We fly fishers, are quickly falling into the numbers game. It’s inherent in most of us, we are hoarders, collectors, and boastful of things, not all, but most.
Let’s start with the important bit, rods! It used to be, back ‘in the day’ that we owned one rod. This sturdy bit of cane, carbon fibre, or whatever was used in the pursuit of EVERYTHING, a one size fits all job.
Look at us now, a single rod is never going to be enough, even if you only ever fished for trout on the Trout fishing on a small stream and definitely on big rivers requires us to have in our possession various rods, some with stiff and some not so stiff actions. The same goes for the salmon angler, he’ll have his favourites. When it comes to reservoirs and small water outfits we will often carry two and sometimes three of one particular size, 10-ft 7-wts if you please, the more the merrier!
If you are ‘stillwater’ angler then the amount of fly lines that you own will indeed beggar belief! I know of many competition anglers that will only go out on the water with minimum of 20 lines, ones for the top of the water and ones that will fish their flies all the way down to the lakebed, they have got it covered!
Then we have flies… WOW!
I have seen boxes upon boxes of serried rows of immaculately tied flies, each one seemingly there to do a job for a specific time on a specific venue, it’s mind-boggling.
Is it all just good marketing that see’s us gather all this gear, yes, we are consumers, we consume!
The real worry, when it comes to numbers though, is the amount of trout that stillwater anglers feel that they have the god-given right to catch in order for them to say that they’ve had a good day.
It’s been said many times that the numbers game doesn’t belong in fly fishing yet the ‘bag up mentality’ has become even more prevalent in the last decade or so and no matter what anyone says, competition fly fishing has to take the blame.
It’s a sorry state of affairs when anglers are writing out their catch returns and claiming to have caught X when actually they only landed Y. Now, this kind of thing may sound far-fetched but it does happen, for whatever reason anglers don’t want to be seen to be catching two fish when the rod average has been five.
A friend of mine ( remaining nameless) told me an amazing tale recently; he had fished the whole day at small stillwater and in the afternoon another angler, younger, took up station on the next available peg along from him. They struck up a conversation and whiled away the rest of the day
When they’d both finished, they went back to the lodge. The other gentleman, his new mate, had completed his catch return first and then he said his goodbyes. My mate went to fill his returns in and saw the numbers….
Surprisingly, the chap had claimed that he’d caught and returned six fish, all taken on “slow-fished buzzers”.
My mate, who’d been standing next to him the whole time saw him land two!
Heading out to the car park he saw the boy and asked him about it, done in friendly banter you understand.
“I land two yes but I hooked another four and they came off, you saw them,” He said.
It appears to me that these days we have lost our fascination with large, overweight rainbows, these things were classed the fish of a lifetime, why? I can assure you they were not. Let’s be honest we have witnessed some really ugly rainbows and browns in many fly fishing magazines and social media pages in the past, but now, with modern fish farming methods, trout are normally in a pretty pristine condition.
For me, and I’d guess the majority of the UK fly fishing fraternity, a large, grown-on or wild fish is what it’s all about these days. It doesn’t have to be huge just ‘proper’!
Many of our large reservoirs and even a fair few of our medium-sized small waters will see a sharp increase in the size and the quality of the trout being caught now and through the winter. Right now the water is cooling, following some of the silly and at times prolonged temperatures we saw through the summer and the fish are back on the feed, thank god! They are looking to pack on weight for the winter ahead and as they do they become a little less wary in their need to survive.
Trout that have been at large for a time are on the prowl and are imminently more catchable. It’s these beauties that we, as anglers, want to catch more than anything. Trophy trout now are the fin-perfect, streamlined, muscle-packed variety, not the heavy hitters of the late 80’s early 2000’s!
Unless you’re stalking there is – and this is strictly MY opinion – no skill to catching, massive, recently stocked trout from any water, it’s utter luck! You can’t see what’s going on, you cast out, with whatever fly, pull it back in whatever way you see fit, and if one of the lunkers manages to see it they’ll have it, it’s a total and utter chance!
The page three pin-ups of the trout world, however, take some skill in order to be fooled.
As with most things in life, timing and patience are the key to getting amongst the better trout. You’ll need to offer them something that they are feeding on, first of all, you can’t get this wrong, if you do you’re not catching.
I recently fished a very difficult and moody Pitsford Water, if you listened to the hoards there were only a few stockies playing ball but the big resident trout both the browns and rainbows were there to be caught. They were bloody tough mind, but if you stuck it out in the right area, you had a few chances. Nymphs were the majority’s line of attack, Crunchers and Diawl Bachs and Nemos fished on long leaders using a floating line was the best bet in or around the dying weed beds.
I and a few others went with little fry patterns, not the huge articulated deer hair stuff, no, smaller stickleback size patterns, Popper fry, and tiny Minkies, just seemed to be more effective in the shallows. We also set up some sunk line for the fishing over the drop-offs, Humungus and Minkies were used here, they are better at getting a reaction. I and a few others had good fish, but moved or saw bigger, scary, freak-sized fish, so they are there!
Although anglers that brave the tough conditions that we see at this time of year, although they may not catch many trout the standard of the ones that will be caught are second to none, four, five, six, seven, and even double figure trout are there to be targeted and caught each and every trip! If you wish to experience this awesome fishing, get out on the water now, go imitative and you never know, your next trout may well be that fish of a lifetime!
Is it me or are our Blobs & FABs getting way smaller?
I think that we are these days, and there are number of reasons for that. The main one being ( in my eyes ) angling pressure, something our waters see a lot of now, in fact post Covid I’ve never seen them so busy. And when it comes to pressured trout, then they are far more likely to take a smaller, less obtrusive Blob or FAB ( I think that may be a contradiction in terms, Thoughts?) on our heavily pressured waters. I think that’s also why we’ve seen a rise in the use of more muted colours on these fly styles flies. Washed out colours, Biscuit, Olive & Candy, that don’t scare the trout seem to be finding more favour. These less in your face flies really come into their own especially fished through the summer months and on into Autumn.
In the case of FABS the smaller fly, uses less foam and so is less buoyant allowing the user to present their fly through more of the water column, a free-fall technique that works very well with the now ubiquitous washing line technique. The old ones were constructed with a lot of foam, and they sat up high, like Boobies, but with less foam they can allow your cast of flies to crawl down through the water.
Large Blobs and FABS are ‘pulling’ flies and they are designed to get the trout to chase, and so they need bulk. The smaller ones we utilise are fishing more slowly, and covering more water too. Combine smaller Blobs and FABS with Nymphs and you have the ideal searching method up near the surface of the water.
For me, I arm myself with these flies in various sizes and colours, as I tie each to do a particular job, so it’s best that you’re prepared for all eventualities!
The oldies but goldies are still employed at times of coloured water, cold water and of course when the fish have been recently stocked.
The bigger, bulkier versions of this style of pattern definitely reign supreme early on in the reservoir year.
When you get to your chosen venue make sure you quiz the fishery staff as to what’s been happening. You need to know, flies, tactics, and how deep/shallow to fish the flies, but most important, are the areas. Check out other anglers, are they catching? If they are, ask them what they’re doing and how they’re doing it. The more you know the better your day will be on the water.
2. To Wade Or Not To Wade
It’s far better to try and catch trout from the margins first before you think about wading out. It’s often early on in the day when you will find that the trout are close in looking for food; if you wade, then you’ll only spook them. You’re far better to target the water’s edge first, just in case. When wading be sure to go easy, try not to stir up the bottom too much. If you do and it’s windy you’ll just end up with a big slick of dirty water nearby and the fish don’t like that!
3. Bring Out The Boobies
These incredibly buoyant flies are great for finding feeding trout. If they are ‘on it’, and taking the Booby then sport can be manic. But you don’t always need to catch on them for Boobies to be useful. Trout may not always take it, but by pulling a Booby across the surface, even early season on small waters, you’ll soon find out if they are in the area. It seems that can’t help but chase and as they do they create large bow waves behind the fly, great stuff and a total giveaway. Now you know that trout are in the area, you can tailor your approach to be successful, changing lines, flies, or retrieves, tailoring the approach to find the key.
There is no excuse for using inferior hooks these days, if you do use flies tied on inferior hooks, you’re going to come a cropper. You need strong, reliable hook’s even more so at this time of year when visiting larger waters, the fish are resident, powerful, and with hard mouths. The last thing you want is to hook one of these beauties only for your hook to bend out or worse snap. I’d also advise that you take a hook sharpener with you when you go fishing. Often you can catch the hook point o something on the backcast or when your fishing deep, the lakebed stones, a sharpener will allow you to put that right straight away with minimum fuss.
5. Step Up Your Leader
I tend to err on the side of caution preferring a stronger leader, fluorocarbon, in the 8 to 12lb range is what you’re after if you’re pulling and don’t go below 6lb when looking to fish a more natural approach. If you go on dries, then only the would I go below 6lb! You may also want to consider tapered leaders, short 9ft ones. It can be windy at times here in the UK and most trout will be on the downwind shore so casting weighted flies can be a problem. A powerful tapered leader will help massively. The taper will allow you to punch that fly hard and low into the wind cutting through it far better than a length of single strength leader.
6. Hang Out The Washing
If you’ve never tried the Washing line method, then you’ve missed out. Rather than fishing a weighted fly on a team of three flies, use a buoyant one. The idea is to keep the flies in a level plain. The washing line can be fished on various lines but a floater or sink tip is often the best. The buoyant fly acts as a kind of controller for the other flies on the cast, keeping them in the taking zone for that little while longer, crucial on tough days. Another bonus with this style of fishing is that the buoyant fly acts as an indicator. If a trout takes one of the droppers the point fly will pull below the surface. It’s a great way of fishing on small stillwaters, don’t think this is just for the reservoirs!
7. Stalk Your Prey
Stalking seems to be synonymous with the warmer summer months but it can be even better at this time of year. A series of frosts and crisp, cold mornings tend to coincide with crystal clear water, even on many of our ‘nonstalking’ venues. Fish will be seen in and around the margins – the great thing here is you can pick your target rather than fishing blind. By using weighted flies, nymphs, or lures, you can get down to them fast. Keep your eyes glued on the fish rather than the fly. You’ll notice a change in its behavior as it becomes aware of the fly. If the trout move towards your offering, watch for the white of the inside of its mouths as it inhales your offering, when you see that white, strike!
8. Slowly, Slowly Catches Fishy
The first, and often most effective, line of attack for many stillwater anglers is to start off with weighted lures, usually on some kind of sinking line. This can work at the start of the day as the fish are not yet used to angling pressure. They soon will be though and a change of tact is often called for. You could go over to nymphs and go down the natural approach but lures are often still the most effective method when it’s cold. Use unweighted ones, lures that utilize a lot of man-made materials like Fritz or Straggles, they are very light and water repellant, so they can be fished far, far slower than you’d think. A slow retrieve or even no retrieve at all – just let the fly fall enticingly through the water column – can keep the fish coming.
9. Don’t Discount Dry Flies
Many of us still associate dry fly fishing with late summer evenings and large hatches of flies, but they will often catch fish year-round. Midge especially will hatch in even the harshest of conditions. On most winter days the temperature rises significantly for these little flies to take their chances. Be mindful of the fact that they are small though, there is no need for large fly patterns, the 10’s and 12’s can stay firmly in the box. Look to fish slimline, CDC’s patterns, either shuttlecock or F-Fly type. The best colour to tie up would be black and look to have them tied in 16’s down to ’20s! When fishing such small patterns, use a good copolymer in light breaking strain, 5lb and lower. It need to be thin and limp to allow the fly to behave properly. A ‘softish’ rod will help when striking and playing fish on such light tippets.
10.Brave The Wind
The wind can be rather cold, it’s often an easterly throughout the winter, and this means it can be rather chilly. We find it far more comfortable to fish on the bank where the wind is at your back, it’s more tolerable. However, if you’re brave enough to fish into the wind you can double your catch rate. Trout tend to gather on the downwind shore on small stillwaters, there’s more food to be found there, due to the undertow. It’s the angler who braves the cold that will often catch most fish. Use lures on sinking lines as they will help cut through the wind, although saying that it’s often the case that you don’t have to cast too far, the trout are normally close in. Make sure you are wearing glasses – you should be anyway – as casing into a headwind can be rather tricky. If lures are not working an indicator with a heavyweight nymph or two can work wonders.
When the trout are up in the water, keep those flies just under the surface.In this Blog I share my favourite patterns and why I favour them for this style of fishing.
In the past, November and December would be the ideal time to get out the fast-sinking lines and some weighted lures. The lovely warm weather which we had experienced during the summer months would have given way to cold easterly winds, along with, sleet and even snow. As a result of the change in temperature the water would have cooled somewhat dramatically and the fish, as a result of this temperature change, would be down in the depths.
The cold fronts we experienced would result in a long line of anglers, huddled in their coziest clobber, punching out long casts, using fast-sink lines, rather gaudy lures, and then slowly them bringing back, with a jerky retrieve, in the vain hope that something would pull back.
Not so much these days though..
Things have changed. Even as we come to the end of November the top of the water is where the majority of the feeding is, so, I guess that’s where the trout want to be! When they are up in the water and feeding properly in this manner it allows us to refine our approach and target fish that are actively feeding.
This is what fly-fishing is all about isn’t it, fooling a feeding fish!
I have a team of three flies which I rely on quite heavily when the fish are up at the water’s surface. This team has taken over the usual and much-talked-about ‘Washing line’ which featured that go-to point fly, the Booby!
Going back a while, a decade or so, the FAB, Foam Ass Blob, came to light. It was The Change Flyfishers that made this fly work so well in their favour all those years ago, but soon everyone knew of its fish-catching properties.
Now, the world of competitions fly fishing can be a bit of a cut-throat one, some anglers would sell their own grandmother to get one up on other anglers. As a consequence, there are an awful lot of secret flies, ones in which certain anglers and indeed teams have great faith in. However, like everything in fly fishing soon enough everything becomes public knowledge. Once the FAB was public knowledge then everyone was all over it!
I have been using this versatile (this is the key, it’s versatility) little fly for a very long time now, and I, like everyone else, have caught an awful lot of trout on it. But in my opinion, it’s when the trout are in the top few feet of water, that accurately utilizing this fly, really makes the magic happen. Not only will it hold up the other flies, placed on the droppers – I’ll get to these next – but it catches its fair share of trout too!
For me, the FAB has over taken the Booby as THE point fly when I’m fishing the ‘washing line’ but only when I’m up in the surface layers.
For sunk line work the Booby still rules the roost as it allows the flies to fish in a more aggressive arc, which I like. Maybe I can look into that a little more another time…..
The one FAB pattern which I tend to fish to the exclusion of all others is a Sunburst one, for me it’s better than everything else. I think that the reason that I favour Sunburst, by the way, it has to be a certain shade as I’m fussy, is because it just seems to stands out so well fished up at the surface where there’s more light. It’s a great colour for clear water too, which is usually what we are fishing in during the colder months?
When it comes to tying my FABs, I use a (static) hook, a hook that suits a fly fished slowly, for me, it’s a Tiemco 2499. I make a point of tying in lots of foam at the rear too, and there’s a reason for this. If I start with a lot then I can trim away as I see fit. This allows me to control the descent of the team of flies that I’m fishing. Far better to take away some foam than trying to add buoyancy right? More foam, more buoyancy, and vice versa. I can control where in the water column the flies are presented and I can do all this with a floating line, as long as it’s not too windy of course. I also have the option of varying leader length too, again to allow me to control the depth at which I fish my flies.
On my droppers, I’m very specific, it’s a Diawl Bach on the top dropper and then a Hare’s Ear middle, nearest the FAB.
On the old DB, you can use whatever variant that you wish but I like one with UV. I’m fishing high up after all and this is where UV comes into its own. I will sometimes chop and change between orange, red, or black thread heads, but the rest of the fly doesn’t change. A plain Diawl Bach but with a UV rib. This style of fly certainly seems to work when it comes to stillwater rainbows!
The Hare’s Ear too is one that has been tied so that it performs well high up in the water. As a fly tyer you need to think about these things when you’re creating flies. Where you’re looking to fish the fly can help when it comes to form and function. As it’s going to be high in the water I like some bling, a little addition that will help it catch the light and hopefully the trout! I also like an orange head, this covers the bases and means that it can be taken as a Corixa as well as all the other goodies that can be found up high in the water.
It is a very simple pattern but at the same time complex, Somber, kind of, apart from the triggers which really seems to appeal to feeding trout, it certainly grabs their attention.
Both my dropper flies share a common theme, they are tied in a manner and with materials that mean they are slow-sinking, keeping them up in the trout’s field of vision. I see it often, anglers targeting the surface layers with the washing line, but using hard-bodies buzzers, flies that will sink below the feeding trout! Don’t do it guys, slow sinking patterns are what you’re after, put some thought into it.
It’s also worth highlighting that I like to tie the dropper flies on size 12 and sometimes 14 and even 16 hooks, a little smaller than the standard size 10’s. Most food at this time of year is small, not big and bulky as is often the case in the summer months.
To keep things simple, fish a straight through leader, if you’re less experienced, go for 4ft to first dropper, 4 to the next and 4 to the point. For the anglers that are a little more into things, increase that to 6ft between flies. As with most things, simple is often more effective!
If you’re looking to target the ‘Lady Of The Stream’ then you need these proven patterns in your fly box!
When it comes to fishing for grayling it really isn’t that difficult, however arming yourself with the correct flies makes catching them a whole lot easier!
I have been fishing for grayling for over three decades, I started as a teenager on the River Teviot in Scotland. But really it’s been since the year 2000 that these things have pretty much taken up all of my winter fishing time. I love them and I get a real thrill catching these stunning creatures. You will too, grayling fishing is addictive and fishing in the winter months is often the best time to catch them.
There’s been a lot of things written about how to ‘target’ these fish so I won’t go into that just now. I want to look more closely at some of the my own popular patterns which I use to catch them. These are the flies that I keep on coming back to time and again year after year, in other words ‘favourites’.
Now, in no particular order I’m going to go through them giving credit where credit is due and explaining why each one is particularly effective.
If there is one fly that is synonymous with grayling fishing through the winter months then it has to be the Pink Shrimp.
The original fly, I am led to believe, came from Welshman Tim Hughes. Tim, he’s a friend of mine and an exceptional fishermen, not just fly fishing you understand but all kinds of angling, he loves it. It’s an old pattern now, well over 20 years old and yet we still keep coming back to this simple little fly. Looking in any Grayling angler’s fly box and Pink Shrimps will be there. Grayling LOVE pink!#
We will all have our own particular time but the one I favour is tied with pink and UV Straggle String.
Tied on a grub hook in sizes 8 down to 14 with lead wraps underneath Straggle String up the body and then a shellback of your choice I prefer clear, then a clear mono rib, it’s an easy tie.
You can see that it’s a simple fly but one it is one I wouldn’t be without.
The Pixie is a fly that’s been made famous by the Dixons these three anglers, Martin, Mike & Phil seem to make this fly work for them time and again on the Welsh Dee. They are all very handy anglers which also helps!
It’s basically a Hare’s Ear but with a few twist which make it even more attractive to grayling.
I tie my version on a Tiemco 2499, as I fish it with the bung, this hooks lends itself to this style of fishing.
The body is hare’s ear fur, the back is a thin strip of gold or chartreuse holographic tinsel on the rib is Glo Brite no.8, at least that’s the one I use.
The original was tied with the gold bead but I also tie this one with the fire orange bead, it pays to have options.
The Disco Shrimp
And so to another shrimp pattern, The Disco Shrimp.
This fly was invented by my friend Ben Bangham and I remember when I was editing the magazine, Ben and I did a feature on the River Test and it was there he showed me how effective this fly could be.
After I had shot the feature we shared his rod and we worked our way up a run and we managed to land over a dozen ‘big’ Grayling. I was sold on that particular fly from that day onwards.
But and I have to emphasise, this this is not only a chalkstream fly, not at all. This fly seems to work everywhere when it comes to catching grayling! I urge you to tie some. It’s tied on a grub hook, I prefer gold, a lead underbody. The dubbing is Hareline Ice Dub UV Shrimp & Orange Calibaetis mixed 70/30. The back is the dull side of original Nymph Skin and the rib is a medium green wire.
I’m pretty much happy to fish this fly the whole year through!
This is actually my own fly, but it was based on a fly shown to me by my good friend Tom McLeish up on the River Tweed. Tom’s pattern was tied using squirrel fur, basically a Fox Squirrel tied on a grub hook.
I never had ‘fox squirrel’ but I did have olive seal’s fur and so I used that instead. This simple little bug has worked for me all over the world not just for grayling but also for trout. it pretty much looks like a pupa, it’s pretty generic although it does bear an uncanny resemblance to the Ryach.
Again, with this fly I like to use a gold grub hook, I also incorporate a gold bead at the head. The body as mentioned is a golden olive seal’s fur, on the thorax area use any black dubbing. The rib is a medium gold wire with plenty of turns to secure the fur and make sure you pull the dubbing out with a good brush so it looks extra buggy.
Death Mix Shrimp
The history behind this particular fly is mixed it but I believe it was first conceived by Alex Jardine, Although I may be wrong it depends on who you talk to.
My one, is a little different, I think?
This fly when it is in the water is so bright it is bound to attract attention. Stick a UV torch onto the materials and you’ll see what I mean, this thing glows!
The tying is a simple affair, again, a grub hook and a clear shellback and vinyl rib. I use a pink floss, I find Glo Brite no.2 best to finish the head, and a dab black varnish for eyes.
The body mix is essential to get right, for me anyway!
I use 50 /50 of Dave Downie’s Pimp Pink and Semperfli SYN0950, Sky Blue. Put these two colours together and BOOM, Death mix!
All of these flies work for me, and have done for some time, and like I said I keep coming back to them.
I hope that these flies work for you too!
If you would like a guided day on the river, targeting these awesome fish, or some of the flies highlighted above, then please get in touch..
Me and my boy are pretty tight, I’m sure this is the same for lots of father and son relationships.
Sadly, I never had this growing up ( long story ) and so I’ve been determined that Ben, my son, and I would have this close bond and to get this bond boys need time with their dad, simple.
A friend of mine, let’s call him Tim, and I used to go salmon fishing each year. His dad would tag along with us, he’d include his dad in a lot of his leisure time, an amazing thing to me considering my upbringing, and together, the three of us, would have a great time, great food and drink, mediocre fishing, but amazing company, both guys a being a real pleasure to be around.
One day, his dad took me aside, I had a little girl at this time Poppy and my wife was pregnant, we were hopeful for a boy.
Tim’s dad, let’s call him John, explained to me that if we did have a little boy that boys are far more different and at times more complex than girls when it comes to their relationship with their dad.
“Once they hit seven years old, you must spend time with your son. There’s whole new world of testosterone and other hormones running through them and from seven years old onwards they need ‘man time’!
John had a few sons, and he was adamant that he’d go out with them for ‘man time’ at least once a week.
“By doing this now Steven, spending this time with them, you’ll build a solid relationship, one that’s so strong you can manoeuvre them as they get older, they don’t resent you, they look up to you!
You’ll be able to have them wanting to spend their time with you rather than doing daft stuff!” By daft stuff he highlighted teenage boy nonsense, like being an idiot and getting into trouble pretty much.
Looking at his sons, every one is a gent, it was hard to argue with his formula! Wise words…..
My boy is sport daft, in no particular order here are his hobbies and the clubs that he’s involved with..
All of these he loves but I cannot get involved. I go to Rugby each week and swimming and I also take him BMXing, but I can’t get involved.
Fishing though, his new thing, I certainly can, what’s more I can nurture and encourage it.
We started off a few years ago, a spot of crabbing on the beach, then it was coarse fishing, this was fun, I loved it as much as he did, there’s something about the electric jolt of the float bobbing under!
But he always wanted to ‘go fishing with dad’ which meant fly fishing.
So, we started fly casting in the garden, talk about frustration, jees, but he kind of got to grips with it. We moved on, trying to get the fluff on the end of his line into different hoops placed around the garden. He loved that, it’s a game then, boys love to compete, even if it’s just against themselves!
Finally, a few weeks ago, I booked an evening boat on Draycote Water, ‘same family fishing’ during these times. I’d timed it so that we could flick dry flies and perhaps catch a fish!
The team there are awesome, it’s a great example of well run fishery, clean, tidy, friendly and knowledgeable staff – and they took the time to make by boy feel very welcome!
For Ben, I’d made the fishing simple..
Roll the line, straighten it then cast, single fly, easy peasy really!
Well, what a blast we had.
He had the excitement of being in a boat, in a large body of water, being with his dad, and casting a fly rod, his own one! He was buzzing, and so was I!
It was a stunning evening, the occasional fish moving, he loved seeing them and got far too over excited trying to cast at them, which led to some impressive tangles even with the one fly!
It was perfect.
I’d catch one and pass the rod to him, and he’d be in his element, fighting the large, resident trout like Hemingway playing a 1000lb marlin. The rod going this way and that, pumping and winding, the fish pulling the rod around this way and that as he struggled to contain it’s powerful lunges. He often yelped in pain and surprise as the reel handle whacked him on the back of the knuckles as the fish powered off.
However, the highlight of the evening for both of us, was when I saw a fish coming upwind, I knew if he could roll his fly anywhere near it, that this trout would take.
“Ben roll straight out in front, there’s a fish!”
“I can’t see one dad, where?”
“Just roll it baby, now, quickly!!”
He did his fly – a possum emerger, the only thing I had that wouldn’t sink after the maniac casting style, alighted on the water like thistledown I kid you not!
It disappeared in a swirl.
“LIFT THE ROD!” I shouted!
He did and the little 3-wt hooped over as the fish went crazy and went deep away from the boat!
I was stunned, Ben was stunned, we were stunned, both of us drinking in the moment of shared elation!
After the first run and he’d gained some control it went under the boat, not once but twice and nearly taking Ben with it as he held on, leaning over the boat trying to follow it!
After what seemed an age it came up near the boat and I launched at it with the net, I wanted this fish sooooo bad, I got lucky, it went in first time of asking!
Ben: “I did it, I did it dad, I caught one, I caught one on my own, it’s huge!”
Well, I can’t tell you how good it made me feel, I was as chuffed as he was, probably more so, my little boy’s first trout, from a drifting boat and on a dry fly too, get in!
The excitement never ended there though, what’s more exciting than catching a big trout on a dry fly from a drifting boat?
Well, for a seven-year-old it’s driving the boat back to the harbour, even if your feet don’t touch the floor!
If you have a little boy, try and get him involved, nothing heavy, just see of they like it. Girls too, I used to take my daughter but she is bored of it now, so there’s no point in pushing it.
I guess what I’m getting at is this, spend time with your kids, it’s a simple message. I’m lucky that my boy is into the same things as me.
He’s also, like me in many ways, for one he’s competitive. His last comment as we came onto the harbour was this..
“Dad, I think my fish was bigger than yours.”
That’s my boy!
PS: My daughter, Poppy, said that she wanted a mention as she saw me write this, so here it is..
Poppy, you’re beautiful, crazy clever, stylish, full of empathy and compassion for others too, in a nutshell, just like your mum.
See what I did there….
If you’d like to get out on Draycote Water or indeed, Thornton or Eyebrook, all of which are run by Ifor Jones and his team, then tickets can be booked through the website:
More and more of us are trying to expand our horizons when it comes to fishing. Rather than sticking to the bank, on small waters, many of us are turning our attentions to larger waters and that means taking to the boats.
At this time of year there’s so much going on, in or near the surface, that we should really pay close attention to this shallow band of water.
On a day with a slight breeze you’ll often see ‘oily’ patches, areas of calm in an otherwise ‘ripply or riplled’ surface. These are often referred to as wind lanes or slicks. Basically, the tension in the water’s surface, in this type of water, is a lot stronger than the rippled water around it and this means that it traps and holds insects. As a result these slicks become a haven for feeding trout.
If you find this type of water when you’re out in a boat, you must give it a try!
It’s often the larger resident trout that capitalise on the easy pickings this type of water offers.
You don’t need to use sinking lines to target fish in this type of water; all you’ll need is a floater, as the trout tend to be no more than two feet below the surface.
They will be taking ascending midge pupa as they try to emerge at the surface.
At this stage the buzzers will have distinct orange wing buds so make sure that your patterns have them too. It’s a trigger point that the trout tend to home in on.
There will be trout taking the actual emerging fly too. As the buzzer is trying to emerge through the surface film it is at its most vulnerable. As it struggles to escape it becomes very easy picking for a hungry trout.
It’s not just buzzers that the trout will be looking to exploit, there’s the whole gamut of terrestrials insects that fall onto the water too.
These can be things like daddy longlegs, flying ants – if you get a fall of these things on the water then be prepared for some explosive action – beetles and dung flies. In fact anything that belongs on land but ends up on the water’s surface can attract the trout’s attention.
So make sure you have enough patterns in your fly box to cover all eventualities.
DRY FLY is KING but you need accuracy
If you can see trout feeding on the surface, the tell tale head-and-tail rise will give them away. Then your casts need to be accurate. If the trout are just sipping at the surface then they are high in the water and this means that they’re window of vision is very small indeed.
A tapered leader will help you greatly when it comes to presentation, try fishing a single fly too as this will allow you to drop your fly on the trout’s nose.
The Washing Line
If there were was one technique that offers more success when fishing in slicks than the dry fly it would have to be the ‘washing line’.
The use of a buoyant fly on the point position, such as a Booby or Muddler, to support two or even three initiative patterns on your droppers, is a deadly way in which to target fish that are near the surface layers.
When fished on a full floater it gives the leader that ‘parallel with the surface plane’ during the retrieve. The length of your droppers will determine how deep your flies fish, The Booby or more recently the FAB on the point creates an enticing wake that will often see trout single it out.
I love to get away fishing on my own, it’s an age thing.
Long gone are the days of carrying on with a like-minded squad down the local Stillwater. I still partake occasionally, but instead, for me now, the solitude of ‘hunting’ fish as an individual appeals more.
Occasionally, I share a rod with friend who has the same (track a trout down and then try and catch it’ mentality as me. But, sadly, those guys are few and far between.
What with Covid and all it brings my hunt for larger reservoir fish has and sill is a no go. The days of spending £50 for a day’s fishing allude me anyway, so this year, as well as last year, I have been spending more and more time on running water.
The solitude, the quiet and the fact that you’re out there and ‘doing it’ when others are not makes me feel like I’m outside the day-today bubble of life, true escapism.
I like all manner of fishing and feel that with all my years of experience they’ve led me to a level of proficiency so that I’m now comfortable no matter what style of fishing it is that I’m doing.
BUT, and like Kim Kardashian’s, it’s a big BUTT, I seem to turn more and more to the dry fly.
It’s no better and no worse than any other method for catching fish, to be fair there are far more efficient ways of catching both on still and running water but dries just do it for me.
This last week or so, I have done over 350 miles and 6 hours in the car, over two evenings in search of a large river trout on dry fly. You need to put the effort in if you want to succeed here, time on the water is crucial.
I have mates that have been doing the same, some have spent eight consecutive evenings on the water, just walking, up to 5 miles, and watching, looking for that BIG fish worthy of a cast.
Last year I saw a fish which I honesty believe would have been double figures, the same evening I saw three other trout which would have easily have been over 5lb, but all were in positions where a cast was impossible. The one fish I did manage to cast at that night, I caught, it was a little one, 3lb 12oz!
Never before have I seen anything like it in the UK and I have fished all the big trout rivers, to say I was shocked would be an understatement.
It’s no ordinary river, it’s terrible for fly fishing, unlike in Scotland and Wales, the rivers that hold the huge fish in England ( forget stockies on chalkstreams) are to be found in coarse fish rivers, deep and terribly slow, often coloured and full of silt, but the silt is the key. Where there is silt there are MAYFLY and where there’s mayfly you’ll get the spinner. It’s the spinner and ONLY the spinners that bring these huge fish up from their deep, dark homes.
Huge pools, with back eddies the size of a tennis court are what you’re after, dead water in the main, water where the spinners get trapped and provide a procession of ‘sip down’ mouthfulls. But with vast expanses of water there’s drag, no matter how slow the current, as long as there’s flow there’s drag. If you can get drag casting 5 yards of fly line imagine the drag on a 20 yard cast. You also need to factor in the flies, I’m using spinner patterns that are the size of my palm! With time on the water, my friends and I have found that the bigger the fly the better seems to be the case, especially with these huge trout.Bigger fly even more drag.
I’ve sat on a high bank, one where I’d cast at from the other side of the river the night before, and I was dumbfounded by what I saw. Water that from the opposite bank looked to be flowing left to right was traveling in completely the wrong direction, and not just a for a yard or so, it was circling for over 20 or 30 yards before pulling back into the main flow.
The width of the river in places means you just can’t tell what’s going on at the point where your target fish is rising.
This year I have been concentrating on smaller sections, not only so that I can see what the water’s doing but also to get off the paths well trodden. The same ethos applies here though, first find the fish. I now use Google maps to plot out areas of interest, long slow bends are ideal, as is tree cover, so both in close proximity is a great starting point….
Having marked up my areas, dropping a pin here and there, I then walk the water, rod dismantled, and cover some land walking between areas, each section gets 20 minutes viewing time. I feel that 20 minutes is enough time for a monster to give away it’s location. These things don’t behave like normal trout, that are up and on it.
These big ones rise a handful of times, if you’re really lucky, but once they’ve rose, experience tells me that if I cover them, it’s a big IF, then they’ll come up to my fly. They may not take it, but I should get a response, if it’s positive then I’m laughing, if not then it’s logged on the map for another trip.
This year, the falls of spent fly have been poor and the monster trout very few and far between, actually, no one has had one, the big floods may well have had something to do with this?
I did hook one though, I played it hard on 12lb leader and a very strong size 8 hook, twice it tried to take me under a tree root on the far bank, and I managed to steer it out, then, after a minute or so, it came off, simple. I put that fish over 5lb easily over that weight actually, but not the size of the things I saw last year.
I did manage a few nice fish though and for me that’s all it takes, I had two trips and caught two decent fish, both over 2lb, and some others but they don’t really get a mention, they were, (getting my eye in) fish. That’s been it tis year, two evenings where it was (nearly) right. Shame, but there it is, fishing is like that at times.
For me it was abut the getting out there and doing it, on my own, hunting, proper hunting and with a dry fly too.
Facebook, AKA, ‘a place where everyone can bitch and moan at everyone else?’
It’s an easy to use sounding board brought to us by the wonders of modern technology, has a secure foothold today.
It offers others, who are – nine times out of ten – into the same hobby, past time, sport or religion as you are to come together to ‘discuss and enlighten’. Or in some cases to show what they have cooked for dinner…… that’s another story.
Yet, as with most drugs, and that’s what it is, it’s addictive, lots of us just can’t leave it alone, sadly, it seems that certain users can become a little corrupt and aggressive after prolonged usage. don’t get me wrong, I’ve no issue with people taking the mick, it’s parr for the course, you can handle that, well most of us can anyway. BUT nasty is nasty, simple…
It seems that those who have an opinion to voice will do so no matter what the consequences are.
Making things worse, FB has Messenger, a private messaging facility, surely to goodness these; ne’er-do-wells have the brain capacity to contact others this way rather than spouting off for all unsundry to read on FB proper?
The best of it is that you can guarantee that many ‘armchair anglers’!
I love FB, who doesn’t, but I often get my cage rattled by someone or another and that rattling usually prompts me to reply. I shouldn’t. But sometimes the red mist comes down and before I know it, I’ve opened my mouth!! However, within minutes of posting, I normally edit my riposte.
What I’m trying to say here, in my own little way, is that we should use these site properly, to gain knowledge and also to share knowledge (not a photo of beans on toast) or for giving someone a hard time because they’ve tied a fly and it’s not quite perfect or fished the wrong one ( in your opinion). Isn’t a shame that there is always someone ready to criticize and put others down? It’s these put down that sow the seed of doubt in new people to the sport. Think before you post, or you could end up putting people off and that’s the last thing we want in our sport.
The information that’s to be found on FB can help you grow and flourish as an angler and often as a person.
To all those sensible posters, keep up the great work.
A fly is a fly..
A fish is fish..
To the rest, come on let’s not abuse one another, we can use it responsibly and try and behave like adults.
As you sit down to read this fisheries, rivers and streams are now open and fishing is well and truly underway.
Across the country ( not every country, granted, all the big and small waters will have opened their doors to the fly fishing public, the flora along the riverbanks are in bloom and there are flies coming off the water, it’s enough to make an angler burst into song!
We are very, very lucky in this country and yet we really don’t realise it. There are so many fly fishing opportunities out there we just need to be willing to go out there and find them, now more than ever you should realise that!
There’s a near limitless supply of hill lochs and tarns that hardly see an angler from one season to the next, all of which are literally teaming with little, and sometimes not so little, brown trout.
Rivers abound, and before anyone says anything, not all of them are private syndicate waters. If you want good river fishing it’s usually available, just do little bit of homework, all manner of fishing can be found on the web.
It’s all too easy to become stuck in rut as an angler but now, after being cooped up for nearly two months, you may realise just what you have out there and feel the need to expand your horizons!
Fishing at the same still water every weekend will give you the chance to learn it’s moods and how it fishes throughout the year. This is all very well if you want to be the best angler on the water, and some do, but could you enjoy the same success on another water?
Realistically, if you want to grow and increase your knowledge, you need to spread your wings a bit.
I urge you to make the most of what we’ve got in this country and while you’re at it, why not take a youngster along with you. Hopefully, they’ll appreciate what it has to offer too, the sport ceratinly needs newcomers, any new comers will do!
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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Do you want to be the angler that succeeds on small Stillwater venues then these top tip can help!
When you’re fishing early on in the season proper, it’s always a good idea to get as much information on the water as possible. Getting to know a water is a major benefit. You’ll notice time and again that it’s usually just one or two anglers who catch most of the fish. These are the people that know the water. Where are the weedbeds, the drop offs the fish-holding areas basically, they have it sussed. By getting to know a venue and these areas can pay off big time.
In the real world most of us can’t fish a place all the time, or would even want to for that matter, it can get a bit ‘samey’. But watercraft and some knowledge of fish location can help you concentrate your efforts on specific areas wherever you fish. At the same time you will know that there’s some parts of the venue you should avoid, fishless zones where you’ll know there’s no point in even wetting a line.
It can be pretty easy to get an idea of what’s going on under the surface when you’re concentrating your efforts at clear water venues. Fishing on these venues allows you to actually see weedbeds, shelves and other holding areas. You’ll also see where trout patrol and how they patrol. They have patrolling routes you know and if you can establish these routes then you can pick off trout as they move, if you get your tactics correct of course. These clear water venues will give you a good idea of what’s going on at most venues, trout are trout, right!
It doesn’t matter what you fish for or how you go about catching them, underwater shelves, areas where the bottom drops away into deeper water, are a bit of haven for all types of fish species.
They have the safety of deep water nearby and this seems to make them happy. On the shallow side of the shelf, where the sun penetrates first and heats things up, life is more prolific and so If there are things to eat then the trout won’t be too far away.
Weeded areas are a heaven for all manner of aquatic beasties which the trout feed on. All those damsels, shrimp, bloodworm, hoglouse and the like love weeded section of the lakebed. Stickleback and juvenile coarse fish tend to migrate to them too. It’s a rich feeding ground for all the parties involved.
From a tactical point of view this can help you get close to your quarry too, something some anglers often neglect to realise. It offers you cover close the water’s edge, quite often, early on in the year, trout can be found right in the margins. By keeping a low profile and being hidden behind the bankside cover, you’ll often be able to lower your fly into the path of a cruising trout.
These weeds later on in the year, are also a great place for Damsels to leave their watery homes and trout are well aware of this. Pay special attention.
Points and Promontories
If you are lucky enough to be first on the water, then if you can get yourself positioned on a promontory then you’re onto a winner. These headlands allows you to have deeper water at either side of your fishing positions. They are also good places to target because trout have to pass these point to get into the bays and creeks where the food is often prolific.
Under Water Structure
Any kind of underwater structure, like a dam, inlet or even fallen trees will tend to harbour food. These places offer shelter and safety for tiny creatures and fish.
If your local water produces some big brown trout every now and again, the chances are that they tend to hang around this kind of structure. Sunken logs, tree roots under water boulders are perfect locations for big, old brown trout to hang around.
When targeting any kind of structure make that sure your leader’s up to it. A hooked fish will head straight for any kind of safety, and that means any nearby structure, strong tippet will allow you to put some pressure on without fear of snapping!
Sounds like cheating I know but it can help if you know. Fish, more so rainbows will often hang about in the vicinity they are stocked. Also stocking points are often the areas that offers easy access to the fishery owners and at times of low food levels, hard winters and warm summers, they will often sneakily keep the fish topped up with pellets, Like I mentioned at the very start, know the water! : )
Keep popping back, I’ll have more on fish location and holding areas on various venues where I’ll go into even more analytical detail in order for you to ‘up your catch rate’.
1. Never believe everything that you are told
Car park talk is often very misleading! You’ve a lot of people wanting to do better than you, so take most of the ‘hero chat’ with a pinch of salt.
“Yeah, I had 25 today, I reckon and I’ll be done by lunch time come match day!” Silly buggers!
I see this a lot and most of these HEROS are still scratching their heads come the late afternoon!
2. Check an area or a method but don’t get blinkered into thinking either is crucial
Saying the above, it’s always worth checking good solid info, there are some good guys out there, an area or a method may need looking at.
It can or can’t work but until you check it out, you’ll never know, so a little time spent scouting can help.
3. Move about and cover some water
You really can’t afford to stay put in an area for too long on practice days.
Use your time wisely and move about. This is anther common mistake I see anglers make. Sitting on top of fish catching one after another is never going to last.
A couple of trout or indeed takes in an area is enough for me, I don’t need to fill the boat!
4. It’s often important to find out where there’s NO fish than it is finding loads of them
Don’t be too worried if you’re not finding any action, you’re not over fish. This is good, you know that these areas are not worth targeting come match day! It’s not time wasted when you know where ‘NOT’ to fish!
5. Watch for takes
This can be done with any line from floaters to fast sinkers. I don’t want to give too much away with the sinking lines but with floaters, watch the loop that you create between the rod tip and the water, if it moves it’s a fish, hit it.
Don’t wait for the take at your hand, you can miss it or worse, strike to hard and snap.
6. Don’t be hasty in lifting your flies clear of the water to recast
The Hang is often talked about, it’s basically stalling your flies during the lift on sinking lines, it’s lethal at times.
But hanging means hanging, each fly left for a time before lifting clear of the water, 3 to 10 seconds, not 1, lift, 2, lift, three lift and cast!
I also like to move the rod tip as I do the hang, the fly quivers and it’s often enough to illicit a response.
7. Spoon your catch
Most of us don’t bother, the boys that know what they’re doing do. They know that often it’s imperative to know what the fish are eating. Not only to copy it, but at least to use flies that suggest it, to get an idea of size and colour of the food items being targeted.
And also to see how they should be fishing, presenting their flies to mimic the food source the trout are after!
8. Target better trout
I do this ‘A LOT’ and it can be feast or famine, but if you know how to target these special fish then you’ll have a HUGE marginal gain on your boat partner!
It may mean less takes and often fishing in quieter areas, something most anglers appear scared of, but it’s worth it.
On the first 2 day National on Rutland, 2016?? I’d bagged stockies superfast on day 1, but on day 2, I’d only managed 1 stockie by 1pm, worrying to say the least!
I had to get the okay from my boat partner. Martin Griffiths (he’d had a bad day the 1st day, his boat partner took him to some strange places) to head away to quiet water and go hunting big fish, and after giving him the fly, my little Popper Fry, Steve Cullen’s Popperfry he agreed.
I landed another 2 fish (and lost more) but these fish were both over 5lb. my three fish on day 2 were beating other bags of 6 stockies!
9. Check your hooks
We neglect this far too often, I have done it and it has cost me dearly. You get a take, miss it, then another, but you just keep fishing, DON’T! Check the hook!
It’s only to easy for a fish to turn the hook point over on a hard take. You need to be on top of things! I carry a hook sharpener a good one that cost decent money, it’s a great investment!
10. Keep your own council
If you nail it in practise, why tell the world? By all means talk about the day, a method or an area, be sociable, after all that’s what’s all about for some, but if you want to be better than others, don’t give the game away, loose lips etc!
Banish those winter blues and get off to a flying start this year!
Buy A Rod License
You can’t go fishing in England and Wales without a Rod license, well, you can if you’re under twelve, so you make sure you have one.
These can be purchased online or from your local Post Office, some fisheries even sell them. There are a few ticket options available to suit most anglers needs!
Bank Fish A Reservoir
The fishing at this time of the year can be out of this world.
All the recently introduced stock fish will be holed up in the bays and creeks where they were stocked, so make the most of it by fishing from the bank.
These trout can be easy to catch and they fight incredibly well, they really do provide the angler with a bit of a bonanza, you’d be mad to miss out.
Reservoirs can become hectic in April, everyone is competing to get to the known early season hotspots, so you need to get yourself there early doors.
The Dam Wall
The great thing about the dam wall is that it often offers anglers access to deep water without them having to cast to the horizon. The fish are often close in and they will move up and down the dam wall throughout the day, so if you stay in one spot they are likely to head your way sooner or later.
It’s a popular area though, so see suggestion number 3!
Try A Bung
When it comes to early season deadly fishing methods, then the Bung is right up there. Not only will some nice shiny Superglue Buzzers suspended mid water tempt those – I’m not stupid enough to take a lure – stockies, they have the added advantaged of picking up the better, over wintered fish.
A bung enables you to fish your impressionistic flies at various specific depths in the water column so that you can search out where the fish are more effectively.
Black and Green
If there’s one colour combination that you must try at this time of the year it has to be the lethal black and green. There’s something very special about these two colours for cold water. Look to try flies like, Concrete Bowl, Viva and Black Cats.
Bank On Boobies
There’s something about Boobies that trout just can’t seem to resist.
On large waters, use a fast sinking line and a leader of around 12ft with one or two Boobies spaced an equal distant apart, one on dropper around 6ft from the end of your sinking line with another on the point. This will allow you to cover the depths and find where the fish are in the water column.
ALWAYS keep in touch with your flies.
Try Fishing A River
To many of us are quite happy to sit it out on small waters or reservoirs and we don’t make the effort to cast a fly in running water. This is a real shame as some of the best fishing you’ll ever experience will be on a river. There’s nothing quite like it.
It takes a lot more time and patience to get results but once you get into the why wherefores of river fishing, you’ll become hooked.
Spot A Riser
This is the best when it comes to river fishing, searching the water for signs of feeding fish, or a riser! Nothing gets the heart pumping faster than a big early season trout coming up for Olives!
Try That Dry Fly
On rivers a dry fly is often the best line of attack when the trout are up. Keep it simple with pattern choice as they won’t be too fussy just now. Focus on size and colour and you shouldn’t go far wrong. The key is making sure it behaves naturally, so no drag.
Okay, let’s start at the beginning, this is for guys and girls that fish ‘loch style’ in other words cast out of the front of a drifting boat in order to target trout!
This style of fishing is a pretty big deal here in the UK BUT it’s growing in popularity and as a result more and more anglers from all over the world want to know more about this extremely effective technique.
It’s a complex form of fishing, however the whys and the wherefores of doing it right are for another day!
With this little article I want EVERYONE to know the 5 Essential Fly Lines for Boat Fishing which you must-have here in the UK, and dare I say it the world if you want to stand a decent chance of catching fish the whole year through!
I’m not going to get overly technical, no point, once you get into it you’ll figure it all out yourself!
And also, I can do another article highlighting the other lines you need at some point, right!
Currently, I carry 36ish fly lines when I boat fish, so there’s some food for thought!
When you get a touch more serious then the line count goes up, dramatically!
So, let us work from the top of the water down shall we? After all the trout’s eyes are on the top of their head, not on the bottom!
Now remember, BASICS! Oh, before I forget, don’t muck about with presentation tapers go weight forward every time, loads the rod quicker and you’ll cast further, should you need to!
1. Floating Line
This is the best-selling fly line in the world and no wonder as it lets you do an awful lot! This is our go-to choice when it comes to dry flies, wet flies, and slowly fished nymphs and buzzers/midge.
It allows you to keep the flies fishing high in the water, they can be fished slowly too, which is great for a natural presentation.
It is the ideal line for presentation fishing, unless it’s windy and then your line control goes out the window!
2. The Midge-Tip
Okay this may well have other names but the premise is the same, a floating line with the sinking front section – 1 to 2 inches per second and normally 3-feet. This front section sinks like an intermediate line and this allows the angler to bed their flies in under the waters’ surface.
It’s a line which offers a little more depth, it’s surprising just how much depth, as well as control when nymph / buzzer fishing. For this reason it’s one that seen threaded though an awful of UK rods from April through to June when we have the cream of our nymph fishing.
It’s also a great choice for wet fly fishing for wild brown trout!
3. Slime Line
Rather than just highlight an ‘intermediate’ line, I thought I’d pick out this one. ‘Slime line’ is generic now, and a few companies make them, it’s basically a clear intermediate line. It has gained a massive foot-hold in our fly line armoury duo in part to it’s clarity, it has no colour.
It sinks around 1.25 to 2 inches a second and it’s good choice for fishing a foot to three-foot down, it’s great for lures, wet flies again – of course in a big wind, the Irish anglers love it!
It’s not as in your face and as visible as a lot of other intermediate lines which can come in various colours and sinking densities and this makes the slime line an essential fly line for boat fishing!
4. The Di5 Sweep Line
Yes, I’m being very specific, like I said I’m looking at essentials here!
For pulling lures, this line takes some beating
Obviously, this will sink faster than it’s Di3 counterpart and for me therefore I choose the five over the three!
Sweep lines, allow you to cover more water as the belly is heavier than the tip, so this means that your flies are fished in a very enticing, fishing finding arc!
I use this line often for finding the trout’s feeding depth, and either stick with it or move up or down in the water column with other lines to capitalise.
5. 40+ Di7 Extreme Line
This particular line has a short head and so loads the rod quicker and it also features a skinny running line, so that when you cast, if you’re any good, the line goes miles!
It’s this distance that will see me pick this line over other fast sinkers.
If I’m in a boat and paired up with someone, as is usually the case in competitions, I want to cover water before they do, in order to do that I have to cast further!
This is crucial early season when drifting onto banks, get your flies in the area first and you get the fish first, simple!
I hope that you found this article interesting, it’s basic but it really does highlight the MUST-HAVES if you want to do any good while fishing from a drifting boat.
If you want to learn more about fly lines or indeed how to use the ones highlighted here more effectively then please…
Competition Fly Fishing has seen many fly patterns come and go but one style of fly which has really made an impact (and they seem to only be getting even more of a Worldwide following) are Blobs.
Love them or hate them, Blobs are damned effective at harvesting fish from our stillwaters!
This simple fly, no more than Fritz wrapped on a hook has taken the fly fishing world by storm. Rightly so, it’s effectiveness for ‘speed fishing’ is unparalleled, nothing comes close to its fish catching abilities, nothing!
Okay, it can be argued that it’s more effective on the more curious rainbow trout, but Blobs, less in your face ones, will catch brown trout also.
Blobs can be fished fast with a pacey retrieve or indeed slowly, just let the flies fish ‘on the drop’! Either way is going to catch you trout, but you need to ring the changes to see what is most productive on the day!
Here are the top 5 Blobs ( in no particular order ) that you are going to need if you’re looking to compete in most Loch Style Competitions.
1. The Orange Blob, the original and still one of the best
2. The Black Blob, one for when the bright colours seem to scare fish
3. The Tequila Blob, two tone and deadly all the way through the summer
4. The Biscuit Blob, a more washed out affair that will work its magic on pressured fish
5. The Olive Blob, again one that does well when the trout have switched off from gaudier colours, a good choice in Autumn.
Best Blob double team combo -in my opinion – Orange on the dropper Black on the point!!!
If you would like any of these Blobs or more information on how to get the most from them, then please..