One of the most challenging times of the fishing year is when the trout start to turn their attention to pin fry. These tiny, see through little wisps of not very much at all, when shoaled together provide a hefty and easy meal for the fish! And yet, even though the trout are actively feeding, I often see people give up, beaten by creatures with brains the size of a pea! Why?
RECOGNISING THE SIGNS
I remember the first time I saw this feeding frenzy, as a ‘wet behind the ears’ youngster visiting an upland hill loch. An over cast day in July saw fish boiling the water to a foam in places. No matter what I threw at them, I thought they were feeding on sedges, I had no concept of pinfry then, and not surprisingly I couldn’t get a take.
Since then I’ve seen it often enough, each year pretty much, as I have been visiting the large reservoirs down in the Midlands for 25 years (Christ, that’s a sobering thought!). So I now know more about this time of year!
Down here the pinfry can appear as early as the end of May but it’s usually June into July when we get the majority.
I get proper hyped up for it too, gauging the weather, broken cloud is best, with sunny spells being interspersed with cloud cover. Cloud cover means fish battering the pinfry shoals. This gives away the trout’s location and this is where you can capitalise, but only if you fish in the correct manner!
Be sure that you’re in the right areas, don’t go looking in the weedbeds, deeper water is best, off the end of points into deep water can be good, and anywhere near dam walls seem to be great too, more so if the wind is blowing onto them. These tiny fry are at the mercy of the currents which the wind creates, so be mindful of this.
I often work the boat along a dam or drifting onto points or promontories. But go by the venue, Draycote for instance used to have some awesome pinfry feeding action around the deeper water around the shoals. Location may vary but local knowledge will help with this, so ask someone that knows.
But, like I said, when you get the right conditions the trout give themselves away.
I see most anglers go to some default setting, as soon as pinfry feeders appear. Let me highlight them, at the same time telling you that yes they can work, but with moderate success, I’ll explain why.
Dry Fly…. They’ll see it? (Yes they will, but they are NOT feeding on dries) To be fair, fishing dries is possibly the best of a bad bunch.
Washing Line… It feels right, keeping it ‘in the zone’.
More often that not the flies are below the feeding fish and are:
- A) Still sinking
- B) Being retrieved too fast and looking nothing like the food source.
Pulling a Blob or Booby…. At least I’m getting follows!! Ahahahahaha, Cracks me up this one. I don’t want follows, I want fish in the net, simple.
CATCHING THE TROUT
Having fished for these pinfry feeding fish for a number of years, actively seeking them out, as I know I can usually catch better fish. I have a couple of methods that seem to really work, so let me share them.
First, find the fish, I outlined that above, then make sure your boat s well upwind of their feeding position so you can drift into the area without fuss.
THE method that I have found to work better than any other is to fish New Zealand style a nymph suspended under a buoyant fly. But don’t just go for any old set up, THINK!
I use flies that look like pinfry or at least suggest with a profile and outline. My buoyant fly is my Popper Fry, and the pattern under it, that LOOKS like the real thing, trust me this fly works is my little pinfry!
To fish effectively, keep your flies well away for your fly line, use a floater by the way. I use a 12ft tapered leader ending in 10lb, (copolymer) and then 8ft of 8.5 fluoro to the buoyant fly, then a short section – normally a foot if pleasure fishing but around 2ft if competition fishing and I use 5lb Fulling Mill. I use it as it’s stiff, so pings the nymph over well and it’s strong.
CHECK OUT THIS LITTLE PHONE VIDEO…
It’s then a case of short casts, same as dry fly, no more than 5 to ten yards of fly line (just enough to load the rod). Cast it out and do NOTHING! The Plop of the buoyant fly hitting the water will draw the fish in but it’s often the nymph that they home in on.
It is that simple, oh and be patient, the fish move around a lot but they are in shoals, herding the pinfry, stay in the area and you’ll catch them soon enough!
NOTE: Sometimes, if I need the nymph to stay higher for longer, I use a Cruncher under the fry. I tie it with gold and pearl flash behind the hackle and on a size 12, a little lighter in weight. I can treat this with a little Mucilin, it clogs the fibres but it stops it sinking too fast.
Another method is the CDC pinfry, this one comes out on flat calm days, so as to minimise water disturbance. Same massively long leader (grease the first 12ft taper) but the end section, tippet, is 4.4lb Frog Hair, super light, thin and strong!
To fish this set up well, it’s a case of casting into the feeding area and leaving well alone. However, if a fish moves nearby, pull the line, the fly will pop under the water and ping right back up again. This is LETHAL, that tiny bit movement as the CDC pulls the fly back up is something the trout find hard to resist!
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Good luck and tight lines…