Much water has rushed beneath my personal bridge these past few months: I turned a certain age for a start; then I upped my Essex sticks and started afresh less than two hundred yards from a river blessed with barbel and chav’s – not to mention the odd migrant and some hefty pike. The icing on this idyllic cake is employment within a well-organized jungle of fishing gear – TF Gear to be precise – and my new role has kindly compelled me to re-think my lot as an angler: it’s brought me up to date. Fishing is a field in which I might be described as conservative – not averse to change but reluctant to dump the learning of decades. I still enjoy watching a bobbin and deciding for myself when the hook should go in, but some species and methods don’t lend themselves to such niceties and I ain’t arguing – long may those Whiskered Ones continue to wallop the carbon!
What’s changed is my will to experiment with new coarse fishing tackle, while they’re still new – not two years down the line when everyone’s had their fill of fish and the novelty’s worn off. I do, however, have some catching-up to do so, this season, I’ll be swapping the PVA bags for in-line mesh-sticks: better for casting, better for baiting-up – and you can use the dispenser to splint a broken finger if necessary! I shall stock-pile my sticks before fishing to keep the faff-factor to a minimum; I’ll deliver them more comfortably too, thanks to my nice new Nan-Tec Classic 2lb barbel rods. These beauties have full cork handles and dependable, well made screw-fittings…I wonder if I’ll christen them with a double?
Another thing I’ll be using for the first time this season is a feeder mould – something I’ve always passed off as unnecessary because, well…it is! You really don’t need one to fish effectively, but how much simpler and neater it is to push out a nice firm cake containing your hook-bait? It’s got to be done, eh? And anti-tangle rubbers! I’ll never present an untidy rig again, I promise. For the sake of a near-weightless piece of rubber we can all now streamline our rigs – be they light or heavy – and fish with that bit more confidence. It’s the semi-rigid nature of the anti-tangle sleeves that I like; it converts the rubber into a very effective miniature boom that prevents squabbles between end-tackle components (and there’s another good argument for in-line stick-fishing…)
I’ll be using my own very successful tench bait in the early weeks of the season, but for barbus…will it be as effective? An old pal took at least two doubles on it from the Hampshire Avon and I was with him for the first capture made from the Sandy Balls stretch in mid-November. Talk about the madness of anglers! Mick would pick me up in Chelmsford, Essex at around 2pm and we’d arrive in the New Forest shortly before dark; by the time we’d settled in and got a fishing rod out it was pitch black down there in the wooded gorge and after just six or seven hours of serious fishing in total darkness we’d pack up and make our way back to Essex, arriving home at 04.30 – 05.00hrs. I still think that was crazy, but then mild insanity was fairly normal within the angling fraternity at that time.
So, the capture of two barbel on my concoction proved nothing about its efficacy as a river-bait and Mick doesn’t live close enough to a decent river where he might test it out – but the signs are good. For tench it’s a superb bait so let’s hope their whiskered cousins have similar tastes.
So…June 16th will see the smartest, best-equipped dude in the West sitting in his Dave Lane Hardcore chair and tending to his Nan-Tec Classics. Bait will be my precious creation – plus a nice, firmly packed mesh-stick to draw them in..
As I write this snowed under my uni work, nothing is more desirable than summer evenings fishing the local rivers of South Wales. Good weather and free time allowed quite a few of these pleasant short trips last season. However despite the wistful tone, one such trip does not provoke such fond memories. Anyone who fishes or has fished the rivers of South Wales can empathise with anglers who have to overcome the myriad of obstacles that hinder the approach to the river. During one session on my local River Taff, a stumble down a steep embankment resulted in a small but unwelcome tear near the knee of my chest waders. Despite this, the urge to fish persisted. After around one hour of fishing however a slip, on what seemed to be a section of AstroTurf in the river resulted in yet another comedic fall and the dreaded “snap” that anglers immediately recognise as the sound of a broken fly rod.
The next day saw the rather mournful drive to Fishtec’s Brecon outlet and the search for a new fishing rod. After contemplating the choices that were available, I eventually settled on the purchase of an Airflo Streamtec Nantec 10ft AFTM 4/5 rod. The low price of Airflo’s Streamtec range seemed to provide a neat “quick fix” solution to the absence of a 10ft rod in my river armoury. Being a self-confessed “tackle tart” I can admit to being somewhat sceptical at the capabilities of the Streamtec at such a low price (£109.99); how wrong I was. At this price, the Streamtec Nantec is an absolute steal, compared to other fly rods of the same specification from the likes of Greys, Guideline, G Loomis and Hanak, which while requiring substantially more investment that the Streamtec, yet in my experience, offer minimal advantages in performance.
For the river angler, the Streamtec offers superb versatility being equally adept to handling various European nymphing techniques, the popular New Zealand-style method and presenting dry flies. It is often the case that during a session on the river, I will carry two rods each set up differently in order to minimise time alternating methods. As a result the 10ft Streamtec has primarily been used as a nymphing rod, particularly “French nymphing”. For this, the Streamtec has excelled, as it has in other methods such as light weight nymphs in the “Spanish style” and for using heavier bugs and nymphs in the Czech fashion targeting grayling hugging the bottom; as has recently been the case through the winter and the rather adverse weather conditions. When playing trout and grayling the Streamtec offers a fine hook hold and is capable of managing even the most savage of takes of a trout in fast runs and the slow monotonous lunges of a grayling in the deeper runs of the river.
The Nano technology that Airflo incorporates into their range of fly fishing rods allows the weight of the rod to be kept at a minimum, while not compromising strength. This weight reduction certainly helps alleviate the strains of fishing at a full arm’s length in order keep control over the indicator.
The alignment spots that the Streamtec has on each of its sections are a particular feature that is worth drawing attention to. This is a seemingly small and for some perhaps an insignificant addition, yet any change that helps minimise time spent tackling up in favour of even the smallest increase of time on the water is one to be appreciated. Since its purchase the rod has survived the stress of many river sessions. Not only has it remained a rather attractive piece of kit despite the treks through brambles and woodland encountered on the approach to many rivers in the area, but the cork handle and the finish of the blank have survived quite a few more Charlie Chaplin like falls in and out of the water.
The one feature that does seem missing however is the lack of a fighting butt. This is a feature that I usually look for in many of the rods over 9ft that I use on both rivers and lakes in order to make the use of a rod, and playing a fish more comfortable.
That said however, there is very little to dislike about the 10ft Streamtec. At £109.99 it can be considered a bargain for what it offers and a significant advantage over many other rods of the same type. Most importantly is the fact that the Streamtec is capable of handling the vast majority of situations that a river angler is likely to encounter throughout the year.
With Airflo offering three other lengths and line ratings of the Streamtec Nantec, there will certainly be more additions to my collection of river rods ready for the opening the trout season while my 10ft 4/5 Streamtec Nantec remains my preferred choice of rod for my river fishing.
See the range of Airflo Streamtec Nantec Rods here
I’m just back from a fortnight in Gambia fishing the West African Beach Championships organised by Bernard Westgarth and his wife Barbara. I finished fourth with a last day draw finishing my hopes of winning, although my son, Richard took the Championship’s first place with three zone wins and a third which would have been virtually impossible to beat anyway. Second place went to Nick Westgarth, another youngster with a consistent performance included an end peg on the final day, which he used to perfection. Third was Sheerness pensioner and great friend, Roger Weeks who landed a 9lb butterfish on the last day to also win that days biggest fish prize.
During the trip I landed a number of big fish with a 13lb cassava and a 15lb sand shark amongst my best, not in the matches though, whilst Richard topped the 20lb mark in the match with a 23lb captain fish and then added a near thirty sand shark from a freelance mark close to the border of Senegal. Some say the fishing is not as good in Gambia as it once was, which may be true to an extent, but going on what I saw there are plenty of speedy giants to catch, especial at this time of year (April).
What was particularly pleasing for me was to see Richard catch his best two fish using a 15ft Force Eight beachcaster. He was a fan of the old Fox Matrix I designed way back, but I persuaded him to try the TF Gear version and it was a hit straight away, especially in terms of the distances he achieved with it. Like everywhere around the world long range is the get out of jail card when the going is tough, especially in match fishing conditions with those vital extra yards the bonus that so often win. One of the great things about a hot country like Gambia is that casting distances are dramatically increased by the hot air and the warmer oil in your reels – The skies the limit and there is nothing more pleasing to a shore angler than to see the lead and bait vanish over the distant surf line.
For details of Gambian fishing contact Bernard Westgarth at: www.fishthegambia.com E Mail: Bernard@fishthegambia.com
After from the Gambia the foreign currency is now directed at Portugal where I have the World Club champs at Granola in a matter of days. I am fishing for the Dover Sea Angling team and hopes are high despite two pensioners being in our team. After that there is the small matter of the Magrini Championships in Sardinia – Italians know how to put on an angling event and its hard to really get into the fishing because the organisation, HQ, food, banter and wine is so enjoyable. The three hour weigh in after midnight is a feature most fear if they blank because it’s read out load!
In both events I will use the TFGear Delta All Rounder with fixed spools and light mono line. Species are small with small hooks required and a delicate hook length (5lb), which has to be protected by a softer actioned rod. I also use a very light continental quiver tip because most of the fishing is at medium range. Yes the advert is true the Delta is my favourite sea rod, but I would add that I don’t use just one fishing rod all the time. The Delta is for match and snatching, the Force 8 for long range and doggie hauling and that apart there is spinning, LRF, mullet and boat fishing which all require a different action, length and rating.
Between the two Continental matches I have a DVD to make at my home venues in Kent for Sea Angler Magazine and TF Gear. It’s an instructional video – all you need to know about sea angling from the shore. Something of a challenge in an hour, but I am sure we can manage with the help of Sea Angler, feature writer Paul Fenech.
Here at home it looks like the winter has finally ending with some blossom on the cherries and the first peeler crabs likely to appear as I write. Spring codling, thornback rays and plaice are amongst the species turning up on the Kent shores, although most anglers will now be looking towards the smoothhounds arriving. Their presence on a host of summer venues really do make the summer the best time to fish for big fish nowadays. Forget about winter cod that are almost impossible to catch from the shore and head for a smoothhound venue in June. They are now all around the British Isles. Here are a few to try. The Lincs. Coast is a smoothhound boom area with Chapel St Leonards and Ingoldmells amongst the many hot spots. Into Suffolk and Orford Ness is the venue to head for there, whilst on the Kent coast there is Sheppey, Reculver, Sandown and the Dover piers. In Hants the Solent is smoothhound central with Selsey, Pagham, Bracklesham red hot. Into Dorset there is Chesil beach, whilst the Bristol Channel on both the England and Welsh side boasts a host of venue from Minehead to Barry. Over the Irish Sea check out Rosslare Point and Courtown in Wexford. Next on the Welsh side is Anglesey, whilst the species are now commonly found in Lancs (Gynn Wall). and Cumbria and they are staring to show north of the Solway too. Good luck and remember not to leave your rod unattended and to loosen the drag!
You can catch me on Facebook from time to time – I am afraid I am a bit of a wind up merchant and like to see if I can get a “bite” with my posts. Indeed if you need to contact me for a question or something important its best to e mail me direct on: email@example.com rather than use Facebook because I only check it when the mood takes me, whilst I work all the time on the computer.
As being part of the Airflo team I have the pleasure of being privy to new products before they are introduced to the general fishing public. One in particular that caught my eye was the introduction of the new range of Airflo Switch Fly Rods. I have had the pleasure of using many switch rods in the past for various fishing situations and was keen to see what the Airtec’s had to offer.
There’s been a lot of buzz in the past couple of years about switch rods – lightweight double-handed rods in the 10 to 12 foot range that are designed for both two-handed spey casting and single hand overhead casting. Traditionally these rods have been designed for fishing rivers for Salmon, steelhead and sea trout, of late, their ability has been rendered and switch rods have been set-up on smallwaters all around the UK.
Mainly, Im a river fisherman, but growing up in south Wales I’ve been lucky enough to fish many hill lakes and reservoirs where these switch rods would came in handy. When the first batch of Airflo Airtec Switch rods came into stock, I could not wait to get my hands on the 11′ 3″ 6# switch.
I had plans of teaming the rod with an Airflo Speydicator #6, to give that extra bit of distance on a river that averages 20 yards in width. You’d normally struggle to hit some of the spots using a traditional single handed rod because of the lack of back cast. With some knowledge on double handed rods I felt fairly competent with my roll casting, so pulled off some line and gave it a whirl. After just 30 minutes of casting and getting used to the rod and line combination, I was having some incredible fun and was lucky enough to hook into a decent trout from one of my favorite pools.
Having used it for a full day on the river and thoroughly enjoying my time with it, I decided to take it with me on my next lake trip. Many of the lakes I fish have a difficult back cast and often anglers will sacrifice distance because they struggle to get the best back cast. I decided to team up my 11’ 3” #6 Airflo Airtec Switch rod with one of my 7# Airflo 40+ fly line. Me and a colleague Ceri Thomas took a trip to one of our local reservoirs and when I pulled out the switch rod, he was skeptical to say the least.
I stripped out my 40+ and with a single false cast to get the 35ft head out I powered out more or less the whole fly line! Ceri’s skeptism changed slightly into awe. I knew from previous experience with these rods that they can really power out a line, and partnered with the 40+ you’ll be casting to distances only ever dreamed of. I handed Ceri the rod and he used it for the rest of the session. Not only does it handle the overhead cast well but also the switch style butt, you can create easy roll cast’s with maximum distance.
Even though the switch rods were created mainly for salmon, steelhead and sea trout I have used this across the board for most fly-fishing situations and am very impressed with how it handles. I’ve got some highland lake fishing planned for late spring, so will get another review on the site when I get chance.
In my opinion the next few years we will see an increase in the amount of anglers that will be using the switch rods. This rod does not only appeal to the river fisherman but to the whole fly fishing world as it offers diversity in it’s casting ability. I must say that these fishing rods take a lot of getting used to, if you do happen to purchase one and you’re struggling to get to grips with it, I’d recommend getting some casting tuition from a local instructor, im sure you’ll reap the rewards!
The sound of a bite alarm is a call to action, the prelude to excitement and success.
However, the surprising specimens below will encourage caution, next time the bite alarm sounds.
When Raphael Biagini wet his line in a lake in the south of France, he probably hoped he’d land a specimen – but a goldfish?
It took him ten minutes to land this giant orange koi carp. At thirty pounds, it is the biggest ever caught and after posing with the monster fish, the thirty year old angler from Montpellier put it back.
With the lack of corroborating evidence, there have been many claims that the photo is nothing more than a clever hoax.
It looks real enough to us. What do you think?
There have been many accounts of trawlers netting wartime bombs in UK coastal waters, but rarely have there been discoveries on the scale of this one. Fisherman, Pete Tutt was out digging bait last New Year’s eve when he discovered no less than 32 Second World War shells.
German bombers dropped thousands of bombs in the River Thames during WW2, and it’s thought strong currents have caused them to accumulate on the Essex coast.
High tides and bad weather were responsible for stripping away the sand that had hidden the bombs for so long. The explosive find on the coast near Southend was detonated in a controlled explosion the next day.
Now that’s how to start the New Year with a blast.
When a sea angler from Devon felt a massive bite, he thought he’d snagged a big fish.
But after a fight to reel in the ‘monster’ he was astonished to discover that he’d managed to hook not a fish at all, but a scuba diver.
Worse was to come when he discovered that his hook was lodged in what we might term, ‘an uncomfortable area’. Luckily, the hapless diver’s girlfriend then surfaced and removed the hook, handing it back to the fisherman with an apology.
On a more serious note – the reason the diver was caught, was that he wasn’t using a dive buoy to mark his position.
A cautionary tale to be sure.
An 80 year old alligator snapping turtle was catch of the day at a reservoir near Birmingham. The angler who caught the 25kg reptile called in the authorities and the turtle was safely transferred to the West Midlands Safari Park.
The catch cleared up the mystery of a strange creature that had been biting through lines and mauling the local duck population. It is believed that the creature – a native of North America – was an unwanted pet, dumped in the reservoir when it became too big for its owner to look after.
Possibly one of the strangest catches ever made – this story was reported in 1950 in the Australian Newspaper, the Hobart Mercury.
A fishing party set out in a small boat, returning several hours later with their catch…a kangaroo. It seems that the hapless animal was chased off a cliff by a dog, and after struggling in the water was rescued by the anglers.
The reporter finishes his article by saying, ‘I don’t ask you to believe it, but I am assured it happened.’
Perhaps the rum the fishermen imbibed out on the water had more ‘kick’ than they expected.
Any angler knows that fishing can cause wear and tear on the body.
Periods of relative inactivity interspersed with flurries of intense effort can result in injury, as can the repetitive motions of casting and retrieving. Physical fitness can really help you up your game and keep you healthy too.
So kick off your fishing boots, clear some space in your bivvy, and try some of the stretches below while you’re waiting for a bite.
It’s all about posture
How we stand when we fish has a major effect on the muscular balance of our bodies.
When standing, most anglers tend to rest more of their weight on one leg, with their pelvis rotated forward. Holding a fishing rod is a shoulder-rounding stance and gazing down at the water places a strain on neck muscles.
In short, fishing puts your body out of balance.
To counteract the stresses that fishing puts on our bodies, we need to stretch in such away that unlocks tensions in muscles and joints – particularly our backs. One exercise that’s very useful for anglers is the ‘superman.’
Not only does it release tension in your lower back, it strengthens core muscles too. Lie on your front with your arms stretched out in front.
Keeping your head in a neutral position, lift your arms and legs clear of the floor. Hold and slowly release.
Added release for shoulders and neck can be incorporated into this exercise by bringing your arms back so that you resemble an aeroplane. Not sure? It’s easy – babies do it all the time.
Pain in the neck
Fishing puts a strain on your neck, so make sure that you stretch before and after fishing.
The lateral neck bend is a simple exercise. Look up – look down, look right – look left. Bend your head towards one shoulder, straighten, then bend toward the other. Keep your shoulders relaxed and in a neutral position throughout.
You can do the exercises at any time so make sure you take them fishing with you. Take your time to perform the movements slowly and smoothly.
Lower back problems affect vast numbers of people. The human body wasn’t designed to sit down for hours every day.
Enforced immobility is a major problem in Western society – but to ensure you remain fit enough to fish – there are steps you can take.
Simply take a step forward, lower your back knee and at the same time push the front of your hip forward. Only bend as far as you find comfortable and always stop if you feel pain.
With this exercise, it is important not to bend your front leg beyond a right angle. Hold the position for 30 to 60 seconds before slowly straightening. Then swap legs and do it again.
A simple exercise for improving core strength is the plank.
Pay great attention to getting the pose right and you’ll reap the reward of this very effective exercise. Keep your knees locked and your legs straight.
Your hips should be level at all times. As you tire it’s tempting to let your back sag. Don’t.
It’s far better to let your knees drop to the floor and do a modified stance. Your head should be in a neutral position and your upper arms at right angles to the floor.
Hold the position for as long as you can – it’s great for your core, back upper body and legs.
Forearms and elbows.
Winding the handle of your reel and casting are highly repetitive motions that can lead you to develop tennis elbow. This is a very painful condition that can take all the fun out of fishing. Keep your muscles and tendons supple by performing this easy stretch.
With your arm out in front of you, gently bend your hand back. Hold and release. Now take the same hand and bend it in the opposite direction. Repeat several times on each side.
Never stretch further than is comfortable. It’s much better to repeat the exercise two or three times a day than try to make big gains right away.
Practise little and often and you’ll be pleasantly surprised by how much more reeling your elbows and wrists can take.
Switch Rods have been growing more and more in popularity over the last few years, but why? Anglers are always looking for ways to make their limited days on the water easier and more enjoyable, this is where switch rods come in handy. Versatility and ease of use are the key features when it comes to switch rods, whether single hand overhead casting or double handed spey is the order of the day these fishing rods effortlessly hit the mark.
The extra length provide superior control over the fly line whilst also offering a buffer when using lighter lines. Employing the existing pedigree of the Airtec rods, Airflo’s range of 11′ 3″ Switch rods are lightweight, offer great performance and allow you to try out this great new technique without breaking the bank.
Some of you may think using a switch rod for anything other than light salmon or sea trout fishing may be obsered, but if you’re effortlessly throwing 30 yards of fly line with just one false cast, you may think twice! It’s for this very reason that switch fly rods are becoming more and more popular with anglers teaming their lightweight switch rods up with Airflo 40+ fly lines whilst fishing at their local small-water or reservoir.
Ideally used from the bank, a switch rod and shooting head combination can extremely rewarding in the sense of gaining distance. The low line weights and sensitive tips give brilliant control over your line when casting and retrieving, and also when playing fish.
The extended butt section and lengthened rod handle gives a well positioned casting style whether you’re looking to do some traditional spey casting, simple roll casts or overhead casting.
The Airflo Airtec Switch Rods are 11 foot 3 inch long with three different line weights, 6,7 and 8#. Ideal trout, sea trout and light salmon outfits. To get started, Airflo are also offering a FREE Forty Plus Fly Line with every Switch Rod! Price: £159.99 – See more here
The revolutionary SuperDri fly line range from Airflo! Full stock of these fly lines will soon be on the shelves here at Fishtec and at your local fishing tackle store. We’re looking for them all to be ready by the middle of next week, 17/04/13!
The Airflo Super Dry fly line has been developed over a long period of time, taking into consideration all aspects of floating line fishing and developing something that will perform to the highest level possible, without compromise. Designed specifically for the floating line angler, the Super Dri lines feature some super impressive traits.
Super-DRI Features & Benefits
- Ultimate high floating PVC Free material – Floats 12-15% higher than any other floating line.
- Repels water better than any other material.
- Repels dirt and surface scum with a vengeance.
- Slides through the guides better, adding distance to every cast with ease.
- Floating material Permanently part of the line, not a coating that leaches out – migration is only good for birds!
- Easily lifts off the waters surface, less disturbance adding stealth to every fishing situation.
- Easy mending capabilities due to higher floating, adding length to drag free drifts.
- Looped at both ends for easy leader changes.
- Ridged for greater shoot ability and less tangles.
- Power Core for ultra low stretch, extreme feel, and solid hook set.
Zone Technology is another new feature of the SuperDri range. This new technology gives us the opportunity to use different material configurations in every part of he fly line, imagine a line that has a super high floating tip zone, a supple belly zone that throws loops that are exceptionally tight and features a strategically places ’hauling zone’ that incorporates harder material with less compression making double hauling effortless and extreme durability in high wear areas. This new line technology minimizes friction during the cast, helping with distance and extending the life of your floating line. You will notice the difference from your very first cast.
Float ability of a fly line is key. If it sinks at the tip or throughout any part of the line, it’s not doing what it should. Below we’ve pictured an 8# SuperDri Mend with a conventional 7# PVC fly line and the ‘ride height’ is very noticeable. SuperDri lines float high on the waters surface rather than in it, sitting 10-15% higher than any other floating fly line.
Airflo SuperDri Elite
The Super Dry Elite has been designed for the average caster, with Airflo’s ‘go to’ trout taper. This line will be ideal for fishing buzzers, nymphs or dries on large reservoirs, still-waters or for the small lake angler. The standard head length and modest front taper allow casters to present the fly well at distance or in tight spots when pin point accuracy is needed. This line does it all, and available in both weight forward (WF) or double taper (DT) make ups, you’ll find something to suit you!
Airflo SuperDri Xceed
The SuperDri Xceed has been designed to load today’s faster action fly rods. This slightly heavier weight forward head has a condensed taper optimized for casting into the wind and generating higher line speeds. This is the best floating line whether your fishing dries or subsurface. Available in weight forward (WF) configurations from 3 to 9 weights.
Airflo SuperDri Mend
Designed to make nymphing and chucking big bugs easy, the Airflo Mend SuperDri is the ultimate nymphing fly line for both rivers and lakes. This line has a thicker tip diameter which helps turn over indicators or bungs, coupled to an extended head for enhanced mending control when fishing that crease across the other side of the river.
Airflo SuperDri Lake Pro
Airflo’s Super-Dri Lake Pro has been specifically designed for the Stillwater use, this line utilizes the popular DELTA taper profile for easy distance even when casting multiple flies. This is the ideal fly line for lough style fishing with multiple methods.
Airflo SuperDri Distance Pro
The Super-Dri Distance Pro has been designed for ultimate distance whether your fishing from the bank or boat. Featuring our longest belly on any single hand fly line, the Distance Pro is a firm Pro-Staff Favorite.