Fishing Photography Competition – The Winner!

We’ve been through the votes, and tallied up, and we have a winner!

With the most votes, and picking up first prize of a TF Gear Hardcore all-rounder bag is Richard Handel’s stunning shot of a glowing skyline.

fishing photography competition winner

Fishing photography competition winner!

Of course, there were a number of other gorgeous pictures, and here are the best of the rest. Thanks for taking part in the competition – keep your eyes peeled for more in the future!

iain barr

Iain Barr

Joe Chatterton

Joe Chatterton

Simon Byrne

Simon Byrne

Dan Jones

Dan Jones

Brian Roberts

Brian Roberts

Ian Petch

Ian Petch

Remember, to sharpen up your waterside photography skills – or even just get started, check out our fishing photography guide. It’ll get you well on the way to taking competition-standard snaps!

6 Toasty Tips For Winter Fishing

Keep warm in winter - Dave Lane with a winter carp.

Keep warm in winter – Dave Lane with a winter carp.

Now’s a great time to get into some big winter carp. And for sea anglers, winter is the season for decent cod. You’ve got the know-how, the patience and the tactics. We’ve got the lowdown on what to wear to keep you warm, dry and comfortable while you fish.

If the thought of braving frosty temperatures leaves you cold, look no further than our handy guide to keeping warm by the water.

Layer up

staying warm

Image source: shutterstock
What’s under your coat matters

It’s not exactly your clothes that keep you warm, but the insulating air those clothes trap within and between their fibres. This is why the best way to retain your body heat is to wear plenty of layers of clothing.

Top angling blogger Leon Bartropp is a firm believer in layering up:

“There is nothing worse than being cold when you are out in the elements fishing. I’ve found through trial and error over the years that a three layer system will keep you as warm as toast.”

Base
Your base layer combines two functions. One is to keep your core warm, the other is to draw moisture away from your skin, stopping cooling perspiration from drawing heat from your body. Worn next to the skin, merino wool is a great natural insulator or for those who find wool a bit itchy, you won’t go wrong with a quality two piece microfleece.
Mid
Wear a thick wool jumper or fleece as your mid layer and for your bottom half, we suggest you go for a pair of Simms Rivertek midweight pants. They’re super-warm, and constructed so that if you get your feet wet, the water won’t seep up your legs.
Top
An extremely knowledgeable winter cod angler, Glen Kilpatrick who writes for Whitby Sea Anglers is also keen on layering for warmth:

“The best clothing for rock fishing is light breathable layers worn underneath a pair of studded chest waders and a waterproof jacket or smock.”

A waterproof jacket is certainly one option, or alternatively, a flotation suit will do exactly what the name suggests, keeping you afloat should the worst happen. And because it’s 100% water and wind proof, your under layers can do their job, keeping you toasty while you reel in the fish.

Keep your head warm

warm hat man

Image source: shutterstock
Warm head – happy angler. Beard optional

The “fact” that you lose most of your body heat through your head is actually totally wrong. The claim stems from a 1970 US military handbook that stated that without a hat, you lose 40 – 45% of your body heat through your head. The statistic originated from some vaguely scientific studies conducted in the 1950s but is manifestly untrue.

In fact left uncovered, you’ll probably lose something in the order of 10% of your body heat through your head. But anyone who’s ever experienced a case of ‘icecream head’ – the agonising pain caused by the cold wind rifling through your sodden hair – will know the value of a wooly hat!

Hands

yan tan gloves by gemma garner

Image source: Gemma Garner
Go fingerless

Fingerless gloves are ideal for keeping your hands warm without getting in the way of reeling, casting and baiting up.

For added warmth, invest in a pair of hand warmers. They have changed the way that blogger, Gurn from the Intrepid Piscator fishes:

“The petrol fuelled models by Zippo and Peacock are excellent. I use two, one for each side pocket. They keep the fingertips and the core of your body warm. I cannot emphasise enough how much these items have enhanced my angling.”

Happy feet

warm socks

Image source: shutterstock
Numb toes are a no-no. Just make sure you wear your boots, too!

Keep your feet toasty with a good quality pair of Gore-Tex lined boots and a pair of thermal socks. Take the Intrepid Piscator’s advice and you won’t go wrong:

“If your feet are cold then so are you, and once they’re cold they are nigh impossible to warm up again. Good thermal, waterproof footwear is essential”

The good news is, we have the ultimate antidote for cold feet. Our battery-heated fleece socks warm up in one minute flat and are ideal for wearing with your fishing boots.

Gimme shelter

igloo

Image source: shutterstock
The ultimate winter fishing bivvy!

Being comfortable will help you catch more fish, says angling blogger, Ian Brooke. And that’s particularly true during the winter months. Ian’s advice is to invest in a quality clothing to keep you warm and dry because despite the weather,

“Carp look fantastic in their winter colours and are usually at good weights. They are harder to catch but then it was never meant to be easy.”

But a coat will only get you so far. Investing in a bivvy that’ll stand up to the worst the elements can throw at it means you can get out of the weather, keeping you fishing for longer and in worse conditions.

Writing in his series of posts on winter carp fishing, Ian recommends making sure your bivvy has a substantial groundsheet. He says it’s

“essential to keep warmth in and damp out.” And he adds, “I also like to have a piece of carpet with me to use as added insulation.”

Fuel up

flask of tea

Tea. Best drink of the day.

Hot comforting food and drinks are a must when you’re angling – and never more so than in the winter. As Ian Brooke points out, “…a cup of tea is an amazing morale booster”.
Take a large insulated flask filled with tea, coffee or soup. If you are planning a longer session and don’t want to carry excessive weight, pack a compact stove and stay fuelled with dried packet mixes or reheated meals.
Biscuits and chocolate bars will also boost your energy levels.

So what are you waiting for? Switch that fire off, stop making excuses and get out there! In Gurn’s words, “There’s no such thing as too cold….just the wrong clothing!”
Got a few tips of your own to share? Let us know how you keep warm when fishing during the winter on our Facebook page.

The Fishing Photography guide

gone fishing

Image source shutterstock
Gone fishin’…

Angling photography goes far beyond the standard ‘grip and grin’ catch photograph. Anglers spend hours outside in beautiful surroundings. Many of them are inspired to capture shots of scenery or wildlife while they’re waiting for a bite. Angling expert John Sutton sums this up perfectly:

“Why not capture the whole memory, rather than just part of it?”

Our recent fishing survey told us that photography is a popular pastime for carp and coarse fishermen. If you’re a beginner, or know the basics and want to learn more, read our fishing photography guide, and find out how to get better shots. Featuring tips from angling and photography experts Dominic Garnett, Dr Paul Garner andJohn Sutton, the guide will help you make sure that if you’re not getting good catches, you can get some great photos instead.

Contents

Some basics Composition Outdoor photography
Birds and insects Lighting Smartphone photography
Cameras Other photography gear

Some basics:

Leafing through

Image source shutterstock
Leafing through your images

Knowing a few basic concepts and key words will be a massive help. Many of us already take point-and-shoot pictures on our smartphones. Moving up a step to using a camera takes things to another level. A digital camera will normally have three programming modes

  • Automatic: The camera will simply set itself to the best settings for the environment you’re in.
  • Manual: You have control over all the features
  • Programmed: Some features are set by you, others by the camera. Dominic Garnett recommends this for beginners, saying:

“’P mode’ or programmed automatic mode is a good stepping stone between auto and manual modes, giving you more control”

And here are five important camera terms explained:

  1. Aperture: Describes how widely the lens is opened when taking a shot – influencing the amount of light that’s let in to the camera. The higher the aperture, the less light there is. Your images will be in sharper focus. The lower the aperture, more light is let in and anything in the background may look less focused.
  2. Shutter speed: Determines how long the film or digital sensor in the camera is exposed to light. The faster the speed, the less light there is, which is better for capturing immediate photos of birds or wildlife. The more light, the slower the shutter speed, ideal for landscapes. The shutter speeds are described in fractions of a second, so you’ll often see 1/250, 1/600, 1/1600. The higher the number the faster the shutter speed.
  3. ISO: This refers to how sensitive the chip inside your camera is to light. If you have set a high ISO, you’ll be able to take pictures in very low light. There’s some more detailed explanation from bestselling angling author and photographer Dominic Garnett on this:

    “Generally speaking more light there is, the lower your ISO setting should be. 400 would be a sensible all round setting for an overcast day; 100 or less would be ideal for a bright, hot conditions, while you might push the ISO up to 800 or even 1600”

  4. Aperture Priority: A digital camera mode which allows you to choose a specific aperture value while the camera adjusts the shutter speed automatically so you get a proper exposure.
  5. Depth of field: This is the distance between the nearest and furthest object in the image. It determines what stays in focus in the shot.

Get to grips with your equipment

Know your camera. Each will work in a slightly different way, so you’ll need to take time to make sure you’re familiar with the buttons/features and what they do. Make sure you properly read your manual, at least for the basics.

Keep your equipment clean, dry and stored properly. This is especially important if it will be exposed to damper atmospheres. It’s essential to keep your equipment in a protective, waterproof environment. Compartments for lenses are handy to keep them in good condition. It doesn’t need to cost the earth at all. Use this thrifty bit of know-how from fishing photographer Dr Paul Garner

“I use a large tupperware box costing just a couple of pounds to store my camera and essential kit when I am on the bank and, touch-wood, it has never let me down”

Practice makes perfect

Take pictures where and whenever you can. This is something John Sutton stresses the importance of:

“Today, anglers interested in photography will have digital cameras and cheap high capacity memory cards that will enable them to just that – try different techniques. Delete what doesn’t work”

At the end of each session, flick back and objectively look at what worked and what didn’t. Check out the photographic work of other anglers too, for inspiration and ideas you can develop in your own work.

Composition

change the angle

Image: Dominic Garnett
I must go down to the sea again…

Composition isn’t just for musicians. To be a great photographer is to know how a perfect shot is made. A properly composed photo highlights everything captured within. To achieve this, it’s essential to understand the rule of thirds.

Imagine your frame is divided using three horizontal and three vertical lines. When you want to take your shot, all you need to do is make sure that the most important parts of the image are located within these lines. When shooting a landscape, the sky should be the top third, the land bottom two. Now point and shoot.

Here, Dominic explains how the beach image above was taken. He tells us:

“This shot comes from a saltwater fly fishing trip and was achieved by getting low to the sand to track the two anglers on the move.”

As you become more experienced you can experiment with using interesting angles to capture your shots. The trick is to bend the rule of thirds rather than smash it to bits! In fact, DigitalCameraWorld offer some useful advice for this. They say that:

“Shooting a landscape shot with lots of the sky and just a slither of the land at the bottom, for example, can really draw attention to a feature in the landscape.”

rule of thirds

Image source wikimedia commons
The rule of thirds – in a gif!

Some cameras even have a grid view built into them, which you can turn on so you don’t have to imagine where the lines are, but you can try and adapt the rule in lots of different ways.
Be bold and experiment. Observe the land and water around you. What do you see? Dominic makes the point that:

“A good photographer is active and always looking for a new angle or a different frame, whether that means getting right down on the sand or mud, climbing a tree or even getting into the water. The more angles you can find, the more interesting and varied your photographs will be”

Outdoor photography tips

water vole

Image source: shutterstock
Vole position!

Begin your photography journey by photographing your immediate surroundings. It’s a gateway into learning the craft, as it not only leads you to look at landscapes, but animals and plant life, too.

Landscapes

swans sunset

Image: Dominic Garnett
Swanning off

What’s the lie of the land? Shooting the landscape around you is a very good way to get a feel for light and composition. Stand still, and view your surroundings. If you can work out where the sun will rise and set, you can make the most of either daylight or evening for your photography.

A focal point, which will direct your eye into the image is essential. For instance, a pier, an area of dense forest surrounding water or even a nearby farmhouse.

Before you set up your shot properly, take a few practise images from different angles and heights. Compare and contrast these as you go along. Once you’ve found the angle and shot you’re most satisfied with, set up your camera gear properly.

A great tip for landscape photos comes from Paul Garner who says that one of the best investments you can make is a tripod:

“…you can set the camera up securely. Tripods are also very useful when you want to take great dawn and dusk shots when the light levels are low”

He adds that you can pick one up for as little as £30 that will do everything you need it to. It will also ensure your landscape shots are shake free at all times. Dominic Garnett shot the stunning sunset photographed above was shot with the aid of a tripod – so it’s well worth consideration.

Animals

The best place to start when looking for animals to photograph is your immediate surroundings. Look around the area you choose to fish. You may be lucky enough to see otters, water voles and dormice. The former tend to hunt their prey on the waterside. The latter will feed on wildflowers and vegetation in the undergrowth. Nesting boxes for dormice can also sometimes be found near waterways.

Timing is everything in animal photography. When you choose to fish will have an impact on what you can take photos of. Early morning will provide different inspirations to early evening. Growwilduk has this to say about timing your photos:

“Try to avoid the hours around the middle of the day as the animals or plants you are trying to photograph will be lit from the top, which is not as pleasing to the eye. Your smartphone or compact camera may also struggle to expose the scene correctly”

They also say cloudy days can be useful in terms of photographing wildlife. Sunlight will add shadow and texture to your picture, but clouds can act as a diffuser, softening the light and making subtler shadows which is more useful when taking close up shots.

Once your confidence has built in this area, you can start to experiment with other subjects, like birds and insects.

Photographing birds and insects

bird in hand

Image source: shutterstock
A bird in the hand is worth two in the shutter

Capturing images of birds falls into two categories. Firstly, shots of birds in flight and secondly, birds in still life. The former is a good place to start and the latter is for experienced shutter-happy people.

The best time for this activity is early morning when birds are out and about and looking for food. If early morning is not the time for you, try the evening, when they’ll be making their second forage of the day.

It is always best to start by taking pictures of more common ducks and birds you might see by the water. Photographer Mike Atkinson recommends one way of experimenting:

“An approach used successfully by some photographers is to focus on a single species and to work exclusively on that until excellent results are obtained”

You’re likely to come across mallards, swans and even sparrowhawks on your travels. These birds are often easier to photograph, as they’re more accustomed to seeing humans, and aren’t quite so easily spooked as other species.

Birds in still life

Taking these shots requires patience. One of the best ways to find good subjects is to simply walk around your location and look around. You might be lucky enough to spot an owl or a kingfisher. Move around slowly, and as silently as possible. This is important so you do not startle any creatures. If there is a hide nearby, it’s best to use that to sit quietly and await your shot.

If you’re using a DSLR camera, it will autofocus if you’ve set it to do so. This means that even if your subject makes a subtle movement, you’ll still get a steady shot. Keep the viewfinder in line with the bird’s head to get the clearest image and the most detail.

Switching to Aperture Priority mode allows you to control the depth of field you’ll have, and a faster shutter speed will mean you can keep up with a bird that won’t keep still.

Birds in flight

mallard

Image source: shutterstock
Mallard in flight – with a fast shutter speed!

Getting great images of birds as they swoop skyward sounds tricky, but there are some signs you can look out for to help capture that moment. Prior to takeoff, they will start to bob their heads and sway. They might also ruffle their feathers, and take a dump. A bit like Russell Brand does before a gig. The more you look out for these signals, the more you’ll be able to see them quickly and respond with your camera to get better shots.

You’ll need a high shutter speed to photograph birds in flight. Anything over 1/800 would be sufficient. If you’re photographing a flock, you may require 1/1600 or above. Over at photographylife.com, they reckon that unless you’re only intending to take pictures of common birds you should: “Prepare yourself to invest in a fast DSLR camera and one or more telephoto lenses”. You’ll also require “a fast camera that can handle at least 1/2000 of a second shutter speed with 6 to 9 fps (frames per second)”

Insects

butterfly on flower

Image source: shutterstock
Float like a butterfly, shoot like a DSLR

It’s a bug’s life! Photographing bees, butterflies, mayflies and sedgeflies encourages you to get to know some different techniques. You’ll learn not only  how to capture the detail in their wings and markings but also discover how to take images in lower light and with narrower focus.

This is where a macro lens becomes invaluable. This type of lens is designed to capture a life size image of a much smaller subject in intricate detail.

When photographing larger insects, it is better to focus on their heads. With smaller insects, you’ll need to focus on the whole body, rather than anything in the background of the image.

Learning to use focus properly is a key to getting super wildlife snaps. Most cameras have autofocus built into them and that is fine, but Dominic Garnett points out that this will only highlight the most obvious point of the shot, which is “No use if you want to pick out a particular detail, such as a subtle details, the tip of a rod, or even the juicy tip of a float” He advises getting to grips with manual focus so you can control the emphasis of each shot.

Busy bees won’t stop for photo opportunities. This will result in images that aren’t as sharp. Using a faster shutter speed counteracts this. 1/250 or anything above is suitable.

There’s lower light for this sort of photography and a narrower depth of field, which means there is only going to be a smaller part of the image in focus. An example of this is butterfly on a flower head. You’d see the insect and flower in focus, but the background would be blurred. It’s a good idea to invest in a tripod to help keep the camera steady and the photo clear.

Lighting

Tricks of the light

Image: Dominic Garnett
Tricks of the light

Learning how natural daylight can affect your images is the next step. Natural light can change minute by minute. This can be due to weather conditions, the season and even the altitude you’re at.

Bright conditions don’t always make the best conditions for photos. Dominic Garnett says to think about taking your photographs at different times:

“Early and late in the day, colours change completely while figures and shapes throw bold silhouettes. Just by getting out early or staying out late you will find interesting light and colour effects – if you can bear to take a few moments off fishing at these key times”

You’ll also get interesting and vastly differing lights during periods of mist, haze and cold temperatures.

There are three main types of lighting to consider for outdoor photography:

Frontlighting: The easiest technique to master as it produces predictable results. Your subject will be lit from the front, so there won’t be any shadowing. Bright sunlight will give a harsh finish to any images using front lighting. Dawn or dusk is the best time to try this.

Sidelighting: A great technique to learn to highlight textures, patterns and shadows in your subject. Think about the scales on a fish, the feathers on a bird. An effective technique to use on landscape pictures, when there may be an animal roaming into shot.

Backlighting: This is when the sun, or other light source comes from behind your subject. It means that as the photographer, you’re shooting into the light. It’s a good technique to experiment and play with especially if you want to create silhouettes or shadowing in your images.

Smartphone tips

smartphone photography

Image source: shutterstock
The best camera is the one you’ve got with you

Sniffy about smartphone photography? Don’t be! Imagine, you’ve just spied the perfect photo opportunity of a bird that’s spotted its prey. By the time you’ve got your camera out, it’s caught and eaten it, and moved onto dessert. Your smartphone is usually by your side and it’s just a couple of quick button presses to take the photo.

Sometimes the best shots are created this way. There’s not time to think, and you act on instinct. You’ll also be able to edit and enhance your photos on your phone, either through your camera or using a special effects app.

Whether you’re on Android or iOS you’ll be able to download and try out a wide range of different effects on your photos. Some of the features you’ll be able to use include adding highlights, changing the colour saturation (the intensity of the colour), zooming in and out of images, and even adding in special effects like vignettes to give a totally different look and feel to the original.

There are even special lenses you can buy to attach to some smartphones which give you more versatility and the option to zoom in on your subject optically, rather than using the digital zoom on your phone, which reduces the image quality dramatically.

Get appy

Apps like Instagram are a popular way of instantly sharing photographic moments you’ve captured on your phone. It can be a confidence boost to see people liking and commenting on your efforts. It’s a chance to see what other anglers are sharing and get different inspiration for your own future snaps.

Cameras

camera outdoors

Image source: shutterstock
My camera never lies

Do you need to invest in the most up-to-the-minute camera, or can you rely on your smartphone? Here’s how the main types stack up:

Film camera: ‘Analogue camera’ is a relatively new term used to describe traditional film cameras, the sort we used to take our holiday photos on. They’re the precursors to digital models. The film is loaded into the camera and then exposed to light in order to capture an image. Once a roll of film is used up, it needs to be chemically developed in a darkroom after the images have been taken.

Compact Camera: A camera designed for simple operations, designed around a basic point-and-shoot format. They use automatic focusing, and have flash units built into them. A good starting point to introduce you to the world of photography.

SLR: A single lens reflex camera allows you to view the image you’re about to take directly  through the viewfinder. Pressing the shutter button will expose the film in the camera to light.

DSLR: A digital single lens reflex camera combines the traditional single reflex lens with a digital sensor, removing the need for film. When you take a picture, light will travel to the lens. It is then sent to a mirror and stored in the viewfinder and the image sensor. You can choose to store your images on an SD card and can edit them via your computer.

Smartphone: The majority of modern phones have cameras built in. This technology has been around for the last fifteen years. A fixed focus lens only allows ‘point and shoot’ photographs. They often have a flash, but no optical zoom, which can be limiting, especially if you want to take close up shots which require attention to detail. Cropping a point and shoot picture to zoom in on a subject can result in a fuzzy, grainy image.

Other photography gear

camera bag

Image source: shutterstock
Papa’s got a brand new (camera) bag

Serious about making the most of your angling shots? If you are, then you will want to consider the right accessories. Lenses and tripods are the two most common. Here we’ll look at the most popular types and what they can be used for:

The four main types of camera lens:

  1. Normal: A lens that will simply see things in the same way a human eye would. They come in 35-50mm sizes and are the most popular type. They are best for simple images of one particular subject, or for travel pictures.
  2. Macro: This type of lens is the best one to choose to get a life size image of a smaller object. Ideal for taking close up shots of wildlife and plants.
  3. Telephoto: A lens that is greater than 100mm, but typically between 50-100mm. Used to shorten the depth of field and highlight the main subject of a photo, such as an insect or a bird, and to keep the background slightly out of focus.
  4. Wide angle: Perfect for landscape photography, this type of lens allows a 180 degree view of your scene and can capture images in instances where you may not be able to move any closer towards the subject of the photo.

Tripods

tripods

Image: Dr Paul Gardner
Standing firm, keeping your shots sharp

Tripods are ideal if you want to get the most stability in your images. They’re also used to elevate the camera, enabling you to take photos from a wider range of angles. With your hands free, you’ll have more control over the composition of your photo. It will also allow you to take your time to shoot the image.

Photographyblog.com reckon a tripod is an essential bit of kit for this kind of photography, saying:

“A tripod is key in getting great nature shots as you can be waiting around for hours for animals to make an appearance that might only last a few seconds, so you need to be ready”

They’re an added plus if you’re using a telephoto lens, which can be difficult to steady due to their longer focal length.

Remote release triggers

Any type of camera work that involves longer exposures, such as landscape work might be better achieved by using a remote release timer. Paul Garner says that although most cameras have a basic countdown timer built in, he prefers a

“…programmable self timer, or intervalometer, as I can set the number of shots that I want and the time between each one. You can pick these up for around £20, making them a great investment”

They’re not just for taking photos of landscapes. Think about using them for taking better shots of your catches too.

Spare batteries and memory cards

It pays to back up your work. After every snapping session, download and store your photos on a memory card, and if possible carry a couple of spares. They don’t need to be expensive brands, and generally 8Gb is enough spare storage.

The same should apply to batteries too. Paul Garner points out that “In cold weather batteries can run down very quickly, so it always pays to pack a spare or two, just in case”

Picture perfect results

avoid the obvious

Image: Dominic Garnett
“Photography is not a sport. It has no rules. Everything must be dared and tried” Bill Brandt

Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned pro, there’s always going to be something new to discover and try, to improve your technique, practice and get better results. Dominic Garnett adds a final point that just like fishing “you will only get good results if you put the effort into your pictures”. Dare to be different, be bold and experiment. Why not try some of our ideas and ensure that every angling trip has a perfect photo finish?

About our contributors:

We’ve been lucky enough to have had the help of some friendly and generous experts in producing this guide. We’d like to thank Dominic Garnett, Paul Garner and John Sutton for sharing their time, knowledge and expertise with us.

crooked linesDominic Garnett is a bestselling writer, photographer and angling guide. Author of ‘Crooked Lines’, ‘Tangles with Pike’ and ‘Canal Fishing: a Practical Guide’, he has a portfolio of over 40,000 fishing photographs. With over 25 years of experience in the UK’s South Western waters, Dominic offers year-round guided fly fishing trips, which include high quality photographs of the day as well as top-notch expert advice.
Dr Paul GarnerDr Paul Garner is a fishing writer, guide and photographer with keen interest in fishing ecology. His book, ‘Scratching the surface’ combines angling tales with accounts of his academic studies in freswater fisheries. Paul offers year-round guided fishing in his local area for novice anglers, and those who want to brush up their skills.
John SuttonFreelance photographer John Sutton spent 30 years working with the Environment Agency and its predecessors, which gave him a deep understanding of many of the issues surrounding Britain’s waters. Now based in Hampshire, John has built up an extensive portfolio, and still works with the EA from time to time on media projects.

^back to the top^

How to get your kids hooked on fishing

children fishing

Image source shutterstock
Get your children into fishing to establish a lifelong love of the sport

Two thirds of anglers started fishing before they turned 10. And, according to our Big Fishing Survey, nearly 20% of you were under five years old when your waterside obsession began. Fishing is an adventure for kids. They love spending time in the great outdoors and the thrill of that first catch is a memory they’ll treasure forever.

Learning how to fish as a child can lead to a passion that lasts a lifetime. Here’s how to help your little ones get started.

Keep it in the family

grandpa teaches

Image source shutterstock
Children love to learn from grandparents

When David Beckham took his son Brooklyn for a sea fishing trip, it was world news. But this is the best way to get your children interested in the sport. Over half of you told us a parent, sibling, grandparent or uncle first introduced you to angling. A family fishing adventure is a really special way to bond with each other and to pass your skills and experience to the next generation.

Plan ahead to find a family friendly fishing lake, or do a reccy to scope out a safe place for kids to fish. We suggest somewhere where the water is shallow close to the bank, with a flat area of grass and not too many overhanging trees.

Make prep part of the adventure

fishing tackle

Image source shutterstock
All you need for a great day out with your kids

Get your little ones involved in the preparation for the fishing trip by giving them some jobs to do to help. That way they’ll form a positive association in their minds – preparation is all part of the fun.

Put children in charge of making the sandwiches and packing enough snacks and warm clothing to keep going for the day. Make them responsible for their own fishing gear. That way they’ll soon learn to think ahead, planning the kit they’re likely to need for the type of fishing expedition they’re going on.

Is it lashing down outside? How about some armchair angling to fire your children’s imaginations? There are some excellent gaming websites for budding anglers. Encourage your child to learn the basics of fishing before heading out for a practical lesson, with games like this one below from Let’s Fish.

Let’s Fish has thousands of young users hooked on virtual fishing. It includes over thirty realistic locations and hundreds of species of fish from around the world. The challenge is to catch the biggest fish and compete with friends in fishing tournaments.

let's fish game

A screenshot from the online game Let’s Fish – available free here

Keep kids engaged

children pond dipping

Image source: Flickr
There’s fun for the whole family by the water

Pond dipping for mini-beasts is a really good way to keep your restless youngsters entertained while waiting for the ‘big one’ to bite.

Take a fine mesh net with you and a minibeasts identification sheet which you can download from the RSPB website

It’s a useful introduction to all of the species that inhabit our waterways and explains why they’re necessary for maintaining healthy fish stocks – great for educating budding young anglers.

Can you remember receiving your first ever fishing rod? And the excitement you felt when you got to try it out for the first time? A rod and reel make a great present for a young boy or girl – and it’s guaranteed to lure them away from their computer screens and into the great outdoors.

A few basics are all your child needs to get fishing: a rod, a reel, and some tackle and bait. As their love of fishing grows, invest in a tackle box for them so they’ll have somewhere to put the floats, weights hooks and swivels that they’ll accumulate over time. The cost will be minimal but your child’s memories of how much fun they had on the day they landed their first ever catch will last forever.

Back at home nurture your children’s passion for fishing by watching some videos together. From The Waters Edge TV offers excellent tips and tactics from fishing locations around the UK. The editing is top notch in these videos and the content fun and informative – these guys really know their stuff. Watch Chris Collins fishing for dabs in Suffolk.

Make it educational

girl fishing

Image source shutterstock
Education shows children the joys of fishing

Children love playing outdoors and fishing is a fun way to channel their energy into learning a new skill. And for some, learning how to fish as a child will spark a lifetime interest in nature, and nature conservation.

Openly discuss conservation issues with your kids. Nurture their natural curiosity by explaining the food chain, connection between species, and the problems caused by water contamination.

Show them what to look out for in a healthy catch and explain why good water quality is so important. The earlier they learn how to look after the aquatic environment, the better for fishing and future fish stocks.


Remember to introduce children to the creatures that live on the water – like ducks and geese – teach them how these animals filter food from the water and how this activity contributes to a healthy ecosystem.

Keep it fun!

Good things come to those who bait, but if your kids start getting fed up with waiting for the fish to bite, don’t be afraid to cut the session short. It’s always best to quit while you’re ahead – that way the next time you suggest a fishing trip, your kids will be eager to come with you.

How did you go about introducing your children to angling? We’d love to hear about any tips you have for getting young people involved, so share your stories on our Facebook page.

What do you do when you’re waiting for a bite?

rods ready

Image source: shutterstock
Rods are set and ready… now what?

Would you get takeaway food delivered to your peg? When we asked you what you do while you’re waiting for a bite, some of your answers were eye opening to say the least. With the results of our Big Fishing Survey now in, we can reveal that, for some of you, an Indian or Chinese is just the thing to help you while away the hours. Read on to discover how anglers keep busy on the bank and in the bivvy.

Eat and drink

bivvy cooking

Image source: Fishtec
Bangers, bivvy-style!

Whether it’s comfort eating or keeping your strength up, it’s not surprising that many of you crack open your lunchbox or pour a coffee from your thermos whenever there’s a lull in the action. But for some of you, the food and drink you enjoy by the swim seem almost as important as the fishing.

One of our respondents reports with relish that he loves to: “Get the gas stove on and make a brew [or] cook food!” Another gent likes nothing better than to pop a cork and get stuck into his red wine. And there’s the jaffa cake addict for whom a trip to the river bank is the ideal opportunity to indulge in his illicit secret pleasure.

Get ready

Bait prep

Image source: shutterstock
Bait prep is a popular (and sensible) pastime

Two-thirds of you use the quiet moments between bites to prepare bait and make up rigs ready for when you need them. That’s what we’d call a sensible use of your time. But one would-be Hendrix prefers to “listen to music and practise my air guitar”, which we suppose is just fine as long as he remembers to keep an eye on his rod tip or float.

The guy who spends his time drawing and painting might struggle to give his fishing full attention, though. And the same goes for several of you who love to sit back and watch a movie while waiting for the fish to bite. Each to their own, we say, but it does make us wonder how you can concentrate on your angling while you’re glued to a screen.

Puzzlers

fisherman and puzzle

Image source: shutterstock
Passing the time with a puzzle

Are you one of those who spends the time between fish solving crosswords and sudoku? You may imagine you’re a great multitasker. But when scientists studied what happens to our brains when we try to do more than one thing at a time, they discovered that we “context switch”, flicking our attention from one thing to another.

In fact it’s virtually impossible for your brain to concentrate on more than one task at a time. What actually happens is that your mind’s resources are split between tasks. According to the boffins, doing more than one thing at once increases the likelihood of making a mistake by up to 50%. Do you miss the occasional bite? Best to concentrate on the task at hand!

Instructors

teacher and student

Image source: shutterstock
A relaxing brew for teacher and student!

The generous souls among you put their waiting time to good use by teaching a loved one to fish. Our Big Fishing Survey also revealed that most of today’s keen anglers were introduced to the joys of fishing by friends and family. It’s great to think that so many of you are willing to put your own rod aside to give a fishing lesson.

We think there’s no better way to make use of your time at the river bank than to pass on your enthusiasm for the sport you love. Having said that responses like: “Entertain an eight-year-old” and “ASSIST WIFE” do indicate a certain amount of frustration with the task of instructing newbie anglers…

Nature lovers

relaxing waters

Image source: shutterstock
The waterside is a relaxing place to be

By far the majority of you who responded to our question – “What do you do to fill the time between bites?” – said you relish the opportunity to relax, chill with friends and enjoy reconnecting with nature.

And why not? Science proves that altered states of consciousness change your brain waves for the better. When you stop to take in the beauty of the world around you or focus your attention on a bobbing float, you’re doing yourself good.

Relaxing on the riverbank enables you to return home refreshed and better able to cope with the stresses and strains of daily life. Research shows that a calm state of mind also makes you more creative. How many good ideas have come to you while out fishing?

a waterside nap

Image source: shutterstock
One-fifth of our respondents like a waterside nap…

One word of advice though… don’t relax too much or you’ll end up like 20% of respondents who admitted to nodding off while they wait for the fish to bite! Whatever you choose to do at the riverbank, enjoying yourself is the most important thing. Just keep it legal, unlike one person whose favourite between-bite activity is “unrepeatable here”. Enough said.

Upcoming events – See the FishSpy underwater Camera in action at three major UK Carp Fishing shows!!!

The unique FishSpy camera is one of the biggest products to ever hit the carp fishing scene – there simply hasn’t been anything like this since the invention of the bait boat!

The guys at FishSpy and parent company TF Gear appreciated you might want to take a closer look at the innovative new underwater camera everyone has been talking about.

FishSpy will be on the road this winter and spring at three of the biggest carp shows in the UK. This is the perfect opportunity to try and buy before the carp fishing season kicks off in earnest so why not come along and see what you’re missing?

Been thinking about buying one, but can’t decide?

Seeing FishSpy first hand will truly open your eyes to what this ground breaking device can offer carp anglers. Discover exactly how it can improve your carp fishing and give you insights you had never dreamed of.

You will be able to speak to FishSpy’s inventors, meet the TF Gear development team, and talk with Dave Lane, one of the UK’s foremost carp anglers who has been heavily involved in the intensive two year field testing of this product.

The show team will be able to answer all of your FishSpy questions and will have plenty of them on hand for you to test and take a much closer look at. FishSpy underwater cameras and accessories will also be available to purchase from ourselves at each show.

In running order, the 2016 FishSpy shows are:

1. The Brentwood carp show.
Dates: 6th & 7th February, The Brentwood center, Essex.

Packed full of exhibitors from all of the top carp fishing tackle brands, the emphasis this year is on NEW tackle – and that includes our revolutionary FishSpy camera! Make sure you check this show out – what else it there to do in February anyway!?

For more information and ticket prices click here.

2. Carpin’on – THE carp show.
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Dates: 12th & 13th March, Five lakes resort, Essex.

Carpin’ On is the UK’s #1 carp fishing exhibition, covering all aspects of carp angling and bringing all the biggest tackle brands together under one roof!

Over 90 exhibitors, outdoor demos and displays and the best entertainment line up of all the UK shows including live forums, slide shows and tell-all interviews from leading anglers. This is your chance to meet the experts including TF Gear consultant Dave Lane!

For more information and ticket prices click here.

3. The BIG One.
Date: 19th & 20th March, Farnborough Hants.

Fishface promotions bring you THE BIG ONE! With well over 180 exhibitors, as the name suggests this is simply the largest UK carp show of 2016. This year will see the exhibition jam packed with carp fishing celebs and top tackle marques- just in time for launching your full-on spring carp fishing campaign!

For more information and ticket prices click here.

(Please note: Dave Lane is unable to attend this show.)

For further information please email the FishSpy Team: info@fishspy.com

Airflo Tropical Saltwater Fly Lines – Reviewed by Matthieu Cosson

Airflo fly lines are the guides choice the world over for good reason – super tough, slick, and ultra reliable. Combine these attributes with awesome tapers and casting performance that goes on day after day, season upon season, it’s no wonder they have become the choice of professional guides in all four corners of the globe.

Here Matthieu Cosson, the head guide at outfitter FlyCastaway reviews the awesome Airflo tropical saltwater ridge clear tip and GT floating lines – read on to find out exactly why saltwater pro’s love them so much!

Airflo Tropical Saltwater Ridge Clear Tip:

I have been using this line exclusively for 4 years now on #8, #9 and #10 weight rods during my fishing but also guiding guests on Saint Brandon atoll (Mauritius) and in the Seychelles waters mainly at the Farquhar and Providence atolls. The 10 feet of clear tip make for a huge advantage as it adds more stealth to each presentation.

For confirmed fly casters as well as for beginners, the taper is the best for presentation casts to any species living on the flats of Indian Ocean flats. The former will also find it great for longer presentations as you are able to carry a lot of line in the air and it keeps true tracking.

I’ve landed a 16lb Indo Pacific Permit, lining it on its right hand side to be able to drop the crab just 8 feet in front of its head while it was tailing. The cast went into the strong Saint Brandon wind (around 14-16 knots). I never imagined being able to do such a presentation with any of the other lines available on the market and then getting the fish to eat the fly.

It also stalk the schools of Humphead Parrotfish on Farquhar and Providence atoll flats as well as the Triggerfish found there. It makes for a soft landing on the water and you can clearly see the fish swimming or feeding underneath the clear tip without being spooked. This is definitely improving your chances to get more bites!

 A Humphead Parrotfish - fooled using the Airflo clear tip.

A Humphead Parrotfish – fooled using the Airflo clear tip.

Also as a guide, having only 10 feet of clear tip helps to track the line drifting on top all the way to the customer’s fly, which is a huge advantage compared to a full clear line.

Despite not having a 60lb core, I found out it serves well as a GT line in 12-weight persuasion for pure inside flats fishing on pressured fisheries where the fish are smarter for these same reasons stated above. I meant pure flats fishing as you will not have to lift the GT from the below or horse it back from reef structure in atoll reef areas like , i.e. when fishing the surf which usually requires a hell of a lot of strength in fly lines.

A brace of GT’s (Giant Trevally)

Airflo Tropical Ridge GT floating line:

For years, guides have been looking for lines that combine both a good presentation and fighting abilities. Airflo have come out with their GT line using a 60lb braid core that does not stretch.

Up to the day, it is THE ONE line I will fish and recommend to my guests to use as not only has it the strongest welded loops on the market (should you choose to use them) but also a great taper to cast a size 4/0 to 8/0 fly without struggling.

My guests most of the time have an image of the GT as a rowdy fish species that will eat anything anytime and in any circumstances, thanks to some crazy fish porn, probably! The reality can be quite removed: …a GT following a ray or tailing into a school of Humphead Parrotfish on the flats is one of the spookiest fish to target.

Once your GT rod is set up with a certain type of line, you can’t change it quickly while on the flats as you don’t have time to change spools at all. It is critical to have a line that can both deliver a fly quickly into the surf as well as making great presentations with the fly landing softly.

The Tropical Ridge GT line allows the angler to track the fish while casting as it possesses a real taper. This makes presentations far better than any other lines and giving anglers better chances to hook and land the GT of a lifetime.

The line is also quite versatile, as I also use it for bluewater flyfishing here: we fish for sailfish, tuna, wahoo and small marlin in the blue. It loads heavier/stiffer rods up to a 13-weight quite well and has the desired breaking strength for pulling these pelagic fish up from the depths, we just know what we are talking about when we mean pulling hard.

We fish for sailfish, tuna, wahoo and small marlin using the GT line.

We fish for sailfish, tuna, wahoo and small marlin using the GT line.

For about a year now, Airflo has added their SuperDri coating technology to the line which definitely enhances its casting qualities, another great reason why I am never on the water without a spare Ridge GT floating line as a backup for my angling guests!

Matthieu Cosson
FlyCastaway Head Guide

FlyCastaway specializes in guiding groups of dedicated anglers to various exotic destinations in Africa and the Indian & Atlantic Ocean Islands around the continent.
For the trip of a lifetime visit: www.flycastaway.com

6 Fantastic Flies To Add To Your Armoury

salmon fly on vice

Image source: shutterstock
Still on the vice, ready for the water!

Our big fishing survey revealed that that 66% of you fly anglers tie your own flies – you’re clearly a resourceful bunch!

When the weather is miserable, practising the art of fly tying is often preferable to actually fishing. Blogger Bob Walker agrees, after a recent bout of gloomy weather he: “retreated to my man-cave, fired up the heater, got some Planet Rock on the go and decided to tie a pike fly.” A wise man indeed!

We’ve scoured the net for the best additions to your fly fishing gear. So without further ado here are six new snazzy flies to add to your collection. Now just to make some room for them…

1. Organza Traffic Lights Diawl Bach

Learn how to tie this organza based Diawl Bach and land yourself more trout. The video is made by Davie McPhail, a well-known fly tyer and designer who also contributes to UK fly fishing magazines. Swing by his YouTube channel; he uploads new fly tying videos every few weeks.

2. Big flashy pike streamer Mcfluffchucker

Sometimes in life you just want to make a massive fly, just for the hell of it.” It’s a sentiment we’re sure many fly anglers can identify with! The video shows blogger Dave Mcfluffchucker making “something big and sparkly that will annoy the fish.” While this flashy great streamer is fun to tie, the main purpose of course, is it will help you catch more pike. We call that a win win.

3. The Northern spider flexi floss worm

After something a bit unconventional? Try out this multi-legged spider flexi floss worm with Level 2 Angling Coach Terry Phillips. Use in stillwaters for the best results; rainbow trout go mad for it thanks to the very realistic wobbly legs fished under a bung. Terry lists the materials in this fly at the end of the video; are you up to the flexi floss worm challenge?

4. Teal blue and silver palmer chenille lure

Scott Wilson sounds every bit the hardened Scottish fisherman, but watch as he whips up this lure with all the agile grace of a jeweller making filigree. The result is a stunning teal blue and silver lure, which looks almost too precious to use. Almost, but not quite!

Do you tie the best flies?

5. Black and orange sea trout fly

Want to catch more sea trout fly? This Black and orange fly should do the trick! This one has gained a reputation for success in Wales, but the man behind the video, David Cammiss says it’ll work wherever you are. With over sixty years of fly tying experience, David Cammiss is a man worth paying attention to. Visit his YouTube channel for a huge range of different fly tying videos.

6. Green Pearl Head Nymph

Gareth Wilson says the The Green Pearl Head Nymph is the most successful fly he has tied from Bob Church’s ‘Guide to New Fly Patterns’ – high praise indeed! You only need a small tail for this nymph; Gareth uses a pinching technique to remove the excess and make sure the tail is around the same size as the body. They key to making this nymph lifelike is to dub the body with dark olive seal fur very loosely for a very realistic effect.

Start tying!

So there you have it – six new fly ties to learn and experiment with. Which one will you be trying first? Check out our fly tying kits to get you started and remember to share your efforts on our Facebook page!

Pike Safety – Richard Handel

A very nice 21lb 10oz river pike.

A very nice 21lb 10 oz river pike.

There has been an awful lot written about Carp safety. However, Pike are a much more delicate species. And with the lack of big Pike in this country, I feel there should be a greater deal of emphasis put on this. I personally use the same equipment for Carp fishing as I do for Pike and have found that a modern style mat like the TF Gear hardcore pack-away which is very light and easy to carry, is just perfect for this job.

The TF Gear pack away matt can go from this to this in a matter of seconds!

The TF Gear pack away mat can go from this to this in a matter of seconds!

I am also a firm believer in the correct style weigh slings/fish retainer should also be used along with a decent mat.

Now depending on your swim (and your safety), once I have unhooked the Pike, I will also place the Pike in a retainer sling and put this in the river/lake. On a river, please be mindful of the direction of the current and the Pike’s head should always face the flow, with the retaining sling, I add a clip on the other end to ensure you never loose your fish in the sling.

Add a clip to your retainer sling.

Add a clip to your retainer sling.

With this you can clip the cord to and then attach using a bank stick, thus holding the fish out of the current and close to the bank for a few minutes. Do this is while you set up your photography equipment.

I use a compact Panasonic lumix DT70 camera.
This has a function of time laps shots, I set at 1 every 10 seconds until it’s done 100. I set the tripod up in front of the mat all ready and press start. Then there is no worries about holding a remote, it’s all done in your own time and the safety of the Pike. Once complete, you can safely return the Pike using the retainer sling and the fish can fully recover and move off when ready.

When unhooking pike I carry a very comprehensive array of stuff as you can see below.

An essential array of pike unhooking gear.

An essential array of pike unhooking gear.

Forceps, pliers and cutters are all essentials! I am not a fan of gloves as you can’t feel the fish very well when putting your hand in their gills and could easily damage them without knowing. If you use your hands, you are more careful in handling them and less likely to cause any damage to the fishes vital; layer of protective slime.

A well cared for pike about to go back and get even bigger!

A well cared for pike about to go back and get even bigger!

Last but very important, strike quickly – gone are the days of leave it for a minute just to be sure – we can ill afford to have deep hooked Pike, as this is a big cause of Pike death’s.

With a bit more attention to quality pike care hopefully, we may one day start to see a good head of decent 30lb plus river pike building up again around the country.

Hope this is helpful.
Till next time, Richard.

Fishtec fishing photography competition – the pictures

Welcome to the Fishtec angling photography competition!

The competition’s now closed, and we’re going through the votes. The winner will be announced on Wednesday 10th February.

In the meantime, here’s a selection from the shortlist of pictures – happy viewing!

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

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If you want to learn more about how to get the best pictures out of your own fishing photography, check out our fishing photography guide, which has all you’ll need to get started or learn more about the art of snapping!