There used to be a time when you’d have to push your way through hordes of anglers queuing for maggots in the hope of finding a solitary bag of boilies in your local tackle shop. But times have changed. The huge rise in the popularity of specimen angling and the demand for pellets and big-fish tackle has changed the face of today’s high street tackle shop.
An Angling Times investigation has revealed that some of the biggest and most successful stores have recorded a huge decline in the sale of ‘traditional’ match and pleasure tackle. It comes as no surprise that this market shift has coincided with both the huge popularity of commercial carp fishing and the unprecedented rise in the number of anglers targeting specimen barbel in UK rivers.
The phenomenon has seen the owners of some of the biggest shops in the business admit that ‘they wouldn’t survive’ if they didn’t sell specialist tackle and bait.
“I’ve been in this business for over 30 years, and I began in a shop catering exclusively for match anglers that sold around 200 gallons of maggots a week.
Today that same shop wouldn’t survive,” said Russ Fowler, area manager for Fishing Republic that boasts seven angling superstores in the North.
“Just one of our stores can sell over 300kg of halibut pellets in a week and most pleasure anglers now own a chair, a carp rod and go and try to catch a double at their local fishery.
“But it’s not just carp that anglers are going crazy about either, specimen fishing on running water is also massive. We sell more barbel rods than any other at the moment.” Fosters of Birmingham is another huge name, and owner Richard Foster sees thousands of pounds worth of specialist tackle and bait fly off the shelves each week.
“Bait and tackle for carp now make up a huge percentage of our business and I really think that commercial fisheries have saved the sport,” said Richard.
“Our whole bait section now sits with the carp tackle because the crossover from all disciplines of the sport is massive, with specialist bait and tackle being used by loads of match and pleasure anglers.” Despite this, there are still many smaller shops that rely on the custom of anglers who still like to trot a small stretch of river or buy a pint of mixed maggots to fish for bream on their local clubwater.
“We don’t have that many big carp waters or large commercial complexes around us, but we do have the Trent and plenty of small club waters, so it’s vital not to alienate the anglers who fish these venues,” said Tim Aplin, of Matchman Supplies in Nottingham.