Drennan consultant, Jon Arthur, is a top match angler and two-time UK Champion – but it’s not match fishing that he's sharing some knowledge on here. It's lure fishing... drop shotting to be precise.
AS SOMEONE who specialises in match fishing, I know how easy it is to get blinkered. In the main, I stick to what I do best, and that’s matches. However, catching fish is catching fish and a change is as good as a rest, as they say.
That’s why I’ve recently begun to dip my toe into the predator angler’s realm. It’s been quite fun, too!
Match anglers are used to being shackled to a specific peg for five hours – whether it’s got fish in or not – and fishing to strict rules and times of day.
Limits like this are a great way to put your skills to the test, but it’s nice to have a bit more freedom once in a while.
Drop-shotting is all the rage these days and it was exactly the kind of thing I was looking for!
I couldn’t think of a better contrast to setting a mountain of gear up on a match than a roving approach with the bare minimum of tackle.
There’s no pressure; a few casts here, trundle along a bit, another few casts there, trundle along a bit more… It’s the first time I’ve actually considered fishing to be the relaxing pastime most non-fisherman assume my work/hobby is!
It’s also nice to be able to pop out for an hour without any pressures. There’s rarely anyone else fishing my local canals and no one is sat 10 yards away scrutinising my gear or casting technique.
As someone that’s used to waggling a top-of-the-range pole and sitting on an all-singing-and-dancing seatbox, I know my lure fishing tackle is not in the same league.
I haven’t got myself a proper drop- hotting rod (yet) and I definitely don’t look the part with my Drennan match clothing on (heaven forbid!), but there’s no one else around and quite frankly I don’t care!
Someone recently asked me “Can I use my 10ft 6in leger rod for drop shotting?” and I promptly replied, “Hell yeah!” It’s obviously not perfect, but why shouldn’t he?
I’m catching fish with my own cobbled-together kit and getting just enough fish to keep me interested.
My local canal is more coloured than many other stretches I know, so the fishing’s not easy. Perhaps that’s why I like it? I don’t want to have a fish every cast. I don’t even mind if I don’t catch every time (well, perhaps a little bit).
Catching just one or two fish a session keeps me thinking up new strategies. Even with the minimal gear I deliberately take, there are so many variables to try out in a short space of time.
Different setups, different depths, different retrieve patterns and, of course, lots and lots of lovely different lures to thread on the hook – and I reckon buying new lures is just as addictive as shiny new pole floats!
I have to admit that the matchman in me still struggles to relax entirely. I am always competing with myself. Just the other day I looked at the clock and it was 8pm. I decided to quickly nip down the towpath and gave myself less than 30 minutes to catch a single fish before it got too dark.
I had a 1lb 8oz zander after 15 minutes, five more ‘one last casts’ and was back before my wife even knew I’d gone. I quite like these commando-style missions!
I’m definitely not the only match angler that’s doing this drop shotting mullarkey, either. My old mate, Les Thompson, has made quite a name for himself for one, and there are countless others having a go.
I also appreciate that drop shotting isn’t the be all and end all of lure fishing. However, it’s the most accessible style I’ve found.
I’ve tried to use standard cast-and-retrieve jigs and lures on my local bit of canal, but all I have ever come back with are carrier bags and rubbish. Drop shotting seems to all but eliminate snagging up and seems such a logical solution.
What’s more, my brain’s still ticking over, as I’m sure there are applications for a drop shot style approach in match fishing.