For the past 8 years, many Welsh anglers have been competing in what’s called the Celtic League match, a competition devised by competition anglers to get us out on the water more often, different times of the year, and fishing with anglers of all abilities. One of the best ways of anglers learning to ropes of competitive angling.
The competition is based on a catch and release basis, with your fourth fish being timed and your total catch verified by your boat partner. In previous years some competitions were being won with over 30 fish a day!
Chew Valley has been a great venue for the past two years with many quality trout being taken all throughout the year on a range of methods, fly lines and flies – A great top of the water venue if you’re looking for some nymph or dry fly fishing.
The last comp of the year was held last Sunday with favorable conditions for most of the day. A misty start saw many anglers head to Villace Bay and Woodford bank, a popular area for both boat and bank anglers and some five boats headed north towards the Dam. By 11am the mist had lifted and a slightly chilly northerly breeze had arrived, the fishing was good for the first two hours until the chill put a dampener on fly hatches, towards the end of the day there was a slight rise in temperature and the fish switched on somewhat, giving anglers a chance to get a last fish or two!
The results were as tight as always and many were keen to know the outcome. In such a competition where your final scores are dependent on each angler of the teams performance, positions can change drastically. A blank will give an angler maximum points, a disaster if the team is just a few points ahead or behind another.
As main sponsors, Airflo, gave an impressive goody bag to each angler who fished the league throughout the year, fishing reels as prizes for the first three teams, a fly rod for individual and a free fly line for each heat winner and runner up.
With 2 gold medals from the last 2 Rivers Internationals, the Welsh Team was really hoping their winning run would continue there on the wild upland River Ure. In reality though this was never going to be an easy job! The English Team were on a real high after a Bronze World position, and a Silver in the Commonwealth. “Facebook” talk was all about England claiming the one colour missing! Making the task even more difficult was the fact that most of the English Team were local to the River Ure, with one Team member being a past Season ticket holder on the actual Competition beats! Did I have any doubts? Yes I did, I’ll be honest! This would be no walk in the park, this was going to be tough – Super tough.
We knew we would have to prepare like never before for this contest, and preparations began around Christmas Time, with Terry Bromwell (the Captain) calling the lads together for a number of training days on the Rivers Taff & later the Ebbw. The ultimate preparation we felt we needed was a visit to the actual Match venue. And so it was that over the late May Bank Holiday weekend all 6 of us travelled North, to check out the River Ure. Dean Kibble, and I had both fished the River 12 years previously as our very first Rivers International, so we had some idea of what to expect. The commitment shown by all Team members, including the Reserve (Robert Bending) was magnificent to behold. This was the BIG one, the one we REALLY wanted to win, and even though I could see that the financial costs were soaring, no-one complained – we wanted it that bad!
Actual Match week started for us on Saturday June 21st, when we left Wales in the early hours, arriving around breakfast time ready for a full days practice. What we found when we arrived was that the River had shrunk ! it was now a fraction of the size it had been back in late May. Being low and clear, the fishing was now much more difficult, but throughout the next few days, we managed to find a few methods that would catch fish fairly consistently. We covered the entire Competition beats (more than once) and we often bumped into old friends from the other 3 Nations during our days on the River.
Eventually, Match day (Fri 27th) arrived. – We had fished, thought, fished some more, drunk a few beers, tied flies, and mulled things over among ourselves. But now this was the real thing, now was the time to finally put all our plans together. I could sense the optimism amongst the guys, they (and I) really believed we could pull this off!
And so it was that at 09:45 the first session started. The sweaty palms disappeared as soon as the first casts were made, and the guys settled into doing what they do best.
I knew I had had a fairly good morning, with a 1st and a 2nd but how had the others done?
We met back at the 3 Horseshoes pub for lunch, and it became clear that we were right “up there”with the English. Scotland and Ireland had a few poor results and we felt must have been some way behind. We started the afternoon final 2 sessions with renewed energy, knowing that this was there for the taking! The Match ended at 17:45, and arriving back at the car, I was informed that after the morning sessions, Wales were 2 points ahead of England. This was great news indeed, but had we kept it going?
Normally, asking around, you would get a feel for how the Teams were doing before the results were calculated. This was different; this really appeared to be too close to call!
On arrival back at the teams Hotel, I was invited (with the other Managers) into the room where the final results were being computed. The Team (totally fished out) were at the bar biting their nails! The 3 rd session results were announced! Wales had slipped from being 2 points in front, to being 2 points behind! The doubts were back, had we blown it? We were so close! Then the last session results were announced ! After a good last session, we had come back and we had actually tied on points with England. This meant that now, to separate the 2 Teams, the total fish points would have to be added up. This took a little time, adding to the agony but finally we were announced the winners having beaten the “old enemy” by the smallest of margins (8 fish points) or 8 cms in other words!
In fairness the other 3 Nations warmly congratulated the Welsh Team on a fantastic performance, and we celebrated well into the early hours.
I would like to thank the Captain, Terry Bromwell, for the sterling work he did from late last year all the way through to the after dinner speech! Dean Kibble, Simon Barton, Kieron Jenkins and Robert Bending – Thanks Guys you were magnificent!
I would also like to thank the members and Committee of Islwyn & District A.C. for allowing the Welsh Team use of the River Ebbw for practice sessions – This has proved to be invaluable!
The Bung is a very controversial method of fly fishing, but, who am I to judge what anglers use to catch fish? In my eyes it’s a method used to catch fish. It’s also a method I use on small-waters and occasionally the river when conditions dictate.
This method is basically a float which suspends a fly beneath, giving the angler immediate indication when a fish has then their fly. It’s a superb method on small-waters where fish are heavily pressured. Suspending a fly top, mid or bottom of the water column to intercept fish is an ingenious idea – especially when it’s fished properly – and accounts for many of the larger fish which are captured on small-waters.
A typical bung would be an indicator made out of foam, polystyrene or yarn, just like these fulling mill fish pimps. All these materials have great floating properties to suspend un-weighted or weighted flies. Another alternative would be Airflo Float-Do, a floating ‘dough’ like material which can be easily moved along the leader section to alter the depths.
As you can see from the illustration above, there is a fairly steep angle between your fly line and fly, if a fish takes that fly, there is a lot of slack between the fly line, so a decent strike is needed to set the hook firmly. When using the bung you will see some anglers strike and not register a pull or feel the fish at all. This is due to the depth of the fly and the angle between the fly line.
One little tip I can give is use one of the new Airflo Super-Dri fly lines. The advantages of using one of these new floating lines from Airflo is the ability to lift so much more line off the water, this is due to the revolutionary Super-Dri coating. It repels water and sits extremely high on the surface, allowing less tension when lifting the line off the water than all other fly lines. This, in turn, allows for better hook up rates when compared to standard floating lines, from any manufacturer.
On my recent trip to Garnffrwd Trout Fishery it became apparent to me how good the Distance Pro from the Super-Dri family actually was. It’s a line I’ve been playing around with for a while, but it hasn’t really set itself apart from any other Super-Dri line I have used. Not until this trip anyway. For those of you who have been to Garnffrwd you may know of the ‘weed patch’ out on the far right of the lake – A submerged patch of weed, which sits just 3ft below the surface – just out of reach of most decent casters. This line has a 45ft head, and an extremely supple running line, which lets the line be cast an impressively long way.
Casting big distances with a bung is not only tough because of it’s mass, but it hinders hook up rates at distance because of the amount of line needed to lift from the surface to actually hook the fish. The Super-Dri coating eliminated this problem and hooking into fish at range becomes child’s play. The ability to throw such long distances and fish basically ‘un-fished’ water can change your day drastically, fishing over the top of this island I was lucky enough to hook and land a double figure rainbow trout on a bloodworm pattern! Check out the video footage below:
There’s plenty of article on ‘how to catch more fish’ and ‘top 5 fishing tips’ out there on the internet, but what about the simple tips to look after your fly line? These three great tips will give you an extra advantage when out on the bank.
What weight is my fly line?
First of all, let’s look at how we can determine what weight fly line you have on your fly fishing reel. We’ve all been there, wondering “Is it a 6 weight? It looks like a 7…”, this quick and simple tip allows you to easily identify what weight lines are on your reels. All you need is a waterproof pen.
Welded loops on fly lines
If you’re anything like us you hate the plastic sleeve which comes in a packet of braided loops. It’s big, clunky and get’s stuck in the rod guides. What you’ll find with this sleeve is your fly line can crack due to hinging which in time, forces you to replace the whole loop. The below method of welding loops, or lines which have factory manufactured loops pro-long the life of your fly line.
Whipping on a braided loop
If you don’t have the facilities to weld your own loops, try whipping an Airflo braided loop to your line. By using thread you can create an almost seamless joint to your fly line. The smooth joint lets your fly line be retrieved with no bumping or clunking through the guides and stops hinging and cracking near the tip of the line. As Hywel says, it’s the best way for fitting a loop to sinking lines, and it’s is also a great way of marking fly lines at specific lengths to fish the ‘hang’ more effectively!
The Rhyacophila Caddis is found in almost all rivers around the UK. It’s a free-living caddis, meaning it doesn’t build a ‘house’. The Larvae like caddis favours shallow riffles and often gets caught in the current and drifts freely downstream, this making them ideal food for trout and grayling. The ‘Rhyacs’ hatch later in the afternoon and the adults can provide some great dry fly action when they return to the water. Tying a Rhyac caddis can be complicated, but here’s a simple little pattern we’ve been using for the grayling this winter.
Attach your favoured hook into the vice, here I’ve used a Fulling Mill Czech Nymph hook. Run your thread along the body to the extreme bend in the hook. Wind a layer of lead into the shank of the hook to add some weight. A tungsten bead can be used but I like these on dropper so a lead underbody is usually enough weight. With your thread, make sure you taper the body to give a slim, streamline effect and ensure you cover the lead with the thread, once the dubbing gets wet, you will get a green glow from the underbody, if you forget to do this, the lead will dampen the colour of the body.
For the rib I’ve used the tag end of thread where I first tied onto the hook. Attach two sides to the fly, FlyBox bleach dyed peacock herl is a great material to imitate the legs. Dub a TIGHT rope of dubbing onto your thread ensuring you get a thin from and back end with a slightly thicker abdomen. In touching turns wind the dubbing towards the eye and pull the side legs along the length of the hook. Secure the body and legs in place with the rib with evenly spaced turns. Tie off and add some black pen to the head of the fly to imitate the Rhyacophila’s wing bud cover.
Fly Tying Materials
Hook: Fulling Mill Czech Nymph 12 Thread: Glo Bright No12 Underbody: Medium Lead Wire Rib: Glo Bright No12 Body: Rhyac Green Dubbing Sides: Bleach Dyed Peacock – Chart Colour: Black Pen
A freakishly looking fish which is said to live over 900 meters below the oceans surface has been snagged by the Nunavut fishing boat is only the second of it’s kind ever recorded near the Hudson Strait, Canada.
This extremely rare and weird looking fish caused some confusion when it was actually caught but researches have identified it as a super rare long-nosed Chimaera. With so little research undertaken on this species of the Chimaera not a lot is known about their feeding habits or living quarters. It’s assumed these fish live well out of range of human contact in depths between 900 and 2000 meters. The Chimarea is not something you’re likely to hook with your sea fishing tackle!
Nigel Hussey from the University of Windsor, identified the fish as indeed the Chimaera. It was first thought that it was a Goblin shark, a fish which is equally as odd and also as rare. The Chimaera is one of the world’s oldest species of fish which goes by various names including ‘ratfish, rabbitfish, and the coincidental – ghost shark’. But they aren’t sharks. The group branched off from sharks, its closest relative, around 400 million years ago and have remained a distinct, and distinctly odd, lineage ever since and have been basically unchanged since they shared the Earth with dinosaurs.
Like sharks and rays, Chimaeras have a skeleton made of cartilage.
With a long nose, menacing mouth, a venomous spine and a gelatinous grey body the fish is one only to be talked of in spooky sea tails along side those of the giant squid, but maybe not so scary. The Chimaera is largely restricted to deep ocean waters, putting it out of reach of most fishermen and scientists. For these reasons the creature is poorly studied and understood.
Even the best peacock herl strands are very brittle so constructing a fly with a tear and rip proof body is a tough task without bulking it up too much. In this weeks fly tying tip we’re going to show you how to securely tie in peacock herl and create a great looking peacock body that needs an atomic bomb to destroy.
This tip was shown to be in a fly tying class probably around 12 years ago and has been saving many of my flies from the death of trout teeth. One way to test how good this method of tying peacock herl is – is to use one fly using this technique and another without, you’ll be surprised how quickly the peacock will break.
They tutorial below is obviously just the peacock body, incorporating this method into flies such as diawl bachs, black and peacock spiders, or practically anything with a peacock body, you’ll strengthen the body tenfold.
A lot of fly tiers, especially novices, have trouble stripping peacock herl. Some describe it as an art, to get all the tiny herls free from the stalk, ready to tie your favourite buzzers and nymphs with very realistic bodies.
As a tier I get asked ‘How to strip peacock herl?’ fairly often – there are many different ways fly tiers have come up with, from using the blade of a scissors to an eraser. Personally I like the old fashion approach:
The Hares Ear is probably one of the most used flies within the fishing community, here’s we’ve tied a variant which lends itself perfectly to river fishing and ideal for targeting trout and especially grayling in the winter months. The heavy tungsten bead gives it added weight to get to the bottom quickly into the fishes feeding zone. Hares ears are very versatile patterns, try changing the colour of the thorax and bead, this will change the fly completely.
Start off by threading a tungsten bead onto your hook. Here I’ve used a Fulling Mill Czech Nymph hook, it gives a great grubby look to any pattern and is also a great pupa hook. Secure the bead in place by butting up a few turns of lead and fully securing with thread wraps. Cover the lead body to ensure it doesn’t slip down the hook follow the hook shank down around three-quarters of the way around the bend.
Take a length of gold wire and tie in at the back of the hook. Take a decent pinch of Hares ear and create a tight, tapered dubbing rope which will reach the thorax of the fly. Wind in touching turns and secure in place with the gold wire rib. For the thorax I like to use a contrasting colour such as black, orange or yellow. Dub a small amount of dubbing to the thread and wind towards the bead, securing with a whip finish at the head.
Scruffy Hares ear for Grayling
Hook: Fulling Mill Czech Nymph Size 10
Thread: Black UTC thread
Bead: Gold Tungsten bead 3mm
Underbody: Medium Lead Wire
Rib: Hares Ear
Thorax: Spectra Dub Glister
Varnish: Veniard Clear
Everyone who’s ever caught grayling, know that they absolutely love pink. It’s one of those colours that really stand out when anglers talk about what fly they caught on, if it’s a hotspot, or a fully blow pink grub, pink is usually in there somewhere. This glister bug has proven it’s worth in any grayling fishers fly box, this fly pattern has counted for numerous amounts of fish for myself and others I fish with. I wouldn’t be without it.
I tie this fly with many colour tungsten beads but silver has to be my favourite. Take a bead and thread it onto a hook. Here’s I’ve used a Fulling Mill Czech Nymph size 12. Runa layer of thread onto the shank of the hook, securing the bead in place and bulking up the thorax. Wind your thread onto the hook and cover the lead to ensure it’s securely in place. The pink UTC thread creates a great underbody for the dubbing. Tie in a strip of Large width pearl mylar for the shellback and a silver rib.
Take a decent pink of dubbing and dub into the thread to create an even ‘rope’, tapering slightly thicker towards the head. Wind the glister towards the eye – in touching turns – leaving enough room to tie in the rib and shellback. Pull the pearl over the back keeping it taught and secure in place with the silver wire rib. I’ve added a small piece of pink UV dubbing at the head of the fly to give it a small colour change. And that’s it! Simple, effective and efficient.