Getting the right distance on the feeder was a haphazard process before distance sticks arrived. We’d cast to where we thought was right, clip up and count the turns of the reel handle when winding back, ending up with a measure of 40 or 50 ‘turns’.
Truth was, we had no idea how that translated into metres, and it gave no room for manoeuvre if you needed to fish closer in or further out. Also, this approach meant several casts to get your range, which in turn made a lot of noise as the feeder or bomb crashed into the swim – no good in winter or if the fish were finicky.
Sticks, though, have done away with all that. It now takes me just a few minutes on the bank to know to the centimetre exactly how far out I’m fishing. Another advantage of knowing in metres how far out you are is if you fish a certain venue regularly.
For instance, at Boddington Reservoir I may have caught fish at 70m in the past, so before I start fishing I have that distance in mind and can set the length of the cast precisely, rather than guessing. Sticks aren’t a fad. Look at any top-level feeder match and everyone has them!
Setting up sticks
Distance sticks are basically two banksticks which are spaced apart in the ground at a set distance. You then count how many times you wrap your line around them to work out how far out you’re fishing.
Measure them out
I place my sticks 2m apart using a tape measure and then, with the feeder attached, pop it over the end of one of the sticks and begin wrapping. Push each stick firmly into the ground so they doesn’t fall over!
Keep the tension
It’s important to keep the line coming off the reel under tension by backwinding, having the bail arm off or using the drag. I wrap the line around the sticks in a figure of eight pattern to eliminate tangles.
Coming in closer
If you crack off or need to fish closer in, sticks make the job easy. To go shorter, repeat the process, stopping at the distance you want and clipping up. Keep the original distance on the clip so you can switch back.