Ceri Thomas and Tim Hughes tackle Welsh small water Gludy lake with two different methods afloat. Which one comes out on top?
Gludy lake is a truly magical place. Situated just outside the market town of Brecon, the naturalised stillwater has been on the map for over 150 years. In a wooded hollow, a small earth dam holds back just over 7 acres of rich, fertile water that is full of invertebrate life. Couple this with abundant coarse fish fry and it’s easy to see why the stocked trout rapidly turn into fully finned backing stripping machines.
Managed as a trout fishery for the past 17 years, Gludy has always been run on a purely catch and release basis – so any stocked fish get the chance to mature and grow into fine specimens indeed. The lake holds rainbows, blues, browns and even the odd tiger. Variety is key and Chris Burgess, the fishery manager for the past decade is currently enlarging a holding pool at the top of the lake. The new pond will be lightly stocked for beginners and bank stalking next year. There is also a newly constructed boat house at the top end of the lake, next to the luxurious day lodge that visiting anglers can make full use of.
Bank fishing is a little limited on Gludy, due to the reedy, marshy banks and abundant shore line tree cover. Most anglers fish from a boat, with several different sized craft on site supplied complete with electric motors. This gives you complete freedom to fish any area of the lake you wish. Float tubing is also allowed – one of the few venues in South Wales where this special form of fishing can be enjoyed. You can bring your own or make arrangements to use one with the fishery.
Today we are looking to try the two methods side by side – Tim in one of the boats and myself in a tube. There are pro’s and con’s to each way of fishing, so this session should make it clearer as to which one can give you the best results on a water of this size.
Tim decides to fish from a smaller one man boat, armed with his usual stillwater outfit of a 10’ #7 weight Airflo Airlite V2 rod. He starts off with a Super-Dri Elite floater and more imitative patterns, looking for the grown on fish rather than raw stockies.
I blow up my float tube, don neoprene bootfoot waders, float tube fins and a buoyancy aid fly fishing vest. My rod of choice for the session is an Airflo Delta Classic 10 foot #6/7. When tubing your back cast can be limited, due to your position low down on the surface. So you need to load up your rod quickly, with the minimum of false casts or you can risk clipping the water behind you. The Delta Classic is a perfect tool for today, with its deeper traditional action that loads nicely with a shorter length of line.
Due to Gludy having a big head of roach and perch I’m looking to target the resident fry feeders that should be in fine fettle after a long autumn of eating protein. So I attach some lure patterns to start off. Linewise, I rig up with a Sixth Sense Di3 sinker, an early winter favourite that allows a versatile approach for searching through the layers. 8.8lb Sightfree G4 is the tippet, with a white hotty dancer on the point and an epoxy perch fry on the dropper I feel confident of success. As if to confirm this, we see plentiful evidence of coarse fish fry topping and jumping as we look out onto the lake – hopefully the trout won’t be far away.
Where to start?
Gludy is a predominantly shallow lake, with an average depth of 6 to 7 feet. However the Dam end goes down to nearly 15 feet, so in the absence of any obvious activity this is where we both head, with the assumption that fish will be lurking in the deeper water after the recent cold snap. Tim on the electric engine, with me kicking along at a much slower pace.
Naturally I take the opportunity to troll as I travel from A to B. By simply covering water you up your chances, and soon enough the Di3 tightens and the first fish is on. Some may call this cheating, but I call it effective!
As we head down the lake it becomes apparent that there is trout activity at the far end, in the deeper water off the dam. Fry are sporadically jumping clear, and with the odd boil around them it seems the trout are on the fin and interested in chasing them.
To even the odds, Tim has attached a Deeper echo sounder to the side of his boat – it confirms that the area is home to a vast shoal of coarse fish, sitting on top of a submerged weed bed in10 foot of water. He anchors up and starts to fish the area, quickly changing his point fly over to a minky booby, keeping a cruncher on the dropper.
A fish bursts out about 10 yards away, I swivel in the tube and put the flies across the spot. Stripping, the line tightens and another angry Gludy trout is attached. In fact, it is two of them at once but the fish on the dropper comes off during the battle.
A nice rainbow eventually graces the net, typical of the quality you can expect at Gludy. Action continues for me on the lures with a number of fish landed in quick succession. Meanwhile Tim has a number of boils under a floating fry, fished right on the surface. He bumps a couple of fish, and his line finally tightens with a nice rainbow that has taken the cruncher.
On a catch and release venue it is remarkable just how quickly fish wise up to lures, and the positive takes we were getting soon start to dry up, turning into just nips and follows. This is where float tubing can be a disadvantage – it is very difficult to change your fly line and leader set up over. Tim is able to adapt his tactics and change his tippet to a finer diameter (5.5lb G4) with ease in the boat – switching to a smaller nymphs, he is rewarded with several fish in quick succession that take the flies fished slowly. Meanwhile I am stuck on the Di3, which is limiting what I can do, although I am still picking up the odd fish.
We only have a short time on the water today, so have to call it quits after a few hours fishing. However a good number of fish have been caught by both of us making it a decent morning.
The Pro’s and Con’s:
Float tubes allow complete freedom of movement whatever the wind direction. They also allow you a silent, stealthy approach.
For whatever reason, fish simply do not fear tubes like they do a boat or wading angler. This allows you to get very close to them and fish into shoreline shallows where bank angling would instantly spook fish. Your low position in the water casts a shorter shadow, therefore less likely to alert following fish.
Float tubes allow you to troll your flies allowing you to cover a vast area by simply trailing your flies behind you.
On the downside, it takes some time to move spot using flipper power. You may also find yourself limited method wise, as I found. Changing a fly line over involves a lot of effort and time wasted as you have to go to shore.
I felt at times I could have converted many of the follows and plucks into fish by rapidly increasing the movement of the flies, but I was limited to the speed I could strip the flies back by a lack of elbow room.
Another aspect is comfort – despite wearing neoprene waders, being submerged in the water can give you a chill. I felt quite cold after only a few hours. You also need to be fairly physically fit, so tubing isn’t for everyone.
On the Boat
In a boat you are much higher up than a tube. This allows for a much better visual fishing experience. It is also better for slow nymphing techniques and for quick covering of rising fish. You have no arm room limit so if you want to rip lures back at a breakneck pace you will have no problem.
Speed is another factor – the ability to move spot quickly, with an engine is a big plus. Not forgetting being able to anchor up.
Fishing from a boat is more comfortable if you are fishing for a long day – access to food, drink and toilet facilities is made so much easier.
Boat or tube?
We both finished off with exactly the same number of fish – the advantages of one method over another seemed to have eventually evened out today. So ultimately, it might boil down to which mode of fishing you find most enjoyable.
Gludy lake offers fantastic value winter rates, with all day fishing available at £35 per head from 1st November to 28th February. It is possible to block book the fishery and stay overnight in well equipped onsite accommodation. The lodge and facilities are free to use.
For full details visit www.gludy.co.uk or call 07980 711 847