

Your view that expertise is still an essential requirement for consistent success is born out by many of the threads on this forum. I can think of debates on the length of hook-lengths, the fluro/braid/mono discussions and the impact of work such as Barbel Days and Ways on the thinking of anglers.

Graham was certainly not decrying the skills associated with "modern techniques". My interpretation of his article (and I'm sure he'll tell me if I'm wrong) was that the "bolt rig" approach (as a form of shorthand for the range of such methods) was too much the default position for anglers. They are not developing the range of techniques that would enable a "more rounded" approach to their hobby. You are correct, Phil, that there have always been previous "default positions" such as the maggot and float you mentioned. The issue is that there is a greater tendency now-a-days to resort to the modern default position without ever considering other potential opportunities.
 
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Sean Meeghan

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Excellent article Philip! I do agree with most of the points you made, but....

There is a difference between applying a skill and following a prescription. In my experience a huge percentage of anglers now follow simple prescriptions. The percentage is far higher than it used to be because, in general, these prescriptions work. They work either because the fishing is easier (puddles) or because anglers now spend more time on waters than they did in the past.

True skill is a combination of watercraft, understanding the method that you're using and knowing how to apply it. You talk about moving the tell-tale shot on the line when float fishing or changing the length of a hair, but be honest, how many anglers do you see doing that? I've seen anglers using a full big water set up when fishing tiny ponds, using bait boats to position baits 20 yards away, skylining fish in low, clear rivers, etc, etc....

OK so we had our share of poor anglers 25 years ago, but I tend to agree with Graham in that we have de-skilled angling to the extent that we can 'buy' fish with time or by fishing prolific waters. So tackle improvements have made life easier, but we do have a much lower skill level today than we once had.
 

tjl21

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An excellent piece with some very good points. I have long held the view that 10 % of anglers catch 90 % of the fish and i still believe that is the case today.
You could put every angler in the country on the same tackle / rig / bait and i am sure that this percentage would still hold true. Even if everbody had to stick to the same thing the guys who thought about things more and showed the best watercraft etc will always outfish the rest.
Sean's quote that "we can 'buy' fish with time or by fishing prolific waters", hasn't that always been the case ? I have been fishing for about 35 years and i can remember plenty of anglers years ago that never seemed to work , they just fished. Ok they never made their living from it but they were full time anglers non the less. Has for buying fish through more prolific waters, again through history the anglers who have been prepared to spend the most money have been able to gain access to the best waters.
 

dezza

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Good one Philip. it's always nice to have a bit of controversy in good spirit.

I tend to agree with Sean. What a lot of newcomers to the sport are looking for is a discreet set of instructions so that they can put the kit together and then X marks the spot.

When I was doing my monthly column in the Sheffield Angling Star, and it became known that I was catching a lot of barbel, I received numerous requests from anglers who were desperate to catch a Trent Barbel and wanted to know to the peg number where I was getting mine!

One guy wanted me to send him a specimen of my rig on a winder, so that he could copy it!
 
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People have to learn the trade one way or another. Where better then from an accomplished angler?

Ron

One minute you're going on about preserving angling and passing on skills to the next generation then the next you're moaning about people asking for help....
 

calvin

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Is it me, or are most, including Philip, just not fully understanding what Graham has written? I'm sure Graham will reply for himself but I'm sure some things are being allotted to him that he never actually wrote.........

I suggest reading through his article more carefully.
 

dezza

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People have to learn the trade one way or another. Where better then from an accomplished angler?

Ron

One minute you're going on about preserving angling and passing on skills to the next generation then the next you're moaning about people asking for help....
One thing I don't do is exact locations of swims, other than what to look for.

And as far as rigs go, in addition to descriptions and photos, there are numerous books and articles on that.
 

The bad one

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Is it me, or are most, including Philip, just not fully understanding what Graham has written? I'm sure Graham will reply for himself but I'm sure some things are being allotted to him that he never actually wrote.........

I suggest reading through his article more carefully.
I'm not sure Graham understood what he was putting forward Jack. Were they questions for discussion, or were they perceptions, as he see's it, of what's happening in angling today.

The title of the piece was a question, much in it looked like perceived, on his part, statements about the loss of skills visa via 30 years ago.

If that's the case, then Philip has countered them by stating the skill levels are still there but have shifted to suit modern day tactics.
 

noknot

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Very well put Philip!

I agree that no matter the rig's, tackle and baits being used, it still needs to be placed in the right spot! And indeed to cast to the back of a bar @ 90 yards and bait it accurately is a skill, as this in fact is not as easy as it sounds! Watercraft, I would say is not a skill but a natural gift possed by few, but can be learnt and improved by experience. I was Carp angling 30 years ago, and to be honest, nothing has really changed, the rig's used back then will still catch Carp today, as will the bait, the main difference as I see it, is that there are far more Carp "waters" today and certainly more Carp "anglers"! As for bolt rig's, it seems to me that many anglers, have reverted back to the running lead, which could still be deemed as a bolt rig, due to the resistance of the line through the water! As Philip rightly stated, a bolt effect can be from the hook end or at the butt.

Then look at the amount of infi there is today? How can people fail? Answer is that they do fail, so why is this? I think it is down to the natural ability of the angler to determine the correct presentation, at a given time, in the right place, to me that is skill, Today or yesteryear.
 

Philip

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Thanks for all the comments guys. I was expecting an uphill battle on this one but was surprised there is more people than I expected who seem to be at least in part agreement.

Sean is right of course that more anglers today are just following a standard “prescription” for success, it’s a good way of putting it but is that necessarily a bad thing?

For example I did not touch on fish safety and welfare as the piece was getting too long. Are those not skills too ? …I don’t think anyone can realistically argue that the average angler 30 years ago took better care of his catch (or even knew how to) than the average guy today who is following the standard prescription of mat, forceps, antiseptic etc…

Seans also right that I see hardly anyone changing the hair length but then again how many do I see moving their dropper shot when not getting bites ? …hardly any either…so is it really different today ?

I like Patgillets point about how the good anglers will still come out on top should they all be forced to use the same tackle because as no knot says it still comes down to natural ability and skill. Would the average angler 30 years ago out fish the average guy today on the same tackle ? …now that’s an interesting one !

The thing is I think there is often the case that anglers remember and compare the best anglers 30 years ago with the average angler of today. They remember a Billy Lane or an Ivan Marks and then when they think of today they don’t think of a Dave Harrell or Terry Lampard, they think of some other guy they saw on the Trent using two rods and a bolt rig for Barbel. Could it also be that sometimes we are not comparing apples with apples ?

Is it me, or are most, including Philip, just not fully understanding what Graham has written? I'm sure Graham will reply for himself but I'm sure some things are being allotted to him that he never actually wrote.........

I suggest reading through his article more carefully.
I read his article about 5 times Jack.

I don’t think I misquoted Graham anywhere, if I did I am sure he will point it out. I may have misinterpreted certain things but as the Bad one points out, his piece was pretty clear by the title “Has the skill gone out of fishing?”

If your going to write something like that and then suggest there is “much less skill involved today” then you have to be ready for people to interpret what you mean in different ways. My piece is just to give an alternative view point which I am sure will be understood in different ways by different people too.

Perhaps you should read mine again too….
 
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The bad one

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Philip as someone who has spanned both eras I can say with some accuracy that 30 + years ago there was just as many herd followers then as there is now. Yes all the anglers could fish a stickfloat on a river, most, competently, but that was the norm certainly here in the NW.

Much of the talk at work amongst the anglers in the Works Club was always about shotting patterns, stickfloat makes, designs and what the top match men were saying in the comics at the time. Fishing the waggler down the centre of the river was just coming into fashion as well round about that time. The splodger was also starting to make an impact with some as well. One guy telling me about the way he used a coco tin as a splodger on the Severn to get his maggots in the swim.

Carp wise shop bought boilies had probably only been in use a few years at best. Optonics dominated the market for buzzers. Hair rigs were tied on the finest nylon line you could get away with.

Big Bream and Tench fishing was done with maggots, worms, bread and corn.
And Graham's book (Advanced Coarse Fishing) was published.
 

Cakey

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well may be its me but there are more and more methods of catching fish
30 years ago I put a bit of bread on and caught minnow or roach then I put a minnow and caught perch or pike ,all seemed so easy .
now its what ticket ,what bait what rig what hooks ,join the AT do this do that
Id go back 30 years tomorrow !
 

Graham Whatmore

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True, there are many "methods" but maybe it would be more exact to say there are many "variations" on a single method i.e. a bait on a hook with an attached weight to throw said bait to the desired area.

In the 40s/50's the method of ledgering was exactly the same as it is today except they used a coffin lead and watched the tip of the rod for bites, what we have today is merely an elaboration of that method.
 
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Cakey

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mmmm dunno about that .........there are 1000s and 1000s of carp rigs alone
30 years ago there were probably no actual carp rigs
 

Derek Gibson

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All variations on a theme Cakey, refinements maybe, Lenny Middleton ? Ron Clay ? But all based around an original concept if you look back far enough. Everybody looking for the edge, or so it seems to me............
 
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