Minimal Fishing Tackle
Derek's Fishing Pages
Memorable Fishing Trips
Returning to Fishing
Bait & Groundbait
Presents for Anglers
Minimal tackle scores
You will almost certainly catch more with minimal kit.
Fishing tackle is designed to catch anglers - not fish. Magazines make most of their money from advertisers. Ask any tackle-shop owner: he sells very little gear to successful anglers; he makes his money out of those who don't catch much.
Especially nowadays when people are cash-rich but time-poor and so few have any real contact with the countryside there is a tendency to try to buy shortcuts to success, hence the gadgets. Paradoxically the most successful anglers tend to spend less time at the water than those who do poorly.
A Sea fishing example:
I have been on Portland when the Chesil Beach was lined with anglers after cod. In the pub two of the best local anglers were playing darts until about halfway through the evening when they disappeared. They returned in time for a last pint before closing with a couple of cod each, one over 15lb. Later we watched dozens of anglers trudge back to the car park, only two or three of them had any fish and none had more than one.
You take one set of gear and so you concentrate on just that. It's light enough to move around after the fish. If it doesn't work you can move to another water, nip home for a bite to eat or not even bother to come out until the conditions are right. Setting up is so quick that you are fishing as soon as you hit the water and no time is wasted.
I'm lucky enough to live within walking distance of a decent river with a stock of wild brown trout. In season I keep a rod set up. If I decide I want a couple of fish for supper I can pick my moment to go out, catch my brace and be back in under an hour, sometimes under 20 minutes. I probably fish that water less than 24 hours in a year but it wouldn't be fair to fish it more.
As it happens I have to go farther to coarse fish than to the sea or trout waters. In consequence I tend to take more gear with me when I do but I note that when I keep it lean I catch more so as a halfway measure I've taken to leaving as much as possible in the car. Risky in some places though.
Try it yourself. Go very light and aim to fish short sessions, you can do two or three in a day if you like, different venues even. If you find a good fish that won't take straight away drop in a few baits and leave it till later, or next time. When you come back the fish will be relaxed. You'll approach knowing where it is and so are less likely to spook it and you know what baits it's used to. If you had stayed there it's likely the fish would not have had a chance to relax. Once you have a pattern established you can cover half a dozen likely prospects in three hours or so.
Want to catch dace or roach rather than carp? Use the same approach but this time it's shoals you are returning to rather than individual fish.
Why did it work for those Portland cod fishers?
They have studied the Chesil for years. They knew exactly which part of the tide would bring the fish within range in the prevailing conditions. They stayed warm and active until the last moment. They had the right tackle and bait ready to use and they knew how to handle it. They also knew when the fish would leave the area and hence when to stop fishing.
How did they know — is it voodoo?
They started out like any other beginners. Unlike many they took notes in a fishing diary. After a few years' notes about tide, weather, their and others' catches and related observations, patterns began to emerge. Nowadays they can manage the pub-and-fishing-session a couple of times a fortnight as the tides come around in season.
The secret, if you can call it that, lies in noticing what's happening. A fishing diary is a good idea but not essential. Notice what worked, when, how and if possible, why. In due course you will learn which tackle it is worth bringing and which, usually, it is not. You will learn which periods are most productive - they might be no more than half an hour in some places. By concentrating in the right places at the right times with the right methods and for short periods when conditions are suitable so that you can maintain maximum concentration you will greatly improve your catches.
Less sometimes is more.
Unless stated otherwise: Everything in this site refers to fishing in the British Isles and similar northern European waters.