The Casting King

I can’t remember the first time I went out on a feature with Andy Findlay, but it was when I was an editorial assistant on Match Fishing back in the days when Roger Mortimer was the editor. So, we’re talking 20 plus years and back then Andy was just creeping on to the commercial scene – at that time he was the man to beat at Ringstead on the River Nene. It was his success on that venue (he was unbeatable) that really put him on our radar, and we had to get him in the magazine to try and find out what he was doing differently to everybody else.

Quietly spoken and not keen on being in the limelight, Fin was a breath of fresh air and I couldn’t believe the amount of ideas he had on kit adaptations, while his knowledge of fish behaviour and how they react to bait etc was second to none.

Nothing’s changed since then. Despite the fact that fishing tackle is now more advanced and well-made than it ever has been, Fin is still adapting his gear to suit his own requirements and he’s still doing things in his own way, and that’s what makes him so successful. Whatever venue he targets, he quickly becomes THE angler to beat and since the end of lockdown it’s the anglers at the prolific Glebe complex that have suffered by being ‘finned’, where second place is as good as they can hope for when they see Fin’s van pull up in the car park!

It’s fantastic fishing too and he hasn’t had a weight lower than 120lb in matches here since the lockdown and weights can be double that on good days. The fishing is easy if you like, and anglers will all catch plenty of fish, but catching enough to win is more difficult and it’s all the small details and tricks that help Andy catch 200lb instead of 170lb, and that’s what makes all the difference.

The feeder has been a big part of his success on the venue and that will continue into the winter, so I caught up with him on Peg 23 on Lake One, where he agreed to let me into some of his tips and tricks that help him stay ahead of the competition. “The weather’s on the change now old lad,” he said as he began to unload his barrow. “We’ve had so much rain over the last few days that it’s bound to affect the fishing. We should be alright here though, as it’s one of the best areas on this lake, but after all that cold water has gone in you just never know what it’s going to be like.”

Instead of tackling up, the first thing he reached for was his flask, so I thought I’d join him and have a coffee before we got down to work. “There’s no coffee in here old lad,” he said with a big grin. “This flask has my expanders in. What I did this morning was put an ice cube in followed by water so it was about half full. Then I poured the required amount of 4mm expanders that I’d need for the session and closed the lid tight. You need to do this two hours before you use them and then you need to drain the water off and put the pellets back in the flask with just the ice cube to stop them from going any softer. This keeps the pellets firm so they don’t come off when casting.

“It’s cage feeder fishing here because the Method is banned and your hooklength needs to be at least 20 inches long, so keeping a soft bait on when casting can be tricky. I use these on venues where I fish the Method feeder too and I’m confident my expander is still on even after really crushing the pellets on hard around the feeder. It’s one trick I think keeps me ahead on here and although I don’t win every single match, I always win my lake without fail!”

One thing that always strikes me when I watch Andy, is how simple everything looks. There are never five rods and 10 top kits assembled, there’s never a bait tray crammed with as many bait boxes as it will hold filled with every bait imaginable. It’s the complete opposite with him and he will take the minimum amount of kit he can get away with, compared to every other match angler I know who will take as much kit as they can get away with! He’s so confident in what he’s doing he knows exactly what he’s going to need, or perhaps it’s more a case of what he’s not going to need?

With his box in position, which is angled slightly to the left so he’s facing into the wind, he positions the rod rest so his rod will be pretty much pointing directly at the feeder once it’s settled. “I’ve been mentioning this for years, but I’m still the only one that does this,” he began. “I think I catch more carp on the feeder than other anglers because I can cast better than them, and incorporated into that is where I place that rod rest.

“Casting accurately is the most important thing in feeder fishing for carp and I’m confident I can do it better than anyone else. I’m not being big-headed, but I see it every week and casting on the money and then getting your rod into the rest with the tightest of lines to the feeder is crucial. The way you feather the line is the art and it’s very difficult to explain, but you need the feeder to enter the water with the line tight to it, not in a bow. You have to hit the clip gently so the feeder doesn’t ping back towards, and you then lower the rod on to the rest so it’s in position with a tight line direct to the feeder immediately.