Yet how many trout fishers ever read pike literature, or pike anglers read big-game articles? Very few. Perhaps they have missed something by not pooling their knowledge.

I am fortunate in that I get to read everything printed in this magazine, and so sometimes I get to see connections that others perhaps might miss. If indeed they are connections. I just feel that on some levels, predators are predators and some of them share common behaviours which may be well known in one discipline and yet virtually unknown in others. This never used to happen years ago, when angling magazines were devoured in their entirety. These days, angling is so segmented and even fragmented that, not only will a coarse angler rarely read a trout or sea article, but he will rarely read anything outside of his own speciality. A carp angler will only read carp articles, a match angler, match articles etc. This behaviour, whilst being understandable, does not allow ‘outsiders’ to generate the fresh perspectives within respective disciplines. And that is everyone’s loss.

Many years ago, and long before it became a carp and catfish venue, I was fly-fishing at Horton and couldn’t get a take for love nor money. Nor, it must be said, could anyone else that day, yet there were some very good anglers fishing there. In desperation, after trying just about everything in the flybox, I did something different. Against all commonsense, I put a booby-fly on a six inch dropper, a foot above a lead-headed dog-nobbler. On the first cast I had a whopping great take which almost ripped the rod out of my hands, a minute or two later I landed a fish. Five minutes later I was in again… and again and again until I had my limit. Everyone else continued to blank. This was one of my first seasons at fly-fishing so it wasn’t because I was a better angler than anyone else, I was at the time (some might say still) a relative novice.

The successful method was found due to ignorance. The booby-fly had only just become available and I had bought some without even asking how they were supposed to be fished. Nobody was fishing with me that day, so I had nobody to laugh at me and say what a clot I was. For those of you who don’t know, a booby-fly has two polystyrene eyes which make it very buoyant. It is normally fished on a sunken line, right on or within a foot of the bottom as a "popped up" fly, to use the carp anglers parlance. However, none of this I knew at the time, hence I did something different/stupid and so invented the highly successful "scissor-rig" as I dubbed it. The name came from the action of the twin lures in the water, one rising and the other falling, until I pulled for the retrieve, when they moved together into the same plane. Then, as I paused for the next six inch retrieve, the lures moved apart again.

I had no idea why the scissor rig worked, only that it did. I worried about it for a while and eventually came up with some vague theory that it probably sparked a food-chain response in the trout. Then I forgot all about it until the next time I used it, to similar effect.

A few years later, I started reading about the hugely successful pike catches that were being made on the then-new spinner-baits. These weird looking lures were cleaning up all over the place. The ‘why’ of it was rarely questioned, the fact that they worked was enough for most people. When I finally got around to using them I was intrigued. I questioned lure anglers about them and discovered that many of these anglers had experienced a high rate of poor hook-holds and had lost a lot of fish as a result. In general, they blamed the large single hook as the reason for the poor hook-ups, but all agreed that this was a very, very good lure that produced a lot of strikes.

Again, for those who don’t know: the spinner-bait has a spinner mounted above the body of the lure which contains the hook. When retrieved through the water, the body/hook moves as a virtually static item whilst above it the spinner madly churns the water. (Check out the picture, it’s self-explanatory)

To me, the very construction of the lure explains the poor hook-ups. The pike can grab at the spinner and can miss the hook completely. No great feat of deduction there. What it doesn’t explain is the other side of the coin. – As this lure is obviously so ‘wrong’, why is it so successful?

Not until I read an article on Marlin Lures by Roddy Hays did I start putting it all together. I won’t make you read it all, instead I’ll paraphrase. Roddy tells of one of his clients who came aboard bringing with him his favourite lure. When Rod asked him how many marlin it had caught, the answer was "None. But it raised them like crazy". Rod then went on to explain that there are lures which will ‘raise’ or attract a marlin but these are not necessarily lures the marlin will want to 'eat'. The marlin will often go for the ‘easy’ option of a straight running lure rather than for one which is zooming and flashing about all over the place. He uses this example to illustrate his point. "It’s like you rough shooting along a hedge. Out pop four pheasants, three wheel up, climbing, jinking, and the fourth flies in a straight line across your line of fire - which one are you going to shoot?"

Now try this extract from a Martin Cottis trout report : "Julian fished with a Fidget fly on the top dropper. This has the effect of bringing fish up to look, however, the two Flashback pheasant tails fished behind were the flies that the fish eventually turned to and took."

See anything there worth recording?

The same thing can apply with humans. Back in '67 when I was a teenager I had a friend called Tony. Tony was a lazy sod and - how do I put this? - at first glance, quite unattractive to the opposite sex. Yet he had a black book an inch thick. I never did understand how he did it but he seemed to manage to pull a different woman every Sunday evening down at the Ilford Palais. I think I now understand why. Y'see, Tony's right hand man was Roy. Roy was the East End's answer to Tom Cruise, the girls just swooned over Roy. Roy however, was picky. Too picky really. The girls never quite got to him. (I met Roy years later. He had 'come out', was a hairdresser and living with his 'partner', Tristian, on a house boat in Chelsea - but I digress…) Tony did well with the girls by hanging out with Roy. When an attractive Sharon or Tracey found that Roy was a bit hard to catch, there was Tony just waiting. All smiles and attentiveness - offering some comfort to their rejection and willing to escort them home. Tony had a LOT of women. Whilst Roy was the flashing chrome, Tony was the hook on a Spinnerbait.

The scissor-rig. The spinner-bait. Roy and Tony. These are all ‘raisers’ with an easy target of a ‘straight runner’ attached. If you were a big fat lazy trout or pike, which one would you go for. The 'hard to get' one, or the easy option?

Tony could tell you.