Victory At The Airflo Anglian Water International

Iain Barr recounts how Team Costa claimed victory at the Airflo Anglian Water International….

After not reaching the Airflo Anglian Water final for four years as a team we were determined to give it our all. Iain Barr Fly Fishing team Costa has three new recruits this year, 18, 24 and 28 years old respectively, with one established angler at just 28 also. It’s a young squad led by myself and the hugely successful and experienced John Buchanan of Scotland.
Practice was tough but slowly we developed a method and it was all coming together – only to be interrupted by very strong winds the day before.

It’s a two day event and the wind looked more settled albeit still a little breezy. We had two methods working using Airflo Super-Dri 3 and 6 foot mini tip fly lines with Iain Barr Fabs, red nemos or my infamous cut throat crunchers.

Red nemo fly

Iain’s Red nemo fly.

The other option, favoured in the strengthening wind was the Airflo ridge clear fast intermediate or the Di3 with a Two Tone Coral Booby on the point, two of my black flash dabblers in the middle and a pink two tone fab on the point. The same one I used to win the brown bowl on Mentieth! (More on that story here.)

Both the very  top of the south and north arms were not producing and fish seemed concentrated from the north tower to the basin and from New Zealand point to the basin.

I drew a friendly Irish man who opted to take me up the north where it was grim. I managed 3, short lining a Di3, ensuring the booby plopped on the surface to draw them up. I took 2 on the booby and one on the dabbler.

Five of my six man team were either in the basin or around the sailing club and none had ventured north, so at 12 o’clock when I had control of the boat we made the short trip to Normanton where a host of boats were gathering. I saw three team mates there with one on 3, one on 7 and another had just finished but it had gone hard. Typical! I stuck with the Di3 using my impressive Airlite V2 fly rod. Fish were strong and having had several double ups and hearing of treble ups in practice I toughened up using 13.1lb G5 fluorocarbon. Difficult to beat for its diameter a day superb strength.

I ground it out ensuring I had fresh water in front of my boat and by 16:20 I had my 8 fish limit. The booby, fab and dabblers taking all my fish. A long slow draw was imperative as we found fast pulling or short stabby pulls resulted it too many hits with the fish not sticking. The long draw allows the fish to get a proper hold.

At the scales we had 4 limits backed up by a 3 and a 2. The lower positions had their chances but failed to convert them.

John Buchanan after just two fish on the first day.

John Buchanan after just two fish on the first day.

Day 2 dawned and Iain Barr Fly Fishing team Costa sat just 3lb 14oz behind Gateside Fly Fishers from Scotland. Hot on our heels were previous winners Team Change of Scotland – It was all to play for.

After a team debrief the night before it was agreed for all of us to fish between the lodge and the dam and grind it out. We knew the fish were there and opted for more subtle tactics following a pasting of lures the day before. We kept a boobies or fab on the point and fished dabblers and red nemos on the droppers.

It was a slow start for me having had four offers before finally connecting with my first fish on the clear intermediate and dabbler. Boats were tightly packed so myself and boat partner for the day decided to fish in front of the sailing club in the open water, as it was very apparent that the fast limits from Tuesday were not going to happen on day two.

It often pays to fish open fresh water and for four hours or so we did just that picking up 6 fish each which was very respectable indeed for day two. We should if had our 8, but we dropped several fish each. A plopped boobie with dabblers fished right in the surface and two Fabs and two nemos fished at short range on the 3 foot tip did the damage. My partner had almost all his fish short lining an Airflo slow glass and all took nemos, whereas mine all ignored my nemos and took the brightly colour fab or booby. Very strange!!!

The bright FAB

The bright FAB

The boats headed in and I was looking for my team members to see how they had fared. Leaving them at appropriately 13.30 they had 0,2,2,3 and 5 respectively. We gathered in the car park with what I considered a great achievement with 32 fish, just 5 less than the day 1 total. Richard Cooper came in with 8 on the tougher day, managing 3 when it seemed easier. This proved his grit with local knowledge certainly paying off for him. Being an out and out confessed puller it left us bemused how he caught 6 on nymphs, all red nemos! John Buchanan, Graham Hayward and myself weighed in 6 each followed by Ben Race with 4 and Paul Runec with 2, both bagged up the previous day.

Gateside had admitted defeat with 22 for the team and Team Change had 25. We sat comfortable until team Airflo came to the scales with a very impressive 3 limits and also 30 fish!

Weigh in time...

Weigh in time…

A relaxing, enjoyable presentation dinner went by, as we shared tables with Team Airflo – either of us not knowing the final results! What seemed like an eternity it was finally results time.

With four lads under 28 and one just 18, we had the taunts of Iain’s Youth Club etc. which was quite entertaining but we had the last laugh as the famous quote of football pundit Alan Hanson once said ‘You don’t win anything with boys’ was put to bed as Iain Barr Fly Fishing team Costa were announced the new 2017 Airflo Anglian Water Champions!! Airflo were 10lb behind in weight with Gateside staying in the medals in 3rd place.

I was absolutely delighted to have won this championship for the 3rd time, but this was special to have done it with three new youngsters in the team, with two of them also getting their first England Caps with us this year too.

Next year we’ll be out to defend our title with my youth club.

Three of Iain's youth club!

Three of Iain’s youth club!

Airflo Anglian International Fly Fishing Final 2017

The Airflo Anglian International Fly Fishing final took place on Rutland Water on 3rd and 4th October.

After a total of 12 nationwide heats and finals, 144 anglers found themselves raring to go on match day.

Day one of the 2017 Airflo Anglian water international

Day one of the 2017 Airflo Anglian water international

The first day was hard fought – met with cold and windy conditions, anglers with the most adaptable tactics made headway after calm and obliging practice days.

Gateside Flycasters led the pack, followed closely by FlyFishing Costa A. Things were very tight between the teams from 3rd to mid table…. It was all to play for on day two!

Day one results

Day one results -Gateside Flycasters leading the way!

Day two was also windy – with some anglers comparing the main basin to the North Sea. However, some cracking fish were caught, including a superb double figure brownie by Cameron Neil.

Cameron Neils double figure brown

Cameron Neil’s double figure brown (Image: David Hoppe Fishing)

Results were finally in, with congratulations in order for Iain Barr’s Flyfishing Costa A team who emerged as the winners, followed by Team Airflo and Gateside Flycasters in third position.

Scott Graham of team Airflo claimed the heaviest bag, at a whopping 37lb 4 5/8 oz.

Results day two - the winner is.....

Results day two – the winner is confirmed!

Here are Iain’s post match statements from his Facebook pages:

”Iain Barr World Champion Choices Flies deliver another knock out punch by winning this years Airflo Anglian Water Championship at Rutland Water. Another victory using my Airlite rods from Airflo!!! Not a bad season with my new toys!! Thanks Airflo and Gareth Jones.”

Team Costa Flyfishing A

Victorious Team Costa Flyfishing A

”Well my luck continues after winning the Airflo Anglian International team championship yesterday with Iain Barr Fly Fishing Team Costa – Ben Race, Paul Runec, John Buchanan Graham Hayward and Rick Cooper. Proud to win this championship with a core of young anglers with a couple of older heads to pass on their experience. Sitting pretty in 2nd after day 1, we continued to catch steadily on day 2 to take the title. Teamed with Iain Barr World Champion Choices Flies fishing a fly line range from Di3, slow glass, fast glass and midge tip we fished mostly the basin, and the mouth of the north and south arms.”

”Combos of Iain Barr new Jelly Blobs, Fabs and Boobies tied with FNF FRITZ from Kevin Porteous and nymphs done the business. Well done to all other medalists and Airflo Gareth Jones for sponsoring the event and the great prizes, and all at Anglian Water for running a great team competition.”

We would like to offer our congratulations to all the anglers who took part, and especially to Cost Flyfishing A, on their superb performance Individually and as a team.

If you want to be part of it next year 2018 dates are set and entries are OPEN. Get your teams together and be part of the AWAI 2018.

Pacific Salmon: The Pink Peril

pink salmon

Pink salmon are being caught all over the UK
Image source: Shutterstock

If there’s one thing that’s guaranteed to make most conservation-minded anglers’ blood run cold, it’s the idea of yet another invasive non-native species coming to join the Himalayan balsam, floating pennywort, American signal crayfish, Ponto-Caspian shrimp, and other unwelcome visitors which are already wreaking havoc on our rivers and lakes.

Yet that’s exactly what we’ve been seeing here in the British Isles this summer – with alien Pacific pink (or humpback) salmon showing up in unprecedented numbers in rivers around our coastline.

So why has this happened? And is there anything we do about it?

Far from home

spawning phase

An Alaskan pink salmon in its freshwater spawning phase.
By Bering Land Bridge National Preserve – Pink Salmon, CC BY 2.0

As their name suggests, Pacific pink salmon (Oncorhynchus gorbusca) evolved in the rivers and seas of the northern Pacific rim, from Oregon all the way up to Alaska, and down the coast of Russia to the Korean peninsula.

Like the four other species of Pacific salmon – chum (dog), coho (silver), king (chinook) and sockeye (red) – they’re genetically programmed to thrive in hostile Arctic conditions without the beneficial warmth of the Gulf Stream.

Mature adult fish run into rivers in mid to late summer, spawn quickly, and die almost at once, boosting the rivers’ ecology with all the remaining marine nutrients in their bodies. The fry hatch within 80 days, and migrate to sea at a young age (unlike juvenile Atlantic salmon, which live in their rivers of birth for much longer).

Year classes are strongly defined in two-year cycles, and don’t mix at all – a characteristic which has led to some runs of Pacific salmon being completely obliterated by natural or man-made disasters. Maybe to make up for this, pinks are happy to stray some distance from their own rivers to colonise new water. But like so many other alien invaders, they’ve now moved far beyond their native range as a result of human intervention…

Starting in the 1960s, and continuing for about 40 years, it’s believed that Russian scientists started stocking them into the Barents and White seas with the intention of creating a commercial net fishery and canning industry.

From here, pink salmon started spreading to Finland and Norway (where breeding populations have become established) and then to Iceland, Denmark and Germany. Occasional two- to five-pounders have appeared in Scottish, Irish and English east coast rivers since the earliest years, but it’s the scale of this summer’s invasion which has started to cause concern.

What’s the problem?

crowded pink salmon

Pink salmon crowded in Alaska
Image source: Shutterstock

Hundreds of pink salmon, from around two to five pounds, have been caught in more than 40 rivers around the British Isles in 2017 – from the Helmsdale and Ness to the Tyne, and even the Cong and Galway fisheries on Ireland’s River Corrib.

In England, they’ve turned up in Yorkshire’s Driffield West Beck, too, where David Southall was surprised to catch a hard-fighting 3lb specimen in August on a streamer intended for chalkstream trout.

Native Atlantic salmon are already under serious threat in most British rivers, and many anglers fear that a major influx of Pacific salmon could put them under even more pressure – either from competition, or via the introduction of pathogens and diseases still unknown.

Others argue that the earlier timing of pink salmon runs means that the adults will be long dead by the time our native salmon start trying to spawn, and any remaining redds are likely to be overcut. Juvenile pinks will migrate to sea much sooner, and at a far smaller size, than Atlantic salmon smolts, so it’s not so likely that significant competition will occur at this life stage either. Dying Pacific salmon could even contribute valuable nutrients to oligotrophic Scottish and Scandinavian catchments, making more food for Atlantic salmon parr.

Yet having said all this, if invasion ecology teaches us one thing, it’s that the potential for unintended consequences is almost limitless. So the wisest course is probably the precautionary approach.

More information is certainly needed, and fisheries scientists have already started researching the viability of pink salmon eggs in UK waters, by excavating redds in the River Ness and moving the eggs to incubation chambers for further observation. Empty egg shells were also recovered, suggesting that some alevins might already have hatched.

What else can we do?

In smaller rivers, controlling pink salmon by disturbing their very obvious redds might be an option, but in huge rivers like the Tay, this simply wouldn’t be possible, even in low summer water.

More than anything else, the UK’s fisheries authorities need information about this year’s pink salmon run, so they can prepare to deal with the next one (possibly even more numerous) in two years’ time (2019).

With their prominent hump, male pink salmon are very obvious, but some of the other differences from Atlantic salmon are more subtle. If you catch a small salmon at the back end of this season, and you suspect it might be a pink, here’s what to look out for:

 

Atlantic salmon

 

Pacific pink salmon

 

No spots on tail

 

Large black oval spots on tail

 

Pale mouth and tongue

 

Very dark mouth and tongue

 

Usually larger (up to 110cm in length)

 

Usually much smaller (40 – 60cm in length)

 

One or two spots on the gill cover, plus spots on the back above the lateral line

 

Steel-blue to blue-green back, silver flanks and white belly

 

Thicker base of tail than Pacific salmon

Breeding males have a distinctive humped back

If you think you’ve caught a pink salmon, here’s what to do:

Don’t return it to the water, but dispatch it humanely and report it to the relevant authorities (listed below) to arrange for inspection. If this isn’t possible, please retain some scale samples for further analysis.

England and Wales: Phone the Environment Agency on 0800 80 70 60.

Northern Ireland: Tag the fish and phone the Loughs Agency on +44 (0)28 71342100: replacement tags will be issued.

Scotland: Contact your local district fishery board and fishery trust: information will be collated by Fisheries Management Scotland and Marine Scotland Science.

Ireland: Phone Inland Fisheries Ireland on 1890 347 424.

About the author:
Theo Pike is a freelance environmental, fishing and marketing writer. He’s also Chair of Trustees of the South East, and founding editor of urbantrout.net, a website and eco-brand dedicated to the urban fly fishing and river restoration movements. His first book, Trout in Dirty Places, was published by Merlin Unwin Books in 2012, and his manual on controlling invasive non-native species, The Pocket Guide to Balsam Bashing appeared in 2014.

The Battle of Britain – Lake of Mentieth 2017 Autumn International Report

England captain Iain Barr reports from the recent lake of Mentieth home international fly fishing competition. Read on to discover the techniques that led England to victory and won Iain the coveted brown bowl trophy!

Lake of Mentieth is known as a fortress in Scotland as their international fly fishing team defend it with all their might. The four home nations were to descend on the lake from 11-15th September for the battle of Britain in the fly fishing stakes.

The lake of Mentieth

The lake of Mentieth.

Scotland boasted a very strong team with previous brown bowl winners, top Scottish internationals as well as a host of local knowledge. It was a force to be reckoned with.

However, as England captain, I was confident with the squad I had and with good practice backed by a solid strategic game plan we could come away victorious.

It’s a team event and has to be planned as such. I set different boats with different techniques often putting anglers out of their comfort zone to prevent complacency with the same methods they’re used to.

I arrived 3 days late due to a family emergency and assessed the two previous days practice with vice captain Ed Foster. It was as I expected, dries and an assortment of washing line techniques and flies.

Wednesday was the perfect dry fly day and the fish responded well to dries as big as a size 10 Midas to size 14 shuttle cock owls. I put myself as a roaming boat whereas all others were set areas and techniques to try. It was whilst moving from the heavily fished Lochend to cages bay that I cracked the method.

Using the Airflo Di3 and Di5 fly lines I tried the depths, something that hadn’t been mentioned in our team debriefs. I used a couple of boobies, a standard cat booby and a lake special candy booby. The lake is the king of fishing static venues so I cast out the flies and just kept the tension and no more. 3 fish in 3 casts had us moving out quickly.

Thursday I wanted to try the same area but leave the flies anchored deep for longer so using an Iain Barr new Fab, tied with FNF Jelly Fritz, a couple of nymphs in the middle and a blob I decided to drop through the layers and fish deep with Airflo 3 foot and 6 foot tips.

I was using Airflo G5 fluorocarbon in 11.2lb. Very thin for its strength which is definitely needed on Mentieth. The lake had a tinge of green so I decided to to fish as heavy as I could get away with. The fluorocarbon also has some stretch which absorbed the aggressive takes that were to come.

Several times the line would shoot away on the drop which I estimated to be about 4 to 6 foot down, but most were coming vertical on the hang.

A rapid 7 fish came to my side of the boat, I then switched to a Di5 with two boobies to get to the depth quicker to see if I could speed up the catch rate. A quick hat trick and I was putting of there.

A fully finned Mentieth bow'

A fully finned Mentieth bow’

My partner for the day bounced a lot of fish on the hang. I was using the amazing new Airflo Airlite V2 fly rod. These absorbed the aggressive snatches at the fly where as my partners rod was far too soft and simply wasn’t setting the hook. Rod balance is critical. Too soft and the hook won’t set, too stiff and you’ll bounce fish all day long. The Airlite V2 was just the perfect tool for the job!

The boys were struggling as I shared my info, but I banned all bar one boat from checking out the area and using the method until later in the day, to minimise being spotted. They caught and caught well.

I brought the flies, leader set up and exact map markings to the meeting and set the plan out to try and win the gold medal.

The toss for the engine was kind to us and 8 of us had control so I sent our two strongest dry fly anglers to Otter Bay and 6 to follow me to cages bay.

Airflo Di lines were banned from the car park to avoid showing our intent to fish deep. Midge tips in various guises were set up ready to go.

I drew a Scots man for the day as we headed to my choice of cages bay. He hooked into a fish almost immediately and I was shocked it took 3 casts to go tight as my line zipped away to a red Nemo almost vertical. Another quick fish followed and it became extremely congested and I felt I wanted to get deeper quicker due to boat pressure. I switched to the Di5 and two boobies and first cast the rod bent double and a stunning Mentieth rainbow of about 8lb came to the net having taken a sparkler booby, again vertical. Sport was slower that the Thurs and the 18 of the day before seemed some distance away!

A stunning Mentieth rainbow

A stunning Mentieth rainbow.

A short move to Stable Point had been get two more quick fish, both to the 3′ tip and new fab pattern. My partner decided he wanted to move and we moved around behind dog island where I hadn’t caught in 2 days!

He was soon into his 3rd  fish as my line tightened into my 6th, again on the tip and fab but much higher in the water.

I persisted with my method to go deep and soon my tally started to steadily climb as fish came deep almost all absolutely static on the hang. Some would hit the fly 5-6 times and it was crucial not to strike but wait for the rod to bend over into them!

As the wind increased the control in the tip lines was lost so I switched to the Di lines taking 1 on the Di 5 and 4 on Di 3 fishing two boobies. Again, I cast them out and simply let them drop through the layers. It was in cages bay that all went tight after about 10 seconds and a magnificent Mentieth double put up one hell of a fight before being safely returned after a quick photo. That was number 15. Two more quickly followed and it was time to head in with a respectable 17.

Martin Burgess of England matched my 17 and Tony Fox came in with 10. They came to dog island with 6 and 3 respectively and I shouted across to switch to my method and they did the rest!

It soon became clear that England’s long await for victory on Mentieth was over as we blew the other countries away with a 36 fish margin over 2nd place Wales, 37 ahead of Ireland and 38 ahead of last placed Scotland. Fish were measured and released but with an average of of over 2lb per fish this was possibly the biggest margin in the history of the event.

Iain Barr with the brown bowl trophy

Iain Barr with the brown bowl trophy.

With the team scores settled it was down to the UK individual title of the brown bowl and having taken my first 3 fish deep, they were bigger than Martin Burgess of England’s 3 so my second brown bowl in Scotland was secured having won it on Loch Leven too.

My 64cm rainbow on the sparkler, 3rd fish, also took the biggest fish.

It was a clean sweep of the trophies as I took captain gold,  top England rod , top individual and best fish. I couldn’t have been more proud of a resounding victory and of the solid team performance by a great bunch of lads.

Next stop Airflo Anglian Final, see it here!!

Silverware galore for Team England

Iain’s’ huge haul of silverware!

Airflo Airlite V2 Fly Rod Review

Airflo Airlite v2 rod reviewThe Airflo Airlite rod series has made a return for this season and while the original rod was a three-piece, it is now a more versatile and compact four-piece model. Now called the V2 it is available in six models: a 9ft 5wt and 8wt, 9ft 6in 7wt, 10ft in 6wt, 7wt and 8wt, and prices range from £259.99 to £279.99.

On test was the 10ft 7wt, specifically designed for stillwater work and which Airflo say is a “great all-rounder”, capable of handling everything from floating lines to fast sinkers.

This new model has a well contoured, full wells cork handle, slimmer than the original, and it feels very comfortable and also lighter in the hand.

Starting off with a 7wt floater, I lifted an initial short length of line from the water that loaded the rod relatively smoothly. As I lifted longer lengths of line the casting action became even sweeter – this blank is really happy at handling medium to long head lengths.

It is a powerful rod in that it has a fast action, but at the same time is still user-friendly being smooth  and easy to cast. It has a wickedly fast tip recovery so I could generate a lot of line speed, producing tight loops and great delivery. This really pays off when you are working with multi-droppered long leaders where full turnover is all important so the flies can start fishing straight away.

I found the rod was as proficient at fishing dries and emergers with reasonably light leaders and tippets, as it was twiddling nymphs at depth.

Moving on to a range of sunk line options from sink tips to intermediates the blank handled them in a very similar fashion to the floating line. When it came to medium sinkers (Di-3) to fast sinkers (Di-7) I did feel the rod loading and flexing a little deeper but it was still very adept at working these denser lines.

When playing fish I found the rod did flex a lot deeper than I’d thought it would considering its reasonably fast action, but this really helps in protecting tippet and leader and in turning and playing the fish with a lot more feel.

There are two rod weights either side of this 7wt: the 10ft 6wt is designed for top of the water work and lighter tippets and the 8wt, which Airflo describe as “the beast”, would suit competition anglers who like to pull sunk lines.

VERDICT:

I liked the lightweight blank, the matt finish, the self-centering reel seat and most of all the rod’s performance and the way it can handle a full range of fly-lines from floaters to fast sinkers.

Article reproduced with kind permission of Trout Fisherman Magazine.

www.troutfisherman.co.uk

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.

Who’s the daddy? Fly-fishing crane flies for end-of-season trout

September is always a poignant time of the fly-fishing year. As the days grow noticeably shorter, the trout are the fattest and healthiest you’ll find them all season, but they often seem to be fixated on the very smallest and most technical food forms – like midges and pale wateries, presented totally drag-free, on gossamer-fine tippets.

Author, fisherman and environmentalist, Theo Pike discusses the exception to this rule and the secret weapon that shouldn’t be too far from your fly-box this September. It’s the daddy-long-legs. Here’s 6 top tips for landing yourself an end-of-season specimen.

crane fly

A crane fly, commonly known as the daddy long legs.
Image source: Shutterstock

Also known as crane flies (Tipulidae), these big insects will have spent the year as leatherjacket grubs, burrowing invisibly in the roots of the grasses and meadow flowers along our river banks. Now, as the air cools a little and turns humid after the long hot summer, they start to emerge and search for mates, to start their mostly-hidden life-cycle all over again.

For reasons best known to expert entomologists, some years are more prolific than others. Yet it’s no exaggeration to say that even in a sparse year, this can be the daddy of all seasonal hatches – at least as significant as the grannom or mayfly for the observant fly-fisher.

With cigar-shaped bodies, rambling legs that stick out in all directions, and wings that don’t seem nearly big enough to keep them airborne, daddy-long-legs look like Heath Robinson contraptions that fly badly, when they fly at all. The slightest puff of wind is usually enough to dump a few of them onto the nearest body of water, where they’ll struggle haplessly in the surface film, attracting attention from fish for yards around.

There’s no delicate sipping when these big mouthfuls are splashing down: trout and chub in particular will hit drowning daddies with real intent, sometimes even leaping out of the water, flattening them with a belly-flop, and circling back again to mop up the doomed insects.

If you think this sounds like some of the least technical fishing of the year, you may be right. But there are still a few useful things to remember if you really want to make the most of the early-autumn daddy-long-legs bonanza…

1 – Beef up your tackle

Daddy-feeding fish don’t tend to be too tippet shy, and the takes can be vicious, so this isn’t the time to take your tippet diameter much below 5lbs. Stiffer monofilament will help you avoid corkscrewed tippet when you’re turning over big, air-resistant flies into a headwind, and you may find a slightly heavier rod helpful, too.

2 – Match the hatch

daddy flies

Daddy long legs flies
Image source: Fishtec

Entomologists say there are around 300 species of crane flies in the UK, and while it’s hardly worth lugging around enough flies to match all of these, there are definitely times when the fish will respond better to one pattern than another. Carry a good selection wherever you’re fishing at this time of year, and stay alert for opportunities to try the nearest possible imitation.

3 – Chop and change

box of daddy long legs lures

A selection box of lures for variety
Featured product: Fulling Mill Daddies at Fishtec

Most of us aren’t lucky enough to be able to fish when the weather is perfect, so having a tactical selection of patterns in your box will let you pick the best option for the conditions you’re facing. For example, a fully-hackled fly flutters lightly over a wave, while choosing a low-riding pattern, with hackles clipped off the underside, will help your imitation sit enticingly low in a flat calm.

4 – Give it a twitch

After ditching in the drink, most daddies will fuss and struggle as though they’re trying to signal for help. Follow their lead by adding a little twitch to your presentation now and again, instead of focusing on a perfect dead drift, or just letting the fly float static. If the fish you’re targeting hasn’t been convinced so far, this may help to seal the deal.

5 – Go trophy hunting

The crane fly fall will often get the biggest fish in the river looking up for the first time since the mayfly hatch, so now’s your opportunity to target the really big beasts. Don’t be afraid to use the heft of these flies (and of course your heavier tippet) to fire them into places you’d normally assume are far too tight. After all, this is where the trophy trout, chub and even carp will be lurking.

6 – Don’t strike too soon

As mentioned above, some predators will deliberately swamp a struggling daddy, then come back and take it confidently under the surface. If you don’t feel the fish, try to ignore the impulse to pick up for another cast – just leave your fly in place. It sounds counterintuitive, but it often works.

large trout

September is the ideal time to land a large trophy trout
Image source: Shutterstock

Like Kieron in this article on how to fish daddy-long-legs, I do tie most of my own flies, but I tend to make an exception for daddy-long-legs and mayflies.

These are two hatches when having a flexible choice of different patterns is more important than having a whole row of clones in your fly-box, and it’s fun to let the designers show their paces with all the latest innovations. Grab yourself a generous handful of daddies from your favourite supplier – Fishtec stocks Fulling Mill, Iain Barr and Caledonia – and get out there to make the most of this end-of-season bonanza!

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Theo Pike is a freelance environmental, fishing and marketing writer. He’s also Chair of Trustees of the South East, and founding editor of urbantrout.net, a website and eco-brand dedicated to the urban fly fishing and river restoration movements. His first book, Trout in Dirty Places, was published by Merlin Unwin Books in 2012, and his new Pocket Guide to Balsam Bashing appeared in 2014.

Autumn’s Test By Rene’ Harrop

It is not difficult to understand why some fly fishermen choose to avoid rivers like the Henry’s Fork after the month of August.

With low, clear water and currents complicated by aquatic vegetation near the surface, approaching and fooling a big trout with a dry fly is never more daunting than at summer’s end.

Passing The Test

Passing The Test

As the days become shorter and cooler fishing a fly larger than size eighteen and a tippet stronger than 6X becomes a luxury, and only the most precise presentation has any chance of yielding a positive result.

Adding to the difficulty of achieving complete success are extra wary trout that seem to understand that powering into a heavy weed bed will all but guarantee quick redemption from the mistake of accepting a fraudulent fly. Yet despite these many obstacles, this is the time I enjoy most.

Extraction

Extraction – a bend in the fly fishing rod

In fly fishing, like many other of life’s undertakings, the significance of any accomplishment is measured by the difficulty presented by the objective, and we are only tested by that which is difficult.

Prevailing in an unforgiving situation is mainly dependent upon patience and concentration. Certainly, only advanced presentation skill will enable a realistic possibility that the fly will be accepted, but I will never be more prepared than in September.

Working A Weed Bed

Working A Weed Bed

Precision honed by more than one hundred days on the water during the preceding months permits a sense that I can make the cast that will place the fly where it needs to be in most conditions, but being defeated by a trout is something that I accept, however grudgingly.

While the challenge seems great with the arrival of autumn hatches that are mostly very small it will only intensify in the days remaining before winter’s arrival, but I will treasure every one.

Making The Grade

Making the grade with Airflo fishing tackle

Cultural Exchange By Rene’ Harrop

The ability to attract visitors is a notable component in the reputation of one of the world’s premier trout streams.

Although varying in volume, the months of June through October will find that the Henry’s Fork will be occupied by far fewer residents than those from somewhere else.

Henry's Fork Treasure

Henry’s Fork Treasure

As one who calls this place home, I am constantly stimulated by new introductions or reunion with visitors whom I consider friends.

In nearly every instance I find initial commonality regardless of the distance they have traveled or the culture that separates us. In fishing the Henry’s Fork we are looking for the same thing, which is to test ourselves against the defiant trout for which this river is so well known. And remarkably, those who might seem most removed from the details of dealing with a big Henry’s Fork rainbow are those who impress me most.

Sweet Success

Sweet Success

Nearly all are considerably younger than I am but their intellectual and physical abilities serve to elevate them beyond even some of the world’s most capable fly fishers, and most come from foreign continents that lay thousands of miles from Idaho.

With passion that matches my own combining with reverence for what the Henry’s Fork experience represents, these adventurous emissaries from afar become my teachers in terms of understanding the power of a special place and how far its influence can travel.

With their assistance, I have learned that the ability to think and observe is not owned by any one culture and that fly fishing experience can come from virtually anywhere.

Upstream Lie

Upstream Lie

With the awareness that true talent travels well, I fish in the company of men who apply uncommon discipline and determination that inspire even an old river rat with more than sixty years of history on the Henry’s Fork.

While sharing time on the water is most important, the value of my long distance friendships is not limited to just fishing. Through conversation I learn that we are not that different as human beings and the things we truly care about are nearly identical.

A Smile Tells It All

A Smile Tells It All

And in a time when it is most needed, such international harmony and good will paints a better picture for the future of our planet.

Fly Fishing Blogs to follow in 2017 – Part 2

At Fishtec we are always keen to discover fresh and interesting fly fishing blogs! Here we have unearthed 5 more great fly fishing blogs for your reading pleasure. Trust us, if you love fishing these bloggers are well worth following through 2017 and beyond.

Fishing the Irwell – A Fly Fishing Journey

Manchester’s river Irwell is an urban success story. Once horribly polluted, this river system and it’s numerous tributaries and sister streams now hold a wealth of fish life.

A fine urban trout

A fine urban trout from the Manchester area

Join David Bendle as he fishes undiscovered urban rivers and streams in the Irwell catchment for truly wild trout and grayling. The stream surrounds may look industrial, but the fish are as beautiful and challenging as anywhere in the world. Not afraid to chuck a streamer or fish in a storm drain, this blog is serious motivation for fishing an urban stream near you.

The Naked Fly Fisher

A fly tyer and angler from Northern Ireland, the Naked Fly Fisher’s blog is a mix of tackle reviews and fine fishing adventure in spectacular ”Game of Thrones” country.

Lough Fadden NI

Lough Fadden NI – a fishery worth a visit.

With the tagline ”getting down to the bare essentials of fly fishing reviews” you will indeed find plenty of useful, unbiased information if you are looking for new fishing tackle, as well as fishery and scenic stuff. We feel there is a lot more to come from the naked fella, so keep your eyes firmly on his blog and instagram page.

Hawker Overend – Fly fishing on the Welsh Dee

Andrew Overend’s blog is primarily a diary of his fishing exploits on the famed Welsh Dee for trout, salmon and grayling, with trips further afield to the Ribble, Tay and more in search of fly fishing sport.

Salmon success for Andrew Overend!!

Salmon success for Andrew Overend!!

Andrew’s 40 years of experience and passion are evident in this fine blog – which provides great up-to-date information on how the Dee is fishing. Keep tabs on it to find out which methods are proving successful on various named pools and beats of this famous Welsh water course.  His instagram page ironblue34 is also worth checking out.

A Fly Fishing Journey – Rediscovering a passion for Fly fishing

Sometimes a break from it all can re-inspire a passion. ‘Downstream flies‘ recently re-discovered the joy of casting a fly rod and visiting the scenic, wonderful places where our sport takes place.

A fly fishing journey

A fly fishing journey – North Wales mountain lake

With a mix of fish catching action, reviews and a philosophical slant, this is a great mixture of fly fishing reading material. As a newcomer to the fly fishing blogging scene, we feel there is a lot more to come on this fly fishing journey.

Pike and Slippers

Clearly a Victorian gents mustache is a fish magnet. They used to catch a LOT more fish in those days – right? On top of that, imagine you had a girlfriend who loves fishing just as much as you? Well, the lucky chap that is Fred Simeons has both – plus he writes a neat blog devoted all aspects of angling, including fly fishing for trout, pike and carp. It’s also backed up by a rather nice Instagram page.

Pike and slippers

Pike and slippers – fishing adventures in Scotland and beyond.

Girls that fish are all the rage – so if you want to see more of Fred’s other half’s cool ”fishing chick” stuff, make sure you head to Heels and Reels on Twitter!

Missed part 1? You can catch up with 5 more superb fly fishing blogs here.