The Airflo Airlite V2 Switch Rod – 11 Foot 8 Weight

With a new season of chasing creatures of the salt in mind, our sea fly fishing guru Darren Jackson takes a new rod out for a spin with a selection of fly lines.

I’ve done a fair bit with switch rods and light double handers over the years and they really are just a joy to use; they make things so effortlessly easy.

I recently got my hands on a new Airlite V2 Switch 11ft 8wt to play around with and took along some standard Airflo Forty plus and Sniper lines, with densities ranging from floating down to a Di3 to have a good chuck.

Airlite V2 11ft 8 weight on test

Airlite V2 11ft 8 weight on test

Each line performed brilliantly well, but the Snipers are definitely the stars of the show on this rod (for me personally!) Simple/relaxed over head thumps were throwing my fly respectable distances, as they were with both line types; it was just a little more effortless for the Sniper with its short (30ft) aggressive head.

This line really drags big heavy patterns out there without to much fuss; I’d best describe it like “a three year old taking an out of control Rottweiler for a walk!”. The Sniper is never going to win gold for presentation, but for what I do (bass fishing on the coast) it’s a issue that’s not even worth taking a second to think about.

Single hand casts with a double haul thrown in sent the fly incredible distances and my backing to running line connection was making a regular appearance. That extra one foot of rod length allowed me to get considerably more of the head and running line out through the eyes with extra control, and with no signs of it collapsing/hinging than what I can comfortably manage with my 10 foot rods which, in turn, equates to longer casts.

The Sniper fly line from Airflo

The Sniper fly line from Airflo

For the record, I find the Forty Plus Sniper line performs so much better with longer leaders and a good stiff butt section. Basically extending the head a little which in turn allows more flight time and gives the line/head/loop more time to turn over before things catch up on their self. Take your time with the Sniper and it performs,try powering it out there with a short leader,combined with the short head,and it just wont work and dumps in.

I’m no casting instructor and those who are more technically advanced with the whole casting thing will get where I’m coming from (I hope). For those out there who are using the Sniper line,try it and see how you get on.

As it stands, I’m still relatively young and fit and found it no issue what so ever performing single handed casts with this rod,as time goes on and I grow older and weaker I’m not sure I’d like to be doing it all day. Saying all this, it’s not really what the rod was designed for in my eyes. Yes, overhead casts can be performed with relative ease but,technically,it’s a light double hander and should be used as one. All manner of speys, skagit, roll casts etc.are a doodle with this rod and if I was to fish small to medium sized rivers again for salmon and sea trout I’m not sure if I’d reach for anything else.

Airlite V2 ready for action

Airlite V2 ready for action

Things are really starting to move now, water temp is climbing everyday and I just can’t wait to hit the shores and give this rod a dam good thrashing. It’s no secret that I am a massive fan of the Airlite range of rods, I’ve used and abused them for over ten years and they have taken the worst I can throw at them with out issue. If the new V2 can take half the punishment I’ve given the older models we’ll get along just fine.

Tightlines, Daz

Don't be shellfish...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+

River Fly Fishing for Beginners: 10 Top Tips

river-trout

There are few fish more beautiful than a wild trout.
Image courtesy of Dom Garnett.

Ever fancied fishing your local river for trout? Whether your usual diet is stillwater angling, or you’re a coarse fisher looking to try something new, you’re in for a treat. In fact, contrary to what you might think, there’s a heck of a lot of water available these days. Much of it is also cheap and lightly fished.

So where do you begin? While it’s a different game to stillwater trout fishing, it’s not rocket science to get started on a stream. Here are Dom Garnett’s ten tips on essential tackle and wild trout technique, before you wade in:

1. Where can I find affordable fly fishing near me?

urban-trout-fishing

Urban fly fishing is sometimes free of charge!
Image: Frazer McBain

Don’t assume all river fishing is exclusive or expensive. Chalkstream fishing can cost a bomb; but much of the rest is cheap as chips. Smaller local clubs are one excellent source. Various token and passport schemes are another, including the Westcountry Angling Passport, Wye and Usk Passport and Go Wild in Eden.

If you don’t mind a bit of accidental company, there are also some fantastic urban locations with free fly fishing on your EA license. Fishtec blogger Theo Pike’s book Trout in Dirty Places is well worth a look for ideas.

2. Which fly rods are best for river fishing?

feather-light-fly-fishing-gear

Feather-light kit is a joy to use; but start with simple, affordable gear.
Image courtesy of Dom Garnett.

So let’s cut straight to the basics and look at simple tackle for river fishing. For small to mid sized rivers, I would go for a short (7ft – 8ft) light trout rod with a weight rating of 3 – 4. This length is ideal for small stream with lots of tree cover or slightly cramped conditions.

You needn’t spend a fortune. In fact, the Shakespeare Agility range is awesome for the money, starting at less than £60. Alternatively, Airflo’s River and Stream Starter Kit has all you need for just £69.99.

For larger rivers, a longer rod has advantages. If it’s relatively open, with bigger glides of water and more space, a 10ft rod in a 4oz weight is what I tend to use. It just gives me that little bit extra reach and control.

3. Reels, fly lines and leaders?

Leeda Profil Tapered Leader

Stock up with a few tapered leaders. Costing less than £3, they’ll help your casting and presentation.
Featured: Leeda tapered leaders from Fishtec.

A reel with bling is not terribly important, so I’d suggest you choose something that’s good value for money and functional. Cash you save here should be invested in a decent fly line instead. Go for a floating, weight forward fly line to match your rod. Airflo Velocity Lines are among the most competitive, from only £19.99. If you have a bit more to spend, or you’re looking for ideas to add to your birthday or Christmas wish list, Cortland lines such as the Classic 444 are excellent.

Next, you need some leaders. The “leader” is the length of mono that goes between fly line and fly. Tapered leaders (3-4lbs strength) are best for ease of use – designed to help turn the fly over and make your cast land neatly. These tend to come in 9ft lengths, which is ideal to start with. You can use much longer leaders for shy fish and open water, or indeed a bit shorter for bushy streams, but 9ft is a good start.

You could also get some finer line (say 3lbs or so) to use as “tippet” material. In simple terms, the “tippet” is a couple of feet or so of lighter line that goes between your leader and the fly. Not only is a final section of finer line harder for the trout to spot, it also means that if you get snagged you only lose a little bit of line.

4. Other essentials for river trout fishing

trout scoop net

A trout scoop net has ultra fine mesh to protect delicate fins.
Featured: Airflo’s Streamtec Pan Net (above) is a good choice for just £12.99.

There are a handful of other things I wouldn’t be without for river fishing. One is a pair of waders – a must if you want to reach the best spots. A simple, functional pair will do just fine.

Another must is a pair of polarising sunglasses, which protect your eyes and make fish spotting easier. Again, you don’t need to spend a bomb (I usually spend about £20 because I’m great at losing and breaking them).

I’d also take two simple products to help your lines and flies float or sink: a tub of LedaSink and a tub of Muclin.

Finally, I like to use a wading vest to store odds and ends, because typical fishing bags are a pain when wading and I like to keep my arms as free as possible! You might also grab a portable scoop net to clip to your back.

5. Suss out your river

trout fishing in strong current

Don’t fear the flow: trout love current and oxygen.
Image courtesy of Dom Garnett.

It’s tempting just to find a river and start casting. A better plan is to watch the water for a while and enjoy slowly immersing yourself in the little world that is a trout stream. To start with, smaller rivers and streams are easier than the bigger waters. The fish here can be spooky at close quarters, but it’s much easier to find them and suss out the best places to fish.

See if you can spot rises, fish and anything that’s hatching, along with any features you think might hold fish. Beginners quite often like to fish where the water is slow or even slack, because it’s easier fishing. However, trout prefer the flow. It brings their food to them and provides oxygen rich water. So while they like obstructions like boulders, submerged bushes and other little sheltering spots, they also like to be near the current, where insects that hatch or fall in are carried towards them.

One tip I often share when guiding is to watch bubbles and little bits of debris on the surface of a river. These will take a particular path, like a mini conveyor belt, indicating exactly where the current tends to carry the things trout feed on.

6. Be stealthy

quiet trout fishing

Keep a low profile whenever possible.
Image courtesy of Dom Garnett.

Whether or not your first attempts are successful, river trout will quickly teach you the need for stealth and caution. They tend to be shyer than stocked fish, and the lower and clearer the water the more this is the case. As a rather tall and sometimes clumsy human being, I’ve learned this the hard way!

Always wade slowly and carefully, avoiding sudden movements that send out too many ripples. It’s a balance between getting close enough to catch the fish, but not so close they bolt for it.

Beyond obvious things, like not casting a big shadow or stomping about, try wading and casting upstream. Trout will naturally face into the current (upstream), so if you approach them from behind, or from “downstream”, you’ll get closer to them without spooking them.

7. Make your casts count

You’ve found a nice looking spot and perhaps even seen a fish. Now comes the moment of truth. If there’s space, you might manage a standard, overhead cast. If it’s cramped, a roll or side cast might be needed. Side casts are especially useful to get your fly line under trees and make the most of limited space.

Another golden rule is to make your cast land as gently as possible. If everything splats down on the water, the trout are likely to spook. Aim as if you were casting just above the water.

Perhaps the most common beginner’s mistake is to have too many casts. Rather than thrashing the water, it’s much better to watch carefully and make just one or two careful deliveries at a time. There’s no rush, and one good cast is worth ten poor shots.

8. Get a handle on local hatches

insects to inspire flies

Start to learn what insects hatch on your favourite rivers and streams.
Image courtesy of Dom Garnett.

Identifying fly life is something that can scare or baffle newcomers to fly fishing. Indeed, read some of the more obsessive articles and you might think you need a doctorate in bug life to catch fish. It isn’t true. In fact a lot of the time, you’ll catch on “general fit” fly patterns if you present them naturally.

Of course, it’s always going to be helpful to get a rough idea of what’s hatching. It’s fun too – and you can do it at your own pace, one or two species at a time. Latin names and pedantic amounts of detail don’t matter – but do try and get a rough idea of the size and colour of what hatches. The Pocket Guide to Matching the Hatch (Lapsley and Bennett) is a lovely pocket sized guidebook for under a tenner that will get you off on the right foot.

9. Stock up with some proven river flies

River fly patterns can quickly get confusing, so keep it simple to begin with. If you’re used to stillwater fishing, you’ll find the flies a lot smaller and more realistic (typically sizes 14 to 18 are best to start with). I would take a simple Klinkhammer Emerger in a few colours (an excellent and easy to spot floating fly), along with the F-Fly and perhaps a few little Caddis. As for nymphs, you cannot go far wrong with a beaded Hare’s Ear and a Pheasant Tail Nymph.

10. Simple tactics to catch a fish

a day on a trout stream

Time well spent: little beats a day on the trout stream.
Image courtesy of Dom Garnett.

If you can see fish rising now and again, you could start with a dry fly. Watch carefully and try to see where the fish is coming up from (the rings at the surface or “rise forms” will travel with the flow, so the actual trout could be another few feet away). Do the rises keep occurring in the same place?

Much of the art of successful river fishing is sussing how to make your fly look natural. Hence much of the time, the angler will aim for “dead drift” (i.e. letting the fly moving at the exact same speed as the current, just like a real one that was hatching or had fallen in). To get this just right takes practice. You’ll need to watch the current carefully and keep picking up the slack fly line after you’ve cast, so you don’t have yards of the stuff dancing about on the water.

If nothing is rising, or you are struggling to get the fish to take a dry fly, then a sinking nymph is the best way to catch. The easiest way to do this is to use the so-called “New Zealand dropper”. All this means is taking a buoyant dry fly like a Klinkhammer or Caddis, and using this to suspend a sinking fly. All you do is tie a little light mono (say 40cm or so of 3lbs line) to the bend of the dry fly hook, and then attach your nymph to the other end. When the trout takes the sunk fly, the dry fly will pull under. Time to strike!

Hopefully, that first river trout will be a magical experience to make your rod bend and your heart race. It might be a fish that leads to a slightly lighter wallet and a lot of happily lost hours on running water; but you really can’t put a price on something as delightful as a day on a trout stream.

Tackle up for river fly fishing: quick checklist

Further reading and more from our blogger….

We hope these tips help you to approach your local river with confidence and catch that first wild trout. Obviously there’s a lot to learn, so do take it steady and move at your own pace. Books, articles and lots of practice are sure to help- it’s also well worth keeping an eye on the Fishtec Blog, and the Turrall Flies blog, which Dom also contributes to.

For a real head start in fly fishing on rivers, another excellent step is to book a guide. With a qualified instructor you could learn more in a day than you might in many months on your own. Dom offers guided river trout fly fishing in Devon and Somerset, along with sessions for coarse fish right through the year. Find further details, along with his books, further articles and more at www.dgfishing.co.uk

Don't be shellfish...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+

The TF Gear Airbomb – Dave Lane Q & A Session With Total Carp Magazine

In this article by Total Carp Magazine Dave Lane answers some TF Gear Airbomb questions….


TOTAL CARP: WHAT WAS THE THOUGHT PROCESS BEHIND PRODUCING THE AIRBOMB?

DAVE LANE: To create a system that could bait a swim in a similar method to a catapult but at any range, rather than just deposit small piles of bait on the bottom of the lake.

In shallow water this is even more pronounced when you are using a spod or similar type of device as the bait has no time to spread out on its descent.

The Airbomb will scatter your bait in a wider pattern and actually create a feeding area rather than individual spots that are impossible to accurately land a rig on top of.

TC: HOW LONG HAS IT BEEN IN TESTING?

DL: I suppose it must be around two years now, since we had the original samples made. Throughout that process we have made a few changes and tweaks to ensure that it performs exactly as we intended at the outset.

Everything was kept under wraps for a long time as we were always aware of just how good this device would be and we wanted to perfect every aspect of it before releasing it to the angling public.

TC: WHEN IS IT AVAILABLE?

DL: It will be available around the end of March this year.

TC: DO YOU SEE ANY LIMITATIONS?

DL: Not really, no. In fact there are quite a few ways you can use the Airbomb to create different baiting patterns.

If you hit the line clip high in the air while the Bomb is still climbing then the bait will spread in a larger circle on impact with the water.

Alternatively, you can adjust your line clip to stop the Airbomb nearer the surface, on its descent, and this will fire the bait in a smaller, more compact pattern.

If you are fishing on very small spots, like holes in the weed for example, you can overcast without hitting a clip and the Airbomb will not open on impact. By doing this you still have the bait inside and if you carefully wind the Bomb into position you can then flick the rod tip and deliver the bait from the surface into the hole in the weed, or whatever other area you
desire.

TC: HOW DOES THE MECHANISM WORK?

DL: On casting there is a retaining clip that negates the firing pin but, on the cast, this
disengages.

The Airbomb is triggered by a sudden force on the line, provided by the line clip on your reel or trapping the line with your finger.

The Airbomb then opens and stops in mid-air while your bait carries on under its own inertia for a short distance before falling into the lake. Because the Airbomb is empty it now has very little weight and makes a minimal splash as it hits the water, but the real beauty
is that the Airbomb falls about 20 yards back from your spot and doesn’t spook feeding fish.

Airbomb projects bait forward over your marker

Airbomb projects bait forward over your marker

TC: WHAT RANGES ARE YOU COMFORTABLE FISHING THE AIRBOMB OR IS IT PURELY DOWN TO THE ANGLER’S ABILITY?

DL: I would be comfortable fishing at any range at all, as long as I could hit the line clip while the Airbomb is still in flight.

Casting ability will figure in the same way it would with a very good spod or similar device.

The Airbomb has an extremely aerodynamic profile and the four finned flight at the back ensures that it stays stable and flies true through the air.

TC: IF YOU WERE  FISHING AN AREA AT SAY 80 YARDS,WHERE WOULD YOU SET THE CLIP AND WRAP THE ROD TO ENSURE YOU BAITED THE AREA ACCURATELY?

DL: This would vary depending on the weight, shape and profile of the bait you were using because 18mm boilies will fly on a lot further than sweetcorn, for example.

As a rough guide I would say about  two rod lengths shorter for particles and three rod lengths for boilies, but a simple test cast with a very small amount of bait will soon give you the range and you can easily tweak this until you have it clipped up perfectly.

TC: FISHING LARGE SPREADS OF BAITS IS OFTEN ASSOCIATED WITH BOILIE FISHING; WOULD YOU USE THIS BAITING DEVICE WITH OTHER BAITS SUCH AS PELLETS OR PARTICLES?

DL: I totally disagree with that,actually; I always fish particles in a nice wide pattern so that I can get more fish feeding in the area at the same time.

If I was to go out in a boat to bait up then I wouldn’t dream of just upending a bucket over the side, I would scatter it around my mark with a scoop and this is the effect that the Airbomb will give you.

Remember that you can vary the spread easily by the timing of the ejection against the line clip. I can see huge advantages for fishing particles with an Airbomb as there is no other way at the moment of creating that ‘catapult like spread’ at range.

Airbomb can be used with a wide variety of baits

Airbomb can be used with a wide variety of baits

TC: IN WHAT SITUATIONS CAN YOU SEE YOURSELF USING THE AIRBOMB?

DL: Apart from fishing my own margins, where I can bait by hand, I cannot honestly think of any situation where I wouldn’t use one.

Throwing sticks have become a thing of the past because of the sheer amount of terns and black-headed gulls that now live inland and seem to feed almost exclusively on bait.

The existing delivery systems we use all have the same disadvantage of dropping piles of bait in the same way that bait boats do, and this ‘dollop baiting’ has never been a favourite
of mine but, up until now, I have had no other alternative.

Think about the implications here; using an Airbomb, not just for open-water feeding in a nice spread pattern but what about baiting tight under snags, or islands, or an out-of bounds far-bank scenario?

You can stop the Airbomb 10 yards short of the bushes and spray hemp or boilies right on the edge of the canopy, never having to worry about casting into the tree again because the Airbomb doesn’t need to get anywhere near the branches.

TC: CAN IT BE USED FOR FLOATER FISHING TOO?

DL: Floater fishing at range will be completely transformed using this device. You will be able to silently bait up right on the heads of feeding fish and the only sound they will hear is the bait sprinkling down on the surface; the empty Airbomb will be a minimal splash about 20 yards further back towards you, further still when you master the art of flicking it back on impact with the clip while still high in the air.

TC: WHAT IS THE LOAD CAPACITY OF THE AIRBOMB? ARE THERE DIFFERENT SIZES?

DL: I suppose about 30 15mm boilies would be a good fit or a decent scoop of particles, similar to a large spod really. There are plans for a small version a smaller version in the near future, possibly it would also suit match anglers for spraying maggots as well as lighter baiting for carp anglers.

TC: CAN YOU USE IT AS A NORMAL SPOD/SPOMB OR IS IT ALL ABOUT GENERATING LARGER SPREADS OF BAIT?

DL: It isn’t really comparable to either, nor is it trying to be. The whole idea is to remove the huge impact associated with both the methods you have mentioned and bait up in a more silent and effective fashion.

You can quite easily achieve the same results by either hitting the clip just before impact with the water or pulling back slowly from an ‘overcast’ past the area but, personally, I think the effect it achieves when used normally gives a far superior baiting pattern.

The spread of bait is not massive, it doesn’t just scatter randomly all over the place and, in fact, boilies of the same size and weight will usually land within a one-yard circle of each other.

CONCLUSION:

Overall this newly designed baiting concept certainly looks like it will revolutionise the baiting patterns you can now employ at range, and as with any new product on the market time will tell how successful it will become.

The angler looking to keep  ahead of the trends and take advantage of a new baiting tool will certainly see the benefits and we are certainly keen to get our hands on one here and give it a good going over.

Check out the Airbomb tutorial video here:

TF Gear Airbomb’s are available here.

Article reproduced with kind permission of Total Carp Magazine.

Don't be shellfish...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+

Airflo Super Tuff Wader Review

In this tackle review Fishtec’s Ceri Thomas shares his thoughts on a fly fishing wader he has been using over the past few weeks – the Airflo Super-Tuff.

I’ve always been a bit dubious about using non-breathable bootfoot chest waders, especially for river work. However, since the start of the season (March the 3rd) I have been testing the Super Tuff waders from Airflo on both river and stillwater, and guess what? They have been pretty good so far.

Airflo Super-Tuff Waders

Airflo Super-Tuff Waders

It started as a convenience thing – bootfoot’s are extremely quick and easy to take on and off, ideal for short lunch time sessions where time is at a premium. Another factor has been the brutally cold spring. With snow on the banks and sub zero temperatures, the last thing I wanted to do was lace up wading boots and go through the tedious process of taking them off again when wet, with even colder, numb hands. So a set of bootfoot’s was the simple answer.

Super Tuff are made of a thick, heavy duty PVC material. A bit like the old ocean waders that were once renowned for their reliability. What struck me was their suppleness – they are not heavy to wear and slip on and off like a glove. The wader appears to be very well put together, with comfortable and easily adjustable shoulder straps. There is an inner pocket and a drawstring should you wish to close the top up.

Superior knee protection

Superior knee protection

The waders have extra thick knee pad reinforcements, which I have found ideal for scrambling out of the river in tight spaces without putting holes in them. In terms of accidental damage, they have been pretty bomb proof, almost like a suit of armour. They have been perfect for tramping though bramble thickets, knotwood groves and sliding across steep urban river banks riddled with broken glass and rusty beer tins – terrain that can make mincemeat of a lightweight wader in a short space of time.

A worry was that the grip on treacherous river stones would be inadequate. Thankfully, the Super-Tuff boots are fitted with pre-installed tungsten studs and a heavily cleated tread, which makes a huge difference. In fact the grip was nearly as good as felt boots fitted with studs and I was able to wade in confidence over some really nasty bottom types. Walking the banks was easy and I haven’t slipped on wet grassy banks once.

Non slip tread with studs for safe wading

Non slip tread with studs for safe wading

One thing bootfoot waders don’t offer is much support for the ankle or protection from uneven, sharp rocks around your toes. I got round this to some extent by wearing a set of neoprene socks which really improved the comfort level. The waders are quite roomy in the foot, which allows you to fit a pair of these in, or you could wear an extra pair of woolen socks.

I found the Super-Tuff were really handy for keeping on ‘stand by’ in the car- I’m one for quickly throwing anything into the boot, and being PVC these don’t retain any excess water meaning my car doesn’t smell of damp after a day. There is no risk of the wader developing mildew and they are essentially maintenance free.

Having done a lot of walking in them I haven’t found the lack of breathability to be an issue, although it’s been a bit on the chilly side weather wise. They are not as warm as neoprene and are therefore less likely to make you break into a sweat. Compared to breathable’s they definitely provide more of a barrier against cold water, making you feel less chilled whilst in the river. Overall they have been utterly reliable so far, so I’m going to continue using them until the really warm weather kicks in. Which being Wales, could be another few months.

Priced at £79.99, Airflo Super-Tuff waders are available here.

Don't be shellfish...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+

Easter Holiday Fishing With The Family

children fishing

Hunt for fish, not eggs, this Easter!
Image courtesy of Dom Garnett

With sunny weather on the cards and a welcome break from work and school, Easter is the perfect time to get children fishing.

The closed season might have kicked in on rivers, but there are loads of waters that are not only open, but really waking up at this time of year.

So where should you start? From having a crack at your local stillwater, to enjoying discounted fishing and special events, Dom Garnett shares eight timely tips to make it an Easter break to remember.

1. Sort out your fishing licenses for free!

Fishing licence

Juniors can get a free EA license under current rules, making fishing even more affordable.
Image courtesy of Dom Garnett

Do children need a fishing license in the UK? Well, the good news is that the system has recently changed to encourage youngsters to take part and make the sport more affordable for families. So, if your kids are 12 or under they don’t need a license at all. If they’re 13-16, they will need to register for a license, but this is completely FREE! You can do this online whenever you have five minutes spare.

You will still need a day ticket on many lakes, but many venues offer these to kids for half price. Typically you’ll be looking at between £3 or £5 a day. Angling clubs are often cheaper still, with heavily discounted season tickets for under 16s.

2. Local tip-offs & smaller, well-stocked fisheries

Easter_Fishing - 4

For youngsters it’s all about getting bites, not catching leviathans like the General, above.
Image courtesy of Dom Garnett

Most of us will get a day or two off work in the next fortnight, but the golden question is where to go fishing? Sure, you can surf the internet for likely hotspots, but nothing beats speaking to locals. Take ten minutes to ask pals in the know, or pop into your local tackle shop for a pint of maggots. They’ll give you tips on the best places to go.

Given a choice of venues, look for smaller, well-stocked lakes. In these places, fish are plentiful and not hard to locate. Unless your kids have done lots of fishing already, size isn’t so important. It’s all about having fun and getting bites. Commercial lakes also tend to be safe and have shelter and toilet facilities.

3. Simple float fishing is best

Unless your youngsters are a bit older and experienced, keep things simple. The best way to get going is often basic float fishing. Whether it’s with rod and line, or a pole, watching a float is fun and gets them concentrating on those key early lessons. Our Beginner’s Guide to Float Fishing has loads of useful tips.

On many day ticket lakes, the best spot is near the bank, or just a little further where the bottom drops away a little (usually not more than a rodlength or two!). Take your time picking swims and get your apprentices to help make the choice by looking for features and fish moving.

4. Fishing basics first

Most kids will be raring to fish immediately, but there are some quick jobs to do first. Include your learners as much as you can and do your best to answer their 101 questions! Always start by plumbing the depth before you fish. If you can show them how to do this, and set up with the hookbait at just the right depth (start with it just about touching the bottom), they will spot bites better and catch more fish, period.

Another (often neglected) key skill is to test your gear and get things perfect before you get fishing. Weight that float carefully, so that just the very tip is showing. Test the drag on your reels too, so that it gives out line with a steady pull. It could be the difference between landing that first proper net-filler and getting snapped off.

5. Ways to get more bites when starting out…

Easter_Fishing

Regular loose feeding and lighter lines are the way to get loads of bites, as this family learned at a friendly Exeter Angling Club event.
Image courtesy of Dom Garnett

When fishing with kids, getting bites is important. Ok, so fishing is not all about catching, but if you’re going to sustain their interest most youngsters need encouragement. A couple of key lessons will greatly increase the number of bites they get!

One is to use fine line and smaller hooks. Too many beginners don’t catch because they use crude gear. Try small barbless hooks in sizes 12 to 16 to start, along with low diameter lines of 4 or 5lbs breaking strain. Pre-tied hooklengths and ready-made pole rigs can be useful here.

The other essential tip is to feed bait little and often. Not kilos of the stuff, but perhaps a dozen maggots or tiny pellets every three or four minutes. This brings the fish in much better than just the occasional handful. When you are setting up or sorting tangles, this is also an excellent job to give to kids to stop them getting bored. Just try to make sure the bait keeps going in the same spot and not all over the place!

6. Help out, but don’t do it all for them

first fish

Let youngsters practise skills and play fish themselves. They’ll learn from their mistakes.
Image courtesy of Dom Garnett

Perhaps the most common trap for parents and coaches alike is to try and do every essential job going. From tying knots to unhooking fish, it’s often tempting to take over. But if you do it all yourself, how are they going to learn?

A great rule is to do each essential task slowly, but with the message: “you watch me first, then you try it.” You might need to show them a few times and they will make the odd mistake, but this is the best way to learn. Even better, you’ll gradually get more peace when you fish yourself, because they won’t ask for your help every five minutes!

7. Plan B for a bigger fish

As mentioned, getting bites is what it’s all about for most kids who haven’t done loads of fishing. But there’s no harm in mum or dad sneaking along an extra rod, just to try for a ‘bigger something’ in between all the bites, laughs and tangles. The learners are sure to be impressed and it could add extra excitement to a fun day out.

For the ultimate, no-nonsense trick to bag a carp on most day ticket lakes, look no further than the method feeder with a large hookbait (see our guide to feeder fishing). Be warned though – bites are so positive on the method, the rod could get pulled in, so do keep an eye on it! For safety, use a baitrunner type reel in free-spool mode, or set the drag lightly.

8. Make it a social day out or join an event!

family-friendly fishing spot

Most small stillwaters have comfy pegs and family-friendly facilities like toilets.
Image courtesy of Dom Garnett

Being a fishing mum or dad can take patience. It can be tricky to do your own angling and sometimes you’ll wish you had four arms instead of two. This is where a bit of friendly help comes in.

Why not club together with friends or family to make it a social day out? If the weather’s fine, you could always combine it with a picnic. Do warn non-anglers that you’ll need at least three or four hours to make it worthwhile, though. Have a plan B too, so less keen family members can take a walk, or do something else for a bit.

If you want some expert help and even better value, why not join one of the many free fishing events around the country? There are usually various family days and taster sessions for beginners in the Easter and Summer Holidays (be sure to check your local fishing club’s website and Facebook page!). There are also lots of events and discounts available on day ticket lakes all over the country with the Take A Friend Fishing (TAFF) scheme. See if you can find some cheap fishing near you.

Wherever you decide to fish this Spring, enjoy your time out on the bank. Days like these make precious memories and turn keen youngsters into lifelong anglers, so treasure them! And if you do make it out with the family, share some photos on the Fishtec Facebook page, which is always worth checking for news, tips and offers. Don’t forget to check out our other blog posts too, including our Fishing with Children article.

Don't be shellfish...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+

Top Baiting Methods & Fishing Gadgets to Feed Your Swim

Fishtec_Guide_to_Baiting_Methods_001

Image courtesy of Dom Garnett

There are lots of methods to feed your swim when fishing, but which is the best for your next session? From the good old catapult to the revolutionary new TF Gear Air Bomb, Dom Garnett takes a look at some of the best devices to buy and most innovative ways to bait up.

Being able to feed your chosen fishing spot accurately can make a huge difference to success. Do it right and you’ll stack the odds in your favour. Do it poorly and it’s not just bait you’ll scatter everywhere; the fish might also end up miles from your hook.

At shorter range, or for small helpings of bait, the angler can obviously throw it in or use a swimfeeder or PVA bag. But when it comes to putting a pocket of bait on a gravel bar at 70 yards, or getting free boilies close to snags, what’s the best way to feed? Here are some of the best solutions, complete with the pros and cons of each.

Feeding your swim with a catapult

CATAPULT_FC-KORDAPULT-L

Models such as the Korda Katapult (£14.99), above, are a quick, hassle-free way of baiting up.

Catapults come in various shapes and sizes and are excellent for projecting freebies beyond throwing range. Some are ideal for small baits and accuracy; others have special pouches and thicker elastic to launch a ball of groundbait or cluster of particles quite a long way.

Pros: Catapults are cheap and with a bit of practise you can be very accurate. Perfect for short to mid range.
Cons: At longer range, catapults get less practical. Accuracy goes down and you might fall short or rap your knuckles.

TIP: For maximum catapult precision, try “locking” your arm straight and holding the catapult on its side. Softer pouches can be gently squeezed for tighter bait placing.

Feeding your swim with a throwing stick

Throwing_Stick_TFG-FIRE-

Old school they might be, but the TFG Firestick (£9.99), above, project boilies a heck of a long way with impressive accuracy. Do pick the right model to match your typical boilies sizes.

A favourite old school carp fishing device, the throwing stick turns you from noddy into baiting ninja… well, with a bit of practice. Various models are available and they do a grand job of peppering freebies around your baited rig. And it’s undeniably good fun too.

Pros: The baiting stick allows you to launch boilies further and more accurately than you could ever throw them by hand.
Cons: Limited to boilies and similarly aerodynamically shaped baits. Only introduces baits one at a time, so not ideal for heavier baiting up (you could be there a long time!)

Feeding your swim with a spod

SPOD_FC-SKYRAID-NEWW

Korda’s Skyraider Spod (£7.50) is ideal for heavy baiting at distance.

The spod is a castable bait funnel that’s rigged up to a heavy carp rod (or indeed a dedicated “spod rod”). They have a fair capacity and are popular with carp and specialist anglers who like to introduce a substantial bed of bait. Although not the most subtle way to feed, the spod gets a lot of fish food out there fast.

Pros: Accurate and ideal for long distances and large amounts of bait. Quicker than most other methods when you want to really build up your feed. Works with any kind of bait you can fill it with.
Cons: Tends to require an additional, heavier rod. Creates a lot of disturbance on impact, which could scare off the fish for a while (less of a problem on longer sessions than quick trips).

TIP: Mix up some groundbait and add a little layer on top of each spod full of feed before each cast; this stops your boilies, particles and other bits spraying out on delivery.

Feeding your swim with a spomb

FC-SPOMB-W

Want to bait accurately at range without the hassle of carrying an additional heavy “spod rod”? The spomb (from just £9.99) is just the thing!

The spod’s baby brother, this bait rocket style device is a similar concept but delivers smaller amounts of bait more tidily. It’s just as accurate and makes child’s play of getting a decent bed of bait out there. With a trigger in the nose that makes this special bait capsule split on impact with the surface, they spill less of your free offerings mid-cast and are easier to retrieve than a spod.

Pros: You can usually cast a spomb on your normal rods, without having to pack a special “spod rod”. Easy to use and very accurate. Less disturbance than a spod.
Cons: A limited load capacity means that the spomb isn’t as quick as the spod when it comes to introducing larger amounts of bait.

Feeding with the TF Gear Air Bomb

The Airbomb from TF Gear

TF Gear’s Air Bomb (£13.99), above, looks to be a real game changer this year. The best solution so far for baiting up at distance.

Carp and specimen anglers are already getting excited about the huge potential of this clever new device. It is cast on a rod and line, much like a spod or spomb, but could well eclipse both. With a rocket-shaped profile, the Air Bomb will reach huge distances. But here’s the interesting part: these gadgets actually open in mid-air when the angler brakes the cast. The result? A lovely spread of bait without as much fish scaring commotion.

It works by stopping short of the mark to “fire” the bait forward, so there is also little risk of losing the Air Bomb. And while your bait will be sprayed a little wider than say a bait boat or PVA bag, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. This is especially true on busy waters where carp grow wary of finding conspicuously neat helpings of food every weekend.

Pros: Easy to use and casts miles. Big payload like a spod, but creates much less disturbance. Better for getting bait into and under cover of trees and bushes, as the angler stops the device short to “shotgun” the bait into position. Little risk of losing it. Brilliant for surface baits, such as chum mixers and bread.
Cons: Not quite as tight baiting as a spomb or baitboat.

The best way to see what all the fuss is about is to read our recent blog post or watch the YouTube video here.

Feeding your swim with a bait boat

FC-PROCAT (1)

For distant or awkward swims, it doesn’t get much more precise than a bait boat, such as the Angling Technics ProCat Mk3 (£475.00), above.

Love or hate them, the bait boat is about as accurate as feeding gets without actually swimming out there yourself and delivering the bait on a tray! Critics may scoff, but anglers use them to introduce bait and position their rigs in the trickiest of swims.

Pros: Incredible accuracy, with the ability to put your rig right in the middle of the feed too. Excellent for awkward and distant spots.
Cons: The most expensive baiting aid on our list by some distance. Banned on some waters.

Further reading…

Need further advice on how to bait for success on your next fishing trip? It’s well worth keeping an eye on the Fishtec blog for expert tips and advice every month, as well as our archives. Previous posts have included our guide to Cracking Carp Baits, Dave Lane’s Guide to Particle Baits and Top 10 Ways to Feed Your Swim More Effectively.

Don't be shellfish...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+

Carp Tackle Buying Guide

Dave Lane carp

Beginner, regular carp angler or pro – here’s your ultimate buying guide.
Image source: Fishtec

Whether you’re a beginner trying to kit yourself out for carp fishing or an experienced angler looking to overhaul your existing gear, the Fishtec team has everything you need.

But with such a huge variety of carp fishing tackle on offer, how do you determine what you need and how much to spend? Here’s the ultimate guide to getting tackled up, from basics and budget gear through to fishing equipment for the lifelong carp addict.

What kind of carp angler are you?

Before we launch into kit, it’s important to know what stage you’re at. If you’re just starting carp fishing, for example, you won’t want to spend too much until you get going. We’ve broken things down into three categories to help you make decisions:

Carp Angler Categories
Beginner
You might be new to the sport, or someone who knows the ropes but can’t get out every week. You could simply be on a tight budget. Whatever the case, you’ll want functional gear that offers excellent value for money.
Regular
You know your stuff and fish fairly often. You wouldn’t class yourself as a die-hard, but you’re keen enough. You might not have cash to burn, but you want decent kit that can handle more than just the basics.
Expert
You live and breathe carp fishing and spend a lot of time on the bank. Your gear has become more specialised over the years. You like kit that’s not only practical, but a joy to use. When you can afford it, you have no hesitation in buying the best.

You won’t necessarily fit neatly into one category – you might fall between two. For example, you could be your first year into to the sport but coming on fast and needing better gear. Or, you could be a carper with bags of experience who needs to watch the purse strings.

Top tip: Carp fishing can get technical at the best of times and some of the kit isn’t cheap. But it’s not a fashion contest and the most important thing is that your gear works for your budget and style of fishing. Many anglers with expensive rods have been out-fished by someone with cheaper kit and better watercraft (or better luck!). If you’re a beginner, start at your own pace. You don’t need the best from the word go, so let your tackle evolve as you learn.

How to choose a carp rod

It’s the most popular impulse buy of all, every angler loves to own rods. But which is the best for your needs? These days, quality carbon blanks have never been better value. The calibre of carp rods available for less than £50 would probably have cost several times that a decade or two ago! Here are Fishtec’s top picks:

Carp Rods
Beginner: Daiwa Black Widow G50 Carp rod
Serious rods that still give you plenty of change from £50! These are anything but toy models though. A great range of options too, from 2.75 to 3.5lbs test curve.
Buy now from £39.99
Regular: Nash KMX Carp Rod
For a sleek finish and superior build quality, these rods punch above their weight in the mid-price range. Durable blanks, with a spod rod as part of the set for those who need this option.
Buy now from £69.99
.
Expert: Free Spirit “S” Lite Carp Rods
For ultra light, beautifully sleek rods, this range is a joy to use. A comprehensive selection that really push the standards of design and performance beyond expectations.
Buy now from £159.99
.

Which carp rods will suit you best?

Most rods sound great on paper, but how do you decide the power and length you need? Test curve rating (the amount of strain required to pull the rod tip over by 90 degrees) is one key factor to look into. 2.5 or 2.75lb test curve rods are more forgiving, for example, to play fish at close to mid range. If you’re punching out rigs and very possibly PVA bags at longer range, 3 to 3.5lb test curve rods have greater power.

Length is another consideration. There’s a reason most rods are 12ft; it’s a versatile all-round length for most scenarios. A 13ft may be better still for long casts, say on a tough gravel pit. However, for many anglers who fish smaller waters, the reverse is true and a 10ft rod is great for close quarters and swims with trees and limited casting space.

Finally, how many carp rods do you need? For most beginners, it’s enough to get the hang of using two at first. In fact, on the smaller waters which are ideal for getting the hang of things, a third rod might be overkill. Too much kit makes you less mobile, while an extra lead splashing down and another line through the swim can make it less likely you’ll catch.

Top tip: Rather than just buying the rod(s) you like the look of, think about your local or regular fishing. Although many anglers get hooked on identical rod setups, this isn’t always sensible either. For example, you might want at least one rod in your arsenal that is specifically designed for margin fishing, with a lower test curve and a more forgiving action.

How to choose a carp reel

Ok, so reels are not quite as sexy as the latest rods, but they’re just as important. In fact, as a rule they tend to cost a little more than rods of similar quality. Most reels are measured in numbers, with sizes between 4,000 and 6,000 typical for most carp fishing. Here are Fishtec’s top picks:

Carp Reels
Shimano Ultegra CI4 Plus XT-C Reel A Beginner: Korum Rodiac Freespool
Basic but reliable and really smooth, this is a solid starter reel. Excellent value for money for those just starting out or watching the pennies.
Buy now from £34.99
Daiwa Windcast BR 5500 LDA Reel Regular: Daiwa Windcast BR5500
If you intend to fish every weekend, or want slicker long term performance, it’s worth spending a little more. Daiwa reels have top quality gears and parts, and the Windcast is no exception. With a larger “big pit” spool, this model is a good mid range option for those who need to hit longer casts.
Buy now from £79.99
Korum-Rodiac-Reel-A Expert: Shimano Ultegra CI4+
There’s a bloody good reason hardened anglers like Shimano reels. They have the best gears in the world (they also produce gears for top spec bikes). Perhaps this is why they keep going year after year. The Ultegra CI4+ is not just a workhorse – it’s a Rolls Royce. Large spool for long casting, fantastic quality.
Buy now from £219.99

Top tip: standard or “big pit” reel?
Standard model reels are fine for most regular fishing… until you get into long distances and specialised applications like spodding. “Big pit” reels are a bit larger and more cumbersome, but hold more line and are ideal for throwing a heavy lead or spod for miles on venues like large gravel pits. If your typical venues are small to medium day ticket lakes, whether you’re a beginner or regular angler, standard reels should be fine.

Main lines for carp fishing
The best kit in the world is no good if you use a poor quality fishing line. Indeed, even if you buy the cheapest carp fishing rod and reel going, we’d advise you to spend decent money on your line. Here are Fishtec’s top picks:

Main lines
Daiwa Sensor Beginner: Daiwa Sensor
Looking for a great value line that will fill up at least three reel spools for under a tenner? This is it. For the money, it’s solid stuff – the 12lb or 15lb options are tough enough for most of your carp fishing needs.
Buy now from £8.99
Maxima Chameleon Regular: Maxima Chameleon
Maxima line has been trusted by anglers for generations, owing to its consistency and quality. It’s not the most ultra fine, but boy is it tough and reliable. A single 200m pack should fill one reel spool.
Buy now from £8.99
Korda Kontour Fluorocarbon Expert: Korda Kontour Fluorocarbon
Experienced carpers are now increasingly experimenting with fluorocarbon main lines. Not only are such lines less visible to fish, they also sink and hug the bottom better. However, they take some getting used to and don’t come cheap, so invest with care.
Buy now from £19.99

Choosing hook links and hooks
Now we’re really getting to the nitty gritty. Like main lines, even if you’re a total beginner, there’s no way on earth you should count pennies here because bad hooks and poor rigs cost fish.

The world of hooks and rig materials is too big and complex for a simple summary here. Experienced anglers will seldom want to fish with anything tied by someone else. However, for beginner and regular anglers, ready tied carp rigs can save time and get you going in no time at all. Take our advice, and keep it simple to start with. There are a hundred and one clever setups, but a basic hair rig will still catch. Here is Fishtec’s top pick:

Hooks and hook links
Korda Ready Tied DF Carp Rigs Timed poor angler: Korda Ready Tied DF Carp Rigs
If you want to save time and hassle, these are straightforward and efficient. An aggressive hook angle makes it  likely your next pick up will result in a reel-screaming bite. You might not have the experience of Danny Fairbrass yet, but this is the next best thing to pinching his favourite all-round rig, just as he ties it.
Buy now from £1.99

Which rod pods and bank sticks?
Now that you’re tooled up with rods, reels, and rigs, you’ll need somewhere to rest your gear, primed for a bite. But where should you start? Do you need a rod pod to go carp fishing, or are bank sticks fine?

The answer to this probably depends on where you fish. Rod pods are rock solid in the wind and ideal on hard surfaces where you can’t insert a bank stick. That said, if you’re able to get single sticks into the ground and point your rods at your rig and bait, this is often preferable to a pod. You can space your rods out a little more this way – and get better bite indication too. Here are Fishtec’s top picks:

Rod pods
TF Gear Banshee Rod Pod Beginner: TF Gear Banshee Rod Pod
Although this is a sturdy, dependable bit of kit, it’s also one of the cheapest rod pods for carp fishing you’ll find. We’ve sold hundreds of these and they’re a popular best-seller.
Buy now for £29.99
TF Gear Cross Pod Regular: TF Gear Cross Pod
This light, but strong and sturdy pod is a versatile choice that can be adjusted really quickly and easily from a standard pod to two sets of posts. It even comes with a free carry bag worth £14.99.
Buy now from £39.99
JRC Contact Rod Pod Expert: JRC Contact SQR Rod Pod
Rock solid and with adjustable height and frame length, this is a tough but refined pod. With a detachable frame, you can also use this as a “goal post” set up (i.e. without the connecting horizontal pars) for further versatility.
Buy now from £59.99

Prefer bank sticks to a pod? If your local venues have soft banks where you can push in rod rests, you might find them a better option. Here are Fishtec’s top picks:

Bank sticks
Cygnet Bank Sticks Beginner/Regular: Cygnet 20/20 Banksticks and Buzz Bars
With the small “Sniper” bankstick starting at just over a fiver, this range is durable and high spec, but not too pricey. That said, they will stand up to regular use and abuse too.
Buy now from £5.50
Korda Singlez Bank Sticks Expert: Korda Singlez Bank Sticks and Buzz Bars
For the serious carper, these components are not only stylish, but optimum quality. Stainless steel and super tough, they should last as long as you do!
Buy now from £12.50

How to choose the right bite alarm
Just like rods, reels and hardware, you get what you pay for with bite alarms. An occasional weekend away is very different to night after night of use from rain to frost to baking hot sun. Unsurprisingly, models with tough components tend to cost more. Here are Fishtec’s top picks:

Bite alarms
Leeda Bite Alarm Beginner: Leeda Rogue Wireless Bite Alarm
Cheap but fully functional, a pair of these will get you off the mark for under £30.
Buy now at £13.99
Nash Siren Regular: Nash Siren S5R
For regular, no nonsense use, these alarms come with good sensitivity and bomb-proof construction.
Buy now at £49.99
Delkim TXI Plus Expert: Delkim TXI Plus
For the best performance of all, these Delkims have awesome features. Using no moving parts, these actually use vibration to indicate bites – and even have an anti-theft alarm!
Buy now at £122.50

Top tip: Bite alarm etiquette and proper use
Why do you need a bite alarm? Well, these devices were originally developed by the great Dick Walker for night fishing, when the angler couldn’t see the bites. They’re also handy on long sessions though, because obviously staring at bobbins for hours isn’t a lot of fun.

They’re not always necessary, so don’t let technology prevent you from trying other methods like float fishing, stalking and using buoyant baits. They can also make an unwanted racket, so do keep the volume down when other anglers are around.

Bed chairs – budget to best
Take it from us, if you intend to night fish regularly, you’re going to need something to sleep on. That old camp bed or inflatable mattress won’t do! Thankfully, bed chairs start at less than £100 these days. Get as comfy as you can afford; your back will thank you! Here are Fishtec’s top picks:

Bed chairs
TF Gear 3 leg bed chair Beginner: TF Gear Chill Out 3 Leg Bedchair
This is about as affordable as it gets for a really functional, comfy bedchair. At under 20lbs in weight, it’s not drastically heavy to carry either.
Buy now at £69.99
Trakker wide flat bed Regular: Trakker RLX Wide Flat-6 Bed
Need a bit more space? Anglers who are a bit bigger will appreciate some extra width and comfort. This tough model fits the bill and will keep going for many seasons.
Buy now at £129.99
Nash Indulgence SS Bed Expert: Nash Indulgence SS 5 Season Beds
Featuring top spec materials, sturdy design and an integrated outdoor duvet, this is just about as good as it gets. The only drawback? You might prefer it to your bed at home!
Buy now at £399.99

Carp landing nets – what to look for
Obviously you’re going to need a good-sized net for your fishing. It pays to be generous too, because a big fish might fit in a small net, but the reverse isn’t true! Here are Fishtec’s top picks:

Carp landing nets
TF Gear Banshee Landing Net Beginner/Regular: TF Gear Banshee Landing Net
A serious sized 42” net, complete with handle, this is a reliable set up for under £30 that would suit beginners or regulars alike. Hard to beat in terms of value.
Buy now at £29.99
DL Specialist Carp Net Expert: DL Specialist Carp Net
With a sturdy 6ft handle, quality build and ample space for the biggest carp, Dave Lane’s own brand net is a great option for the experienced carper.
Buy now at £49.99

How to choose an unhooking mat
With virtually every carp fishery in the UK insisting on a decent unhooking mat, you need one of these before you start fishing. A good one will last years, protecting every fish you catch from danger. Here are Fishtec’s top picks:

Unhooking mats
TF Gear Unhooking Mat Beginner: TF Gear Unhooking Mat
Need a good-sized, well padded option that won’t break the bank? This is one of the best carp unhooking mats for under £20 you could hope for.
Buy now at £16.99
Leeda Rogue Carp Unhooking Mat Regular: Leeda Rogue Carp Unhooking Cradle
With padded sides, this safely cradles a large fish while you unhook it. Also a good idea for those with bad backs who may not like stooping right to the ground to handle fish. And it’s good for photography – kneel behind the cradle and support the fish just inches from a safe landing.
Buy now at £39.99
TF Gear Hardcore Universal Barrow Mat Expert: TF Gear Hardcore Universal Barrow Mat
Designed by Dave Lane, this option is not only the ultimate in carp safety, but doubles up as a handy way to store and carry some of your kit to and from the bank.
Buy now at £79.99

Carp fishing bivvies
If you’re a day session angler, a brolly might be enough to shelter you from the elements. But for most carpers, night fishing is a must and you’ll need a decent home from home to tackle cool conditions and the elements. Here are Fishtec’s top picks:

Bivvies
TF Gear Scout 2 Man Bivvy Beginner: TF Gear Scout 2 Man Bivvy
This spacious set up is as practical as it gets on a budget. A carp bivvy for under £100, that will see you through several seasons of use.
Buy now at £99.99
Trakker Cayman Bivvy Regular: Trakker Cayman Bivvy
For a bivvy at less than £200, Trakker’s Cayman is ideal. A breeze to set up and sturdy enough for the roughest weather.
Buy now at £179.99
Nash Double Top MK 4 Bivvy Expert: Nash Double top Mk 4 Bivvy
This bestseller from Nash is a cracking bivvy for just about anything the British climate throws at you. Among a wealth of high spec materials and features, the extended “hood” of this design makes it easy to go about your fishing and keep an eye on rods in heavy rain.
Buy now at £359.99

Other essential carp gear checklist
Anglers invariably spend the most money on rods, reels and kit that is used to play and land fish. But there are other items that are just as important. From delivering bait, to storing tackle and keeping dry, here are some of the essential items most carpers won’t leave home without:

TOP TIP: Save yourself hassle on your carping trips by getting organised. Why not compose your own list of kit that you need every session? A checklist avoids stress and makes it less likely you’ll turn up without a crucial item!

Don't be shellfish...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+

River Specials – 5 Early Season Fly Patterns For Flowing water

The river trout season is now underway across the majority of the UK! It’s been a tough start, with fluctuating river levels and snow.

However with Easter approaching things are looking much better- but the question is which flies to use? Here we pick our top five proven essential river patterns from Caledonia fly.

Essential early season river flies

Essential early season river flies.

1. Klink and Dink Special -Size 12

The ‘klink & dink’ method is extremely effective in spring. By adding a trailing nymph you can cover the best of both worlds; sub surface nymphing and dry fly. This special Klinkhammer from Caledonia fly has a built in ring for you to easily attach your tippet. It also helps improve hook up rates when fish strike at the dry fly; there is less chance of your line slipping down and masking the point.

2. Gold Bead Hares ear – Size 14

A classic fly pattern that is hard to beat. Imitates almost anything, including cased caddis, upwing fly nymphs and even tiny fish fry. The glint of the gold bead and rib will entice even the most lethargic of trout, while the scruffy hares ear body suggests something ‘buggy’ and edible. In a smaller size it works perfectly with the fly above as the ‘dink’.

3. Hot Spot PTN jig -Size 12

This jig fly is designed to fish point up, bounced hard across the bottom. The red thorax offers a hot spot that can trigger a strike, whilst the peacock herl gives an impression of life. This dark fly stands out well in slightly coloured water, making it perfect for early season when the rivers are on the high side. A heavy fly, It is best fished on a French leader or drifted under a strike indicator.

4. March Brown Upright – Size 12

The March brown and the Brook dun are two important spring upwing fly hatches that you will run into on the river at some point. This imitation from Caladonia fly can be used for both. It sits flush to the surface and is super buoyant. In addition it’s deer hair wing casts a nice silhouette that appeals to dun feeding fish. A real winner that has produced many fish for us.

5. Parachute Large Dark Olive – Size 14

The ‘bread and butter’ spring fly hatch, the large dark olive is a fly pattern you should never be without during the spring months. This parachute version sits nicely in the surface film and inspires confident rises. It is also a brilliant generalisitic ‘searching’ pattern that will bring trout up that are opportunistically looking for a surface meal.

Early season trout

Early season trout – a victim of the hot spot PTN nymph.

Don't be shellfish...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+

5 Top Early Season Trout Flies

Spring is finally here – or is it winter? The fishing at the moment on stillwater fisheries and our trout reservoirs has been difficult, to say the least.

When it comes to fly choice, the right patterns can make all the difference in challenging early season conditions. Here we have picked our 5 top attractor flies to help you beat the spring chill, with a few tips on how to fish them.

A selection of early season trout fishing flies

A selection of early season trout fishing flies

1. Orange Booby – Size 10

What early season fly box would be complete without the booby? Orange is a dead cert colour that will attract freshly stocked fish. This version by Caledonia fly has a lot of extra movement in the marabou wing and straggle fritz body. Fish on a Di7 sinking fly line for best results either singularly or part of a team. A slow and twitchy figure of eight retrieve will often bring best success.

2. Silver Humongous – Size 10 Long Shank

A deadly early season lure pattern that will trigger the aggressive interest of the most lethargic fish, even in extreme cold water temperatures. As well as stocked trout, It also appeals to resident and overwintered fish, especially fry eating browns. Use on a Di3 or Di5 sinker with long strips and regular pauses. Expect arm wrenching takes!

3. Pink Diver Nymph – Size 10

A deadly ‘nymph’ that is perfect for fishing static under a strike indicator (Check out our guide). For cold water set the fly at a good depth to start, and simply let the wind do the work. The wind and wave action will make the rubber legs twitch enticingly, making the fly hard to refuse.

4. Marabou Montana – Size 10

Black and green is a lethal combination for the early part of the season. This take on the classic Montana nymph adds a heavy bead and some marabou to create a winning blend. Fish on a floating line with a very long leader (15 to 20 foot) let it sink right to the bottom and then literally crawl it back with a slow figure of eight.

5. Hotty Dancer – Size 10

Yellow and white has been proven as a brilliant choice for coloured, cold water – for example snow melt conditions. The addition of a hot head bead enhances the patterns appeal and works as a trigger point. Fish on a fast intermediate fly line and retrieve with a slow, but steady strip after allowing the fly to sink a few feet down.

An ealry season prize on the orange booby

An early season prize on the orange booby!

Don't be shellfish...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+

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?

WTT-advisory

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

river-conservation

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

WTTauction

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 urbantrout.net, 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.

Don't be shellfish...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+