How to Fit Wading Boot Studs

The addition of studs to the soles of your wading boots can make a huge difference to grip and traction on slippery surfaces.

In this blog post we look at how best to fit and install wading boot studs to felt sole wade boots.

Pick your studs

There are various wading boot studs on the market, including Simms, Greys and Kold Kutters. All work in the same principal way – you screw them into your boot sole. However, this seemingly simple process needs to be done with a bit of care and consideration.

We are going to use Kold Kutter studs in this guide. Kold Kutters are a DIY stud option that are massively popular in the USA. They were originally designed for tyres of vehicles used in ice racing and they provide brilliant grip in snow and ice. They also make perfect wading boot studs, being made of hardened steel with a 3/8 inch diameter thread.

How many studs per boot?

Adding too many studs is a bad idea because you still need flat areas to make contact with the river bed – or you could end up skating precariously on the tips of the studs. 10 studs per boot sole will be about right. This allows you to spread the studs out nicely. Our preferred pattern is 4 in the heel and 6 in the toe area, with the studs near the outside of the sole for best traction.

What do I need?

A packet of 20 studs, Stormsure or Aquasure glue, permanent pen.

Everything you need to fit studs to a wading boot

Everything you need to fit studs to a wading boot

Step 1. Mark your holes

Using a permanent marker, mark the soles of your wading boot with the pattern shown below.

Mark your soles with a permanent pen

Mark your soles with a permanent pen

Step 2. Apply glue

The addition of a small dab of wader glue (such as Aquasure or Stormsure)  this helps the stud lock into place and remain secure.

Add some glue to your wader stud

Add some glue to your wader stud

Step 3. Screw the studs in

No special tools are required!! You can use a standard flat head or socket screwdriver to install the stud. Ensure the stud goes into the sole perfectly straight, not at an angle. Do not over tighten the stud.

No special tools are required to fit Kold Kutter studs

No special tools are required to fit Kold Kutter wading boot studs

Screw your studs in nice and straight

Screw your studs in nice and straight

Step 5. Ready to fish!

When wading you need to be sure footed and safe – you have gone a long way to achieving this!

Wading boot studs fitted and ready for action

Wading boot studs fitted and ready for action

Kold Kutter wading boot studs are just £3.99 for a pack of 20. Available here.

For tips and hints on better wading practice and safety, check out our ‘Wade safe’ blog here: https://blog.fishtec.co.uk/wade-safe-tips-for-better-wading

Airflo Covert Compact Fly Vest Review

Looking for a new lightweight  fly vest that is comfortable and full of storage options? We might have found something for you. In this review Fishtec blogger Stuart Smitham takes a closer look at a vest he has been using for some time, the Covert Compact from Airflo.

Having used the original Airflo Outlander vest back pack for some years, it was good to see it have a freshen up, with some innovative digital camo. Ceri Thomas at Fishtec, hinted of another new addition to the range, called the Covert Compact vest. I’ll never forget Ceri’s apt description, “It’s a fishing bra with two chest pack’s”.  In truth, it’s a lot more than that.

I’ve had mine since March this year, so I’ve had time to make an accurate assessment of it. Once you see it you’ll see why it’s attributes become easily visible.

In general the Covert Compact has a generous pouch capacity, not only on the front two, but also the back. A lightweight system in digital camouflage. The philosophy of a one size fits all, works here for sure.

The Airflo Covert Compact fly fishing vest

The Airflo Covert Compact fly fishing vest

Looking at the vest from the inner most out, the padded areas offer a great stand off from your clothing, so allowing air to circulate between the vest and your body. Wide shoulder pads, much like the vest back pack, help spread weight distribution. The mesh back is great for two reasons. (1) to help keep you cool and (2) it allows you to wear a day pack with ease. A plus plus from me, particularly if your hiking and dumping waterproofs inside.

There’s a D ring in the top of the mesh yolk which is well stitched and will stand up to the endless pulling that I do on my net magnet.

Padded areas and D rings are a nice touch!!

Padded areas and D rings are a nice touch!!

The pouches on the front are very spacious, with split storage. They differ slightly as the right pouch has a velcro with fly patch. On both of them there’s a small inner pocket on the back wall, for small items and then a larger storage area. This will easily cope with fly boxes, spare tippet and a small water bottle. On the outside are two smaller pockets for tippet, nips, floatant and so on. The front pouches clip together for a secure fit, and you can also use the side straps to tighten it all up for optimum comfort.

The front pods and the back pouch of the Covert Compact vest

The front pods and the back pouch of the Covert Compact vest

The back pouch has rod tube straps on the underside (rod tube not included) which is a neat touch. On the inner are two small pockets on the back wall, for things like spare glasses, sunscreen etc. The main storage area here is large enough for your large fly boxes, snacks, drinks and even a lightweight jacket.

The construction and build quality on the Covert Compact is something else. Good stitching and quality zips that will stand up to heavy abuse. Overall, this is a well thought out piece of kit, worthy of joining the Outlander range of fishing luggage. For more on the Outlander range, visit the Fishtec tackle website. Best regards, Stuart.

Stop press: Covert Compact Fly vests are now just £34.99 (rrp £49.99)!!

AVAILABLE HERE

Fly-tying for beginners part 1: The Black & Peacock Spider

If you’ve just started learning to tie flies, take heart, you needn’t be an expert to create really effective fish catchers! In this new mini series of step-by-step fly-tying guides, fishing author Dom Garnett shows us a handful of his favourite “simple but deadly” flies.

Tying your own flies

Easy_Flies_Black_&_Peacock_FINISHED_FLY

The black & peacock spider.
Image courtesy of Dom Garnett

The world of fly-tying can seem a pretty bewildering place these days. From the starting point of a hook and thread, the possibilities and sheer range of materials are vast. Some anglers can tie incredible works of art or amazingly detailed insect replicas. But there’s nothing wrong with keeping things simple.

If you’re after fly-tying tips for beginners, the patterns in this series should prove nice and easy to tie. That said, there’s no harm in more experienced tyers getting back to basics. I’ll also show you how, with just a little tweak here and there, some really simple, quick flies can be incredibly versatile – and well worth a second look!

What is a spider fly?

Easy_Flies_Black_&_Peacock - 2

The simple ingredients: you just need a hook, thread, peacock herl and hen feather.
Image courtesy of Dom Garnett

For those new to fly-tying, spiders are simple, soft-hackled flies with a rich tradition in the UK. They’re not perfect insect replicas (and in spite of the name, they don’t copy actual spiders), but suggestive creations, often with just a thread body and “legs” fashioned from feather fibres. Perhaps this is why they’re so useful?

The Black and Peacock Spider has to be one of the most classic, versatile flies of all time. No other fly has caught me such a huge variety of fish, from wild brown trout to rudd, roach and carp. It’s also lovely and simple to tie. With a bit of practice you can turn one out in less than five minutes. Just as well, because I get through dozens every season.

Here’s what you need:

Hook: Wide gape nymph, grub or buzzer, size 12-16
Thread: Black
Tag (optional): Contrasting tinsel or wool of your choice
Body: Peacock Herl
Hackle: Black hen

How to make the black & peacock spider: step-by-step

making a black and peacock spider fly - Run some black thread onto the hook, leaving a little gap behind the eye. Pinch in place, until a few turns of thread catch in securely.

STEP 1: Run some black thread onto the hook, leaving a little gap behind the eye. Pinch in place, until a few turns of thread catch in securely. Trim the loose end if necessary.

making a black and peacock spider fly - Run the black thread in neat, touching turns down the hook shank. If you want to add a “butt” or “tag” of brighter colour at the rear, now is the time to catch it in. I’ve used red UV tinsel here.

STEP 2: Now run the black thread in neat, touching turns down the hook shank. If you want to add a “butt” or “tag” of brighter colour at the rear, now is the time to catch it in. To keep the body even, use a long strip of material and trap all the way down the back. I’ve used red UV tinsel here.

making a black and peacock spider fly - Pick out a couple of strands of peacock herl. Pick finer pieces for a tiny fly, or go thicker for a bigger, bushier number. Stroke the fibres back with your fingers so they fluff out

STEP 3: Pick out a couple of strands of peacock herl. Pick finer pieces for a tiny fly, or go thicker for a bigger, bushier number. Stroke the fibres back with your fingers so they fluff out, as above.

making a black and peacock spider fly - tie in the peacock herl, clamping down right the way down the back of the hook shank to keep things nice and even.

STEP 4: Now tie in the peacock herl, clamping down right the way down the back of the hook shank to keep things nice and even. If you tie just by the “tips” you get an uneven less secure body, so go right down the hook and bring the thread back to the rear of the fly.

making a black and peacock spider fly - wrap the thread around the peacock strands to trap the peacock in place and make it secure.

STEP 5: Next, we wrap the thread around the peacock strands. You don’t absolutely have to do this, but doing so traps the peacock in place better and makes for a much more secure fly, that won’t unravel after a fish or two.

making a black and peacock spider fly - wrap the thread and peacock from back to front in even turns. Once you’re a short distance from the eye, trap the peacock in place tightly with 2-3 turns of the black thread as shown. Leave a little gap here and don't crowd the head of the fly

STEP 6: Wrap the thread and peacock from back to front in even turns, like this. Once you’re a short distance from the eye, trap the peacock in place tightly with 2-3 turns of the black thread as shown. It’s important to leave a little gap here, because we don’t want to crowd the head of the fly (or it will be difficult to tie onto our leader).

making a black and peacock spider fly- trim off the peacock as tight as you can.

STEP 7: Trim off the peacock as tight as you can. If you’re new to fly-tying I can’t over-emphasise the need for a quality, sharp pair of scissors here! Don’t be a skinflint, because fine-tipped scissors are a fly-tyer’s best friend and make the job much easier.

making a black and peacock spider fly - Now take a black hen feather. Fibres that are 2-3 times the width of the hook gape look about right. Gently tease out the feather fibres and strip a little at the front with your thumb nail, so it’s easy to tie in

STEP 8: Now take a black hen feather. A small pack of feathers should tie several flies without breaking the bank. Choose a feather where the fibres or “spikes” are in proportion to the hook size. Fibres that are 2-3 times the width of the hook gape (the gap between the hook point and the shank above) look about right. Prepare it by gently teasing out the feather fibres and stripping a little at the front with your thumb nail, so it’s easy to tie in, as above.

making a black and peacock spider fly- tie in place as shown , with two or three nice tight turns of thread, just behind the eye.

STEP 9: Tie in place as shown, with two or three nice tight turns of thread, just behind the eye.

making a black and peacock spider fly - Holding the end of the feather, wrap it around in two neat, tight turns, so that the feather fibres splay out like the spokes of an umbrella. Hackle pliers make the job easier. Just make two wraps and trap the feather in place with another 2-3 turns of thread. Trim off the excess.

STEP 10: Now for the slightly trickier part. Holding the end of the feather, wrap it around in two neat, tight turns, so that the feather fibres splay out like the spokes of an umbrella. Hackle pliers (a tool which keep the feather pinched in place) can make the job easier if you’re struggling.
It’s tempting to make loads of wraps, but just make two before carefully trapping the feather in place with another 2-3 turns of thread! So often in fly tying, less is more because sparser materials move better and won’t crowd the fly. Once you’re happy, you can trim off the excess.

Easy_Flies_Black_&_Peacock_FINISHED_FLY

STEP 11: All that’s left to do is finish the fly. A whip finish tool is the tidiest way to do this – it’s not easily explained in words, so take a look at one an online tutorial, such as this one by Peter Gathercole. If you’re struggling, or don’t have the right tool, you could always just varnish, leave to dry and then carefully trim off with scissors (the fish won’t mind and we won’t tell anyone).

There we have it, job done! One of the easiest flies to tie for beginners, but also one that experienced anglers still swear by.

Further ideas and useful variations

black and peacock spider fly

Three useful variations.
Image courtesy of Dom Garnett

So, hopefully with a bit of practice, you’ll be tying these simple flies quickly and your efforts will get tidier. Don’t worry if your first few attempts are a bit messy – the fish don’t mind a great deal as this isn’t a super “fussy” or accurate fly. Whether you fish it gently, just letting it swing round in the breeze, or pull it like a loch style fly, it’s a great pattern.

Once you’ve cracked the basic tying, you might like to experiment with some simple variations. Try different models and sizes of hook. Small, fine hooks and sparse dressings can be useful for low, clear water and finicky feeders. Bigger brutes, on the other hand, are great for blustery days and aggressive fish. Of course, different weights and sizes of hook will also give you very different sink rates.

My favourite twists are:

  • Add a small bead (above left) for a faster sinking fly.
  • Tie a little sparser with a red tinsel rib and lighter hook (above middle), which works excellently for trout feeding in the upper layers.
  • Tie more boldly, with a red tag and perhaps a thicker body (above right) which is great for loch style fishing.

Above all, have fun and, I repeat, don’t worry if your early efforts are a bit unkempt. I guarantee you’ll still catch fish! Happy tying and keep an eye out for more patterns this summer. Next time, I’ll show you a simple but brilliant dry fly to tie yourself.

Read more from Dom Garnett

Regular Fishtec blogger Dom Garnett can also be caught every week in the Angling Times, while you can also find more on his site www.dgfishing.co.uk and the Angling Trust’s Lines on the Water blog.

Summer Time Success – Warm Weather Trout Fishing Tips

It seems like summer has arrived and is here to stay as temperatures hover around the mid twenties to early thirties. Water temperatures begin to rocket, albeit 4-6 weeks late after a harsh, long cold winter. This time of year the fishing can be at its toughest with fish becoming lethargic.

A heatwave trout

A heatwave trout

Despite the heat of the day you can still enjoy your fishing. There are some obvious cooler parts of the day, first thing in the morning and towards the end of the day. I have been having incredible sport at the start of the day, arriving at 04:30am last week on Rutland bank and I have done that since I was a young boy!

Dawn on Rutland

Dawn on Rutland

I was rewarded with 14 fish before 09:00am as the fish fed close to the shore in the cooler start. The late evenings have also been productive as the fish move in again to feed just a few feet off the bank. Dries in the shallows has been the way to go with my Hares Ear CDC culs, Sugarcube Hares ears and Yellow Owls being the pick of the flies. The fish have been feeding hard on shrimps and this selection of dries are perfect for them.

The fish have been feeding hard on killer shrimp

The fish have been feeding hard on killer shrimp

Dry flies indicate I am obviously fishing on the surface but not all fish are on the top. I took this magnificent Rutland double figure brown trout 30 foot down on a buzzer using a 3 foot Airflo tip line. It was completely flat calm and bright hot sunshine! This allowed me to cast a full line and leave 4 buzzers to head to the deck. There are two layers of cooler water, usually the first few feet, if a good breeze and towards the bottom. As I took the large brown trout deep there were fish moving! Often though, the larger fish will sit below in the deeper water and fresh fish will feed high and eventually drop deeper as they acclimatise to the water temperatures.

A magnificent Rutland brown trout

A magnificent Rutland brown trout

It becomes obvious the middle layers are usually devoid of fish as they sit in the top few feet or the bottom few feet. Choice of line becomes simple, a floating or tip line or the Airflo Booby Basher which is the fastest sinking modern fly line out there! It’s a heavy line and should be fished with a #8 rod or more!

Fishing dries will keep your flies right up there and is a very good choice, Culs, Big Reds, Midas, and Owls a favourite choice. For the Booby Basher, the clue can be in the name. Fishing a short leader of 4-6 foot, you can cast out this amazing line and leave the booby buoyant just off the bottom in the coolest of water. Please check boobies are allowed during catch and release on your venue as many prohibit it due to the fish often swallowing them especially if left static.

For me, I prefer to use a tip line with heavy buzzers if the wind isn’t too strong. I tend to use a leader of 28-30 foot which is tapered from 15lb down to 8lb with the 4 heavy buzzers on the last 15 foot. This gives maximum free tippet from the fly line to free fall quickly and effectively to the bottom. Fish the flies  too close to the fly  line will only prevent the flies from free falling quickly. One option is to fish the buzzers on fast sinking lines and many do it and are successful! I prefer to use a tip line for better control but don’t rule out the fast sinking line with this method, especially if you cant cast this far enough to get the depths.

Fish early or late for best success!!

Fish early or late for best success!!

Many small waters close this time of year as temperatures just get too much and I know many are suffering at the moment. Head for spring fed waters as these offer cooler water all year round. Fish early in the morning or late into the evening, this offers your best chance. Same rule applies to our large reservoirs, fish early or late, but they do give you options of the deeper water. There is an exception to this as many large reservoirs have aerators which provide much needed cooler water and masses of oxygen. These can be stuffed with fish and bring much needed sport on the toughest of days.

I recommend my Heavy Buzzer selections and boobies for this time of year along with my CDC Owls and Big Reds. Enjoy the sun, drink plenty of fluids, take plenty of sun cream and just think of the cooler days in a few months time! Tight Lines, Iain.

Big Flies – Big Trout by Rene’ Harrop

Monthly escapism to the land of the free, where the fishing is fantastic and the fly life just as good. Here Airflo fly line consultant Rene’ Harrop talks about the extraordinary fly hatches of his local Henry’s Fork.

Nature provides numerous ways to measure seasonal progress in the mountains. For a fly fisherman, however, no indicator is more reliable than the size of aquatic insects that emerge only in response to actual climatic conditions rather than a calendar date.

Green Drake Brown

Green Drake Brown

It is common to find freezing conditions and even snow as late as June and into July when the elevation exceeds five thousand feet. This level also describes habitat suitable for the biggest insect events when individual size of stoneflies and mayflies is considered.

On the Henry’s Fork, the giant salmon flies and golden stones are measured in inches and their appearance can ignite the interest of the largest trout in the river.  But like the big mayflies known as drakes, emergence at the wrong time will cause the hatch to wither if the temperature is too cold. For this reason, we know that summer has arrived when the smallest fly we tie on is likely to be size ten or larger.

Green Drake And A Beer

Green Drake And A Beer

While salmon flies have run their course for another year and the golden stones are only recently beginning to show, we are currently in the heart of drake season. Though notably smaller than the size four and six stoneflies, Green, Brown, and Gray Drakes will dwarf any of the other mayflies we will see in the entire year.

Gray Drake Spinner

Gray Drake Spinner

Whether wading or floating, the big flies create a level of excitement that has the ability to cancel the discipline of even the most responsible adult. Succumbing to this annual temptation will almost always put me a week or two behind on most obligations and I will spend the rest of the summer trying to catch up.

The pace of drake time can be exhausting when a spinner fall of Gray Drakes can appear before eight A.M., and that is only the beginning. Green Drake spinners usually arrive a bit later in the morning and emergence can stretch well into the afternoon. Brown Drakes usually favor the last two hours of daylight and that can mean staying on the water beyond ten P.M. at this time of year. A break in the heat of the day can mean missing out on golden stone action, and when all possibilities are included, fourteen hours on the water become almost the norm.

A Net Full Of Rainbow

A Net Full Of Rainbow

To make matters even more interesting, a half dozen or more minor insect happenings can be added to the big flies on any given day, and this is on the Henry’s Fork alone.

With other great waters close by and all holding their own respective magic, a fly fisher could be driven to madness by all the choices, but what a way to go.

 

Return to Still Water By Rene’ Harrop

For a trout fisherman, it would be difficult to picture a region with more choices of water than Yellowstone country. Flowing from its hub, which is the National park, are the Yellowstone, Snake, and Madison, and the Henry’s Fork lies just outside its boundaries. Smaller but no less attractive are the Fire Hole, Gallatin, and a host of diminutive spring creeks.

Hauling On Henry's

Hauling On Henry’s lake

Through the decades I have left boot prints on some of the world’s finest trout streams and my professional identity has been shaped mostly by moving water. But in recent years a different type of fishing has begun to challenge a dedication to the rivers and streams that have historically dominated my attention.

Because of elevation that rises well over a mile above sea level, the lakes and reservoirs that lie within convenient distance can remain ice-covered well into May. With most rivers open and spring hatches well underway, I do not suffer for lack of fishing opportunity but I confess to a sense of anticipation as the time draws near for a return to still water.

Sheridan Kamloops

Sheridan lake Kamloops trout

I’m not sure if the influence of my friend, Gareth Jones is a curse or a blessing, but it is certain that he is largely responsible for the distraction represented by Henry’s, Hebgen, and Sheridan Lakes. From this point forward, at least thirty percent of my fishing days will be occupied by the mysteries of still water, and this will end only when the lakes are again frozen over in late fall.

Following a master’s lead to considerable extent, a sizable portion of the flies tied in winter for my personal use are still water patterns, and I am excited to test the new ideas that come during the season of contemplation.

Why Still Water?

Why Still Water?

Though the mind state of fishing still water is in contrast to the more familiar mental requirement of fishing a river, it is no less satisfying or rewarding. I view my time on the lakes as a companion rather than competition to my loyalty to moving water and my life as a fisherman is made richer by having such a wide diversity of choice. How lucky can a man be?

The Great Salmon Fishing Debate: Should Angling Be 100% Catch And Release?

A River Wye silver salmon

A silver fresh run salmon. Image: Tim Hughes

Wild salmon are precious creatures these days. Indeed, new legislation in Wales and much of England is set to make catch and release compulsory. But is it still ok to take them where rules permit? And when releasing salmon, how can we do so correctly to ensure each fish the best chance of full recovery? This month, the Fishtec team takes a look at the ins and outs of the current salmon debate.

An emotive debate…

It used to be the most normal thing in the world for the successful game angler to take a salmon home. Indeed, as crazy as it sounds, these fish were once so plentiful they were staple food for the poor. How times change!

Whether you lay the blame on climate change, environmental mismanagement, commercial salmon farming or a toxic mixture of these and other factors, salmon numbers are well down. But is it fair to ask anglers to release every fish, as new rules could dictate in Wales and most of England? And regardless of our reason for releasing salmon, how can we give each fish the best chance of survival?

Regarded by many as the king of freshwater fish for many anglers, it’s not surprising that salmon conservation is an emotive subject. Indeed, you will seldom find anyone indifferent to this iconic species.

Whilst we all have strong and differing opinions, we’re likely to agree on one thing: more needs to be done to ensure that our children and grandchildren still have salmon to fish for in the future. So will new laws help? Are they fair? Or could they cause more harm than good?

Fishtec-Atlantic-Salmon-debate

An Atlantic salmon jumping over a weir on the River Severn in Shropshire.
Image source: Kevin Wells Photography

Can I keep salmon?

Firstly, we should point out that there are no consistent rules that apply to all of England and Wales at the present time (late May 2018). The list of regional byelaws on the Environment Agency site is the first place to check if you’re in any doubt about your local fishing. With stocks continuing to decline, many fishing clubs and areas already insist on catch and release fishing. Never assume you can keep salmon and do always check before you fish.

New rules proposed by the Environment Agency for 2019 could well take the decision out of anglers’ hands entirely. As of next year, it could potentially become a crime to take a salmon from any Welsh river and many of those in England.

Indeed, while anglers have welcomed new restrictions on commercial practices such as drift netting, many are angry that their traditional right to keep fish will be taken away. To put it mildly, this is a complex debate.

Different opinions within the angling community

The whole catch and release debate has polarised the angling community. Different regions and generations of anglers have very different opinions. The Angling Trust’s response to the proposed regulations was highly critical of the Welsh proposals, following a major survey that revealed 83% of respondents were against a complete ban on catch and keep angling.

In particular, it was felt that the new laws could represent a dangerous breakdown in trust between authorities and the anglers who are so often the “eyes and ears” of the waterways concerning illegal fishing.

The knock-on effects for the sport, and rural businesses in general, could also be stark. Plenty of life-long anglers feel it is their right to take a salmon or two every season. Many of these regulars could easily hang up their rods if we’re not careful; a scenario that could reduce precious resources even further. After all, anglers’ money goes towards costs such as habitat improvement, fisheries enforcement and other vital work.

However, anglers who already practise catch and release regardless of the law point out that we now live in a different era. Their argument is that salmon only enter freshwater to spawn and are too precious to kill. While it’s easy to say “just one or two” won’t matter, the removal of even one large female salmon from a threatened river could mean a lot fewer juvenile fish further down the line.

Sense and sustainability

Surely, whatever our personal views, the watchword for all salmon fishing needs to be sustainability. In this respect, it’s very difficult to dictate laws that could apply to all waters. After all, a smaller river with a steep decline in population is a very different prospect to a major waterway with prolific fish stocks.

So is it too much to ask that anglers make a decision using their own discretion? It should be pointed out that most anglers do this anyway. Even where catch and kill is allowed, statistics show that the majority of fish are released. The days of “keep everything” are long gone.

Perhaps the best system would be one of compromise and sensitivity that takes into account the nature of each individual river. Some clubs across Britain have already adopted such an approach. For example, some clubs allow season ticket anglers to keep one or two salmon, where runs are still healthy.

How to help salmon survive capture

Fishtec_Salmon_Catch_&_Release - 1

It’s sensible to keep salmon in the water as much as possible to reduce stress.
Image: Fishtec

How to release salmon is a separate question that requires care and thought. The good news is that virtually all salmon will survive capture and go on to spawn; provided the angler takes care and uses the best catch and release practice!

Here are just some of the things you can do to make sure every salmon you catch swims off and spawns successfully in the future:

  • Use strong tackle to help play and land fish quickly. A fish played to complete exhaustion is less likely to survive.
  • Always crush barbs on your hooks to reduce damage on removal. A “bumped” hook is an ideal compromise, in other words a hook where the profile of the barb has been reduced.
  • Use single hooks only to further reduce damage. Lures can easily be converted by swapping the trebles.
  • Avoid bait fishing. Statistics show that survival rates are much lower for bait fishing, as worms and other offerings are often swallowed. If you must use bait, try a circle hook.
  • Be prepared and have all your tools, camera and essentials to hand. Faffing about looking for these things means extra stress for fish.
  • Keep your fish wet. You don’t need to take salmon onto the bank. Keeping the fish in the water and handling with wet hands reduces stress. In fact, even short periods out of the water are proven to reduce survival rates, so if you need to retain the fish for a short period, do so by keeping it submerged in a generous-sized landing net.
  • Avoid crude nets. Talking of nets, stringy, harsh models have no place in angling these days. Modern, soft mesh is much kinder.
  • Measure, don’t weigh. The best way to record that special fish is to measure. This can be done while the fish is still in the water. There are various length to weight charts if you want to estimate the poundage.
  • Be quick and handle with care if you want a picture. If you want a snap, do so quickly and hold the fish in the water. Support it with wet hands and cradle, don’t squeeze!
  • Assist recovery by keeping the fish upright, facing into the flow. If it has fought hard, it may need a few moments to get its breath back. You’ll know it’s ready when you feel it try to swim away.

Another great resource is “The Gift”, a YouTube video made by the Atlantic Salmon Trust to illustrate correct tackle and good practice.

Think of the bigger picture

Last but not least, in any discussion of the battle to save salmon, we should also mention those working hard for the future of the species. Organisations like the Angling Trust and Salmon and Trout Conservation fight tirelessly to protect rivers, prevent illegal fishing and force key decision makers to protect salmon. Joining either of these groups is inexpensive and a great way to offer your support.

Airflo Modern Stillwater Tactics 2018 – Full Length DVD

Airflo sales director Gareth Jones and Fishtec blogger Iain Barr are two of the countries most successful stillwater fly fishermen. Together they co-operated with Trout Fisherman Magazine to bring us their latest fly fishing feature film.

In this new DVD titled ‘Airflo Modern Stillwater Tactics 2018’ they visit a variety of UK waters in search of trout. Their secret methods, fly lines, flies and tackle are all revealed, along with essential tips on how to catch more fish. If you fly fish lakes or reservoirs, then this is a ‘must watch’!

Want to see more of the Airflo Stillwater Tactics series? You can check out Volume 3 here.

For the others, head to our YouTube Channel!!

Buzzer Bonanza

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.

7lb 12 Rutland Brown taken on a IB red butt black buzzer

7lb 12 Rutland Brown taken on a IB red butt black buzzer

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.

Rutland water

Rutland water

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.

Tight lines

Iain

Clothing Review – Hodgman Aesis Shell Jacket

Looking for a new jacket? Then you might find some inspiration here. In this review Ceri Thomas takes a look at the Aesis Shell fly fishing jacket from American tackle firm Hodgman.

I’ve been on the lookout for a decent breathable jacket for a while now. Mobility is key when I fish, so comfort is a must, as are decent pockets for accessories and fly boxes. When we started stocking the Hodgman range of fly fishing gear, I really liked the look of the Aesis shell jacket, which ticked all of the boxes for me. So after a bit of deliberation over the winter I decided to pick one up for the new season ahead.

I often think in order to write a ‘proper’ review you need to give something a real test on the water; not just a few hours. So after a full month of pretty hard usage, I feel I have now gotten to know this piece of outwear inside out. So here are my thoughts.

The Aesis shell jacket on the bank

The Aesis shell jacket on the bank


Wearing it

The cut of the jacket is good – it’s clearly been designed by a fisherman, with fly fishing in mind. The arms are generous and articulate well, allowing for easy casting. The sleeve design is practical, with velco adjustable cuffs that help keep the water out. The inner cuffs are also nice and soft. I found the sizing to be pretty generous though, and opted for a Large, rather than my usual XL.

When trying it on in the house, the wife remarked ”Do you have to wear that for fishing?? It’s quite nice!” And it is a genuinely good looking jacket. You could get away with wearing it pretty much anywhere, as well as the river bank. It has a clean, modern look and is a nice carbon/grey, a neutral colour, so you wont stand out like a sore thumb, in the pub for example.

Initially it was obvious that the jacket was very light indeed, but still retained a durable feel. When wearing it you don’t feel weighed down or constricted in any way. It almost has the feel of a packable 2 layer. It’s actually a 3 layer, so reliability in heavy rain is assured. You can tell from the material that it’s not going to let you down. I’ve been out in some extremely foul conditions this spring, and every time the water has just beaded off, literally like water off a ducks back. So full marks for waterproof ability.

Regarding breathability, I have done quite a lot of mountain lake fishing this year, which involves a fair bit of rock hopping and scrambling up steep hill sides. I have also been doing a lot of urban angling on the South Wales rivers; which again can be quite physical and requires a lot of effort to get in and out of the water. Compared to other jackets I have worn (including premium GoreTex) the breathability is right up there. You can break into a heavy sweat and still feel comfortable in the Aesis shell.

Urban angling with superb breathability!

Urban angling with superb breathability!


Is it a wading jacket or a 3/4??

It’s kind of both. It’s not overly short, so provides decent cover for your back area. Neither is it too long and flappy. I guess it was designed for American anglers fishing from drift boats, who sometimes need to get out and wade. You can use it for river, bank fishing on the fishery or drifting across the loch in the boat; it is genuinely multi purpose.

The Hodgman Aesis shell jacket is multi purpose

The Hodgman Aesis shell jacket is multi purpose

For extreme deep wading its actually designed to be tucked inside your waders if required. There is a ‘belt catch’ loop that helps you do this. I haven’t used it like that as I seldom need to wade that deep, but there are drain holes in the lower hand pockets that actually worked.

Neat little touches

The hood is well designed and easily adjustable. Even when fully up your field of vision is still clear. The chest pockets, whilst not enormous, are generous enough for most standard fly boxes, several accessories and spools of tippet. Two of them have waterproof seals, so are a good place to keep your car keys or a small point and shoot camera.

The flap of each breast pocket has a velcro fly patch built in, and interestingly a small magnet with the Hodgman logo on it. Great for holding a fly while you change your leader. There is also a small inner security pocket for valuables.

Back of the Aesis shell jacket

Back of the Aesis shell jacket

There are built in reflective strips on the back of the hood and around the shoulders. These are not obvious but show up in low light; quite handy I guess if fishing with a buddy on a dark night or if crossing a road at dusk. They also look pretty cool.

There is a rear D ring and also one in a breast pocket. One slight issue is the net D ring is quite low on the back – so it can be a slight pain to get you net back onto it without twisting your arm a little. But that’s about the only negative I can think of.

Verdict

After a solid month I am starting to think this is one of the best jackets I have ever owned. It’s functional, comfortable and a pleasure to fish in. It’s now a permanent occupier of my car boot, ready for action at any time.

Moving onwards, I’m looking forward to using it right through the warmer months, and maybe through the winter with thermals underneath. Its going to get a hammering but I am confident its going to last me a good few seasons.

At £239.99 it’s starting to enter the premium price bracket, but I feel the outlay is worth it. You pay your dollar, you get the goods! Great effort by Hodgman – keep it up the good work guys.

Hodgman Aesis Shell Jackets are available here.

Want to know more about the Hodgman brand?? Check out our blog post here.