With most of the country being on lock down, now is the ideal time to be sorting out your kit and getting everything ready and prepared for your next outing on the bank. Like most anglers, over time my tackle becomes cluttered, dirty and generally unorganised after a few sessions – and each year i set aside some time to rectify that. Late Winter and early Spring is always an ideal time to get the gear sorted. With nature and the fish just starting to wake up, it’s crucial that your gear is ready for the year ahead of you. 

Preparation has always played a big role in my fishing. Being a fond believer of the saying “fail to prepare, prepare to fail”. It’s something i took from my match fishing days, and carried over into my carp fishing matches and general angling. Time spent tying rigs, sorting bags and discarding unnecessary tackle ultimately saves time on the bank, allowing you to focus more on locating and catching fish. However, you’d be wrong to think that preparation ends there for me:

De-clutter

The first step i take during my spring preparation is to have a general de-clutter. By that, i mean i get everything out and sort through what i do and dont need. You’d be surprised at just how many unnecessary items we as anglers cart about with us, when in reality we haven’t used that particular item in years. 

Empty your rucksack, your tackle box, your rig box, sort through where you store your gear and have a good think. Do you really need to cart around 50+ 3oz leads? That bait drill, when was the last time you used it? How about that tub of pop ups that have sat dormant in the bottom of your bag for the last two seasons? 

What i like to do is sort everything into groups. Keep the essential items and anything you do use occasionally. Anything left i either put aside or sell. At the end of the day, we are all guilty of having too much gear and in my eyes i would rather my unused items of tackle got some good use from someone else instead of taking up my storage space. Doing this also aids me in minimising the gear i take with me to the bank. At one time, i was known for taking the kitchen sink with me and, in some situations, i still do, however i’m far better now at leaving the non-essential items at home. This, in my opinion, allows me to fish better and more effectively – being able to move onto fish quickly and set up quickly if needs be.

Have a clean

With most of us unable to get out at the moment, this is a good opportunity to give your gear a good clean. Keeping your gear clean also increases its longevity. 

High priority items should be your reels, bite alarms and generally any moving parts. From there, it’s really a case of aesthetics and comfort if you want to clean anything else. Keeping moving parts clean prevents long term wear and damage to components. Reels, particularly, are susceptible to taking in dirty and grit, which can cause issues with their functionality if left unattended.

Do your research

For many, Spring marks the start of a new season, a new plan, a new water or campaign. It’s a fresh slate from the year before as weed grows in different areas, new fish make themselves more apparent, new anglers show their face on the lake and we’re faced with a new set of challenges. 

Doing research can prove extremely valuable, and while some anglers like to make their own path, i myself like to have a little bit of guidance on the direction to go when i approach a new water.

There is a military phrase that always comes to mind here, and that’s “time spent in reconnaissance is seldom wasted”. Reconnaissance doesn’t have to be days spent beside the lake watching the water, in today’s world we all have access to information at our fingertips. The internet and social media are goldmines for information. In some cases you may have to do some digging, but i can guarantee you that in most cases, there is something somewhere out there that will help you. Even just the smallest bit of information can go a long way.

Rig prep

Many carp anglers prefer to tie their rigs on the bank. That’s okay for some, i can see why, i however prefer to have some tied up in advance.

Having a multitude of rigs tied in advance saves The hassle and time of having to tie one up on the bank. If i’m faced with an opportunity, i’d far rather know i have a rig that will present, ready to go rather than think that i need to tie it. In the time it takes to construct a rig, that opportunity may have passed.

With my rig preparation, i like to have every basis covered. Although i do tinker with different rigs for time to time, i’ve narrowed mine down to suit different situations such as bait choice, feeding situation, what substrate im fishing over and what fish i’m targeting. Generally, i stick to a flexi-hinge rig for my general fishing over a scatter of boilies or softer lake beds. For a tighter baiting situation over softer substrates i will opt for a ronnie rig. Over hard ground i favour a flourocarbon D rig and for any other bottom bait fishing its a simple blowback rig. These cover different aspects of my fishing, and i tailor the length of the rig depending on the situation i’m fishing. A great tip for preparing rigs is to use Korda’s double rig pins, which allow you to secure a hooklink to your rig board without using a loop. This allows you to tie off your rig to your chosen length on the bank, while still having them stored away in a rig box ready to go.

Bait prep

Using a high quality bait is paramount to success. I personally favour the Nutz+ and Wicked Whites fished in conjunction with a Compulsive Angler Hookbait, though i have just started tinkering with the Asbo. 

I always like to make sure my hookbaits stand out. Not always in colour, but also in the food signals they put out to the fish. There are many ways of doing this, utilising oils, sprays, glugs and powders, but he ultimate goal is to make your hookbait more attractive to the dish than the rest of your free offerings.

Personally, i like to make use of the Compulsive Angler sprays on my hookbaits. They offer a quick, convenient way to ‘pimp’ your pop ups or wafters and take them to the next level. If you can invest more time, though, check out the range of In-Vig powders and glugs to create a real, unique profile of attraction for your hookbaits. Spending time preparing these means that when you do get out there, your hookbaits will be pumping out signals for hours after you’ve cast out and will, ultimately, put more fish on the bank. I hope that’s helped some of you who may be stuck on ideas or lacking motivation at this difficult time. I wish you all the best in health and as the saying goes – tight lines and wet nets to you all!

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