What makes a good match angler???

whitty

Well-known member
I was thinking this yesterday after managing to contact several of my compatriots of the past,most still fishing matches regularly,unlike myself,i came to this conclusion,the guy who could suddenly switch on when he found the right method,or the fish came on in a single minded fashion with total confidence,obviously the ability/knowledge has to be there,anybody have any views on it?

P.S. I lost my competetive edge around ten years ago and with that the interest to change around all day to catch,so usually fish one method(i.e. float fishing)and stick with it all day,farting around with shotting patterns,hook sizes yes,but not straight lead,feeder,pole,all in one day.
 

sam vimes

Well-known member
The ability to regularly catch a greater weight of fish than the rest of the field is the most important thing.

The one thing that I see that separates the best from the rest (match or not) is their way with bait and loosefeeding.
 

nottskev

Well-known member
Depends on the context. Commercials have given rise to venue and method experts - anglers who know their pools inside out, or have how to catch method carp or F1's on the pole down to a fine art.

In the bit of the fishing world I grew up in and prefer, the best match anglers had a lot of flexibility and wide-ranging skills on all kinds of rivers, canals and lakes, and the three main methods.

I often find that when I go fishing, the first visit to a place or a new swim is so-so, and there's possibly not much to put on HDYGO. By the end of the session, though, I've probably got a better idea what to do, and if I come back soon after I might well catch plenty. By contrast, I've found that a couple of fishing mates who have done well in match fishing are quicker to read their swims, and all the clues you get from bites etc, and to work out how to feed and fish. I'd say the ability to quickly read and adapt to what you've drawn - as opposed to fishing how you expected or wanted to - is a big difference between anglers.
 

Peter Jacobs

Moderator
Staff member
I'd say that to become a really good match angler then a fully focussed dedication is essential; to be good then there are no half measures in my book, and little time for anything else.

I requires a lot of time (and money) and I'd say that my most successful periods were when I was single and totally dedicated to the one purpose, that being winning.

I was lucky enough to know a good few top match anglers and fished with the likes of Stevie Gardner, Jan Porter, Dave Vincent and Steve Saunders, all of whom were simply amazing to watch from close quarters.

Stevie G's seat box was an Aladin's cave of rigs, and many were labelled with individual peg numbers at different venues . . . such was his preparation and attention to detail.

Without exception when they tackled up typically they would lay their rods in the water so no one could see their shotting patterns, so secrecy is another necessary component if one wants to be successful, and yet Stevie G would always answer any direct question, after the match.
 

Mark Wintle

Well-known member
Dedication isn't always enough; I believe there has to be a lot of natural ability to think like a fish/read water if you want to do really well. One angler local to me - Neil Maidment will know who I mean - spent over a decade convinced that if only he tried hard enough/practised enough/had all the right gear then he would become a good (not top) match angler. He took out bank loans to buy top of range gear, watched top anglers in abundance and yet when it came down to it could barely catch a cold. He almost tried too hard sometimes. He did win one or two low quality club matches but found himself generally rejected by local winter league teams and only finally got into a National team (his ultimate quest) when a team was truly on its uppers, not helped by him being team captain and yet another relegation. He just didn't understand what was happening underwater ie the effect that feeding, bait presentation, conditions had on what he'd catch.

Anglers at the opposite end of the scale defy the laws of physics, dedicated and single-minded, yes - but able to do things no one else seems to understand. In this elite band of men I include Steve Gardener (referred to as 'God'; I fished in a number of matches that also included Steve and as far as I can tell I never beat him even if I framed), Ivan Marks, John Dean (Nottingham and other Trent anglers could fill a book on how John won matches, like the day just about the entire field was water-licked on a dirty rising Trent at Shelford, yet John stuck it out till the end, getting a 7lb carp late on to win, when scores of anglers had long packed up, with the view that if Deany wasn't catching there was not much point staying), Phil Coles ( I took him fishing for the first time for 20 years in 2015; you'd think he'd never been away, never miscast, missed a bite, lost a fish, outstanding, his mind working all the time trying to figure oput what was happening) and there are others of similar ilk. Ivan had little time for matters outside fishing bar gambling, and the other Likely Lads, none of whom were slouches when it came to fishing, all, to a man, rated Ivan as the best. I did manage to 'scalp' Keith Arthur on Medley, Kim Milsom on Longleat (he misread the conditions) and Jan Porter on the Bristol Avon (he fished for non-existent chub on a roach peg).

In my prime I had a knack of winning or framing on venues I'd never seen before; a 2nd on Dryad, wins on the Thames at Carrot's Ham, Goring, three wins in a row at Clifton Hampden, framing at Longleat, winning at Clifton Lakes and Makins. I guess I took an open mind to the venues and chopped and changed rather than doing what the locals did which was often copy each other.

Apart from that water craft you need excellent coordination and eyesight, eyes given out in the queue for the eagles as it states in Kevin Ashurst's (another superstar) book.
 

nottskev

Well-known member
Something I suppose people who have it take for granted, but those who don't are keenly aware of, is the issue of temperament. That might not be the right word, but I mean whatever it is that enables some, more than others, to fish calmly when it's either going badly or well. The last time I fished a Trent open match shows which side I fall on. It was winter, after Christmas, on a low river 5 or 6 years ago on a stretch below Gunthorpe weir. I was in a lovely peg, for the day, where the faster water on the pegs above (which didn't produce) turned steady, with a great big willow just above me making a nice crease.
I got 5 bites on a waggler in the last two hours, and hooked 5 big chub - 4lb+ - of which I got one out. The others either made it into the willow or broke me as I tried to hold them away. The one I got out weighed 4lb -odd and got me second The winner, on the peg below, had 4 small chub for 5lb+ on the feeder. Weighing in, the winner pointed at me and said, there's the bloke who should have won it, every time I looked up there his rod was bent round like THAT. He was right, and I'm sure I'd have got them out if I hadn't been so scared of losing them!
 

xenon

Well-known member
Think its a combination of natural talent and the willingness to develop that talent. I regard myself as a distinctly average angler (I catch enough to keep me happy, but if I had to rely on match winnings to survive I would be down the food banks) and remember clearly when i was starting out there were one or two lads in my gang who could catch fish out of a bucket. if you asked them why they adopted any given method or approach they couldnt really tell you much beyond instinct.
 

steve2

Well-known member
Although I fished many matches I would never class myself as a match angler. Having been pegged next to true match anglers they were in a different mind zone nothing distracted them from what they were there for and that was to win. I was just there to make up the numbers and give them my pools money.
 

S-Kippy

Well-known member
Apart from the technical skill required to present the bait in the way the fish want it on any given day/circumstances its feeding for me...and knowing how the fish are reacting to that feed. Its not something I've every truly mastered and I am in awe of those that just instinctively seem to know how much and how often to feed.
 

Mark Wintle

Well-known member
I'm still working on these interviews as I had a lot to edit out - two more to come - but if you search for 'Phil Coles interview' in Youtube you will find some interesting insights into matchfishing. There are three loaded so far. Phil was closer than most to Ivan in the late 60s and early 70s.
 

nottskev

Well-known member
It's not my cup of tea (you'd never have guessed) but watching those videos where commercial expert Jamie Hughes talks through a session or a match are fascinating. What come across, apart from all the expected skills which he plainly has in spades, is an extraordinary ability to read all the feedback he gets from the fish via type and timing of bites. When pole fishing, he introduces small, measured amounts of feed, fed in a particular way - eg dropped or dripped from a pot or thrown etc - at a particular time - eg before putting the rig in or after hitting a bite - with a rig shotted this way or that. He's studying exactly what the result tells him about the number and behaviour of fish in front of him, and continues or adjusts accordingly, always prepared to change it or test something different. I know we all do this - feed a bit and see what happens - but he takes the whole business to another level, and I can understand, when I watch, how he seems to have such miraculous success in his field. I've been fishing for 50 years, usually in areas that needed a bit of finesse, and I'd say I was a frugal feeder and fairly careful and methodical. But watching him, I feel positively slapdash.
 

whitty

Well-known member
On you tube ive watched all the Jon Arthur vids,both when he was sponsored by Drennan,then Matrix,you can just see how good he is,very,very good....
 

Specihunter

Well-known member
I tried it once and felt way out of my comfort zone and the amount of kit club anglers have is scary. It's like keeping up with the Jones's. I have done some swap fishing matches but stopped as I wasn't enjoying it and 1 match was 3 down 1 up no good up here as the water can fly right down.
 

silvers

Well-known member
I think the UK match scene has fragmented in the nearly 30 years since the short period when the OP and I fished for the same team. More commercial venues have come to the fore - with a few new methods and a lot of refinement of approaches.
So very few indeed are masters of all the wide range of methods, whilst a lot of match anglers stick to one kind of venue (or even one venue!)
Having said that fish are still fish, and all the old methods still work as well. I know - i still employ them and get a few results on river matches.

So beyond knowledge, equipment and dexterity - what is important?

A good drawing arm is important - to help that I like venues that have a lot of potential winning pegs that suit the methods I prefer.
Confidence is another important factor - especially on harder days - experience that your approach is right.

Open mind and active thinking is the key difference IMO. It's all great when you catch from the off on the starting approach - but how do you maximise your catch on the day .... stick or twist? It's those decisions that make or break.
I remember an article (I think it was by David Hall) recounting watching John Dean in his heyday on the trent - constantly adjusting his rig after every fish or bite. The author thought that he was seeking the perfect presentation so that John could cane the roach ... but eventually realise that he "was" caning them - and the constant adjustment was part of the reason. Same thought process for feeding. I believe Ivan called it "thinking like a fish".

The other thing is inquisitive and open-minded. The top match anglers download what others have done when they are successful and log it away for future reference.

But still - the best thing about match fishing is that it gives any of us the opportunity to line up against these stars with a chance of beating them! I have happy memories of fishing close to or next peg with a lot of the names already mentioned on the thread. Only last week I was two pegs from Bob Nudd! Sadly (for me) he bested me on this occasion.
 

whitty

Well-known member
Alex,when you speak to certain anglers you know they are half tidy,i talk to Des Barker every week or two,its usually a waffle but i can tell he thinks the right thoughts,he has found things that i and others have found,not what rods and reels he uses,but things he has found out whilst fishing matches,these people are the 5% that win 90% of the matches
 

whitty

Well-known member
Ahhh,you still need the drawbag,but there are people who you just know arent going to muck up and will definitely frame up...
 

peter crabtree

Well-known member
whitty
Re: What makes a good match angler???

Ahhh,you still need the drawbag,but there are people who you just know arent going to muck up and will definitely frame up...
A good match angler is one who is meticulous with preparation and leaves home with ample time to get to the venue. Arriving stressed out is not good.
Forgetting to bring a bit of kit vital to your plan of attack can also affect your mood from the off.

A good match angler doesn’t listen too intently to the pre-draw pessimism concerning certain pegs or areas which are being discussed.
A good match angler doesn’t fret when they draw an unfancied peg.
I’ve seen people defeated before they set up, or even go home without fishing as a result of that.
 

Mark Wintle

Well-known member
The best match anglers are never content with just their own fish, they want yours as well. I won matches where I drew up shoals of dace from others' pegs, chub from three or four pegs down (the art of winning Stour matches!), and the Fenland masters knew how to force mistakes so that those less experienced anglers drawn on bream would lose the shoal to better anglers like Ivan Marks.
 

nottskev

Well-known member
I've noticed the best anglers, in any field, leave it to others to sing their praises, rather than singing their own.
 
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