The fishing tackle business (in which I play an active part) really does talk some crap at times. Most of the marketing hype is just a little bit of showmanship but every so often a trend develops which can damage angling. The trend that particularly worries me at the moment actually has more to do with things that aren't being talked about as much as they used to be. In particular, in this day and age of multi-distance rods, and big pit reels, balancing the tackle to the conditions seems to be an almost forgotten art.

It is easy to see how this has developed. Why buy three sets of rods when you only need one set of (long range) rods which are just as effective when fishing in the margins? Why buy a stick float rod when you can use your carp waggler? Just part with your wedge of dosh and away you go. The trouble is, there is no such thing as a multi-purpose tool! You wouldn't try and paint your whole house with one paint brush would you? (Erm, perhaps that's not such a good analogy, knowing how much DIY my fishy mates do) So why believe that one tool will do everything?

The simple truth is that you either buy the tool for the job, or you will struggle. That last sentence should really be spelt out in letter ten feet tall. It really is one of the big truths of life. It is also true, although less so, that 'you gets what you pays for'. Cheap gear will not do the same job as the more expensive stuff (most of the time).

On the larger scale, I do worry about anglers having to make the jump from fishing lakes with artificially high stocking levels to more natural (poorly stocked) fisheries. Apart from not getting a bite every sixty seconds (if only!) this change in fishery has to be accompanied by a massive shift in how to approach the fishing. Balancing the tackle often becomes a crucial issue. Fish too light and you will get busted, fish too heavy and you won't get a sniff. Next week I will return to what I consider some balanced set-ups, but for now let me finish on a serious note.

Another less obvious problem with using tackle which is unbalanced, with regard to the target species, is fish damage. Although there is a great deal of genuine concern raised regarding 'death rigs' and fish-damaging rigs, in my experience, with a number of different species, more damage is inflicted by playing the fish too hard with tackle not designed to provide sufficient give. An example of this can be seen on some tench fisheries, where the fish are pursued using scaled down carp tactics. It isn't the rigs that cause the damage but dragging heavy fish, often through weed, on stiff rods. Using balanced tackle you can pull as hard as you like, as you won't be able to exert enough pressure on the fish to cause damage. Use heavy rods and light line/hooks and you will be snapped off, it is when you get the combination of heavy terminal tackle AND stiff rods that the problem can occur.

Although I don't like rules, some are obviously required, and if I was running a day ticket carp fishery stocked with bionic doubles I would limit anglers to using rods of no more than 2 ? lb test curve. Of course, more experienced anglers can 'get away' with fishing heavy and just adjust their fish playing accordingly, it is the day ticket fisheries, with a high proportion of less experienced anglers, which are most likely to suffer problems. With practice you can get away with fishing with unbalanced tackle when coarse fishing. After all, the fish aren't going to put you under as much pressure as a big oceanic game fish, where balance is everything.

The simple, almost flippant answer is to play the fish more gently, but this is a gross simplification. Playing fish gently on stiff rods is an art in itself. It is very easy to lose all feel and put very little pressure on the fish, in which case there is the risk of playing the fish longer than is necessary. It all comes back to using line, hooks and swivels that are strong enough to land the fish relatively quickly and then choosing your rods and reels to balance this combination. If nothing else, start thinking of your tackle choice this way round, rather than simply tooling up with the latest mega-distance meat rods and you will be half-way there.