My top tips to improve your fishing and catch more fish.

I am asked the question ‘what are your tips for catching more fish’, more than any other in my fishing life. So in this blog i’m going back to basics to give you my insights from 50 + years of fishing on how to put more and bigger fish on the bank.

To a large extent this may sound like teaching granny to suck eggs, after all isn’t that what we are all trying to do everyday of our fishing lives and if there was a magic wand wouldn’t we all (including me) be waving it?
There are days on the bank where i’m pulling my hair out trying to work out how to catch or more often help my clients catch, when all the odds seem stacked against us.
But if i stand back and reflect on all my years of fishing experience,not just in the UK but abroad there are some principles that stand out time and again as giving me and my fishing friends and clients the edge.
That edge might only be 10% or even 5% but that can be the difference between a blank and catching or a red letter day vs a good day. It’s fair to say that sometimes these principles get a bit lost in the day to day or hour to hour of  our fishing pursuits. They may seem obvious,but sometimes we can take the things for granted that might have the biggest impact on your fishing success.

So here are my top 5 fishing tactics and tips to put more and better fish on the bank.They are essentially what i would call the fundamentals of watercraft.

1. Observation

It’s so tempting when we have limited time in our busy lives, to arrive on the bank and get a bait in the water as quick as possible, desperate to make the most of the time we have.
If there is one lesson i have learned, it is that time spent looking at and observing the water in front of me is worth its wait in gold. On rivers i will use the close season in particular to walk the river and just observe fish behaviour,as i discuss in more depth here. On stillwaters,early morning tench bubbling, carp rolling,roach dimpling ,fry scattering, flat spots where a fish has disturbed the bottom, are all signs that fish are present.. The list is endless but it requires patience and training your eye to spot these subtle signs that are so easily missed . A great example of this was last winter when we arrived at a Pike lake in freezing conditions thinking fishing might be tough. However in the first 30 mins we saw three swirls on the surface indicating Pike were moving in the upper layers. One of our group, David, decided to try a lure while others had deadbait rods standing motionless on banksticks. 5 minutes later ‘BANG’ a take which resulted in a Pike of 30lb 8oz,a pb for David!

David Chapple with a PB 30lb Pike

2. Location,Location,Location 

 Phil and Kirsty have got it spot on. 30 minutes in a swim that holds fish is going to give you that real chance of catching rather than living in hope for 5 hours in a swim with no fish .  Playing a waiting game can sometimes pay dividends but if you only have limited pockets of precious fishing time it’s a risky strategy. Local knowledge from tackle shops,blogs,friends or other club members can be invaluable.

JG surveys the water for signs of fish activity

3. Preparation 

Time spent ahead of the game getting rigs sorted,bait prepared,rods tackled up and thinking ahead about tactics means very simply more time to catch. So many times in my guiding career i’ve seen people spending precious time getting gear ready,tying hook lengths,putting rod rests in etc.That first hour on the bank might be your best opportunity in the day to assess the conditions ,observe and get a bait in the water.Quite simply put more time observing and fishing more probability of catching. There are countless times i have been able to put fish on the bank because i was able to react immediately to a situation in front of me rather than spend precious minutes getting rigs together.

4. Approach

Have a plan for how you are going to tackle the session be confident in your approach but be flexible. Fish the conditions in front of you on the bank not in the living room the night before. Do as much research based on your experience and knowledge and set out a plan of attack-bait,rigs,approach. If you turn up and conditions have changed or you see a different species rolling in your swim don’t be afraid to adapt. This is particularly true in terms of bait choice. There are countless occasions that by changing bait I have managed to turn around a blank session. Most notably switching to caddis grubs transformed a tench session and enabled me to land 30 fish,when previously bites couldn’t be had.So adaptability is one of the most important lessons i have learned over my years of fishing.

Caddis grub in its protective shell

5. Belief

I’ve had the privilege of fishing alongside some wonderful talented fishermen over the years,people like John Wilson and Ivan Marks, and the one thing i have observed is that they have real belief,conviction and confidence in what they are doing and how they are approaching their fishing.This means not that they never blank,or mess up from time to time but on balance they have the edge to catch more and better fish. So whatever your level of skill or experience give it your best and stick at it. Practice,practice,learn ,watch have patience and you will get the rewards.

#fishing #johnbailey #catchmorefish #tacticsandtips


John Bailey