The other day I was deadbaiting on a large stillwater where you can count the number of runs you get in a season on one hand. Some seasons you don't even get a single run! The pike are there though, and well worth struggling for. An angler passing by after fishing a more prolific adjacent lake, expressed his amazement that I was using three rods. He was even more staggered when I replied that I often use four rods there, one of them usually for lure fishing. I was well within the law, having four rods covered by two EA licenses, and the rods were never spaced more than three meters apart.
I went on to explain to him why I sometimes used that many rods, and I would like to emphasise the words 'at times', as I don't always use that many. My philosophy is to use the least number of rods I can without compromising my results. My ultimate scenario is to use just one rod. When exclusively lure fishing, this is obviously the case, but when bait fishing, I have to decide the number of rods that is sensible. Once again, I would like to use just one bait rod because that normally means I am getting lots of action and need no more. This is rarely the case though, and I mostly use two rods, giving me options of trying different baits and rigs. Sometimes the nature or size of the venue dictates that two rods are the practical limit.
Now we are back to the scenario I opened with. When I find myself on a water where runs are hard to come by, I will step up to three rods, and where runs are almost unheard of I don't mind putting out a fourth. In these latter situations, it is most unlikely that I'll get multiple runs, although I concede it can happen and I'm ready for it. Whether it makes any difference to my results I don't know. Maybe its a confidence thing, but I feel better by increasing the painfully low odds.
Once the sessions starts, I do have the option of reducing or increasing the number of rods until I am satisfied that I have arrived at a practical number. Where it goes wrong, in my opinion, is when anglers put out too many rods on prolific waters, simply to catch as many pike as they can. Multiple runs can occur, and runs on other rods come when unhooking a fish on the mat and you have to deal with two (or more) at the same time. We are fortunate at the moment to have laws that permit us to use up to four rods. If we abuse it, it will be to the detriment of the pike and make a case for changing the law. All it needs is a bit of common sense!