Ceri Thomas

About Ceri Thomas

Ceri Thomas is the online marketing manager at Airflo and Fishtec. An accomplished fly-fisher and predator angler with over two decades of experience, he can be found casting fly lines across Wales and beyond. Ceri also lends his expertise to several publications including Fly Fishing & Fly Tying magazine, Fulling Mill blog, Today’s Flyfisher, Eat Sleep Fish and more. A member of Merthyr Tydfil Angling Association, he is active in the public discourse surrounding environmental conservation. You can keep up with his fishing adventures on his Fly Fishing Wales blog and twitter account.

Fly Fishing In Iceland

Fly fishing in Iceland – probably the best trout and char fishing destination in the northern hemisphere! This blog by Ceri Thomas will give you an idea of the quality of fishing available. Read on to discover fishing in Iceland…

Fly fishing in Iceland under a waterfall

Fly fishing in Iceland under a waterfall

In July of 2019 myself and Tim Hughes of Airflo visited the volcanic wilderness of Iceland in search of brown trout and Arctic char. Our trip was arranged with Fishpartner and involved four days of hardcore fishing on several lakes, plus two highland rivers, the Kaldakvisl and Tungnaa.  As well as the usual array of Airflo fishing tackle, we took along a wide selection of Fulling Mill flies, knowing that their durability and fish catching prowess were without equal.

Playing a fish on lake Villingavatn

Playing a fish on lake Villingavatn

On the afternoon of day one, we fished a small lake called Villingavatn, where the trout were incredibly fit and beautiful. We observed many large fish feeding in this lake on sticklebacks, so we imitated these with Fulling Mill lite-brite minnow patterns to great success. It was necessary to make long casts with our Airflo SuperFlo lines beyond a weed line, but once in the taking zone the hits were incredibly savage, with every single fish taking us well into the backing. The average size of the butter gold trout we caught were not far off 60cm – but apparently these were just the smaller ones in the lake!

A fine Icelandic brown trout for Tim Hughes

A fine Icelandic brown trout for Tim Hughes

On day two we fished the vast Lake Ulfljotsvatn, which produced numerous hard fighting char up to 50 cm to nymphs fished under a strike indicator in a deep water channel.  Favourite Fulling Mill flies of the day included the traffic light buzzer and the Czech weapon, a pattern that really picked out the better fish.

Lake Sogid, Iceland

Lake Ulfljotsvatn, Iceland

Lake Sogid char - hard fighting fish!

Lake Sogid char – hard fighting fish!

We spent the evening of day two and then the next two full days fishing out of the luxurious Fishpartner Highland lodge on their rivers, the majestic Kaldakvisl and Tungnaa, where we put in some seriously long hours on the water.

Day three we spent entirely on the Kaldakvisl, with its stunning waterfalls and rocky pools and runs. Here our favoured method was to fish two flies under an Air-lok bung. The Czech weapon nymph with its red tag was once again picked out repeatedly by the char.

The mouth of the Kaldakvisl - Os'

The mouth of the Kaldakvisl – Os’

A char from the kaldakvisl river

A char from the kaldakvisl river

We also had some great fishing with big, black streamers, with fish after fish hitting these flies hard when stripped back across the river mouth where it entered a glacial lake. It is no exaggeration to say we landed vast quantities of char from the Kaldakvisl, far more than we ever thought possible. Many were between 40 and 52 cm and were the most beautiful fish we had ever seen. We also captured some incredible trout to over 50 cm.

Our final day was spent on the Tungnaa, a gin clear river that in its upper reaches flowed through what appeared to be an alien landscape, complete with volcanic canyons and lurid green vegetation. The fishing was even better – here large char averaging 45cm to 55cm abounded, as did many sizable browns, which we landed to 57cm. Even larger trout were seen and lost on streamers!

Fly fishing the Tungnaa' river

Fly fishing the Tungnaa’ river

Fulling Mill redneck barbless nymphs in size 16 fished ‘duo style’ worked a treat on the Tungnaa, especially when drifted over sight fished char.  In the deeper, faster runs we found that FM Duracell jig nymphs in a size 12 were incredibly effective – I landed 8 char in as many casts with this fly in just one run, they absolutely loved it!

Average size Tungnaa' char - on the duo!

Average size Tungnaa’ char – on the duo!

Dry fly also came into its own on the Tungnaa, with the Fulling Mill greased lightning klinks in size 18 working a charm for midge and caddis sippers.  Watching prehistoric browns slowly moving up through the deep, crystal clear water to deliberately take your dry fly was something else.

The trip was truly fantastic, and not once were we let down by any item of our tackle. The Airlite V2 fly rods and our new V2 fly reels performed superbly, with the reels smooth drag systems coming to the rescue on many occasions. The Fulling Mill flies we used proved to be as durable as they were effective; they did a great job of surviving the gnarly jaws of the numerous char and trout that we captured.

Fishing in Iceland - an incredible place

Fishing in Iceland – an incredible place

To sum up, I’d recommend Iceland as a brilliant destination for any angler looking for non-stop action in the most fantastic scenery you can imagine. We will certainly be back next year to give it another go!

Our trip was arranged by Fish Partner – visit www.fishpartner.com for more information on Fishing in Iceland.

Clothing Review – Hodgman Aesis Shell Jacket

Looking for a new jacket? Then you might find some inspiration here. In this review Ceri Thomas takes a look at the Aesis Shell fly fishing jacket from American tackle firm Hodgman.

I’ve been on the lookout for a decent breathable jacket for a while now. Mobility is key when I fish, so comfort is a must, as are decent pockets for accessories and fly boxes. When we started stocking the Hodgman range of fly fishing gear, I really liked the look of the Aesis shell jacket, which ticked all of the boxes for me. So after a bit of deliberation over the winter I decided to pick one up for the new season ahead.

I often think in order to write a ‘proper’ review you need to give something a real test on the water; not just a few hours. So after a full month of pretty hard usage, I feel I have now gotten to know this piece of outwear inside out. So here are my thoughts.

The Aesis shell jacket on the bank

The Aesis shell jacket on the bank


Wearing it

The cut of the jacket is good – it’s clearly been designed by a fisherman, with fly fishing in mind. The arms are generous and articulate well, allowing for easy casting. The sleeve design is practical, with velco adjustable cuffs that help keep the water out. The inner cuffs are also nice and soft. I found the sizing to be pretty generous though, and opted for a Large, rather than my usual XL.

When trying it on in the house, the wife remarked ”Do you have to wear that for fishing?? It’s quite nice!” And it is a genuinely good looking jacket. You could get away with wearing it pretty much anywhere, as well as the river bank. It has a clean, modern look and is a nice carbon/grey, a neutral colour, so you wont stand out like a sore thumb, in the pub for example.

Initially it was obvious that the jacket was very light indeed, but still retained a durable feel. When wearing it you don’t feel weighed down or constricted in any way. It almost has the feel of a packable 2 layer. It’s actually a 3 layer, so reliability in heavy rain is assured. You can tell from the material that it’s not going to let you down. I’ve been out in some extremely foul conditions this spring, and every time the water has just beaded off, literally like water off a ducks back. So full marks for waterproof ability.

Regarding breathability, I have done quite a lot of mountain lake fishing this year, which involves a fair bit of rock hopping and scrambling up steep hill sides. I have also been doing a lot of urban angling on the South Wales rivers; which again can be quite physical and requires a lot of effort to get in and out of the water. Compared to other jackets I have worn (including premium GoreTex) the breathability is right up there. You can break into a heavy sweat and still feel comfortable in the Aesis shell.

Urban angling with superb breathability!

Urban angling with superb breathability!


Is it a wading jacket or a 3/4??

It’s kind of both. It’s not overly short, so provides decent cover for your back area. Neither is it too long and flappy. I guess it was designed for American anglers fishing from drift boats, who sometimes need to get out and wade. You can use it for river, bank fishing on the fishery or drifting across the loch in the boat; it is genuinely multi purpose.

The Hodgman Aesis shell jacket is multi purpose

The Hodgman Aesis shell jacket is multi purpose

For extreme deep wading its actually designed to be tucked inside your waders if required. There is a ‘belt catch’ loop that helps you do this. I haven’t used it like that as I seldom need to wade that deep, but there are drain holes in the lower hand pockets that actually worked.

Neat little touches

The hood is well designed and easily adjustable. Even when fully up your field of vision is still clear. The chest pockets, whilst not enormous, are generous enough for most standard fly boxes, several accessories and spools of tippet. Two of them have waterproof seals, so are a good place to keep your car keys or a small point and shoot camera.

The flap of each breast pocket has a velcro fly patch built in, and interestingly a small magnet with the Hodgman logo on it. Great for holding a fly while you change your leader. There is also a small inner security pocket for valuables.

Back of the Aesis shell jacket

Back of the Aesis shell jacket

There are built in reflective strips on the back of the hood and around the shoulders. These are not obvious but show up in low light; quite handy I guess if fishing with a buddy on a dark night or if crossing a road at dusk. They also look pretty cool.

There is a rear D ring and also one in a breast pocket. One slight issue is the net D ring is quite low on the back – so it can be a slight pain to get you net back onto it without twisting your arm a little. But that’s about the only negative I can think of.

Verdict

After a solid month I am starting to think this is one of the best jackets I have ever owned. It’s functional, comfortable and a pleasure to fish in. It’s now a permanent occupier of my car boot, ready for action at any time.

Moving onwards, I’m looking forward to using it right through the warmer months, and maybe through the winter with thermals underneath. Its going to get a hammering but I am confident its going to last me a good few seasons.

At £239.99 it’s starting to enter the premium price bracket, but I feel the outlay is worth it. You pay your dollar, you get the goods! Great effort by Hodgman – keep it up the good work guys.

Hodgman Aesis Shell Jackets are available here.

Want to know more about the Hodgman brand?? Check out our blog post here.

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.

Sandford Pool – Stalking in the Woods

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

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

Fishing on Sandford pool

Fishing on Sandford pool

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

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

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

Sandford pool nestles in a deep hollow

Sandford pool nestles in a deep hollow

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

A warm welcome awaits anglers at Sandford pool

A warm welcome awaits anglers at Sandford pool

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

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

Tackle up for stalking

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

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

Stalking essentials

Stalking essentials…..

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

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

Where to start

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

Flies

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

Into the action

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

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

Sandford pool wild brown

Sandford pool wild brown

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

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

A pretty rainbow trout

A pretty rainbow trout

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

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

A hard fighting trout from the gin clear waters

A hard fighting trout from the gin clear waters

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

The verdict

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

Tim Hughes with a nice fish

Tim Hughes with a nice fish

Fishing on Sandford Pool

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

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

For more information and ticket options visit: www.sandfordpooltroutfishery.co.uk

5 Grayling Fishing Tips

Crisp, cold winter air with frost on the ground can mean only one thing – grayling time! Fishtec’s Ceri Thomas shares 5 top grayling fishing tips for success on the river this winter.

The grayling

The grayling – a winter loving fish.

1. Find the shoal for action. Grayling are a naturally gregarious fish – find one, you will find more. Grayling shoals often live and grow to maturity their whole life in the same pool or run in a river – so if you want a quick start to the action, head to where you found them last winter, they could now be even bigger.

2. Want a specimen? Cover ground and explore. BIG grayling are much more solitary than standard size schoolies and are found in smaller pods of 2 or 3. You won’t often find them mixing with their smaller brethren, so if you are catching lots of hand sized ‘shots’ then don’t linger.

A decent grayling, part of a small pod of big fish.

A decent grayling, part of a small pod of big fish.

3. Be strike happy – Whether you are drifting a strike indicator, watching a french leader, or a dry fly with a nymph suspended under it, if you see ANY stop, twitch or subtle movement then strike! Yes, this could be the bottom or a leaf, but often it is a fish and striking finds out for sure.

If you see the leader stop then STRIKE

If you see the leader stop then STRIKE

4. Keep things sharp – Hook points suffer when grayling nymphing, which usually requires fishing your flies hard on the deck. Checking and then maintaining a sharp hook point can be the difference between success and failure – so invest in a hook sharpener and use it, regularly!

5. Red, purple or pink – catch like stink. Use of flies with bright colours as trigger points can often result in a red letter day, IF the fish are keyed on them, they will often actively and aggressively seek them out. It pays to always have a ‘trigger’ nymph as part of your team of flies, alongside some more naturalistic patterns.

Grayling flies with trigger points can work wonders

Grayling flies with trigger points can work wonders!

For more grayling fishing tips, be sure to check out our comprehensive Grayling fishing guide here.

Five End Of Season Stillwater Fly Fishing Tips

The days are getting shorter, mornings misty and with a chill in the evening air we are now moving into autumn with a vengeance. Such conditions can mean only one thing – we are now heading into the ‘back end’, a time on the trout fishers calendar where brilliant sport can be expected. These stillwater fly fishing tips should help you make the most of this productive time of year!

Brilliant back end bank fishing

A brilliant back end bank fishing spot – an old river channel

1. On the bank – Once water temperatures cool off, the margins become the place to concentrate on during the autumn. Natural food accumulates and terrestrial life is blown onto the water here – so bank fishing really comes into it’s own. Look for bays, points, dying weed beds, old river channels and any in-flow of running water. Grown on resident fish won’t be far away!

2. Dig out the big flies – Colder temps tend to bring out the aggression in resident fish, especially brown trout. Combine that with the abundance of coarse fish fry on our reservoirs and you can use larger flies with full confidence – booby zonkers, snakes, humongous and various fry patterns will often catch the biggest and best quality fish.

Fish large flies with confidence

Fish large flies with confidence at this time of year

3. Afternoons are best – Very early and late tend to be times to avoid when air temperatures plummet, resulting in fish sulking out of reach in deep water. That brief spell of mid afternoon warmth can trigger fly hatches and feeding activity, so concentrate your efforts for when the water is alive and the fishing at it’s peak.

4. Slime lines = good times – Intermediates fly lines are perfect for fishing at this time of year. They are so versatile and cover the top layers down to mid water comfortably. The Airflo camo clear is a great line to start with for the bank angler fishing among decaying weedbeds or looking for a stealth option. It’s a joy to cast and lovely to handle even with cold hands.

On the fast intermediate....

A brownie on the fast intermediate….

5. Brave the wind – Autumn winds can be strong and unpleasant to fish in, BUT they can also concentrate the fish within easy reach. It is well worth casting right into the teeth of the wind, or fishing a bay where the wind is blowing in and funneling terrestrial food, such as daddy long legs. In windy conditions don’t worry about distance (the fish could be just a few yards out!) try your best to get turnover. Make your leader shorter and your casting loop tighter, in order to punch your cast under the wind.

Fishing in Orlando Florida

As a family holiday destination, Orlando must be one of the most popular in the world – but have you ever considered fishing there? As well as Disney world, great food and alligators, Orlando has some fantastic fishing opportunities, both fresh and saltwater.

Fishing in Orlando - just off international drive

Fishing in Orlando – just off international drive.

Water World

When you look at Orlando on google maps, or whilst landing at the airport, the first thing you will notice are the lakes. They are literally everywhere – ranging from puddle sized drainage ponds, canals and mid sized waters, all the way up to huge inland seas of many thousands of acres. These lakes look incredibly fishy – because they are. They are literally full of largemouth bass, and their smaller cousins the sunfish. These species are very keen to hit artificial lures and flies.

Lakes in the Orlando area tend to be clear, with prolific weed growth. Many of the larger lakes in the area need to be fished by boat – this is where a guide comes in handy. There are plenty of guides available, including Captain Dean Puller of Gator bass, who can take you on the world famous Lake Toho and supply all the gear you will need.

Orlando is dotted with lakes and canals full of fish

Orlando is dotted with lakes and canals full of fish.

For a budget option, or if your time is limited, numerous small urban lakes and canals can be easily fished from the shore. Generally, as long as there is access from a bridge crossing or a road you are able to fish with the state license (look out for private property signs!). This license is available for a non-resident at just $30 for 7 days; and is easily available online or at a fishing shop such as Bass Pro. Google maps is the best way to scope out likely looking fishing spots near to where you are staying.

Become a Bass Pro

Largemouth bass are predators that like to patrol marginal areas, weed-lines and drop offs in search of any food item they can fit into their cavernous mouths. They will eat anything – from small fish to ducks, mice and frogs. The bass is a hard fighting sportfish known for leaping clear of the water when hooked and can grow to double figures in weight, with Orlando being home to fish of this caliber in some of it’s lakes. Generally though, fish of a pound or two are what you are likely to encounter, with the odd bigger specimen thrown into the mix.

A good sized Florida bass

A good sized Florida largemouth bass, caught in a urban canal.

Bass really like to hit surface lures if they are in the mood – floating plugs and lures can draw fierce, exciting strikes. The surface lures from Savage Gear, such as the 3D rat and 3D suicide duck make for perfect topwater bass fishing lures.

If fly fishing, large deer hair bass bug flies will work well. It is also worth getting hold of some weedless popper patterns. As well as the big bass flies, UK stillwater trout fishing lures can be deadly, especially if the bass have seen it all. For example Minky boobies fished on the surface proved to be a winner on a heavily fished lake.

Bass on a surface fly

Bass caught on a surface fly – a minky booby from Fulling Mill!

The key to surface fishing for bass is to hit the edge of thick cover, then twitch your lure violently to entice the bass out of hiding. Then it pays to pause the retrieve, sometimes for a minute or two – bass will often hit while the lure is stationary.

Sinking your lure or fly is the way to fish if the bass are not interested in breaking the surface. Woolly buggers and Clouser minnows are great flies to fish on a floating fly line, whilst rubber ‘Senko worms‘ rigged ‘wacky style‘ can be lethal on a spinning outfit. Allow these to sink to the bottom and twitch them back – the action can be irresistible to bass.

Bass captured with a senko worm.

Bass captured with a senko worm.

Sunfish are fun if the bass ain’t biting…

Sunfish can be found in almost any body of water in Florida. There are numerous species, including bluegill, longear, redbreast, warmouth and crappie. What they lack in size they make up for in character, colour and willingness to take lures and flies – provided they are small enough. For example, a size 12 Hares ear nymph or a size 16 jig head/worm combo would be perfect. Allow your lure to sink near structure and you will usually find them eager to bite.

Florida Sunfish caught on fly fishing gear

Florida Sunfish caught on fly fishing gear.

What about Saltwater?

Orlando is just under an hours drive from same fantastic saltwater flats fishing – the world famous Indian river and Mosqito lagoon are well known for their tarpon, redfish, snook and sea-trout fishing. Here you can fish in the shadow of NASA off cape Canaveral using flies or lures, with abundant bird life, dolphins and manatees to keep you company. The services of a guide are essential, and many offer a pick up service from Orlando, such as the extremely knowledgeable Capt. Dustin Link of Xtreme Sight Fishing Charters.

A baby Goliath grouper from Mosquito lagoon

A baby Goliath grouper from Mosquito lagoon, Florida.

Watch the wildlife and the weather

The summer weather in Florida is very hot and humid, making daytime fishing very tough. The fishing is always better at dawn and dusk, so as well as being more pleasant to be out in, the chances of you catching are very much improved. This also ties in nicely if you are on a family holiday, allowing you to grab a few hours on the water before the day gets underway.

Dawn on vista cay lake - great fishing, with public access.

Dawn on Vista Cay lake – great fishing, with public access.

Wherever you are fishing, it pays to look out for dangerous wildlife. Alligators are present in most lakes and inshore areas of Florida. Generally they are harmless, but take care not to fish near them, or disturb them. Look at for furrows in the weed and banks where they crawl out of the water. While you fish, stand a bit higher up on the bank than usual – so you get a good view of what is in there. Mosquito’s and no-see-ums (midge) are a constant menace so make sure you pack some repellent. Finally avoid walking through high brush and grass – where snakes and ticks like to hang out.

Orlando Alliagtor

Orlando Alligator – this one lived right outside a holiday apartment block.

What tackle to bring?

For fly fishing, a multi section 9 foot 7 weight should have you covered for both fresh and saltwater action; a fly line such as Airflo’s bass/muskie taper or bonefish tropical will work best in the heat, and for turning over large and heavy flies.

Fly fishing for bass with a 7 weight rod.

Fly fishing for bass with a 7 weight rod.

For lure fishing a lightweight multi section or telescopic rod (e.g Saveggear Finesse) with a fixed spool or baitcasting reel fitted with 15 or 20lb braid will do the job well. Rubber worms and bass specific surface lures can be purchased in Bass Pro Orlando, or in supermarkets such as Walmart, at very reasonable prices.

In the video above, Fishtec’s Tim Hughes catches a largemouth bass in an Orlando lake using a light baitcasting outfit.

Have fun!

Above all Orlando is a great place to catch fish. Wherever you wet a line, action is sure to come. So next time you are on a family holiday, sneak in a rod.

6 Summer River Fly Fishing Tips

At this time of year fly fishing rivers becomes increasingly difficult; with low water conditions and increased daytime temperatures mainly to blame. Throw in high angler pressure throughout the spring months, and you have some truly challenging fishing by mid summer.

With that said, it is still possible to make some decent catches even when the river fishing is rock hard. The following river tips should help you keep on catching all summer…..

Stealth will bring you results....

Stealth will bring you results….

1. Stealth. A common sense tip, but often overlooked. Trout are wary creatures at best and with a river lacking in flow they are even more attuned to the presence of predators. A clumsy slip of the wader boot on a slimy rock will often spook a whole pool. So really take your time when approaching the water and if possible avoid unnecessary wading.

2. Walk the river. It really pays to go looking for fish when the going is tough. Walk the banks quietly and look for signs of fish rather than charge straight it. When river temperatures are warm in summer fish tend to be much more clustered together in refuse areas that offer extra cover. A tell tale rise or splash can give a tightly packed pod of fish away, saving you wasting time fishing empty water.

Walk the river to find fish

Walk the river to find fish – a trout that gave itself away with a splashy rise

3. Fish the faster water. In low summer flows fast water offers fish cover and oxygen, as well as helping mask the sound and vibration emitted by the angler. So It can pay to solely concentrate your efforts in rapids, pocket water and necks of pools when the river is fishing poorly during hot weather. Such areas can be fished effectively with a french leader, a method very much suited to spooky fish.

Look for fast, oxygenated water

Look for fast, oxygenated water when temperatures are high

4. Minimise your false casting. I often see too many anglers making false casts that they simply don’t need to. Less false casts equal less shadows and line flash that will alert spooky low water trout. A short head weight forward fly line such as the Airflo Super Dri Xceed is designed for quick rod loading, and will help reduce false casting. Also try and make your false casts lower down, at a side angle where your cast will intrude less into the cone of the trouts vision.

5. Use a long leader and scale down. The lower the water the longer the leader. Don’t be afraid to fish a 20 foot leader length on a low river. The further away from your fly line the fly is, the better! A clear floating Airflo light trout polyleader combined with a supple, thin diameter co-polymer such as the superb Airflo tactical allows you to achieve great turnover and subtle presentation at range.

6. Make the switch to low light conditions. Early or late can be the answer during heatwave conditions. From Mid Summer onwards trout in warm water tend to switch to surface feeding at last knockings and through into the night, when water temperatures fall and food sources are more abundant. Likewise crack of dawn fishing can produce good fishing, especially on nymphs, where trout remain in the faster shallows briefly before the sun rises.

A fish captured at last knockings...

A fish captured at last knockings…

Perch On The Fly

Over the winter fly fishing opportunities for trout can be a bit limited, so why not try for perch on the fly? Perch are eager takers, and once you find them you can have some great fun with your fly rod. So why not give them a go!

Perch on the fly

Perch on the fly.

Where to find

Perch are abundant in the UK, and can be found in pretty much any lake, canal or coarse fishery – where the price of a ticket is often just a few pounds. Both large and small stillwater trout fisheries also hold specimen perch in big numbers, making for a pleasant diversion when trouting is slow.

Perch like to shoal up and hug close to structure, especially where there is a deep drop off. Perfect places to look for them would be near to jetties, piers, sunken timber, boat landings, harbors and channels.

Perch fly gear

A fly rod from 6 to 9 weight, 9 to 10 feet in length will be just fine for perch on the fly. Perch prefer to sit in mid-water, so pack your sinking lines! The Airflo forty plus range of sinkers are ideal lines to use, especially the Di5 and Di7.

Don’t worry about having a reel filled with backing – perch are not known for long runs, just dogged head shakes and dives.

For leader, use strong fluorocarbon from 10 to 15lb breaking strain. Airflo G3 or Fulling Mill flouro are both very tough stuff and withstand serious abuse.

Perch flies and leader material

Perch flies and leader material.

Perch flies

Perch are predatory creatures, and the bigger they are the more protein they crave.

Larger trout fry patterns, minkies, boobie zonkers and snakes will all work well. The Fulling Mill fry pattern set is a great place to start for a collection of effective perch patterns.

When perching it pays to have at least two flies on your leader at once – you then have a great chance of getting a ‘double header’ – believe me it’s great fun!

Fish two flies and a perch 'double header' is on the cards!

Fish two flies and a perch ‘double header’ is on the cards!

How to fish

Perch like to huddle together in a pack. They often don’t like to move that far from the safety of the shoal to intercept a fly, so it is vital you get amongst them. This is where a fast sinking line comes into play.

Once your line is well down in the water, get the flies moving in aggressive strips. Perch like to ‘zone in’ on a moving fly on a horizontal plane, and a steady retrieve will often get them to attack.

When you feel a tap, never lift the rod in a knee jerk reaction. Strip-strike by pulling the fly line hard until everything locks up.

Once you find a few, keep on hammering the same area – you can often catch most of the shoal in quick succession.

The reward - a fine perch on the fly

The reward – a fine perch on the fly.

10 Stillwater Pike Bank Fishing Tips

As the autumn begins and temperatures drop, many anglers turn their attention to pike fishing, particularity on stillwaters. This blog post by Ceri Thomas reveals 10 essential stillwater pike fishing tips that will help you catch more pike off the bank this winter.

How do you catch specimen pike on stillwaters?

To catch a true specimen sized pike, you often have to fish a decent sized water to find them – places such as Chew valley lake, Llandegfedd, Pitsford, Blithfield etc and of course numerous glacial waters in The Lake District, Wales, Ireland and Scotland.

Pike fishing can be superb at this time of year on such large sheets of water but also extremely challenging, especially if you have to fish from the bank. To help improve your pike catch rates over the autumn and winter period, follow these 10 stillwater pike bank fishing tips to enhance your success.

Pike bank fishing on a large stillwater

Pike bank fishing on a large stillwater.

1. Keep mobile

It’s a catch 22 – do you stay put, or move if no runs are forthcoming? Sit it out or find fish? Personally I take the latter option every time. The more water you cover, the more chances of a feeding pike seeing your bait. If you have had no runs in an hour, up sticks. Carry your gear a few hundred yards down the bank and recast. Repeat every hour until you find action.

Being mobile can really pay off - a change of swim can produce instant results

Being mobile can really pay off – a change of swim can produce instant results.
(Image: Leighton Ryan)

2. Don’t ignore the margins

We become so obsessed with casting the baits out to the maximum range possible and bait boating to hundreds of yards that we forget about what is going on under our noses. Always try a bait in the margin, just off the first drop off. Pike are not always found at range, even on vast sheets of water. By all means, fish one rod at range, but keep your other bait closer in to start off – you might be surprised!

3. Make an extra effort to fish at dawn and dusk

Pike like both periods due to the cover it gives them. Turing up early can really be the difference between success and failure, the crack of dawn is a prime feeding period, as is sunset. On some pressured venues pike feed in the dark on discards when most anglers have gone home, so it pays to stay on into darkness a few hours if fishery rules permit.

Worth getting up early for - a 30lb pike at the crack of dawn!

Worth getting up early for – a 30lb pike at the crack of dawn!

4. Use fresh bait

Bait can be expensive, but if you could catch a 20lb plus fish each session I bet you wouldn’t mind paying just a few pounds more each trip! Look to change your bait every hour. Re-casting and exposure to the water quickly leaches out the oils and flavour that attract pike. Washed out baits simply aren’t as appealing. Resist the temptation to re-freeze baits and then use them multiple times. Old freezer burned bait lacks flavour, scent, and texture – these bad re-frozen baits simply don’t help you catch fish. From experience a fresh blast frozen bait will always outfish a re-used one. The bottom line is don’t skimp on bait, and you will be rewarded.

5. Don’t be afraid to try a lure

Off the bank deadbaiting is a very popular option, but don’t neglect the lures. It’s always worth running a lure through your swim a few times before you set your dead’s out. Firstly this could result in an instant fish, but if it doesn’t it can have the effect of ‘waking up’ any pike nearby through the disturbance and vibration caused by the lure. Those fish may then decide to take your deadbait.

6. Move your bait

This tactic isn’t used as much as it should be. Works best with a popped up bait. Cast out at a comfortable range, let the bait settle for 5 minutes then wind in a few yards. Repeat a few times with pauses of 5 – 10 minutes until you re-cast. Pike have a habit of simply sitting there watching a bait, and the movement can make them react. Expect runs just as the bait stops moving.

7. Don’t ignore small baits

I am talking really small – sprats, small sandeel, cut down macky tails, little joeys and smelt just a few inches long. On some waters these baits outfish bigger baits because the pike are so used to seeing massive herring, mackerel, whole blueys etc. thrown at them all day. They also work well when pike are visibly feeding on fry – it makes sense to ‘match the hatch’ and scale down your bait to the size on which the pike are feeding. Cast into the commotion and hang on!

8. Don’t follow the herd

You heard on the grapevine, social media, an online report or a mate that a certain area is fishing well and a big fish has been caught. Naturally you think that’s the place to head for. Chances are, If you heard about it then everyone else has heard this as well, and will have hammered the area already. I say find your own fish. Don’t follow the herd. Think outside the box and try a fresh area where people don’t fish very often. And when you do catch a decent fish, keep it to yourself.

A result of 'finding your own fish'.

A result of ‘finding your own fish’. (Image: Leighton Ryan)

9. Bring your fishing waders

Make sure you pack them – a set of sturdy boot foot cleated neoprene waders will do the job. As well as keeping you warm and dry in even the heaviest rain, these provide numerous advantages, especially on reservoirs with gently shelving banks; giving you access to much deeper water and the ability to wade beyond or through thick weed beds before you make your cast.

10. Release the flavour in your bait

Prick your bait with a knife to release juice and blood into the area. Also dip or inject your bait with flavoured fish based oil every time you re-cast, to ensure a slick leaks out to draw fish to your swim. Cod liver oil pills are also a good trick – stuff one down the throat of your deadbait. The coating will dissolve and leave a nice little slick of flavour around your bait.