Match fishing tactician Zac Brown (pictured) of Preston Innovations explains his tips on how to make the most of the 'Golden Hour' - striking when the fish are at their hungriest!

SO now that the colder months are kicking in every F1 carp that you can catch can be the difference between winning and just missing out on those vital team points or that match win, or making the most of a pleasure session.

In the winter you’ll often find that you have a small window of your match or pleasure session were the fish will feed most confidently, the ‘Golden Hour’. This can be the first or the last hour, but when the fish decide to feed you need to be ready to make the most of it.

Whether its the first hour on pellets or the short maggot fish in the last hour, every fish counts and these little tips will definitely help put an extra fish or two in your net.

I believe that efficiency and organisation will massively increase your performance, these tips will help you become more efficient, increase your fishing time, give you more confidence and help you make the most of that vital ‘Golden Hour’.

Organisation… so I’m ready

Being organised and efficient on the bank is crucial. I have a set routine when I set up my fishing gear, I have all of my bait neatly layed out on my side tray so know exactly where my bait is without looking.

I have my landing net placed at the side of my Monster Side Tray in a grip so when its always in the same place in.

Where I place my top kits is also really important, I always have my top kits to my left on my Mega Roost Kit which attaches to my side tray. This just speeds things up and I can change top kits at the blink of an eye.


These are such simple little things but by enforcing these week after week you’ll soon find you fishing much quicker and everything runs that little bit smoother.

Try keeping your baits in the same place on your side tray match after match and make sure your landing net is close to hand either on your tray or laid on top of your keep nets. Fumbling around for nets, bait and top kits can save valuable minutes which can make a massive difference at the weigh in.

So make sure you give these little tips a try, you’ll definitely see an improvement in your fishing.

Net selection?


Landing net selection is important when you’re fishing for F1’s. You’re probably thinking ‘a landing net cant make that much of a difference surely’. Trust me, it does!

I like to use a small landing net around 15 or 16 inches with a shallow base for all of my F1 fishing. You don’t want to be diving down to the bottom of a 18 or 20 inch deep net for a 1lb f1. It just slows you up, and makes everything that bit more difficult.

I want to be as efficient and smooth as possible in all of my fishing and using a deep landing net is just way too time consuming.

Elastics before and during the ‘Golden Hour’

My third tip is about elastic selection. This can vary depending on what size your fish you are fishing for but my standard F1 winter elastics are a size 6 Preston Slip so when the temperatures really plummet and then a 8 Dura hollow for all of my pellet work. I then step up to a 10 Dura Hollow in the ‘Golden Hour’ to speed things up and decrease fish playing time.


However I wont be afraid to step up an elastic size if I feel I can get away with landing fish quicker without bumping or disturbing the feeding fish.

Unfortunately this will only come with making mistakes and may cost you the odd fish in the short term but as long as you learn from it in the long run you’ll put more fish in your net.

Fishing is all about making mistakes and learning from them, thats how we improve as anglers!

Rig selection pointers

My last tip is rig selection. To make the most of the golden hour you need to be positive and fish a positive rig that you have complete confidence in.

There’s no point in fishing a light strung-out rig when fish are feeding well on the bottom and a simple bulk rig with one or two droppers will get your bait to the bottom in half the time.

The quicker you get your bait to the target zone, the quicker you can get a bite. Being positive in the best part of your match or session will increase your catch rate no end.

Although this is a positive rig you don’t have to increases your hook and line size, you may be doing enough by just getting your rig in the target area quicker.


If you combine this with my previous elastic tip you can really start to pile on the pounds in the golden hour.

Just remember that these tips will not instantly catch you more fish however saving a few seconds here and there will save you minutes and the more minutes you save the more fish you can catch.


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