Rods rigged and ready to go, but are we cutting our chances before we even get to the bank?


With the knowledge gleaned from my lure sessions targeting the other species that inhabited my chosen venues became a whole lot easier. As I had ran lures through most of the swims on the pits I was fishing I knew the depth and features of nearly every foot of water. The amount of time spent looking at the water had also shown me where the fish liked to be and feed, and at what time of day in varying weather conditions.

Careful watching of the weather forecast narrowed down my chosen species, a warm south-westerly meant a carp, bream or tench session, anything else and it meant a long range waggler session for anything that swims (my favourite all-time stillwater method) or a lure session was the order of the day.

Preparation is the key – or is it ?

Short sessions lasting no more than 6 hours mean time is at a premium. Anything that could be prepared in advance was. Rods were ready, made up with rigs ready to cast out, ground bait and hookbaits were prepared in advance. But this great pre-planning led to a few problems which has over time changed the way I feel about getting everything ready in advance.


Groundbait which is mixed well in advance gets the chance to soak up a lot of liquid and becomes inert in nature. By this I mean if you mix your groundbait the night before you’ll have a mix that will form a dormant carpet of feed for fish to ‘graze’ over but not a lot else.

I like, especially when fishing short sessions, an active feed that will form a good cloud in the bottom layers of my swim, constantly fizzing and sending particles and oils into the upper layer to entice any passing fish to feed. Even the most explosive of mixes lose a lot of this potency if mixed the night before. As a result I now only mix method mix in advance. I did experiment for a while with adding an activator to pre-mixed groundbait prior to fishing, ie, crushed rice crispies, but it just couldn’t compete with freshly mixed groundbait made up just prior to use.

I also have a dislike of mixing groundbait with tap water, feeling that the fish can detect the added chemicals in it; after all, if we can taste the difference fish must be able to detect it a mile away. So now only my method mixes are made up the night or day before a session and these are made up with a mixture of molasses and the water I boil my hemp or other particles in (like moth beans which I use a lot as a spicy hemp alternative). All other groundbait, even for PVA bags or for balling in en mass is made up just prior to fishing at the bank.

Rods and Rigs

It seems to make sense that if you’re short on actual fishing time then saving 20 minutes on the bank by getting your rods ready rigged up at home is the ideal thing to do. This is something I had done for years in all branches of my fishing. I think the efficiency of my match fishing days where all manner of rigs, even my stickfloat and waggler rigs were kept on large pole winders ready for use led to this habit. And as a result when I stopped match fishing the habit continued. No matter what type of fishing I was doing the rods were ready made up in advance so on the bank they were ready to go. This sounds great when it comes to greater angling efficiency and saving time but it can have a serious impact on your fishing and what you catch.

If your rods are ready made up then inevitably you go fishing with a pre-determined plan and a particular mindset, which because you’ve been planning days and sometimes weeks in advance can be very hard to get out of. You arrive at your chosen venue determined to fish a pre-chosen swim with a pre-chosen rig or method (all ready to go on your rods). This, as we all know, puts you at a serious disadvantage straight away as mother nature and the fish we’re trying to catch do not go along with our well laid out plans and this leads to so many missed opportunities. We have all been guilty of this at one time or another and so now I do the following.

Unless I’m lure fishing I arrive at my venue with not even my reels attached to my rods. This way I am far more likely to use tackle suited to the swim I have chosen rather just use what is already set up or choose a swim suited to the rig I’ve got set up. Go fishing with an open mind, walk onto the bankside and clear your mind, attune your fish catching senses then think about where you’re going to fish and with what rig. Its no good deciding the night before.

The key to successful short sessions is flexibility, yes, be prepared but don’t be blinkered. Ten minutes fishing the right rig in the right swim is time better spent than fishing four hours with the wrong rig in a fishless swim.