Fishing's Biggest Secret

Dan Webb lets some of the England Feeder team's cats out of the championship bag...


There seems to be this idea flying around that this little piece I'm writing each month might not be entirely serious. Someone even said to me they thought it was funny! Understandably, I haven't taken this very well, so I'm trying my best this month to write a hard-hitting technical feature to really put those ghosts to rest. I'm also probably going to have to keep my head down after this goes out because I'm sure the England Feeder team will have beef with me for giving away a big secret of theirs. What am I talking about? Murphy's Law!

Now, Murphy was an exceptional angler in his own right in the 1940s, but his career was dogged by tragedy. His law, which was passed by Parliament in April 1956, states: “If anything can go wrong, it will.” The following spring the Sod amendment clarified that this should only happen to the person who needs it least.

We have all experienced Murphy's Law at some point in our fishing: The day you forget your tip rod is the day you draw the peg with the island chuck. On the windiest day of the year, it's you that draws the widest peg. The morning of the first frost and the bream have shut up shop is when you finally draw the bream peg. 

But what if I told you that you could use Murphy's Law to your advantage?

This law was used to great effect by the England Feeder team in Ireland in 2014. During practice the team realised that you got most bites when you were least ready for them. If you watch YouTube footage you can clearly see our boys occasionally glance away from their rod tips. A watched tip never moves and on a fish-filled venue such as Inniscarra, a quick check of the time was often enough to get a bite. The biggest master of this was Steve Ringer because on his way to winning the World Championship he used combinations of looks at the crowd and taking his hand from his rod to scratch his ear to keep bites coming.

This year, however, the venue in the Netherlands was so poor, just mere glances away from the rod tip wasn't enough to induce bites. During practice, reigning World Champion Steve had to visit a 24-hour pharmacy to buy cream for his severely damaged ear from all of the intense scratching.

It was Dean Barlow, however, who came up with the solution. Thanks to the team sponsor, Preston Innovations, each angler was presented with their own white embroidered yoga mat. To keep the other teams off the scent of what they were doing, they were referred to as ‘casting mats’. The first session that they were used, Dean ran out clear winner with a good run of skimmers that all took his bait while he was on his mat, behind his box in the Lotus Position. Dean mastered an incredible leap from his mat to grab his rod and strike in time.

The tactic worked a treat but after Day One of the World Champs, the team were joint first with France and Hungary. Things were going alright for the team on the second day, except for Adam Wakelin. With little in the net, Adam needed a bream. But with just minutes of the match left, it didn't look like it was going to happen. Then next thing he did was utter genius. He left his peg to use the Portaloo three pegs away, leaving Tom Pickering to watch his rod from behind the ropes. Sure enough, mid-flow, the rod tip ripped round and Tommy shouted: “Fish on.” Adam burst out of the toilet and sprinted back to his peg. The rest, as they say, is history as Adam landed the fish with five seconds to go and England won their second consecutive world championship by a narrow half-point margin.

Remember where you heard it first. Shhhhh, Mum’s the word!