Back End Boat Fishing on Reservoirs – What Lines and Flies are best?

Autumn must be one of the best times of the season to get out and fish! Here Kieron Jenkins of Fulling Mill takes a closer look at ‘back end’ fishing on our reservoirs and reveals how you can make the most of this brilliant time of year whilst afloat.

When it comes to reservoir fishing the end of the season is one of my absolute favourite times to fish. The fish are high in the water and extremely active, the winds are often strong and rejuvenate depleted oxygen levels from the summer, giving the fish a new lease of life. As the temperatures drop to a more comfortable 15-18 degrees insect life increases with daddies and sedges appearing in abundance, along with daphnia blooms flourishing.

The end of the season is one of my absolute favourite times to fish!!

The end of the season is one of my absolute favourite times to fish!!

Fishing wise, you very rarely have to go below 3ft in depth to find the fish, and keeping your flies high in the water is key to getting more takes. Airflo’s range of ‘tip lines’ are tremendous for presenting your flies in the feeding zone for longer – and keeping them there – as opposed to the straight sinkers of any densities which continue to fall through the water column, however slow they sink.

What method to use?

One style of fishing which has taken the reservoir scene by storm is the washing line method. In short, the washing line features a buoyant fly on the point of a three or four fly cast, which holds your leader up on the far end, while the flies on the droppers and your sink tip line gently falls and holds through the taking zone. Without a doubt, it’s one of the most effective ways to fish a reservoir.

A victim of the deadly washing line method

A victim of the deadly washing line method

The washing line is particularly good for fishing imitative patterns such as nymphs and buzzers, allowing them to effectively ‘hang’ in the surface at a mostly uniform depth. The buoyant fly on the point either consists of a FAB or a Booby depending on the amount of buoyancy needed – If you’d prefer your flies to gently fall, a FAB is great because of the minimal amount of foam in the fly, but if you’d prefer your flies to skate across the surface creating a wake for attraction, a booby is second to none.

What Fly Lines do I need and how do they work?

The trick behind fishing the washing line effectively is using the correct fly lines, and the Airflo tip lines are without doubt the best on the market. With a range of 5 different lengths and densities -with another being added to the range watch this space – every eventuality is covered.

Airflo Super-Dri tip fly lines ready for action

Airflo Super-Dri tip fly lines ready for action

Airflo 3ft Mini Tip

The 3ft mini tip is the ideal fly line for anchoring your flies below the surface, and quickly. It features a fast intermediate tip which sinks at 1.5 inches per second, this allows you to fish extremely slow and keep them at the exact depth almost all the way through your cast. This line is more suited to straight line nymph or buzzer fishing, but can be super effective when fishing the washing line if the fish are within the top 2 ft. Personally, I prefer this line for fishing in near flat calm conditions.

Click here to check out the 3ft Mini tip fly lines

Airflo 6ft Slow Tip

The 6ft slow tip is THE best line on the market for fishing sub surface, the slow intermediate tip sinks at a rate of 0.5 inches per second and gently falls allowing you to present your flies perfectly to around 1ft in depth. Being just 6ft long the tip doesn’t hinge when sinking, keeping you in full control and in contact with your flies – if anything, it fishes more like your old floater that gets dragged down at the end. I like this like particularly for fishing sub surface and minimising any wake off the flies, a deadly line on Llyn Brenig and Llandegfedd reservoir.

Airflo 6ft Fast Tip

The 6ft fast tip is an exceptionally good line when the fish are around 2-3ft deep. The fast tip which sinks at 1.5 inches per second beds in quickly and is perfect for hanging your flies at a constant depth, it’s one of my all-time favourite fly lines for fishing the washing line as it’s so versatile. A four fly cast with two small boobies will create enough disturbance to grab the attention of any fish in the area, but quickly drop and present the flies in the feeding zone, it can also be brought back up quickly with a few good pulls. It’s a perfect alternative to the costly Rio Midge Tip.

Click here to check out the 6ft Mini tip fly lines

Airflo 12ft Slow Tip

In my opinion, the 12ft slow tip is a must have line for fishing washing line style. The tip sinks at just 0.5 inches per second and keeps you in direct control of your flies. It allows you to fish anywhere from 6 inches to 2ft in depth with ease depending on the speed of your retrieve. As much as it’s a great line for fishing the washing line, it’s all extremely effective for pulling wet flies for wild brown trout, allowing you to fish your flies just below the surface and keeping the wake to a minimum not to spook weary nearby fish.

Airflo 12ft Fast Tip

The 12ft fast tip lets you fish much deeper than the other mini tip lines in the range, the length of the tip which sinks at 1.5 inches per second allows you to really drop your flies down if you fish slow. It’s a great line for early summer fishing when trout tend to drop. Earlier on in the year I done extremely well fishing a team of 4 buzzers on this line at Rutland water, the water was as clear as I’ve ever seen it and the fish were hard on the buzzer 20ft down. The only line I could present my flies at this depth was with this 12ft fast tip, once the flies hit the depth it was a case of holding on for the take.

Click here to check out the 12ft Mini tip fly lines                

One thing that sets these lines off against any other on the market is the use of Super-Dri technology in the floating section. It’s extremely buoyant and doesn’t get dragged down by the weight of the tips and sits super high on the surface, allowing you to fish in exactly the same depth as the previous cast, as well as keeping you in as much control as possible. When the fish are high in the water you often see fish rise or bulge in the ripple, the SD technology also allows you to peal your line off the water quickly to cover them with ease, simply covering more fish = more takes.

This nice autumn trout took a liking to a FAB

This nice autumn trout took a liking to a FAB

Recommended Fly Patterns

Fishing at the end of the season means one thing, you must keep your flies high in the water, and there are 3 styles of fly which allow you to fish the washing line effectively. The FAB, Blob booby and a Mini Booby – each give different ways of fishing the method and present your flies slightly different.

The FAB allows your flies to cut through the wave quickly and settle at a pretty uniform depth throughout – My favourite has to be the Biscuit FAB as it offers a subtle, but attractive colour combination which will work for recently stocked and resident fish alike.

The Mini Cat Booby is particularly effective when it comes to nymphing on the washing line. It gives off a lot of movement with the marabou tail and straggle fritz body – but still maintaining the slim profile that may imitate anything from a small clump of daphnia, fry or a damsel nymph if tied in appropriate colours.

When there are an abundance of stockies around you simply cannot beat the Tequila Booby – If this is the case, a four fly cast with two nymphs or cormorants on the middle droppers, and two tequila boobies on the point and top dropper can be deadly. The two blob type boobies are irresistible to stocked fish.

For the dropper flies, I tend to vary them depending on how deep I want to fish. I usually have a selection of Diawl Bachs, Cormorants and Hoppers. Here’s a quick insight into fishing what flies and when.

  • Nymphs – Use them when the trout are educated and feeding naturally – They also sink quickly so great for fishing in windy conditions.
  • Cormorants – Ideal for stocked fish because of the movement. Great middle dropper patterns when fish may chase boobies or blobs and turn away last minute. These smaller more mobile patterns often result in takes when the fish have gone off the colour.
  • Hoppers – Most effective when the fish are extremely high in the surface, they imitate emerging buzzers or corixa and allow you to keep everything fishing high in the water without dropping too quickly.

    Back end fly fishing success on Chew valley lake

    Back end fly fishing success on Chew valley lake

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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.