How You Can Support The Wild Trout Trust

Monitoring our rivers is a vital part of the Wild Trout Trust’s work Image source

Monitoring our rivers is a vital part of the Wild Trout Trust’s work
Image source: Ceri Thomas

There must have been something in the air (or the water) during the mid-late 1990s. Maybe it was an altruistic reaction to the pure me-first consumerism of the 1980s, or a slow-burn realisation that if we wanted good things to happen, we’d have to get together and do them ourselves, but the last years of the 20th century saw a quiet revolution in many people’s attitude to looking after our rivers.

In Wales, Devon and Cornwall, small groups of locals founded the first rivers trusts: the Wye and Usk Foundation, and the West Country Rivers Trust. In south London, the same thing started happening on the Wandle. And, somewhere in the western chalk streams, a few far-sighted trout fishermen decided they’d form the Wild Trout Society, which soon became the Wild Trout Trust. Theo Pike takes a closer look at the Wild Trout Trust (WTT), explaining what they do and how you can support them.

What is The Wild Trout Trust?

The health of trout in a river is a good indication of the health of the whole river

The health of trout in a river is a good indication of the health of the whole river
Image source: Ceri Thomas

Today, the rivers trust movement covers every river catchment in the country from source to sea, and the Wild Trout Trust is a well-established conservation charity that can’t have escaped the notice of anyone who fishes and cares for trout in the UK and beyond.

Put simply, if you’re interested in the health of a river or natural lake anywhere in Britain or Ireland, the WTT is here for you. The charity’s tight-knit group of 13 full and part-time members of staff (with more than 150 years of river-mending experience between them) delivers practical advice and hands-on habitat projects that may start with trout, but can often stretch way beyond this iconic indicator species to the health of the whole river or lake, and even its wider catchment.

How does The Wild Trout Trust help?


A WTT advisory visit highlighted this obstruction. “The prolonged burst swimming speeds required to pass make this structure an issue for fish passage.”
Image source: The Wild Trout Trust Advisory Visit – River Esk (North Yorkshire)

As you might expect, there’s a tried and tested formula for providing advice. First, there’s the advisory visit, when WTT conservation officers walk a stretch of river with all the interested parties, making notes, discussing options, and providing a written report with recommendations and sometimes project costings.

There are more than 600 AV reports available for download from the WTT website, and I’ve always thought that one of the Trust’s greatest gifts is providing ordinary people with knowledge and confidence to speak truth to power.

An advisory visit report, or a more detailed project proposal written up by a WTT officer to support a permit application, will often give you all the ammunition you need to approach the Environment Agency and say, “Look, here’s what we want to do for our river. Can we make it happen, please?

Practical help


Conservation work in progress on the Little Dart River, Devon
Image source: Shutterstock

This may actually be enough to get things going, but if you want to take your project further with the WTT, the next stage is the River Habitat Workshop, when the Trust’s officers will come back with tools and equipment to teach you and the other members of your group the techniques you need to improve your river yourselves.

It’s all about sharing solidly science-based knowledge for everyone’s benefit, and the Trust has published a comprehensive Wild Trout Survival Guide (now on its fourth edition) with detailed supplementary CDs covering chalkstreams, upland rivers and urban river restoration guidelines. There’s also an annual Get-Together, with locations rotating around the UK, and periodic Trout in the Town conclaves, when urban river groups can meet and share their experiences.

How you can help – the Wild Trout Trust’s auction


Place your bids in this year’s auction to help the Wild Trout Trust raise funds
Source: The Wild Trout Trust auction

Last year alone, the WTT delivered 196 advisory visits and 81 practical events, and helped to improve 365km of river with 3,600 volunteers. Some of this was funded as part of other projects with landowners, fishing clubs, rivers trusts and government agencies, especially the Environment Agency in England, and the WTT’s overheads are kept to an absolute minimum – for instance, all staff work from home. But every charity needs to find other sources of income too, and that’s where the Trust’s famous annual auction comes in.

In 2017, the auction raised an amazing £98,000 – by far the WTT’s most important single fundraising event of the year, allowing the charity to unlock as much as £490,000 in match and other project funding on a massive 5:1 ratio, as Kris Kent explains in this article for Eat Sleep Fish. The funds also help to keep the WTT’s team of officers on the road and in the river, paying for tools and equipment like chainsaws and waders for them and the volunteers they’re teaching.

This year, as usual, the benefits of the auction will flow both ways, not just helping the Trust to deliver vastly more than would otherwise be possible – but also providing bidders with rare and exciting opportunities to fish in many different places, sometimes with people they’d never otherwise get to meet, or even to buy rare books and other pieces of memorabilia. (I’m still kicking myself for missing out on that set of flies tied by Emma Watson – who knows what kinds of magic I could have worked with those?)

From years of personal experience, too, I know it’s just as satisfying to donate one or more lots to the auction, showing your water to someone new, and knowing you’re part of a virtuous circle that’s making our rivers better for everyone.

So, whether you’d like to expand your fishing horizons this year, or you’re simply motivated to help one of the UK’s most hands-on charities make even more of a difference to all our rivers, keep an eye out for the Wild Trout Trust charity auction from Friday 9th to Sunday 18th March, and please bid generously. The next wild trout you catch will thank you for it!

10 things you might not know about wild trout

The Wild brown trout is an ancient creature

The wild brown trout is an ancient creature
Image source: Ceri Thomas

  1. Wild brown trout have been present in north-west Europe for more than 700,000 years, throughout several major glaciations. Their natural range extends from Ireland in the west, to the Ural Mountains and the Caspian Sea in the east, and from Iceland in the north to Africa’s Atlas mountains in the south.
  1. Trout need very different kinds of habitat through their life stages – from silt-free gravel as eggs and alevins, to deeper and faster water with lots of marginal cover as older juveniles, to even deeper pools with more habitat diversity as adults.
  1. Brown trout can live as long as 20 years.
  1. The British record rod caught wild brown trout is 31lbs 12oz (14.4kg) caught on Loch Awe by Brian Rutland in 2002.
  1. Evolution means every river holds wild trout that are very slightly different – they’ve become adapted to the special conditions of the habitat where they live.
  1. By contrast, many strains of farmed trout have been kept in captivity for more than 30 generations, becoming adapted to life in artificial tanks and raceways. This makes them much less likely to survive in the wild, but their behaviour may disrupt wild trout in the meantime.
  1. The easiest way to tell a wild trout from a stocked trout is to look at the condition of their fins. Many stocked fish suffer from damage to their pectoral and dorsal fins (often healed, leaving them kinked or rounded). However, wild fish can also suffer from abraded fins and tails after spawning.
  1. Trout often become noticeably spottier as spawning time approaches, due to redistribution of pigmentation. Some of these spots may fade away again, but others stay to ‘fill in’ gaps between previous spots as the fish gets bigger.
  1. Trout and salmon can sometimes interbreed. Studies on the River Tweed have shown that up to 4-5% of juvenile salmonids can actually be trout/salmon hybrids.
  1. Even ‘resident’ brown trout migrate surprising distances within river systems. On the River Deveron, one 55cm female trout swam from the Blackwater to Montcoffer, a distance of 84km, within a month of being caught, tagged and released, before turning around and coming all the way back again!

About the author

Theo Pike is a freelance environmental, fishing and marketing writer. He’s also Chair of Trustees of the South East Rivers Trust, and founding editor of, a website and eco-brand dedicated to the urban fly fishing and river restoration movements. His first book, Trout in Dirty Places, was published by Merlin Unwin Books in 2012, and his manual on controlling invasive non-native species, The Pocket Guide to Balsam Bashing, appeared in 2014.

From April 2018, Theo will be working with the Wild Trout Trust as their Trout in the Town Officer (South) helping to boost the impact of this programme across the south of England and Wales.

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First Look At The Airflo Super Stik MK2 Fly Rod

Fishtec team member Gareth Wilson has been testing a new rod on several stillwater trout fisheries this winter. Read on to find out how he fared with the new Airflo Super Stik MK2 fly rod.

Late in 2017 I was handed a rod to test. It was the follow on for the original Super Stik and one I was keen to put through its paces. Immediately I was impressed with the great cosmetics and the high standards that the MKII has been built to. The addition of a composite/cork handle has increased grip and the olive finish creates a great looking rod at an even better price.

The all new Airflo Super Stik Mk2 fly rod

The all new Airflo Super Stik Mk2 fly rod

However, a good-looking rod is of little use if it cannot perform on the water. For our first test we took the rod to Lechlade Trout Fisheries. With the goal of seeing how the rod would handle double figure fish. We set up as usual with the Airflo Super-Dri 6ft Mini Tip in a weight forward 7 and single fly. Lures would be the choice for a chilly day in December and some of my home tied flies would prove deadly.

I started off with a Chartreuse Hot Head Tadpole and started fan casting on the top end of the lake casting to rising fish. As I cast into the wind and to a rise close to the island I gave a few quick strips to get in contact with the fly and entice any fish feeding in the area to follow before returning to a slow figure eight. Half way through the retrieve I paused before quickly speeding up the retrieve and bang, fish on! The fight was incredible taking me back and forth along the bank. I had never felt a stocked fish fight this hard and the bend in the rod reminded me of a wild welsh sewin, doing what he wanted and refusing to turn in the direction I wanted. After an incredible fight we finally landed the beast.

A nice double put a serious bend in the rod!

A nice Lechlade double put a serious bend in the rod!

This was the start of a good day. We switched to the incredible cat (my own cat’s whisker variant) and cast out. After a few aborted follows I slowed the retrieve right down, just keeping in touch with the fly. This retrieve bought on a savage take from a smaller fish of about 6lb. After a short aerial performance in which the rod absorbed every jump and lunge the fish came to the net. We finished the day with our 6 fish and the rod handled extremely well especially considering the average size of fish was 10lb.

Another one bites the dust.

Another one bites the dust.

First impressions of the rod where great. With it’s smooth progressive mid-tip  action and responsive feel it looked like a great rod for buzzer and nymph fishing. With this in mind, a trip to Ellerdine was arranged. The goal of today would be to test out a team of buzzers and bloodworms and we how the rod would cope with multiple small flies and a slightly smaller but more energetic size of fish. I set up with an 18ft G3 Fluorocarbon leader and a team of 3 flies with 6 ft separating each from the other. The goal when fishing this kind of approach is to let the wind do the work for you barely moving the flies, only retrieving to keep in touch with them.

It wasn’t long before we had our first fish. A lovely 2lbs Ellerdine rainbow. This was followed by another 2 trout in quick succession. I then switched to my Black Mamba V2 lure. This fly is fitted with a Guideline salmon disc, which imparts a wobble but also hinders casting aerodynamics. The rod coped with this fly extremely well, with superior presentation.

The black mamba V2 fly

The black mamba V2 fly

First cast along the bank and a few tail nips later I decided to speed up the retrieve. I cast beside an overhanging tree and began to strip and almost instantly had a take from a beautiful brown trout. This fish, although small, was a nice addition and was very silver for a brown. I finished the day with another 6 fish and the rod had shown no signs of weakness.

As a third and final test I decided to use the rod while boat fishing. With all the usual big reservoirs closed, my attention turned to the smaller Gludy Lake. A stunning fishery set in the Brecon countryside with catch and release being the only form of fishing on offer. This leads to some truly stunning fully finned fish that put up an incredible fight. Its clear waters meant that a stealthy approach would have to be taken and the electric boats on site are perfect for this.

The Airflo Super Stik mk2 on test

The Airflo Super Stik mk2 on test on Gludy lake.

On the day we were met with a stubborn easterly wind and temperatures that rarely got above freezing. After assessing the situation, the Airflo Forty Plus Fast Intermediate was the correct choice for the conditions as getting your flies to the cruising level of the fish is incredibly important early season.

The fly that seemed to be getting all the interested was a Shaggy Damsel. Within 30 minutes of putting the fly on I had many takes and pulls and landed 2 silver rainbows, both around the 2lb mark.

We drifted in front of the house situated on the lake and cast into the weed. Suddenly, I had a ferocious take. It bored deep. I thought it may have been one of the brownies that grow on and become incredibly difficult to tempt. The fish started towing the boat taking us out into the deeper water. As he surfaced and turned to go on another run the blue flanks were clear to see, the brown was in fact a big blue trout. After seeing the size of the fish, I gave it respect and if it wanted to go on another run, I let it. After landing the special fish, I was happy with a new PB blue trout of 4.3lbs and with full fins and a perfect tail. This bright blue fish will be one I will remember for some time.

A nice gludy blue

A nice Gludy blue.

To sum it up, the Airflo Super Stik Mk 2 is a cosmetically pleasing upgrade from it’s predecessor and is more than capable of handling fish of all sizes whilst casting extremely well. The progressive action is user friendly and provides brilliant presentation of a variety of fly sizes and types. The perfect stillwater trout fishing rod in my opinion.

Gareth tested the 10′ #6/7 model. Airflo Super Stik Mk2 fly rods are available April 2018. Each rod is supplied with a quality cordura case and a FREE Airflo Super-Dri fly line. For more info click here.

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Nuggets of wisdom from accomplished anglers

Will Millard fishing with grandad

It’s important to share knowledge – with fellow anglers and the generation to come.
Image courtesy of Will Millard, pictured learning to fish with his grandad

To get your year off to a flying start, here’s Fishtec’s compendium of top tips from some of the UK’s most experienced anglers.

These nuggets of wisdom have been passed down from parents and grandparents, suggested by fellow anglers on the bank or perfected during years of dedicated trial and error. Some have even been provided by up-and-coming youngsters, keen to learn and share their own knowledge. We know they all work, but we can’t always explain why!

How to catch more fish


Try fishing tight spots.
Image courtesy of Dom Garnett

Seek out less obvious spots
“One of the best ways to catch more is simply to get stuck into less obvious and less easy spots. Even on a crowded island like ours, a heck of a lot of water is seldom fished because we tend to think of our own comfort and convenience first. Wading, walking long distances and getting into tricky spots are all good ways to access the fish most anglers never get close to.”
Dom Garnett,

Lots and often, or go home
My top tip is from my dear old Grandad who taught me to fish on the mighty Fenland Drains at the age of 4. He said ‘forget little and often my boy, down ‘ere it’s lots and often or go home’. He would then absolutely fill the river in with ground bait guaranteeing non-stop action from shoal after shoal of roach and giant slab-sided bream.
Will Millard. Author of “The Old Man and the Sand Eel” (Released 1st March.)

Have fun with less fashionable fish
“If you’re prepared to target many species, there’s so much fun to be had with less fashionable fish. While carp, barbel and pike often get hammered, others barely get a look in a lot of the time. There is a lot of untapped sport for the likes of roach, bream and even wild trout at present that few of us are capitalising on. Fishing doesn’t always have to be about size or competing with other anglers; enjoying yourself is the only important target and it’s definitely good to be different!” 
Dom Garnett,

Short sharp sessions at dawn and dusk
For me personally, in the depths of winter you must be ready to move to where the fish are showing, so fish light and go for short sharp sessions at dawn and dusk. That, and to always remember: the most successful angler is always the one who is having the most fun!”  
Will Millard. Author of “The Old Man and the Sand Eel” 

Top tackle tip

Fishing rods

Do your rod sections get stuck?
Image source: Shutterstock

Rub a candle around your rod ferrules
I picked this up recently from my best mate Willy Kinnaird of Craigmore Fishery. I’d been having issues with rod sections remaining completely tight at the end of a day’s fishing. A simple candle does the trick! Rub it around the top of the rod ferrules then insert them into the next blank. Twist them full circle a few times then line up your rod eyes as normal and fish. After a good session, the blanks will separate without the worry of snapping or weakening. Thanks Willy!
David Thompson – the naked fly fisher

Top tips for fly fishing


Fish the hang.
Image courtesy of George Clark, A 10-year old star of the future

Fish the hang
“The hang is a method you use at the end of your retrieve. If you’ve had a fish following your fly in, it will often grab if you fish the hang. To do this, retrieve as normal, and when you see your fly getting close to the bank, count to ten. The fly will slow down and drop towards the bottom and the fish may rush out and grab it. As you lift to re-cast, do it slowly. Sometimes the fish will take it before you lift off.”
George Clark,

Don’t be too hasty
“I picked this tip up in my youth and it has added to my catch numbers on both rivers and lakes. After presenting the fly, I retrieved as normal and then lifted the flies and casted again. As I began to use a polarised lens, I could see fish were following the fly to the bank and not taking, only to decide to take the fly as I lifted to cast which would result in me taking the fly straight from their mouth!

I always wondered why fish would do this and I soon learned that as predators, they would stalk their prey whereas the change in direction, movement and speed when lifting the fly would trigger their aggressive predatory instinct in a ‘now or never moment’ and they would make an attempt to take it.

To take advantage of this (each angler will have their own method but this one works for me), once you’ve retrieved your line, slowly raise the rod until the flies reach the surface. Just let them sit for a second then lift the fly out of the water then lift each fly out if you fish a multiple fly cast. If the fish doesn’t take at this point, then repeat your cast. I recently had a fish follow the point fly only to make an attempt at the dropper fly, which was OUT OF THE WATER!” David Thompson – the naked fly fisher.

Sharpen your hook points regularly
“A hook sharpener is possibly the most overlooked piece of fishing kit ever invented. If you regularly lure or fly fish and use the same artificials session after session, I guarantee you will be missing fish every season unless you carry one and regularly re-sharpen the hook points that see most use.”
Dom Garnett,


A Wandle Dace.
Image courtesy of Theo Pike

Go barbless
“If you need to match a hatch with small flies, but you’re struggling to hook up, it’s worth trying to tie the same-sized patterns on a slightly larger hook (for example, a size 18 or even 20 fly on a size 16 shank). Using very fine, barbless hooks like the Partridge SLD, I’ve definitely found this idea improves my hit-rate with notoriously hard-to-hook fish like dace.” Theo Pike,

Stealth is the most important thing
“Stealth is the most important thing when fly fishing a river for trout. Half the battle is approaching your quarry with care and attention. If the fish is unaware of danger, it will be much easier to catch. Take your time to get into position, walk softly, wade slowly and make your first cast count.”
Ceri Thomas, Fishtec


Try the countdown method
Image courtesy of George Clarke

Find the right depth
“The countdown method is a very good way to find where the fish are feeding. After you’ve cast your line you have to pull it to straighten it out and remove any slack so you can feel any bites. On your first cast, count to five before starting to retrieve. If you don’t get any bites, on the second cast, increase the count to ten so your fly sinks a little deeper. If you get a bite, cast again and use the same countdown as you have probably found the depth where the fish are feeding. Keep counting down until you find where the fish are. 

If you’re fishing a fast sinking line, like a Di7, count down in sevens every second. If you’re fishing a Di3, countdown in threes every second. If you do this, you’ll always know how deep you’re fishing and will be able to find the feeding depth on your next cast, if you get a bite.”
George Clark,

To catch a trout, cast far out!
“When it comes to sea trout fishing at night: ‘If you’re not losing flies you’re not fishing close enough to the opposite bank’. This is good advice. 99% of my fish are caught from casts that started tight to the far bank. Sometimes people get takes in the middle of the river and this creates misconceptions as the fish has followed it from tight against the bank and taken the fly as it’s swinging around in the current. I’m not saying you won’t catch fish in the middle and tail of pools. But you’ll catch more fish casting tight to the far bank.” Gareth Wilson, Fishtec

Top tips when fishing for carp


You need good strong tackle.
Image courtesy of Simon Crow

Know your prey
“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.”  Dave Lane

Check your knots and hooks religiously
“Always check your knots and hooks every time you cast out or it’ll cost you fish. I learned this as a young angler from an experienced old boy. I struck into a screaming take from a powerful carp, the rod went over and sprang back almost instantly from my knot snapping. The old fella laughed as it had happened to him as a teenager. Now I check the hook is nice and sharp, and always give my knots a good strong yank. Carp are very powerful and they’ll test your tackle to the limit.” Simon Crow

Top tips for sea fishing


Get to know the layout of your favourite coastal locations during a spring tide
Image source: DD; Wikimedia Commons

Try plain weights
“When fishing from a sandy, snag-free beach it can be an advantage to use plain weights. This is because they will roll around on the seabed and find gullies, depressions and other areas where dislodged worms, shellfish and other sources of food will accumulate. These are the areas which fish will seek out and using a plain weight will allow your baited hook to roll into these places.” Chris Middleton

Vary your speed
“When fishing with a spinner (or any other type of fishing lure) reel in at different speeds, as this will change the depth at which the spinner is drawn through the water. Reeling in quickly will see the spinner rise close to the surface, while reeling in slowly will see the spinner sink deep down. This will increase the chances of locating the feeding fish as the lure will be covering the whole of the water column.”
Chris Middleton

Use your fish finder sneakily
“Just the other day I was out fishing with some commercial bass fishermen. Guys who spend their entire time catching bass on rod and line. Whenever we fished a wreck of a piece of rough ground, they would check their position and direction of drift on the GPS make sure everything was lined up. And then for the drifts themselves they would make sure the fish finder/echo sounder was switched off.

One of them told me he’d heard some recordings made of what echo sounders sound like underwater and how violently noisy they were. He firmly believed bass fishing and indeed any fishing would be negatively affected by running the fish finder during a draft.

I’ve adopted this habit too. And oddly I find it’s especially effective while squid fishing. Kind of makes sense I guess. These are sensitive creatures who are used to the noises of the sea anything unusual, the slapping of waves on a hull or an electronic device is all potentially going to give them the willies.” Nick Fisher

Learn your locations
When there’s a very big spring tide, take advantage of it and go and check out an area where you regularly fish. As the tide goes much further out on a spring tide, gullies, weed beds and other fish-attracting features – which are usually underwater – can often be revealed, allowing anglers to cast next to these areas the next time they’re fishing in the area. Even small rocky outcrops will contain weed, shellfish and other small creatures which will in turn attract fish, meaning that learning the locations of these can lead to more productive fishing sessions.” Chris Middleton


This lugworm and squid combination is often a winner.
Image courtesy of Chris Middleton

Think scent and colour
While ragworm and lugworm are two of the most effective and popular baits in sea fishing, they can be enhanced by adding a long strip of white squid or silver mackerel belly to the hook. Not only will this add a new scent to the bait, but the squid or mackerel will also flutter in the tide and reflect light, adding a visual attraction to the bait. This can be especially effective for inquisitive species such as flatfish.”
Chris Middleton

Try coloured beads
“Species such as plaice and flounder are attracted to beads and sequins which have been added to hooklengths, and many anglers find that their catches of these species increase when they use rigs which incorporate beads and sequins. Alternating green and black beads are seen as the most effective for plaice as these colours resemble mussels which are a key source of food for plaice. Chris Middleton

WD40 really can fix anything!
There was a belief that cod are attracted to the colour white, with some anglers adding white spoons or attractors to their rigs when fishing for cod, although this has fallen from favour in recent years. Similarly there is a long-running belief in sea angling that spraying baits with WD40 acts as an attractor to fish! Although there is no verified evidence to back this up, some anglers swear by it.” Chris Middleton

Top tips for eel fishing


Eels are some of the trickiest beasts to catch.
Image courtesy of Barry McConnell

Discard touch-legering
“Eels are expert at pulling soft bait from the hook until it’s left bare. You’ll often receive a series of small bites on the indicator which result in a bare hook. This is because the eel has pulled the soft worms from the hook one by one. It has become common practice in eel angling circles to pick up the rod and tease the eel onto the hook by means of touch-legering (standing with rod in hand, pointing it at the eel, and trapping the line between finger and thumb so that the eel can be felt plucking on the other end). This helps to catch some wary eels, but even then, many get clean away with the bait.

Try this. Discard touch-legering and don’t feel/trap the line between fingers. Instead, stand with the rod lightly balanced in the hand and held side on to the water as though quiver-tipping. Modern carbon fibre rods are so light that the eel can easily pull the rod around in the hand in a positive force that is a very strikable bite, that more often results in a hooked eel. If the angler was still feeling the line, in the touch-legering method, they would have felt a pluck and then another worm would have been removed. But in this lightly-balanced-rod situation, the rod is pulled around in the angler’s hand to give a positive, hittable bite. The angler is able to strike while the rod is pulling around. Try it. It works!” Barry McConnell.

Recording for posterity


Image courtesy of David Thompson

Try burst mode shooting
One of the things I see many anglers struggling with is fish photography. I take a lot of shots when I’m out for my social media channels and in particular Instagram which focuses on image content. There’s nothing better than that fish-playing action shot, wildlife shot, or fish release shot. I often receive messages asking how I get so many decent shots. Well the answer is simple – burst mode shooting.

The vast majority of smartphones and cameras have a burst mode or continuous mode shot. By simply holding the shoot button down, it takes a number of photos in one go which allows you to select the best one. This is particularly useful as fish have the patience of a small child when it comes to photography! It eliminates blurry fishing shots and also decreases the amount of time it takes to reset, pose and retake, causing the fish unnecessary additional stress by keeping them out of the water. Encourage a friend to just burst mode from the moment you pick the fish up, to when you set it back into the water for release. You’ll have a wide variety of good angles and hopefully get your good side!” David Thompson – the naked fly fisher.

Video stills make great photos
“Some anglers are gadget freaks and like to take photos with waterproof cameras but still have issues with underwater shots and clarity. Fish shots can be blurry with any movement. This is partly to do with single mode shooting. So a small tip that I discovered by accident is that by shooting a video instead, you can take ‘stills’ off the camera (or laptop). Given that most cameras now shoot in HD, the picture quality will remain quite high. This one has been a lifesaver and saved me from having to retake a photo, a gazillion times!” David Thompson – the naked fly fisher.

We’d love to hear your nuggets of wisdom. Please do come over to our Facebook page and share yours.

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Count down to opening day: UK reservoir fisheries dates 2018

The count down to the season has started! Image source: Fishtec

The count down to the season has started! Image source: Llyn Clywedog fishery

With the days becoming longer and lighter, it’s hard to ignore the excitement of a new trout fishing season just around the corner.

To help you get your plans for 2018 off to a flying start, here’s the Fishtec pick of our top 10 UK reservoir fisheries as the new season begins, including those all-important opening dates for your diary.

So, whether you’re an expert stillwater trout hunter, or completely new to this aspect of the sport, why not try exploring somewhere different this year?

• Stocks Reservoir (Forest of Bowland, Lancashire)

Stocks sits 600 feet above sea level in the hills at the top of the Hodder Valley, so you’ll need to wrap up warm to begin your season here. But all those extra layers will be worth it – Stocks is widely regarded as ‘the best reservoir fishery in the north’. To start your season at Stocks, try imitative buzzers, or black and white, green or orange lures, fished from the bank on a slow-sinking line in the clear, slightly peaty water.
Season opens: 24 February 2018
More information:

• Rutland Water (near Oakham, Rutland)

Seeming to float above the surface of Rutland Water when levels are high in early season, Normanton Church makes one of the greatest backdrops of British stillwater fly-fishing. A session close to this iconic building should be on every angler’s early-season bucket list. Trout grow to 15lbs in Rutland’s rich waters, and the U-shaped reservoir’s sinuous points and bays will provide you with miles and miles of bank to explore. If you’re looking for a midge hatch, the shallow South Arm is reputed to be one of the best and biggest buzzer fishing spots in the country.
Season opens: 9 March 2018
More information:

• Draycote (near Rugby, Warwickshire)

Surrounded by rolling countryside, yet within easy distance of several motorways, Draycote boasts the finest buzzer fishing in the Midlands – a very good reason to mark your diary for early season. You’ll need to hire a boat to drift the hotspots over Draycote’s famous shallow island ‘shoals’, but all the natural banks offer superb fishing too, and browns and rainbows grow on to sizes of 10lbs or more.
Season opens: 2 March 2018
More information:

• Grafham Water (near Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire)

With its internationally-famous stocks of overwintered brown and rainbow trout, Grafham Water is one of Britain’s premier early-season fisheries. Loch-style fishing from boats for these turbo-charged fish is always popular, but taking a roving approach on foot can also be very productive, and even better access to the banks is planned in 2018. (Don’t forget, Grafham has become a stronghold for invasive ‘killer shrimp’ in recent years, so it’s vital to take careful biosecurity precautions when you’re fishing here).
Season opens: 2 March 2018
More information:

• Llyn Brenig (Denbigh Moors, north Wales)

If you’re craving top-of-the-water sport at the end of a long winter, the fourth largest lake in Wales may be your chance to catch a buzzer hatch. At a height of 1,200 feet in the Welsh mountains, booking a boat is often the best option to help you cover the water and take advantage of the prevailing wind. Llyn Brenig rainbows are famous for their fierce fighting qualities, and good early season flies include buzzers, cats’ whiskers, cormorants, blobs and boobies.
Season opens: 10 March 2018
More information:

• Llyn Clywedog (near Llanidloes, mid Wales)

Many reservoir fisheries are operated by water companies, so it’s refreshing to find one that’s run by a local fishing club for members and visitors. Llanidloes and District AA puts all its proceeds straight back into the fishery: the club stocks around 35,000 rainbow trout each season, and provides 29 boats including a wheelie boat. For 2018, they’ve also added 4hp petrol motors to all the boats. Local anglers put most of their faith in black buzzers, up to a size 12, for the months of March to May.
Season opens: 8 March 2018
More information:

• Llandegfedd (near Pontypool, south Wales)

Easily accessible from Newport, Cwmbran and Pontypool, this is a Welsh fishery that’s run by Welsh Water. Llandegfedd is generously stocked with rainbow trout, but it also holds browns, as well as perch, roach-bream hybrids and big pike. Early season tactics are split between traditional floating lines and weighted nymphs, or fast sinkers with short lures or boobies. On their day, both can catch just as many fish! Llandegfedd has recently been threatened with closure, so please show your support for the fishery in 2018.
Season opens: 1 March (rainbow trout), 20 March (brown trout)
More information:

• Chew Valley Lake (Mendip Hills, near Bristol)

After hitting the headlines last year (when Bristol Water threatened to wind it down as a fishery) it’s testament to Chew Valley’s popularity that anglers’ protests persuaded them to rethink. The fishery has now won a reprieve, but it’s in all our interests to continue fishing it enthusiastically for grown-on browns up to 22lbs and rainbows up to 14lbs. Early season can produce epic midge hatches from the lake’s shallow waters, and a stealthy approach with imitative nymphs, emergers and dry flies on floating lines comes recommended by regular bank and boat fishermen alike.
Season opens: 6 March (season tickets), 8 March (non-season tickets)
More information:

• Blagdon Lake (Mendip Hills, near Bristol)

Nestling at the foot of the scenic Mendip Hills, Blagdon has a legendary reputation for the varied sport it provides with its deep basins, shallow bays, and long narrow shape that makes it ideal for both bank and boat fishing. Five rowing boats and 15 petrol-driven boats (with low power output to reduce disturbance and wash) are available to book. Very much like nearby Chew, imitative tactics with small flies, especially black buzzers, are popular from the start of the season.
Season opens: 13 March (season tickets), 15 March (non-season tickets)
More information:

• Hawkridge (near Bridgewater, Somerset)

Wessex Water also runs other fly fisheries at Clatworthy and Sutton Bingham, but sharp-eyed social media buffs may already have noticed something new at Hawkridge in addition to the usual rainbows, browns, char, tiger, golden and blue trout this season: ‘sparctic’ trout, a cross between brook trout and Arctic char. Stocked at up to about 5lbs, with full fins and large pale spots on silver-grey sides, they’re stunningly beautiful fish. We can’t think of a better way to spice up your Facebook, Twitter or Instagram feed this spring!
Season opens: 28 February 2018
More information:


Countdown to open season: at a glance


Open season

More information

Stocks Reservoir

(Forest of Bowland, Lancs)

24 February 2018
Rutland Water

(Oakham, Rutland)

9 March 2018

(Rugby, Warwickshire)

2 March 2018
Grafham Water

(Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire)

2 March 2018
Llyn Brenig

(Denbigh Moors, north Wales)

10 March 2018
Llyn Clywedog

(Llanidloes, mid Wales)

8 March 2018

(Pontypool, south Wales)

1 March (rainbow trout),

20 March (brown trout)
Chew Valley Lake

(Mendip Hills, near Bristol)

6 March (season tickets),

8 March (non-season tickets)
Blagdon Lake

(Mendip Hills, near Bristol)

13 March (season tickets),

15 March (non-season tickets)

(Bridgewater, Somerset)

28 February 2018


UK Stillwater fly fisheries opening 2018

Click to download your free handy guide

More about the author…

Theo Pike is a freelance environmental, fishing and marketing writer. He’s also Chair of Trustees of the South East Rivers Trust, and founding editor of, a website and eco-brand dedicated to the urban fly fishing and river restoration movements. His first book, Trout in Dirty Places, was published by Merlin Unwin Books in 2012, and his manual on controlling invasive non-native species, The Pocket Guide to Balsam Bashing appeared in 2014.

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Introducing the TF Gear Airbomb – The Future of Baiting!

We are excited to announce a brand new product from TF Gear! It’s called the Airbomb and it’s a mid-air bait distribution product that we feel is going to be a game changer.

How does it work?

Unlike a Spomb or the Fox equivalent, Total Fishing Gear’s Airbomb does not open upon impacting the water. Instead it opens in mid air, spraying the bait out in a wider pattern that is perfect for creating a nice bed of bait. It works by hitting the reel clip on the cast. This triggers a pin that opens Airbomb. The force of the cast disperses the bait in a forward arc, several yards beyond the cast. Should you not hit the clip (or choose not to) the Airbomb will land in the water and remain shut. You can trigger it to open anytime you wish by yanking your rod tip sharply.

The Airbomb from TF Gear

The Airbomb from TF Gear.

What are the advantages over other baiting products

There are multiple advantages, but the main one would be you can create a uniform spread of bait that you can build up quickly. Carp find this extremely attractive, and importantly will feed confidently. Other baiting rockets and baitboats cannot spread the bait as widely when they release their payloads, making the Airbomb unique.

Airbomb creates a unique spread of bait

Airbomb creates a unique spread of bait.

What can it do?

Quite a lot. And there are probably a lot more things that haven’t been thought of yet!

  • Airbomb releases payload in mid-air, creating a shotgun effect bait spread
  • Stealthy no spook baiting operation – Airbomb falls well away from baited area
  • Aerodynamic design maximises casting range
  • Total accuracy every cast
  • Massive load capacity
  • Easy and quick to fill
  • Create vast beds of bait with speed and efficiently
  • Precision bait by drawing over weed gaps and localised feeding spots then jerking rod tip to open
  • No spillage or wasted bait
  • Suitable for all carp fishing baits including boilies, particles and floaters
  • Buoyant and effortless to retrieve
  • Heavy-duty and robust construction – will withstand extreme casting
  • Spreads bait forward in a scattered pattern well beyond the reach of your cast
  • Bait up far margins, snags or islands with no risk of losing Airbomb
  • Confuses nuisance birds and bait eating pests
  • Perfect for floater fishing – release floating baits with no risk of spooking carp

Check out the official video:

When can I buy one?

Airbombs are available to pre-order now, although physical stock will not be here until late March. You will be able to order here. Please note, the first batch is a limited stock delivery, so demand will be extremely high. Therefore we cannot guarantee your back order will be fulfilled from the first stock delivery.

Airbomb can be used with any carp fishing bait

Airbomb can be used with any carp fishing bait.

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Urgings of a Short Month By Rene’ Harrop

The latest musings from respected American fly fishing author Rene’ Harrop.

The days of deep winter in Henry’s Fork country do not necessarily end with January. But while February can feature equally cold temperatures and even more snowfall, the notion of a coming spring can begin to accelerate with its arrival.

February On The Fork

February On The Fork

With daylight hours noticeably longer and the potential for ice free water an increasing likelihood, the state of progress on winter projects can become a source of discomfort if distractions cause me to fall behind.

For me, few things are more stressful than losing a day of prime fishing to an indoor task that must be completed before spring. This was not a problem during the big winter last year, but 2018 is shaping up to be somewhat different.

Rene’ in action on the fork!

The severely cold temperatures, deep snow, and low winter flows of 2017 have yet to materialize and much of the river is ice free as of this writing. With more water flowing in the Henry’s Fork than I have seen in recent times, I am anticipating some of the best late winter and early spring fishing we have experienced in several years.

In the absence of extreme winter hardship, past experience has shown a healthier and more active trout population and aquatic insect life has displayed similar effect as well. If I am correct and the weather pattern we have seen thus far continues, there is no question that my personal discipline will be severely tested in the weeks that lie ahead.

March looms just beyond a month that carries only twenty eight days of relatively distraction free opportunity to finish restocking depleted fly boxes in advance of a new season and to complete household chores assigned at the beginning of winter. If neglected, some of those chores can carry a penalty administered by a stern enforcer.

While a mild winter and early spring cannot be assured at this point, there are signs that could indicate the arrival of Baetis hatches as early as the end of the month and strong midge action could arrive considerably earlier. But this leaves me with a dilemma.

February Distraction

February Distraction….

It is almost unnatural for a fisherman to hope for weather that would discourage time on the water with a fly rod, but that is what I am facing right now. Reviewing a checklist, I am finding enough unfinished projects to bring urgency into the need for more time.

Being forced to remain indoors by blizzard conditions or subzero temperatures is something I have never particularly enjoyed, but I also know my weakness in resisting a pleasant February day that holds the potential for rising trout. Shirking my responsibilities at home for the sake of fishing is a character-flaw my wife has accepted for more than fifty years. The resumption of real winter weather is probably all that could prevent further testing of her patience, but I am not getting carried away in this regard. I’m ready for spring.

Rene’ Harrop is a big fan of the Airflo Super Dri Elite fly line – his ‘go to’ all purpose taper line for the Henry’s Fork and many other venues. Check them out here.

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Operation Leviathan – Fisheries Enforcement with the Angling Trust

Is your fishery under pressure from illegal angling? Is poaching rife and are people taking fish from the water? Is your club stretch being vandalized and litter being left indiscriminately? If so, there is hope. Introducing Operation Leviathan.

Prominent anglers Gareth Johns, Iain Barr and Medi Treharne showing their support for operation leviathan

Prominent anglers Gareth Jones, Iain Barr and Medi Treharne showing their support for Operation Leviathan at the BFFI show.

What is Operation Leviathan?

‘Operation Leviathan’ is the name of the multi-agency partnership including the Environment Agency (England), Natural Resources Wales, Police forces across the west of England and Wales, The National Wildlife Crime Unit (NWCU), Angling Trust and angling clubs to work together against fisheries crime, fish theft and illegal fishing. In the East of England, there is an identical project that goes under the name of ‘Operation Traverse’.

The main purpose of the operation is to increase confidence amongst anglers to report incidents of  illegal fishing to the EA or NRW on the national hotline 0800 807060 and/or the police as appropriate.

The lack of information coming into the authorities has been identified as a major weakness in dealing with widespread ‘poaching’ on rivers, lakes and canals across the country and consequently, the problem is not recognised in many areas.

This has led to anglers becoming frustrated when they see fish being illegally removed from the water, fixed lines being set to catch fish illegally and irresponsible or anti-social fishing taking place on their waters, making them feel unsafe.

All of these things led to the formation of the Voluntary Bailiff Service (VBS) in England, managed by the Angling Trust to provide more ‘eyes and ears’ out on our waterways.  It’s a bit like ‘Neighbourhood Watch’ for fishing!

In England The VBS work closely with the EA and our volunteers are often invited to join them on patrols.

In Wales, the representative body for anglers is Angling Cymru, who do not have an equivalent VBS. Therefore, in Wales, anglers are solely dependant on the NRW to address issues directly without the support of a volunteer force. The Angling Trust are supportive of a Welsh VBS to work alongside the current organisation in England.

VBS is developing and in the South East of England there is currently a pilot project, in which carefully selected Voluntary Bailiffs are empowered to demand rod licences and deal with certain fisheries offences . This is called ‘Phase 2 VBS’ where volunteers are embedded in Environment Agency (EA) teams, with whom they work and directly support.  They are supervised by EA team leaders and are subject to the EA Codes of Conduct. This pilot is currently being evaluated by the EA pending their decision as to whether the initiative will be rolled-out nationally.

Interested in joining the VBS service? Find out more here.

The main message of Operation Leviathan is for all anglers across the UK to phone the emergency hotline number 0800 807060 to report illegal fishing incidents.

This gives you options to speak with the fisheries authorities covering different parts of the country.  It is crucial anglers report incidents and information about illegal fishing so that the EA (England), NRW (Wales), Loughs Agency (N. Ireland) etc.. can take the necessary action! Without this, the authorities won’t know there is a problem and no action will be taken.

A quick guide to the law

For information regarding Operation Leviathan and fisheries enforcement, please get in touch with Kevin Pearson. Mob. 07495 433620 Email.

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Women who cast

More and more women are getting into angling, which is great news for the sport. And as they do, ladies are beginning to make an impact in the professional and commercial sides of the sport too. Here’s a run-down of just some of the female angling stars from across the internet.

Marina Gibson


Marina caught the fishing bug from her mum.

“The fin was a riot of greens, pink-reds and yellows, with distinct lines stretching to a metallic finish on the flanks.” Can you guess what fish Marina Gibson caught when she headed for the headwaters of the Orvis Kimbridge beat during the offseason? Her first Grayling of course. Read all about her experience as she targets the “Lady of the Stream”.

A lady herself, Marina is woman on a mission to change the image of angling and, having given up her career in the City to move to Yorkshire, she now fishes, blogs and guides – ever accompanied by her Romanian rescue dog, Sedge.

To follow Marina, check out her website or Facebook page.

Anne Woodcock


Fancy a spot of angling ladies? Anne will help you get started.

“I thought my line had got stuck! It was the start of 10 minutes of salmon heaven” writes salmon angler, blogger, business woman and guide, Anne Woodcock, of her fishing adventures on the Dee. If you’re a lady who’d love nothing better than to catch her own tasty salmon, then Anne will help you achieve your goal. The driving force behind Ladiesfishing, she runs not-for-profit fishing days for ladies in both England and Scotland.

A strong voice in women’s angling, Anne is marketing director of Fishpal, the award winning online fishing leads service, and she also contributes to community radio station CVFM’s angling programme, “Gone Fishing”.

To follow Anne, check out her website or Facebook page.

Beverley Clifford


Here’s one I caught earlier.

Determined to do something about the lack of angling instruction events solely for women, angler Bev Clifford set up the Ladies Carp Academy which runs at Pool Bridge Farm Fishery near York. It’s a great opportunity for women to “meet and learn from one another in a social, fun and relaxed environment”, says Bev.

The daughter of a specimen angler, it’s no surprise that Bev grew up to become one of the UK’s top female anglers. She says she “grew up in a house with fishing magazines, books, pictures, stuffed fish everywhere”. A truly inspirational lady, she’s also a team angler for DNA Baits, a member of the England Ladies carp team and works in advertising and marketing for angling magazine, Carp Talk.

To follow Bev, check out her website, instagram or Facebook page.

Bex Nelson


All I want for Christmas is…

Another female angler on the up, Bex Nelson was introduced to angling several years ago by her boyfriend. She says “I’ve really grown with skill and knowledge in the last year or so. I’ve fished for all manner of species but the carp bug has taken hold.” Her best catch so far, 29lb George – an “old warrior”, as Bex puts it, she was hoping to break the 30lb barrier before the end of 2017 – better hurry Bex! Check out her Facebook page to find out if she managed to beat that PB.

To follow Bex, check out her instagram or Facebook page.

Katie Griffiths


Katie loves her carp.

A designer at Total Carp Magazine, Katie Griffiths has also achieved the honour of gracing the magazine’s coveted front page spot. Pictured with title boss, Dan, she shows exactly what she thinks of his catch! She says: “You know you love carp fishing when you see someone catch their target.”

When she’s not working at the magazine, Katie loves nothing better than to wet a line – something she’s been doing quite a lot since she was first introduced to the sport two years ago. Check out some of the photos on her instagram account and you’ll see that her hobby has grown to become a passion – she says angling always “makes me smile”.

To follow Katie, check out the Total Carp Magazine blog or her instagram account.

Lucy Bowden


Why not let Lucy help you realise your dream of learning to fly fish?

Always dreamed of learning the art of fly fishing? What are you waiting for? Whatever your age, race, gender or ability, Lucy Bowden will teach you to fish. Dedicated to encouraging girls and women in particular into the sport, since she set up Fishing for Everyone in 2005, Level 2 UKCC Game Angling Coach Lucy has inspired many women to give the sport a try.

From “learning how to set up your fishing tackle, performing basic casts, retrieval techniques, to hooking, playing and safely landing fish,” Lucy aims to help everyone acquire the skills and confidence they need to get the most from fishing.

To follow Lucy, check out her website or Facebook page.

Casting for recovery

Ladies kicking in wellies

Casting for Recovery offers fly fishing retreats for women who’re suffering, or have suffered from breast cancer.

“It was the first time since my diagnosis that I had time to myself to realise the impact of my illness on me, and also to be greatly inspired by everyone there who has survived and recovered.” This is just one of the comments from women who’ve experienced the joy of learning to cast at Casting for Recovery, the charity that teaches fly fishing to women with breast cancer.

If you’d like to find out more about Casting for Recovery’s all-expenses-paid fly fishing retreats, or if you’d like to lend a hand helping to raise funds, just get in touch using the online contact form. The full list of retreats for 2018 can be found here.

To follow Casting For Recovery, check out their website or Facebook page.

Do you know a female angling fanatic who you’d like us to tell the world about? To let us know, just drop us a line on our Facebook page.

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Boat or Float Tube – Fishing on Gludy Lake

Ceri Thomas and Tim Hughes tackle Welsh small water Gludy lake with two different methods afloat. Which one comes out on top?

Afloat on Gludy lake

Afloat on Gludy lake

Gludy lake is a truly magical place. Situated just outside the market town of Brecon, the naturalised stillwater has been on the map for over 150 years. In a wooded hollow, a small earth dam holds back just over 7 acres of rich, fertile water that is full of invertebrate life. Couple this with abundant coarse fish fry and it’s easy to see why the stocked trout rapidly turn into fully finned backing stripping machines.

Managed as a trout fishery for the past 17 years, Gludy has always been run on a purely catch and release basis – so any stocked fish get the chance to mature and grow into fine specimens indeed. The lake holds rainbows, blues, browns and even the odd tiger. Variety is key and Chris Burgess, the fishery manager for the past decade is currently enlarging a holding pool at the top of the lake. The new pond will be lightly stocked for beginners and bank stalking next year. There is also a newly constructed boat house at the top end of the lake, next to the luxurious day lodge that visiting anglers can make full use of.

Setting up by the lodge

Setting up by the lodge

Bank fishing is a little limited on Gludy, due to the reedy, marshy banks and abundant shore line tree cover. Most anglers fish from a boat, with several different sized craft on site supplied complete with electric motors. This gives you complete freedom to fish any area of the lake you wish. Float tubing is also allowed – one of the few venues in South Wales where this special form of fishing can be enjoyed. You can bring your own or make arrangements to use one with the fishery.

Gludy Boat House

Gludy Boat House

Today we are looking to try the two methods side by side – Tim in one of the boats and myself in a tube. There are pro’s and con’s to each way of fishing, so this session should make it clearer as to which one can give you the best results on a water of this size.

Tim decides to fish from a smaller one man boat, armed with his usual stillwater outfit of a 10’ #7 weight Airflo Airlite V2  rod. He starts off with a Super-Dri Elite floater and more imitative patterns, looking for the grown on fish rather than raw stockies.

Tim's flies for Gludy

Tim’s flies for Gludy

I blow up my float tube, don neoprene bootfoot waders, float tube fins and a buoyancy aid fly fishing vest. My rod of choice for the session is an Airflo Delta Classic 10 foot #6/7. When tubing your back cast can be limited, due to your position low down on the surface. So you need to load up your rod quickly, with the minimum of false casts or you can risk clipping the water behind you. The Delta Classic is a perfect tool for today, with its deeper traditional action that loads nicely with a shorter length of line.

Ceri's flies to target fry feeders on Gludy

Ceri’s flies to target fry feeders on Gludy

Due to Gludy having a big head of roach and perch I’m looking to target the resident fry feeders that should be in fine fettle after a long autumn of eating protein. So I attach some lure patterns to start off. Linewise, I rig up with a Sixth Sense Di3 sinker, an early winter favourite that allows a versatile approach for searching through the layers. 8.8lb Sightfree G4 is the tippet, with a white hotty dancer on the point and an epoxy perch fry on the dropper I feel confident of success. As if to confirm this, we see plentiful evidence of coarse fish fry topping and jumping as we look out onto the lake – hopefully the trout won’t be far away.

Where to start?

Gludy is a predominantly shallow lake, with an average depth of 6 to 7 feet. However the Dam end goes down to nearly 15 feet, so in the absence of any obvious activity this is where we both head, with the assumption that fish will be lurking in the deeper water after the recent cold snap. Tim on the electric engine, with me kicking along at a much slower pace.

Naturally I take the opportunity to troll as I travel from A to B. By simply covering water you up your chances, and soon enough the Di3 tightens and the first fish is on. Some may call this cheating, but I call it effective!

A fish on the tube - trolling the flies

A fish on the tube – trolling the flies

As we head down the lake it becomes apparent that there is trout activity at the far end, in the deeper water off the dam. Fry are sporadically jumping clear, and with the odd boil around them it seems the trout are on the fin and interested in chasing them.

To even the odds, Tim has attached a Deeper echo sounder to the side of his boat – it confirms that the area is home to a vast shoal of coarse fish, sitting on top of a submerged weed bed in10 foot of water. He anchors up and starts to fish the area, quickly changing his point fly over to a minky booby, keeping a cruncher on the dropper.

A fish bursts out about 10 yards away, I swivel in the tube and put the flies across the spot. Stripping, the line tightens and another angry Gludy trout is attached. In fact, it is two of them at once but the fish on the dropper comes off during the battle.

A quality Gludy Rainbow trout

A quality Gludy Rainbow trout

A nice rainbow eventually graces the net, typical of the quality you can expect at Gludy. Action continues for me on the lures with a number of fish landed in quick succession. Meanwhile Tim has a number of boils under a floating fry, fished right on the surface. He bumps a couple of fish, and his line finally tightens with a nice rainbow that has taken the cruncher.

Playing a lively fish on the boat

Playing a lively fish on the boat

On a catch and release venue it is remarkable just how quickly fish wise up to lures, and the positive takes we were getting soon start to dry up, turning into just nips and follows. This is where float tubing can be a disadvantage – it is very difficult to change your fly line and leader set up over. Tim is able to adapt his tactics and change his tippet to a finer diameter (5.5lb G4) with ease in the boat – switching to a smaller nymphs, he is rewarded with several fish in quick succession that take the flies fished slowly. Meanwhile I am stuck on the Di3, which is limiting what I can do, although I am still picking up the odd fish.

A Gludy fish on the nymphs

A Gludy fish on the nymphs

We only have a short time on the water today, so have to call it quits after a few hours fishing. However a good number of fish have been caught by both of us making it a decent morning.

The Pro’s and Con’s:


Float tubes allow complete freedom of movement whatever the wind direction. They also allow you a silent, stealthy approach.

For whatever reason, fish simply do not fear tubes like they do a boat or wading angler. This allows you to get very close to them and fish into shoreline shallows where bank angling would instantly spook fish. Your low position in the water casts a shorter shadow, therefore less likely to alert following fish.

Float tubes allow you to troll your flies allowing you to cover a vast area by simply trailing your flies behind you.

Float tubes allow a stealthy approach

Float tubes allow a stealthy approach

On the downside, it takes some time to move spot using flipper power. You may also find yourself limited method wise, as I found. Changing a fly line over involves a lot of effort and time wasted as you have to go to shore.

I felt at times I could have converted many of the follows and plucks into fish by rapidly increasing the movement of the flies, but I was limited to the speed I could strip the flies back by a lack of elbow room.

Another aspect is comfort – despite wearing neoprene waders, being submerged in the water can give you a chill. I felt quite cold after only a few hours. You also need to be fairly physically fit, so tubing isn’t for everyone.

On the Boat

In a boat you are much higher up than a tube. This allows for a much better visual fishing experience. It is also better for slow nymphing techniques and for quick covering of rising fish. You have no arm room limit so if you want to rip lures back at a breakneck pace you will have no problem.

Speed is another factor – the ability to move spot quickly, with an engine is a big plus. Not forgetting being able to anchor up.

Fishing from a boat is more comfortable if you are fishing for a long day – access to food, drink and toilet facilities is made so much easier.

Boats are comfortable and easier to get around the lake in

Boats are comfortable and easier to get around the lake in

Boat or tube?

We both finished off with exactly the same number of fish – the advantages of one method over another seemed to have eventually evened out today. So ultimately, it might boil down to which mode of fishing you find most enjoyable.

Winter value

Gludy  lake offers fantastic value winter rates, with all day fishing available at £35 per head from 1st November to 28th February. It is possible to block book the fishery and stay overnight in well equipped onsite accommodation. The lodge and facilities are free to use.

For full details visit or call 07980 711 847

Gludy Fishing Lodge and Chalet

Gludy Fishing Lodge and Chalet

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Sandford Pool – Stalking in the Woods

In this day and age it is quite refreshing to hear of a new small Stillwater trout fishery opening its doors, rather than yet another one closing down or turning into a coarse fishing water.

In an exclusive ‘first visit’ Airflo’s Tim Hughes and Ceri Thomas sample a new brand water in Gloucestershire called Sandford Pool.

Fishing on Sandford pool

Fishing on Sandford pool

I first heard of Sandford Pool just a few months ago. The word was, that an established, gin clear water where sight fishing ruled had opened its doors in the picturesque Forest of Dean. Finding a new trout water, let alone a genuine stalking venue is a bit of a rarity these days, so myself and Tim set a date to sample the fishing at the nearest opportunity, with a first ever feature on the fishery in mind.

We were hoping for clear skies, sunshine and calm wind for the feature – the best conditions for visual fishing. Typically, the UK winter weather let us down.  As we headed up the A48 from our Brecon HQ, we were greeted by drizzle and grey cloud, far from ideal for stalking and photography. Nevertheless, we decided to go ahead with the feature and found the fishery fairly easily, just off the main road.

Situated just outside Lydney, in the historic and beautiful Forest of Dean region, Sandford Pool appeared to be something rather special.  Our first glimpse of the lake was down a recently made wood chipped track, into a deep hollow where the pool sat, surrounded by mature trees.

Sandford pool nestles in a deep hollow

Sandford pool nestles in a deep hollow

We were greeted warmly by Sami, the Fishery manageress, who explained that the lake was once completely neglected and forgotten, the surrounding land like a jungle and the pool itself almost fully choked with weed.  We could see that immense time, effort and dedication has gone into making the venue fishable – careful tree cutting, new paths and sturdy, well laid out wooden platforms surrounded the lake. A portaloo toilet, wooden hut, picnic tables and a robust looking otter proof fence completed the picture.  Everything looked tidy and well kept, with nothing to spoil or clash with the original secluded charm of the venue.

A warm welcome awaits anglers at Sandford pool

A warm welcome awaits anglers at Sandford pool

Sandford pool only opened in April 2017 and is stocked regularly with quality rainbows and blues supplied by Exmoor fisheries, ranging from 2lb to 7lb in weight. The pool also holds a head of natural wild brown trout that have been there as long as anyone can remember.

Completely spring fed by groundwater flows, the acre or so pool was indeed crystal clear – and despite the poor light we could see plenty of fish to cast to, as well as tree roots and submerged weed. With depths up to 12 foot, the venue is fishable all year even in hot conditions due to the cold, oxygenated water that you can actually see bubbling up from the lake bed in some areas.

Tackle up for stalking

I favour a lighter approach to this sort of fishing – a 9’ #5 is perfect for accurate short and mid range work, with the added benefit of being great fun when you hook into a fish. Far too often have I seen anglers turn up on small fisheries with 10’ #8 weights – vastly overgunned and much harder to fish with delicacy. I set up with an Airflo Airlite V2, Switch Pro reel and 5 weight Airflo Bandit fly line, a stealth line with the added benefit of offering take detection by watching its brown banded tip.

Tim has set up with an Airflo Streamtec 9’ #4/5 and a WF5 Forge Fly line, which again is nice and subtle for stalking with its olive head section.

Stalking essentials

Stalking essentials…..

One essential that we both need today are yellow tinted Polaroid sunglasses. Yellow is the best colour for low light, which today is very poor indeed. With these on we can pick out a quite a lot of detail in the clear spring fed waters of the pool, allowing us to spot and target fish.

As we rig up Sami offers us a most welcome cup of coffee – complementary for any visitors to the fishery! Bacon rolls are also available on site, for a very reasonable cost.

Where to start

There are about a dozen pegs to choose from, I pick a peg right in front of me, where I can see a submerged weedbed about 20 yards out.  I add a clear 5 foot polyleader and 10 foot of 6lb G3 fluorocarbon tippet to my fly line. The floating Airflo polyleaders have been vastly improved in recent times. Now glass clear, they have no memory with improved welding technology, perfect for improving your presentation and turnover – so important if you are stalking!


To begin, I opt for a more natural pattern. I tie on a weighted gold bead damsel and make a few exploratory casts. Despite the pegs being surrounded by trees, there are lots of gaps for you to make casts, with side and over the shoulder casts being possible, allowing you to cover the water from all angles. For me the trees added to the challenge, causing me to slow down and think about where to direct my back casts rather than just blast the line out.

Into the action

In front of me I can see the odd dark shape ghosting over the weeds. Almost straight away I feel a bump through the line, and see a broad form materialise behind my fly. The water is so clear that I can see every follow. And believe me; it’s happening almost every cast! It becomes apparent that these fish are inquisitive but also wary. I try fishing slow but that seems to be totally ignored. Speeding up the fly up causes them to chase, but as soon as I stop the retrieve or hang the fly they turn away.

The fish are here, so surely it’s just a case of cracking the code:  fly choice, depth, and retrieve. As I mull over this, the banded tip of my Bandit fly line jags forward and a feisty little wild brownie come to hand. Underneath him, I spot a pair of nice blues that have come to take a look at the commotion – a clue perhaps as to what they want?

Sandford pool wild brown

Sandford pool wild brown

Meanwhile, between camera shots Tim has rigged up with a bung. First with an Apps bloodworm and then with a tiny nymph beneath it.  He gets fish looking but no takes. He also has a dabble with dries, casting CDC’s over cruising fish. But again, they ignore the offerings. These fish are pretty wised up and perhaps need to be induced into taking.

I move to another peg and tie on a lure – a favourite pattern of mine, a black tadpole featuring a 3.8mm tungsten bead. It is a fly that has worked well for me on both rainbows and wild browns. First cast, a fish follows it back to my feet. I start to mix up the retrieve finally the line locks up with a feisty rainbow attached. What has worked is a very jerky, erratic figure of eight that seems to trigger an attacking instinct. The heavy tungsten bead makes the fly jiggle up and down quickly, an action that seems to be irresistible. The weight of the bead is also keeping the fly in the taking zone for longer, about two foot below the surface.

A pretty rainbow trout

A pretty rainbow trout

From there on sport is pretty frantic, with lots of nice blues and rainbows coming to the net. Numerous times I spot fish, cast the lure at them and start the figure of eight immediately to grab their attention. Almost invariably they follow, with a good number charging at the fly then turning away with it in their mouths.

It has to be said that the fish here fight particularly well and are in superb condition, with a noticeable silvery sheen to them.  This must be due to the pure unpolluted spring water, which provides abundant oxygen. I get taken to the backing by a particularly feisty blue – something I haven’t had for a while!

A hard fighting trout from the gin clear waters

A hard fighting trout from the gin clear waters

Tim has also switched to a leadhead mayfly nymph and begins to catch in abundance from his side of the lake. Between us we have captured well over 20 fish, in just a couple of hours angling. Great sport and at £10 for 4 hours catch and release a genuine bargain.

The verdict

Although small, Sandford Pool offers a very enjoyable and engaging experience.  Due to the trees and spring fed water, it has a different feel to it than your typical ‘hole in the ground’ venue and seems a lot bigger than it actually is. The fishery is well run, facilities good, management friendly and the quality fish fight hard. What more could you want from a new fishery?

Tim Hughes with a nice fish

Tim Hughes with a nice fish

Fishing on Sandford Pool

Sandford Road, Alvington, Lydney GL15 6PZ
Open 8am – 6.30pm year round, Tuesday to Sunday
Contact tel: 07931115301

Catch & release:
£15 All day
£10 Four hours

For more information and ticket options visit:

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