In his popular weekly blog for this Angler's Mail website, Colin Mitchell talks taking advice when offered, and the best way to correct some basic fishing mistakes, including the right float (pictured).

IT’S ALWAYS difficult to see a fellow angler doing something not quite right and missing out on a few fish.

You really want to say something and put them on the right track but – certainly in my case – you feel like you don’t want to embarrass anyone or come across as a know-it-all.

Let’s be honest I don’t know it all…and neither does any other angler! We are all capable of learning more. But I’ve cringed over the past few weeks as I have walked passed some anglers on commercial and club waters. There’s a vast amount of fishing knowledge freely available. And every week Angler’s Mail adds to that vast fountain of great advice.

I won’t, indeed can’t, point fingers at anyone in particular for making mistakes; and sorry if you recognise yourself in the mistakes made below. But I hope at least by highlighting some of these errors I can guide someone to extra fish…



I was going to say we all know stick floats are for running water but nowadays I think a lot of novices and newcomers don’t even recognise a stick float as less people fish rivers. Anyway, a stick float attached top and bottom is NOT the right choice for your local commercial stillwater. You can’t sink your line – or if the line does sink it will be pretty damn awkward to strike – and this type of float can drift away from your baited area.



Strung out shot or bulk shot with a dropper – the two simple ways of dotting down your float. I can’t really describe some of the shotting patterns spotted in recent weeks; suffice to say that big and small shot were just plonked on the line, thankfully below the float, in all sorts of haphazard methods.

The aim of shotting is to sink your float to the required depth AND to ensure that they register a bite as quickly as possible with the least resistance to fish.  Strung shot allows your bait to fall slowly through the water – use as small shot as possible – bulk shot gets the bait down fast, especially for deep or flowing water, and the dropper registers the bite. Get the dropper as near to the hook as you can.



Whilst on the subject of dotting down floats it really is a case of some anglers needing to go to Specsavers or not understanding how much of the tip should be showing. I’ve seen anything up to an inch of float sticking out. It would take a shoal of small fish to drag some of the fatter tips under!

At this time of the year my float tip will be dotted to a pimple. I wear glasses but can still see that bit of float at quite long range. If you can’t see if then get some hollow tipped floats or dot them down and then add a bit of Vaseline or pole float grease.



I touched on feeding last week. It’s a simple case here of those who don’t feed anything and those who shovel it in. Neither is right. Get the happy medium of little but often – it’s seldom that method doesn’t work.


Take those hooks out  carefully, whatever you catch...

Take those hooks out carefully, whatever you catch…



Right this is my hobby horse. And it’s a full size horse at that! I am disgusted and ashamed when I catch a fish with a ‘parrot mouth.’ There’s no denying that these fish have been disfigured by bad unhooking or badly tied braid rigs. The answer to this problem – if you can’t unhook a fish properly by using a disgorger or forceps either ask another angler for help or pack in fishing. There is no excuse for ripping out hooks. I’d ban anyone caught doing this.



I’m all for the thrill of catching fish off the surface. Some fisheries, quite rightly, outlaw this because of wildlife – but I do think anglers need to take a bit more care with their floating bread baits from what I have seen in recent weeks.


5. BETTER RESULTS:  If your casting accuracy leaves a lot to be desired it doesn’t hurt to spend some time sorting things out. A good time to do this is at the start of a session. Many feeder anglers spend the first ten minutes of a session feeding up the swim by continuously casting the feeder to the required spot. Priming the swim like this fine tunes your casting and also helps to ensure a busy session.


I know a gaff is one of those great big hooks that sea and game anglers – and old time pikers – used to use. But there appear to be anglers who think a size 6 is needed to carry a bunch of maggots. Scale down! Even a size 18 can land a specimen carp – it’s about balance tackle and hooks matching baits.



One thing matchmen always try to do is get organised, have everything to hand to save time. And one thing you must always have handy is the landing net…so how come some pleasure anglers appear to think it is something you can leave lying around anywhere? Some anglers have even left it behind when they search out a new swim! Staggering.

I could, of course, go riding along even further on my trusty hobby horse, but think that will do for now…

Blog Mitch

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