The 2015 Lexus Fly Fishing Competition Final – Jamie Thomas

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!

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?

The Shortlist – Classic Catch Competition September 2015

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

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:

Alan Yates Sea Fishing Dairy – September 2015

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.

Alan Yates Sea Fishing Diary – August/September

I enjoyed a hectic weekend at Amble in Northumberland organising the Sea Angler Magazine Penn National final. Forty qualifiers from all over Britain and Ireland competed in what is essentially sea angling’s major ranking tournament. The full results will be in the next magazine issue, although I can tell you that southern anglers, especially the England and Wales Internationals, did exceptionally well with Cardiff Matchmen Chris Read the overall winner.

Penn final 2015 Warkworth

Penn final 2015 Warkworth

Back from the Penn final, my next trip was to fish Folkestone pier which has been closed for repairs for over a year- Work is complete and its opening for the Folkestone Sea Angling Association competitions only at present. The problem being that an open free for all will inevitably produce problems, especially with the mackerel fishing hoards who are considered lacking in any angling etiquette by all.

A sunny day with a light breeze produced a few fish for those at the end of the pier with local angler, Herbie Tyler winning with 9lb 14oz; he included the limit of three dogfish plus twenty pouting. Runner up was John Wells of Hythe fishing on peg two and john landed the biggest fish of the competition, a 3lb 13oz smoothhound taken on crab. I managed a steady third with a few pout and dogfish

John Wells with a smoothhound from a refurbished Folkestone pier

. John Wells with a smoothhound from a refurbished Folkestone pier

Talking to Folkestone SAA Secretary and Treasurer, Robert Harwood Brown about the future of Folkestone pier. He said it is only open for FSAA club competitions at present. However, a meeting with the port authorities is imminent and this will decide, things like access, times and the rules and regulations effecting angling on the pier.

Extensive repairs have taken place with new gates and handrail, a new tarmac surface and safety furniture. Work is ongoing and the pier will be closed for work on the wall in October (Let’s hope not too long because it’s the peak of the cod season)

A number of local anglers have expressed concern that the pier is taking on a drinking culture and that angling will be pushed to the side, especially because the major work has been carried out on the non angling areas, but I can assure all that the officers of the Folkestone SAA have no intention of allowing that to happen.

Staying with piers the next casualty is another Kent pier, the Prince of Wales pier at Dover which will close for a major port development and may not return going on Dover Harbour Boards record of public access. The Prince of Wales pier is the only pier in the South that allows disabled anglers car access to fish the sea wall.

Dover’s Admiralty pier has reopened but there trolleys are barred because of the narrow walkway and so the less able angler has restricted access. Meanwhile Dover breakwater remains closed and it looks like that is it for the venue with the Dover Harbour Board having no intention of ever allowing anglers back!!!!!

Autumns coming, time to take your shelter.

Autumns coming, time to take your beach shelter.

With a change in the weather looming shore fishing is set for a major change to Autumn and winter mode and a return of crowded and snaggy venues. Losing terminal tackle is one of the shore sea angling’s major problem areas and nothing is worse than finding your gear in a snag just when the fish are starting to bite. A major cause around the UK shore, especially in the popular sea angling piers and beaches is that anglers uses heavy (60lb +) leaders to help them cast long with thin mainline (15lb). Obviously once the lead or terminal tackle is snagged the main line will always break, usually at the leader knot leaving leader, rig and lead to increase the snag. This over four decades or more has created lots of huge snags around many parts of the coast and because mono degrades very slowly these snags stay in place. On some venues regular dredging clears them, whilst on the most volatile storm beaches the weather breaks them up or buries them, but they remain a big problem.

No matter what tackle you chose to use for fishing over snags of any kind and that includes rocks and weed as well as line snag, the first essential is choosing where to fish to avoid the snag and that vital speedy tackle retrieve.

Watch an experienced rock angler and he will make the fishing look easy, but this is because he will first select his fishing spot based on his experience of the venue’s snags. Have you even looked at low water to see what you are fishing over? A few yards along the venue can make a difference to hitting the worse snags or missing them completely, plus you location in terms of closeness to the water’s edge creates a different line angle to the any snag and a high position will give you a steeper angle of retrieve which often does the trick. Add to that that there will be a difference between fishing the flood and ebb tide and either can increase or decrease a snag’s ferocity.

A failure to grip the rod and reel firmly so that the reel can be cranked at maximum speed is a major failing on many, especially novices. Too many believe that all they have to do is clip on some gimmicky snag-avoiding accessory and all the problems will be solved. But far more effective is to pick the rod up and slowly wind the rod down to point at the lead and then with that one lifting movement lift and reel as fast as you can, keeping the rod tip as high as possible. Fixed spools which have faster initial retrieve speed than the empty spooled multiplier, are gaining popularity on snaggy venues.

If your sea fishing tackle is snagged then there are several things you can do to try to escape. First change the angle of the line to the snag, walk down or uptide and try a gradual pull, or get higher up so that the angle to the snag is more acute, this often works. If that fails then try letting the line slack or pulling sharply on the rod tip. Take care with the latter because if you get over violent with the rod tip you may break it

When you are so badly snagged that there is no alternative, but to pull for a break by pointing the rod at the snag and make sure the spool of the reel is not being pressured by wrapping the line around the rod butt. Straining the spool of the reel can result in the spindle bending and the spool jamming. Walk backwards slowly tensioning the line to its limit gradually. This can sometime move a stop knot on the rig causing it to slip and jump free. Finally, fishing amongst snags is about losing tackle, it’s an inevitability of this type of sea angling that you will lose a rig sooner than later. So always have plenty of rigs and a spare reel available and if you are consistently snagged “MOVE” it’s amazing how many anglers ignore this way to avoid snags!


Llyn Clywedog Trout Fishery Revisited – Tim Hughes

Fishtec’s marketing director Tim Hughes dusts off his stillwater trout fishing tackle and revisits an old favorite haunt in the beautiful hills of Mid Wales. Llyn Clywedog trout fishery is one of the unsung gems of the UK fly fishing scene; 615  beautiful acres of  premier fly fishing venue stocked with hard fighting rainbow and brown trout. Read on to find out how he gets on!

The beautiful llyn Clywedog fishery

The beautiful llyn Clywedog trout fishery.

Llyn Clywedog is an established reservoir fishery of 615 acres set in the beautiful rolling hills of central Wales. I used to fish the reservoir regularly many years ago when I lived in the area, but it had been quite some time ago since my last trip – over 10 years in fact!

A typical Clywedog rainbow.

A typical Clywedog rainbow.

Clywedog always has been a fantastic fishery and one of my favourites due to it’s scenic location and excellent stocks of fish.  Clywedog fish are reared on the fishery in state of the art cages, so the quality and fighting ability of fresh stocked fish are second to none.  These fish grow on rapidly and full tails are the norm in a short space of time. Below the cages huge double figure browns and rainbows are known to lurk, and occasionally come out to play! Native wild brown trout are also present in really decent numbers in the reservoir.

A grown on doube figure rainbow from Clywedog.

A grown on doube figure rainbow from Clywedog.

Earlier in the year I had found out that for the first time petrol engines were now available on their fleet of well maintained boats. This would open up a vast area of this huge sinuously shaped lake for anglers – previously their electric engine only policy meant you were really limited to where you could go; if you made the wrong move that was it for your day!

As luck would have it I had the perfect excuse to  return to Clywedog when I had a text from my good friend Russ Owen, who invited me up for a day’s fishing to my old hunting ground over the recent August bank holiday weekend. This saw me frantically rummaging round trying to get all my reservoir trout fishing gear together in readiness for the trip.

The alarm was set for early bank holiday Monday, but unfortunately the weather didn’t want to play ball and the drive up from Brecon was quite wet and miserable but I was still excited as I pulled off the road down to the car park.

I met up with my pal and fishery manager Russell Owen at the boat jetty and was seriously impressed by all of the hard work that him, and full time rangers Gareth (aka ‘Gazza’) and Aled Dixon had been putting into the fishery.  The boats and jetty were absolutely spotless and the facilities had been greatly improved since my last visit 10 years ago.

The boat jetty was spotless.

The boat jetty was spotless.

The boat jetty at Clywedog.

The boat jetty at Clywedog.

After a chat with Russ on what was working well we rigged up with floating lines and various dry flies. My fly line was the Airflo Super-dri Xceed – a lovely soft and supple fly line with a short compact head, which was absolutely perfect for presenting dries on the drift.

Insects such as the heather fly and flying ants had been coming off the surrounding land in the past few weeks, giving some incredible surface sport for both the stocked rainbows and the resident wild browns. Russ gave me a couple of his top patterns to try, his CDC shuttle cock and CDC red legs. Both are great fly patterns for Clywedog where the fish are always looking up to the surface for wind blown terrestrial insects. A world famous beetle hatch in late May and June, called the coch y bonduu in particular really triggers the fish into surface feeding, and they stay looking up for food pretty much until the end of the season.  This makes Clywedog one of the best fisheries in the UK for consistent top of the water sport.

We started the day motoring up to braich y ffedw, which is an arm right at the very top of the lake. Previously with an electric motor this trip would have taken a very long time and seriously depleted a battery. We were there in no time at all, despite it being a few miles from the boat jetty. It was fantastic to finally have petrol engines on the boats and get around the lake so quickly! Watching ospreys swooping onto the lake whist drifting out of braich y fedw was quite an amazing sight.

Tim Hughes into a fish on the dries.

Tim into a fish on the dries.


Russel Own into a fiesty Clywedog rainbow.

Russel Owen into a feisty Clywedog rainbow.

We make our way down the lake picking off fish regularly despite the weather conditions not being great. The water level risen by a meter over the last week putting the fish off a bit but we still had some really decent sport casting blind whilst drifting down the lake.

A typical Clywedog rainbow taken off the top.

A typical Clywedog rainbow taken off the top.

The weather picked up and it started to warm up; on our last few drifts of the day fish started rising regularly and we caught and released another 10+ fish in a short space of time, giving us a total of 25+ fish between us to the day- not bad sport for an off day!

Ranger Gazza with a Clywedog wild brown trout.

Ranger Gazza with a Clywedog wild brown trout.

We ended up down the opposite end of the reservoir at the Bwlch Y Gle Dam, something that we simply couldn’t do in the old days when I fished there using electric engines.

I left the water a happy chap, with a future trip already in mind. This really is the premier reservoir trout fishery in Wales and a tribute to the team up there for all their hard work.

For more information on ticket prices and fishery details visit

FISHSPY – See What You’re Missing

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.


The Shortlist – Classic Catch Competition

Classic Catch Comp image
The Classic Catch Competition winner for August 2015 is…

Ryan Jones

Ryan’s impressive pike catch photo earned the most votes this month.

E Jones river wye pike

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

Want to win £150 worth of fantastic fishing tackle? Upload your catch photo to our Classic Catch Competition page here.

In case you missed them, here’s the full August shortlist gallery:

1. Terry Bromwell

Terry Bromwell wild brown trout

Wild brown trout caught on the River Taff on a large dark olive pattern. Dry fly fishing cant get any better.

2. Michelle Condliffe

Michelle with her first big cat fish.

Michelle with her first big cat fish. She now has a bigger PB catfish than her fella.

3. Rob Bending

rob bending

A fin perfect 3lb wild Usk brownie taken on the dry at Brecon.

4. Martyn Venner

martyn venner first fish after 4 years

First fish after 4 years of disappointment, and to top it off my old man by my side.

5. Fiona Guest

Fiona salmon The River Tay

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

6. Ryan Jones

E Jones river wye pike

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

7. Billy Lovell

Belshaw carp

My hubby’s first double 12 1/2lb carp.

8. Charlie Halliday

Charlie Halliday Melissa the carp

When I saw the fish’s head I recognised it from a photo on Facebook, it was Melissa the carp at a whopping 47.8lbs!

9. Alan Monaghan

Alan Monaghan carp Ireland

My new PB from a wild lake in Ireland, 26.4lb on a quick over nighter. 4lb off the Irish record!

10. Alex Lemin

Alex small carp

Alex, aged 6 on his first fishing trip. He must have caught 30 small ones! Needless to say he’s now hooked on fishing!

11. Martin Ashby

Martin Ashby cock salmon River Wye.

Fresh run cock salmon, caught on the River Wye.

12. Derek Forrest

Derek Forrest fishing in Holland

Fishing in Holland last year, loads of huge roach. Holland is the place of dreams for fishing.

13. John Lewis

John Lewis Smooth hound

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

14. Jed Grayston

Jed Grayston with brown trout

Brown trout caught on the fly on the River Test. Unweighed and released as soon as she was ready.

15. Jason Williams

Jason Williams Rainbow Trout Sutton Springs

14lb Rainbow at Sutton Springs on a buzzer.

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.

Fly Fishing Cuba – Cayo Largo

AAPGAI qualified instructor and Orvis Endorsed Guide Brett O’Connor took to a summer holiday to Cuba recently. With the help of  professional destination outfitter Aardvark McLeod, he managed to fit in five fantastic days of fly fishing the flats at the beautiful Cayo Largo, in the south central region of the Cuba. Take a read of this blog entry to find out how his fishing trip went.

It was time for our annual holiday. And as my wife well knows, I can’t sit still on a beach or poolside for more than a few days without getting bored. Luckily for me, she’s just as happy with her own company, a book, a pool and a pina coloda, as I am holding a fly fishing rod. It’s been twelve years since I last visited Cuba, so we decided to give the destination another visit, especially as it seems to tick all our boxes.

Getting stuck into a fish on the Cuban flats.

Getting stuck into a fish on the Cuban flats.

Cuba, and Havana in particular, really does have so much to offer if you’re prepared to venture out and experience the local culture. During the few days we were based there, we managed to tour the city and it’s local historic sites in a convertible classic car, visit a cigar factory, take salsa lessons in a local dance studio, and even see the renowned musical group Buena Vista Social Club play a set at our hotel.

A classic Cuban car

A classic Cuban car.

As for the fishing, Cayo Largo is in the South Central region of the Cuban Archipelago, it’s one of the last virtually untouched ecosystems left on the planet. And it’s only a 30 minute flight from the local airport.

The day we arrived at the Hotel Sol Club, we were taken to our room and had the morning to enjoy at our own leisure, before being I was taken to the lodge for a briefing and setting up the tackle for the following days’ fishing.

A monster Cayo largo poon'.

A monster Cayo largo poon’.

The fishing itself is split into six zones, one for each day. All the zones have the chance of achieving grand slams, bar one, which is mainly fished for Tarpon and Snook. During the other 5 days of fishing, we spotted Permit every day. Some days in numbers, others slightly more sporadically. Getting them to eat is another matter entirely. Each new day proved eventful, with a wide variety of fish. Naturally, there’s the usual grand slam species of Permit, Tarpon, Snook and Bones, but there are also Barracuda, Jacks and Snapper too. Three of the six days fished were only a licking of the lips away from Grand Slams. So many follows from permit endured, but no luck. But that’s what makes them so frustrating, yet so desirable. I had some great tussles with tarpon and one in particular will be a memorable fight for many years to come.

A nice Cuban Bonefish.

A nice Cuban Bonefish.

A toothy barracuda - great sport on a fly rod.

A toothy barracuda – great sport on a fly rod.

A nice bucket mouth - an unforgettable fight.

A nice bucket mouth – an unforgettable fight.

A grand slam still evades me, but rest assured I’ll be back to give it another go in the not-too-distant future. I’m sure the wife would love to go again next year… and I might be tempted to agree.

To book a guided day or to arrange casting tuition please visit Brett’s excellent website here.