Fly Fishing Stocking Fillers – Gift Ideas For Christmas

For the fly angler who has it all there is always room for just one more item of tackle….. right?

In this blog post we take a look at ten popular fly fishing tackle stocking fillers – perfect gifts for Christmas!

1) Airflo EVA fly box – £12.99

A nifty little pocket box that can accommodate 264 flies in both slotted and slitted foam inserts. The box uses secure magnetic corners to keep it closed; it also floats and is crush proof – what more do you need in a fly box?

A fly fishing box for all occasions

2) Dr Slick XBC Series forceps – £15.99

Good quality forceps from Doctor Slick – robust, useful and made of the best surgical alloy, coated in an attractive coloured gloss finish in your choice of blue or red. Dr Slick are our preferred fly fishing unhooking tools by a long margin!

Dr Slick accessories

Dr Slick XBC Accessories

3) Streamtec Wading staff – £44.99

Whether you fish a river or a reservoir, a wading staff is an extremely handy bit of gear. For crossing raging rivers to testing for soft spots in the lake-bed, a staff ensures you can fish in safety. Collapsible and supplied in its own sheath, this staff is a great gift for any fly angler who does a lot of wade fishing.

The Airflo Streamtec Staff

The Airflo Streamtec Staff

4) Mustad Filleting Knife – £6.99

A knife is a handy bit of kit for any angler – for cleaning fish or just general usefulness whilst out and about on the bank. This offering from Mustad also includes a sharpening block, representing superb value.

A knife is a handy thing!

A knife is a handy thing!

5) C & F Design 3 in 1 Clippers – £14.00

Not all nippers are created equal – these C & F design clippers are the Rolls Royce of the tippet severing world! Razor sharp, they feature a fly eye cleaner for stubborn varnish and also two sizes of fly threader, making attaching even tiny flies to your leader a complete doddle.

The best fly fishing nipper on the market?

The best fly fishing nipper on the market?

6) Tools and Vice Set – £29.99

A great little portable tyers kit including a vice and all the tools you will ever need, encapsulated within a solid wooden storage box. A perfect gift for a budding fly tyer or for somebody needing a travel fly tying kit.

Vice and tools set

Vice and tools set – a perfect gift for a fledgling fly tyer

7) Overboard Phone case – £18.99

The ever present danger of slipping into the water whilst fishing is a genuine peril that happens to even the best of us. This quality waterproof phone case will ensure your communication device remains in full working order – even if you are forced to retreat home from a dunking. An essential that no fly fisherman should be without!

Overboard phone cases

Overboard phone cases – protection guaranteed

8) 1080P HD Action Camera – £34.99

For capturing your fishing moments for eternity this superb value action camera is hard to beat. Fully waterproof and submersible, it has options for still images, as well as 720p and 1080p wide angle video capture. In addition, this camera also has WiFi connectivity, allowing you to stream recordings to your phone or activate it remotely.

Action Camera - now with WiFi!

HD Action Camera – now with WiFi!

9) Airflo Pro Priest – £13.99

Dispatching the catch is a necessary thing, should you wish to retain a fish for the table. As well as being weighted for efficient stockie slaying, these aluminum priests are ergonomically designed for easy gripping. Three colours to choose from – silver, blue and red.

The Airflo Pro Priest -red

The Airflo Pro Priest -red

10) Fishtec Gift Vouchers

If in doubt, a gift voucher is a sure-fire festive gift. Available in online or physical formats, Fishtec gift vouchers are sold in £10 blocks and can be ordered right up to (and through!) the Christmas period for delivery to the recipients inbox.

Fishtec Gift vouchers

Fishtec Gift vouchers

Airflo Spring Invitational Fly Fishing Competition

A brand new event for 2018, this 6 man team fly fishing competition will be held at Rutland Water over the 19th & 20th of May.

HOW TO ENTER/QUALIFICATION METHODS

Entry forms will be sent to the following teams, with at least a further 6 team places available.

  • Top 10 teams at AWAI final 2017
  • Top 5 teams at SPORTFISH team final 2017
  • At least a further 6 entries will be made available on a first come first served basis

ENTRY FEES

The entry fee will be £200 per team; all team members will receive a goody bag including an Airflo fly line and Airflo Baseball cap with a RRP of £57.98

PRIZE FUND

  • 1st Team – £1500 Cash, Trophy, Medals, plus tackle prizes
  • 2nd Team – £750 Cash, Medals, plus tackle prizes
  • 3rd Team – £500 Cash, Medals plus tackle prizes
  • Top Rod overall – Trophy, plus Airflo fly rod
  • Top Rod Day One – Airflo reel
  • Top Rod Day Two – Airflo reel
  • Biggest Fish Day One
  • Biggest Fish Day two

FISHING TIMES

Saturday will be fished 10am-6pm and Sunday will be 10am -5pm, after which we will be holding the presentation at the Fishing lodge, complete with a Hog roast.

FISHING RULES

The event will follow Airflo Anglian Water rules and a copy of these is available HERE.

APPLY HERE

Applications are to be made in writing. To download an application form, click HERE

Rutland Water - A special venue

Rutland Water – A truly special venue

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.

Thoughts on the Airflo Super Stik Fly Rod: Review by Gareth Wilson

In this long term tackle review Fishtec’s Gareth Wilson shares his thoughts on the Airflo Super Stik fly rod – after spending a full season in action with it on the bank!

As both a stillwater and migratory species river fly fisher having one rod to cover both aspects of my fishing allows me to cut down on gear and travel light. However, finding a rod that can deal with the challenge of wrestling with big salmon and hard fighting sea trout while not being overkill on stocked fish is quite challenging.

One on the Super Stik from Ellerdine lakes

One on the Super Stik from Ellerdine lakes

Early this season I purchased a 10′ #7/8 Airflo Super Stik, for primarily for sea trout fishing with large stillwaters and boat angling being an added bonus if the rod was up to the task. The early season saw us visiting Garnffrwd, The Usk Reservoir, Ellerdine and Llyn Cllywedog with the average fish being 2 and a half pound but some special fish amongst them including a 12.8lb tiger trout and a few double figure rainbows.

The rod handled perfectly. It could turn over a team of flies with great presentation and also pump bigger lures into the wind with no problem. The middle to tip action on the rod is great for achieving big distances with ease, especially when used with Airflo’s Forty Plus intermediates and Super Dri sink tip lines.

Between May and October the focus switched to the river fishing with sea trout being my true passion. Sewin (Welsh for Sea trout) are In my opinion the hardest fighting fresh water fish we have in the UK.

It wasn’t long before a real bend was put in the rod with my farther in law landing this double figure sewin on the Super Stik. The rod played the fish perfectly absorbing every leap and run the sea trout had to offer and it wasn’t long before she was netted and released safely.

On our next trip it was my turn with three sewin caught. The night started with a 4lb hen fish who wanted to stay deep and kept trying to get under the bank. The next fish almost in the same location was a 6.7lbs male. He was all fight exploding out of the water around 3 ft in the air before boring deep running down the pool and taking me almost to the backing – before changing direction and swimming straight back towards me. I kept in contact and again he came leaping out and crashing back down. After landing this fish I knew this rod was a winner!

A Sewin on the Super Stik

A Sewin on the Super Stik

The winter period sees me returning to stillwater fly fishing. Here being able to cast a great distance can be a massive advantage. You can cover fish that have been pushed out by other anglers and for the bigger fish holding deep. The Airflo Super Stick is perfect for casting extreme distances. It loads extremely efficiently and easily with modern day fly lines and you’ll find you can get incredible distances with ease. The cost of this rod is incredible  value and it handles better than other rods I have tried at more than triple its cost.

This is a perfect bit of kit for the all-rounder and will handle small dries, teams of 3 or 4 flies and big sea trout and salmon flies alike. A real bargain and a rod you won’t regret purchasing.

Stop Press: For a limited time period Airflo Super Stik Rods are now just £99.99!! Check out the Super Stik rod range here.

Most wanted fly fishing Xmas gift survey – WIN £100

Fishtec Xmas gift survey vouchers

WIN a £100 Fishtec voucher – complete our simple survey to enter

Choose the fly fishing gifts you most want this Christmas and win a £100 Fishtec voucher.

We’ve shortlisted some of the most popular products for you to choose from in our simple survey below.

To Enter
• Go to the short survey below.
• Add your email address – we need this to notify the winner.
• Scroll and click on the gift you most want in each price range.
• Click submit.

Once submitted you’ll be automatically entered into our free prize draw to win a £100 Fishtec voucher.

So what are you waiting for? It only takes 2 minutes…

Closing date: 5pm Thursday 16th November 2017

Terms and conditions

By entering into this free prize draw, all entrants agree to be bound by these Terms and Conditions.

In the event that any entrant does not, or is unable to, comply with and meet these Terms and Conditions and the prize draw information, Fishtec shall be entitled at its sole discretion to disqualify such entrant, without any further liability to such entrant.

The closing date for this prize draw is 5pm Thursday 16th November 2017.

The winner will be notified by email, within 30 days of the closing date.

The entrant must provide a valid email address to enter the prize draw.

Email addresses will be used to notify the winner, and may occasionally be used for notifying the entrant of future promotions by BVG Group Limited.

Your details will not be shared with or sold to any third party companies.

To enter this prize draw you must be: (a) a UK resident; and (b) 18 years old or over at the time of entry.

This prize draw is free to enter and no purchase is necessary.

Fishtec may exercise its sole discretion to use the winner’s name for future promotional, marketing and publicity purposes in any media worldwide without notice or without any fee being paid.

This prize draw is not open to employees (or members of their immediate families) of BVG Group Limited.

The prize for our Most Wanted Xmas Gift survey is £100 worth of Fishtec vouchers. No cash alternative for the prize stated is offered.

Only one entry per person is permitted.

The winner will be chosen at random by Fishtec.

The judges’ decision will be final, and no correspondence will be entered into.

Winners will be notified by email. If winners fail to reply within 48 hours, Fishtec reserves the right to pick another winner.

If you have any queries relating to our terms and conditions please contact: c.thomas@bvg-airflo.co.uk

Camo Vests Pack A Lot In – Airflo Outlander Vests Review

Robbie Winram of Trout Fisherman Magazine reviews the Airflo Outlander Covert
vest backpack and mesh vest – a best selling range of fly fishing clothing that has recently been re-vamped.

Airflo’s Outlander vest backpack and mesh vest have been given a new ‘stealth’ look for this season and are now made of a digitally developed ‘camo’ pattern to help break up the angler’s outline (although the vest backpack is photographed over a high-vis jacket to show it off!).

Airflo covert vest review

Airflo covert vest review – with Robbie Winram

Both are available in ‘one size fits all’ with adjustable shoulder and waist straps, ideal for a range of body sizes and also means you can clinch them down over lighter garments in the summer, or loosen them off to go over more layers in the winter.

The main difference between the two is weight and storage capacity. The vest backpack has a 25-litre capacity and weighs 2lb 12oz while the 15-litre capacity mesh vest weighs 2lb 1oz.

The vest/backpack (£69.99) consists of a waistcoat at the front and a small backpack at the rear. Padding across the shoulders and raised cushioned sections on the back of the pack add to the comfort, load distribution and ventilation.

Every bit of space on the front of the waistcoat has been utilised and includes eight zipped pockets of various sizes including two drop-down fly trays, plus two small open top mesh pockets. There are eight plastic D-rings, four cord loops, a rod holder, two pigtail retrievers, two quick-release clips and assorted webbing loops. All the zips feature easygrip pull tabs.

There are two closure options – a 10-inch main zip and a quick-release bayonet fitting on an internal elasticated strap, a good choice on a warmer day. On the rear is the backpack set-up that incorporates two double-zipped cargo spaces, both of which have gusseted side panels to prevent contents spilling out when they are open. The cargo space on the front has a couple of internal mesh dividers and an open mesh pocket on the front, while the main cargo space is large enough for a set of waterproofs, a flask and accessories.

The pack will also accommodate a hydration bladder (not supplied). On the inside, there are two horizontal zipped mesh pockets, and two large open mesh pockets with Velcro closures.

One neat little feature of this pack is the expander pocket system: undo a double zip that runs around the outside of the pack to give that extra bit of storage room.

Extra features include side compression straps to tighten and secure the load, three large D-rings on the shoulder yoke, various webbing loops and tabs.

VERDICT:

Both vests represent very good value for money and the vest backpack in particular offers a huge amount of storage capacity, capable of taking everything you need for a day’s fishing.

Airflo Covert Vest and features

Airflo Covert Vest and features.

Article reproduced with Kind permission of Trout Fisherman Magazine, October/November 2017 issue. For full details and to purchase the Airflo Covert vests, visit the website here.

Which Sinkant? Leader Sink Treatments for Fly Fishing

Getting your leader material to sink is very important for a number of reasons when fly fishing. In this blog post we take a closer look at popular fly fishing leader sink treatments and why you need them.

Fly fishing de-greasers on test

Fly fishing de-greasers on test.

Why use sinkant?

Firstly, if your tippet floats on the surface film it is far more visible to the fish – especially if the lake surface is calm or if you are fishing small dry flies to selective fish on the river. A floating leader can also hinder the descent rate of your flies – not good if you want to fish a team of super glue buzzers deep, or unweighted wet flies for example.

Leader material, whether Co-polymer or Fluorocarbon often has a glossy, shiny finish that can potentially spook trout – more so in bright conditions. Many leader treatments have the added benefit of taking the shine off the leader, therefore making your tippet less obvious to the fish.

Do I need to de-grease fluorocarbon?

Fluorocarbon sinks faster than nylon or co-polymer due to its higher density, so once it is actually under the surface it will sink quickly. However it can be hard to get fluorocarbon to break through the surface tension – this is due to it’s inherent stiffness, shininess and oily, slick finish fresh off the factory spooling machines. Fine diameter fluorocarbon is particularly prone to staying put in the surface meniscus unless it is de-greased thoroughly.

Furthermore fluorocarbon is almost inert and does not absorb any water or dirt whilst fishing to help it sink. (Unlike mono or co-poly). Therefore de-greasing fluorocarbon regularly is required if you want to consistently cut through the surface film in technical situations at the surface.

The Options?

We took our most popular tippet de-greaser compounds and did a ‘bucket test’ on each one using both co-polymer and fluorocarbon. A two foot length was cut off, treated, then dropped into the water. We noted how quickly the leader material sank, and made a few observations of their properties.

Leader bucket test

Leader bucket test.

1. Orvis Mud leader Sinkant – £3.25

Mud has been around for a long, long time. It has quite a nicely textured feel and seems to be a bit firmer in it’s formula than it was years ago. We found it clung to the line very well and sank the tippets on our test immediately. It took a lot of the shine off, but needed a couple of applications on the fluorocarbon. The tub it is supplied with is very handy and can be attached to your vest easily. A downside is the fairly high cost. Overall excellent stuff.

2. Gerkes Xink fly fishing treatment – £6.99

We found Xink to be a bit of an oddity. It was hard to get just a moderate quantity out of the bottle and it left a nasty slick on the fingers. Smeared liberally on the leader line and dropped into the water it left a greasy slick and the tippet still floating high! No amount of persuasion would get it under. Xink can be applied to flies easily and even fly lines (e.g slow intermediates that refuse to sink) so perhaps we were missing something? But for treating your leader it was next to useless.

3. Dick Walkers Ledasink – £1.59

An ever popular treatment, Ledasink was formulated by the late, great Dick Walker. It stuck to the leader very well due to its tacky consistency and lasted a long time before needing to de-grease again. It also dulled the finish of the material in our tests well. It looked and performed exactly like the Orvis mud – it is probably the same stuff. A very good product.

4. Airflo Tippet De-greaser – £2.50

Supplied in a square tub, quantity is more generous than the others. The Airflo formula seemed to be a little coarser in texture than the others and not quite as smooth. We found this removed the shine from the tippet material very readily, even more so than Ledasink. It was not quite as sticky on the finger, but clung to the leader just as well as Orvis mud. Decent value for money.

On the bottom

Tippet material – well sunk!

Thirty One Days of Distraction By Rene’ Harrop

As a man well beyond the prime working years, I do not typically complain about a schedule completely compatible with my age. However, there comes a time when nearly anything other than fishing becomes a source of resentment.

The thirty one days between the end of September and the beginning of November represent the most enticing diversity of fly fishing opportunity that Yellowstone country will offer during the entire year.

Henry's Lake Distraction

Henry’s Lake Distraction.

Almost without exception, every lake and river in this region becomes a worthwhile destination during the month of October, and some are absolutely irresistible.

In the low, clear flows of the Henry’s Fork, big rainbows lift lazily to the small autumn Baetis in a daily feeding event that never fails to hold my interest. But at some point my mind will shift to Henry’s Lake where every cast holds the potential for the trout of a lifetime.

Baetis Memory

Baetis Memory.

The same type of distraction exists when I am fishing Sheridan Creek with the extraordinary lake of the same name situated close by. In either instance I am known to become a little frantic in trying to race from one place to another in order to make the most of every day that remains before winter’s arrival.

Cold Feet On Sheridan Creek

Cold Feet On Sheridan Creek

Fortunately many of the most tempting waters are not separated by prohibitive distance nor are they far from my Idaho home. North into Montana, Hebgen Lake beckons from thirty miles away and another thirty miles will take me to its source. Although now in Yellowstone Park, the Madison River becomes loaded in fall with migrating trout from Hebgen, which gives the sensation at times that I am fishing to old friends. And if time and ambition allow I can be on the Fire Hole in less than another half hour.

Late October will find me at our winter home in St. Anthony where the lower Henry’s Fork offers its own brand of fly fishing magic. A bigger river for much of the year, I will now wade a friendlier flow where the general emphasis is upon streamer fishing for large resident browns. It is at about this point that midges will become the primary source of dry fly fishing, and the month will often end with ice along the water’s edge and several inches of snow on the banks.

October Objective

October Objective.

It is good that the pressure of my work is close to its lowest annual point because I am not a very responsible man in October.

Autumn Sport On Ellerdine Lakes

Autumn can be a fantastic time for fly fishing small stillwaters across the UK. As temperatures decrease, trout become more active and feed up in readiness for the coming winter.

In this blog report, Fishtec team member Gareth Wilson visits the productive Ellerdine lakes fishery deep in the Shropshire countryside – where he experiences some brilliant autumnal fishing.

A nice autumn Ellerdine Rainbow

A nice autumn Ellerdine Rainbow.

Autumn is one of my favourite times of year to fish a small stillwater. Rainbow trout become more active and harder fighting as the temperatures plummet. They tend to be in great condition and start packing on weight from bashing fry. The colder temperatures and higher oxygen content mean great sport can be experienced in October.

For those looking for the fish of a lifetime with the chance of a different trout species with every cast, then Ellerdine lakes are a perfect location. Set in stunning rural farmland in Shropshire, this Trout Masters Venue is ideal for both beginners and more advanced anglers. The venue is run by Ed and Jayne Upton who really understand the needs of the modern-day angler. With 4 spring-fed lakes, regular stocking and a superb tackle shop on site, Ellerdine lakes offer a great day out at a very reasonable cost.

A double figure rainbow from Ellerdine

A double figure rainbow from Ellerdine lakes.

This October I traveled up with a party of seven anglers from South Wales including four beginners for three days fishing.  My personal aim was of catching a brown trout as this was the only species I had failed to catch on my previous visit to the fishery, last year.  using an Airflo Super stik rod, my fly line set up to start the day was the Airflo Super-Dri 6ft Fast inter sink tip with an 18ft G3 8lb Fluorocarbon leader. I started with two of my own patterns, a Sunburst Muddler as a point fly and Robs Hopper on the dropper as we were advised daddies had been fishing well.

I cast out with anticipation as my previous visit had produced monster fish, starting with a faster retrieve causing the muddler to create a wake. After a few casts, I decided to slow everything down. Then on a slow figure eight everything went tight – I was into my first Ellerdine trout of the trip! This lovely 7lb rainbow gave a cracking account for itself refusing to come to the net. It had taken the dropper and this fly would prove to catch many more fish this weekend. My first fish in April was a stunning 10lb rainbow and this fish an equally impressive 7lb, this fishery is truly home to some huge trout.

A nice fish to start off with

A nice fish to start off with.

Unexpectedly for this time of year it was very warm with bright sunshine. This if anything seemed to enhance the fishing, with fish being in the top 4ft of water. Remembering my last trip, I decided to put on a rainbow flash damsel. This design, very similar to my blue flash damsel which helped catch the 12.7 lbs tiger I had caught here last time, was a great fly for fishing in amongst the weeds.

I moved in front of the lodge at Meadow lake and cast to a small bit of land with a tiny bush on it. I began to retrieve with a fast figure eight and provoked an aggressive take from my first Ellerdine brown trout. The fish went deep and tried to bury itself into the weeds. After a good scrap, my first Ellerdine Brownie was in the net.

A superb Ellerdine brownie

A superb Ellerdine brownie.

The rest of my party where also hitting fish with the majority coming to Robs Hopper. The day got harder as strong winds picked up leaving limited options of where to fish, so I moved onto Marsh and fished into the wind. I changed my set up to a Chartreuse Flash Taddy on the point with, for the first time ever, an Egg Laying Blob on the dropper. I had never used blobs before but within 40 minutes I hit into three good rainbows. Two took the point fly and the bigger of the three took the blob. We had a successful first day in what ended up being tough conditions.

I spent the evening tying flies to ensure we had plenty of the patterns that were working the previous day. We woke up early to perfect fishing conditions – it was mild with a very light wind of about 5mph. On this day two customers from the Fishtec Shop in Brecon had made the trip to fish with us on my recommendation.

Rob and Shaun both keen fisherman, but neither had caught a rainbow before. I set Rob up with one of Robs Hoppers and advised adding a 6ft tippet onto his tapered leader. Within 20 minutes he was into his first fish. A great joy of mine Is helping people new to the sport in hooking up with their first fish. After a decent scrap he managed to land it and the satisfaction was clear to see!

A lovely first fish

A lovely first fish!

Another fisherman who made the trip with us was Stuart who had blanked the previous day. After seeing the success of the Egg Laying Blob he asked me to tie him three. He started hitting fish on every other cast. This ‘killer fly’ was attracting fish in numbers. The T-15 material used turns into a translucent jelly which looks great in the water.

My aim on day two was the same as the previous year – to help the newer fisherman amongst us get into the fish. Things were going well, they were all having offers and landing fish from 2-5lbs in weight, so I decided to set my own rod up. Again, my choice of fly line was the Airflo Super Dri 6ft sink tip, a simply lovely line to cast and fish with.

I must have gone through every fly in my fly box on day two and worked my way round all 4 lakes but I was struggling. I had 4 fish on which all came off and plenty of offers but I was having ‘one of those days’. I honestly thought this would be my first blank in 5 years!

Luckily as the last light of day was fading behind the trees, I put on an Orange Flash Taddy and cast into the distance on Cranymoor. I varied the retrieve often pausing before a quick strip or fast figure eight and finally – fish on! Not the biggest but certainly one of the nicest trout from the lake. A tiger trout of about a pound and a half that was certainly welcome and avoided the blank.

Ellerdine Tiger

Ellerdine Tiger.

That evening I decided to tie the Incredible Cat and a couple of other fry patterns – after noticing a lot of coarse fish fry around all of the lakes. We left our accommodation at 7:30am and made our way to Ellerdine with high hopes and expectations. Today I was here to catch fish! My set up for the day started with a Chartreuse Flash Damsel on the point with and Emerger pattern on the dropper.

We started on Marsh as the main lake Meadow was packed and it wasn’t long before I was in. An energetic fish decided the emerger was a tasty option and continued to perform acrobatically out of the water before coming to the net. After seeing the success of the natural I set up a 18ft 6lb Sightfree G3 fluorocarbon leader with a Bibbio Muddler on the point and 2 emergers at 6ft intervals, one olive and one claret, on the droppers. I missed a few fish but takes were few and far between so I decided to switch things up. I changed to 12ft of G3 8lb fluorocarbon and put on the Incredible Cat tied the night before. I started pulling it through weed beds occasionally hooking weeds in the process. It was not long before I was into a nice fighting 3 lb rainbow. The take was savage and this was the start of good things….

The incredible cat

The incredible cat.

After seeing this fly working it’s magic, Stuart decided to arm himself with the killer pattern. Within 20 minutes he had hooked into a submarine. This cracking rainbow took him over 6 minutes to land and is his PB trout to date – It weighed in at 13.7 lbs. From Blanking to 17 fish and a PB, the ‘incredible cat’ was certainly doing the trick for him.

13lb 7oz of Ellerdine bow!

13lb 7oz of Ellerdine bow!

I continued to hit fish with a varied retrieve, pulling it through the weed beds on Marsh lake. The final fish of the trip was a fine brownie that found the Incredible Cat irresistible. As I pulled it through the water I felt it hit some weeds before a voracious take. Again, like the first brown trout he went deep and kept digging into the weeds. When I landed the fish, I was satisfied with how well we had done this weekend.

I came to Ellerdine with the target of catching one of their stunning brown trout. I left having caught two, a bunch of rainbows and a lovely tiger. A hat trick of species. The Autumn period at Ellerdine certainly lived up to our expectations leaving us fond memories of incredible fishing. The friendly staff and well stocked tackle shop ensures this is a fishery we will be returning to – with a trip in February in mind.

Gareth Wilson

For more details on the flies mentioned in this post visit UKFlyFisher.

Want to fish Ellerdine lakes? Visit their website here!

River Pollution: How Anglers Can Help

There are lots of ways anglers can help, including reporting anything suspicious Image source: Steffan Jones

There are lots of ways anglers can help, including reporting anything suspicious
Image source: Steffan Jones

All anglers understand instinctively that good water quality underpins every aspect of our rivers’ health. That’s why, a couple of weeks ago, renowned international competition fly-fisher (and regular Fishtec customer) Terry Bromwell took matters into his own hands…

He’d heard reports that a sewage works in south Wales was pumping out slugs of raw sewage into the River Rhondda, and he wanted to investigate these rumours for himself.

Arriving at the waterside, he was disgusted to see the river below the treatment works running milky white with toilet paper and other sanitary products. Lack of recent rain meant that the river’s natural level was low, and he filmed the effluent pumping forcefully out of the treatment works for many minutes before the flow finally abated.

According to his sources, this was happening several times every day, with thousands of gallons pouring into the unfortunate little river each time.

At the time of writing, the official response to Terry’s viral video is still uncertain, but watching something like this is horrifying even if you haven’t spent much of your angling life in the shadow of a notorious sewage treatment works (like I have).

UPDATE: Welsh Water finally took notice of Terry’s video and investigated the pollution. They are now working to fix the issue.

Back to the bad old days?

The River Usk

A tributary of The River Usk was badly affected by pollution in 2016.
Image source: Shutterstock

Of course, this begs the question: after years of improvement thanks to privatisation of the water industry and European water quality directives, is the water quality in our rivers actually getting worse again?

Frustratingly, the answer to that question rather depends who you ask, how ‘worse’ is measured, and even which set of statistics you’re looking at. For instance, the recent drop from 29 per cent of England’s rivers enjoying good health in 2014, to just 17 per cent in 2015, and 14 per cent in 2016, can be explained by a new, tighter ‘one out, all out’ measurement regime.

But if you measure water quality in dead fish and bugs, then yes, it seems clear that many rivers are suffering. And it’s also clear that Terry’s home country of Wales has been hit by more than its fair share of aquatic catastrophes in recent months:

  • In March 2016, a pollution incident on the Llynfi Dulas (a tributary of the Usk) killed at least 2,000 fish over 5km of river.
  • In December 2016, a slurry leak near Tregaron led to the deaths of 1,000 fish on the upper Teifi.
  • A few weeks later, another slurry spill was reported from a tributary of the Towy near Carmarthen.
  • In June 2017 it was the Teifi’s turn again, when a slug of liquid waste escaped from an anaerobic digester at Lampeter.

A nationwide problem

The River Eden

The River Eden is a Special Site of Scientific Interest
Image source: ATGImages

Yet this uplift in agricultural pollution isn’t just a Welsh problem: Wye & Usk Foundation Director Simon Evans has told me that he’s deeply worried by high-nutrient runoff from free-range chicken farms in the Lugg and Arrow catchments.

Meanwhile, having been sounding the alarm about intensive dairy units in the Eden valley for years, England fly-fishing team coach Jeremy Lucas recently captured unmistakeable photo evidence of a slurry trailer dragging away from the River Eden after discharging unknown quantities of waste into the waters of this Special Site of Scientific Interest.

And it wasn’t long ago that environmental campaigner George Monbiot discovered, completely by chance, a constant stream of liquid manure running into the little River Culm in Devon.

To be fair, for every farmer or utility company employee who doesn’t care or can’t afford to implement best-practice pollution management, there are probably a dozen who are passionate about protecting the environment.

But this new report from WWF, which reveals that more than half of the sewage overflow sites in England and Wales are discharging into our rivers at least once a month (and 14% once a week!) gives us a real sense of the scale of the problem.

Time for us to act

Foam pollutants

Foam pollutants swirling across a river
Image source: Shutterstock

Now, at a time when the impacts of the Brexit referendum make wide-ranging deregulation look likely, it’s time for all anglers to follow the example of the watchful fishermen I’ve mentioned above, and become even more vigilant in our role as guardians of our rivers.

We’re out there in all weathers, we know when something’s not quite right, and as Terry has recently shown us, we’ve got all the power of social media right here at our fingertips if the proper authorities don’t seem to be taking problems seriously enough.

Recent evidence suggests that the courts are now prepared to fine offenders much more heavily – for example, Thames Water was recently handed a record £20 million penalty for repeatedly polluting the Thames.

Better still, recent changes mean that compensation money can now be channelled into repairing environmental damage, via enforcement undertakings, instead of sending it straight to the coffers of the Treasury. And even when long court cases aren’t successful, public pressure can force polluters to invest in improvements like Welsh Water’s new sewage treatment improvements at Llyn Padarn.

How can we help?

Sewage works polluting river

Effluent from sewage works flowing into a UK river
Image source: Silent Corners

So how can we all get personally involved in spotting – and stopping – pollution problems? Here’s a list of ideas I’ve been developing…

Support angling passport schemes

It’s obvious once you know about it, but one of the reasons for setting up these schemes was to incentivise farmers to look after the vital headwaters of many major rivers. If landowners see how much we value these small streams, they’ll look after them better, which benefits everybody in the long term… and of course we can help them to spot potential problems too.

Go fishing in the rain

River restoration professionals always jump at the chance to explore their catchments in the most horrible conditions – taking so-called ‘wet weather walks’ to see where the water really goes when it falls out of the sky, and what it looks like when it reaches the river. With runoff from roads, farmyards, badly-ploughed fields and more, this can sometimes be a real eye-opener.

Follow your nose

If something doesn’t smell right, it’s probably wrong, and you’ll often sniff out pollution before you see it. Another sign of water quality problems is ‘sewage fungus’ – a grey, gelatinous or feathery mass of bacteria which grows in the presence of very high nutrient levels like those provided by slurry or sewage.

Look out for misconnections

On streams and rivers everywhere, many insidious pollution problems are caused by toilets, sinks and washing machines being wrongly plumbed into rainwater pipes instead of foul sewers. If there’s a nasty smell, or if you can see milky discharges, toilet paper or sanitary products in your river, chances are there’s a misconnection somewhere nearby. But on the upside, the local water company should be keen to get it fixed (and it’s illegal for homeowners to refuse).

Get trained as a riverfly monitor

Once a month, a 3-minute kick sample can tell you almost everything you need to know about the health of your local river. Different species of aquatic invertebrates are differently sensitive to pollution, and repeated sampling can locate the source and even provide evidence for a prosecution. Find out more from the Riverfly Partnership website.

Join a local pollution monitoring programme

As well as riverfly monitoring, more and more rivers trusts are setting up networks of local volunteers to spot pollution and help to deal with incidents. Some water companies are recognising the benefits of citizen science too: for example, Thames Water is working in partnership with the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) to run ‘outfall safaris’ and identify problem areas for their surface outfall remediation programme. They’ve also launched a rapid response unit which aims to get to the site of any reported pollutions within an hour.

Make that call!

Wherever you live and fish, keep one or both of these pollution hotline numbers in your phone, and don’t think twice about calling if you spot a pollution problem:

England, Scotland and Northern Ireland: 0800 80 70 60

Wales: 0300 065 3000

It’s far better to be safe than sorry, and every report helps to build up a picture of what’s going on. Your vigilance really can make a difference.

And if all else fails… be like Terry, and put the power of social media to work for you too.

About the author

Theo Pike is a freelance environmental, fishing and marketing writer. He’s also Chair of Trustees of the South East Rivers Trust, 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.