Posts Tagged ‘Fly Fishing’
For a fly fisher, surviving winter at high elevation is usually an arduous and inconsistent process. Snow and bitter cold temperatures can dominate the weather for months at a time and a visit to the river is often times only to watch through the months of December, January, and February.
With ice and cold winds as limiting factors, finding a window of opportunity for even a few hours of deep water nymphing or streamer fishing can be rare if human comfort assumes a role in determining whether to fish or stay indoors. Gradually, however, the daytime hours lengthen and subzero temperatures eventually become a casualty of the calendar. And as an ice bound river begins to regain its flowing character, there comes a glimmer of expectation for the first true sign of an eventual spring.
Although the timing of conditions suitable for dry fly fishing can vary from year to year, the sight of the first rise of a new season is always something to savor. And while the source of surface interest among trout in late winter is invariably of a size that dictates keen refinement in all aspects of fishing tackle and skill, nothing in the entire year is more welcome than the humble midge.
While chironomids on local still waters and elsewhere can be realistically imitated on a hook as large as size 12, the term midge is an appropriate description when they are found on moving water. Seldom larger than size 20, midges are available to trout in the Henry’s Fork and most other streams throughout the year. However, they are never more important than in cold weather conditions and are often the only hatch to be found during the longest season of the trout states of Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming.
Because of a craving for dry fly fishing after a long absence, I watch for conditions that promote surface availability of the tiny insects. Air temperatures that exceed the freezing point by 6 to 8 degrees will usually stimulate late winter and early spring emergence, and overcast skies are often a positive factor in tempting wary trout to the surface. Temperatures below 50ᵒ seem to hold the adults on the surface, and this increases the potential for finding rising trout.
Trout feed more efficiently in slower currents when floating midges are the target, but gently riffled water should not be ignored. Seeing the miniature dry flies is completely dependent upon fishing as close to a surface feeder as possible, regardless of the water type. A cast beyond 30 feet will likely put a size 22 out of view, at which time you will be required to set the hook when a rise appears in the area where you think the fly is located.
By necessity, midge patterns must be of relatively simple design, as is the case with all exceptionally small imitations. Because of its unique flotational properties, CDC works well for midge patterns that must be supported on the surface with a minimal amount of material. My favorite floating patterns also incorporate a sparse application of hackle, and stripped goose biots are a regular feature as well.
While my midge box contains an extensive assortment of patterns representing all phases of the life cycle, three distinct floating imitations have demonstrated reliable productivity on waters as distant as Japan. And I fear little shame in admitting that their favored status is also based on the relative ease in which they can be seen on the water.
CDC Biot Midge Adult
This pattern rides fairly high on the water and parallel to the surface in a manner that represents a fully emerged midge adult.
Hook: TMC 100 BL size 18-24
Thread: Gray 8/0
Abdomen: Canada Goose Biot or Stripped Peacock Herl
Wing: Sparse Lt. Dun CDC
Thorax: Gray Dubbing
Hackle: 1-3 turns of Grizzly
CDC Hanging Midge
This easy to see midge pattern rides partially submerged with only the wing and hackle showing above the surface.
Hook: TMC 100 BL size 18-24
Thread: Gray 8/0
Body: Canada Goose Biot or Peacock Herl
Thorax: Gray Dubbing
Wing: White CDC
Hackle: 1-3 turns of Grizzly
CDC Cluster Midge
In a way, this pattern allows a bit of cheating on the usually very small midge patterns by imitating a cluster of mating insects that often swarm together on the surface.
Hook: TMC 100 BL size 14-20
Thread: Gray 8/0
Body: Peacock Herl
Hackle: Grizzly palmered
Wing: Sparse White CDC
There is no time when the experience of losing a special trout carries anything but a sense of disappointment. However, the emotional pain of watching an exceptional adversary swim free when only a successful application of the landing net at the end of a spirited battle stands between the exhilaration of complete victory and total deflation is nearly indescribable.
You learn early on the Henry’s Fork that many things can go wrong when the hook is small, the tippet is fine, and the trout are often very large. Developing skills dedicated to preserving a precarious connection to a big fish is only marginally secondary to perfecting the ability to present a fly in a manner that will allow the battle to begin.
In both instances, much depends on the quality of the fishing equipment being used but mental and physical components also apply to the process of hooking and successfully bringing a meaningful trout to hand. Most who desire advancement in fly fishing understand the need for learning that comes only with experience and practice, and this is where the problem lies in gaining the ability to close the deal when finish line is clearly in sight.
From my own experience and also while watching others, it has become clear that the true drama lies at the very end of a battle between angler and trout. This means that it is not weathering a 100 yard run into the backing or surviving a series of tail walking leaps across the surface. Instead, the most intense pressure occurs when the trout is near surrender and the angler prepares to put the net into action.
Gaining the opportunity to practice netting skills is entirely dependent upon having everything go right prior to the time when the prospect of actually landing the fish becomes real. With an average tippet size of 6X and a fly usually size 16 or smaller, landing a trout in the 20 inch class is seldom greater than a 50-50 proposition. This means that even on a good day when 3 or 4 fish in this category are hooked, there may only be one or two times when the net will actually come into play.
The tendency to become almost uncontrollably excited is a difficult reaction to overcome when it becomes evident that the strength of the fish has begun to wane. In moving water, this generally occurs when it grows weary of revisiting both pressure from the rod and the force of the current.
When possible, leading the fish to shallower water of lower current velocity is preferable to allowing the fish to maintain the advantage of depth and water force. At this point, it is a mistake to allow a false sense of urgency to cancel the practicality of creating a condition that improves the likelihood for a favorable outcome. And while complete calm is seldom possible, applying patience and mental discipline are key in resisting the temptation to rush the netting process.
For a wading angler, the typical landing net features a short handle, a 20-22 inch bow, and a deep mesh bag. And while a net of these dimensions may be rejected by some as being too small, correctly applied landing techniques will usually accommodate a trout of 2 feet and even slightly longer. Carrying a larger net with the notion that its size will cancel poor decisions of technique is, in my opinion, erroneous behavior.
Through trial and error over many years of hunting big trout on the Henry’s Fork and other waters of the western U.S., I have developed preferred tactics that apply when fishing wadeable water. When organized into a systematic process, these principles incorporate proven ways to minimize disappointment at the end of an otherwise successful encounter with a hard earned trophy.
Identification of the best area to control the fish in preparation for landing should be made well before the thought of reaching for the net enters the mind. Often times, simply leading the fish close to the bank and away from the main current will create the advantage needed to overcome its ability to resist capture. Other situations may require moving some distance downstream to access water of less depth and current speed than where the main fight takes place. Trout will use leverage provided by depth and current against the resistance of the rod in an effort to become free from the restraint. This effort intensifies when the angler comes into view, and the close presence of the net can evoke a violent reaction of panic.
A tired trout in slow, shallow water can be more easily held in position while the angler closes the distance between them. Given a choice, I will always position myself upstream from the fish in preparation for landing. Reeling while moving toward the fish is often preferable to trying to bring it upstream, especially if significant distance is involved. Firm pressure with the fishing rod along with slow and careful movement work together in helping to keep the fish calm as final approach is made. Always important in any phase of playing a big trout, concentration is especially critical in the ability to react quickly to any sudden movement that can bring last minute freedom to the prize.
In general, I consider 1½ times the rod length to be the right amount of line and leader separating the rod tip from the fish, and I will not touch the net until this finishing point in the approach is reached. As resistance from the fish becomes noticeably weakened, I will begin to apply upward pressure with the rod while holding the line between the index finger and the handle. With superior control, I can begin to bring the fish into netting position by stripping the line rather than trying to use the reel. As the distance is shortened, lifting the head above the surface with the rod tip will help to negate the trout’s ability to use the current against you because it cannot swim in this condition.
With the trout within an arm’s length and aligned with the current, I will free the net from its magnetic holder and position it directly upstream from the exposed head. The body of the trout should be parallel with the surface of the water before the net is lowered to allow the front rim of the bow to pass beneath the head. With the ventral fins as a guide, I will lift the net when the heaviest portion of the fish is directly over the center of the bow, and the rear half will follow into the mesh.
Attempting to chase the fish with the net fully submerged is a surrender of control needed to manage its capture. Excessive disturbance near the fish is assured to cause a forceful reaction as will careless contact with the net. Its instinct is to escape and, sadly, this is what usually happens when a trout is given the opportunity to break free.
No method of net application is guaranteed to result in a successful capture—-there are simply too many things that cannot be fully controlled. However, utilizing proper landing techniques will help to minimize crushing disappointment when complete victory over a special trout becomes the ultimate desire, and the moment of truth is at hand.
Fly fishing tackle brand, Airflo, appoint Chris Ogborne as Senior Consultant!
Chris is considered as one of the top fly fishing anglers in the UK, having captained and represented England for over 20 years, gaining a record number of caps for England. Representing his country at International, European and World level,winning almost every award in the sport.
He won the English National twice, was individual European Champion and was a part of England’s multi-gold medal winning squad on three occasions.
Chris currently runs his own pro-guide business in the South West of England where he specialises in the real challenge of wild fish in wild surroundings. His guided trips range from Sea Bass and saltwater fly fishing on the coast and beaches of Cornwall, through to wild Brown Trout and Salmon on remote moorland rivers. As well as this he is also pioneering his famous ‘light line philosophy’ in sea fishing, with a totally new slant on ultra light spin and predator fishing. He teams up with some of the best skippers in Britain to offer the ultimate boat charter days.
BVG Managing Director Rob Williams commented: ‘We are really looking forward to working with Chris on many projects, including product development and filming. He brings with him a wealth of experience and ability and anglers can look forward to hearing tips and advice from him on a regular basis in our DVD and media programmes’
David Lambroughton has produced a beautifully photographed and exquisitely designed wall calendar for 2014. With David’s 20 years of experience in shooting calendar images, you too can share your love of fly fishing for a whole year with some stunning photographs from all around the world.
Measuring 12” x 24” this beautiful fly fishing calendar will be well-received by any angler with an appreciation of great camera-work and the Great Outdoors.
Price just : £7.99
The 2014 Fly Fishing Dreams Calendar is available from Fishtec
There’s plenty of article on ‘how to catch more fish’ and ‘top 5 fishing tips’ out there on the internet, but what about the simple tips to look after your fly line? These three great tips will give you an extra advantage when out on the bank.
What weight is my fly line?
First of all, let’s look at how we can determine what weight fly line you have on your fly fishing reel. We’ve all been there, wondering “Is it a 6 weight? It looks like a 7…”, this quick and simple tip allows you to easily identify what weight lines are on your reels. All you need is a waterproof pen.
Welded loops on fly lines
If you’re anything like us you hate the plastic sleeve which comes in a packet of braided loops. It’s big, clunky and get’s stuck in the rod guides. What you’ll find with this sleeve is your fly line can crack due to hinging which in time, forces you to replace the whole loop. The below method of welding loops, or lines which have factory manufactured loops pro-long the life of your fly line.
Whipping on a braided loop
If you don’t have the facilities to weld your own loops, try whipping an Airflo braided loop to your line. By using thread you can create an almost seamless joint to your fly line. The smooth joint lets your fly line be retrieved with no bumping or clunking through the guides and stops hinging and cracking near the tip of the line. As Hywel says, it’s the best way for fitting a loop to sinking lines, and it’s is also a great way of marking fly lines at specific lengths to fish the ‘hang’ more effectively!
I started off my Sea trout season on the Tywi mainly fishing the middle of the river this year for the whole of the season. This year the season started off with very cold conditions and the river was clear and up a few inches, it pretty much stayed that way from April 1st, until the first week of June.
I like to start night fishing as soon as the season start’s if conditions allow, it can be very cold at night at the beginning of the season, so I always take plenty of clothing and a warm hat. This is usually enough to keep you warm early season to put a couple of hours in. If it get’s to the point where your finger’s are getting numb, it’s time to head home.
I had my first outing at night in the first week of the season, it was a very cold evening and windy, so decided to fish an hour in to dark. My fly fishing tackle for most of my sea trout fishing consists of a 10ft 7/8 airlite rod, an airlite reel with a selection of 40 plus fly lines. This trip I decided to fish with a 40+ fast intermediate. I decided with the windy condition’s to fish with a single 2 inch aluminium tube with a fairly short leader of around 4ft or so.
I like to fish a fairly square cast at night a lot of the time, with a very slow figure of eight retrieve and just let the flies swing around with the current and slowly retrieve when it’s come around 2/3rds of the way. I tend to mix it up a bit with faster retrieves and casting angles, but I find the slower the better, especially earlier in the season.
So first run through I got about 1/3rd of the way down the pool and cast square to the far bank and just letting the fly swing. As the line started to swing, a good solid take and a good fish on. This fish fought very hard and used every inch of the pool before I slipped the net under it. A cracking 10.5lb Sewin in prime condition and a cracking start to the season. I finished the run through the pool and then called it a night as it had got very cold.
With it being so cold and windy at night, for most of the time I fished the same setup up until the middle of June, with either a 2 inch aluminium tube, 1.5 inch aluminium, or a 35mm 1.8 Gray’s needle tube. I like to use the needle tubes if I want to fish the fly a bit deeper, as they are a good weight and very slim.
It had been worth the early season effort at night and by the first week of june, I had landed six Sea trout over 10lb and quite a few between 4lb and 8lb, and a few lost.
The day’s started to warm up in June and there was no rain for a long time, the river levels dropped below summer level the lowest I had seen it for some time. To say the fishing was difficult in June and July would be an understatement. One of the biggest problems for weeks was the mist at night. Very warm in the day, but with the clear skies at night the mist would be on the water as soon as the sun started to set and there would be a big temperature drop, which is never ideal for fishing at night.
There were fish in the system, but very hard to tempt, and zero new fish coming through, with the low water condition’s. I had some success fishing a slow intermediate 40+ with surface lure, small half inch plastic tubes, tied on Scandinavian tube liner and small singles, with fish up to 14.5lb by the end of July.
The fishing picked up a lot in August and September and there were good numbers of fish being caught. I had a session one night where in between landing a couple of Sea trout, I had two flatties on a 1.5 inch tube, which was a bit of a surprise to me. It seemed this season that everything was 4 to 6 week’s behind what it would normally be.
Hopefully, condition’s will be kinder for the 2014 season. It was a season for big Sea tout thoug with two of my friend’s and myself catching our personal best’s of 15lb4oz, 16lb8oz and 18lb 2oz. And although very tough at times, I won’t be forgetting this season in a hurry and looking forward to the next already.
The Super-Dri Lake Pro has been designed for the serious lake angler, utilising Airflo’s standard DELTA taper, the line casts effortlessly, turns over extremely well and shoots to the distance will little effort. The most serious casters will benefit immensely for the taper design of this line, a medium to long front taper lets for great stability through the cast, keeping your line speed high with extremely tight loops. The Super-dri Lake pro also lends itself to the lesser casts, giving the novice angler a great, easy casting line, a great addition to our fly fishing tackle.
Complete with Airflo’s patented ridge design and legendary PU coatings, you can expect these Airflo Super-Dri range to last longer than any other line you have and to perform as well as any fly line you will cast.
What are the key benefits of Super-Dri?
- High riding – Superb float-ability.v
- Zone Technology – Low compression hauling zone
- Ultra supple coating for improved handling
- Micro loops both ends
Learn more about the Super-dri Lake Pro fly line here
September saw me heading to Slovakia for the European Championships with team England who were sponsored a pair of superb COSTA polarised glasses each.
It was 5 river venues with wild Grayling and wild Brown and Rainbow Trout. Some beats on two of the venues had stocked browns introduced due to lower numbers of wild fish. The 3 venues were the River Poprad, River Vah and River Bella. We fished in the beautiful surroundings of the Liptovsky region where wild bears roam!! One section of the Bella had bear alerts so we had to be cautious!
I have fished in the World and European teams now for 15 years and have to say that this region of Slovakia has the most prolific fishing I have ever come across. The River Vah in practice would produce anything from 20 – 50 fish in a 3hr practice session in the right conditions. The Poprad would produce 60-80 grayling an hour at least!! On the first day of practice we fished the Poprad, a small river only approx 10 yards wide at best. We fished for 3.5 hrs and had over 900 fish to the hand for the squad of 7! I fished single dry fly, changing every 10 fish and took 40 in under an hour. I watched as the others caught half as much again if not double on nymphs. I switched to nymphs and the catch rate soared astronomically. Small nymphs on a 16 – 18 and 2.5mm beads seemed best in the small often skinny river. A hint of colour, orange, red or pink certainly helped the catch rates.
The Vah is more of the typical river. Fast runs, deep holes, slow glides and long slow pools. We spent many days on this river in practice as 3 of the 5 sessions were on this river. Upper, Middle and Lower Vah sections.
7 days back to back fishing took it’s toll and the team had earned a much needed rest. team Jacuzzi’s and Saunas and killer pool sessions on the table offered the perfect tonic of rest and play. Not too much rest I hasten to say as the manager had us all tying flies for almost 14hrs that day, not that the team needed prompting. I roomed with Andrew Scott who was tying flies at 0530 every morning without fail! Good job I get up early for London every morning and am used to it!
The competition was upon us and the team were confident. A day of heavy rain and snow in the mountains before the competition days put some depth to the river and the dreaded colour. Despite this, we were ready!
As with all pegged events you have good and bad beats.This was one for me to forget! I drew 5 of the lowest scoring pegs in the competition with the best position being an 8th by the overall winners, a Chech republic angler. He had 22 from my beat on the lower Vah and I followed with 16 despite their techniques I call ‘hoovering the beat!’. I caught just 4 in the main flow of the river where he had obviously fished. On returning a fish to the controller I stumbled across a 2 foot or so deeper channel in some very shallow fast water. I managed to get 12 fish from this small bit of water that had obviously been missed as the 12 fish came in about 15 minutes.
I had a fast rip of water on the Bella and managed 13 with fellow angers around me fairing with 7-11. The top end beats all produced 30-40+ fish!
Day 1 saw England lying 6th well within striking distance. Andrew Scott got off to a flyer with a 1st and 2nd in his first two sessions netting 89 fish in the process!
Day 2 saw me get the one I had been waiting for, the Poprad. I avoided the lower beats again which had taken 50-70 fish in the first two sessions and drew the last peg on the stretch. It looked good but had only produced 8,3 and 11 fish so far. I took 11 matching the best to date.
It only went down hill as more poor beats followed and it didn’t fair too great for fellow team members. Andrew Scott drew another good beat and got a superb 2nd position but his luck run out with two average pegs which knocked him off a certain individual medal. He finished a very respectable individual 12th position. The team slipped to 11th.
The Czechs came out team winners with Spain taking the top individual. The Czechs fished small nymphs, often within a few feet of the margins to take the gold.
The rivers are starting to cool now and the grayling shoal so now is the time to contemplate some river fishing. It may be cooler but always carry some dries with you as even in the coldest of days fish will rise to any hatch that occurs during the warmest part of the day.
See Iain Barr fly sets available from Fishtec
Well, the end of the general trout season is here and over the last few weeks I have been doing a spot of fishing for salmon on the Tywi. There was a rise in water over the weekend of the 5th and 6th of October so a good opportunity to try for a salmon, and try out my new Airtec swtch fly rod.
I have been using this rod paired with an Airflo V-lite 7/9 reel, a fast intermediate line and a 5ft polyleader. I have to say the setup is balanced and fishes very well, casting wise it’s better than I expected, not having used a Switch rod before. Mostly fishing doubles and needle tubes, the fly line helps carry these heavy flies a long way.
On the Saturday, I managed a day on Golden Grove and on my first run through, hooked into a small Sewin which was returned safely around the 1.5lb mark. I was halfway down the pool on my second run through when the line just stopped dead, lifted, and the line forced it’s way up river. After heading upstream the fish came clean out of the water almost somersaulting resulting in a thrown hook. A clean looking salmon around 8/9lbs in weight. No more salmon hooked that day but did land a few small Sewin.
Sunday’s fishing started well with a couple of small sewin on size 10 doubles, in just a couple of hours. After fishing just quarter of the way through a pool after lunch my line tightened up and everything went solid. As soon as I lifted the rod, I knew immediately that it was a really good fish. After a few solid head shakes and hard thumps on the line, the fish turned and took off down river and was stopping for nothing, my fly fishing rod was doubled over and not even the hardest settings I dare to go on the V-Lite was stopping this fish. There was room to go down river after it, but it was going around the bend and heading towards an underwater snag. Then, the dreaded feeling of the hook pulling out, and a deep sinking feeling, I was gutted. It was a great tussle though and not the first, or last time a salmon will do that to me.
The night before the last day of the season saw some torrential rain falling in the Tywi valley, the river was likely to rise, hopefully not too much but the water at Golden Grove was perfectly fishable even with the water pushing with an extra half a foot of water. I fished the same setup, but without a polyleader, a size 9 Salar Double on the point and a size 10 double on the dropper. There was some colour in the water so the larger flies would hopefully help visibility.
Fishing the same pool as I had lost that fish in the previous week, the line once again tightened as I proceeded around half the ways down the pool. A slight lift of the rod was all that was needed and the fish was on. Fourtounatly for me, the fish didn’t head for sea and stayed well behaved lounging around the pool. A good, strong fish but up a great fight before I managed to get it in the net. A salmon of around 10/11lb which was released and went back strong. I hooked into another fish briefly later in the day and saw quite a few Sewin going through but that was it for me.
A cracking way to end the season and i’m looking forward to the 2014 season already to try some of the new fly fishing tackle from Fishtec, along with giving the switch rod a real good go.
Perfecting the art of fly fishing takes years of practice, patience and determination. For those of us with years of experience, it’s easy to forget that we were beginners ourselves many moons ago.
Fly fishing skills were once passed down from one generation to the next. Now, this knowledge is freely available online.
Totalling 27 minutes and 8 seconds, the six videos below make a great introduction to fly fishing. From setting up fly reels to tying a simple fly, here is our crash course in fly fishing.
Choosing the right equipment
Start your foray into fly fishing by kitting yourself out with the right tackle.
How to set up a fly reel
This might be a long video, but it is very thorough. You can’t catch any fish without first setting up your reel.
How to cast a fly rod
The next step is learning how to cast your fly rod.
How to tie a simple ‘Bloodworm’ fly
Fly tying is a craft that many fly fishermen enjoy. The joy of landing a fish is even greater when you’ve made the fly yourself.
How to improve your casting distance
After learning how to cast, you’ll be keen to practice and improve your technique.
How to target big fish
Now you’re ready to go after the biggest fish in the lake. Impress your friends and beat your own records by targeting a whopper!
Once you’ve mastered the basics, these fly fishing tutorials will help you to improve and perfect your fly fishing techniques.