Dave Harrell: I think it’s fair to say that in terms of winning money you have been the most successful match angler in the country over the past few seasons. Talk me through your highlights.
Neil Machin: The first big highlight was when I won the Kamasan Matchman Of The Year title in the 2003/4 season. I’d tried hard to win it in previous seasons and come really close, so to finally pull it off was very special. That put me on the map as a known angler.
DH: How did you go about targeting your Kamasan challenge, then?
NM: I was fishing a lot of matches at Border Fisheries at the time with Jeff Moors and he said to me that he thought I needed to spread my wings a bit more and try other venues. I took his advice but it meant a lot more travelling around than I’d been used to.
DH: Which venues did you go to?
NM: Places like Woodlands at Thirsk, Lakeview, Moorlands Farm and Bannister Farm. I actually picked up points on seven venues in the year I won the title. I learnt a lot as well and it set me up for the seasons that followed.
DH: Main highlights since?
NM: I won the Midland Angler title but the real, big-money titles were the Fish ‘O’ Mania and the Parkdean last year, which both carried top prizes of £25,000. I’ve finished in the top four in the UK Champs in each of the last four years and that’s a competition I’d really love to win. Jon Arthur has done brilliantly well to win it two years on the trot, by the way – thought I’d better mention that, seeing as he’s taking the pictures today!
DH: Why do you think you are so successful? It can’t all be about good draws… or is it?
NM: Ha ha, I wish! I honestly don’t know why I’m successful, really. All I would say is that I don’t overcomplicate things and I always try to keep things simple. I don’t spend as much time preparing as I used to but I am always well prepared. I’ve simplified things over the past few years and I usually know what rigs are needed for every venue I go to.
DH: Do you prepare every week?
NM: Yes. I usually make up a dozen or so rigs on a Friday night before the weekend and I make up at least three or four rigs for every eventuality that I’m likely to encounter.
DH: Do you take a lot of kit to each match? Specifically, I’m thinking about poles and kits.
NM: I carry two poles, a G Force Power and a Super G10. The power pole has only been out of the bag twice in 12 months, as I tend to use the match pole for virtually everything. Both poles have sections that interchange so I’m covered against breakages. I carry 15 top kits with various strengths of elastics to cover all sizes of fish.
DH: How have things gone for you so far this season?
NM: I’m currently lying second in the Kamasan table and I finished fourth in the UK Champs, so it’s going well. My partner Andy Moors and I came second in the Maver Pairs and I made the last four of the Match Fishing Cup, another competition I’d love to win!
DH: Which venues have you been going to?
NM: Heronbrook, Cudmore, Larford, the Match Fishing Cup venues and the UK Champs venues.
DH: Where will you focus your winter fishing?
NM: I’m fishing a team league at Tunnel Barn and a couple of leagues at Heronbrook. Individually I’ll also be taking in matches at Browning Cudmore.
DH: Last year you became a full-time professional angler and you’re also sponsored by Garbolino. How’s it all working out for you?
NM: I’ve been sponsored by Garbolino for four years now, and I work hard to keep it going. The company uses me for product development on prototype poles and rods and I do a lot of magazine features, which in turn help to promote the company. It’s been a great link so far and I’ve really enjoyed working with Darren Cox on new projects
DH: You worked in the printing industry before. Do you miss it?
NM: Not at all! Give me fishing any time!
DH: Surely it’s a big gamble to go professional when you’ve got a mortgage and a family to look after?
NM: Yes, but the two big wins last year gave me the chance to do it, and if it doesn’t work then I can always go back to work again, can’t I? So far it’s going really well for me and I’m picking up money regularly. Hopefully that will continue!
DH: Do you still do your coaching classes?
NM: Yes, and that is something I really enjoy doing too. I’ve met some lovely people along the way and many keep in touch with me to let me know how their results are going. Some have turned into very good match anglers themselves, which is quite satisfying as it shows they learnt from their days with me.
DH: Can anglers call you directly to make a booking or is it done through a website?
NM: I do everything direct myself, and can tailor a day to suit whatever needs and requirements people might have. I’m taking bookings for the winter now, for individuals and groups, and I can be contacted on 07876 443612.
DH: Let’s go back in time now. How did you get into fishing, and then match fishing?
NM: My Dad used to take me fishing when I was a kid and it all developed from there, really. Like many anglers I went through the local club circuit and eventually that took me into the open match scene. At first it was a tough transition but, bit by bit I met and mixed with the right people and then started to pick up section prizes.
DH: Any major influences?
NM: I met Jeff Moors in the early days at Border Fisheries. He was a massive influence on me back then and still is today. He took me under his wing and taught me a lot, which I’ll always be grateful for. I then started travelling with Jeff’s son Andy and it’s been a great partnership. We share all our winnings and he’s great to travel with.
DH: Favourite venues, and why?
NM: White Acres is my favourite as it’s got everything – great fishing, great entertainment and great company. I also enjoy Heronbrook, Larford and Cudmore.
DH: What are your views on the current state of commercial-fishery open-match fishing, and what changes would you make to improve it?
NM: It’s obviously very fragmented and there are too many matches. I think the Kamasan needs a revamp. Maybe it should be run along the same lines as the UK Champs but over nine months with nominated regional matches around the country. Then the top 20 points scorers at the end could go into a final. Natural and commercial fisheries could be included and if there was an entry fee that would boost the prize pot at the end.
DH: Food for thought there. What do you think of the Match Fishing Cup?
NM: It’s a really good competition and I see it going from strength to strength in years to come. I’ve enjoyed taking part and was disappointed to get knocked out on the Avon.
DH: What advice would you give to young anglers wanting to get onto the open-match circuit?
NM: Focus on one or two venues, ask the top anglers for advice and read all you can in publications like Match Fishing.
DH: What do you think about the format for the Fish ‘O’ Mania final? It seems that Peg 16 is now the boss peg, so do you think the final needs a revamp or even a move to somewhere else?
NM: I think Hayfield is a great venue for the final and it should stay there. All that needs to be done is some bank work and some adjustment to the pegging to make things a bit fairer, and that can easily be done. Everything is in place there for the cameras and to take it anywhere else would be a big mistake, in my opinion.
DH: Finally, what about the future for Neil Machin. Do you have any ambitions that you’d like to fulfil?
NM: I just want to carry on what I’m doing and enjoy my fishing. I’d dearly love to win the UK Champs, if Jon Arthur can stop winning it, and the British Open, and I’d also like to win the Fish ‘O’ Mania and Parkdean finals again, so I can keep the bank manager happy! And the Match Fishing Cup, of course!