What is match fishing?
Match fishing and coarse fishing can take place on different types of venues, the most popular lakes for match fishing to take place on is commercial fisheries. Generally commercial fisheries are common with competition anglers and anglers who are simply pleasure fishing. Commercial venues will often have numbered swims or purpose-built platforms which can be fished from, these swims will be allocated to each individual angler during a match. If you are a pleasure coarse angler who is fishing the venue but not partaking in a match, you can freely choose your desired swim if no one else is already fishing in it.
When you arrive at the venue you will need to unload all of the relevant match/coarse fishing tackle which you have, for example a Pole or a feeder/float rod, seat box, net, bait, bait stand or bucket and a fishing trolley/barrow to get the gear to your swim. Once you are in your chosen swim, you will need to prepare your bait for the days fishing ahead, pellets, ground bait and live baits such as maggots are popular baits for match and coarse fishing. You will need a bucket, some water and liquids for the ground bait mix in order to get a consistency for loose feed or feeder fishing with for the day.
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Once you have the bait prepared, you can start fishing! One of the more popular methods of match and coarse fishing is feeder fishing, this tactic is often fished with a rod and reel, the main type of rod which is used when feeder fishing is a quiver tip rod. Bite indication is detected by watching the coloured rod tip, twitches and pulls on the rod tip will give register bites. The reel of choice tends to vary from angler to angler, with some anglers opting for a bait runner style reel with a rear drag and others opting for a front drag reel, these reels are often smaller than larger carp fishing reels.
Another very popular match and coarse fishing method is pole fishing, it is always important that you feed your swim correctly when pole or feeder fishing. This applies if you are competing in a match or simply pleasure fishing for a day. There are numerous tactics and methods of bait deployment throughout the day of a match fisherman, with different anglers having different preferences. These will often be explored when match fishing and pleasure fishing as the main goal is usually to catch as many fish as possible in the time you are on the bank. Different methods and different strategies with bait application could increase or decrease the amount of bites you get. It is important to remember that you can’t get back what you have put in, so always be cautious not to over do it and over feed your swim.
Match anglers often try to maximise the potential of their swim during the 6-hour window which they have to fish, throwing out loads of bait at the very beginning could completely ruin a swim for the next 6 hours. You will need to learn and adapt your baiting to the tactic you decide to fish, be it method feeder, float on the pole or waggler fishing. As you are catching it is worth trying to keep track a rough guide to the weight which you are accumulating in the keep net, keeping track of your catch rate and comparing to others catch rates can give you a rough idea as to whether you are doing better, worse or the same as the other anglers around you. Other anglers will often be keeping tabs on your catch rate, so being aware of others and how they are getting on is key.
How do you start match fishing?
Club match fishing is usually a great way to get into match fishing, these are usually a group or 10-20 anglers in a club group, this can be more flexible and members may be offer you a helping hand to get you started. If you were to enter open matches, which anyone can enter via paying a fee, you could end up fishing against very serious match anglers and you could end up straight in the deep end with very little help and assistance.
You will need to buy the relevant fishing gear to the style of match fishing you want to do, it is probably better to master one style/tactic before trying to become a master of all at the start. So if pole fishing was of interest to you, you might want to start out by learning how to pole fish first. Or if feeder fishing with a quiver tip and float fishing with a replaceable tip was more appealing to you, you may want to try and master these two types of fishing before you learn to fish with the pole.
When you draw a peg which is a known good peg on a lake, it will be worth asking any local club anglers for any tips or advice on how they have fished the peg before or what parts of the swim produce etc. Again, this is another benefit of being in a club match, if you have drawn a good peg other club members are likely to give you those tips.
When fishing different spots in your swim, you may choose to lightly bait a swim close in at the start of the match and fish a feeder to a longer range spot, if you have topped up the feeder fish spot with a few casts but this hasn’t resulted in any luck. Then you can switch tactic to maybe fishing a pole on the spot which you baited earlier closer in, this could result in a bite, in which case the small pre-bait and change of tactic would have paid off.
Fishing in club matches is all about learning, you will make mistakes, gather knowledge from other anglers and gradually self-improve and this is a great time to do it. Once you have established yourself with a foundation and some club match wins, you could decide to enter some new match fishing environments like the open matches where you can pay to enter, win pots of money and compete against potentially higher level anglers who could be at international level.
How long does a fishing match last?
A typical match will tend to take place over five to six hours for example (09:00am to 03:00pm). Usually every fish will count towards an accumulative weight, all of these fish will be retained in a keep-net throughout the match and then weighed in at the end of the match weigh in. The winner of the match will generally be determined by the biggest weight of fish which has been accumulated throughout the day, with a second and third place being confirmed by the other two heaviest weights of the match. After each weigh in, the fish are returned safely back to the lake into their habitat, ready for the next competition.
The rules and regulations in this blog are generalised, some commercial venues may adopt stricter sets of rules, this could be barbless hooks, hook lengths when fishing poles, tapping the water with the pole etc. If there is not a board displaying these rules it is always worth double checking these with the match organiser. There will also be specific keep-net rules, which again can vary from venue to venue. On some commercial venues they will allow up to 5 keep-nets per angler, as large hits of fish can be common, but usually one or two per angler will suffice. The organiser/venue owner will usually tell you what weight you are allowed in your keep-net at any given time.
During the match it is worth being aware of what tactics other anglers are applying, what bait and bait approach they are using especially if they appear to be catching plenty of fish. You may choose to apply some different tactics which could completely change your day!
How can I enter a match?
Matches will either be club matches or open matches, if you would like to enter a club match you will need to be a member of that club, an open match on the other hand may have an entry fee but you will not have to be a member of a specific club. You can approach different commercial venues and ask them how you would be able to enter the matches which take place on their lake. They will be able to offer you advice on whether you need to pay to join a club, or simply pay to enter an open match on that particular commercial venue.
When you are at your first match, at the start you will usually draw swim or peg numbers from a bag which will dictate the position you are allocated on the lake. One of the match officials will then take note of which angler is assigned which peg so that weights can be recorded against this. Before the match begins you will be informed of how long you have to set up, this could vary from one hour to an hour and a half. During the set up you can set up all of your required fishing gear, the keep net, the seat box, the bait, multiple rods to swap between I.E a waggler rod, a feeder rod and a pole etc so you are ready and primed to put one of those rods or poles out on the sound of the horn you can’t fish them all at once. You can also plumb the swim before the start, to gauge the depths for your rigs if you are pole and float fishing but you are not able to put any bait in during plumbing the depth. The start time and finish time will be clarified by the match official and this is usually sounded with a horn or klaxon, if some people at the end of the lake can’t hear the horn the phrase ‘all in’ can often be shouted down the lake by anglers passing the message along to start. On the sound of the finishing klaxon the rig must be removed from the water, you are not able to try and cheat by leaving the rig in the water after the match is declared finished. If you were already playing a fish before the sound of the klaxon, you are able to continue playing the fish (within a time limit) and land it so it will contribute to your keep net to be included in the total weigh in. If you are playing a fish when the final klaxon goes, you should shout out ‘fish on’ to inform the organisers and other anglers that this was hooked before the klaxon sounded.
Once the match has started you do need to be courteous of the other anglers around you which you are competing against. Common etiquette and courtesy applies, the rule of thumb is that you don’t fish past half way between you and your neighbouring angler. So you stick to your section of water in front of you, or you can try different spots in the swim diagonally or in your own margin but no further than half way to either of the neighbouring anglers. If you hook a larger more powerful fish which you are struggling to prevent from kiting right or left across your swim, it could take you into one of the neighbouring swims, you should inform the angler and make them aware so they move their line if necessary.
It may also be worth clarifying any surface fishing rules, this could be completely banned in your match. You could be allowed to surface fish but with no free surface offerings which could drift down into other anglers swims. If it is a hot day and fish are cruising, it is worth questioning this before the match.
What is a match fishing rod?
The two main types of match fishing rods which are used are the ‘Quiver tip’ and the ‘Waggler Rod’, these are usually 12ft in length. There is of course the pole, but this is not classed as a rod. The reason the quiver tip and waggler rod are the most common is due to the fact the quiver tip allows you to ledger or feeder fish on the lakebed and receive bite indication through the rod tip. Most feeder rods come with tips which you can change, different coloured tips represent the sensitivity of the tip for different types of fishing for sensitive bite indication. A waggler rod is a stiffer tipped rod which is primarily used for float fishing, you are not relying on the tip of the rod for bite indication, you are relying on the float which you can watch in the water.
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Can you float fish with a quiver tip?
It’s important to know how sensitive the tip of the quiver tip is, it doesn’t make sense to float fish with this rod. Of course, you can physically float fish with a quiver tip, but this isn’t what the rod is designed for. The main difference is a on the quiver tip, the tip is used for bite indication. When float fishing, you do not use the tip for bite indication, you use the float which you can see in the water. Some match fishing rods come with two sets of tips, one set for quiver tipping and another tip which you can change over for waggler fishing, this will be a stiffer tip. Most traditional feeder and waggler rods are cork handled, serious match anglers who compete will often have a separate waggler rod and quiver tip, so if there is a need to swap over and change tactic in a match, there will be no time wasted cutting and breaking down one set up to change to another. Time is of the essence when match fishing so you do not want to be wasting time changing set ups.
About The Author
CEO & Co-Founder
Being out on the bank and catching a fish is just a bonus for me, what I really love about angling is it provides us with the ability to be at one with nature and appreciate what most do not get to see. I discovered my passion for angling at the age of 9 and it has never left me, carp fishing has always been the core of my angling but I will never turn down the opportunity to target other species and enjoy what our waters have to offer.