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The Great Debate!

Star anglers divided over ‘skill’ issue.
When Alex Bones wrote his Editorial in the February issue of Match Fishing, he argued that it is wrong that certain methods are regarded as more skilful than others. The piece has prompted great debate among anglers – with Tom Scholey chipping in with a blog challenging Alex’s argument.

The question has even split opinion among the country’s star anglers, with some agreeing with Alex and arguing that no method should be regarded as more skilful than another, and others backing Tom Scholey’s case  - and naming what they consider to be the most skilful discipline.

Below are the views of some of the Country’s top anglers. If you want to have your say, be sure to check out the debate on our Facebook page!

Darren Cox (Garbolino)

Some methods are definitely more skilful than others – and the amount of skill that it takes to execute a method depends on the number of variables that the angler has to experiment with. I would argue that float fishing on rivers is the most skilful type of fishing – as not only do you have the problems of feeding and presentation to contend with, you have to think about flow as well.

That’s not to say that I don’t think methods such as the Method feeder are not skilful because they are, but because you have fewer variables to experiment with, I think certain methods are easier for an angler to pick up than others.

Lee Kerry (Preston Innovations / Sonubaits)

A quick definition of skill:

An ability and capacity acquired through deliberate, systematic, and sustained effort to smoothly and adaptively carryout complex activities or or functions involving ideas, things, or people.

All fishing has skill, and personally I believe that there are varying levels of practice required to increase your capacity to carry out those skills.  Tom and Alex are comparing Method feeder and bloodworm which I can understand has brought a clash as both require practice to become proficient at.  

However, take floating pole as an example - not an angler alive can convince me that floating pole and say stick float fishing are on a simliar level of 'skill' requirement.  Very little practice is required to become proficient at floating pole, yet the learning and practice required to catch more than others on a stick float can take years to master.

The other key question is in what context you are describing skill.  Yes anyone can catch fish, but to catch more than others you must increase your ability at a given method. Techniques that require less practice mean that more anglers can compete using that technique.  So for me that is directly related to the skill required to be better than others, not simply to apply the technique to catch fish.

As for which is the most skillful method of fishing?  I don't believe there is one method that requires more skill, however you could certainly group together certain techniques ahead of others.  To identify those techniques I would say that any method of fishing where anglers consistently prove themselves above others obviously require more practice to perfect than those where an angler that has seemingly mastered the skill struggles to consistently out perform their rivals. I would say that running water float and feeder fishing are trickier to master than their stillwater equivalents, for instance, as you have increased factors to take into consideration – flow for example.

Alan Scotthorne (Drennan / Sensas)

I believe that being proficient at any method of fishing requires skill, but as a rule I would argue that float fishing is more skilful than feeder fishing. Afterall, a feeder will accurately feed your peg for you, whereas with styles of fishing such as slider or waggler, just feeding your peg accurately via catapult requires a lot of skill in itself. If I had to single out what I consider to be the most skilful kind  of fishing is, I would say fishing a slider at range. If you think about this, you not only have to perfect your casting and firing out of bait at distance, you then have to get the right groundbait mix, shotting pattern and hooklength to cater for the species that you are targetting. There is so much more to think about than there is with certain other disciplines.

Mick Vials (Preson Innovations / Sonubaits)

I don’t believe that you can single out any particular method as more skilful than another. This may sound a simple point, but the reason that the country’s best anglers are as good as they are is because they prepare better than everybody else, and when on the bank they apply themselves to their fishing better than their competition. It is these two things alone that make them consistently outperform the opposition.

From my own experience, I had ten years when I only went fishing occasionally, and didn’t really have time to prepare very well due to commitments in other areas of my life. My results definitely suffered as a consequence. Now I am back fishing again properly, I am spending time preparing my tackle, and focussing intently on the job in hand. My results have improved dramatically as a consequence. It is these two areas, rather than any particular skill set that single out the best anglers.

Mark Pollard (Shimano /Dynamite)

Some methods are definitely more skilful than others. I believe the most skilful are those where you have to feed regularly, and look to get into a rhythm. If you think about, for example, squatt fishing, you have to feed regularly via catapult – work out how much to feed, and how often, in order to catch at the fastest possible rate. Then there is your presentation – you also have to constantly analyse how you lay your rig in, and question whether any kind of change could enhance your catch rate. On top of this, there is the mechanics of bringing fish out your peg, and getting back out as quickly as you can in order to be as efficient as possible. Compare this to a more passive style, such as coldwater bomb fishing, and the question as to which is more skillfull is a no brainer in my opinion.    

Rob Wootton (Shimano / Dynamite)

I don’t believe any kind of fishing is more skilful than another. With all methods, there is a level of proficiency that you can get to where you would say that you are competent. After that, it is all about refining your technique, and finding little edges to help you push in front of the opposition. If you were bought up fishing, say, stick float and waggler, you will no doubt have these edges up your sleeve, and therefore be very skilful at these two methods. Likewise, if you were brought up feeder fishing on commercials, you will have edges that you can bring in to play to help you sneak in front of the opposition. All kinds of fishing require practice and experience, and therefore are skilful.

Jamie Masson (Maver / Marukyu)

No style of fishing is easy, and they all require skill if you are going to do them well. That said, some kinds of fishing definitely require more skill than others. It all comes down to how much you have to think about. If you consider for example, summer shallow fishing – you have to worry about getting your feeding right, ensuring you are fishing the right depth, putting your rig in properly, and landing the fish as efficiently as possible in order to get back out and catch the next one.
You have an awful lot to keep in mind! Compare this to, say bomb fishing or dobbing; you still have a lot to consider – but not as much as the more active shallow fishing approach – making this the more skilful way of fishing.

If I had to name what I consider to be the most skilful, I would probably say long range waggler or slider fishing – as you have loads of things to think about, and get right if you want to maximise the amount that you catch.

Michael Buchwalder (Preston Innovations/ Sonubaits)

Some methods are definitely more skilful than others. You could teach anybody to fish the Method feeder competently in just a few short hours, but showing them how to put a bolognaise float down the middle of a big river like the Wye, and fish the method competently would take far, far longer. To me, float fishing on rivers is by far the most difficult set of skills to master.

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