New TF Gear Carp Fishing Tackle Videos – with Dave Lane

Earlier this year Dave Lane met up with Marc Coulson, editor of Total Carp Magazine on the banks of the renowned Quarry fishery in Essex. Together the guys shot a full length DVD on targeting big carp, and reviewed a load of TF Gear carp fishing tackle.

In this blog post you can watch 11 awesome carp fishing tackle product videos from the Total Carp Magazine DVD. In these videos Laney and Marc review and explain each and every innovative feature of these products. Trust us, these videos are well worth watching if you are looking for new carp fishing gear!

Watch the YouTube videos in the windows below, or click through to the Fishtec TV YouTube channel.

TF Gear Hardcore Packaway Unhooking Mat – A quality pop-up carp fishing mat that is easy to transport and just the right size for large carp.

TF Gear Hardcore Trail Boots – Waterproof, tough and good looking these Hardcore trail boots are the ideal footwear for a dedicated carp angler.

TF Gear Banshee clothing – Dave Lane talks about the outstanding waterproof and breathable banshee carp fishing clothing by TF Gear.

TF Gear Hardcore Desert Boots – Rugged carp fishing boots from TF Gear. Ideal for trekking through awkward terrain to the water’s edge. Fishing footwear built to last.

TF Gear Flat Out Superking Pillow – A good nights sleep is essential for carp fishing. Here TF Gear have designed a pillow specifically for carp anglers that integrates with your sleeping set up seamlessly.

TF Gear Flat Out Sleeping Bags – A premium carp fishing bag made for comfort and ease of access, this bag is the essential choice of Dave Lane and many other hardcore carp anglers.

TF Gear DL Black Edition Spod Reel – Finally a spodding reel man enough for the job!! Purpose built for spodding, this hardcore spod reel has been built to Dave Lanes demanding specifications.

TF Gear DL Black Edition Speedrunner Reel – The finest carp fishing reel for your money – smooth, powerful, and capable of casting huge distances this baitrunner reel does it all.

TF Gear DL black edition carp rods – The new DL black edition carp fishing rods offer a new benchmark in looks, casting performance and fish playing ability.

TF Gear DL Black edition net – A 42” carp landing net designed by Dave Lane. Quality and performance at a decent price!

TF Gear Chillout sleeping bag – Sleep in comfort with the Chillout sleeping bag! Designed for hardcore carp anglers, this bag is the pinnacle of bivvy comfort.

9 Father’s Day Fishing Gift Ideas!

June the 19th marks father’s day in the UK! Why not treat your angling obsessed dad to a fishing related gift? To make things easier, we have put together 9 of our top father’s day gift suggestions for you – all available on a next day delivery from Fishtec!

1. Head Torch – Every angler needs a head torch! It’s something fishermen are guaranteed to lose on a regualr basis. The TF Gear Night spark is a quality bit of kit – waterproof, with a very bright 100 lumen light and batteries last ages. Price £19.99

The Night spark head torch from TF Gear

The Night spark head torch from TF Gear.

2. Polaroid Sunglasses – Another essential for any type of angler. Whether you are stalking carp, walking the chalk stream looking for trout, or barbel spotting on a big river polaroid glasses cut through the surface glare and allow you to literally see beneath the surface glare. These neat interchangeable glasses from Airflo are actually 3 glasses in one – a different coloured lense is supplied for each light condition. Price £29.99

The Airflo Interchangeable sunglasses - three glasses in one.

The Airflo Interchangeable sunglasses – three glasses in one.

3. Water proof phone case – For some dad’s, getting them onto a ‘smart phone’ took long enough in the first place… why change from a Nokia 3310???  Make sure they don’t ruin their new fangled iPhone in the drink with one of these awesome overboard phone cases. Price £18.99

Overboard phone cases

Water proof overboard phone cases.

4. Online Gift Voucher – Ran out of time or cannot make a decision on a gift? Fishtec online gift vouchers are the ideal gift for father’s day. Easy to buy and use, you can select the amount, the date the recipient will receive their voucher, and even include a Father’s day message. Price – you decide! From £10 up.

Fishtec Gift vouchers

Fishtec Gift vouchers.

5. Ridge Monkey toaster – Dad’s love having a munch whilst waiting for a bite. These nifty toasters are the best thing to hit the bank since sliced bread…. and that goes really well into one of these with a load of cheese and BBQ sauce! Price £16.99 (standard size) £24.99 XL size.

ridge monkey toasters

Ridge monkey toasters.

6. Dr Slick deluxe gift set – A lovely little gift set with two very important things for any fisherman – forceps and a razor sharp set of line nippers. Also supplied with a retractable zinger and a fly box, this is the ideal gift for dads who like to fish for trout and salmon especially. Price £35

Dr Slick deluxe gift set

Dr Slick deluxe gift set.

7. New wellington boots – Wellies are an essential part of any fisherman’s tackle. We bet your dad’s are well past it, and smelly to boot, so why not get him a new pair? These ultra comfortable boots from Hardwear feature flexible neoprene, and are very warm and stylish. Price £34.99 (rrp £49.99)

Hardwear neoprene wellingtons

Hardwear neoprene wellingtons – incredible comfort!

8. Tackle box – For putting your bit’s and pieces in, you simply cannot beat the Lok box from TF Gear! A basic box but very well built and will not break the bank.  Price £14.99

TF Gear Lok-box - a great tackle box that will not break the bank!

TF Gear Lok-box – a great tackle box that will not break the bank!

9. FishSpy underwater camera – This is for the tech-savvy dad that already has it all – fishfinder, electric engine, own boat, garage bulging with gear and is crazy about carp! This bit of kit will enable you to see what you’re missing quite literally; with it’s live and recorded underwater footage. Simply cast it out and transmit to your phone. Price £199.99 (rrp £249.99).

Underwater camera

Image Source: http://www.fishspy.com/
For anglers who love their tech.

 

Wychwood RS – Fly Rod Review

In this tackle test we take a look at the all-new Wychwood RS fly fishing rods – now available from Fishtec!

Recently, whilst walking through the Fishtec tackle warehouse a cool looking rod tube caught my eye… on closer inspection, this brand new addition to our rod storage racking revealed itself to be the Wychwood RS fly rods, that had (at the time of writing) literally just arrived into stock.

I always like to try out any new fly rod that comes into the Fishtec tackle store, so I decided to grab one off the shelf and give it a go there and then! This mini-review is based on my initial impressions of a Wychwood RS fly rod, with a test session on the casting pool outside the Fishtec shop.

The Wychwood RS fly rod range.

The Wychwood RS fly rod range.

The range:

The RS are a totally new range of rods from Wychwood Game Angling and compete in the very crowded ‘mid price’ sector – with prices ranging from £169.99 to £199.99.

Firstly, I took a quick look at the models available in order to pick one out to test. The RS range appears to be geared for the stillwater anglers, with 6 models available, with rods made to cover very small stocked fisheries right through to vast reservoirs – from a lightweight 9′ #5 to a heavyweight 10′ #8 boat weapon, there is a trout rod here for pretty much any UK stillwater situation.

As a regular visitor to large upland stillwaters holding wild trout and grown on rainbows, I am always on the look out for a dedicated 9’6 #6, my favourite configuration for bank fishing on such venues. Conveniently Wychwood have included this fairly rare configuration in their range, so I grabbed hold of an Airflo Super-dri G-shock floater in a 6 weight and headed out to the Fishtec casting pool for a quick cast or three in the sunshine!

First impressions:

The tube is very impressive – and is what basically caught my eye as I walked past it! Seemingly made of carbon fiber, it’s very lightweight and looks strong. It’s certainly a lot nicer than tubes of similar rods around this price point.

A particulary nice rod case is included with the rod.

A particularly nice rod case is included with the rod.

Even the tube cap is nice and classy.

Even the tube cap is nice and classy.

Upon taking the rod out of the nice case I found it had a toned down matt carbon finish, with neat whippings and fittings throughout. I prefer a finish like this, as there is less chance of spooking a fish through line flash. In my eyes it also looks better cosmetically. The black aluminum reel winch and carbon effect spacer in particular were impressive, and quality wise certainly on a parr with rods of a much higher specification.

A nice touch on the rod butt.

A nice touch on the rod butt.

The slim 4 section blank was fitted together with ease due to the aligner dots on each piece – and, unlike some other brands I have come across they actually aligned perfectly, rather than being dotted on at random in the rod factory by a person with defective eyesight!

Reel fittings were first class.

Reel fittings were first class.

Standard black anodised snakes and two unusal stripping rings mark this out from the other rods in this price bracket.

Standard black anodised snakes and two unusual stripping rings mark this out from the other rods in this price bracket.

The first preliminary wobble of the rod revealed it was quite stiff – oh no, not another poker I thought! However, the first cast alleviated the worry – the rod was indeed a fast action, but line loading was easy, and the blank loaded in a nice progressive way. I would use the term ‘medium fast’ to describe the action.

A tried a variety of casts – single haul, double haul, side and roll casting, and found the rod was lightweight, responsive and capable of serious distance casts without troubling it too much. Loops were crisp and easy to control, with no wobble or fuss from the blank at all.

Roll casting on the Fishtec casting pool

Roll casting on the Fishtec casting pool.

This model had a half wells handle that I found transmitted a nice feel through to the hand – often fly rod handles are way too thick and really hamper the feel of your casting, and therefore the enjoyment of your fishing. The quality of the cork was also excellent, with little if any filler evident.

The 9’6 #6 weighs in at just 3.45 oz, making it lighter than most competitor rods of the same spec – In fact for comparison purposes the whole range comes in at slightly lighter than the equivalent model of Greys GR70; these are properly light rods!

All in all it was a nice experience to use, with plenty of feel and a noticeable reserve of power, which I could tell would be very handy for bullying a big fish into the net, or punching a line out into a strong head wind.

Long line lift off was crisp and effortless due to the reserve of power.

Long line lift off was crisp and effortless due to the reserve of power in the butt.

I tried to find bad points with the rod, but really struggled to find anything to complain about to be honest! Aside from maybe the addition of a fighting butt on a rod of this length, I really couldn’t think of anything else they could have done to improve it.

So, to conclude I would have to say it’s a great effort by Wychwood, and deservedly worth the £185 price tag – I don’t think I would be dissapointed to own or use this rod long term myself, it certainly pushed all the buttons for me and does everything you ask of it extremely well.

The Wychwood RS range of fly fishing rods are available here.

Fly Line Review – Airflo Super-Dri Xceed One Year On

Many fly line reviews are made with the product fresh out of the packet – not a real ‘test’ at all in my book. So, In this review I am taking a look at a fly line that I first spooled up exactly one year ago – The Airflo super-dri Xceed.

Fishing with the Super Dri Exceed fly line

Fishing with the Super Dri Exceed fly line.

When I first selected the line, I had river fishing in mind. With it’s shorter compact head, the specification looked perfect for ‘quick loading’ casting situations, i.e in a stream channel with confined back-casting space, or under a tight tree-lined canopy.

Knowing the head was short and compact, and slightly over-weighted on the AFTM scale, I opted for a 3 weight, to use on my 7’6 #3/4 and 10′ #3/4 Streamtec rods. I found I was correct in my choice – a 3 weight loaded both of these rods perfectly, and in the case of the softer 7’6 rod extremely well at shorter range.

The Super Dri Exceed taper

The Super Dri Exceed taper.

When spooling up the line I noticed just how smooth and slick it felt when compared to the older Airflo ridge impact lines. The neat welded loop was also a nice touch, as were the loading zones in olive.

Super dri Exceed - check the neat welded loops.

Super Dri Exceed – check the neat welded loops.

Once on on the water I found the line floated nice and high, even right at the tip – again a big step up from the last generation. The presentation was delicate and controlled, and the line landed gently even with my worst casts. Skittish river trout certainly obliged. Roll casting under thick cover was also effortless. The ‘pumpkin’ colour was just perfect too – ideal for picking out your line in a dark tree lined tunnel, or in the evening, but not so flashy as to be a fish spooking risk.

The line had an initial baptism on the Wye and Usk foundations wild streams – more than 30 sessions in fact through the trout season. Wild is just the right description for these small rivers. Your fly line can and WILL get caught and snagged up in rocks, tree limbs, brambles etc. Plus it will also get stood on – almost inevitable in such cramped, overgrown venues – all part of the challenge!

An overgrown, snaggy wild stream. the ultimate fly line grinder.

An overgrown, snaggy wild stream – a true fly line grinder.

Unlike many other fly lines however Airflo are much tougher than the average. Once having worn out a Cortland 444’s coating in just under 6 weeks, and wader studding a Scientific Anglers GPX in half, not to mention ruining a Lee Wulf triangle taper in a rose bush, I have often cursed an expensive line purchase for not being man enough for the job. I have now probably used enough lines from the various manufactures to know that Airflo make the toughest out there.

The Super Dri Xceed proved to be almost indestructible despite being thoroughly punished over the last 12 months. To be honest I don’t really look after my lines, and have never cleaned this one but it is still just like the day I got it out of the packaging, despite literally going through a few hedges backwards. Flotation is still just as good as day one – the polyurethane formula with Teflon impregnated coating keeps the dirt off. Unlike PVC the line never leaches out it’s lubrication, or will crack.

This line has basically been in continuous use for a full year – rocky wild streams, big freestone rivers, tiny undergrowth choked brooks, upland hill lakes for wild browns, winter grayling fishing and even rock strewn torrents in the tropics, it’s truly been through the grinder and back.

This spring I am currently using the Xceed extensively on the larger Welsh rivers with my 10 foot 3/4 weight for dry fly fishing. For a 3 weight it is surprising just how well the taper cuts through a gusty head wind – 20 yard plus casts are fairly easy to achieve, and turnover of my favoured 18 foot leader is just spot on.

Taff trout on super dri Xceed line

Big river trout on super dri Xceed line.

In conclusion, I am more than happy with this line and am confident it will just keep on going and going. If you are looking for an extremely durable line, that offers decent value for money (£39.99) when compared to the competition, plus great performance then I don’t think you can beat this one if you are a hardcore river angler.

I will update this review in 12 months time!

Fishing Tackle Review – The RidgeMonkey Bivvy Light

 

The RidgeMonkey duo bivvy-lite

The RidgeMonkey duo bivvy-lite.

I have had my RidgeMonkey bivvy lite Duo for over 5 months and used it most nights when out fishing. I don’t use it to read by or keep it on for hours, just to bait up and do a spot of cooking.

This clever bit of kit has two light settings. I tend to use the brightest setting, not the red, as I am not sure about that one yet. I have been fishing at least one night a week, if not more and used this light most nights.

There are two light settings.

There are two light settings.

The battery power has proved to be wonderful – I have still yet to charge it up! This is just brilliant and the fact that it would be quite a simple process, as I carry a power pack for my phone. So when I finally have to charge up the light, I will be able to do it on the bank.

Attach anywhere you wish using a magnetic strip.

Attach anywhere you wish using a magnetic strip.

It has a  handy magnetic strip you can attach it to your bivvy or brolly

There are two cords either end which enable you to hang it from brolly spokes or a magnet hook.

I have attached a clip to mine which makes it a bit easier for me to attach.
This allows me to clip it on quick over the brolly spoke and I can just slide it up and down depending on where I need the light to be under the brolly.

I have also found a use for those old pva tubes! A perfect place to store the bivvy Light when not in use.

This is a great bit of kit and I believe I have finally found a bivvy light that is simply perfect for the job. Full credit to RidgeMonkey for doing a great job here – carp anglers have been waiting for something as good as this for a long time!

Regards Richard.

The Airflo Rocket Fly Rod – UK Angler Feedback

The Airflo Rocket fly rod was released last year to critical acclaim. Beautifully finished, with unbeatable performance it’s proven itself to be a best seller and anglers favourite. We can honestly say that this fly rod range has thoroughly pleased every fisherman who has ever used, reviewed or purchased one. Read on to find out why top UK anglers love their Rocket rods so much!

Gareth Jones, the Airflo sales director is one of the UK’s leading competition fly anglers. Gareth has been using the 10′ #8 ”competition special” on numerous UK reservoir fisheries. This model is purpose deigned for the UK reservoir angler needing the ability to handle all densities of sinking fly lines with ease.

‘This 4 piece rod oozes power and loads smoothly to launch some of my sinking lines over 50 yards when fishing from the shore. Whilst it has incredible power, it is not overly aggressive and does not pull the hook hold when you get fish close to the net, making it perfect for early season competition and bank fishing.”

During the intensive field testing of this rod prior to release early last year, Gareth caught some lovely Farmoor trout using the new Airflo Forty Plus ‘Booby fly line’ for a Trout Fisherman magazine article – see image below.

Farmoor rainbow - tamed on teh 10' #8 competion special.

Gareth with Farmoor rainbow – tamed on the 10′ #8 competition special.

The 10 #8 competition special model went on to the win the prestigious Trout Fisherman magazine’s ”tackle testers choice” award in November 2015. This is what tester Robbie Winram thought of the 10′ #8:

‘If you are in a boat rocking and rolling in the wind and rain, this rod can work tirelessly, punching out sunk lines all day long.”

Robbie Winram was very impressed with the Airflo rocket fly rods.

Robbie Winram was seriously impressed with the Airflo rocket fly rods.

Chris Ogborne made use of his 10′ #6/7 rocket rod in many stillwater fly fishing locations, both at home and abroad. Here’s what Chris had to say:

”If ever there was the ultimate all-round ten footer, then this is it.  Amazing on Blagdon, superb on Corrib, and out of this world for sea bass fishing on the beach down here in Cornwall. The combination of sensitivity and feel is matched by arguably the best balance I’ve felt, not just at this length but at any.  A very special fishing tool.”

Our online marketing manager Ceri Thomas field tested the 9 foot #6/7 model for nearly a year. It rapidly became his favourite rod for stillwater angling.

”This rod is ideal for the small stillwater angler. Light with a crisp and responsive mid-tip action it’s simply lovely to cast and use. I have also enjoyed catching wild brown trout in the Welsh hill lakes using this rod – the four section design comes in handy when getting off the beaten track!”

Ceri with a wild brown in the net.

Ceri with a wild brown in the net.

Fishtec blogger Rene Alleyne spent many late nights last summer on the river Towy in search of sea trout. Rene simply loved using his rocket 10′ #7/8 weight:

This rod was an absolute joy to fish with. It does everything I need it to and cast’s very smoothly, whether using small flies or big surface lures. It will cast two heavy tubes at distance no problem at all. I’m looking forward to getting back out at night with this rod already for next season

Towy Sea Trout

Rene’ with just some of the Towy sea trout he caught using his Airflo Rocket 10′ 7/8 fly rod.

Fishtec’s marketing director Tim Hughes traveled up to Clywedog reservoir in Mid Wales and used his 10′ #6/7 to catch hard fighting rainbows off the top on the drift.

”The 10 #6/7 has everything you need for floating line action. Forgiving and feather light, with a nice fish playing action. It also has the backbone to handle the full range of sinkers and intermediates.”

Tim Hughes into a fish on the dries.

Tim Hughes putting a bend into his 10′ 6/7 rocket.

Young Callum Russell got a new fly rod for Christmas! His father, competition angler Matt got him a 9’6 #6/7 rocket fly rod as an upgrade from his trusty Super-stik.

”My 9’6′ #6/7 rocket is amazing! The colour is great and it casts like a dream, it helps me get an extra 3 or 4 yards which great when the fish move out due to my father’s bad casting.”

Here he is with the fish that christened his brand new rocket on Ellerdine lakes!  And yes, he out fished dad (again!) that day… To say Callum is thrilled with the rod is a big understatement.

Callum Russell with an Ellerdine lake double figure bow'

Callum Russell with an Ellerdine lake double figure bow’

So, if you are looking for a new fly fishing rod to help kick off your 2016 trout fishing look no further – the Rocket might be just what you’re looking for!

For full details of the Airflo Rocket fly rod range click here.

Chris Ogborne’s Pre-Season Tackle Preparation Tips

It’s March at last and we’re on the very cusp of Spring. The new Trout fishing year is just around the corner, so Chris Ogborne gives us his top tips on how to make sure that you, AND your gear are fully ready for the season!

I absolutely love this time of year! The wet, grey and overly long winter is almost behind us and all thoughts now are for the new fishing season, in whatever form that takes for the individual angler.

It matters not whether you’ll be heading for the lakes, the rivers or the coast. What DOES matter is that we have that wonderful feeling that the whole season stretches away in front of us, with over six months of great fishing to look forward to. Very soon now we’ll be out there with the sun on our backs and hopefully a decent bend in the rod as the first fish takes hold!

But to make sure that you enjoy it to the full, it pays to have a quick check through ahead of time, to make sure that all your fly fishing tackle is in perfect working order. For me it’s a fun job and one of the real pleasures of Spring. I usually do it on a Sunday morning, laying all the gear out on the patio and spending a few happy hours oiling reels, checking lines, wiping down rod handles and giving the fishing bag a good shake to clear all the debris.

OK hands up, I’m guilty of the following: Like most anglers, I’m lazy in Autumn and just chuck everything on the corner of the garage to be forgotten for the winter months. Our gear that gives us so much pleasure deserves better treatment, so here’s my detailed recipe for a spring clean:

Leader material: It’s absolutely crazy and false economy to make do with old leader material. Be ruthless and throw those old part-used spools away. In the overall scheme of things it’s the least expensive element of our gear, and you SO don’t want to lose the first fish of the year because the old material had de-graded. Spools get knocked about in jacket pockets, they get wet and shrink, or they get bashed about against harder objects so give yourself peace of mind and buy new. Whether it’s co-polymer or fluorocarbon, do it now. It’s a great investment!

Invest in new leader material at the start of your season!

Invest in new leader material at the start of your season!

Fly lines: of equal importance to the leader material is the fly line. There is a strong argument that the single most important item in the tackle box is the fly line, yet we seem to expect them to last for five years or more without any care at all. In most cases, a fly line costs less than a day out on the boat on your local reservoir, so it just isn’t reasonable to expect them to last forever. Unless you treat them regularly they will stiffen, become less supple, and the edge will be taken off their performance. Even the very best lines will degrade slightly in time so go on, treat yourself to new lines this year! Nothing quite compares to having the feel of a brand new fly line on opening day on the reservoir – the feel-good factor is well worth the cost!

Nothing beats the 'feel good' factor of a new fly line.

Nothing beats the ‘feel good’ factor of a new fly line.

Reels: check your reels BEFORE opening day! Modern reels are marvels of engineering but even the very best need a little TLC every now and again. Just check them over and even if it’s nothing more than a clean up you’ll feel better for it! The debris that inevitably collects can be washed away in warm water (top tip is to use an old toothbrush) and this applies to all reels, even the modern ones with inter-changeable spools. The more traditional alloy reels with spindle will benefit from a light grease (use top grade fine oil or grease) as well. As another top tip, I always like to take all the lines and backing off and then re-wind neatly.

Butt rig: If you don’t use a permanent butt rig system on your lines then this is something to consider. I use an Airflo polyleader on ALL my lines in the appropriate density as this provides the all-important clean turnover when casting, which in turn gives better presentation. These leader rigs are inexpensive and WILL make a difference to your fishing.

Rods: Modern rods are pretty bomb proof in design, but if you do little else apart from a wipe down with a damp cloth then there is one thing you really MUST do: check the rings for wear! Grooved rod rings will play havoc with your new fly lines and in the worst cases they can seriously damage them beyond reclaim. A quick check one will save a lot of frustration on the bankside in April. For more tips on fly rod care, click here.

Clothing:
It’s been said before but is worth saying again – a warm, dry and comfortable angler is a MUCH more effective angler. Early season can be pretty cold so make sure that you’re prepared for the elements. More importantly, make sure that the extra layers don’t impair your casting, as too much bulk in clothing can have nightmare restrictions on your movement. The Airflo clothing range includes no end of great layers, from lightweight and breathable through to sub-Arctic survival and it’s all made from the latest high-tech materials designed for anglers. My personal favourite item of clothing from their range has to be the Airflo Thermolite hoody.

Fly boxes: this is my absolute top tip. PLEASE check your fly boxes for any sign of rusty or damaged hooks! Modern fly boxes are designed to prevent rust but even the best will be susceptible to being stored in damp conditions. In recent years I’ve been using the Airflo Slim Jim boxes which are nothing short of brilliant – easy to see the contents at a glance, quick fly selection, and sure grips that won’t leave you with loose flies everywhere. The bonus is that they fit into a shirt pocket so they’re great if you like to travel light

Make sure you check your waders and boots

Make sure you check your waders and boots!

Waders: make sure you check your waders and boots NOW! This vital element of tackle is another one we tend to take for granted, expecting them to last forever. After three seasons of faithful use, especially if you’re a regular angler fishing once or twice a week, I’d reasonably expect to look to replace them. Far better to do this ahead of time as leaks on opening day can be VERY cold!

Enjoy your opening day, Chris.

Tackle up for Early Season River Fly Fishing

The 2016 river trout fishing season is soon to be upon us! Here in Wales it begins on March the 3rd, with the rest of the country soon to follow suit. We simply cannot wait to get out on our local rivers and start fishing again.

But first make sure you tackle up! For your larger freestone river fishing, you need the appropriate fly fishing gear in order to make the most of harsh early spring conditions. Here we have picked out six essential tackle items for your early season trout fishing forays, and explain why you need them.

An Early season wild brown from the river Ebbw.

An Early season wild brown from the river Ebbw.

1. Thermal underwear suit. In early March the water temperatures will still be extremely cold, and wading for more than an hour or two will leave you chilled to the bone. We recommend Investing in a decent set of thermals for the start of your season.

The new thermolite body suit from Airflo is absolutely perfect for the job. Worn as part of a layering system this body suit is guaranteed to keep you warm and comfortable. Another benefit is getting your waders on and off. This becomes a much easier job due to this suits smooth, soft, friction free surface. Simply ensure you wear in the correct way (i.e over your other clothing) and you will reap the benefits.

Airflo's thermolite suit.

Airflo’s thermolite suit.

2. Get a decent net. There several excellent nets on the market designed purposely for the river angler, such as the Airflo streamtec pan net. At a sale price of just £14.99 these nets are a true bargain – so why not invest in a new one for your seasons start?

These great nets are very lightweight, with an a ergonomic rubber handle and are sized ‘just right’. There is nothing worse than struggling to unhook a fish twisted up in overly deep net meshing, and the depth here is just perfect. The mesh itself is extremely fine, just like that of a coarse fishing match net head, making them extremely fish friendly and a lot harder to end up with your your fly entangled within it. Attach with a magnetic net-release to the D-ring on your vest and you are good to go!

Wild Trout in Airflo pan net

A 14 inch wild river Taff brown – Safe and sound in the Airflo Streamtec pan net.

3. Waterproof phone case. At the start of the season river flows will be very strong from the constant winter rain, so a careless wade could easily result in a dip. To save you getting a new phone, we recommend you invest in an overboard phone case.

These cases really are an indispensable piece of kit for the river angler – I’m sure plenty of us have ruined a phone whilst river fishing, we certainly have!

Overboard phone cases

Overboard phone cases – how much is your phone worth?

Wear securely round your neck, or in your wader pocket safe in the knowledge if you do ship some water or stumble on the rocks your phone will be saved. Unlike a lot of cheap ebay imitations (which often split apart after just days!) the overboard cases are designed for ease of entry and are very durable – guaranteed to keep your phone safe and dry for many years.

4. Warm headgear. It’s a well known fact that body heat is lost most rapidly through the head. We stock a wide section of warm head gear, but our favourite has to be the Simms trout visor beanie. A great bit of kit which unlike some others has a visor peak so is ideal for blocking out low angle light glare.

Simms trout visor beanie in action

The Simms trout visor beanie in action.
Image: Simms Fly Fishing

5.Thermolite hoody. These awesome jackets by Airflo have got it all – functionality, smart appearance, and cold weather performance to match. These jackets are simply great value, and are a firm staff favourite at Fishtec. Ideal for early season on the river, and the pub afterwards.

warm gear East sleep fish

Warm Gear: Airflo Thermolite hoody with polar Buff.
Image: Eat Sleep fish

6. Polar Buff neck wear. Keeps wind and cold out of the neck and face area. An essential for early season angling. The polar version features a continuous double layer of polyester microfibre and fleece, making ideal for autumn and winter fishing escapades. Wear it with the fleece inside or out to keep warmth and comfort to a maximum. The possibilities are almost endless, rather like the product!

Why not let us know how you got on at the start of your river season? Visit our Facebook page and share your early season catches with us.

Beginners Guide To Fly Tying

Image Source Rene’ Harrop
All you need to know about fly tying!

If you don’t tie your own flies, you’re in good company. Over a third of fly anglers have never tied a fly. Maybe you’ve heard tying is too difficult, expensive or time-consuming?

Well, it’s none of the above. And once you get started, you’ll see how easy, enjoyable and addictive it can be.

Master of your own bait

Image source: Tim Hughes
The best way to match the hatch

Fly tying offers so many advantages you’d be crazy not to give it a go. But one of the most compelling is the freedom and versatility it grants you. Tie your own flies and you’ll always be able to match the hatch.

“The fact that I have an open canvas to put whatever I want on a hook draws me to the vice again and again,”

agrees Cheech Pierce on Fly Fish Food blog.

Convinced? You should be. Carry on reading, and we’ll tell you everything you need to get started.

Essential equipment

steady hand for tying flies

Image source: shutterstock
Pair the right equipment with a steady hand

You’ll need some basic tools to get tying. Start with the holy trinity of vice, scissors and bobbin holder.

Vice

While it’s possible to tie a fly totally by hand, we wouldn’t recommend it to a beginner. Most fly tyers choose to use a vice, and so should you. There are many types available, so do your research before you buy. As the Fly Dressers’ Guild advises:

“Choosing your first vice and tools is a bit like buying your first car: very exciting, potentially expensive, but easy to end up with something poorly made and not up to the task.”

Pick a vice that’s easy to use, has a good grip and will hold a variety of hook sizes.

Scissors

Next on your shopping list is a pair of sharp, pointed scissors. Those rusty old scissors in your kitchen drawer literally won’t cut it. Get yourself a dedicated pair of fly-tying scissors.

If you’ve got a couple of hours to spare, Global Fly Fisher has the most comprehensive guide to fly-tying scissors you’ll ever read.

Master fly tyer Barry Ord Clarke recommends two pairs of scissors: “one with extremely fine points for the more intricate work and a pair with larger and serrated blades for deer hair and heavier work.”

Ceramic bobbin holder

fly tying bobbin holder

Image source: shutterstock
Spend a little more on a ceramic bobbin holder

Last in the trinity is the bobbin holder – a device that carefully holds your fly-tying thread so you don’t have to. In The Riffle recommends ceramic bobbins – they’re more expensive but worth it:

“The ceramic inserts on the tip of the bobbin will protect the fine fly-tying thread. Without the ceramic, the bobbin will develop burrs and grooves in the metal. This will cause the thread to constantly break during tying, very frustrating!”

Extra equimpent

fly tying gadgets

Image source: shutterstock
More shiny fly-tying gadgets

Next we move on to less essential, albeit still useful, secondary tools.

Hackle pliers

Hackle pliers are useful for big fingers that can’t get a good grip on small feathers. But the Fly Dressers’ Guild warns:

“Check that the edges of the jaws are not sharp or they will cut through your materials. A quick rub with emery paper or the addition of a small piece of silicone tubing will cure this problem.”

Dubbing needle

A dubbing needle performs a variety of roles. It will pick out dubbing (fur), apply varnish, undo knots and separate feather fibres. You don’t necessarily need to buy a dubbing needle if you can find something else that’s long and pointy to use instead – the Fly Dressers’ Guild recommends “Grandma’s hat pins”.

Whip finish tool

Some tyers love ‘em and some tyers hate ‘em. Whip finish tools come in various shapes and sizes and are used to finish off the fly. But they can be a real faff to handle. The alternative is to whip finish by hand.

Tying lamp v natural light

hillend dabbler fly

Image source: Hillend Dabbler
One of Hillend Dabbler’s al fresco creations

Depending on where your tying table is located you might need to shine some light on your handiwork. There are a number of fly tying lamps that give the magnification and shadow-free light you’ll need for the fiddly stuff.

But in warmer weather, natural light can work just as well, as Hillend Dabbler comments:

“Today I managed to get outdoors into the garden and tie a few patterns on the garden table with a nice cold beer close to hand. It has to be said the light was absolutely tremendous which I believe is a very important factor whilst tying. The natural light really assisted me outdoors today so maybe tying al fresco is something I should consider doing more often.”

Materials

good quality hackle

Image source: shutterstock
When choosing hackle, quality really does matter

Now it’s time to choose the materials you’ll use to create your first flies. Don’t go bonkers and buy every possible variation of anything you could ever need. Take it slowly at first.

1) Hackle
Before you choose your hackle – or feathers – consider the type of fly you’re going to make. When it comes to poultry, smaller, softer hen capes work best for wet flies as the fibres move better in the water. While for dry flies, cock capes are better, as the fibres are stiffer and so float better.

Fly Fishing Connection (which provides a good, quick overview of what you need to know about hackle) warns against scrimping on price:

“When choosing hackle, quality counts. You will end up being frustrated if you do not spend the extra money.”

wet and dry fly hackle

Image source: shutterstock
Wet and dry flies require different types of hackle

If you have friends who shoot, ask them for game bird feathers. These can come in handy for soft-hackle fly patterns. And start keeping an eye out for anything interesting on your travels. But be warned; David Cammiss says:

“Once you start collecting fly tying materials no walk along the river, or lakeside will ever be the same again. You will find yourself gathering feathers and anything else which ‘just might be useful’. On a recent trip my colleague could not believe I was collecting sheep’s wool off the barbed wire. Now that it has been washed in detergent in boiling water it will be dyed.”

2) Hooks

Choice of hook is very important!!

Choice of hook is very important!!

Your choice of hook is also very important, says Al Campbell of Fly Anglers Online:

“If you choose the right hook, your fly will be better proportioned and thus perform better in use. If you choose the wrong hook, you’ll have a flawed fly and your success with that fly will likely be less than the success you would enjoy with a properly tied fly.”

But with so many sizes and types of hook, how do you know where to start? Campbell suggests you first decide which flies you want to make and then buy the hooks you need to make them. Not the other way round.

3) Thread

There are almost as many types of thread as there are types of hook. But Fly on a hook blogger, Bernard Sunderland, advises beginners to start with a ‘standard’ thread – polyester, 70 denier – and not to buy any specialist thread in the early stages.

Once you’ve made your first few flies you’ll soon have a favourite combination of materials that you can draw from.

Rob Waddington’s top six are: “A B175 #10 hook with some white marabou, hare’s ear, peacock feathers, natural cock cape, pheasant tail and a few brass beads. You could tie anything with them.”

For Bob Mayers: “Hook would be Fulling Mill comp heavyweight, materials would be Booby Eyes, Straggle Fritz, Bronze Mallard, Pheasant Tails, cock hackles, Jungle cock Eyes.”

Technique

fly fishing gear

Image source: shutterstock
All the gear but no idea?

Teaching technique is way beyond the scope of this short guide. But we will point you in the direction of some very useful resources:

1) Reference books
A quick search on Amazon or a question posted on your favourite fishing forum will quickly lead you to the most helpful beginner’s guides to fly tying.
Here are three of the most popular:
Fly Tying for Beginners: How to Tie 50 Failsafe Flies, by Peter Gathercole
The Fly Tier’s Benchside Reference to Techniques and Dressing Styles, by Ted Leeson
Beginners Guide To Fly Tying, by Chris Mann & Terry Griffiths

2) Online tutorials

davie mcphail youtube

Follow Davie McPhail’s tutorials for beginner fly tyers

There are literally thousands of how-to videos on sites like YouTube and Vimeo. Some of the best beginners tutorials include:

Learn Fly Tying, by David Cammiss
What Makes a Good Fly by Mikael Frodin
Flies for Beginners by Davie McPhail

3) Lessons
If you know a fly tyer, ask them for help. If you don’t, try contacting your local Fly Dressers Guild for details of any fly-tying classes near you.

Expert advice

1) Simply does it
Without doubt, the main piece of advice for the beginner fly tyer is to keep it simple:

“Don’t over complicate, watch YouTube videos, start with easy patterns,” advises Bob Mayers of the Llandegfedd Fly Fishing Association.

“Don’t try to replicate complex patterns when you start, start with easy-to-tie patterns and build up your skills slowly,” agrees McFluffchucker blogger, Dave Lindsay.

2) Less is more
Resist the temptation to overdo your first flies, says Lindsay:

“Don’t use tons of materials when you tie a fly; always remember less is more when it comes to big pike flies, flies become more mobile in the water if you use less material.”

Waddington agrees: “Less is more, don’t ‘over-tie’. Sparse materials look better in the water and have a luminous effect.”

3) Don’t worry about perfection
And last, but not least, don’t worry if your first fly (or even your 101st) isn’t perfect. The fish don’t care. Dave Lindsay tells us:

“Even if you think your first tyes dosnt look professional they will still catch fish”

And take this advice from trout fly fishing maestro Geoffrey Bucknall:

Recently, fly tying has become very sophisticated. And master fly dressers, at the demos have raised the craft to a pinnacle of perfection. It is great to watch… and yet, I wonder, are we not discouraging a handful of would-be beginners who believe their sausage fingers could not manipulate what is needed for a woven body?

True, the fly must be basically right in colour and size, but the trout locks onto the natural fly by the way it behaves in or on the water. In other words, a simple fly presented in the natural way, that does the business. Fly dressing can be raised to a high level of craftsmanship but that has nothing to do with catching fish!

So, my advice to fly dressers is this; write in big letters above your bench: TROUT RECOGNISE THEIR FOOD BY ITS BEHAVIOUR. That will govern the way you make your flies.

And on that encouraging note, here endeth the lesson.

Fishtec stock everything you need to start fly tying – including amazing value tool sets, materials and hooks from all the major suppliers, plus the best selling all-in-one Airflo fly tying kits! Click here for further details.

11 Top Tips For Looking After Your Fly Rod

Here at Fishtec we have seen many times over that an improperly cared for fly rod can let you down. Caring for your fly fishing rod in the correct way will make it perform better, be 100% reliable and help make it last you a lifetime. Read on to find out how fly rods should be treated.

Look after your fly rod- and it will look after you! (Image Sageflyfish.com)

Look after your fly rod- and it will look after you! (Image Sageflyfish.com)

Follow our 11 top tips for taking care of your precious fly rod:

1. Take the cellophane off the handle: We see cellophane left on rod handles far too often in social media pics, when talking to anglers on the bank and in returns. You should always remove the cellophane from a cork rod handle before using it. It’s only there to keep dirt off in the warehouse/showroom. If you don’t, moisture will get underneath and will rot the cork and crumble the filler out. Naked cork also offers a far better grip and feel!

2. Never pack away a soaking wet rod: We have had several customer returns where this has clearly been done, with the rod stowed in a soaking wet bag and then zipped up in a tube. The strong musty smell of mildew is very apparent, as is mold and lifted white discoloured varnish. This is a sure-fire way to ruin your rod – cork will go spongy, glue will go soft, whippings will soak up water and it can spoil the varnished finish.

This rod bag was stained and rotten from being repeatedly stowed wet. The rod inside was in a poor condition.

This rod bag was stained and rotten from being repeatedly stowed wet. The rod inside was in a poor condition.

This fly rod has been repeatedly stored soaking wet - and the finish has started to bubble as a result.

This fly rod has been repeatedly stored soaking wet – and the finish has started to bubble as a result.

3. Give your rod a wash: Occasionally your rod deserves a clean up! Not every session, but once in a while. Most anglers never do this, but it will help enhance performance, particularly if the eyes are dirty. Use a sponge, luke-warm water and fairy liquid. An old toothbrush will help you get in the eyes and crevasses in the reel seat and spacer. If you use your rod exclusively in saltwater, then this is essential after every use. At the same time take the opportunity to check rings for wear and damage.

Use a toothbrush to clean up your eyes once in a while.

Use a toothbrush to clean up your eyes once in a while.

4. Clean your cork: Your cork handle can get dirty, discoloured and even muoldy. The best way to deep clean is to use isopropyl alchohol and a rag (same stuff used to repair Simms waders). This stuff is also available as the Airflo Bloc-IT leak detector. Lighter fluid can also be used to give your cork a good cleanse.

5. Clean the ferrules: Take care to ensure your ferrules are clean. Grit, dirt etc. can and will get trapped in them. If dirty when you push together you risk them getting stuck, or causing damage to varnish and ferrules. This in turn then contributes to sections slipping, or getting stuck.

A ferrule damaged by grit and dirt trapped at the joint.

A ferrule damaged by grit and dirt trapped at the joint.

6.Check your ferrules during fishing: Even the best designed fly rods will experience some twisting at the section joints. One angler will get slippage but a friend picking up and casting same rod may not! It all depends on the individual caster’s ability, casting style, fly line used, even wind direction – the way you cast and fish has a huge impact on this.  Every angler should check the connections and push back together (if necessary) as an automatic reflex at least several times each session. Loose sections are a major cause of broken rods.

7. Use candle wax on a loose section: Over time due to improper care of ferrules (see tips 5. & 6) sections can be more prone to twist if they have worked loose or have had grit in them. Use of candle wax rubbed on male part of ferrule will help slippage greatly.

8. Pack your rod way carefully: A major cause of breakage is a rod just carelessly thrown in the car boot, garage corner etc. The wife, kids or dog knock them over yet the rod makers get the blame when an inch missing off the tip or crack is discovered on the water side. Once your rod is dry use the rod sleeve and hard case it was originally supplied with. If you have lost yours, these Airflo multi rod cases are perfect for keeping several fly rods out of harms way.

9. Rod sections stuck together: Stuck sections are most often caused by lack of cleaning ( see tip 5.) If this happens try using two people each side and pull straight. If that fails cool down, or freeze the stuck section then pour warm water over the female section only, then pull hard. Getting hold of non slip rubber patches (used in drawers) or using a tea towel for a better grip can be a great help.

10. Store the sections in the correct way: Stow with the cork handle up with the tip end also facing upwards next to it. This minimises any chance of the tip getting damaged when being pushed down, and the handle acts to protect the tip and give something to grip when pulling out of the case.

11. Clean your reel seat and thread: Prevent your locking rings from jamming and cross threading by cleaning regulatory with an old toothbrush. If you fail to do this you could ruin your reel seat – many rod makers charge extra to replace butt sections!

Grit has been trapped in the locking rings - and has damaged the thread.

Grit has been trapped in the locking rings – this has damaged the thread.