Well known stillwater match angler Iain Barr shares his thoughts on spring buzzer fishing tactics. If you want to improve your buzzer fishing skills, read on!
May and June see prolific buzzer hatches across our lakes and reservoirs. Its buzzer bonanza time and what a time it is! That tightening of the line to the fingertips takes some explaining but it’s a buzz, an excitement, an exhilarating feeling.
For the best control with buzzers, a floating line or sink tip line is needed. In calm conditions I prefer to use a full floating line. I tend to add mucilin to the final 2-3 feet of fly line so this sits high. This is my indicator and my eyes are glued to it. Often you will get an arm wrenching pull but it’s those subtle takes that can be missed if not closely watching the line move. If a steady wind, I will opt for a tip line which ‘bites’ in the wave allowing better hook ups.
Some fish are still lying deep due to a harsh cold winter, these tend to be the bigger fish. Fish are also beginning to rise through the water columns as days become warmer so it’s a very exciting time of the season. It’s important to maximise your catch rate by taking advantage of both layers of fish. You can fish deep by using a heavy Reservoir Buzzer on the point and lighter buzzers up the line with a nymph on the top dropper. This ensures you are fishing all layers and it’s key to note which flies the fish are taking.
Early in the day you may note that the fish are taking the deep buzzer but often the fish will then start taking the buzzers up the line and the top dropper nymph. As the day warms and the buzzer pupae ascend through the layers the fish will follow them. The heavy buzzer then becomes redundant so try switching this to a Booby or Fab to hold the remaining flies higher in the water column. The more your flies are in the fish feeding ‘window’ the more you will catch, so depth control is critical when buzzer and nymph fishing.
One way to control the depth to perfection is by using a strike indicator or ‘bung’ . This is usually a piece of foam tied to a hook or a fly artificially enlarged to be visible as an indicator. This allows the flies to be suspended at the set depths and more importantly to be absolutely static. This is key to the most successful buzzer fishing. By retrieving your buzzers you are bringing them against any current which is totally unnatural. The best fish will often ignore these as they identify this as abnormal. I am not the biggest fan of the bung but I have no doubt it is lethal on its day. What you miss with this method is that exhilarating tightening in your fingertips.
At the moment, Rutland Water is at the clearest I have even seen it in 40 years. You can watch the fish swimming under the boat at 15-20 feet down! Tippet choice is crucial in such clear water. I am a huge fan of the Airflo G5 fluorocarbon. Its supple, fine diameter for its strength and very strong. With any colour in the water I use the 11.2lb for buzzers and in the crystal clear water I’ll drop down to 8.4lb. It has some ‘stretch’ in it and absorbs the aggressive takes you can get on buzzers. If the takes are very subtle I switch to Airflo G3. This is very strong and has less stretch allowing you detect the subtle takes more easily.
My choice of rod is the impressive Airflo Airlite V2 10’ #8. It’s soft enough to hit the aggressive buzzer takes hard and powerful enough to cope with the biggest of fish. I also use this rod for my sinking line work so acts as the perfect all round rod.
The rod position is critical for the hanging of your buzzers. As you approach the end of your cast whether on the boat or bank, always hang your flies. Raise your rod to about 10 o’clock position and stop everything. Ensure your top dropper is about 2-3 down below the surface and watch this for any movement. This is where the V2 plays it’s part. Too soft and the fish will pull and the hook may not set, too stiff and the fish will hit and will often ‘bounce’ off.
Enjoy this special time in the season. Our lakes and Reservoirs are now in full swing buzzer time. See Fishtec for a full range of Iain Barr World Champions Choice fly packs including Reservoir Buzzers, Stealth Buzzers and Black/Olive Buzzers.