Five Reasons To Live In Henry’s Fork Country

The temperature when I arose this morning was nearly twenty degrees below zero. From my second floor studio window I look out at a world buried in snow with the knowledge that it will likely remain this way for at least the next two months.

For many who have not experienced life in this kind of climate it is reasonable to question the judgment if not the sanity of a man whose life largely revolves around fly fishing.

While it is doubtful that any explanation will fully satisfy those skeptics, I believe there are some who can appreciate at least five of the reasons that I make my home in Henry’s Fork country.

Rainbow trout that reside in the Henry’s Fork grow large on a diet consisting mainly of aquatic insects, and I know of no other river where a twenty six incher will take a size 16 or even smaller dry fly.

Henry's Fork Rainbow

Henry’s Fork Rainbow trout.

About half the length of the Henry’s Fork holds a healthy population of brown trout. Though I am acquainted with others from similar origin, this European immigrant commands the highest respect and appreciation.

Henry's Fork Brown.

Henry’s Fork Brown

Fishing for smallish brook trout in tributary streams takes me fondly back to my youth, but the brookies of Henry’s Lake can exceed eight pounds. And though I am a nostalgic man at this point in life, I am far more likely to be found on the lake than some tiny creek.

Brook Trout

Brook Trout

The native trout of this region, Yellowstone Cutthroat have been reduced to a small percentage of their original habitat. The headwaters of the Henry’s Fork host a minor population of these natives but they thrive in Henry’s Lake where they grow especially large.

Native Yellowstone Cutt

Native Yellowstone Cutt.

Cut-bows are a mixture of cutthroat and rainbow trout. These hard fighting hybrids are quite common in the Henry’s Fork but it is Henry’s Lake where they have become most prominent. The largest known cut-bow from that amazing still water fishery exceeded seventeen pounds.

A Cutt-bow'

A Cutt-bow’

Yes, winter can be long in Henry’s Fork country but it will eventually pass. And while a significant separation from fly fishing must be endured as a result, the harshest of seasons provides the source of my happiness.

Snow that piles deep in the high country becomes the water that assures continued existence for the five big reasons for living here.

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How to fit a new rod tip eye

We are sure most carp and specialist anglers have broken either a rod tip or damaged a tip eye during their fishing career!

In this blog we look at how to fix a broken rod tip ring quickly and effectively.

What do you need?

1. Hot melt glue (available from any DIY shop)
2. A lighter.
3. Pair of forceps or pliers.
4. New rod tip ring.
5. Sandpaper or Stanley knife.

Step 1.
Separate the damaged tip eye from the rod blank by heating it with a lighter for about 4-5 seconds. This will allow the old glue to release. Once heated up, use the pliers or forceps to pull off the old eye.

Heating a rod tip eye to soften the glue

Heating a rod tip eye to soften the glue.

Once heated pull the old eye off with forceps

Once heated pull the old eye off with forceps.

Step 2.
Get the rod blank prepared for the new eye by sanding the tip section to smooth off any excess glue or graphite shards. This can also be done carefully with a stanley blade.

Step 3.
Use your lighter to melt the end of the glue stick for a few seconds.

Heating up hot melt glue

Heating up hot melt glue.

Step 4.
Apply a small amount of hot melt glue to the prepared tip section.

Step 5.
Slide the new eye into position. Ensure to line it up with the other eyes quickly before the glue hardens. Peel off any excess glue and you are good to hit the bank again!

Once coated in glue slide the new tip eye back on.

Once coated in glue slide the new tip eye on.

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A Beginners Guide To Sea Fishing

Sea fishing can seem complicated and confusing to someone new to the sport. However, as Chris Middleton explains, a single well-chosen fishing rod, a relatively small number of rigs, and selection of bait can see anglers successfully catch fish from a wide range of sea fishing marks.

Sea fishing needn't require a complicated set up

Sea fishing needn’t require a complicated set up.

Rods, Reel and Line

There’s a huge range of different fishing rods on the market, which cover every imaginable type of sea fishing. However, a good quality all-round 12 to 14ft beachcaster will cover a wide range of fishing situations, and is the ideal choice for starting out with sea fishing.

Most anglers start off with this type of rod and then move on to more specialist equipment once they’ve learned the basics of sea fishing.

A fixed spool reel

A fixed spool reel.

The two main types of reels used in sea fishing are fixed spools and multipliers. While many anglers will claim multipliers offer the best performance, fixed spool reels are the easiest to use, and make the most sense for someone new to sea fishing to start off with.

It’s best to begin with monofilament fishing line in 15lbs breaking strain with a 60lbs shockleader to absorb the power of the cast. Again, many anglers begin with a fixed spool reel and then move on to using a multiplier once they have gained confidence in their casting ability.

Terminal Tackle and Rigs

Clipped down bait on ready made rig

Clipped down bait on ready made rig.

‘Terminal tackle’ is the term used for the various pieces of equipment which anglers tie onto the end of their line – hooks, links swivels and beads are all terminal tackle, and go together to make a ‘rig’. There’s a huge selection of terminal tackle for anglers to choose from, which can seem overwhelming to someone new to the sport.

Many new sea anglers purchase rigs ready-made. This is a great way of learning how rigs work and how to construct them, with many anglers soon progressing on to creating their own rigs.

Fishing Marks

Anglers using an all-round beachcaster and fixed spool reel can fish a wide variety of marks (fishing locations), but here we will concentrate on just two:

Beaches:

Sandy beaches are a great place to begin sea fishing as they offer snag-free fishing. It is always best to visit a beach at low tide and look for features which will attract fish such as gullies or depressions in the sand.

Sea fishing from a sandy beach.

Sea fishing from a sandy beach.

When the tide comes in natural sources of food such as dislodged shellfish, marine worms and small fish gather in these places, making them an excellent area to place to cast near to.

To catch larger species such as bass and cod, try a single size 2/0 hook in a clipped down rig, but flatfish species – particularly flounder – can be caught in very shallow water. Two hook flapping rigs with size 1 or 2 hooks are the best choice when aiming for these species.

Piers:

Piers are a popular angling mark due to their easy access, and the ability to place a baited hook into deep water. Many piers have restrictions on when fishing can take place, so it may be necessary to purchase a ticket to fish from some piers. Check with the pier’s local authority before you head out!

Anglers fishing from wooden pier

A pier is a popular spot for fishing from.
Image: Shutterstock

Whatever kind of pier you’re fishing, casting distance is usually less of an issue (due to the already deep water). This is a factor which attracts many anglers who are still learning to cast.

Two hook flapping rigs are a good choice from piers but it can pay to use size 1/0 or 2/0 hooks in a strong pattern. This size allows smaller fish to be caught but will still retain the strength to handle a larger fish if one takes the bait.

Specifically targeting larger fish? Step up to size 3/0 or 4/0 hooks and use a pulley rig as this will increase the chances of landing a large fish. A huge range of species including cod, whiting, flatfish species, bass and rays can be caught from many piers around the UK.

Bait

Ragworm on newspaper

Ragworm make a great all-round bait.

Ragworm is one of the most effective baits for sea fishing and can catch everything from small flatfish to specimen sized bass, cod and rays. Indeed pretty much every fish species in the UK can be caught on ragworm. Another advantage is that ragworm is easy to acquire from any tackle shop. It’s easy to present on the hook, and stands up well to casting.

Fresh mackerel is another top bait, and is even easier to get hold of from supermarkets and fishmongers. Strips of mackerel are rich in fish-attracting oils and the vast majority of species around the UK can be caught on mackerel baits.

A relatively simple sea fishing set up can equip anglers to successfully catch a range of different species from a number of different marks. Keeping equipment, rigs, hooks and bait simple is the best bet for those new to the sport, with more advances and specialised rods, reels and terminal tackle being used once anglers have got to grips with the basics.

Chris Middleton writes for British Sea Fishing where you can find find information and advice on all aspects of shore fishing around the UK with information on techniques, bait, tactics and fishing marks across the country. As well as this there are features and articles on wider issues such as commercial fishing, conservation and the sea fish species and other sea creatures found around the British Isles.

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Maggot Myth Busting

Now that winter is here a lot of carp anglers turn their attention to maggot fishing, and why not, after all they have a brilliant track record for catching carp.

dl-maggotsOne things does worry me, however, and I don’t think I am alone in saying this, in fact I know I am not.

Somewhere along the line a few people have caught over huge amounts of maggots and, somehow, this had led to the belief that more is better. Quite literally, the more you can afford to shovel into the lake then the more carp you will catch but this is not only false, it is also very dangerous.

Winter carp will only eat a small amount of food, no matter what type is may be and yes, they may find maggots attractive but they are still very unlikely to gorge themselves on them as they just do not need that much sustenance at this time of year.

What happens to the left-over bait, the uneaten maggots that are out there on the bottom of lake?

This is the part that worries me, particularly because most people’s answers to this question will be the same.

Are you also thinking that most of them will either crawl away or the silver fish will eat them?

If so, then you are in the majority but, I am afraid to tell you, probably very wrong indeed.

Unless you have a huge head of silver fish in the lake (in which case maggot fishing is not viable anyway) and you have fairly shallow lake, then the silvers will not be eating much at all.

They are usually shoaled up in and around the weed in shallower and more sheltered area and not down in the deeps on the large open areas you are probably targeting.

As for crawling away, well they just don’t go anywhere, that is a total myth as they are too busy drowning to worry about re-location and, even if they did then that doesn’t alleviate the problem of them still being in the lake.

The uneaten maggots will eventually die and rot on the bottom and huge quantities of rotting bait cannot be a good thing for the oxygen levels or the toxicology of the lake.

I know of plenty of lakes that have now banned maggot fishing for just these reasons and others that limit their use to prevent the problems arising.

Obviously, this problem is not unique to maggots and bait of all sorts can be over applied and end up rotting on the lake bed. A lot of the better-quality boilies will actually float after a short while and often, on pressured lakes, the gulls can be seen to pick them off in the windward edge.

Not all baits will, however, and let’s face it, who wants to be fishing on top of a pile of somebody else’s old bait, no matter what it may be.

The solution, take a look before you start and after you finish, gauge if you need to top up your spots or if it worth pre-baiting before you leave and see what is already out there before you start.

On a recent trip to a Northants syndicate water I spent forty-eight hours fishing a swim that I knew held carp, as I had seen them rolling at first light. I carefully spodded out a gallon of maggots over two rods and sat back to await events.

After two nights with no action whatsoever I decided to break out the FishSpy camera float and see exactly what was going on, I had another gallon of bait in the truck and I was considering baiting up before I left in readiness fir the following week but the lack of action made me hesitant.

I simply wrapped up the spod rod with the FishSpy on to the exact distance that I had been fishing and launched it out onto the spots.

What I saw amazed me, every single maggot, as far as I could tell, was still laying there perfectly presented on the bottom and the fish obviously hadn’t fed at all, despite being in the area.

Maggots everywhere on the bottom.

Maggots everywhere on the bottom – as revealed by the FishSpy camera.

This made me realise that maggots are not the wonder bait we think they are and the fish still have to be hungry to feed, in fact I wished I’d just fished with single boilie hook-baits to be honest.

The one thing I didn’t do was pre-bait before I left and I wonder just what did happen to that first gallon, did they ever get eaten?

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Airflo Skagit Scout – The New Era of Spey Fishing

The use of switch, lightweight double hand and even single hand rods for spey casting is growing exponentially world-wide. To meet this demand Airflo have come up with a perfect new spey casting head – the Skagit Scout.

Already a big hit in the USA, we believe that this line will become a firm favourite of UK Sea trout and Salmon anglers. This guest post by American spey casting expert Tom Larimer explains everything you need to know about the Skagit Scout head.

scout-loopSpey fishing has been in a constant state of evolution for a while now. While spey rods have taken over steelhead and salmon rivers from the West Coast to the Great Lakes, anglers are also using two-handed rods for fisheries ranging from trout in the Rockies to smallmouth in the Midwest to pike in Alaska. In many ways two-handed lines have been the driver of this change. Skagit lines, introduced to the market almost 15 years ago, have influenced everything from the flies we fish, the rods we cast and the water we fish. In essence, line design has been the major catalyst for change in almost every aspect of our sport. This trend will no doubt continue with the introduction of the revolutionary Airflo Skagit Scout.

Lifting off the Skagit Scout head

Lifting off the Skagit Scout head.

Designed by Tom Larimer and the design team at Rajeff Sports, Airflo’s Skagit Scout answers the call for a short length Skagit head build for smaller two-handed rods, switch rods and single-hand rods. These lines give the caster the ability to efficiently cast large flies and heavy sink-tips on light rods in the tightest of casting situations.

Design:

Designing heads this short is challenging for two huge reasons. First, the shorter a line is the faster it wants to turn-over. This makes it incredibly difficult to build a line that is stable in the air and holds a loop when longer casts are required. Secondly, a fast turn-over also leads to the line recoiling at the end of the cast which in turn effects how the line ultimately sets up for the swing. Existing short heads on the market will easily cast large flies in tight casting quarters, but they struggle with these issues. When we went to work on this project our goal was to create the ultimate short Skagit head that both cast and fished better than anything available on the market. We put a ton of thought into the tapers, diameters and materials to improve flight performance. These lines almost defy the laws of physics… they are incredibly stable even when jacking long casts. More so, they lay out straight at the end of the cast setting things up for the perfect swing.

Additionally, we stole some design elements from our existing Skagit heads like the Skagit Compact G2 and the Skagit Switch G2. Like all of our heads, the mass of the line is near the back end which gives the caster amazing versatility. In tight casting conditions the head can be cast with no overhang, tight to the rod tip. The mass helps load the rod with minimal line speed and facilitates a tiny D-loop. However, when longer casts are required the caster can use 2’ to 4’ of overhang which moves the mass away from the rod tip thus increasing the swing speed and lengthening the casting stroke, all of which help increase loop stability and over-all casting distance.

In short, if you love our existing Skagit heads you’ll feel right at home with the new Skagit Scout.

Steelhead caught on the Scout head!!

Steelhead caught on the Scout head!!

Skagit Scout Specs:

Ranging from 150 grains to 480 grains in 13.5’ to 18.5’, the Skagit Scout is ideal for Spey and switch rods up to 12’6 in length in line sizes #7 and smaller. While the Skagit Scout is the ultimate casting and fishing tool for two-handed rods in tight casting quarters, they are also tremendous when paired this single-hand rods.

Like all Airflo Spey lines, they feature Polyurethane construction, a low stretch core, and our revolutionary Super Dry coating. Additionally, we used our bombproof loops, our innovative black rear loop for a visual break between the head and the running line, and our line rating ID with a color band on the front loop for easy identification when spooled on a reel. Finally, the striking “Wasabi Green” color is ideal for tracking the swing even in low light conditions.

Fish on!! Airflo Scout heads rule.

Fish on!!

How to Line a Skagit Scout:

As shorter Skagit lines have appeared on the market there has been a lot of discussion on how to line them. Some anglers like a very light load lining their rods 90-100 grains lighter than a traditional Skagit. While there are no “wrong” ways to line a rod, anglers should realize that the lighter the head becomes the more mass you lose, which helps in turn-over large flies and heavy sink-tips. More so, a lighter load makes it easier to blow your anchor out of the water on the forward cast. Consequently, the majority of anglers will prefer to line their rods identical to a Skagit Switch.

Summary:

If you want to have a ton of fun hucking big flies and sink-tips on smaller Spey rods, switch rods and single-handers and demand a Spey line that has incredible loop stability and resists recoiling at the end of the cast, the Skagit Scout has you covered for every fishing situation ranging from chasing trout in the Rockies to stomping down your favorite winter steelhead haunts.

By Tom Larimer
www.larimeroutfitters.com

Where to get one?

North America – Visit www.airflousa.com or Echo Fly Fishing for list of dealers.
UK & Europe – www.airflofishing.com/dealer-locator.cfm

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A Beginners Guide To Catching Specimen Chub

Man holding large chub

A big chub caught on home made bait

Guaranteed to feed in all but the harshest of conditions, specimen chub are not only widely available, but we are entering the best time of the year to target them. Angling writer and fisheries biologist Dr Paul Garner gives his advice and tips on the best tactics to set you on the road to catching a specimen.

They have brassy good looks, indifference to cold weather, and a presence in venues throughout the country. Chub remain a firm favourite of the river angler, whether they are seeking a big net of fish or that one outsized specimen.

Over the last decade, the size of chub in many rivers has increased markedly, with six and even seven pounders now found in many rivers. A specimen weight of five pounds is attainable to most of us without having to travel too far.

While chub can be caught right through the season, many anglers tend to target them in the winter months. This has as much to do with the fact that they will feed in all but the grimmest of conditions as it does that they will be in great condition at this time of the year.

The natural diet and behaviour of chub

Face of chub

Chub have great vision and a large mouth

Chub will eat almost anything that they can fit into their large mouths, and are much more adaptable than most other fish species. Chub will eat whatever drifts past them, including freshwater shrimp, caddis larvae, terrestrial insects blown onto the water surface, worms, snails, small fish and even frogs. This wide ranging diet might suggest that chub are greedy fish that will be easy to catch, but I tend to think of them more as being adaptable, and very aware of their changing environment. To catch big chub consistently the angler should bear these traits in mind.

River with overgrown bank

This swim at Llanthomas on the River Wye has everything a chub could want

The classic chub swim consists of some overhead cover, maybe a tree canopy reaching out over the water, an undercut bank, bridge, or weed bed. They favour low light conditions, and often they will stray no more than a couple of metres from cover during daylight, as dusk falls they will often leave the cover and may travel hundreds of metres in search of food.

The other key pointer to a good chub swim is the presence of breaks in the current speed. The classic crease, created where faster flowing water butts up against a slow moving current provides the perfect position for a chub to hunt. Resting in the slower flowing water, the fish will nip into the flow momentarily to grab a passing food item, before returning to the gentler flow

My go-to chub tactic

man fishing for chub

Lewis fishes an undercut bank for chub on the tiny River Arrow

There are probably as many ways to catch chub as there are chub anglers, so rather than try and list them all I’ll stick to my favourite. It’s a method that will work just about anywhere, but which is especially effective at this time of the year: legering lumps of paste, and either watching a quivertip or touch legering for bites.

There are several reasons why I favour this tactic. Firstly, you need the minimum of gear. A 10 to 12 foot rod with a 3oz quiver tip or 1.25lb test curve is ideal. A 4000-size fixed spool reel loaded with 8lb line and a few leger weights, size 8 hooks and a spool of 6lb clear line for hooklengths is all you need to carry.

Less is more when fishing paste. I need to be highly mobile, and may fish ten or more swims covering several miles of river in a day session. This is no time for lots of heavy gear.

Ideally, I’ll be fishing a stretch I already know, and will have a plan in mind as to the swims I’m going to fish. This enables me to avoid wasting time wandering the banks, and gives me another vital edge.

Before I start fishing my first swim, I’ll stroll down to swim two and introduce between five and ten fifty-pence sized lumps of paste just on the inside of the crease, or upstream of any cover. The idea being to give the chub a taste of my bait before I fish the swim. If the swims are close together, I’ll do the same in the third spot too.

I’ll fish the first swim for about an hour. The first cast is key, as I like to leave the ledger rig in position for as long as possible. If I’m happy with the cast, I often won’t reel in until it’s time to move. This gives the fish as much undisturbed time to find the bait as possible.

Smiling man holding up fish

Swim number three of the day produced this nice fish

After an hour, I will up sticks and move swims, repeating the process. But this time, I’ll expect any chub that are at home to be already looking for my paste hookbait. Bites can come quickly in these ‘primed’ swims, so expect a chance within seconds of making that all-important first cast.

This whole routine is repeated again and again until either I run out of swims, or it’s time to go home. It can be worth revisiting swims later in the day or after dark if you have a suspicion that chub are present. They often gain confidence as the light levels drop.

Chub paste baits

Chub with large bait in it's mouth

Don’t be afraid to use a big bait for chub

Why paste, and why not boilies, bread, meat, or any other baits that will catch chub? For my money, paste has two advantages. Firstly, it gives out much more attraction than other baits in the cold. Second, and more importantly, the hook can be partially hidden inside the bait, which will ensure that you hit more bites.

Chub have a disconcerting habit of picking up baits in those big rubbery lips, and this can lead to missed bites, especially if you are using a hair rig. Mould the paste around the hook and hey-presto! Most of those pulls on the rod tip will turn into fish on the bank.

Cheese paste is the classic chub bait. Carefully melt some Stilton or other blue cheese in a microwave and mix in breadcrumbs to make a putty-textured paste. A dollop of margarine added to the mix will stop the paste going hard in cold water.

If you want a custom paste of your own then why not use boilie base mix powder and whatever flavourings or additives you prefer. NashBait’s Key, Nutrabaits Trigga and Scopex Squid are all well-proven chub catchers.

Fish hook with cork and paste

I will often use a piece of cork to add buoyancy and to give the paste something to stick to

Paste wrapped around hook

Cover everything except the hook point

There is so much more to write about chub fishing, but that’s about all the space that I have. I’ll leave you with five tips to success, and wish you the best of luck in your hunt for a specimen chub.

Five tips for bagging a specimen chub

  1.  Richard Walker regarded chub as the easiest fish to spook, and I would agree. Once the fish have been alarmed the chances of success are often fatally reduced. Approach chub swims as stealthily as possible, stay off the skyline, and avoid any disturbance.
  2.  Don’t be in too much of a hurry to make your first cast. Feed the swim and leave it to rest for as long as you can bear. This could be an hour or more, but remember that the longer you let the bait do its work, the more confidence the chub will have and the better the chance that your first fish will be the biggest in the shoal.
  3. Chub bites can be easy to miss, as the fish will pick up a bait in the edge of their lips and swim off with it. Wait for a positive bite and do not strike at knocks on the rod tip.
  4.  Play chub quite hard, and try to keep them away from the near margin. Chub have an uncanny knack of being able to transfer the hook to the minutest piece of vegetation, so keeping them away from snags is essential.
  5. Wrap up warm. Chub are one of the few species that can be relied upon to feed in the coldest of conditions, but you have to be comfortable on the bank to last long in such extreme conditions.

Delve deeper into the world of chub fishing

Chub are a fascinating species that can be caught using so many different tactics, and this blog has only just scratched the surface. To learn more about chub, check out the Chub Study Group. As the name suggests, it was established to further our knowledge about chub and chub fishing and have a great website where you can learn more about the species.

About the author

Paul Garner is a fisheries biologist and writer based in the West Midlands. He has been a weekly columnist for Angling Times for many years. The author of two books, Underwater Angling and Scratching the Surface. You can find more articles from Paul on his website at drpaulgarner.co.uk.

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The New Inflatable TF Gear Airflow Bivvy!!

A new product has literally just hit the shelves – the radical new TF Gear Airflow Bivvy. We feel this bivvy will revolutionise the carp fishing bivvy world, and become a best seller as a result.

The new inflatable bivvy from TF Gear!!!

The new inflatable bivvy from TF Gear!!!

What’s it about?

It’s a pump up bivvy that uses inflatable ‘air poles’ instead of conventional polesIt takes about a minute to inflate and even comes supplied with the pump. Other than the ‘pram’ hood peak support no poles are needed whatsoever. This means the bivvy is super lightweight to transport plus extremely easy and quick to erect. It also packs down into a very small bag compared to ‘normal’ bivvies – great if space is limited in your car. Quality T pegs, a nice carry bag and an integrated groundsheet complete a really decent package.

In the video below, Dave Lane demonstrates pumping up the Airflow bivvy:

As soon as they arrived, we simply had to test these bivvies outside the Fishtec shop. Inflation of the bivvy took no time at all – definitely within the minute mark. We found they were rock solid and very stable with no danger of the bivvy bowing inwards in high wind.

The material of this single skin bivvy is very tough and looks highly puncture resistant.The built in premium groundsheet is heavy duty and easy to clean. There are several door configurations, including a mozzie net and a separate clear window that you can velcro into place if needed. To pack down it was simply a case of loosening one valve and rolling it back up – so easy and quick for the end of your session.

There are two sizes available and both are very generous in terms of interior space and specification – size chart below.

TF Gear Airflow Bivvy dimensions

TF Gear Airflow Bivvy dimensions.

How much?

At just £279.99 for the one man, and £329.99 for the two man they represent superb value for money. We feel these are going to be a huge seller for 2017 –  NOW IN STOCK!!!

For full details of the TF Gear Airflow bivvy click here.

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Which Strike Indicator?

Love them or loathe them, the use of a strike indicator or bung can make a huge difference to your fly fishing results whether it is on the river or lake.

The question is which one do you use? The answer is not that clear cut – each has it’s own advantages. In this blog we review eight popular fly fishing indicators and examine their pro’s and con’s.

A selection of fly fishing strike indicators

A selection of fly fishing strike indicators.

Fulling Mill Fish Pimps – £3.99 per pack of 6.

Made of hard foam in two sizes, the aerodynamically shaped Fish Pimps by Fulling Mill have been around for donkeys years – the reason why? They are very effective and represent good value.

Fulling Mill fish pimps - Large size

Fulling Mill fish pimps – Large size.

Pro’s – The large size casts well on stillwater; it floats high and is easy to see. This makes them perfect for fishing nymphs and buzzers at a decent range. Can also support fairly heavy river nymphs. The Mini pimp size is ideal for small streams and brooks where delicate presentation is needed and a small single fly used. Re-usable and supplied in a handy tube.

Con’s – Can potentially fly off the leader if not attached correctly (always ensure you twist each opposing end of the rubber tube in the opposite direction). For river angling with ultra heavy bugs they may not be buoyant enough to support real bottom dredgers.

Air-Lock Strike indicators – £7.49 per pack of 3.

Originally from the USA, these indicators were primary used by Steellheaders for presenting the ballast heavy flies needed in strong and deep river flows.

The Airlock indicator

The Airlock indicator.

Pro’s – Best attachment system on market, a rubber grommet and screw thread set-up means you can attach and slide up leader with ease. No chance of them coming off or shifting position. The buoyancy is unrivaled, allowing you support to fish a full team of heavy river bugs, making these perfect for winter grayling. Also ideal for stillwater trout fisheries with teams of buzzers.

Con’s – Not that great for extreme distance casting. Suits short to medium range best. Size and shape means it can splashes fairly heavily so best suited to deeper, more turbulent water if using on the river for trout.

Fulling Mill Strike yarn indicator
– £2.99 per pack of 6.

These indicators are made of pre-treated siliconised yarn (poly yarn), with black, white and orange supplied in the packet to suit all light conditions. Fitted with a rubber O ring, these can be easily attached by pushing a loop of your leader through the O ring, and then back over itself. You can then slide up and down the leader.

Fulling Mill yarn indicators

Fulling Mill yarn indicators.

Pro’s – Buoyant out of packet, the shuttlecock design makes for good casting. These are pretty decent for presentation as they do not land with a big splash. Ideal for fishing buzzer and nymphs on stillwater, as well as river trout flies.

Con’s – After a while, can need fishing floatant application to keep it afloat. Not really one not for supporting heavily weighted flies or heavy river bugs

New Zealand strike indicator – £6.99 Tool with 2 wool colours and sleeve.

This type of indicator is favoured by anglers looking to present in as natural and delicate fashion as possible – perfect for spooky fish. The NZ indicator system is supplied with a needle tool, some tubing and two samples of a naturally buoyant sheep’s wool. Additional colours and more tubing need to be purchased separately.

New Zealand strike indicator

New Zealand strike indicator.

Pro’s – Lands like thistledown, unobtrusive. Perfect for presenting small nymphs in skinny water on the river. Does not impede casting in any way, so distance and turnover are very good. The slimline tubing attachment is much less bulky than an O ring system.

Con’s – Can be fiddly to apply whilst on the water, especially in cold and windy conditions. Needs treatment with floatant. Will not support heavier flies. Extras mount up price and tool easy to loose.

Loon strike out indicator yarn – £3.50 per dispenser.

This yarn is popular in the USA with river anglers. Pull off the required length, and attach to your leader with a small rubber band (not supplied) or simply tie the leader round it.

Loon strike out yarn

Loon strike out yarn.

Pro’s – Good value for the amount of yarn supplied. Delicate presentation. Best fished as part of a river nymph set up.

Con’s – Could do with being easier to attach. Realistically, you wont end up re-using the yarn so can end up throwing a fair amount of it away after use.

Self adhesive foam indicators – £3.95 for a sheet of 30.

This type of bung is one of the first developed. Made of buoyant plasterzote foam, they were incredibly popular a decade or two ago.

Adhesive foam indicators

Adhesive foam indicators.

Pro’s – A firm favourite. Quick and easy to attach, simply fold over and squeeze onto the line. They are also inexpensive. Stick firmly to leader so no danger of them flying off with a vigorous cast. Suited to river fishing or stillwater with smaller patterns at any range.

Con’s – Cannot be re-used or moved up the leader without the indicator loosing stickiness. Not the best for large, heavy flies.

Airflo Float-Do
– £2.99 per tub.

A pliable, moldable brightly coloured floating putty, Float-Do is a little used indicator material but can be very effective. Float-Do is soft in the tub but hardens once in contact with water. Also available as Light-Do – the only strike indicator that glows in the dark!

Airflo Float-Do

Airflo Float-Do.

Pro’s – Highly visible, It can fish any weight of fly – simply add more Float-Do do until your heavy flies are supported or use tiny blobs along the leader for fishing a micro nymph on a French leader in skinny water. Re-usable and simplicity itself to apply.

Con’s – Can fly off the leader on long high energy distance casts. Best for river or marginal stillwater fishery work.

Use a Bung Fly – £1.40 Each

An orange bung fly

An orange bung fly.

Pro’s – Good visibility. Huge benefit of the ability to catch a fish (we have all had times when a stupid fish tries to eat your indicator!! Good for long range casting.

Con’s – Cannot easily slide up and down leader for a quick depth change. Can become water logged. Will not be buoyant enough for super-heavy patterns.

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When Fish Bite Back

fisherman in boat with pike under water

Image source: Shutterstock
Pike are known to be fierce

British rivers and beaches are becoming filled with threats. Giant pike, venomous weevers and even great white sharks have all been encountered in our traditionally safe British waters. But how much of a threat do they really pose?

We’ve been finding out what happens when anglers (and other people) come face to face with fearsome fish who aren’t afraid to bite back. Here’s our roundup of piscatorial perils.

Sharks

Blue shark swimming underwater

Image source: Linda Pitkin
Blue sharks are one of 21 species that visit the UK

Did you know there are at least 21 species of shark in UK waters? Smaller species like the lesser spotted catfish are regularly sighted, while blue sharks and basking sharks prefer to visit in the summer months. Most encounters pose no threat to humans, but there have been occasions when sharks have bitten back.

Angler Hamish Currie was had a lucky escape when he landed a 7 foot Porbeagle shark that had been eating seals off Islay in the inner Hebrides. As he struggled to catch the giant fish, it lashed out and bit a hole in his steel capped boots!

The guys at britishseafishing.co.uk aren’t surprised by the attack:

“…porbeagle sharks do not take kindly to being caught on rod and line, and most injuries sustained by people are when the shark is caught and brought on board a boat.”

The good news? Very few sharks pose a danger to humans. The Shark Trust tells us there have been no reports of unprovoked shark bites in UK waters since records began in 1847. They go on to say:

“With so many sharks in decline, we believe that shark encounters should be seen as a privilege rather than a cause for alarm.”

But there is one species of shark whose presence triggers more alarm than most. And it could be coming closer.

The Great White

Great white shark head

Image source: Shutterstock
The great white shark-coming to a coastline near you!

Cornish birdwatcher Brian Mellow is convinced that he saw a great white off Cornish coast last summer, when a wave crashed over the fish, revealing its profile. He told the Express:

“I’ve seen other sharks before and it wasn’t a basking shark, or a mako shark or a porbeagle.”

Commercial fishing boats and divers in Scottish waters have also spotted potential great whites. Witnesses include two divers who were circled by a very large shark that was much bigger than any porbeagle.

“We had no idea what it was, but we estimated it at 13ft to 14ft long. We had never seen a shark anywhere near that big. It made us very nervous. We got out of the water as quickly as we could,”

Could there really be great white sharks in UK waters? Richard Peirce, chairman of the Shark Trust, believes that British waters possess the right conditions and plenty of prey:

“The real surprise is that we don’t have an established white shark population, because conditions here mirror those in parts of South Africa, Australia and northern California. Research has shown that white sharks tolerate water temperatures in a range which would make British waters perfectly suitable for this species.”

Perhaps we’ll be seeing more sightings in coming years. The Suffolk Gazette’s shark attack parody story would have us think so!

Giant Pike

Angler in cap with pike falling out of hands

Image source: Andrewblackfishing.co.uk
The pike that bit back

In August 2016, coarse fishing blogger Andrew Black was injured when the large pike he caught decided to get its own back:

“I had caught a twenty and was doing a self-take- just as the camera clicked the pike flipped and I somehow caught it tail up / head down, just before it went ballistic and started to thrash around mouth open and clamped on my leg, ripping my trousers in the process!”

Water skier Daniel Blake was bitten on the foot by a pike while waiting for a boat on Llangorse lake in Wales. Llangorse is known for its giant pike and James Vincent of Britain Explorer believes that they may have inspired the mythical tales for which the lake is famed:

“It’s said to be the home of a mythical creature, Gorsey the afanc. Afanc is Welsh for lake monster”

Indeed, in 1846, an angler reported catching an enormous Pike weighing 68 Pounds (31kg) while fishing on the lake. It’s an unsubstantiated claim, but if true, this pike would still hold the worldwide record for the biggest pike ever caught.

But Pike don’t restrict themselves to attacking humans. In 2015 a huge Pike attacked a swan on an Irish lake. The attack was brutal, rupturing the swan’s eye and ripping its lower bill from its face, as well as tearing its throat. Gruesome.

Weever Fish

Weever fish in net

Image source: British Marine Life Study Society
Watch out for weever fish

In the summer of 2000, Jo Foster was walking through a metre of water on Crantock Beach near Newquay, when she suffered an excruciating sting. The culprit? A weever fish which left three puncture marks in her toe:

“The pain responded to hot water treatment, subsiding not immediately but after 20 minutes. However, the wound swelled up and 2 operations, the second requiring a 6 day stay in hospital”.

Alexandra Connolly endured a similar fate on a beach in Ireland when she waded into sea and suddenly felt like she’d been punched on the foot:

“While hyperventilating, my mind began trying to work out what had happened. I decided that I’d been stung by some creature with a nerve toxin venom and that I would soon begin to die.”

The pain subsided, but Alexandra had to take antibiotics for several weeks.

Weever fish are normally found on beaches in summer and are sometimes mistaken for small pouting or whiting. The fish uses its venomous fin spines to defend itself and capture prey.

Usually buried under the sandy seabed with just its dorsal fin visible, the weever’s sting is very painful. But the venom can be treated by bathing the affected area in the hottest water you can stand. Expect the wound to swell, and always seek medical advice.

Blood-sucking lampreys

Man holding lamprey

Image source: The Environment Agency
The lamprey is making a comeback

Fishing Tails blogger Sean McSeveny recoiled in horror when he landed a lamprey while fishing on the River Frome. But why was he so reluctant to handle this unusual fish?

To start with, lampreys look pretty terrifying. Growing up to a metre long, their permanently open mouths contain a disc of razor sharp teeth and a powerful sucker which they use to suck out their victim’s blood.

These prehistoric creatures have also been known to attack humans, so Seans’ comment of “this thing will give me nightmares” is understandable.

Record numbers of lampreys have recently been recorded in UK rivers. This might be concerning, but in fact it’s good news. Not only do they keep rivers healthy by processing vital nutrients, but their revival signals a huge improvement in water quality, which is good news for all species of fish.

But the boost in the lamprey population isn’t just down to cleaner rivers. The removal of man-made weirs, and the Environment Agency’s use of lamprey tiles have opened up 12,500 miles of English rivers, enabling fish to migrate much more smoothly. Lamprey tiles are inexpensive cones which help the fish to swim upstream using their sucker-like mouths as anchors. Fisheries expert Simon Toms is optimistic:

“Now that water quality has improved and some of these barriers have been removed we are seeing lampreys return to the upper reaches of rivers such as the Ouse, Trent, and Derwent, where they were absent as recently as 30 years ago.”

And if we still haven’t convinced you to look differently at these terrifying fish, there’s one final nugget of information that might persuade you. They make brilliant pike fishing bait. Andy Webster of Pike Angler explains how:

“Lamprey can be used whole or in sections. A neat tip is to use them almost whole with just the last inch cut off of the tail. This allows the blood to seep from the bait and leave a scent trail for the pike to follow.”

Lampreys are tough skinned and very bloody, making them perfect bait for pike.

Razorfish

Beach covered in razorfish shells

Image source: Shutterstock
Don’t put your feet near razorfish shells!

Razorfish are actually shellfish, named because their half shell resembles a cut-throat razor. They normally burrow 18 inches into the sand on the edge of the low-tide mark. Fish love them, and they make great bait, but expect pain if you step on one!

One of the worst recorded cases of razorfish injuries occurred on a Devon beach in 1998. 800 people cut themselves on the shells! 14 ambulances rushed to the scene and 30 victims were hospitalised. The experts from the British Marine Life Study Society explain why this unusual event took place:

“Razorshells live buried under the sand, but will rise to the surface of the sand to feed. Many of the Razorshells seem to have died during the heatwave leaving the sharp remains of the shell above the surface of the sand in the shallow water.”

It pays to check underfoot when you’re enjoying a summer beach holiday…

Have you experienced any fearsome fish attacks? Tell us your stories. Head over to our Facebook page and get posting.

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Fishing Superstitions

 

Image: Maritime Museum

Image: Maritime Museum
There’s a long list of things NOT to do on a boat

Leave all your money at home. Never take bananas on board, and don’t mention the word ‘pig’. Generations of anglers have depended on beliefs like this to give them a sense of control over a powerful ocean.

Sea fishing is still one of the top five most dangerous jobs in the UK, which might explain why it remains steeped in superstition. We’ve plumbed the depths of the blogosphere and our Facebook page to discover some of the most famous.

From God to gore

Priest holding cross over bible

Image source: Shutterstock
Fishing is rife with religious superstitions

The familiar phrase “may God bless this ship and all who sail in her” may sound like a prayer, but the accompanying custom of smashing a bottle of wine over the bow of a new vessel has pagan origins. Experts at the Royal Museums in Greenwich tell us that launching ceremonies in the past were much more grisly than today’s, often involving human sacrifice:

“The Vikings, for instance, used to sacrifice a slave to win the favour of their sea god. But with the introduction of Christianity, this custom was dropped, and a goat was offered in the place of a slave.”

Christianity is also responsible for a raft of unlucky fishing dates. Superstitious? Then you should avoid fishing on Fridays, as it’s the day when Christ was crucified. The first Monday in April is also out of the question, as it’s believed to be the day when Cain killed his brother Abel. And never fish on December 31st, as it’s thought to be the date when Judas Iscariot hanged himself.

Even the clergy were considered to be unlucky. According to Morag Skene from The North East Folklore Archive (NEFA), if a fisherman passed a priest or “sky pilot” on the way to his boat, he’d either turn around and go back home, or risk impending doom.  Scottish blogger, Ian Kenn, elaborates:

“Once on board, even the mention of the word minister would have upset the spirits of the sea so if there were any references to vicars, priests, ministers or parsons it would have been done under the guise of something such as “the man wi’ the bleck coat.”

The fact that priests conducted funerals didn’t do much for their reputation as bringers of misfortune either.

Food and drink

Bunches on bananas

Image source: Shutterstock
Bananas are banned on board

Meals at sea were always accompanied by a side order of superstition. The saying, “pass salt, pass sorrow” stems from the belief that fishermen shouldn’t pass the salt cellar from one man to another without putting it on the table first. And even the humble loaf wasn’t immune, as Fishing Arts blogger, Stephen Friend, explains:

“Cutting bread and then turning the loaf upside down was said to anticipate the boat turning over and sinking.”

Bananas on board also brought bad luck. Steve Williams explains the background to this superstition on Facebook:

“Apparently donkeys years ago a cargo of bananas were being transported overseas and through bad weather the ship capsized and all people on board drowned. The only thing floating were bananas, that’s the old story.”

But is this just a story? Facebook follower Roger Tipple is convinced that bananas spell bad luck:

“I went pike fishing on a boat and near the end of the day I was blanking whereas my boat partner had a few good fish. I grabbed my food bag a saw the misses had packed me a banana which I slung away as soon as I saw it next thing I know I’m into a good fish which turned out to be 19.2 and the biggest fish of the day. Moral of the story DON’T TAKE A BANANA.”

Facebooker John Deans suggests a more logical explanation:

“The actual reason is bananas turn other fruits bad so all the sailors got scurvy. That’s why bananas shouldn’t be kept in the fruit bowl either.”

According to superstition, as well as being careful about what they ate, fishermen needed to be careful about how they ate. Stirring tea with a knife was strictly forbidden, and one should never cross one’s knives on the galley table!

On board

Trawler boat in stormy sea

Image source: Shutterstock
Could superstitions prevent storms?

The superstitions began before a trawlerman even set foot on his boat. In his book, SUPERSTITIONS: Folk Magic in Hull’s Fishing Community, Dr Alec Gill tells the story of six children in the Casey family, who helped dad Fred pack for his three-week trip. His own superstition meant that once something was put inside his bag, he couldn’t take it out or he’d never make it to sea:

“Eager little hands, innocently, dropped toys into his bag, and many a time Fred went off to Bear Island with a load of useless (and embarrassing) junk.”

And the superstitions followed fishermen on board. Upturning a hatch cover or sleeping on one’s stomach was also forbidden, as these actions could apparently cause the boat to turn over and sink. Superstitious fishermen never wore a watch on board either, nor did they take money to sea. Blogger Steve remembers:

“If they went to sea skint, they would have a good and successful trip. I can recall my grandfather talking about kids scrambling for money when the sailors threw their loose change into the air for the expectant and waiting children prior to setting sail.”

Facebook follower Rob Moore also recommends leaving one particular piece of equipment at home when you go fishing:

“Don’t bring the scales. Always blank when I bring the scales.”

Do you have any gear you think is cursed?

Women

Golden figurehead carved on boat

Image source: Shutterstock
Female figureheads keep the sea calm

Women weren’t welcome on board fishing boats, but they were responsible for keeping their their men safe by following superstitions on the day of his departure. Wash your husband’s clothes on the day he left for sea and you could cause him to be washed overboard. Wave him goodbye and a wave might sweep him away.

Women were also advised to avoid calling out as their husbands left for the dock and going down to the dock to see him off was not an option. Some women left their tea pot or ash pans full until the next day for fear of washing their husbands away!

But despite all their efforts, women could still cause misfortune. In particular, red headed women, who were believed to bring bad luck to a journey. Happily, if a fisherman did happen to meet a flame-haired female en route to the dock, there was a solution. Aberdonion, Eddie, who blogs at The Doric Columns explains:

“The bad luck could be avoided by speaking to the person before they had a chance to say anything.”

Once on board the fishing vessel, woe betide any fisherman who allowed a woman on board. According to author Mark Riley this was because the god of the seas is a beautiful female who doesn’t like men to pay attention to other women:

“Having a woman aboard makes her angry and she will stir up the ocean creating great waves to destroy the ship and all aboard her. If a woman was aboard and the sea became rough, the woman aboard should take off her clothes baring her breasts as this would calm the sea once again.”

This is why bare breasted female figureheads which often adorned ships were supposed to keep bad weather at bay.

Animals

young rabbit on grass

Image source: Shutterstock
The rabbit’s sacred roots led to superstitions

According to blogger Ian Kenn, the word ‘pig’ has always been considered bad luck for fisherman. The names ‘curly tail’ and ‘turf rooter’ are much more preferable:

“It was believed that mentioning the word “pig” would result in strong winds and actually killing a pig on board a ship would result in a full scale storm. If the word sow or pig is mentioned in the hearing of a fisherman, he cries out “caul’ iron” (cold iron).”

One possible reason for this superstition is the fact that pigs possess cloven hooves like the devil. But boars were also venerated by the ancient celts, and many Welsh stories feature magical boars.

Ever heard rabbits referred to as mappies or lang ears? If you’re a sea angler you’ll probably know that the word itself shouldn’t be mentioned on board a fishing vessel. But why is this? In response to NEFA’s Morag Skene talking about superstitions Dr Patrick Roper explains that rabbits and hares seem to be interchangeable and that before the rabbit was introduced, the hare was regarded as a sacred animal by the British:

“Among other things it was thought to be able transform itself into all sorts of different creatures, especially witches.”

It doesn’t help matters that hares are born with open eyes, which supposedly gives them special powers over the evil eye.

Fishermen also believed that they should never kill a gull or albatross. These birds were thought to carry the souls of dead sailors and to kill one would have resulted in the loss of the soul it was carrying.

Lucky hat?

Angler wearing cap and sunglasses holding fish

Image: Eat Sleep Fish
Pete Tyjas in his new ‘lucky hat’

Pete Tyjas, editor of ‘Eat Sleep Fish’ isn’t superstitious at all. Oh, no. Not at all. Apart from one thing – his fishing hats:

“It takes time to break one in and if I’ve had a bad day on the water I never wear it again.”

It was a difficult time when he realised that his favourite trucker hat just wasn’t warm enough. He tried out the one in the picture above, which his wife Emma had worn a few times but he hadn’t broken in himself. How did he fare?

“the day went really well, we caught fish, had some fun and any bad mojo doesn’t seem to have rubbed off on the hat”

The picture shows his first catch of the day, so Pete’s relieved. However, the Facebook thread released a flood of ‘lucky hat’ comments from ESF’s fans. More than one angler confesses to having up to three lucky hats. How many do you have?

How to improve your luck

Full moon in black sky

Image source: Dave Lane
Does a full moon mean fabulous fishing?

Many superstitions instil fear but apart from the right hat, there are plenty of other ways to add a bit of good luck to your voyage. To begin with, it’s always been considered good luck to sail on Wednesdays as the Norse God Woden was seen as a protective towards mariners.

Iron is thought to be a lucky metal, so fishermen nailed horseshoes to the mast as protection from bad luck, bad spirits and even witches. You could also increase your chances of a good catch by ensuring that your nets are “salted in” at the beginning of the season. This often took the form of a blessing, and a sprinkling of salt.

Pop a silver coin under the masthead of your boat and you’ll enjoy a successful voyage. Other good luck charms included pieces of fur, or the wearing of a single gold earring. This was supposed to improve your eyesight and guarantee a decent burial if you ran out of luck at sea.

One of our Facebook fans Colin Wakeling reckons he has the best luck when he fishes by the light of a full moon:

“Defo, I’ve had four 40lb plus carp ,all caught on a full moon phase. Couldn’t believe it, but it’s in my catch book. So, when the moon is full I try to get out fishing. Daft not to.”

Which fishing superstitions do you follow? Head over to our Facebook page and share your stories.

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