Irish Sport Fishing – Fishing in Ireland
What are some of the factors that constitute a good match? For many they would include a pegged match fished to a straight length system, with sensible size limits, and on a fair venue with plenty of fish. Ashley Sampson agrees, “To me this is match fishing in its purest form. Big fish do not massively affect the result, and the angler who catches the most fish generally wins”. Of course there may be others who enjoy the unpredictability and luck-element associated with our sport, but I think that most match anglers would agree with the above sentiments.
Ash has been on fire recently. He has been winning matches all around the UK, and getting some good results from matches containing top class fields (even leaving one match early with victory already in the bag in order to go fish another and place 3rd!). Despite picking up four-figure sums in winnings on several occasions, the results that have given him most satisfaction are from multi-day events fished away from home such as his back-to-back individual wins in the Daiwa Pairs, and his top-3 finish at the Ramsey Angling Festival this year. Both are notoriously difficult to do well in, with success only coming to those who are consistent throughout the whole competition.
It was at this years Daiwa Pairs in Co. Kerry where I managed to catch up with Ash and get a look at some of the pieces of the puzzle that have contributed to his success. I was conscious of the fact that he was in the middle of fishing a match so it was a fine line between staying out of the way and being an intrusive git! Obliging as ever, Ash had no problem answering any questions and divulging info.
Ash is a big-hitting backcaster. For this style of casting he uses a pair of powerful Zziplex M427 SU rods. For more general beach fishing he likes the AFAW Big Beach. He is also impressed with the new range of Colmic rods and uses the Zero Seven F1, Primera, and Arcadia depending on the situation.
As you can see from the above pic, Ash likes Shimano’s Ultegra CI4 fixed spool reel. Rather than spending a small fortune on Shimano spare spools, he uses specially made teflon spools. He says, “With these spools there is no need for backing. They are reasonably cheap, and are machined to hold 220m of whatever diameter line you choose.”
For more traditional beach fishing, Ash likes the Akios 656 CTM & 656 SCM multipliers, and also Penn 515’s and 525’s. There is no doubt about the casting ability of the Akios reels, as I witnessed trace after trace disappear into the distance.
Ash uses a range of lines for different situations. He loads his reels with Sakuma Dark Crystal when fishing over clean ground, switching to ESP Carp mono when the ground is a bit snaggier. Daiwa Sensor and Ultima Power Steel are also used over the really rough stuff. When weed is an issue Ash uses a Colmic tapered line, and the different colours every 20m mean it is also a handy tool for gauging distance.
For rig bodies Ash likes Grauvell Teklon Gold and Sakuma Leader for flappers, and Ultima Powerflex for clipped rigs. “Powerflex is fairly springy which is not great but it has very little stretch which I think is more important when making clipped rigs”.
For snoods, Ash reckons Suffix Supple Link is the best hooklength mono on the market. Maxima Chameleon is also used when creating loop rigs as its stiffness helps to avoid tangles. When finesse is the name of the game he uses Colmic Zayo fluorocarbon.
A neat trick that Ash sometimes uses is crimping the hook to the snood rather than knotting it. The tag end is heated carefully with a lighter meaning that it cannot pass back through the crimp, and the crimp is gently tightened. This eliminates any creases in the hooklength that may form when a knot is pulled tight, and creates a neat join from hook to snood. The strength of this method was proven as Ash hauled in Dogfish after Dogfish through the kelp.
Like many top match anglers Ash likes the Kamasan range of hooks. The B940M is his first choice hook when using worm or sandeel on clean to mixed ground. When using crab for flounders and eels he likes the B900c, and when fishing for bigger species like smoothounds he likes the short-shank B940S. Sakuma Manta’s, Gamakatsu F314’s, Sasame Wormer’s and Owner Pint’s are also regularly used when a lighter approach is required.
When it comes to bait, Ash realises the importance of being prepared and having the correct bait for the venue. “Bait is everything and the importance of getting it right on the day cannot be overstated. It doesn’t have to be the freshest bait possible, but it has to be what the fish want on that particular day in those conditions. It could be five day old wrapped lug, ungutted yellowtails, or maddies etc. Get it wrong and the best rigs, tackle or casting won’t save you!”
On this particular day the Ventry dogfish wanted sandeels, and Ash places great faith in Ammo eels. A few eels were taken out of the coolbox to thaw in-between casts, before being meticulously whipped onto the hooks. Ash only cuts the heads off the eels just before casting, ensuring the baits retain the maximum blood and juices. He then tees the cast up, and effortlessly launches the baits towards the horizon. Each cast easily lands a good twenty yards past his opponents either side of him, giving him the advantage of being the sole angler fishing at that range. This advantage became apparent as he bagged up on dogfish to easily win his section. Ash says, “I accept that there are many times when long-range casting is not important but it is an awesome weapon to have in your arsenal. Knowing when to use it is the secret – too many people are blinkered and cast to their limit all the time”.
Guys like Ash make it look easy, but the reality is that countless hours have been spent on beaches gathering knowledge of baits, venues, rigs, tackle etc. Ash says, “Unfortunately this is a long painful road for guys new to match fishing. There’s no substitute for experience, and even the best guys still get it wrong quite often. Try and seek advice from the most successful anglers as their knowledge is invaluable”. Hopefully you can take some of Ash’s tips away and use them to improve your own fishing. If you ever have the misfortune of being pegged beside Ash they may come in handy!