I have never understood why many put there rods away come October or November. I took a trip to Grafham late November and caught the record 8 fish bag weight for 2012, 33lb 14oz.
The fly fishing was outstanding at the best fish was a 6lb 4oz Rainbow which I caught on my third cast on a new 2013 buzzer pattern. I was fishing a floating line with a buzzer, 2 cut throat crunchers or a sz 8 Killer Shrimp with a Candy Split Blob on the point. This is the same set up I used to win the Grafham Trophy for Team England September last year.
The fishing gear I used was my trusted i#8 Enigma fly rod, coupled with a #8 line and 8lb G3 fluorocarbon. It is imperative that you use fluorocarbon this time of year as the water is often crystal clear.
Fish like it slow this time of year and that day was no exception. They literally wanted it static! I was guiding for the day and my pal Paul Norris soon clocked on to this fact. We would cast it out and simply leave it alone for 20 seconds or so. We would then do 2 or 3 quick ‘flicks’ of the line like a fig of 8 and count to 20 or so again. It was a calm day and we were fishing relatively short lines as often fishing in 3-6 foot of water close to the sailing club shoreline between the yachts and The Seat. More often than not we would see our fly lines start to move before we saw anything at out finger tips. This is key if you want to catch more fish!
Although I stuck with the Blob and Nymph method, my partner tried a Minkie and caught a cracking Rainbow of 4lb 9oz, a personal best and first fish from Grafham after several visits with no joy. He landed 5 for 16lb and had plenty of other action on what has to be the 2nd best days fishing on Grafham I can remember. The best being 2 years back on Buzzers on the West Bank when it was almost a 3lb+ fish every other cast and there’s no better way to catch them than nymphing on a floater.
Dust down them resting fly rods and go fishing. Winter fishing is often superb, if like me, monitor the weather and choose good conditions. Next trip Farmoor 1 Reservoir where the sz 10 size limit of fly has been lifted and the Booby ban has also gone. See how I get on here first!
September is a big month for competitions including the Lexus European Championships which were held on Rutland Water.
To say the fishing was tough would be an understatement. Having fished the 2 day final I had just 6 takes and 2 follows in 16 hours fishing. A lot of anglers blame their flies, tactics or even fly fishing tackle, but it’s usually none of them, it’s all about finding the level and hoping the fish are there. Especially at this time of year.
In competitions you have to make some tough decisions, get it wrong and it can all be over but considering how tough it was I opted to target the bigger fish in the hope that if I got one they would be bigger than 2 of any stock fish that were caught. It paid big dividends as I landed a 30 year personal best on Rutland, a 8lb 2 1/4 oz Brown. On the first day I landed a magnificent 5lb 1oz Rainbow from the very same spot.
Although the fish had been feeding on fry it readily took a sz 10 Plain Cruncher fished on an Airflo mini tip in 3 foot of water! Fish this time of year are looking to pack on maximum weight for the lean timed ahead and become more of opportunists. As the water cools the fry move in and the trout follow. Corixa can be prolific this time of year so look for weed beds which will hold fry and corixa and the fish wont be far away.
Always ensure you keep on the move and look for signs like seaguls that indicate fry near the surface, possibly chased there by hungry trout beneath. Or simply look for the explosive thrash on the surface as the fry leap for safety. Many people confuse corixa feeders with fry feeders. The Corixa feeders tend to ‘push’ water for a few feet as it chases the darting corixa as opposed to an isolated explosion of attack for fry.
This time of year gives you the best chance of a grown on fish. Ensure you use strong fluorocarbon. I always use 10lb Sightfree G3 this time of year as it’s very strong and ultra clear in the clearing waters. There is no more powerful rod than the Enigma III so strap up with your 10lb G3, Enigma III and get fishing.
IB Reommended packs
Rutland has been tipping fine form with some cracking fish coming to the net! With water being pumped in right through May water levels have remained cold and the fish deep.
I have diverted to the Airflo Di7/8 Competitor line. This is made of a Di 8 Weight Forward section with a Di7 running line, probably the fastest sinking competition legal line available. It sinks like no other line and more importantly gets the flies down quick and keeps them there. They are a little heavier than your standard fly line so ensure your rod is powerful enough to handle it. I tend to always go one weight heavier on line choice for my #8 Enigma Rod but I use the 7/8 Di7/8 and it balances perfectly!
Despite being June, many of the better fish are still coming to the lures on Rutland as they stay deep due to colder than normal water temperatures. This has also hampered the usual hatch of large black buzzers which usually sees the lures redundant in June. The mini black Humungus Booby has been the stand out pattern for me with the Flash Cat Booby and Straggle Cat booby close behind. The sparkler booby and various cormorant boobs have also worked very well!
You need to get you flies down deep, fast and hold them there so I have been fishing a shorter leader than normal. I have been going down to 16 foot fishing 4 flies 4 feet apart. Humungus booby nearest the fly line, two black diawl bachs and a cat booby on the point. The water clarity hasn’t been great due to the excess water so I have been keeping the flies closer than normal.
The point booby should always have larger buoyant eyes to help suspend the two diawl bachs so you almost have a vertical line of flies lifted off the bottom. This gives you great coverage of different depths and helps you locate their feeding depths. If they consistently take the point booby then this will tell you they are not hard on the bottom so you can probably come up to a Di5 fly line to keep all the flies at the feeding depth for longer. To help them get down quicker ensure you keep a relatively slack line when dropping through the water column to allow the fly line to sink as it is designed on a ‘free fall’ basis.
The best retrieve has been a quick fast figure of eight, followed by a long pause and repeat until near the boat. Many fish have been coming on the hang, this is when the flies and line are almost vertical below you and at this point lift the rod as slow as possible until parallel to the water and start the slowest of figure of eights. When you see the top dropper booby below the surface stop retrieving altogether and watch for the booby to move as the fish grabs one of the lower flies.
Best areas have been X and W buoy along Normanton and Whitwell to the Dam. Some very big fish are coming out along the Finches and Tim Appletons as they are at Gibbets Gorse and the Bird Hides up the South.
Recommended fly packs
Airflo tackle consultant, Iain Barr, describes how to get as deep as possible on one of the UK’s most prolific trout waters. Using the correct fishing tackle will get your flies as deep and as quick as possible into the fish’s feeding zone.
Rutland Water has got off to a flyer and fish like the one below are very common at the moment. In fact, it’s one of the best starts to a season for a very long time in terms of the quality and number of over wintered fish coming out. In most bags, I have caught more over wintered fish that stocked fish by fishing just a little further out from the shore than normal for this time of year.
But, being in the deeper water you need to get down and dirty as the fish are hard on the bottom, the unseasonably cold weathers has kept water temperatures low and the addition of stagnant water which continues to be pumped in keeps it cool. Ideal feeding conditions! The water which has been pumped in has also made the water clarity fairly poor with about 3 foot visibility in places but this has in no way stopped the feeding frenzy! I have been using the new Di 7 Airflo forty plus fly line and I have to say its one of the most productive lines I have used for a long time. With just one false cast the head flies out and hits the backing. I’ve been teaming it up with my favourite Enigma #8 fly fishing rod which handles all lines from floaters to the heaviest sinkers on the market. This is the most perfectly balanced of kit going, fact! My boat partner for the day borrowed it and instantly gained an extra 12-15 yards and is now purchasing identical kit, #8/9 Di 7 and #8 Airflo Enigma fly rod.
Due to the water colour and temperature, I’ve been using a short leader 12 foot and two boobies, with just 3/4 foot to the first dropper and 8 foot to the point fly. I have been using Black Boobys to help them stand out in the murky water. White and Pink being the first colours to disappear through the light spectrum, usually opting for the opposite end of the scale will help. When things get a little tough, I have also been fishing a 16 foot leader with two black diawl bachs in the middle which is what this fish took about 100 yards off Gibbets bank near the golf course on the South Shore. Although this fish took a nymph the majority are still taking the boobys, I don’t think the fish can actually see the nymphs so well but spacing the boobies further apart makes a big difference when fishing for pressured fish. With the water still being so cold the fish haven’t yet switched onto the nymphs, but when they do Rutland is going to explode especially when the water clears!
It’s important to get the flies as deep as possible and hang the flies at the boat. Almost all the fish are coming as you lift the flies from the bottom just in front of the boat so ensure the slowest of lifts and retrieves but don’t forget to hang them! If on a leisure day try anchoring with two Boobys and figure of eight retrieve keeping the flies close to the bottom. There are literally big fish coming off all over the reservoir but try about 100 yards off for the slabs and they are coming from almost anywhere!
Best of luck and tight lines!!.
Recommended Iain Barr fly sets:
Rutland Heavy Buzzers
Diawl Bachs #10
With an icey blast hitting the UK I still ventured out to do some well earned fly fishing on Farmoor 2 Reservoir in Oxfordshire. Despite the cold I wasnt disappointed. With ice jamming the line in the rings of the rod, feet feeling like lumps of ice, I was catching fish!
The fish were lying in very deep water, over 30 feet, so I needed the right kit to get there! With my favourite Enigma MIII #8 rod, I tackled up a #9 Di 7 Airflo 40+ fly line. you may note the line rating is one above the #8 rated rod. This helps load the rod very quickly and the whole 40 yard line is launched with one false cast, its amazing! I was using 10lb Airflo G3 fluorocarbon. No need to be shy on tippet material when fishing this deep with Boobys and the weight of the water at such depths and a full line out, anything lighter may break, especially on an aggressive take.
I wanted to keep my flies as deep as possible for as long as possible and there is no better way to do this than casting as much of the Di7 as you can and fish two boobys. I wanted to fish a variation of Boobys, so opted for a straggle Cat Booby and a Cut Throat Cruncher Booby. The Cut Throat Cruncher was a revelation in 2011! I fished a leader shorter than normal. only 13 feet, with 5 foot to the first dropper and 8 to the point. This keeps my flies relatively close to the bottom.
Several casts in I miss a typical booby take. Tap, Tap, BANG!! When fishing boobys you may feel ‘interest’ in your flies but wait for it all to lock up before striking. Having spoke to the rangers at farmoor, they advised we fished at least 60-80 yards from the bank where the natural clay lake bed begins. here the bloodworm are plentiful and this is where the fish were.
A very numb Pete Gathercole lifted the anchor and we dropped the anchor some 100 yards out which would be alien on most places this time of year. We weren’t disappointed. I was soon in to fish after letting the boobys drop for a timed 60 seconds with the very slowest of retrieves and long pauses in between. Both the Straggle Cat Booby and Cruncher Booby take fish. I kept changing the Boobys and the fish kept coming, a Blue Eyed Cat Booby, Black and White Humungus Boobys all took fish. They seemed to come at range at the end of the cast or almost vertical beneath the boat as the flies came up off the bottom. This proved the fish were lying almost on the lake bed!
We watched grebes diving and coming up with small fish so dedided to drift 200-300 yards from the bank and I continued to pick up fighting fit rainbows. What was amazing was that we were in 35+ feet of water, along way off shore and around no features and we continued to catch fish with plenty of offers too. The place must be stuffed with fish as this certainly wasn’t the hot spot. The hot spot was on the far shore with the wind pushing in. But, with frozen feet, ice jamming the rings and finger tips only warmed by a pulling trout, it was too cold even for a double world champion!!
Keep your flies as deep as possible in these conditions and fish as slow as possible, a team of boobys on just 13 foot of leader is perfect. The fishing in this cold snap can be fantsatic so wrap up warm and venture out.
Iain Barr Fly Selection Choice
January saw the launch of the new Airflo World Bank Masters fly fishing competition. With heats to be fished across the UK on up to 20 venues, the competition is heating up fast, with many positions already being filled up it promises to be a massive competition.
Qualifying Heat Rules
- This is an individual bank fly fishing competition
- Teams may choose to enter and fish as individuals
- Multiple entries are allowed and there are no limits to the numbers of heats you can fish
- All heats and the final will be fished with barbless or debarbed hooks. Random checks will take place at the heats.
- Fishery rules to apply on the day at the heats. Please contact your chosen fishery(s) for the match rules for the day as they may vary
- Any fishery heat operating Catch and Release will be encouraged to score with 2 points for the first fish on every peg and 1 point thereafter with a maximum of 5 fish per peg. Qualifiers will come from those with the most accumulated point total
- Where fisheries operate a catch and dispatch day ticket, the qualifiers will be decided on weight or a combination thereof if C&R is permitted after the bag total is reached
- A fish is only considered caught when landed clearly in the net and lifted clear of the water. The utmost respect of the fish is paramount and anyone considered not abiding by this rule may have points for that fish disqualified
- Flies must be positioned at least 50cm apart
- Sight indicators are permitted where fisheries allow
- Entry Fees to be paid to the organiser, (this does not include your fishing fees)
- Fishing fees to be paid to the fishery on the day
- Final to be held at Elinor, Northamptonshire on May 20th, 2012
- 105 anglers will fish the final with a pro-rata percentage from each heat reaching the final
- There will be 5 wild cards reaching the final which will be drawn from non-qualifiers after all qualifying heats are complete
- Prizes: 1st Place £2000. Other prizes: UK Holiday with Fishing, large tackle prizes, a days Guided Salmon Fishing and many more including tagged fish & wild card spot prizes
The organizers decision is final and the organizer has the right to amend rules, cancel or move a heat if insufficient entries permit a fair competition or weather forces a heat to be cancelled.
Confirmed Venues - CLICK HERE FOR ENTRY FORM
- Blackdyke 25/02/12 Complete. See competition results
- Ellerdine 03/03/12
- Exe Valley 03/03/12 Complete. See competition results
- Exe Valley 04/03/12 Complete. See competition results
- Palm Springs 04/03/12
- Seighford Lakes 10/03/12
- Chatton 11/03/12
- Aldin Grange 18/03/12
- Elinor 25/03/12
- Innis 07/04/12
- Higham Lakes 28/04/12
- Bank House Farm 29/04/12
- Stocks 05/05/12
- Stonebridge 06/05/12
- Farmoor – 06/05/12
- New Haylie 04/03/12 Complete. See competition results
- Selmuir 18/03/12
- Lochter 25/03/12
- Glen Of Rothes 01/04/12
- Bangour 15/04/12
- Markle 18/04/12
- Orchill 29/04/12
- Straid 03/03/12 – Complete. See competition results
- Woodford 18/03/12
- Moorbrook lodge 21/04/12
- Movilla 31/03/12
- Tree Tops Fishery 15/04/12
- Garnffrwd 22/04/12
To view the results of each round please see – Airflo World Bank Masters Results
January saw the launch of the new Airflo World Bank Masterf competition. With heats across the UK that are filling fast, it promises to be a a massive competition. Cash prizes, holidays and more prizes to be won. See www.iainbarrflyfishing.co.uk for more details.
I took a trip to Ellerdine fishery in Shropshire on the 11th and wasnt disappointed! Ellerdine offers a lake for all with it’s on site 5 lakes to choose from!
Most of the lakes are relatively shallow, averaging 6-8 foot, with the larger lake being 16 feet at it’s deepest. I opted for a 90 degree corner with the light winds pushing in on what was a mild sunny day in Shropshire.
I enjoy the fight from fish when not competing so took my Airflo Streamtec #4/5 which couples for a great small water rod as well superb for the river. Takes can be very subtle during winter months as the fish slow down so I fished a non-stretch airflo floating fly line to pick up the slightest of takes.#5
It didnt take long before my line started to slowly draw away and I landed my first of a 30+ fish haul. When fishing any small water I always start with a SunBurst Blob and two buzzers. I opted for a my original flexi blob as I had one handy in my patch from my last outing.
Remember to stay low at these kind of waters as they tend to slope off close to the shore and fish will not be lurking far out! The line slid away and I was into my first fine Ellerdine trout of about 2lb. It was rapid fire after that with about 10 following in the next hour or so. With the fish still pulling, I was keen to see the other 4 lakes on offer and made my way around them all.
They offer variations and no matter how strong the wind and from what direction you will always find a sheltered spot and almost flat calm somewhere! Superb! I decided not to take the comfort factor and chose again to fish in to the wind and across in a 90 degree corner on the largest of the lakes.
I had switched to a Neon Damsel which will catch on every water you will ever fish. It didn’t take long again until I was in to action but as quick as they were taking the fly they stopped! The lake switched off as bending rods around the lake ceased for everyone. Time for one of Ed’s finest bacon butties!
Refreshed and revitalised I went in search of one of Ellerdines many doubles which had been caught the previous few days. I picked up one here, one there and decided to return to where I started my day. Whereas in the morning I had caught nothing substantial, best of about 3lb, in my last throw of the dice I caught a further dozen with just 3 under 4lb! A great fly this time of the year is the Dancer and I fished my white and yellow uv version on the floating fly line. 12 fish came in the last hour and a half including a cracking 6lb fish and several around the 5lb mark. The double had eluded me although one of 9lb and 8lb were caught and safely returned.
Treat yourself to a trip there where you will receive a very warm welcome from this friendly run fishery.
Iain Barr small water Winter Fly Pack recommendations:-
I paid my last visit of 2011 to Grafham Water for some fighting fit rainbows and I wasnt disappointed! There was a strong SW wind pushing in to the dam where I was fishing towards the bowl of the dam. I opted for one of my 40+ fly lines in an 8weight floater, to push out into the wind and my trusted Enigma #8, the perfect combo!
I fished a shortish leader for me of 14 foot with a single leaded grey and pearl minkie. Taking no prisoners and with such powerful fish about in Grafham I opted for the strong 10lb G3 fluorocarbon for my leader. The leaded fly and shorter leader ensured I got good turnover into the wind. An unleaded fly may just drop back against the wind causing poor presentation.
At this time of year, fishing can be very patchy and today was no exception. It was a slow start that exploded in to life! From just 1 offer in the opening 2 hours I landed 3 cracking rainbows in the next hour and missed 2 solid lock-ups! I was using the strong cross wind that was hitting the bank at 45 degrees to allow the minkie to almost drift back to the shore as I cast out. it often pays to use the wind when fishing, whether it is almost dead drifting a minkie or the common method of dead drifting buzzers around.
Either way allow the wind to do the work and just keep a tight line to your flies with out actually moving the flies. The takes hooked themselves as some extremely lively and very poweful rainbows were landed. As quick as it exploded into life it died again. In the remaining 3 hours I managed 1 more, dropped 3 and missed 1. After cleaning the fish there was the sign of plenty of shrimp in the fish which bodes well for a healthy 2012 season on Grafham with some over wintered specimens about in abundance!
Iain Barr larger Water Fly pack recommendations:-
My 11th Home International cap took me to my local water Grafham. This time of year, in fact all year round, Grafham is well known for its superb quality grown on fish. In recent years even more so.
A new food source has appeared in the water in the last 2 years known as the killer shrimp which tend to hug the closest of margins. These feeders were to play a major part in Englands assault on the gold medal. They come from about a sz14 hook to the largest of grub hooks on a sz 8. Their movement is eratic so a mix of figure of eight retrieves with the odd twitch is what is needed.
Team England had 3 full days practice before the match day. The lake was split into sections and each England pairing given an allotted area for each half of the day. It was important to find the areas with fish and those with no fish. On my first morning session I took 11 fish with just 1 under 3lb. Fish up to 5lb came to claret dries, Cruncher Boobies, Crunchers and the Candy Blob. The afternoon session yielded no fish which was just as important as catching the 11. The 2nd day I was allotted the middle of the lake which is where I love to be… In 5 hours I didn’t see any signs of a fish!
I have won numerous competitions on Grafham, including the Bob Church Classic twice and have drove away in a brand new RX300 Lexus after winning the Lexus European Open all through the middle of the lake. Due to the arrival of the killer shrimp, there is so much food in the margins I fear for the middle fishing for which Grafham is well known. But hey, the fish are still there, seem to be getting bigger quicker and can now be reached by the many bank anglers now returning to its shores.
Team England had 10 flies on a short list, 5 of which came from Iain Barr World Champions range. It was a mix of lures, nymphs and dries. My new top selling Candy Blob, new Cut Throat Crunchers and new Killer shrimp patterns were the top performers along with a Two Tone FAB.
Setting up my Enigma MkIII #8 fly rod, I was able to cast the full length of the fly line giving me the option to fish faster, keeping the flies near the surface, or fish slower dropping my flies through the layers finding the feeding depth of the fish. It is crucial to have a fishing rod that can cope with the sudden runs and lunges from the magnificent Grafham fish, but also to take advantage when the fish gives signs of letting up!
As a team we knew it was imperative to keep fishing fresh water as especially many of the better fish we were catching were just in a few feet of water. With boats ‘turning’ in the shallow water we looked for fresh drifts every time we drifted to the shore ensuring we hadn’t followed where a boat had just turned.
I had decided that I was heading out on a floating line, my Candy Blob on the point, Tangering Diawl Bach above it, Red Holo DB next and my new Cut Throat Cruncher on top dropper. A subtle difference from the other teams was for team England to fish 5foot of 15lb of G3 Fluorocarbon from the floating line then 7 foot of 8 or 10lb G3 to the first dropper. This allowed the flies to drop deeper if needed in the sun and more importantly kept the flies away from our fly lines which I have proved in experiments does spook the fish if pulled under by the weight of the flies.
I drew Mark Jones from Wales who fished a Di5 most of the day pulling lures. I did the absolute opposite with my blob and nymphs static on a floating line.
He drew first blood on the booby then I kicked in with a near 5lb Rainbow, best fish of the match, then 3 quick fire rapid fish upto 3.5lb. To my amazement he took me away into deep water when the clock struck 12:00
Almost 2 hours of nothing in his area of choice when I took 2 quick fish including my Grafham personal best of 7lb, Rainbow, on the static Candy Blob. I returned to D buoy dam area and anglers who had 1 or 2 when I left had 9s and 11s! I was now playing catch up.
I came in with 16 only to be pipped by Dave Hoppe of Wales for top individual spot who fished incredibly well to come in with 18 in the same area, top angling! England had record breaking margins to bring in the Gold, beating Scotland by 61lb, Wales in 3rd by over 83lb and Ireland in 4th by over 150lb.
Early September saw me competing in the World Fly Fishing Championships in Italy. We may have been high in the mountains but the temperatures at times were in the high 30′s which made it somewhat uncomfortable.
I wanted a fly rod that would do it all so opted for an Airflo Streamtec 10′ #4/5. This offered the length for deep nymphing at range and the flexibility of control of the most subtle of takes. I also used it for casting my #8 weight Di5 and other various fly lines. It was important not to use a rod which was too stiff but the #5 weight coped with the line and offered the softer tip so not to bounce the fish off when they took.
We used a good range of flies that were fine tuned by the time we reached the 3 competition days. Team England used a wide variety of patterns but it soon became apparent that the same half dozen patterns came to the forefront. Whenever fishing, especially competitions, it’s important to have a minimal selection of flies for the competition day. One of the teams hottest flies was a red thorax pheasant tail in various sizes with a tungsten bead. We used it from a sz 8 to a sz 14. The 2nd team favourite was a hares ear with a red and white collar, again with a tungsten bead. We also used this from a sz 8 to 14.
A full selection of these flies and possibly the widest variety of the very highest quality river flies will soon be available from BVG Airflo
There were 5 sessions, 4 rivers and 1 lake. 3 of the rivers were stocked which made them ‘peggy’ and the luck of the draw would play apart. A quick search with a red and black streamer or hot head lure soon let you know if you had any stocked rainbows in your beat. If not, deep nymphing would find some of the very big grayling to be had.
The lake was possible the most stunning venue I have fished and was stocked with brown trout. I fished 2 streamers 16 feet apart to take 5 fish and 2nd position. In crystal clear water it is vital to keep your flies well apart, especially two lures or streamers.
As the lake toughened due to the small area of concentration of fish England suffered 2 blanks as many of the competitors followed suite. On a blank avoidance session I hooked a fish in the dying seconds only for it to head down stream and break me off through rocks. This gave me the dreaded blank. Two other river blanks followed for Team England which saw the team drop to 10th. Going into the final day I was lying just 12 points off top spot but dropped to 50th with the blank. Italy came out on top and also took the top two individual placings.