FISHSPY – See What You’re Missing

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For years now carp anglers have been crying out for a game changing innovative technological fishing tackle accessory to help enhance their fish catches. To date there hasn’t been anything available specifically for the carper – yes we have the Waterwolf for predator anglers and GoPro’s of course; and although great fun these gadget’s don’t actually enhance your fish catching capabilities.  An exciting new product, known as FishSpy, which retails at just £249.95 and is available from early November, could well be the answer to the serious carp fisherman’s prayers.

A selection of Fishspy camera units
A selection of Fishspy camera units.

What is FishSpy?

FishSpy’s tag line is ”see what you’re missing”, and this accurately sums up what this product does. FishSpy is an Innovative professional quality waterproof camera, specifically designed to aid carp fishing.

Housed inside an aerodynamic waterproof marker float it uniquely streams live underwater video footage direct to your phone or tablet. FishSpy generates its own Wi-Fi signal and transmits it to your portable Wi-Fi enabled device- so there is no need to have an internet connection or even phone signal when fishing.

Durable and designed to withstand the rigors of fishing it is submersible to depths of 10m, and transmits video in 640 x 480 quality – a great compromise between image quality, file size and therefore streaming range and reliability.

FishSpy transmitting live video via it's own Wi-Fi signal.
FishSpy transmitting live video via its own Wi-Fi signal.

FishSpy can stream live and recorded footage on the waters surface at a range of up to 100m according to conditions. The range is assisted by a foam ring which pops up the camera and it’s aerial as high as possible from the lake surface, allowing for better transmission. Once an interesting area, feature or fish is spotted it can be fully submerged for a closer look- simply hit the record button and wind it down for a better view of the lake bed. The same would apply if the water is very deep, murky or clouded and you cannot see the bottom from the surface.

The video footage taken when submerged is then stored on the fully waterproof camera’s generous 7 hour capacity built in memory card. It can then be floated back up to the surface where you can view the video of the lake bed you just recorded on your smart phone or tablet, via the Wi-FI connection.  You can then repeat this process to cover a huge area of the lake you are fishing and truly open up a whole new under water world. We can honestly say this is something that has never been achieved before!

Fishspy transmitting a live video feed under water.
FishSpy recording video under water.

FishSpy communicates remotely to your mobile or tablet device via a custom built app for iOS, or a web browser for Android devices with a built in control interface.  FishSpy features an action tag so you can mark those fishy encounters and those all important hotspots on your video playback,  therefore enabling you to locate the best sequences for easy and convenient playback at a later date.  Three hours of battery life and seven hours of recording time complete the package. You can view all of your recordings via your smartphone or tablet, and download them to your PC once you are home.

Some Screen shots of the IOs FishSpy app.
Some Screen shots of the iOS FishSpy app.

FishSpy is attached to your line, and you cast out just like a regular marker float:

Fishspy setup
FishSpy setup.


For more full in-depth technical specification visit the FishSpy website.
Or watch the FishSpy tutorial video:

How does it help you catch more carp?

As well as the obvious fun element of actually spotting the fish, and knowing they are in the vicinity, the major benefits are feature finding – for example finding a clear gravel patch or a silt bed loaded with blood worm. You can then cast your rig at the FishSpy in the same way as you would a traditional marker float, thus ensuring you hit the hotspot every time.  You will be able to see how your bait and rigs are presented and appear on the lakes substrate, allowing you to fine tune your presentation for best results. As any carp fisherman knows getting a perfect presentation is very often the critical difference between failure and success.

Check out these amazing videos filmed using FishSpy:

Fish spotting fun:

Using FishSpy for feature finding:

Seeing how various bait types appear on the lake bed:

This is a must watch  video of Dave Lane using FishSpy on a recent session –  it really shows just how useful this gadget can be for the committed carp angler.

Where does Fishspy come from?

FishSpy has been brought to the market by the tackle company TF Gear. The development team at TF Gear have been working intensively on this project for over two years – initially a pipe dream, the guys have worked very hard at bringing something completely new and innovative to the table. Working with some of the sharpest minds in the UK fishing tackle  industry this project has really taken shape- from what was originally just a crazy idea in the office. Despite being incredibly difficult to achieve from a technical standpoint, the TF Gear team invested thousands of hours of research and testing to come up with this amazing and unique product. FishSpy has been launched as a stand-alone brand, under the umbrella of the TF Gear group.

Dave Lane working on a prototype Fishspy accessory.
TF Gear consultant Dave Lane using a prototype FishSpy accessory.

How much does it cost?

A FishSpy underwater camera unit costs only £249.95. For those of you who now exclaim ‘wow that’s expensive’ lets take a little rain check of what your carp fishing gear may have cost you over the past season. Carp anglers spend more and invest more money than any other group of fishermen on their fishing tackle collection…. we simply have to! As we all know, specimen carp are the ultimate freshwater challenge and can be exceedingly difficult to catch.  So lets have a look at some of the figures –

  • Annual syndicate, fishing rod license and day tickets: £1200.
  • Microcat Bait boat: £709.99
  • Set of 3 x delkim Txi and remote: £507
  • Trakker Tempest Bivvy System: £629.99
  • Set of 3 x Free Spirit CTX carp rods £359.97
  • Annual weeks Carp fishing holiday to France: £2000

And if you look at bait, (which you are essentially throwing away) then around £500 per year of your money goes into the lake.

So when you put things into perspective FishSpy, at only £249.95 is relatively small change. Considering what FishSpy actually does, this makes this product a real game changer – and worth every penny in our opinion! Just one of these will radically improve your carp fishing catches over not just the short term, but for many years to come. FishSpy cameras are fully guaranteed for 12 months, so you can be fully assured you are going to get full usage out of this ingenious bit of kit. FishSpy also has a full range of useful accessories, which you can see here.

What you get for your money - a game changer
What you get for your money – a game changer.


The future of FishSpy?

There are lots of other applications that FishSpy could be used for in the future – for example dead bait pike fishing  immediately springs to mind, as does river fishing for barbel and other coarse fish species. Even fly fishing anglers could satisfy their curiosity – image running this down a pool on a river, and seeing shoals of salmon and sea trout?
There are plenty of exciting future developments underway to make FishSpy an even more useful addition to any fisherman s tackle armory, and many more interesting and useful accessories will be made available for this unique product in the coming years and months.

FishSpy - it's a whole new world down there.
FishSpy – it’s a whole new world down there.

Find out more:

For full technical specification and more informative product videos visit the Fishspy Website.

FishSpy also has several new exciting social media channels – YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Pintrest. So why not give them a follow!

We hope you see what your’re missing – we did.


Predator Fishing On Rutland Water

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We are now into autumn and falling air and water temperatures have kicked off the predator fishing season in earnest. The Fishtec sales team start their season with a weekends predator fishing on one of the biggest reservoirs in the UK, the vast expanse of Rutland water. Find out how they get on!

Here at Fishtec we normally take an annual pilgrimage to one of the superb Anglian water fisheries, and this year Rutland was our destination with predator fish species being our prime target.

A Rutland water Zander.
A Rutland water Zander.

You can fish for predators all over the UK in rivers, lakes, gravel pits and canals at a moderate cost, but my favourite venues are the larger UK trout reservoir fisheries which open their doors in autumn to predator anglers.

Once exclusively for trout fly fishers, these vast waters now attract plenty of predator fishermen in season. These large reservoirs are full of abundant numbers of predatory fish which can grow to huge proportions; you can fish for pike, perch and in some cases zander.

The benefits to the trout angler of allowing predator fishermen onto their waters are very high; more money goes into investing in the facilities and trout stocking, whilst the lure anglers target fish which occupy a completely different niche of the lake and tend to concentrate their efforts from September to March, when fishing  for trout becomes much harder.  So everyone is ultimately a winner.

The vast expanse of Rutland water.
The vast expanse of Rutland water.

Rutland water has a decent head of zander of a moderate size – great sport can be had, but the main challenge is tracking them down in the vast 3100 acres with depths over 100 foot deep. Our plan was to mainly concentrate on fishing for the zander on this trip.

We arrived at the water at 9.00 am on a crisp late September morning. Unlike previous years the weather was settled and calm with air temps in the high teens rather than lashing down with rain and wind as is often the case. These settled conditions allow you to fish effectively at depth when vertical jigging, the preferred method for targeting zander.

Loading up a boat with fishing tackle.
Loading up a boat with fishing tackle.

In the day time zander tend to hug the bottom in deep water, so the only way to effectively target them is to drop your lure straight down on top of them. Calmer conditions make this so much easier. We had all set up with lightweight spinning rods, small fixed spool reels and soft-plastic lures fitted with jig heads.

Braid is used as a mainline to give you maximum feel down to your jig, with the rough rule of approximately 1 gram of weight per two feet foot of depth for the head. There is no need to go mad when jigging, it’s not like mackeral feathering. A slight rise and fall is all you need, and when you set up a second ”sleeper” rod on a rest you often get takes to an almost static presentation; with the motion of the boat being enough to induce a strike.

The fishing tackle combination being used on our boat was the Savage gear bushwacker XLNT2 rod 7′ 10 -40g, TF Gear blue strike reel 20 FD, and Savage gear finesse HD4 Braid in 17lb which has a diameter of just 0.13mm. On the business end was a 40 gram jig head and a berkely shad lure body. This particular outfit is exceptionally well balanced and ideal for a full days jigging.

We headed out to a well known hotspot on the lake and in 70 foot of water we began picking up fish on our fish finder holding near the bottom. A fish finder is a truly essential item of fishing tackle for targeting bigger waters; my advise is to always take one along with you- it really is like having an extra set of underwater eyes. Knowing there are fish in the area is always a confidence boost and this sometimes permeates into how you fish and helps get your results.  Within half an hour I had a decent take and a nice conditioned zander came to the surface.

A pristine Rutland Zander.
A pristine Rutland Zander.

We had several more decent zander over the next few hours, plus a couple of bonus brown trout which hit the jigs when retrieving vertically. Perch and several jack pike also found their way into the net. The reason for this mixed predator species feeding frenzy seemed to be water being pumped into the reservoir in this area. In the turbulent up-welling of the pumped water small stunned coarse fish could be seen floating about; free and easy pickings for any predator on the prowl. It must have been like a dinner bell going off in that part of the lake!

A Rutalnd zander in a Savage Gear net.
A Rutland zander in a Savage Gear net.
A greedy perch.
A greedy perch.
A bonus Rutland brown trout.
A bonus Rutland brown trout.
Pike also joined in on the feeding frenzy.
Pike also joined in on the feeding frenzy.

After a few hours of pretty much constant catching and takes, the pumping suddenly switched off and the wind picked up. Both factors saw the fish disappear from the area as rapidly as they had arrived, so we decided to try a few other areas which had produced on previous visits. After a few fruitless drifts we turned our attention to the main tower, in 85 foot of water. Almost right away I picked up a nice one on the jig and had some knocks.

A fish off the main tower on Rutland.
A fish off the main tower on Rutland.

Unfortunately sailing traffic suddenly increased in this area, and it become uncomfortable fishing so we tried another area near the tower in the north arm. My boat partner Simon hooked up with a  jack at 50 foot down, and I had a surprise bream which somehow foul hooked itself on a pike lure. This fish put up one hell of a fight, making me think for a few minutes I was into a 20lb plus pike. If this fish had been hooked in the mouth using a feeder rod it probably would have come in like a wet sack!

Simon with a jack pike.
Simon with a jack pike.
A decent sized bream.
A decent sized bream.

The day ended with a fairly early return to the digs for a hearty evening meal and to catch a rugby game, it being the world cup of course! A decent days fishing was experienced by all of us, and in the extremely bright sunshine we had done better than expected.

Coming off at the end of the day.
Coming off at the end of the day.

Day two and we were on the water early again. Nothing happened in the first hotspot aside from a perch of about 1lb and a very small zander, so we prospected in the deeper water off the main tower and off the Normanton church.

I had a decent Z off the tower first drift, about 10 feet off bottom in 85 foot, and we picked up 5 schoolies to 2.5lb in rapid succession near the church in about 65 foot of water.

A Zander from 85 feet down.
A Zander from 85 feet down.

We were forced to abandon the area due to very heavy sailing traffic again, so a slow period followed but Simon picked up a pike of about 8lb on his sleeper rod off Amberly wood, which gave him a decent fight on his lightweight setup.

Simons 8lb Pike.
Simon’s 8lb Pike

Rhys and Mike had stayed in the main basin near the boils and picked up a good number of small shoal zander here and also drifting off the dam.

A small schoolie zander.
A small schoolie zander.

Like all fishing, time really flies when you are having fun and it was soon time to leave the water and return to Wales. We had experienced a pretty decent start to the predator season, with 20+ zander landed to both our boats, 5 pike, several perch and trout. A great couple of days fishing on one of the best mixed fisheries in the UK to say the least.

Rhys with a jack.
Rhys with a jack pike.

Predator fishing is a new exciting growth area of our sport, with more and more predator fishing tackle becoming available from the big brands, including Savage Gear, Fox, and Korum.  So why not give it a go this winter when fishing for other species is at it’s worst? You never know, you might just become hooked!

The 2015 Lexus Fly Fishing Competition Final – Jamie Thomas

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Ever dreamed of taking part in or even winning a major fly fishing competition? Well Jamie Thomas did just that when he took part in the 2015 Lexus European Fly Fishing Championship! Find out how Jamie won the ultimate fly fishing prize, and the fly fishing tackle and techniques he used to give himself the edge.

The Lexus European Flyfishing Championships is the biggest Individual Fly Fishing Event in the World!
The Lexus European Flyfishing Championships is the biggest Individual Fly Fishing Event in the World!

As most will be aware the Lexus European Fly Fishing Championship is one of, if not the biggest individual fly fishing competition in the world. It undoubtedly has the most impressive prize in angling with a brand new Lexus RH450 SUV being presented to the winner for a 12 month period. The final for 2015 was to be fished on Grafham Water on Saturday 12 September 2015 and the build up to the event could not have been more complicated.

The biggest prize in Fly Fishing - a Lexus RX450h SUV
The biggest prize in Fly Fishing – a Lexus RX450h SUV

So, the Saturday before, I am fishing Bewl in an Association of Major Fly Fishing Clubs (AMFC) match for the Soldier Palmers. It was a pretty tough day with only one take all day which at least was nice enough to stay on the line to save the blank! As I was waiting to weigh-in my very tiny 1lb 6oz trout I received a text message telling me I had been offered a place in the Lexus Final due to me being the next placed angler outside the qualifiers on Grafham earlier in the year. Unfortunately, I was 11th in the qualifier with the top 10 going to the final. Luckily for me someone had dropped out and therefore I got the call, so I was in the Lexus Final by default!

The venue - Grafham water.
The venue – Grafham water.

So to Grafham… at 1550 acres Grafham Water is the eighth largest reservoir in England and is by quite a margin my favourite. Having been a member of the Soldier Palmers for the last 15 years I have had the opportunity to fish on all the major waters across the country on the competition scene. I have been in the Army for all of that time and on the basis that I have moved location every 2 years, but Grafham has consistently been my local water, although during some of those moves it was several hours away. There are a number of reasons for me having such affection for Grafham but in general it is the fact that it has rarely let me down. The whole experience from the efficiency of the staff to the quality of the fish that are in the water make it my favourite venue by quite a margin.

Into a fish on Grafham water.
Into a fish on Grafham water.

When it was confirmed that I had been given a place in the Lexus Final that was being held on Grafham Water I knew I would be arriving on the water with some home advantage. With me now scraping into the final, that now made 3 anglers from the Soldier Palmers in the competition, we made a bit of a plan to practice with myself and Lindsay Simpson making a plan to practice on the Wednesday before match day and Paul Calvert on the day before. Myself and Lindsay arrived bright and early on the Wednesday morning with conditions perfect, light winds and almost 100% cloud cover in the morning with sunny spells in the afternoon. It would be fair to say that we left the jetty like two kids on Xmas morning; we knew that a good day’s fishing was on the cards and Grafham did not let us down. By the time we came off the water that evening we had brought lots of fish to the boat from multiple areas and had found a method we were both confident would work during the match. We passed the info to Paul for him to confirm the areas and method on the Friday.

Match day on Grafham - the dreaded sun and wind!
Match day on Grafham – the dreaded sun and wind!

To match day…….as I arrived in the Carpark at 8.00am the cars and anglers were arriving from far and wide. There was a distinct buzz in the air as I got out of the car with small groups of friends and acquaintances probing for information mixed with general banter. The boat draw had been released on Facebook the evening before by John Horsey and I had received a “friend request” from Charlie Abrahams confirming we had been drawn together. I had never had the opportunity to share a boat with Charlie before but one of the things I enjoy most about competition angling is meeting new people and having the opportunity to learn from them during the day out.   Myself and Charlie had a bit of a chat during which I told him that this was day 1 of 4 consecutive days I would be fishing and that if he wanted to take the engine I would be grateful. We talked areas and confirmed that we had found the same fish and off we went to get our kit.

Briefing about to start at the 2015 Lexus Individual Final at Grafham Water.
Briefing about to start at the 2015 Lexus Individual Final at Grafham Water.

To the tactics…. I try to keep my fishing affordable and therefore over the years I have found the Airflo fishing gear to be of high quality, within my price range and with an excellent customer care package after purchase. I fish with almost exclusively Airflo equipment and have inadvertently become a walking/talking advertisement for their tackle, I am sure if you ask most of my boat partners over the years they will confirm just that. Therefore, my set up on the day consisted of the following:

Rod – I fish with an Airflo 10ft Forty plus Nan Tec in 7/8, I have had great faith in these rods over the past couple of years. I have 2 of these rods in 7/8 and a further 2 in 8/9 which I use when I fish in a big wind. The rods come with 2 tips (accuracy and distance) of which I normally use the distance tip. Due to the winds on match day not being predicted to be to strong I fished with the 7/8 and used the distance tip.

Line – In the morning the cloud cover was forecast to be about 80% with the sun making an appearance as the day went on. During practice we found that an Airflo Slow Glass was the best line but we needed to go deeper if the sun came out. I set up on the Slow Glass initially knowing that I would be moving to an Airflo Di3 Sweep when the sun came out.

Leader – As I previously mentioned I keep me fishing tackle affordable and have found that leader material can be a significant recurring cost throughout the season, the only leader I use is Airflo G3 Sightfree which I fish in 10 lb for all my competition fishing. 100m spools with a BOGOF with every purchase, keeps it within my price range. I find that this leader material gives me a good chance of landing any double hook-ups and it is a leader I have utter confidence in. I planned to fish a 4 fly set up with 4ft between my flies and 10ft to my fly line, this is my standard set up for most competition fishing with a 22ft leader of 10lb enabling me to change lines quickly as required.

Flies – I had found during the practice that the fish were coming to 2 patterns, a candy booby or a UV cruncher. So on match day I fished the following 4 flies, on point went the Candy Booby in size 10, middle 2 droppers had a size 10 UV Cruncher each and on my top dropper went a size 12 orange Booby Blob.

Retrieve – During the practice we found that a quick retrieve worked better and therefore on the morning of the match I planned to fish a roly-poly retrieve to the hang. The weather conditions forecast was for 12 – 16mph winds and therefore a roly-poly retrieve would keep me in contact with my flies.

Location – On discussion with Charlie he had found a concentration of fish near Marlow Stones with me and Lindsay finding a concentration of fish in Church Bay both of which are on the North Shore of Grafham and not too far to travel to get between locations. With Charlie taking the engine he was keen to go to Marlow Stones first agreeing that we could move to Church Bay if we didn’t catch there.

So at 10.00hrs the match started with the 100 anglers spreading from Hill Farm all along the North Shore to the Willows and also some boats heading to A buoy near the south side of the Dam. We quickly arrived at Marlow Stones area with the wind blowing onto the North Shore; we set up our first drift approximately 200m of the shore and started fishing. With only 2 follows between us on this drift things were not looking great; we moved the boat along the shore towards G Buoy and started again. I then had my first fish in the boat taking the UV Cruncher high in the water early in the retrieve, the roly-poly retrieve on the Slow Glass with 2 boobies was keeping the flies within a foot of the surface. We repeated this drift for nothing before moving along the shore now drifting from outside G Buoy into Rectory Bay, as we moved along the shore both myself and Charlie caught a fish each.

As forecast the cloud cover quickly broke and I made my decision to change from the Slow Glass to the Di3 Sweep. Line change done I then took fish number 3 on the next cast proving my tactics, this fish was definitely deeper than the previous 2 and also came to the hang and took the Orange Blob. In every competition there are little moments of luck that an angler needs to be successful; my moment came just before 1200hrs. We had completed a number of drifts and had not had any further action to our boat, we started to see a number of boats making major location moves and it was clear that not many were catching as quickly as they would have hoped. I discussed with Charlie where we would move to next and made a quick decision to have a look over in Church Bay were a large portion of the fleet had gone. We moved to outside Church Bay and quickly realised that it was not fishing well either, so back to Marlow Stones we went. Another few unsuccessful drifts and we started to discuss where we would go next and we agreed that we would head across to the Dam to see what was going on there. Actually we agreed that after this final drift we would move but this drift we would fish it right into the shore, within 20 yards of the shore in no more than 3 foot of water I caught 2 fish in 2 casts both coming to the cruncher on the hang. I was able to watch the fish following the Orange Blob and at the last minute turn and take the Cruncher. We repeated the drift again and I took 2 further fish in the same patch of water 20 yards from the shore, we looked behind and realised that we had no other boats near us and proceeded to repeat drift with the area to ourselves. I quickly moved to 8 fish with Charlie struggling on 1, he was putting his flies in the same area but not getting the same success with me picking up fish in the same area consistently.

Time was moving on and by 1700hrs I had 11 fish to Charlie’s 3, the wind then blew up and we made a decision to move across to have the last half hour between L Buoy and the Lodge Front. As we had some opportunity during the day to talk to other passing anglers it was clear that not many had caught more than 3 fish and that I was in with a real chance of being in the prizes. As we set up our final drift on L Buoy Charlie quickly took his 4th and final fish, in my head I was thinking that I would need at least one more fish and with 15 minutes to go I took a fish on the hang in front of the boat with it being the only fish to come to the Candy Blob all day. We quickly packed up and made our way to the jetty, as we were motoring in Charlie was much more confident than me that I was going to be in the top 3. As we were unloading our kit from the boat the discussions from other anglers were of it being a tough day with most having caught 3 or 4 fish. It was looking good for me.

We were one of the last few anglers to weigh in and as I handed in my card and called out my total bag of 12 fish it was very evident that I was in the prizes, having not seen or heard of other big bags I wasn’t sure of which prize I would get. I met up with my fellow Soldier Palmers, Lindsay and Paul and discussed how the day went. As we sat down in the restaurant waiting for the results, I felt a tap on my shoulder and was asked by one of the Anglian Water Staff if I could come down to the weigh in area. As I walked into the room John Horsey rose to his feet and congratulating me on my win, I had won the Lexus Final with 12 fish for 27lb 4oz and the second placed angler had caught 11 fish for 25lb 12oz!

Top 35 places of 2015 Lexus Final at Grafham Water.
Top 35 places of 2015 Lexus Final at Grafham Water.

Each fish caught that day had been important in their own right; however none were more important than that fish caught in the last 15 minutes outside the Lodge.   I was quickly ushered outside for some photographs in front of the Lexus before the light faded and then moved back up to the restaurant for the meal and presentation.

2015 Lexus Champion Jamie Thomas with the biggest prize in Fly Fishing!
2015 Lexus Champion Jamie Thomas with the biggest prize in Fly Fishing!
Jamie Thomas with the Lexus cup.
Jamie Thomas with the Lexus cup.

As I drove to Rutland Water after the event I had an opportunity to reflect on my day, there were a number of important factors that had contributed to my success and I believe these to be as follows:

  1. Practice was important; we found a concentration of fish and most importantly a method to catch them.
  2. I was fortunate to have drawn Charlie Abrahams as my partner for the day, an experienced angler who at the point of realising I was in the prizes made every effort to provide encouragement.
  3. I got three distinctly lucky breaks! First, we were about to make a drastic move to the dam when I caught 2 very quick fish close to the shore, this ultimately kept us in that area the remainder of the day. Secondly, I caught a fish in the last 15 minutes of the match. As the match was catch and release after 4 fish, this fish was the difference between first or second. Third and finally, the moons aligned. Every single fish I hooked that day came to the boat even after de-barbing my flies, they just stayed on.

As I type this now with the season drawing to a close and only a few minor matches left to fish I know that in 2015 I won the Lexus Fly Fishing Championship with a strong plan and a little slice of luck thrown in, the field of anglers present on that day was very impressive and to come out on top is the culmination of many years of fishing for the Soldier Palmers.

As I have stated earlier, fly fishing is only possible for me if I keep it affordable. I may be a walking advertisement for Airflo fishing equipment but that is only because it’s within my budget and I have utter confidence in its ability to put fish in the boat in any conditions. I can tell you now that 2016 will be no different, I may be driving a brand new Lexus for the next 12 months but the tackle in the boot will still be Airflo branded equipment.

Tightlines, Jamie.

Guess The Fish Weight!

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Here at Fishtec we like to stretch your estimation skills from time to time. We’ve gathered a collection of eleven beautiful catches for you to cast your eyes over.
Throw your weights around, and see how well you score in our quick quiz. Are you the master of measurement, or do you need a bit more time at the waterside?

Dan Jones with a big pike

big fat pike
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How heavy is this pike?

Bass caught on a Weedless Weightless Texas rig

freshly caught bass
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This bass is a fine catch - but what did the scales say?

Plump female mirror with a proud set of barbules!

female mirror
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This mirror came in at less than the original estimate - what was the actual weight?

This feisty little Rainbow graced the net after some acrobatics and a very spirited fight.

rainbow trout in net
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A feisty little rainbow - but what was the weight?

River Dane chub

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Just how chubby do you think this chub is?

A good looking wrasse...

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How heavy was this wrasse before it went back to the kelp forest for its dinner?

23 inches of wild Trent Trout on a dry fly, it don't get much better...

wild trent trout
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How much does this wild trent trout weigh?

Wrasse on the rocks

angler with wrasse
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This wrasse was 58 cm - but how much did it weigh?

Aussie salmon, happy angler!

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How much did this aussie salmon weigh when it was landed?

How heavy is this beauty?

rainbow trout

This beautiful rainbow was caught in East Yorkshire - but how much does it weigh?

Not ancient, but not a young bream either

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An elder bream - what's the weight?

End of Season Salmon And Sea Trout Fishing Report.

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Rene’ Alleyne a top sea trout and salmon fisher based on the River Towy in West Wales (Or Tywi in Welsh) gives us his end of season round up. We have to say, with all  of this water about it’s not been a bad  season at all if you are into your migratory game fishing.

We are coming towards the end of the season now, and turning attention towards some back end salmon. There has been plenty of water on the Tywi since the last few week’s of August and good number’s of sewin and some salmon were landed on all beats at Golden Grove with various methods, including use of spinning and fly fishing tackle.

A decent back end Towy sea trout
A decent back end Towy sea trout.

It has been a strange season for myself. I have had some belting sewin up to 15.5lb, and some good salmon, but from the very beginning of the season I have lost a lot of fish. Some in snag’s and some have just come off! It just goes like this sometimes. I am sure we all have spells of losing everything you hook, whilst at other time’s everything that takes is landed. Still, I can’t complain, at least the fish were there to get into!

A 15 pound night caught sea trout.
A 15.5 pound night caught sea trout.

From June onward’s, there were plenty of sewin in the 2 to 5lb range around and the night fishing could be very good, although we kept getting small dirty rises in the river levels, which would unsettle the fish for a few nights. This continued right through until August, when we had some proper floods on the Tywi. At point’s, there were literally fish everywhere on the beat’s at Golden Grove, with 140 fish landed in just one week and amazingly 60+ fish were landed one day. It was good to see so many fish around, especially the smaller fish and hopefully we will see some of these young fish returning in future seasons.

A sewin taken at night on an Airflo Rocket fly rod with forty plus line and V-lite reel.
A sewin taken at night on an Airflo Rocket fly rod with forty plus line and V-lite reel.

I have been using the new Airflo Rocket fly rod in 10 ft 7/8 through the summer at night and I must say this rod was an absolute joy to fish with. It does everything I need it to and cast’s very smoothly, whether using small flies or big surface lures. It will cast two heavy tubes at distance no problem at all. I’m looking forward to getting back out at night with this rod already for next season.

Into September now, and I will be trying for a salmon or two on the fly. I was out the other week giving it a go with the double hander, and got in to a good fish, which turned out to be an 11lb sewin, followed shortly by a 6lb+ sewin, and a decent fish lost. The next time I was out with the double hander I got in to a tidy fish, which turned out to be a wild brown over 5 lb, on a monkey tube fly. A proper trophy sized brown trout for any UK river.

A bonus specimen brown trout on a double hander.
A bonus specimen brown trout on a double hander.

We are due some rain this week, so hopefully we will get some good fly water and a chance at a few salmon before the end of the season.

Tightlines to all for the rest of the season, Rene’.

The Shortlist – Classic Catch Competition September 2015

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Check out Septembers entries for the Fishtec Classic catch competition. We have massive pike, hard fighting salmon, wily wild brown trout and several carp caught on bait and a fly rod to choose from this month!

There can only be one winner so please vote for your favourite by midnight 30th September. (Please note only one vote accepted per IP address.)

Vote for your favourite catch photo:

  • 4. Leighton Ryan (61%, 235 Votes)
  • 7. Paul Smith (32%, 122 Votes)
  • 1. Hollie Jones (3%, 13 Votes)
  • 3. Terry Bromwell (1%, 5 Votes)
  • 8. Barrie Cullis (1%, 5 Votes)
  • 5. Jason Williams (1%, 3 Votes)
  • 2. Richard Leonard (0%, 1 Votes)
  • 6. Richard Bootman (0%, 1 Votes)

Total Voters: 385

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1. Hollie Jones. 21lb 4oz mirror carp from Shatterford lakes.
1. Hollie Jones. 21lb 4oz mirror carp from Shatterford lakes.
2. Richard Leonard. 33lb mirror carp caught in Belgium on krill boilie with a sweetcorn stopper.
3. Terry Bromwell. 22 inch wild brown trout off the river Taff. Size 16 BWO pattern.
4. Leighton Ryan. With a 35.6 lb pike caught from chew valley reservoir.
5. Jason Williams. Canada lake carp. PB estimated at 27lb to 30lb . Caught fly fishing on a white egg fly.
6. Richard Bootman. River Wye Salmon 23.7lb spinning with a flying c.
7. Paul Smith. Massive River Nene perch 4lb 4oz quiver tipped lobworm.
8. Barrie Cullis. Mint 16lb 2oz pike from a water in Kent. A huge fish estimated at twice the size was lost that day!

Thanks for the amazing response! If you didn’t make the shortlist this time, keep submitting your best catch photos for a chance to win £150 worth of fishing gear next month.

For full details, terms & conditions or to submit your catch photo, please visit the Fishtec Classic Catch Club Competition page.

How to win the Classic Catch competition

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Have you sent in your picture for the Fishtec Classic Catch competition yet? If you’re still biding your time, we’ve got some hints for you!

We did share some slightly more technical tips a while ago, but here are some ideas based on submissions readers have made.

We’ve noticed that some entries are better than others, so let’s look at what works and what doesn’t for entrants after our monthly grand prize (it’s £150 worth of Fishtec tackle, so it’s not to be sniffed at…). No-one expects Magnum quality pictures, but there are some tried and tested techniques.

1 – Have a great catch to display

August’s winner Ryan Jones sent in a fantastic vote-hooking picture. His fish is beautiful, and the picture is framed well. Ryan’s obviously delighted with the catch (and he’s claimed his prize of a TF Gear soundwave alarm set already!)

Ryan Jones river wye pike
PB 26lb River Wye pike. First time out on the river last year.

2 – Good lighting is vital

John Lewis also has a fine catch. His picture is well-lit, and the fish, like Ryan’s, is in full view – you can clearly see the size of the catch, and again, John’s face is a picture of happy angling:

John Lewis Smooth hound
A 9lb smooth-hound caught on a pulley rig loaded up with squid as bait, Morfa Beach, S. Wales.

3 – Use the scenery around you

Fiona Guest’s picture is not only of a beautiful catch, held by a delighted angler, it’s also set in some stunning scenery. Classic catch pictures are all about the fish, but framing it with some lush countryside is never going to hurt:

Fiona salmon The River Tay
Fiona’s first salmon on The River Tay. 10lb caught on Vision 110.

4 – Show us the whole fish

Lee Ashton’s 15lb rainbow is a beauty for sure – but the picture loses a little in composition. The tail’s chopped off, and we can’t revel in the full glory of the catch. Give us just a little bit more, Lee!

15lb rainbow
Lee Ashcroft 15lbs rainbow, CDs black daddy

5 – Show us the whole angler!

Richard James is proud of his catch – and rightly so. If only we could see all of the fisherman as well as the fish. Watch out for chopped off heads, and make sure you’re not scalped in your photo!

richard james 10 and a half pound sturgeon at Kingsnordley Farm Quatt, Bridgnorth Shropshire
richard james 10 and a half pound sturgeon at Kingsnordley Farm Quatt, Bridgnorth Shropshire

6 – Having a good angle is helpful

This picture from Stan Tear shows him happily displaying a catch from his local fishery – but we can’t really see the fish very clearly. Display your fish side-on to the camera, and we’ll be able to appreciate your efforts much more easily.

Stan Tear - I caught this at my local fishery, literally 50 yards from my house. It's not a whopper but fishing for me is about relaxing and not all about monster fish.
Stan Tear – I caught this at my local fishery, 50 yards from my house. Not a whopper but fishing for me is about relaxing, not all about monster fish.

7 – A fresh catch always makes a better picture!

Ian Swindlehurst may have had a fine waterside duel with this fish, but by the time it makes it to the kitchen door, your haul isn’t going to be looking its best. Freshly caught live fish will always make for a better picture – and if you snap it as soon as it’s caught, you’ll capture the excitement of fishing as it’s happening.

This is my Uncle Ian Swindlehurst with his catch!
This is my Uncle Ian Swindlehurst with his catch!

You should now have all the knowledge you need to take the ideal catch photo. Remember to think about your composition, lighting and how you display your catch – but if you have any other tips to share, just let us know.

Submit your catch here:

Fly Fishing For Mullet

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Ever dreamed of catching a bonefish on the fly but simply never had the chance? Then why not try and catch the next best thing – the humble UK mullet. Hook up with one and you are guaranteed a serious bend in your fly rod! Mullet can be found in great quantities all over the British coast and they are not quite as difficult to catch as they are reputed to be.  South Wales saltwater ace Darren Jackson has been landing Mullet on the fly regularly this summer, read on to find out how on his latest blog post.

The next best thing to a bonefish in UK waters!
The next best thing to a bonefish in UK waters!

It’s been one of (if not) the worst summers I can ever remember and it’s totally destroyed my bass fishing for the most part of the year. The problem for me being that a great deal of my angling is concentrated in and around the Bristol channel. A moderate south westerly can and will turn the coastal water to soup for days, even weeks, not ideal when the only method you use is fly fishing! I know bass can be caught in dirty/coloured water and I have done that, however success has been limited and clear water for me is a must. With this being the case I’ve paid more attention than ever to my next favourite finned friend…. the Mullet!

The ultimate reward - a fly caught mullet
The ultimate reward – a fly caught mullet

Mullet offer tremendous sport to the fly fisher and pound for pound they are as strong has any fish that swim our shores. As most of us now know, the once thought uncatchable fish with mouths softer than a gone off banana is total rubbish! They take a fly with gusto (not all the time, I may add) and with lips tougher than one of my wife’s steaks they are certainly worth targeting. All three species (the thicklip, thinlip, and golden grey) can be caught with a bit of stealth and a well presented fly.

All three can also be the most frustrating fish in the world to catch and will have you pulling your hair out at times. I can’t stress enough how important it is to find “feeding fish” if you want to give yourself any chance of hooking up with one, and to be fair, this can be most difficult if your just starting out!

Finding feeding fish is the key
Finding feeding fish is the key.

There may be literally hundreds of fish in front of you and you could throw the lot at them, if they are not on the feed, you will “not” catch them. They are miles apart from other predatory fish who can be tempted in to having a snap at our offerings even when stuffed to the brim with food. Experience and time spent on the water studying these fish tells me when to walk on past or to throw a  fly at them! Fish cruising around looking uninterested usually are. Look for tell tale signs that they are switched on- tailing fish or surface feeding fish are the obvious signs, you have to spend a little time watching fish holding mid water, look for a flaring of the gills, any sudden movements to the left or right almost like a trout intercepting a passing nymph. Anything looking out of the norm is  well worth a cast.

Location: Thick and thin lipped mullet can be found in a variety of locations from sandy open coast beaches to many miles up a river system in fresh water, one of the few fish that can tolerate this. For the most part, golden grey mullet are generally found on open clean sandy beaches .

Tackle: A 5 or 6 weight fly fishing rod is ideal and more than capable of taming the biggest of mullet. I personally use an Airflo fly rod in 9ft 6 weight for 99% of my mullet fishing. Teamed up with the superb Airflo Super- Dri Xceed fly line it really is a sweet little outfit. A selection of fluorocarbon leader material between 5 and 8lb will cover most if not all situations. A tapered leader or polyleader is also of great benefit to aid turn over and presentation but not essential.

A 6 weight is all you need.
A 6 weight fly rod is all you need.

I’m also a opportunist and if I’m out after bass and a shoal of feeding mullet turn up I will quite happily throw the 8 weight at them, even on this fairly heavy outfit they put up an awesome scrap! So I always carry my mullet flies on me, just in case.

A mullet landed on a flexi worm.
A mullet landed on a flexi worm.

Flies: 3 of the most consistent flies I use are the spectra shrimp, Ray’s mullet fly, and the flexi worm. I wouldn’t go anywhere without a few of each in my box. There are a number of others that will take fish, hares ear nymph, pheasant tail, red tag, I could go on but, put simply, small shrimp patterns tied on hooks of between 16# and size 12# will get you results.

Small shrimp type patterns will get you results.
Small shrimp type patterns will get you results.

Tactics for estuary and river fish: You are certainly going to have some flow and this is to our advantage. Once the fish have been located (hopefully feeding fish) creep quietly in to position to make the cast, cast well ahead of the shoal just allowing the flies to dead drift over them. If the fish are lying a little deeper in the water then throw the flies up a little higher or, as far has you think is enough so when your flies reach the fish they are fishing at the desired depth and right in the zone.

An ideal beach for mullet fishing - three cliffs bay in the Gower.
An ideal estuary for mullet fishing.

The mullet will move quite a way to intercept our offerings at times but by putting them right in their face helps. The dead drift takes a great deal of my fish and is by far my most successful method , they also respond well at times to a moved fly, a steady figure eight, short strips, try the lot to induce a take. If they are lying in quite a depth of water or hard on the bottom the same methods can be employed we just need to had some weight to our flies with bead heads and lead wire under bodies.

When the fish are feeding right off the top then a ‘washing line’ setup can work a treat- i.e a buoyant fly on the point, with another pattern on the dropper. Takes can be very gentle so concentrate and pay close attention to the end of your fly line for any indication that a fish has taken your fly, set the hook with a controlled strip strike. Take a little care when using this method, an over aggressive strip and light leaders don’t go well with each other (as I have learnt!) and you will soon find yourself and the fish have parted company rather quickly.

Some cracking shore caught mullet.
Some cracking beach caught mullet.

Tactics for shore and beach fish: This what I enjoy most and the closet thing you will get to in this country of walking a Cuban flat for bones, it’s very much alike. The best plan of attack here is to wade out in to the surf 20 to 30 yards out if possible, in order to put yourself between the fish and the shoreline. Walk slowly parallel to the waters edge scanning well ahead for signs of fish, they are usually quite easy to spot because of the fact they are feeding in inches of water, water so shallow their backs are out. As the surge of the water from a breaking wave rolls up the beach the fish follow looking for any morsels which may have been dislodged, as the water starts to flow back this is when they are most visible, they almost strand themselves in the thin water, with tails working overtime. They always seem to make it back though, I’ve yet to see one not make it.

So, once the fish have been located slow down, take your time, wade out a little more if possible and come back in quietly behind the fish. Big casts are very rarely needed and a 20 yard throw is a long one. Make the cast, sometimes you will be dropping your flies on to the sand and as the water covers them the fish will be following and with a bit of luck pick them up. They could also pick them up when the water is receding and your flies are tumbling back down the beach toward you, you’ll need to try and keep in contact with your flies with a steady figure of eight or strip to set the hook , to much slack could result in a missed chance.

Amazing sport can be found on a beach near you!
Amazing sport can be found on a beach near you!

If the fish are feeding and holding in slightly deeper water just off the shoreline, drop your flies in the middle of them and try to keep them there as long has you possibly can before tide movement and wave action takes them out of the game. Some beaches can be quite funny to read at times, one minute it will be running right to left and then 30 yards up the beach left to right. Faced with this situation and once you work out which is which (a few casts will tell you quick enough ) make a cast up tide and swing the flies through the fish- I’ve found this to be a very productive method. You can of course fish off the beach and sometimes it’s the only way because of conditions, if you have to resort to this even more stealth is needed.

Mullet are incredibly spooky when walking the shore line and seem to be able to see you from a long way off. Walk very slowly, pause for a minute or two scanning as far ahead has you possibly can for signs of fish. Once located don’t try and walk straight up on the fish, more often than not you will just send the scurrying for deep water, keep low, even getting down on your hands and knees for the last crucial yards. Make your casts from the kneeling position.

I can guarantee you won’t be disappointed if you connect with a mullet on your fly rod – so why not give it a go! But also prepare yourself for a little disappointment and make sure you leave the swear box in the house!

Tightlines, Daz

Alan Yates Sea Fishing Dairy – September 2015

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At the time of writing this I am also working on the prospects/hot spots pages for the next issue of Sea Angler Magazine with an eye on the coming cod season and I have got to say it looks good!

Alan Yates with a codling.
Alan Yates with a codling.

Well for many of us the cod are already here and although I haven’t actually hooked a codling yet, this week maybe, I have seen a few landed. Most striking is that they are not really as big as I thought they would be and this raises a few interesting issues. Back in the day it was said that the cod doubled their weight each season and I must admit to thinking that this September would see the last year’s crop of 2lbers return as fives! But no, depending upon where you fish, they all but that and in fact in the South East some as small as 3lbs. Other reports do put them at 5lbs, but of course you have to factor in the freelance sea angler’s reputation for exaggeration because most do add on a bit. I have always based my reports and news in the match result weights because they are truthful and in the case of codling size a match fish is 3lb and a freelance fish is 6lb.

Anyway, in some regions the fish are thin, as are the enormous shoals of whiting and I believe all this is down to the number of fish and the available food. Add in the dogfish hoards and the sea is being swept clean of food and those fish are struggling to put on weight. On the plus side of course is that with winter coming and the lower sea temperatures and gales the dogfish will soon move into deeper water in many regions and the codling and whiting will be inshore after the gales to feast and its then they pack on the weight – November and December.

Dogfish and whiting - eating the cod out of house and home.
Dogfish and whiting – eating the cod out of house and home.

In the meantime it’s a fact that the bigger codling will come from the rough ground and the richest sea areas in terms of food. Current reports put Chesil Beach and East Anglian venues as best for the plumper, fitter fish and the cod drought in South Wales may be over, whilst further north into the North Sea the codling are usually fatter anyway, I wonder if that down to fewer dogfish?

On my own patch, Kent the codling are expected to range from 3lb to 5lb and at that size the great thing is that they pull the string – no mistaking a codling bite and they pull and are far more difficult to land up a wall etc without a net. Of course the added bonus is that the off fish with beat 6lb even 7lb and now we are starting to talk cod!

And what about catching one or hooking one, how difficult is that going to be?

Well the answer does depend on the angler and lots reading this will have ambitions way above their ability – I don’t mean to be rude, but a majority of sea anglers, especially novices, live in a dream world when it comes to catching cod.

The first problem is finding a venue – A productive and worthwhile venue and lots can’t be bothered to make any effort in this direction and simple fish their nearest mark, usually close to the car park. Ignore the stories, look for facts! After that the choice of tide and weather are paramount and then there is the question of day or night? This makes up around 40% of the solution to catching cod – Remember you can’t catch em if they aren’t there! The spring tides are the best without doubt and coloured water is better in daylight than clear. At night clear water can be productive but make an effort to find and fish the venues best tide time. On some marks it’s the flood on some the ebb, but mostly around high tide. Long marathon sessions can be fun and tiring, but with knowledge you can spend the same hour on the venue as the cod!

Catching cod consistently from the shore is not about throwing cash at the subject, it’s about using a few brain cells and getting out there and making an EFFORT!

I would say tackle is just 20% of the subject and a quality rod and reel costing around the £200 is all that’s needed. Check out the TF Gear sea fishing tackle range because we’ve worked on a range of functional, tough tackle that can cope with the winter season. Look for a good reel in particular because that will help you to a smoother, longer cast – most beach casters in the 4oz to 8oz range are adequate and you only get a designer label for that extra cash – spend it on a top of the range reel instead.. Avoid cheap tackle, especially if you are a beginner because you will need all the help you can get. A couple of sessions with a casting instructor is next, 20%. He will put your right on tackle balance etc and may even add a few casting yards and they are vital in winter!

The remaining percentages needed to catch cod include the small things like bait – Black/yellowtail lugworm, quality frozen squid and fresh peeler crab if you can get them are the only essentials, other baits you can forget. After that terminal rigs, hooks, leads and the comforts like a shelter, rod rest, good clothing are all not to be neglected because an efficient, warm dry angler is a contented angler and he will be more likely to be successful.

Things to avoid – rumours, myths and tackle shop talk – it’s usually too late to capitalise on a venue rumour, but what you can do is note the tide and weather on the venue and when it repeats, fish there then!

Be honest with your ability – if you are short on casting range looks for a pier or deep water beach where you can reach the fish and if you are really down on casting skills then only fish at night because the inshore sea is more likely to be stacked with fish closer in under the cover of darkness.

My final piece of advice is to buddy up, find a mate who knows how to catch cod or join a group club that have knowledge and ability and copy them – That’s how we learn life – copy others because it’s all been done before and nothing says that it’s not YOUR turn!!!

Cruise liner terminal venue at Dover
Cruise liner terminal venue at Dover.

Before I go, some good news for sea anglers is the opening of a new venue soon at Dover in Kent – Because the Prince of Wales pier is closing for a new Marina the Port Authority are opening an inside section of the Admiralty pier near the Cruise terminal.

Tight lines, Alan Yates.

How much fishing tackle do you really need?

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dog with heavy fishing barrow
Image source: Fishtec Coarse facebook page
The dog’s not going to be pulling this one…

Have you ever stopped to ask yourself: “how much fishing tackle do I really need to take?”

Judging by the barrow-loads of tackle some anglers cart to the riverbank or lakeside, you’d think the answer was, “you can never have enough”. But fishing is supposed to be about relaxation, so why keep burden yourself with excess baggage?

Less gear means less stress. So to help you declutter, here are some great tips from minimalist anglers to help you lighten the load.

Rods and reels

Unless you’re planning to fish a three or four rod water, two fishing rods and two reels are plenty. Remember, the more rods you take, the more gear you’ll need. More gear equals more hassle.

Take blogger The London Angler — when it comes to cutting to the bare essentials, he’s a true believer. As far as he’s concerned, all you need is:

“landing net, weighing scales, unhooking mat, rod rests, chair (I am not sitting on the muddy bank!), ground baits, hookbaits and a tackle box full of rigs, hooks, weights and other items such as boilie drills, stoppers… the list goes on”

His message is clear: Why take more if you can do fine with less?


car full of fishing tackle
Image source: Bath Angling
To the riverside – are you really taking everything?

Excess kit is dead weight. Work out how many leads you can realistically expect to use in a single session. Take what you need in a small tackle box and leave the rest in the boot of the car.

Remember, less tackle doesn’t necessarily place a limit on the number of species you can catch. According to Josh Mann who writes the, Minimalist Approach, you can simply adapt a small range of tackle to a wide range of uses:

“When I know I’ll only be fishing with live bait. The only thing [my tackle box] has in it are size 1 hooks and 1/8 ounce split shot sinkers, which are really all I need in a wide variety of situations”

While he admits it wouldn’t be the ideal tackle box for every situation, his attitude is to take a little less stuff, and make it work.

Tackle box

small fishing tackle box
Image source:Fashionstock/ Shutterstock
Neat, tidy, and light

In fact, why not dispense with a tackle box altogether by making like a fly fisherman and wearing a fishing vest? With its many handy pockets it makes an ideal, wearable, tackle box.

And for those who really like to travel light, simply clip all your essential fishing tackle to a fishing lanyard, and slip it around your neck. It’s the ultimate hands-free fishing experience.


colourful fishing bait
Image source Bukhta Yuril/ Shutterstock
Bait is beautiful – but you don’t need your whole stock

Boilies, glugs, pellets, and pastes — how much bait do you really need? Not much if you’re Ian Gemson. Writing in The Fishing Magic blog, he certainly thinks less is more:

“…maybe a kilo bag of boilies, a few pop ups, and some plastic baits would work well, offering me another huge weight saving of nearly 20kg.”.

Save on kilos and on cost by baiting wisely. Try looking for tell tale signs pointing to an area a previous angler has already baited. And try not to over-bait – more is not necessarily better!


We’d never suggest you skimp on comfort, but do check the weight of your couch. Looking for a new chair? Go for a lightweight option like the Indulgence Nomad Ultra-Lite, which weighs just 4kg. Overnighting? JRC Stealth X-Lite Bedchair is the lightest around.

Food and drink

Remember, you’re going fishing, not crossing Death Valley, so only take the fluids you’ll actually need.

Fancy a brew but don’t fancy carrying the kitchen sink with you? Here’s another top tip from blogger, Ian Gemson:

You don’t always need the extra weight of a stove bag and its contents, you can take hot water in a thermos flask to make hot drinks.”

Lastly, there’s your little rucksack of creature comforts — things every angler takes along on fishing trips, like a few cans of loosening-up juice. But we wouldn’t want you to skimp on that one!

Llandegfedd Pike Fishing Trials 2015

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The days are getting shorter and the nights getting longer. With cold crisp mornings, dew on the grass and mist in the air, the signs are that autumn has well and truly started. This can only mean one thing for the coarse angler – the predator fishing season is not far away!

There are several magical venues which Pike fishermen consider the holy grail in the UK – Loch Lomond comes to mind, The Thurne system, Chew valley lake of course, and the mighty river Wye; but none more so than Llandegfedd reservoir in Wales.

Llandegfedd is the lake where the UK record Pike was captured, at a monstrous 46lb 13oz by Roy Lewis back in October 1992. Amazingly the record still stands at this Welsh fishery, despite it coming down to within a few ounces from English fish caught in recent times, such as the Wykeham lakes beast which peaked at 46lb 11oz.

Roy Lewis record pike from 1992.
Roy Lewis record pike from 1992.

Llandgefedd reservoir held Pike ‘trials’ almost every autumn since the early 1990’s. Coarse anglers were allowed access to this premier trout fishery for just a few brief weeks  to get a chance at landing an enormous esox. On ‘Deggy’ as the venue is affectionately known by pikers, the fishing was never easy, and many hardy souls spent countless fruitless hours afloat chasing the dream. For the lucky and committed few Llandegfedd coughed up multiple 40lb plus fish, which to this day is almost unrivaled, with only Chew valley lake just across the Bristol channel coming close.

Sadly over the years from the glory day’s in the 90’s the pike fishing went down hill. Size and numbers gradually declined in the lake, and in 2010 after an experimental February trail period that produced little or no catches, it was decided to stop all predator fishing to give the pike a well earned rest and a chance to recover their numbers.

In 2015 the angling press announced that Llandegfedd was to re-open it’s doors for pike anglers after a 5 year hiatus, for Mondays and Tuesdays only throughout September and October. Names were taken and a draw was to be made late August.

I put my name down, but to my disappointment my number never came up against the hundreds of applicants who submitted their details. Then, just a few weeks ago my phone rang.  It was an old pal of mine, Welsh S4C TV presenter and chef Anthony ‘Ants’ Evans ”Sut mae boy, how do you fancy a day on Llandeg, September the 8th?”.  Well the answer was obvious and immediate – yes!

Naturally I jumped at the chance to fish such a hallowed pike water, which for me was just a 20 minute journey down the M4. The date was for the second day of the pike trials, so expectations were high on what we might find lurking in the depths.

My last visit  pike fishing trip to the fishery had been in 2006, where in two hard days myself, and Fishtec team members Tim Hughes and Allan Crawford-Plane manged a decent enough return with a couple of pike each, with my first ever ‘big’ pike of 19lb 12oz being taken on a lure.

Fishtec team photo - Llandegfedd 2006
Fishtec team photo – Llandegfedd circa 2006.

The day finally came and we arrived at the fishery at about 8.00am. Conditions looked absolutely perfect for pike fishing; it was overcast with a moderate breeze – just right!

Early morning on the boat jetty at Llandegfedd.
Early morning on the boat jetty.

We had a bit of time to kill until the 9am start, so we popped into the all-new visitor center, which had been built from scratch for 2.5 million the previous year. The sparkling new and well thought out facility was a vast improvement over the old portacabins, and inline with many other top UK trout fisheries there were now spotless toilet facilities and a purpose built cafe for anglers situated in the upper story. There are also plans to integrate a fishing tackle shop into the visitor center, catering for both fly and coarse fishermen.

The new Welsh Water lodge facility at Llandegfedd reservoir.
The new Welsh Water lodge facility at Llandegfedd reservoir.

As any angler knows the secret to a successful days fishing is a hearty breakfast to keep you going all day; and believe me as a connoisseur of a fishery fry up all over the country they know how to make a good one at Llandgefedd. We ate an awesome breakfast whilst looking out over the lake,  It was well worth turning up for!

A hearty Llandegfedd breakfast - Dai iawn as we say in Wales! (very good!)
A hearty Llandegfedd breakfast – Dai iawn as we say in Wales! (very good!)

After eating our fill and enjoying a great cup of coffee we headed downstairs and collected our ticket and life preserver from the rack outside the lodge. Boats were packed, rods rigged and engines fired into life- the atmosphere was electric and everyone was itching to head out into the lake.  At 9.00am everyone cut loose, and in traditional pike trial style it was a mad scramble to get to the ‘hot spot’ which had produced 7 x 20lb plus pike to 26lb the day before.

We were a bit slow on the uptake getting off the jetty, and never being one to follow the herd I decided we should find our own fish. My thoughts on tackling the fishery were to cover water and try lures – these fish had not seen a sea deadbait for 5 years, so in my opinion lures would be the best strategy, and if nothing takes you can often provoke a follow so you know fish are in the vicinity.

And they're off!
And they’re off!

Some of my favouirite lures for pike are soft plastic rubber lures – there are some great ones out there such as the Fox replicants, Storm wildeye shads and more recently the outstanding Savage Gear 3D trout range;  with their life-like detailing, pliable soft rubber compound for extra movement, and a built in tail rattle these great lures are often my ‘go to’ pattern in the box. I picked out the golden albino colour to start, which has brought me excellent results on other trout water pike trips.

A selection of Pike fishing lures.
A selection of Pike fishing lures.
A Savage Gear 3D trout lure in albino.
A Savage Gear 80 gram 3D trout lure in albino.

Our first stop was a large bay on the right hand side of the reservoir. Nobody else had ventured into this area, in fact the vast  majority of the other boats had clustered into a small area at the top end of the reservoir, as had bank anglers.

The wind was just perfect for a gentle drift without a drogue, and after and hour or so nothing had happened in fairly deep water, so we took a drift tighter into shore. Just as we drifted to within yards of the bank, I turned the engine to motor off and spotted out of the corner of my eye a pike lying about a yard off the bank. Another drift through followed, but this time dropping the lures extremely close in. Ants was the first to catch a fish, a spirited jack on a firetiger fox replicant. We had several more jacks and attacks to the lures for the next hour along the short area of bank – including a couple of following fish that looked into the mid -teens.

Ants Evans with a deggy jack pike.
Ants Evans with a deggy jack pike.
A jack pike taken just yards out.
A jack pike taken just yards out.

We gave the area a rest after catching a few fish, and covered many other potential fish holding areas all around the lake, in both shallow and deep water with nothing but a couple of sharp pulls and follows from overly curious trout for our efforts. As the day went on we did see a decent fish landed on a boat which had anchored up all day, right in the center of the ‘hotspot’ but otherwise all seemed quiet.

A return to the bay brought us another couple of jacks, and more follows, but this eventually dried up as the sun finally broke out at the end of the day.  At the end of the day we had a quick catch up with other anglers and some biggies had been landed, including 4 x 20’s to 27lb 7oz and of course we heard the usual stories of the monster that got away!

End of a day's pike angling on Llandegfedd.
End of a day’s pike angling on Llandegfedd.

We had a truly enjoyable day on the water and hope to return later in the season, when the water temperatures will have dropped further and brought the big girls (which I’m sure are still in there!) onto the feed proper.

The predator fishing on Llandegfedd can only get better, and with a good spread of sizes and age classes clearly present there is great optimism for the future pike sport on the venue. Who knows? Maybe another British record is still down there lurking in the depths!

For more information on fishing Llandegfedd reservoir visit or call 01633 373 401