Tag: fishing knots

10 Top Tips For Success On Stillwaters

10 Top Tips For Success On Stillwaters

10 Stillwater Tips

1. Take It All In

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.

Lots of people are here, so you know the fish are here also!

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!

Although wading can get you fishing into deeper water, ALWAYS fish the edges first.

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.

Boobies are great for ‘finding fish’

4. Hooks

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!

The washing line is a great way of searching the layers!

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!

Stalking can be done all year round and it’s a VERY satisfying way of catching trout!

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.

If you can brave the wind in your face, the rewards can be worth it!

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A Fearsome Threesome

A Fearsome Threesome

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! 

BANKERS

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?

A rarity for most, but even a tiger will fall for the charms of the Sunburst FAB!

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.

DROPPERS

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!

There’s the little Diawl Bach in there somewhere!

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.

The Gilded Hare’s Ear has been a favourite so many years now, no surprise giving its fish catching ability!

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!

DRESSINGS

FAB

Hook: Tiemco 2499 size 12

Thread: Any light coloured thread

Butt: 7mm yellow Booby Eyes

Body: Sunburst Fritz, 10mm

Diawl Bach

Hook: Wet fly size 12

Thread: Black, red, orange

Tail and beard: Claret cock

Body: Single strand of peacock herl

Rib: Medium UV

Gilded Hare’s Ear

Hook: Wet fly size 12

Thread: Flu Orange

Butt and cheeks: Flat gold tinsel

Rib: Medium gold wire

Body: Stickle Dub Natural Grey

You can create your own Gilded Hare’s Ear here…