Nuggets of wisdom from accomplished anglers

Will Millard fishing with grandad

It’s important to share knowledge – with fellow anglers and the generation to come.
Image courtesy of Will Millard, pictured learning to fish with his grandad

To get your year off to a flying start, here’s Fishtec’s compendium of top tips from some of the UK’s most experienced anglers.

These nuggets of wisdom have been passed down from parents and grandparents, suggested by fellow anglers on the bank or perfected during years of dedicated trial and error. Some have even been provided by up-and-coming youngsters, keen to learn and share their own knowledge. We know they all work, but we can’t always explain why!

How to catch more fish

dom-garnett-tight-spot

Try fishing tight spots.
Image courtesy of Dom Garnett

Seek out less obvious spots
“One of the best ways to catch more is simply to get stuck into less obvious and less easy spots. Even on a crowded island like ours, a heck of a lot of water is seldom fished because we tend to think of our own comfort and convenience first. Wading, walking long distances and getting into tricky spots are all good ways to access the fish most anglers never get close to.”
Dom Garnett, www.dgfishing.co.uk

Lots and often, or go home
My top tip is from my dear old Grandad who taught me to fish on the mighty Fenland Drains at the age of 4. He said ‘forget little and often my boy, down ‘ere it’s lots and often or go home’. He would then absolutely fill the river in with ground bait guaranteeing non-stop action from shoal after shoal of roach and giant slab-sided bream.
Will Millard. Author of “The Old Man and the Sand Eel” (Released 1st March.)

Have fun with less fashionable fish
“If you’re prepared to target many species, there’s so much fun to be had with less fashionable fish. While carp, barbel and pike often get hammered, others barely get a look in a lot of the time. There is a lot of untapped sport for the likes of roach, bream and even wild trout at present that few of us are capitalising on. Fishing doesn’t always have to be about size or competing with other anglers; enjoying yourself is the only important target and it’s definitely good to be different!” 
Dom Garnett, www.dgfishing.co.uk

Short sharp sessions at dawn and dusk
For me personally, in the depths of winter you must be ready to move to where the fish are showing, so fish light and go for short sharp sessions at dawn and dusk. That, and to always remember: the most successful angler is always the one who is having the most fun!”  
Will Millard. Author of “The Old Man and the Sand Eel” 

Top tackle tip

Fishing rods

Do your rod sections get stuck?
Image source: Shutterstock

Rub a candle around your rod ferrules
I picked this up recently from my best mate Willy Kinnaird of Craigmore Fishery. I’d been having issues with rod sections remaining completely tight at the end of a day’s fishing. A simple candle does the trick! Rub it around the top of the rod ferrules then insert them into the next blank. Twist them full circle a few times then line up your rod eyes as normal and fish. After a good session, the blanks will separate without the worry of snapping or weakening. Thanks Willy!
David Thompson – the naked fly fisher

Top tips for fly fishing

George-Clarke-fish-the-hang

Fish the hang.
Image courtesy of George Clark, A 10-year old star of the future

Fish the hang
“The hang is a method you use at the end of your retrieve. If you’ve had a fish following your fly in, it will often grab if you fish the hang. To do this, retrieve as normal, and when you see your fly getting close to the bank, count to ten. The fly will slow down and drop towards the bottom and the fish may rush out and grab it. As you lift to re-cast, do it slowly. Sometimes the fish will take it before you lift off.”
George Clark, www.flyandlure.org

Don’t be too hasty
“I picked this tip up in my youth and it has added to my catch numbers on both rivers and lakes. After presenting the fly, I retrieved as normal and then lifted the flies and casted again. As I began to use a polarised lens, I could see fish were following the fly to the bank and not taking, only to decide to take the fly as I lifted to cast which would result in me taking the fly straight from their mouth!

I always wondered why fish would do this and I soon learned that as predators, they would stalk their prey whereas the change in direction, movement and speed when lifting the fly would trigger their aggressive predatory instinct in a ‘now or never moment’ and they would make an attempt to take it.

To take advantage of this (each angler will have their own method but this one works for me), once you’ve retrieved your line, slowly raise the rod until the flies reach the surface. Just let them sit for a second then lift the fly out of the water then lift each fly out if you fish a multiple fly cast. If the fish doesn’t take at this point, then repeat your cast. I recently had a fish follow the point fly only to make an attempt at the dropper fly, which was OUT OF THE WATER!” David Thompson – the naked fly fisher.

Sharpen your hook points regularly
“A hook sharpener is possibly the most overlooked piece of fishing kit ever invented. If you regularly lure or fly fish and use the same artificials session after session, I guarantee you will be missing fish every season unless you carry one and regularly re-sharpen the hook points that see most use.”
Dom Garnett, www.dgfishing.co.uk

Theo-Pike-Wandle-dace

A Wandle Dace.
Image courtesy of Theo Pike

Go barbless
“If you need to match a hatch with small flies, but you’re struggling to hook up, it’s worth trying to tie the same-sized patterns on a slightly larger hook (for example, a size 18 or even 20 fly on a size 16 shank). Using very fine, barbless hooks like the Partridge SLD, I’ve definitely found this idea improves my hit-rate with notoriously hard-to-hook fish like dace.” Theo Pike, urbantrout.net

Stealth is the most important thing
“Stealth is the most important thing when fly fishing a river for trout. Half the battle is approaching your quarry with care and attention. If the fish is unaware of danger, it will be much easier to catch. Take your time to get into position, walk softly, wade slowly and make your first cast count.”
Ceri Thomas, Fishtec

George-Clarke2

Try the countdown method
Image courtesy of George Clarke

Find the right depth
“The countdown method is a very good way to find where the fish are feeding. After you’ve cast your line you have to pull it to straighten it out and remove any slack so you can feel any bites. On your first cast, count to five before starting to retrieve. If you don’t get any bites, on the second cast, increase the count to ten so your fly sinks a little deeper. If you get a bite, cast again and use the same countdown as you have probably found the depth where the fish are feeding. Keep counting down until you find where the fish are. 

If you’re fishing a fast sinking line, like a Di7, count down in sevens every second. If you’re fishing a Di3, countdown in threes every second. If you do this, you’ll always know how deep you’re fishing and will be able to find the feeding depth on your next cast, if you get a bite.”
George Clark, www.flyandlure.org

To catch a trout, cast far out!
“When it comes to sea trout fishing at night: ‘If you’re not losing flies you’re not fishing close enough to the opposite bank’. This is good advice. 99% of my fish are caught from casts that started tight to the far bank. Sometimes people get takes in the middle of the river and this creates misconceptions as the fish has followed it from tight against the bank and taken the fly as it’s swinging around in the current. I’m not saying you won’t catch fish in the middle and tail of pools. But you’ll catch more fish casting tight to the far bank.” Gareth Wilson, Fishtec

Top tips when fishing for carp

Simon-crow-carp

You need good strong tackle.
Image courtesy of Simon Crow

Know your prey
“Big carp are often aggressive feeders and they will not want to miss out if everything else is feeding. Create a situation, either with bait or location, where you can catch regularly and that one big one will always come along in the end.”  Dave Lane

Check your knots and hooks religiously
“Always check your knots and hooks every time you cast out or it’ll cost you fish. I learned this as a young angler from an experienced old boy. I struck into a screaming take from a powerful carp, the rod went over and sprang back almost instantly from my knot snapping. The old fella laughed as it had happened to him as a teenager. Now I check the hook is nice and sharp, and always give my knots a good strong yank. Carp are very powerful and they’ll test your tackle to the limit.” Simon Crow

Top tips for sea fishing

spring-tide

Get to know the layout of your favourite coastal locations during a spring tide
Image source: DD; Wikimedia Commons

Try plain weights
“When fishing from a sandy, snag-free beach it can be an advantage to use plain weights. This is because they will roll around on the seabed and find gullies, depressions and other areas where dislodged worms, shellfish and other sources of food will accumulate. These are the areas which fish will seek out and using a plain weight will allow your baited hook to roll into these places.” Chris Middleton

Vary your speed
“When fishing with a spinner (or any other type of fishing lure) reel in at different speeds, as this will change the depth at which the spinner is drawn through the water. Reeling in quickly will see the spinner rise close to the surface, while reeling in slowly will see the spinner sink deep down. This will increase the chances of locating the feeding fish as the lure will be covering the whole of the water column.”
Chris Middleton

Use your fish finder sneakily
“Just the other day I was out fishing with some commercial bass fishermen. Guys who spend their entire time catching bass on rod and line. Whenever we fished a wreck of a piece of rough ground, they would check their position and direction of drift on the GPS make sure everything was lined up. And then for the drifts themselves they would make sure the fish finder/echo sounder was switched off.

One of them told me he’d heard some recordings made of what echo sounders sound like underwater and how violently noisy they were. He firmly believed bass fishing and indeed any fishing would be negatively affected by running the fish finder during a draft.

I’ve adopted this habit too. And oddly I find it’s especially effective while squid fishing. Kind of makes sense I guess. These are sensitive creatures who are used to the noises of the sea anything unusual, the slapping of waves on a hull or an electronic device is all potentially going to give them the willies.” Nick Fisher

Learn your locations
When there’s a very big spring tide, take advantage of it and go and check out an area where you regularly fish. As the tide goes much further out on a spring tide, gullies, weed beds and other fish-attracting features – which are usually underwater – can often be revealed, allowing anglers to cast next to these areas the next time they’re fishing in the area. Even small rocky outcrops will contain weed, shellfish and other small creatures which will in turn attract fish, meaning that learning the locations of these can lead to more productive fishing sessions.” Chris Middleton

Lugworm-Squid

This lugworm and squid combination is often a winner.
Image courtesy of Chris Middleton

Think scent and colour
While ragworm and lugworm are two of the most effective and popular baits in sea fishing, they can be enhanced by adding a long strip of white squid or silver mackerel belly to the hook. Not only will this add a new scent to the bait, but the squid or mackerel will also flutter in the tide and reflect light, adding a visual attraction to the bait. This can be especially effective for inquisitive species such as flatfish.”
Chris Middleton

Try coloured beads
“Species such as plaice and flounder are attracted to beads and sequins which have been added to hooklengths, and many anglers find that their catches of these species increase when they use rigs which incorporate beads and sequins. Alternating green and black beads are seen as the most effective for plaice as these colours resemble mussels which are a key source of food for plaice. Chris Middleton

WD40 really can fix anything!
There was a belief that cod are attracted to the colour white, with some anglers adding white spoons or attractors to their rigs when fishing for cod, although this has fallen from favour in recent years. Similarly there is a long-running belief in sea angling that spraying baits with WD40 acts as an attractor to fish! Although there is no verified evidence to back this up, some anglers swear by it.” Chris Middleton

Top tips for eel fishing

eel

Eels are some of the trickiest beasts to catch.
Image courtesy of Barry McConnell

Discard touch-legering
“Eels are expert at pulling soft bait from the hook until it’s left bare. You’ll often receive a series of small bites on the indicator which result in a bare hook. This is because the eel has pulled the soft worms from the hook one by one. It has become common practice in eel angling circles to pick up the rod and tease the eel onto the hook by means of touch-legering (standing with rod in hand, pointing it at the eel, and trapping the line between finger and thumb so that the eel can be felt plucking on the other end). This helps to catch some wary eels, but even then, many get clean away with the bait.

Try this. Discard touch-legering and don’t feel/trap the line between fingers. Instead, stand with the rod lightly balanced in the hand and held side on to the water as though quiver-tipping. Modern carbon fibre rods are so light that the eel can easily pull the rod around in the hand in a positive force that is a very strikable bite, that more often results in a hooked eel. If the angler was still feeling the line, in the touch-legering method, they would have felt a pluck and then another worm would have been removed. But in this lightly-balanced-rod situation, the rod is pulled around in the angler’s hand to give a positive, hittable bite. The angler is able to strike while the rod is pulling around. Try it. It works!” Barry McConnell.

Recording for posterity

fish-photography

Image courtesy of David Thompson


Try burst mode shooting
One of the things I see many anglers struggling with is fish photography. I take a lot of shots when I’m out for my social media channels and in particular Instagram which focuses on image content. There’s nothing better than that fish-playing action shot, wildlife shot, or fish release shot. I often receive messages asking how I get so many decent shots. Well the answer is simple – burst mode shooting.

The vast majority of smartphones and cameras have a burst mode or continuous mode shot. By simply holding the shoot button down, it takes a number of photos in one go which allows you to select the best one. This is particularly useful as fish have the patience of a small child when it comes to photography! It eliminates blurry fishing shots and also decreases the amount of time it takes to reset, pose and retake, causing the fish unnecessary additional stress by keeping them out of the water. Encourage a friend to just burst mode from the moment you pick the fish up, to when you set it back into the water for release. You’ll have a wide variety of good angles and hopefully get your good side!” David Thompson – the naked fly fisher.

Video stills make great photos
“Some anglers are gadget freaks and like to take photos with waterproof cameras but still have issues with underwater shots and clarity. Fish shots can be blurry with any movement. This is partly to do with single mode shooting. So a small tip that I discovered by accident is that by shooting a video instead, you can take ‘stills’ off the camera (or laptop). Given that most cameras now shoot in HD, the picture quality will remain quite high. This one has been a lifesaver and saved me from having to retake a photo, a gazillion times!” David Thompson – the naked fly fisher.

We’d love to hear your nuggets of wisdom. Please do come over to our Facebook page and share yours.

How to Make a Living out of Fishing

dominic garnett, professional angler

Could you cut it as a pro angler?

Ever considered turning your favourite pastime into a job? Fishing author and guide Dom Garnett presents a realistic rough guide to making your living from angling.

The good news is, there have never been more opportunities to make money from fishing, just don’t expect it to be easy because the sector has never been more competitive.

Here’s some advice to get you started.

What can you offer?

dominic garnett with big fish

You will need to be a passionate, competent angler to earn. Eye-opening catches can help, but the “professional big fish angler” is a complete myth!

Forget the myth of the “sponsored angler”, the guy who gets paid just to go fishing. If only it was that simple. You’re only going to make money from fishing by providing something that others want.

Professional angling isn’t just about catching big fish. A much better starting point is to ask: “What can I give to angling as a sport?”

Perhaps you take a great picture or can tell a great story. Do you have design or creative skills? Are you a dab hand with social media or digital marketing? Or maybe you have a deep understanding of the environment.

Guiding & Coaching

dominic garnett, fishing guide, with an angler

Guiding and coaching are the most realistic ways to earn from angling.

The most realistic and achievable way of making an income from angling is to take others fishing, by which I mean becoming a guide, gillie, skipper or coach.

Folks who teach others to cast a fly, who can charter a boat or who can provide some other direct service can all generate an income of some kind. But remember, guiding is not about going fishing yourself, but putting others first.

Get qualified. Schemes run by bodies like the Angling Trust are excellent, and fishing clubs also offer events and pathways to training. Gaining a recognised qualification puts you above board with first aid and insurance, and learning to be a better teacher means you’ll be able to give your guests a great experience.

Most guides specialise. Perhaps you live near some top class barbel fishing, or live in an area with lots of fly fishing. Or maybe you have a specialist skill and can share it with others. Many professionals attach themselves to a venue like a fishery or hotel, while others, from pike specialists to sea fishing experts, are more mobile. Work out what your strengths are and play to them.

I also know a few angling pros who make their living from coaching kids, a task that takes patience and paperwork, but what a wonderful calling.

Writing

angling magazines

Various magazines will take articles, but you need quality and determination.

Articles and books have been my mainstay for ten years. Writing about fishing is not brilliantly paid, but there remains a decent market for it. The magazines and weeklies thrive on content provided by anglers like you.

The key to success as a writer is to compose good quality articles and get them to the right people. Print titles tend to be the way to go to get paid. Many websites don’t pay at all or offer a pittance, although they can still be very useful for getting your work out there.

You must always think of your target audience, remembering to adapt and tailor your work to different styles and formats. Editors want to hear from you, but they’ll be off-put by dodgy English or material that’s a headache to work with.

If you’re new to the game, be prepared to be rejected. The vast majority of us have the ability to write, but it’s a craft that must be honed. Organise your articles so that each is clear, logical and free of glaring errors. Come up with a strong title and a punchy opening sentence, pay attention to word count and always check your work.

Getting friends to read and critique your output is always helpful. Choose those who’ll highlight your mistakes and provide honest feedback. Give your work a fair chance by taking pride in it, or an editor might simply reject it without saying why.

Finally, do also pay close attention to your photography. Even the best-written piece won’t be accepted if it doesn’t have decent pictures. A really arresting main image can sell your work every bit as well as a great headline.

Blogging

fishing and blogging

If you love to fish and love to write, blogging could be a good start

Blogging is huge and though it’s difficult to make money directly from blog posts, I can’t stress how important this skill is. Tweets and Facebook posts become ancient history incredibly quickly, whereas popular blog posts can remain popular for years and show up on search results far better than do social media pages.

In today’s digital world, we’re invisible without an online presence. A blog puts you out there and gives you the freedom to talk about whatever you like, enabling you to build a relationship with readers and customers. Whether you’re a guide, a writer, a bait company or a photographer, your blog tells your story and engages with the people who use your services.

And don’t forget professional blogging. There are a huge number of companies and organisations now hiring bloggers, and the fishing world is quickly following suit. Well, you’re reading this aren’t you?

Fishing Books & E-Books

crooked lines by dominic garnett

Crooked Lines is my fifth book; but it has taken many years to develop my craft and build up a readership.

If words are truly your thing, the biggest single chunk of income you can make from writing about fishing is to produce a book; a daunting task and a subject in its own right. Suffice to say, you need a strong idea and a lot of willpower to make this happen.

I strongly believe the old saying that we all have a book in us. But the key to the success of any fishing book is how many readers it will appeal to. Whether it’s a great page-turning read or an insight into a special area of expertise, you need a solid theme and something compelling to capture the reader’s attention.

The most obvious route for the would-be-author is to try and get a publisher interested. Afterall, writing the text is only half the battle with any book. Design, layout, proofreading and marketing are just some of the other tasks you would otherwise have to take care of yourself.

Self-publishing is another option, but a major book project can be a nightmare without specialist knowledge and support. That said, if you do have an audience, along with the right skills and connections, you then have the advantage that you retain editorial control and keep more of the profits.

Last but by no means least, I should also mention ebooks. Kindle edition fishing books are still not vast in range, but times are changing and they do sell. You won’t get as many illustrations in a download and the writing has to really stand up to scrutiny, but ebooks can be great little earners. Once you’ve uploaded your book there are no printing costs, storage or overheads to consider either.

Both of my own ebooks, Crooked Lines and Tangles with Pike sell at a nice steady trickle all year round and interestingly, those who enjoy the Kindle edition quite often buy the “real” hard copy after reading the digital version. Above all though, ebooks are an exciting and underexploited area. Why not be one of the pioneers and give it a try?

Sponsorships and Angling Companies

dominic garnett's flies

Ever had an idea for a new product? I had many ideas rejected, before Turrall began producing my various flies for coarse species.

Many anglers seem to believe that being sponsored is the easiest route to a career in fishing. Sadly, this is seldom true. There are, admittedly, a heck of a lot of sponsored anglers out there, but most get free kit and bait rather than a salary. But seeing as most landlords don’t accept boilies or lures in lieu of rent, how might you go about getting a proper paid role?

If you have specialist knowledge or business skills, a job with a tackle company is the obvious route to take. Do bear in mind though that these days, companies are looking for all-rounders and not just those who can catch big fish or make a sale.

There is also the possibility to endorse or design products for a commission. Again, not easy but possible if you have an idea with sales potential and a company willing to listen.

Digital marketing is hugely important now, and lots of companies are looking for people who can provide films, blogs and other digital media. The trick, as always, is to identify a need, then tailor your products and services to meet it. Be warned though, the tackle world can bite, so be careful, pick wisely, and if you have useful skills don’t give them away for nothing.

Film, TV Work & Talks

filming with NatGeo

My “lucky” break with National Geographic came after many rejected efforts.

Television is a very tough world to break into, but it never hurts to make contacts and ask questions. From the outside looking in, professional TV anglers appear lucky but most faced years of trial, error and rejection before getting any kind of break.

I shudder to think how many of my ideas and emails were ignored or rejected, but eventually I made progress. Not to stardom, but to appearances on Sky Sports and National Geographic, experiences that were lots of fun, paid money and helped my career.

Just like selling features and articles, you need something fresh to offer film and TV people. You also need to be able to handle rejection and keep going. Any practise you can get will serve you well, like making your own videos or giving talks and presentations. And if your videos get stacks of views on YouTube you might even make a small amount of advertising revenue.

Fisheries, Fishing Shops and the “Front Line”

There are a heck of a lot of jobs in the wider world that might not be “living the dream” but do mean getting closer to it! Those who run fisheries and tackle shops or who work in conservation or protecting the environment are all linked to the angling sector.

Realistically, the “superstar” angling celebrity is one in a hundred thousand, and the guy simply paid to go fishing is a myth. However, if you have passion and are prepared to work hard and give something to the sport there are many roles that might work out. I wish you the very best of luck.

Some Further Tips:

dominic garnett angling tips

It’s always good to have a niche; blurring the lines between fly and coarse fishing has definitely helped me to offer something different and enjoyable.

  • Identify your strengths. Ask yourself what you can contribute into the sport.
  • Get qualified.
  • Get insured.
  • Be licensed and above board at all times.
  • Never work for nothing. If you have a skill, don’t give it away for free.
  • Specialise. If you go down the big fish and PB route, you’ll be one of many. Do something original.
  • Be versatile. For most of us, the only way to make a reliable income is to juggle different roles and jobs.
  • Stay positive. Help others, serve the sport well and you will be helped in return.

Further Info:

You can read more on the highs and lows of a professional angler in Dom Garnett’s books and regular blog at www.dgfishing.co.uk

All images © Dominic Garnett.

8 Tips for better Mobile Phone Fishing Pictures

Lets face it, almost all fishermen carry a mobile phone, making them the device you are most likely to record your fishing adventures with.

Mobile phone cameras can make great fishing images, but to ensure your snaps are awesome rather than pedestrian, follow our 8 simple tips for better mobile phone fishing pictures.

A nice casting shot taken with an iPhone

A nice casting shot taken with an iPhone.

1. Clear your lens.

Grease, dirt, dust and fingerprints can all have an effect on image quality. Before you take a picture of your prize catch take a few seconds to give your phone lens a quick wipe over with something soft, like the edge of a T -shirt or lint free cloth.

2. Get focused.

Getting your subject into focus is essential if you want a good picture. On iPhones simply tap the screen where your subject is in the frame – a small yellow square will appear to confirm. On Android you can set your camera up to do the same, by tapping on the screen exactly where you want to focus rather than using a button to take the image.

A lovely close up shot taken with an iPhone – getting the focus right was important!

A lovely close up shot taken with an iPhone – getting the focus right was important!

3. Avoid using Zoom

By using zoom you loose of lot of quality with a mobile phone. Walk closer or hold the phone right up to the fish instead. For a close up view, best option is to simply crop out the surplus in the picture afterwards.

4. Keep it steady

Keeping your phone still is very important, especially at night or in low light conditions. Phone cameras work a lot slower when their sensors pick up low light, due to more exposure being required for a decent image. Try holding with both hands for a steady take.

5. Take several shots

Take a few not just one. That way you can pick the best one out. The more you take the better the chance of getting a good one with the subject in focus.

6. Watch the background

Make sure the background is uncluttered and not distracting. If it is, a quick move of position and it can be easily remedied. Or quickly tidy things up to ensure the background is neat and not attention grabbing.

This mobile phone photo would have been much better if the clutter was removed in the background!

This mobile phone photo would have been much better if the clutter was removed in the background!

7. Remember the basics

Imagine a frame around your subject and keep them in the middle of the shot. If it’s a person holding a fish, try not to cut off your subjects head! Remember to keep the phone level so your picture is straight.

A decent mobile phone picture - nicely framed and straight.

A decent mobile phone picture – nicely framed.

8. Try not to use the flash

Mobile phone flashes are basically just glorified LED’s. Rarely are they effective, or useful. Indeed, they often ruin the shot by making your camera slower, therefore giving your fish more time to wriggle just as the picture is taken! They also usually end up going off at the wrong time so you end up with a blury, badly lit image. So we recommend you turn yours off, even on a dull day.

Want to take you photography skills to the next level? We suggest you read our Fishing Photography guide.

 

10 Carp Fishing Sunset Shots

Dave Lane - Sunset fishing.

Dave Lane – Sunset fishing.

We recently posted up a sunset image image taken by Dave Lane from the banks of a carp lake (see image above). It proved so popular that we soon had lots of our facebook page followers posting their own awe inspiring fishing sunset shots. The images were so good we decided to pick out our top 10 from the Fishtec Coarse facebook page and share them here. Enjoy….

John Radford -Sunset shot.

John Radford -Sunset shot.

Jay Jack-Daniel Allen Archipelago Lakes... France... heaven..

Jay Jack-Daniel Allen – Archipelago Lakes, France. Heaven…

Graham Moore Chequertree fishery, Bethersden Kent.

Graham Moore Chequertree fishery, Bethersden Kent.

Barry Blenkey - lovely lake shot.

Barry Blenkey – lovely lake shot.

Armo Armzee - superb 'rods at the ready' shot

Armo Armzee – superb ‘rods at the ready’ pic.

Stuart Waters - rods all set at dusk

Stuart Waters – rods all set at dusk.

Stephen Godwin Horcott Lakes

Stephen Godwin – Horcott Lakes.

Dan Hayward - What an amazing sunset!

Dan Hayward – What an amazing sunset!

Trevor Edwards

Trevor Edwards.

Tony Jennings - Monks lake Steeplehurst

Tony Jennings – Monks lake Steeplehurst.

 

Dave Lane on Cameras – Improve your self take photos!

I probably get asked as many questions about cameras as I do about fishing nowadays. I suppose that I normally have a remote in my hand in most of my trophy shots and a lot of people would like to improve their self-photography as this is the main subject of the inquiries.

The reason I take so many self-take photos is a mixture of two things really. I do often fish alone and I much prefer it that way but, even when other anglers are on the lake, I tend to take my own pictures whenever possible.

Firstly I do not like to drag other people away from their fishing, particularly not at the main bite times, which is generally when you have a fish to photograph. If another angler has to reel in his rods to help me deal with a fish then I always think that I am depriving him the chance of a carp himself, which hardly seems fair.

Also, there are actually only a handful of people that I would trust to take shots that a fussy git like me will be happy with. This is not a slur on others photographic skills it is just that, once the fish has been returned, there is no chance for a second attempt.

Photos are very important to me, I spend a lot of time chasing carp and I like to able to look back and see that magical moment, a sixtieth of a second, frozen forever in time.

Obviously the safety of the fish on the bank is paramount and yes, it is a lot to deal with when you have the camera and the carp to contend with but this is easily solved by forward planning, the correct equipment and a bit of practise without a real live fish in the equation.

All of this goes out of the window if I get a really huge fish, a target I have been hunting, a personal best or anything that really blows me away because, just like everyone else, I still get a bit flustered at the sight of a really special fish and then I will enlist some help.

Basically, you need to get into a routine where your camera is acting almost like another angler in the swim (without all the wisecracks) it should be in the perfect position, ready to take a photo at any time and capable of showing you the result without you having to move an inch.

To this ends I would only recommend a camera with a flip screen, one that actually points at you and displays either the picture you have just taken or, even better, has a ‘live view’ function so that you can frame the shot before pressing the fire button.

In the old days we used to have miles of cable for an air shutter release running across the ground but most half decent cameras nowadays either come with a remote or you can purchase one to suit.

Personally I like to use an SLR camera and my model of choice is the Cannon 70D, not a cheap camera by any means but I think it’s worth the outlay.

The previous model, a 60D is also incredibly good and I had one for years up until recently. You can pick up a second hand 60D for around £400 on e-bay, with a lens, which may sound a lot but, in reality, it is about the price of a new bivvy, or a couple of new rods and it will give you excellent results for years to come.

If that is out of the budget then there are ‘bridge camera’s’ like the Canon G series to consider, I used to have a G-3 that gave amazing results and I saw a second hand one on E-Bay for £40 the other day, boxed and complete with leads and a spare battery!

Bridge cameras are a halfway house between a full on SLR and a compact.

Even compact cameras can be bought with ‘flip screens’ now and they are available in every price range.

A tripod is an absolute must have item but fear not, they are ridiculously cheap and I recently upgraded to a taller, telescopic, version for video or camera and it set me back a whopping £14 online.

So, with your kit sorted the next most important thing is composure, where are going to take the photos, and this should be sorted long before you actually catch a fish.

A nice daytime self take

A nice daytime self take.

You need to pick a spot that will either have full shade or full sun, work out where the sun will be at the most likely time you will need to use the camera, pick two spots just in case one has got dappled sunlight in it because this is the absolute ‘kiss of death’ for fish photography.

Full on shade will give a nice, realistic, defined shot of the fish whereas full on sun can sometimes be a bit glary off the carp’s flanks.

Pay special attention to the backdrop, make sure that the skyline is constant and you do not have a quarter of the shot showing bright sky and the rest in shade, as this will confuse the light meter in the camera and darker the foreground, losing you and the fish in shadow.

As with the sun, go for one or the other, either open sky or totally closed background, such as bushes or trees.

For night time photography you will need the latter, an area where the flash will bounce back from, a solid background that is as close as possible to your back or you will end up surrounded by inky blackness.

A good night self take, with a bit of practise.

A good night self take, with a bit of practise.

This will make or break your finished pictures so make sure you have it right, take a look through magazines at some of the more impressive shots, or your own album at your favourite ones and find a common denominator that please your eye. Look at the background of the best ones and see what is similar in each one.

Once you have everything ready, set it all up as if you have a fish and get some practise in, digital photo’s cost nothing and can be deleted at the press of a button.

If you set up the mat, the camera on its tripod, and even a bowl of the water you will need for the fish you can pre-create the exact scenario you are going to be in when the time comes and, this way, there will be no surprises.

Hold a full gallon water bottle and use this as the fish and keep trying until you are totally happy that you have everything framed as you like it, even soak the bottle in water if you are using a flash to see how bad the bounce back is going to be.

Once you are happy with the results then mark them all down.

Take a landing net pole and lay one end in the centre of the mat and mark the distance on the  pole with a piece of tape to show exactly where the centre of the tripod should go, this will always be the same so mark it permanently and you will have one less thing to consider.

If you are using a compact camera then the automatic feature will work out the settings for you but, with an SLR or Bridge camera, you have a lot more options.

Thankfully nearly all of the better cameras will have either one or two custom settings, usually marked as C1 C2 on the control wheel. I like to set one of these up for night shots and one for the daytime but, if there is only one then use it for night time shots as it is hard enough in the dark anyway, without having to change settings. If there are none then use a notebook or a notepad app on your phone.

Every variable should be sorted out in advance, not necessarily every trip but, once you have a winning formula, it can be applied everywhere.

Before you even think about lifting the fish from the water you should have your kit set up, your camera turned on (check the settings to make sure it stays on standby as long as possible) the remote function enabled and the remote sensor in position next to the mat.

Everything set up ready and a fish on the bank

Everything set up ready and a fish on the bank.

Take a trial shot first, just hold up your hand at the width you want include and check the picture for clarity, light, and composure. Make sure you do not have a branch behind you that makes you look like you have a set of antlers, or a gaudy sign stating ‘deep water beware’ make sure you are happy and confident and then retrieve the fish.

Your remote should always be held in the hand that has the head end of the fish as there is a wider area to balance on your hand, the tail end requires a more closed grip and it’s very awkward to work the remote.

Confidence is the key, you know the camera is going to work, you have practised enough times and you know the settings are correct, the only difference to having a photographer there with you is that one little button in your hand.

At night it is often the auto focus that really lets you down and, because of this, I NEVER use this function at night.

Firstly you need to use the landing net pole method to get the exact distance for your focal point, this is best done in the daytime and, once you have the exact focus and length you need to mark the camera lens with two little dots (tippex) one on the actual bit that spins to find focus and one on the fixed part of the lens. When these two dots are in alignment turn off the auto focus on the side of the lens and the camera will always be in focus for the correct distance, which is marked on your pole.

Alternatively, just place a water bottle where the fish will be, shine a bright light on it, and  focus the camera from the tripod and then turn off the auto focus (while the fish is still safely in the net).

Practise makes perfect and you have plenty of time for that whilst waiting for a bite and practise will build the confidence that you need to take perfect self takes every time.

If you’re taking your angling photography further, check out our fishing photography guide for loads more tips and information.

The ‘Show us your flies’ competition gallery

Turkey tail nymphShow us your flies!

Here are the results for the ‘Show us your flies’ competition!
We had dozens of fantastic entries, the votes have been counted and the results are in! It was a close match, but our winner is Graeme Ferguson’s Quill Dun dry with the highest cumulative vote count! He wins a brilliant Airflo mesh vest worth £54.99!

quill dun dry fly

Graeme Ferguson’s quill dun dry

Our two runners-up are also worthy of honourable mentions – the CDC elk skater from Alex Titov and the detached body mayfly  from DJ Muss are also beautiful creations. Thanks to everyone that entered and voted – we love seeing your pictures!

cdc elk skater

CDC elk skater

detached body Mayfly

detached body mayfly

Until next time, happy tying, and tight lines!

Show Us Your Flies Photo Competition

The competition is now closed. A gallery of the best entries will be open for voting on Thursday 2nd June.

Thank you to all who entered. We will contact the shortlisted entrants by email.

Over 60% of fly fishermen that took part in our Big Fishing Survey told us that they tie their own flies – so we want to see the fruits of your labour.

The closing date was Friday 27th May at 5pm. Our judges will create a shortlist of the best fly photos, and publish a gallery where readers can vote from Thursday 2nd June. We’ll inform all shortlisted entrants on that date. We can’t wait to see what you’ve tied!

The winner is the photo with the highest vote rating at the end of the competition.

You can win this brilliant Airflo mesh vest worth £54.99!

airflo mesh vest

Airflo mesh vest

The closing date for entries is Friday 27th May (at 5pm), and we’ll open the gallery for voting on Thursday 2nd June. If you’re in the shortlist, we’ll let you know so that you can get your friends, family and network to vote for your fly!

The winner will be announced on Tuesday 7th June.

If you’re not a fly tyer but are interested in learning, check out the Fishtec Beginners guide to fly tying – get going quickly, and you can enter, too!

The competition is now closed. The gallery will be open for voting on Thursday 2nd June. If you’ve entered and have been shortlisted, we’ll let you know by email.

Show/Hide Terms & Conditions

Terms and conditions In the event that any entrant does not, or is unable to, comply with and meet these Terms and Conditions and the competition information, Fishtec shall be entitled at its sole discretion to disqualify such entrant, without any further liability to such entrant.

To enter this competition you must be: (a) a UK resident; and (b) 18 years old or over at the time of entry.

This competition is free to enter and no purchase is necessary.

Fishtec reserves the right to cancel or amend the contest or the terms at any time without prior notice. Any changes will be posted on blog.fishtec.co.uk.

Entry requirements
1. Submitted images should be no larger than 5mb in file size.

2. Submitted images should be no larger than 1,000 x 1,000 pixels.

3. Do not submit any photographs that are obscene, vulgar, pornographic, hateful, threatening, racist, sexist, discriminatory, or which otherwise violate any local or international laws.

4. Entrants must be 18 or over to enter.

5. You must be the copyright owner of any works submitted and you also confirm you have the necessary permission from people who may appear in the photo.

6. Each entrant is invited to submit one entry. In the event of multiple entries being submitted, the moderators will select one of the images to be included in the competition.

Copyright
7. The photographer must be the sole author and owner of the copyright of photos entered in to the competition. Fishtec respects photographers rights and does not claim copyright for images you submit to this competition, you will retain full copyright in each entry. Whenever your image is published by Fishtec you will be credited. Failure to publish a credit due to error or oversight shall not be deemed a breach of this condition.

Image Usage
8. By entering this competition you agree that any winning image or shortlisted images you submit may be used by Fishtec for purposes related to the Classic Catch Competition.

9. You hereby grant Fishtec a non-exclusive, irrevocable licence in each entry for the uses described in 7. above for 1 year following the date of announcement of the winner, thereafter the image may be used for archival purposes by Fishtec.

10. You acknowledge your responsibility for protecting your entry against image misuse by third parties, by for example, but not limited to, the insertion of a watermark, retaining exif data. Fishtec can assume no responsibility and are not liable for any image misuse.

11. Should any image uses beyond those needed for the competition arise we will endeavour to contact you.

Judging
12. Images will be voted on by the public. The image with the higheset votes by the closing date, will be the winner. Only the winner will receive a prize unless otherwise stated, the shortlisted entries will gain free exposure on blog.fishtec.com.

13. Once voting has closed the winners will be notified within 30 days.

14. The judges decision is final and they do not enter in to communication relating to entries.

Voting
15. Only one vote per person per image is permitted.

16. Any votes registered after the voting close time, which will be stated online, will not be included in final count.

17. Fishtec reserves the right to disqualify votes or entries, or suspend voting if it has reasonable grounds to suspect that fraudulent voting has occurred, or if it considers there has been any attempt to unfairly influence the voting. Fishtec has the right to substitute an alternative selection method at its absolute discretion.

18. If, for any reason, the online voting system fails, the vote may be suspended or a contingency plan may be actioned.

19. Fishtec reserves the right to change, cancel or suspend this event at any time.

20. Fishtec does accept any responsibility whatsoever for any technical failure or malfunction or any other problem with any on-line system, server, provider or otherwise which may result in any vote being lost or not properly registered or recorded.

21. In the event of a large amount of entries (as determined by the judges), a shortlist will be produced, to include highest voted entries and (in the event of multiple entries from a single person) the best (as determined by the judges) of an individual’s entries.

Prizes
22. The prize for this competition is a Airflo mesh vest as shown above and on the page linked to here.

23. No alternative products, credit or cash equivalents will be offered.

24. Prize details will be sent to the winner via email within 30 days of the winner being announced.

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!

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.

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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!