10 Pike Boat Fishing tips

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When faced with a large sheet of water catching Pike from a boat can be a daunting prospect – where to start? If you follow these 10 Pike boat fishing tips the next time you are afloat on a lake or reservoir, your pike catches should increase dramatically.

Pike boat fishing success - a 35lb plus pike! Captor: Leighton Ryan

Pike boat fishing success – a 35lb plus pike! Captor: Leighton Ryan

1. Bring a fish finder. An essential bit of fishing gear for boat fishing, it’s like an extra pair of underwater eyes. It’s a huge advantage to invest in one. There are many to choose from, but Fishin Buddy and Deeper are our favourites.

Don't forget your fishfinder!

Don’t forget your fishfinder!

2. Bring a second anchor or mudweight. When fishing deadbaits an unstable moving boat means bad presentation. Bad presentation = no runs. Ensure you pack a mudweight, as most fisheries do not supply them. Anchor your boat at both ends, with the prow facing into the wind for safety reasons.

3. Drift with lures. Drifting and casting lures covering water will always outfish anchoring up and working a small area. The more water you cover with lures, the more fish will see them and the more you will catch! A drogue is an essential bit of kit, it will slow your drift to just the right speed on a windy day.

4. Cast your deadbaits far away from the boat.  I often see pike anglers  fishing with their floats way too close to the boat. Pike can be spooked from boat noise and vibration, especially during a prolonged period of pressure. From experience a good cast of 30 – 40 yards away from where you are anchored will get you more runs.

5. Find the contours, find the fish. Drop offs are where pike sit or patrol, and underwater spits and plateaus can literally be fish magnets. If you do not have a fishfinder check out the lie of the surrounding land and try and work out where submerged features may be found. If you can, get hold of a depth contour map of the venue, it will be invaluable.

A fishery contour map is invaluable.

A fishery contour map is invaluable.

6. Don’t follow the crowd. It can be very tempting to pull up and fish near to somebody who just pulled out a 30! Or if you see a cluster of boats in a bay fishing away, you might think there is a reason they are here – and decide to join in. It’s best to go looking for fresh, unfished areas where fish have been undisturbed. Find your own fish, don’t be a sheep!

7. Be mobile. This is the main advantage of a boat – you can go wherever you want! It amazes me when people anchor up and stay static all day in exactly the same spot, with often little to show for it. I like to pick a decent spot, anchor up and fish it for an hour max. I have lost count of the amount of runs that have come within the first 10 minutes. If they are there, have seen your bait and are feeding you wont be hanging around for ages waiting for action. No runs in an hour, up anchor and try somewhere else.

A Chew pike - result of a mobile approach, an instant run in a new spot.

A Chew pike – result of a mobile approach, an instant run in a new spot.

8. Stick it out. Where fishery rules permit try and stay on the water as long as possible. The last hour of fishing into dusk is often the best, a last knockings fish can save your day.

9. Run the lures through the area first. When deabaiting it pays to throw the lure around the boat for a few casts before you cast out your deads. You might pick up an instant fish, and even if you don’t the vibration and disturbance can ”wake up” pike nearby or draw them closer. They may then take your dead with gusto.

10. Be organised. A lot of success is down organising your pike fishing tackle. Ensure you set your gear out in the boat so clutter and mess is at a minimum. Get the net and unhooking matt ready for action before you begin fishing. Attach your drogue and assemble your rods prior to heading out from the jetty. Efficient organisation equals more free time, better concentration on the job in hand and ultimately results.

Pike fishing success in an organised boat

Pike fishing success in an organised boat.

UK Coarse Fish Species Guide

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UK coarse fishing species header
Want to know more about the UK’s freshwater fish? Fishtec’s UK coarse fish guide will help you find, catch, identify and learn more about twelve of our kingdom’s coarse fish species.

Whether you’re hoping to hook a small but perfectly formed Perch, or wrestle with a giant Wels Catfish, you’ll find some great coarse fishing facts in our guide below:

UK Coarse Fish Species Guide

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Average size – Farnham Angling Society and Fish UK
UK record weights – Anglers Mail and Angling Trust
Did You Know? – Farnham Angling Society, Fish UK and BAHS
Habitat – Ouse & Adur Rivers Trust / Environment Agency
All other data – experts at Fishtec

Image credits
Perch, Nikitin Victor
Rudd, Coprid
Dace, Konjushenko Vladimir
Roach, Regfer
Bream, Nikitin Victor
Zander, Krasowit
Tench, Sergey Goruppa
Carp, Alexander Raths
Barbel, Vladimir Wrangel
Chub, Malivan Iuliia
Pike, Balakleypb
Wels Catfish, Vadym Zaitsev

Aberdare and District Angling Association

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The Aberdare and district Angling association control the fishing on Nant Moel Reservoir and also a 4 mile stretch of the River Cynon.

Nant Moel Reservoir

Nant Moel Reservoir. Image credit: Jason Williams

Website: www.nantmoel.co.uk
Mr R Llewellyn
Email: llew_86@hotmail.com
Telephone number: 07738628041 (email preferred)
Day ticket available:
Yes, £12. Available from Hirwaun Post Office.
Season permit available: Yes, £70 half season, £120 Full..
Region: South East Wales
Social Media:  Yes, Facebook page for members only.

Situated at the foothills of the Brecon Beacons, the Nant Moel reservoir is regularly stocked with quality rainbow trout and sometimes blues, which grow on and fight well in the cool oxygenated water. Four level access disabled platforms make the reservoir an easy place to fish for everyone. Nant Moel reservoir fishes well all year, but particularly so in summer due to the high altitude – when other lower lying fisheries are not at their best, Nant Moel is often on song.

A typical Nant y Moel rainbow trout Image credit: Jason Williams

A typical Nant y Moel rainbow trout. Image credit: Jason Williams

The River Cynon flows through Aberdare, with the Aberdare Angling club stretch being from Llwycoed to Abercwmboi. This small tributary of the Taff is little fished, but it does hold plentiful stocks of beautiful wild brown trout, some of which reach decent sizes to rival the fish found in the main river Taff.

A river Cynon brown trout.

A river Cynon brown trout.


A Day with Brandon By Rene’ Harrop

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Brandon Prince is a wild man. Ambitious, aggressive, and impatient, this man of the mountains exerts his will in any activity whether for business or pleasure. However, on a day designated for testing some new Airflo fly lines and a few other products connected to his profession of Regional Sales Representative in the Rocky Mountain region, it was difficult to know if we were at work or at play.

Airflo fly line test

Airflo fly line test.

With beautiful Sheridan Lake as the proving ground, we would be matching wits with some very large and wily Kamloops rainbows while applying techniques and tackle from a full continent away.

We began the morning casting dry flies to cruising surface feeders that fed randomly on an amazing spinner fall of Callibaetis mayflies. As a diehard dry fly man, I was perfectly content with shooting long casts to visual targets that ran from sixteen to twenty inches in length. Within little more than an hour, however, Brandon was pulling the anchor and heading for another location on the lake.

Got Flies

Got Flies.

Though Brandon insisted that we needed to vary the testing, I knew that his real motive in moving to deeper water was not based purely on professional responsibility and discipline.

While a four pound trout would satisfy any angler, there is an inner pig residing within the core of Brandon’s fishing mentality that was about to be released.

Leaving the rising trout and the dense weed beds of the upper lake, we were soon anchored in water that showed only minor surface activity. Probing a depth exceeding ten feet would require a complete change of tactics that would include multiple subsurface fly patterns and a very long leader.

Deep Water Rainbow

Deep Water Rainbow.

When the first fish hooked turned out to be a monster pushing eight pounds, Brandon began to cackle. None of the trout taken with the straight line technique would measure less than twenty inches, and we stopped fishing only because we were too tired to continue, or more honestly because the old guy was too tired. At more than twenty years my junior, Brandon would have continued until wind or darkness shut the fishing down.  Like I said, Brandon is a wild man.

The Wild Man

The Wild Man.



Fishing The Daddy Long Legs

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The Fishtec office has been invaded by huge, gangly legged flying creatures. In fact, you could call it an infestation!

This is a great sign for fly fishermen of course. The arrival of the daddy long legs means autumn is here, and the fishing can only get better. And this year, according to a BBC report we could be looking at a record 200 billion daddy long legs emerging in the UK this autumn.

The daddy long legs

The daddy long legs.

The annual daddy long legs hatch is one of our favourite fishing events on the fly angling calendar – when blown on the water the fish simply love them. Big, and easy to imitate it is an anglers dream to go fishing and find every trout in the lake smashing daddies off the top.

What are they?

The daddy long legs or crane fly is a large, harmless insect and a member of the true fly family (diptera)  It hatches from a larval form, called a leatherjacket in autumn, especially in warm weather followed by rain. These larva prefer to live in pasture land, lawns and particularity love damp, soft ground which is why you find so many emerging near reservoirs, lakes and rivers.

Need flies?

Getting the right ones is crucial. If you don’t have any big, bushy patterns during a daddy fall, you will miss out! The daddy long legs fly pack by Fulling Mill has every variant you will ever need. Make sure you pick up a set, because if news reports are to be believed the autumn daddy sport is going to be outstanding.

A Fulling Mill daddy pattern

A Fulling Mill daddy pattern.

We also stock individual daddy long leg flies by highland flies.

How to fish them?

Fishing daddy long legs is simplicity itself. We like to fish a team of 2 flies. Use tippet material that is fairly strong – the takes can be savage! Also, a thicker tippet helps present the big fly better and reduces leader twist. About 5 to 8lb BS co-polymer is ideal.

On the bank, pick a spot with the wind blowing onto the water. Here the daddies will hit the water first. Look for the line between calm and ruffled water – it is there fish will often cruise, looking to intercept these long legged morsels as soon as they are blown on. Gink up your flies, then simply cast out and let them drift round with the wind.

If you are fishing from a drifting boat, cast and let them sit for 20 seconds or so – then give them a quick twitch and let them sit for another 20 seconds. Then skate them back before lifting off. Sometimes a little bit of movement can act as a trigger. By repeatedly covering fresh water with shorter quick casts you will maximize your chances.

Merthyr Tydfil AA Day Tickets – Now available from Fishtec!!

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You can now purchase day tickets for various fishing venues controlled by the Merthyr Tydfil Angling Association at the Fishtec shop!

One of the biggest angling clubs in Wales, MTAA have fishing rights on a vast array of venues, from small rivers to huge lakes. Many of these venues are local to Fishtec and provide excellent fishing opportunities for both game and coarse anglers.

The full list of day ticket venues and respective prices can be found below. To fish them, simply purchase your ticket at the Fishtec shop, open Monday to Saturday 9am – 5.00pm.


Cantref reservoir – 1st March to 30th November.

Cantref is on the A470 about 15 minutes drive from the Fishtec shop. It contains mainly wild browns, but is lightly trickle stocked through the year with rainbows allowing it to stay open until 30th November. If you do connect with a rainbow, expect a superb fight – they grow on well in the cold, clean water. The browns are plentiful with sizes between 8 oz to 12 oz with the odd bigger fish. The reservoir is in a lovely location despite being near the road. Fly fishing only.

Day Ticket prices: Adult £10.00 Junior £6.00

Full details can be found here.

A typical grown on Cantref rainbow trout.

A typical grown on Cantref rainbow trout.

River Taff – March 3rd to 30th September.

The MTAA water on the Taff covers 14 miles. The river is no longer heavily stocked; as a result In recent seasons the wild trout size and numbers have increased dramatically – it’s now probably the best fishing in Wales for larger than average river wild brown trout. There are no grayling present in this part of the river. At just 20 minutes from Fishtec, there is a lot of water to cover on the day ticket.

Day Ticket prices: Adult £10.00 Junior £6.00 (n.b also covers river Tarrell, and Taf Fechan)

Full details can be found here.

Spring on the River Taff.

Spring on the River Taff.

Taf Fechan River – March 3rd to 30th September

A delightful tributary of the Taff. Not as urban in nature as the main Taff, it flows through the Brecon Beacons to Pontsticill reservoir dam.  A lot of work has been done here by Orvis to improve habitat. It is run on a purely catch and release basis to preserve wild stock.

Day Ticket prices: Adult £10.00 Junior £6.00 (n.b also covers river Tarrell, and Taff)

Full details can be found here.

River Tarrell – March 3rd to 30th September

This small river flows right past the Fishtec warehouse. The MTAA stretch is just up the road at Libanus. It hold nice wild brown trout some to 3/4lb but most 9 or 10 inches.

Day Ticket prices: Adult £10.00 Junior £6.00 (n.b also covers river Taff)

Full details can be found here.

River Tarell - full of small wild trout.

River Tarell – full of small wild trout.


Brecon Canal – Open all year.

Located in Brecon just 1/4 mile from Fishtec, the canal is home to specimen roach, chub and dace. To top it off it’s also a great venue for large perch – fish of 3lb plus have been caught recently. For less than the price of a pint you can have some superb coarse fishing at any time of the year.

Day Ticket prices: Adult £3.50. Junior. £2.00

Full details can be found here.

Brecon canal - main basin in Brecon.

Brecon canal – main basin in Brecon.

Pontsticill and Dolygaer reservoir – Open all year.

This large reservoir system is home to many species of coarse fish, but is perhaps best known for it’s pike angling in the winter. The pike fishing has improved in recent years, with fish in high teens and 20 pond plus now figuring in catches. (Fishtec stock a wide selection of deadbait’s suitable for fishing this venue.) The reservoir also has abundant perch, and massive bags of bream can be taken using feeder fishing methods. Carp and trout are present in small numbers, but they are specimen sized.

Day Ticket prices:  Adult £6.00. Juniors £3.00

Full details can be found here.

A typical pike from Pontsticll reservoir - 17lb

A typical pike from Pontsticll reservoir – 17lb

Penywern Ponds – Open all year.

Just off the heads of the valley’s road, these heavily stocked ponds offer Carp fishing, coarse fishing and stillwater barbel fishing. They are really good ‘runs waters’ where sport is almost guaranteed.

Day Ticket prices:  Adult £6.00. Juniors £3.00

Full details can be found here.

Angling on Penywern pond

Angling on Penywern pond.

Cyfartha Lake – Open all year.

A lake in a lovely park setting near Cyfartha castle. Easy to fish and access, this venue is stuffed full of carp. Most are 10lb to 14lb in weight but there are 20’s present. Also crucians, bream and chub. There are silver fish present and even the odd trout.

Day Ticket prices:  Adult £6.00. Juniors £3.00

Full details can be found here.

The average stamp of common carp you can expect from Cyfartha lake.

The average stamp of common carp you can expect from Cyfartha lake.

Need advice on fishing Merthyr Tydfil waters? Don’t hesitate to ask our friendly shop staff. They have years fishing on MTAA club waters and will be able to put you in the right direction.

Lure Fishing for Freshwater Predators

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A Perch caught on a lure

Image source: Tim Hughes
Perch caught on a lure

Do you find it hard to sit still waiting for the fish to come to you? Lure fishing is a great sport for born fidgets and anyone who likes to keep active on the riverbank.

If you’re tempted to give lure fishing a go but don’t know where to begin, here we provide a useful introduction to the sport – a quick rundown of all the basics you need to get started.

What species can you catch on a lure?

What species can you expect to catch if you’re new to lure angling? If you’re sticking to freshwater, you’re most likely to get into some pike, perch, zander, chub and even trout – great sport fish that’ll test your retrieval skills to the limit.

Zander - a fish that readily takes a lure.

Image source: Tim Hughes
Zander – a fish that readily takes a lure.

The Pike - These ultmate freshwater predators can be targeted exclusively with lures.

Image Source: Leighton Ryan
The Pike – These ultimate freshwater predators can be targeted exclusively with lures.

You need two things before you go lure fishing: a rod fishing license which you can buy at the Post Office, and the permission of the landowner or club day ticket. Many lakes and reservoirs don’t allow lure fishing, so you’re more likely to be looking at rivers for most of your sport. And do check the .gov website for details of freshwater fishing rules because they vary around the country.


lure caught chub

Image source: An Angler’s Dangling Log
Getting roddy

There’s no need to spend a fortune on a brand new rod for lure fishing. A short light rod will do the trick – and it doesn’t need to be expensive. Angling blogger Keith Edmunds says the ideal lure fishing rod measures between 6’ 6” and 7’ 6”, though anywhere up to 9’ is OK. Any longer and Keith says the rod will:

“hinder the ability to impart action into the lure and too much length will also reduce a lot of the ‘feedback’ from the lure”.

Keith also advises you to go for something light enough for you to cast and retrieve all day without losing the feeling in your arm. Aim for a rod that will cope with 5-30g of weight, so you can vary the lures you use without worrying about the ability of the rod to handle the heavier ones.


fishing reel for lures

Image source: Plugs and Spinners
Reely good

You need a fixed spool reel with adjustable drag to allow fish to run without snapping your line. The ‘bail arm’ also enables even spooling of the line during retrieval – this is vital because you’ll be casting and reeling in repeatedly.

Blogger, the River Piker says you should keep your choice of reel simple, buying one that’s compatible with the length of your rod:

“Retrieve speeds, gear ratios and lots of other complicated things can be considered. However, just try to match by size and you will be on the right track at least”


lure caught pike

Image source: An Angler’s Dangling Log
Walk the line

You have two options: braid or mono. Braid costs more but its lack of stretch gives you a lot more ‘feel’ than monofilament line. Braid is also finer than the same breaking strain monofilament line, which makes it more sensitive, communicating the movement of the lure as well as knocks and bites more effectively.

Henry Gilbey says using braid is the “best way” to lure fish. He offers a really good tip for novices – deliberately underfill your reel:

“This really cuts down any chances of getting a dreaded wind knot. Do not be tempted to fill your spinning reel to the brim to try and get a few extra yards distance. I have done this, and then paid the price with a beauty wind knot first cast.”

While braid is best, you shouldn’t rule out using mono because as Plugs and Spinner’s Keith points out. If you’re fishing in areas with lots of rocks or branches, mono line might be a better option because it’s more resistant to abrasion.


fishing lures

Image source: River Piker
The allure of lures is strong

There are three main points you need to consider when purchasing lures:

  • Where will you be fishing?
  • What depth of the water will you be fishing?
  • What type of fish do you want to catch?

Plugs and Spinners’ share this nugget of advice:

“The typical rule of thumb is shiny lures for clear water and bright conditions and coloured lures for coloured water and overcast conditions”

That said, one of the attractions of lure fishing is that every lure has its day, giving you the freedom to experiment and see what works best for you.

River Piker has the following advice for pike hungry lure fishermen:

“Pretty much every lure will catch you a pike if you use it enough, if you use it where pike are and if you use it when a pike wants to eat something”

Broadly speaking though, he selects his lure depending on the weight of his rod and line:

Small lures

Are perfect for a 15-20lb line and wire trace combination.

Medium lures

Will work with a set up of 30-50lb braided line and wire trace.

Large lures

For anything very large use over 50lb braid minimum and a wire trace set up. Ideally this will work best with 80lb upwards.

Wire traces

A wire trace is an essential part of your lure fishing kit, especially if your prey has sharp gnashers such as pike. Even when targeting other species, if pike are present in the water always ensure you fit a wire trace or the inevitable bite off will happen. Choose the diameter of the wire according to the type of fish you want to catch.

For chub or perch, you’ll need fine wire. For pike, you’ll need something with a higher breaking strain of 30lbs and above. In this clip, Mick Brown explains how to set up, but also suggests that for ease, beginners can consider buying ready made traces:

Types of Lure

types of lure

Image source: River Piker
Lure them in


With a plastic or wood body, plugs are used to fish the surface of the water or just beneath it. They’re painted to look like bait-fish, and are designed to move as though wounded as you retrieve them.

Choose your plug based on the colour and depth of the water you’re fishing and also the size of the fish you want to snag.


Spinners – as the name suggests – spin. And it’s this motion that creates a “flash” – a tried and tested method of attracting predatory fish.

These types of lures are usually made from metal and sometimes have ‘tails’ made from animal hair. Spinners will slowly sink through the water so it’s up to you to decide how long wait after casting and therefore how deep your spinner sinks, before you start to retrieve.

Even if you’re only planning on lure fishing occasionally, Keith Edmunds  advises that you always have a spinner or two in your tackle bag. He generally recommends

“Mepps Aglia size 5, Rublex Ondex size 6 and Mepps Lusox sizes 2 and 3”.


A rubber soft lure.

Image source: Tim Hughes
A rubber fish lure

Freshwater fish will naturally feed on insects and worms, so something that imitates these creatures makes an ideal lure, which is why soft rubber eels are often a winner.

Shads, twin tailed grubs and curly tailed grubs are just a sample of the myriad rubber lures on the market. Keith Edmunds favours these types for the cooler months. He says

“jigging gets the bait bouncing along the bottom, ideal for rousing those lethargic toothy critters during cold conditions”

A selection of rubber soft lures and jig heads for jigging.

A selection of rubber soft lures and jig heads for jigging

Tools of the trade

lure fishing tools

Image source: River Piker
Tools to Lure

One of the ‘lures’ of lure fishing is that in terms of gear, it gives you the opportunity to travel light, moving easily from one swim to another to try your luck. But you’ll still need a few decent tools.

According to River Piker this is one time when size matters. “You need big tools”, he says.

“No tiny disgorger for pike fishing, just big tough tools. Get the best you can afford – don’t scrimp”

Three tools

There are three main tools that should always make it into your tackle bag. Keith Edmunds says a good pair of forceps are essential for fine wire hooks, as are a pair of pliers.  River Piker backs this up, suggesting you get two pairs, one regular and “a pair of extra long forceps for smaller lures”.

Carrying two different sizes of pliers is also a good idea, one large and one smaller, the latter to deal with simpler unhooking jobs.

Investing in a side cutter is wise. This tool comes in handy for the times when you simply can’t remove a hook. The welfare of the fish is priority, and a tool like this can prevent causing any unnecessary distress to your catch and injury to yourself.

One final idea from Edmunds is to buy a good, small unhooking mat. While he agrees that carrying something like this can be cumbersome, he says it’s worth it for the times when you might need to unhook on a tow-path or stony bank.

He also adds that an unhooking mat:

“doubles up as a great kneeling mat on small waters where I will often cast and retrieve in a kneeling position to stay off the sky line”


Where to fish

Where to fish - a decent looking spot for predatory fish with lots of features and cover.

A decent looking spot for predatory fish with lots of cover and features.

When deciding where to fish, lure angler Dave Pugh’ s advice is to ask around – talk to local anglers and ask where they fish. Many waters will have areas that produce good pike, and other spots that seldom produce anything.

Fish such as chub will use the same waters year after year, but perch and zander will use different rivers according to the seasons and the weather also affects their movement.

Camouflage is key

If you’re fishing in clear water, chances are a fish, like pike, will see you a long time before you see it. Fishing Lures recommend you invest in camouflage clothing, particularly jacket and trousers. They say that even though the fish might appear to be chasing your lure, it will be aware of you, and can see you clearly! If you’ve not convinced it to take your lure, its only real option once it gets to the bank is to swerve away and avoid you.

By comparison an angler in camouflage clothing who moves stealthily and quietly from the cover of vegetation or bushes is more likely to get their pike or perch with one or two carefully made casts with a spinner or lure.

Unhooking your catch

lure fishing rod

Image source: An Angler’s Dangling Log
Off the hook!

You’ve managed to lure a prize Pike, Perch or Zander, but you need to unhook it carefully. This is where the tools of your trade – forceps, pliers and unhooking mat – come in. The welfare of the fish is paramount.

Once the fish is netted, place it on the unhooking mat and turn it onto its side. From here Dave Pugh tells you to “slide your left hand under the pike’s gill cover”. Now you should be able to release to hook using your pliers.

If it’s proving tricky to free, use your side cutters to snip the points of the hook. The ultimate goal here is to free the fish and get it back into the water as soon as you can. In fact, Dave reckons it should take you less time to let the fish go, than it does to read these instructions.

Whether you’re new to lure fishing or an experienced hand we’d love to hear your hints and tricks which you can post our Facebook page.

Small Stream Trouting (In Two Minutes)

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Over the years we have had many superb writers contribute to the Fishtec blog, but few come as close to capturing the excitement and enthusiasm of the moment as Airflo tackle nut Stuart Smitham does. In this write up Stuart shares his latest passion – the charms of small brook fishing!

With an ever growing number taking up small stream fishing, I am one of those that has recently felt the draw of the tumbling Brook. It is a feeling like nothing else for me right now. Casting short but more accurate distances for free rising fish. That pulse of the rod tip as a good fish decides to go for gold and do a Usain Bolt on you. Sheer bliss.

Fishing a small shropshire brook.

Fishing a small Shropshire brook.

Replacing the 10 ft #7 rod with one that is 7ft 9”and a #3 line is something else and is light as a feather in comparison. Matching the rod with an Airflo Xceed reel and Super Dri Xceed fly line, I have a very good outfit that is well up to the job. Since the extension of the Sightfree tippet range to include the Tactical tippet, this has been a fantastic addition to my small stream kit.

Fishing here is Shropshire, we are quite spoiled for choice, as there are numerous small streams to choose from that thread their way through some gorgeous countryside.

When I say small stream I mean small, with brook widths of my rod length or less, but there is always the possibility of catching a really beaut of a trout, from possibly one of the smallest of rise forms. The free risers often feed more avidly just before dark or early morning. Through the day they’ll often sulk away in some way out scrub or bush tangle, that offers comfort in the current and out of the sun. Don’t get me wrong here, these fish ain’t going to ignore the flies coming past them. They’re hiding often in plain sight, right under a bush or branch and often with a bolt hole, should they need it?

A lot can happen in two minutes……

(Start the clock) One such day I was casting a small size 14 Iron Blue Dun variant on what was it’s first trial. This fly is tied with a fluorescent red butt and fluorescent red head to match. Casting and wading between long tangles of weed and casting between reed and nettle fringed banks, the wind picks up and I make a bad delivery with my fly just catching a reed stem.

(10 seconds) Making a small quick anti clockwise spin on the rod tip, the fly plucks clear and lands on a floating frond of weed. I let the stream current draw on the fly line and fly just slips into the current eddie.

(20 seconds) There are small rise forms in the next pool up, so I’m expectant, poised and nervous too, all in the same moment. The fly moves slowly down toward me as the stream current creates drag on the water surface to catch at my fly and leader. Then the fly just stops momentarily in the current with a shadow below it – with the smallest of rises the fly gets sucked down and I don’t see the shadow anymore? I lift my rod up and grip my fly line, to take up the slack line and strike!

(35 seconds) This is the point when a man with more control would sit back and just soak up the moment. I’m not built that way, so start wondering how I’m going to handle this fish, which by the way is now tearing off upstream!

(50 seconds) Bringing the reel into life I realise I have slack line around legs and weed. Tangle the line here and it’s game over. So I reel in the slack and pray the hook maintains it’s hold. This fish is not pleased about being connected to me and for good reason too. It’s a wild Brownie and I’ve just seen it’s head with some lovely looking spots on it’s flanks. It turns downstream and comes straight at me. Holding the rod tip up, this is now a very dangerous moment! Slack line or snag the line and I’m a broken man. .

(1.20) The fish then does an out of the water flip and falls on weed, which it spins on and drags my leader through it , making a bold decision I plunge the rod tip under and the Brownie pops up with it’s tail pounding away. The little fly rod is bouncing away at the rod tip and I know I have to be really careful now. With the fish tiring and starting to come toward me, I have a chance of landing this beast. I undo the French clip on my net and get ready…

(2.00) Pushing the rod tip upward I try to draw to fish toward me. He wants none of it and smashes his tail at the surface water. I make a lot ditch attempt to net this fish and lean down with the rod up and drag the Brownie of the wait net rim

In those brief moments you feel every emotion don’t you? Thrilled, paralysed in space and time. Rushes of adrenaline and your trying to keep calm. Shaking on the thrill ride that you don’t want to come off. Then praying you don’t lose the fish, which you’ve just seen and it makes it worse. Then, as quickly as the thrill starts, it ebbs away as you gaze at what is one of nature’s true marvels. A beautiful brown trout, resplendent in black ash spots with red spots intermingled. The magenta tinges on the gill plates are just sheer gorgeousness (is that a word?)

The reward - as fine a river trout as you will find anywhere...

The reward – as fine a river trout as you will find anywhere…

With the trout in the net, I am truly a happy chap. Thrilled and relieved that I landed it. So a few pics for posterity and release it to fight another day. Then onto the next pool?

Big thanks to Ceri Thomas at Airflo for encouraging me to look into other lies and areas on the stream. It was he who said to me, “there are bigger ones in there”. How right he was!!!

Fly Fishing Ireland – River Fishing in County Wexford

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It was that time of year again for a family holiday. My destination this summer was the Republic of Ireland, a thatched cottage near Ballyedmond in rural County Wexford to be precise. Naturally I had to scope out the fishing opportunities in the area!

I began researching the region online. It turned out County Wexford has no Loughs or stillwater’s of any note, so the options would have to be river angling. As it happens it looked like we were practically on the banks of a tributary of the Ounavarragh (or Owenavorragh) river, an 18 mile long trout, salmon and sea trout fishery flowing through verdant Irish country side. There was scant information available online about this river, but I did manage to locate a blog style website for the local fishing club, detailing where to get permits.

The Owenavorragh County Wexford

The Owenavorragh County Wexford.

Next thing was to ensure the trout fishing river gear was organised and packed. A tip for doing this is to create a ‘favourites’ fly box and really strip down your tackle. I managed to compact everything into a TF Gear F8 chest pack. My chosen rod was a 7’6 #3/4 weight Streamtec rod, in 4 sections so easily stowable.

Once in Ireland (after the obligatory first pint of Guinness!) The mission to find a permit began. The ice cream parlor was closed, I went to the wrong Jewellers store, but eventually the right place was located, only to find the usual mild confusion when requesting a ticket. All was sorted when Pascal, the proprietor at Whitmores Jewellers emerged at the counter. A lovely chap, he gave me a few tips on where to head. For just 25 Euro for the week I was all set.

Unfortunately you don’t get a map with your ticket, so it was a case of working it out yourself by doing a bit of driving about and looking over bridges for likely spots – all part of the fun.

After enjoying a nice family day out, I was set to hit the river for the first time, snatching a few hours in the late afternoon on quite a warm day. The spot I found was near where we were staying on the upper reaches of the river. It wasn’t really a river here, more a brook to be fair. Slow to moderate flow, weedbeds and nice undercut banks all looked very fishy.

Rising Trout on the first bend

Rising Trout on the first bend.

Ducking under a bridge, I spotted a riser on the first bend which came to hand on a  dry ant pattern. A small jewel like fish, pretty as a picture. Working upriver, overhead trees and undergrowth made for challenging fishing, but it’s what I am used to on the Wye and Usk streams at home. A few more beautiful little trout came to hand – mainly on dries and the duo, even streamers worked in some very slow still segments.

Small but perfectly formed - victim of the duo

Small but perfectly formed – victim of the duo.

What stuck me immediately was the sheer quantity of fish – each and every pool was literally swarming with them. Now this isn’t usually a problem (quite the opposite for most places!) but in this case I have to say there are almost too many fish in this river! This created an issue, because as soon as I moved into a new pool numerous ‘sentries’ at the tail end bolted upriver, altering every fish in the area. Once this happened, the small gin clear pools were literally churned up with dozens of stampeding spooked brownies; many were small 6 – 8 inch fish but with a few bigger ones thrown into the mix. Most of my fish therefore came to longer range casts than normal for a small stream.

Meadow stretch of the Owenavorragh river

Meadow stretch of the Owenavorragh river.

Next outing I tried a few miles further down river. Here the river was a little bigger, with nice meadow pools going into a wooded section above a bridge. The issue remained with the sheer numbers of small spooky fish, making it tough. Still, I winkled out quite a few; beauties each one – small but perfectly formed. The duo method worked best, casting into any pool head or crease, closer to the bank the better.  Some of the sections were deepish slow water with little flow making the duo hard to fish. A solution was to pitch a streamer upriver, into the edges on a longer line. A sink and draw retrieve got me plenty of hits, and lured a few better fish from under bankside cover.

Streamers can be very effective on small streams

Streamers can be surprising effective on small rivers.

As holiday time is precious, particularly with the weather being exceptionally good I took to visiting the Owenavorragh early mornings, for just a few hours before breakfast. 6.30 am starts are worth it – stunning sunrises, misty banks and jewel like trout were the reward. I also observed a large shoal of sea trout in one crystal clear pool, quite a sight.

Irish stream trout - worth getting up early for

Stunning Irish stream trout – worth getting up early for!

My favourite part of the fishing (and the holiday overall) was taking my two girls aged 5 and 7 fishing on the small tributary just a minutes walk down the road from our cottage. This was just a tiny brook, but with one big pool which was teeming with trout. Fishing one at a time, part of the adventure was us clambering down to the water, wading ankle deep under a bridge and then creeping up on the trout through thick undergrowth.

I attached a Fulling Mill  mini pimp indicator to the leader with a small nymph and instructed the girls to watch it – any movement and we would strike! As it happened, we had over a dozen fine Irish trout from that spot, plus spotted an eel and other stream-life. The girls were thrilled to be involved and carefully returned all the fish to the water after taking a look at them – hopefully giving them the angling bug for life. I’m proud to say It was their highlight of the holiday as well as mine.

Successful stream angling in Ireland

Successful stream angling in Ireland.

The River Owenavorragh isn’t a ‘big fish’ river, but it is one of the prettiest I have ever fished, with wild trout to match. A lovely location and well worth wetting a line in if you are in that part of Ireland.

Inside the mind of Dave Lane – Q & A Interview

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Exclusive question and answer interview with carp fishing legend Dave Lane for the Fishtec blog! An insight into carp captures, Laney’s formative years and of course barbecuing…
Q. In terms of getting into angling, where and when did it all begin for you?

DL: My earliest memory of angling was a bit of fluff chucking on a river on the South Coast.

My Great aunt was trying to teach me the basics, even though there were no trout in there and, to be fair, probably no fish whatsoever.

After that my Dad, used to take me fishing for Perch at a little lake in Sussex and, occasionally, down to the South Coast where we learnt to beach fish together; although most of his time was spent in the nearby pub I think. He used to ‘pop-out’ for sandwiches and be gone a very long time.

I remember one weekend we turned up at Worthing beach and there was a competition on so we couldn’t fish unless we entered. Just for ease and to save the drive to another beach my Dad paid the entrance fee and I won my section with single sole of about 2lb.

I won £4 and a new reel for that fish and I was as proud as punch.

My carp fishing began at about the same time really, which would have been the mid-seventies I guess.

Me and my mates used to fish for wildies with floating crust and float fished bread flake.

I remember my first ever carp was also on a session with my Dad and he had rigged up a string of building site lamps and a generator so that we could do our first night on the bank.

I had a big old lump of crust cast into the middle of a set of lily pads and, at some stage in the morning, the old Intrepid reel started to spin and I eventually battled a huge common carp of two and a half pounds into the knotted string net.

I muddled along for a few years, inventing different bits of tackle and the most amazing rigs as I went; I even dabbled in bait a little and had a very successful ‘Special’ made from sausage meat and ‘Layers Mash’ chicken feed.

I have no idea what year ‘Carp Fever’ was first published but that book, along with George Sharman’s ‘Carp and the Carp Angler’ taught me a lot and pretty much changed my whole thinking and, I suppose, set me on the path I still follow today.

Dave Lane with 'Colin' the Carp.

Dave Lane with ‘Colin’ the Carp.

Q. You recently captured Colin on St Ives – your eighth 50lb plus UK fish from as many venues! It must be one hell of a buzz when all the hard work paid off for you. Over the years, out of these eight captures which one would you say has given you the most satisfaction?

DL: This is a question I get asked a lot and I find it almost impossible to pin down one specific fish as best of the bunch.

A lot of these huge carp have come as the result of an all-out assault which has created so many memories and formed large chapters of my life.

To pick one would do a disservice to the others but, if I had to choose for some mad reason then I suppose the Black Mirror would probably take the title.

I had around seven years of sporadic fishing on the Mere and the sheer level of heartache, pain, discomfort and grief that I endured before that most iconic of carp lay beaten in my net would have to make this the standout capture of my life.

Laney with the Black Mirror.

Laney with the Black Mirror.

Q. What would you say has been the biggest change in the Carp angling scene over your career so far?

DL: Unfortunately, as I read this question, the first thing that popped into my mind was a negative.

I think that the ‘good old days’ were exactly that, good because they were so much more fun and that is mainly down to the element of seriousness that seems to have invaded our sport.

Back ‘in the day’ we just fished for fun and every capture instigated a party to celebrate it, every trip was an adventure and we all seemed to be a closer and crazier bunch back then.

If I look back on some of the mad nights we had on the bank it seems as if we were re-living (or extending) our childhoods, nobody seemed to care about the example we were setting because the lack of social media and ‘reporting’ from the bank meant that we were truly alone in the wilderness; misbehaving and generally having a rare old time, I do miss those days.

In saying that, however, anyone that knows me on a personal level will probably be saying “so what’s changed then” as I do still like to have a laugh and a joke and I enjoy my angling immensely.

Q. What would you say your trademark style of carp angling is?

DL: My trademark style of angling would probably be termed ‘manic’ as I am the most impatient angler on the planet and I cannot sit still for five minutes.

I always think that the grass is greener around the next corner and the carp will be feeding like mad in the next bay or at the other end of the lake.

I move far too much, I walk for miles when there is no reason to and I am never actually one hundred percent satisfied with anything.

Just the other day I walked the banks of a huge lake for eleven hours before deciding on a swim and I was packed up and moved out again just after first light the following morning!

Q. What is your favourite venue of all time, and why?

DL: This is almost as hard to answer as the favourite fish question.

All of the big lakes would have to be in the mix here, Sonning, Wraysbury, Burghfield, Brogborough; they all hold a special place in my heart.

I love the larger type of pits and the special relationship that they have with me, the interaction of such a large piece of land and water and the mystery and intrigue that exudes from them.

Again though, if I was forced to pick one, then I suppose I would choose Wraysbury as it was the first of the massive lakes I fished and we made a lasting impact on each other.

Together with a couple of mates we dug and cut swims and paths, we named most of the swims that still hold those titles today, we caught those elusive Wraysbury carp and we celebrated around huge bonfires in the evenings.

I lived out a significant portion of my life on those hallowed banks and I will never forget my time spent there, it was a truly amazing lake.

Dave Lane with Mary - The Wraysbury legend.

Dave Lane with Mary – The Wraysbury legend.

Q. If you had to stop carp fishing tomorrow, and target another species, what would it be?

DL: Well it certainly wouldn’t be trout, I have never understood why anyone would want to fish for a species that are so stupid that you need to invent a million rules to make them harder to catch; a tub of maggots or worms and you could bag every fish in the lake in no time at all!

Wild salmon must be quite a buzz I suppose; I have never tried that and the idea does appeal to me.

Pike fishing I have done to quite an extend in my youth and I used to love the thrill of the unknown as the line peeled off the spool into a still and mist enshrouded morning.

Tench were always my passion although the lack of individuality would probably bore me nowadays.

Sailfish; I have tried a bit of that and it was amazing, never again could I say that a carp can truly fight, at least not in any way comparable to a big sail.

Big Perch would probably be my final choice, however, as I just love the ancient and predatory look of them; a truly English species that would take me right back to where I started.

Dave Lane once dabbled in pike angling - in 1974 it was OK to eat them!

Laney once dabbled in pike angling – in 1974 it was OK to eat them!

Q. What item of tackle would you never be without?

DL: Can I say a rod, or actually a hook, as I could make a rod out of a willow branch and have done a few times in the past.

I used to catch roach from the cut behind Harefield on a piece of branch and old discarded line and hooks we found in the trees, mind you we did have to scrounge a pocket full of maggots of the float anglers first.

Seriously though, I have no idea whatsoever as every piece of tackle plays an important part and without just one it all starts to fall apart.

I don’t really have keep-sake type items as I have to test tackle as part of my job and I have swapped everything so many times that I no longer have any items of personal importance.

Q. What is your no.1 BBQ cookery tip?

DL: Don’t cook too early, everyone is always in a mad rush to get the food on the coals and it just destroys it, turning it to charcoal on the outside and barely even warming up the bit in the middle.

A barbeque is often just perfect as the last cremated sausage gets consumed.

Wait until the coals are grey and just starting to lose their heat, that’s when to add the food.

If you find you have nothing much to do while you are waiting, I always find a nice chilled Old Speckled Hen helps to pass the time of day.

Q. What is the best piece of advice you can give to anybody looking to specifically target a big carp from a venue?

DL: Set out to catch them all, it’s the best way to get the one you want as big carp are often aggressive feeders and they will not want to miss out if everything else is feeding.

Create a situation, either with bait or location, where you can catch regularly and that one big one will always come along in the end.

Remember to catch up with the Dave Lane video diaries here!