A day on the River Ebbw

After nearly a week off work due to sickness, I couldn’t wait to get out of the house! There is only so many spaces in a fly box you can fill when you’re housebound! The dog looked on in anticipation, while I was at the vice, waiting to be taken for a walk Friday evening. So away with the scissors, and on with the harness, Jess and I went for a walk down the Taff  trail from Abercynon towards Cilfynydd. The trail runs more or less parallel along the river for nearly a mile or so and at every opportunity we would go to the edge of the river to jump in… Well, the dog would. I’d be there trying to spot rising fish before any disturbance would seep across the pools!

Watching a few untouched glides, it was obvious throughout the day there must have been a good hatch of fly; Blue winged olives, brook duns, and sedge. The wind had calmed, the air temperature was warm and the spinners descended. That magical hour before dark the spinners were in abundance, the margins filled and the trout rising freely… If only I had a rod, not a lead! On the way back to the house, I had a text saying ‘ Where we going tomorrow?’ from my good friend Bish. My reply was ‘Fishing’ of course.

8:30 the following morning, Bish was outside, so in with the fishing rods, and off to pick Terry up. We decided in the morning we would fish the River Ebbw down near Bassaleg, Newport.The river Ebbw is much the same as the upper stretches of the Taff, small, fast with a few nice glides thrown in and an abundance of wild Trout. As there was three of us, we decided that we would go fish for fish. We set a few rules, the person who is fishing must fish all the water, not miss any part of a pool out to get to the best part. Each angler has 20 minutes fishing unless a fish is hook, lost, or caught. So they wouldn’t be waiting around for me all day!

We tackled up on the bottom of a slow glide, it was pretty early, and there wasn’t much in the way of fly life to be seen, just the odd sedge in the margins and a trout that rose once in the middle of the run. We took three rods, one set up with a dry fly, Duo and a french leader to hopefully cover all the possible situations.

The first run we came to looked perfect. A fast run through the middle, two creases and slack water ether side, with the odd bush for cover. Bish had the french leader rod,  we decided he could catch the first fish as he had not been out for a while, so 3 very well placed casts left me 6 flies down within the first 5 minutes! ‘Those trees have an eye for something shiny’ he said!

Moving swiftly upstream, out of the way of any foliage what so ever we tried again. 20 minutes passed without Bish getting a take, so it was to Terry to prove it wasn’t going to be a long day ahead! Another 20 mins passed, no fish! What was going on?? Where are the fish, we wondered. I look over, I had two Jigs on the french leader, we was approaching a fairly deep run, with a nice flow, within the first few casts I was into a fish, which managed to come off as it jumped to free the hook. The rod was passed back to Jonathan, and within 5 minutes another trout was to hand! The fishing started to pick up steadily through the day with each person taking fish within a few minutes of starting their 20 minutes. We worked our way upstream covering good water taking many fish out of the runs.

It was probably around 1pm we’d entered a pool which looked pretty tranquil and inviting. A few olives started to pop about and the sun was breaking through the dark clouds which seemed to linger from the beginning of the day. This was probably one of the best pools I’d fished on the Ebbw, plenty of fish, and the best seat in the house – Fishing in comfort.

My french leader consists of a 9meter tapered camoufil leader, with a piece of Airflo braid as my indicator. The camoufil leaders are available in a few different lengths – 350cm 450cm and 900cm, I prefer the longer one as it allows me to cover more water with ease. Its presentation skills are brilliant at range, giving good turn over soft landing, catching you more fish in the slow runs.

As we moved upstream, the olives started hatching in good numbers and the fish started to pop. It was my turn again, after the boys had a few fish and Terry spotted a nice fish over 1 and a half pounds rising very confidently the pool we were in. A cast upstream to judge the distance, and then another to get the fly to drift properly and it was on. A few good head shakes, and it was obvious it was a better fish. The fight lasted nearly 5 minutes, but in that time Terry had just got his camera out to video the landing.


After the fish was released, we headed to the top of the run and into the eddies being caused by the obstructions. Bish’s first cast into the eddy, the indicator was holding there static, but then darted off to the left, he stuck and another good fish came out of the water and ran downstream. Both Terry and I turned our cameras on and was ready and waiting for the fish to be landed. Again another fish of around 1 – 1/4 -1/2 lb.

The River Ebbw is probably one of the most prolific trout rivers in the UK. The amount of fish the river holds is amazing, but the average size is even better! It’s very common to come away from the river catching and returning well into double figures of trout on a variety of methods. Average size of the rivers fish is probably just over half a pound, with many fish being captured up to 16-18 inches long.

Written by Kieron Jenkins

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Kieron Jenkins

About Kieron Jenkins

Born and raised on the rivers and lakes of south Wales, Kieron Jenkins won his first cap at the age of nine, fishing for the Welsh Youth International team. He has gone on to prove himself as one of the leading competition anglers of his generation, both on the river and also the stillwater scene. Specialising in nymph and dry fly fishing in the small streams and larger, freestone rivers of South Wales, he’s also a highly respected and innovative fly tier. Kieron regularly contributes quality features to online and printed game fishing publications. When he’s not fly fishing, kieron is digital marketing manager at Fulling Mill.