The Angler's Mail weekly general coarse fishing blogger, Colin Mitchell is back to discuss why certain fishing methods and tackle should be banned, not just for the good of the sport, but for the safety of fish.

MOST anglers would agree when it comes to banning certain fishing methods and items of tackle.

Some venues do go way too far when they draw up their list of rules – but if it’s a commercial fishery the simple answer is that it’s the owner’s water and if you don’t like the laws don’t go!

I would totally agree to outlawing any method that is a danger to the lives of fish. But just how far should we go to protect fish, angling and the image of our sport?

Indeed, should we actually be banning methods that are not actually dangerous but do catch fish, even though they could not be classed as traditional?

Long poles

Normal long poles like this I have no issue with, but mega long and laid floating on the water…. NO!

Ultra long floating poles should be banned

Let’s start with one method that appeared to get everyone on the bank riled with anger when it was brought up last week… floating poles.

For those not in the know, this involves stuffing as many sections onto your pole as possible, floating it on the surface as there’s no way you could hold the unwieldy beast – and then letting fish virtually hook themselves.

Many venues have quite rightly banned this method in matches. If you can’t hold the pole it shouldn’t be used. And remember we could be talking 20m or more here!

Who can actually afford to keep buying those parallel sections? A decent pole of 13m is within most anglers’ reach nowadays; I will even accept 14.5m as a ‘normal’ long length. After that I would start to question if you should be on a running line – after all, internationals are fished to a pole limit!


Slapping is not everyone’s cup of tea. But it works.

Slapping is one of my ‘no no’ fishing methods

And that takes us nicely to slapping! No, not slapping your mate who has upset you or the angler who has cast into your swim – but slapping your pole tip onto the surface.

For those not in the know, the noise of that splashing attracts the carp, a bit like pellets hitting the surface.

You fish a float shallow and don’t even have to feed. Oh, and the fish invariably hook themselves.

Some anglers don’t even use a float, just a short piece of line. Sorry, but in my book this is not fishing. It may be effective but it’s just not right… crikey you are even robbing the fish of a free meal!

So how about slapping your pole rig on the surface?

Is that right? Well it’s just like casting and not quite as bad as slapping the pole – although I am still not a big fan.

Make sure safety clips like this are used, or that the weight can come off by being free-running or similar.

Make sure safety clips like this are used, or that the weight can come off by being free-running or similar.

What about fixed rigs, lead and hook barbs?

Fixed legers, feeders or even worse Method feeders are outlawed on most commercials. Fixed rigs should be banned everywhere.

There is no place in angling for a rig that could snap off and leave a fish trailing any form or weight around.

Lead weights are legally outlawed – I think it would have been far better to bring in laws against fixed rigs.


Now here are two pretty controversial things to think about – the use of barbed hooks and braid traces.

A few years ago – as much by necessity because of the waters that I was fishing – I changed virtually all of my hooks to barbless patterns. Even when I could fish barbed ones I didn’t. I just thought it would make my life easier in getting used to the idea of no barb.

Now all of my hooks are barbless except for the use of a micro barb, where allowed, when fishing worms or maggots at distance on a feeder. I don’t think the move has cost me any more fish than if I was using barbed and it’s so much easier and kinder unhooking them.

I’d even go so far as to say I have probably hooked more fish than before because barbless strike home so much more easier.

2 - Braids need to be loaded under more tension than mono, and should always be immersed in water for a few hours before spooling. Problems of wind knots and wrap arounds when casting with braid come from overloading spools so load to a couple of millimetres below the lip.

Braid on the spool I have no problem with.

Is braided line and link material a problem?

I’m fine with braid on the reel, especially for distance fishing on the feeder or leger for smaller fish. Bite detection is so much easier.

But I do wonder about braid traces and the potential damage they cause to fish mouths.

I do use heavy braid traces when after catfish as they can just grate their way through mono. I also use lighter braid traces when fishing for bigger fish in areas where there are a lot of snags and debris that could cut through line.

But the amount of fish I have caught with torn mouths has got me wondering if braid is the culprit.

I don’t think it is every time. I believe fixed rigs, poor unhooking and angling methods do cause most of this damage.

At a time when we are talking about trying to attract more people into angling maybe it would be a good idea to also educate these people to safe and good practices as they enter the sport.

WHICH FISHING METHODS WOULD YOU BAN? Email to and you might get published in Angler’s Mail print magazine – the best weekly.