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.

Fly Fishing Shropshire Brooks

Fishtec blogger Stuart Smitham fishes a brook in Shropshire with a new fly line.

My wife phoned me and said, why don’t you come and get the car from me at work and go to the river for a few hours? I don’t get too many chances like that, so having the car means time to tangle with some brook fish. We are quite spoilt in Shropshire as these little waterways are pretty much everywhere, so this afternoon I’m off to my favourite haunt – a small brook deep in the local countryside.

A Shropshire brook

A Shropshire brook.

Tackle and clothing for the day

With zero options on wet wading, because of nettles, I am wearing breathable Airweld waders and boots and a small chest pack, for my fly boxes and other accessories with a Streamtec net on a leash and magnetic clip. As for my rod it’s a 7ft 9in Atomsix Celestial rod and superb little Atomsix fly reel blended with Airflo’s New Forge #3 fly line, ready for it’s first outing.

My approach

I am a dry fly addict on the brooks, so I’ll  usually walk down stream and start at the lower end of the boundary. As with most streams here about, the width of pools vary from just a few feet to around 12 feet. Depth is something different, with some pools about a foot deep then dropping to around waist height.

Most of the bankside foliage is tall nettles and brambles, with reeds and tree branches on pool edges. Where a pool is confined by undergrowth, the tail end can often open out behind the cover offering some great looking spots. Drop-offs on the banks are the norm, so you have to watch your footing and take nothing for granted. I’ve done this a few times now and ended up trying to grasp the vegetation around me to halt my fall, only to find me grabbing nettles and getting stung to hell.

Overgrown banks can be a challenge!

Overgrown banks can be a challenge!

Always watch when entering a pool and make sure you look into the pool first before stepping in. The time when you haven’t checked, is when you’ll see a bow wave heading upstream. Very uncool and probably a fish that could have graced your net. Most of the species you’ll encounter in Shropshire brooks are dace, chub, grayling and native brown trout.

Into the action

As I reach the head of the first pool I can see a long weed waving in the current. Then I spot a fish. A butter yellow brownie about a pound and a half hanging back about 3-4 inches from the weed end. It’s feeding confidently, sticking his head out and taking something with a sipping rise.Then an olive crawls down the weed and just sits there, right on the end. Amazing when you see fly life like this emerging in the sun. It dries it wings and makes a flutter, that’s when the brownie moves in. Talk about ringing the dinner bell.

Moving back into the current I make a short cast and gauge where my fly is and what it looks like. I tie on a quill dun with orange polish quill in the abdomen and a cdc wing with brown hackle. Ginking him up and decreasing the leader I pull off about 15 feet of fly line. Making the initial cast I am way too far right and no where near the brownie. I don’t want to spook it, so taking the time to lengthen the line out my second cast looks like it landed a foot or so right again. I start to gather line and must have moved the fly and my rod tip bounces. I lift and watch this class brownie come at me and go under the weed. Pulling line in like crazy and the fish is gone, leaving me attached to weed. Talk about gutted.

Moving on quietly, I head to another spot that has been productive in the past. With long weed at my feet, I make short casts of around 8-10 feet. The quill dun looks great in the current. I see a flash and just lift into a small grayling, that heads for the far bank and the weed. After a quick fight he is safely in the net. It must be said grayling are truly gorgeous looking fish, I could catch them all day long.

Grayling in the net!

Grayling in the net!

Walking up and skipping a pool due to fallen trees in the water, I peek over the nettles on a bend and spot a rise. I am around 5 feet above the surface and still in deep cover. The olives are gone, but there are still some iron blues coming off. Where the brook runs round the bend, there’s a clump of weed in the run. Deep water on the left and shallower water on the right. This fish is right on the seam between both. Changing flies to a iron blue with a red butt, I gink it up and degrease, ready to cast.

As the fly drifts the current seam, I just catch a glimpse of something moving. More out of instinct than anything else I line strike and lift the little rod up. The rod tip goes over hard, that’s when I see the yellow belly and the unmistakable markings of a very nice trout. With thoughts on how the hell I’m going to land this? I know I cannot reach down and get it into my hand net. Taking up all the slack and getting to the bank edge, I make the leap of faith! As I land, the fish is trying to head upstream, and I still have it on. The little reel is singing and the fly line is tight – it’s a proper adrenaline filled battle alright! I drop the net under and finally draw the fish into it….

The prize - a wild Shropshire trout

The prize – a wild Shropshire trout.

Looking at this fish in the net and what a cracking brownie. Wild as they come and just beautifully marked. Blood red spots haloed by white and black charcoal spots everywhere.

Time to move on to the big boy, that’s been hounding my mind for some eight weeks now. Pricked it’s big mouth twice and cursed my stupidity both times. As I battle through the five foot nettles, I just emerge onto the silver topped pool. A rise ring forms on the bend and I know it’s him? Bold and brass and no doubt waiting for me to fluff it again? Well let’s see eh?

Fishing with the Forge

Well, what did I think of my new 3 weight fly line? The Airflo Forge is a grand fly line for short accurate casts under the trees and though small gaps. There’s a nice compact head on this line for quick loading, plus it has a super small factory welded micro loop at the tip, which is extremely buoyant. With a subtle olive front taper and yellow running line, it sums up what I need for brook fishing. It floats high, with minimal memory, and today I managed to land quite a few nice fish using it.

A lovely little brownie captured with the WF3 Forge line

A lovely little brownie captured with the WF3 Forge line.

For a line that’s under £30 with all the Super-Dri trimmings thrown in, bargain is the word that springs to mind. Above all Airflo’s polyurethane construction means this line will be tough enough to withstand the worst abuse that these overgrown streams can throw at it, season after season.

Huge thanks to Ceri and Gareth at Airflo, for some great words of wisdom on tippet advice, when I was feeling down. Help like that is just encouraging.

Best regards

Stuart

A Summer Feast By Rene’ Harrop

Summer is a long time coming to the high country, but the wait is always worthwhile.

Summer Morning

Summer Morning.

Despite two snow storms during the month of June, the rivers in most of the Yellowstone region have stabilized after extensive spring runoff and the lakes are at maximum capacity. While mornings are inevitably cool even in July, we have not seen frost in more than a week. With these components in place the blooming of summer hatches is currently underway and the menu can only be described as extravagant.

Reaching For A Rise

Reaching For A Rise.

On the Henry’s Fork alone we are currently being treated to Green, Brown and Gray Drakes. Smaller mayflies including Pale Morning Duns, Flavs and Blue Wing Olives are a daily feature on this and other nearby rivers. Summer caddis in assorted sizes and colors adorn both moving and still waters in morning and evening, which are the most comfortable times to be on the water when temperature and wind are considered.

Whether wading or launching a drift boat, I am struck by the number of different fly patterns that may be called into service during a day on the water in early July. With this in mind, my vest holds weight unbecoming a man of my years, but I dare not leave a single fly box behind.

Summer Prize

Summer Prize.

These are the longest days of the year, and a starting time of 7:00 A.M. or earlier is not unusual. A day beginning with PMD Spinners and ending perhaps fourteen hour later with a Brown Drake emergence can be somewhat exhausting but to complain would be a criminal act in the mind of a true fly fisherman.
!

Well Fed Brown!

Well Fed Brown!

With months of far less opportunity only recently left behind, such opulence is like a feast for a starving man. Summer is a season far too short in the mountains and I plan to utilize these treasured days in the most appropriate way.

Hodgman Wading Boot Review

Wading boots are a vital bit of gear for any river angler – get the wrong wading boots and you can easily waste your money!

In this long term review, Fishtec marketing director Tim Hughes sheds light on the new Hodgman Vion H-Lock wading boots after three months of hard use.

With nearly 100 salmon fishing days each year, a decent wading boot is an essential piece of fishing tackle for me, with reliability and comfort being crucial. I have tried numerous brands on the market over the years with mixed results – some have been brilliant and others have simply not made the cut!

Hodgman Vion Wading boots

Hodgman Vion Wading boots

Without exaggeration the rivers I fish in Mid Wales have some of the worst wading conditions known to man. Anyone who has fished the Usk or Upper Wye will be familiar with slippery bedrock gutters, lethal sharp rocks, glass smooth boulders and steep, obstacle ridden banks. So any wading boot that isn’t built to take sustained, serious fishing pressure is not going to last long with me.

I had been on the look out for a fresh set of boots for the start of my season, so naturally seeing US giant Hodgman enter the UK scene I became curious about their extensive range of premium wading gear.

Hodgman have been established in America since 1838 and are very well regarded on the other side of the pond. They are I believe the oldest established manufacturer of waders and boots in the world, but have only recently become available to British anglers. After speaking to the guys at Hodgman UK, I was further assured of the quality and pedigree of their products, so I decided to give a set of their boots a shot for my 2017 fishing campaign.

I opted for a pair of their flagship Vion ‘H-Lock’ interchangeable sole wading boots – some info on these on the video below.

Once they arrived my first impressions of the Hodgman Vion H-Lock were of a sturdy, no-nonsense boot with quality uppers and eyelets. They felt nice and solid but were also lightweight. These boots came supplied with two interchangeable soles – one felt, the other a sticky rubber known as ‘Wadetech’. I also added a studded rubber sole variant that is available as an accessory.

The way to change these soles is quite different to others on the market – they swivel on a central pivot, meaning the soles are quick and easy to take off. With this design there is no danger of losing the sole or of it coming adrift whilst you are fishing. They lock extremely securely allowing you to fish with confidence.

On the river I immediately began to appreciate the comfortable feel of them. The boots are neoprene lined, so are very pleasant to walk distances in, plus easy to slip on and off. They are also contoured nicely allowing for a comfortable fit around the foot. Speaking of fit, unlike most other brands there is no need to ‘size up’ with Hodgman boots. Simply order your regular shoe size and you are good to go – with plenty of room for wader stocking feet.

I found the rubber studded sole to be excellent on the treacherous bedrock sheets that the River Wye is infamous for. Grippy both in the river and on the bank, the ankle support was also first class.

One thing I particularity loved was the water draining function of the sole. The motion of your walking forces the water out through specially engineered channels beneath the sole, therefore reducing weight from excess water retention very quickly.

In the three months to date of hard fishing spent in the Vion’s, I have yet to see any signs of  wear. For me three months is probably equivalent to a few seasons worth of a ‘regular’ anglers fishing – for example the other day I went fishing at 4.00 am before work, then straight after work the same day until 9.30pm, followed up with a 12 hour full shift on the weekend. If the water is on i fish -simple as that!

A River Wye silver salmon

A River Wye silver salmon – good boots allow you to concentrate on fishing!

To conclude, these are some serious wading boots, without doubt the best boots I’ve ever used – and I’ve used a lot ! As a tackle essential these are worth every penny, especially if you are a hardcore fly fisher that spends every free minute on the water. I have a feeling these boots will be in service for a good few years to come, so I will keep you updated on how long they actually last me.

A full range of Hodgman Fly Fishing waders, boots and outwear are available here.

Dream Fishing Property For Sale – Golden Grove Estate

Would you like to own a prime stretch of UK river, full of super size sea trout and salmon? Well now you can – the world famous Golden Grove fishery is up for sale.

The Golden Grove Fishery on the River Towy is widely regarded as the best Sea Trout fishery in the United Kingdom, if not Europe. Situated in verdant Welsh countryside near the Carmarthenshire market town of Llandeilo, this renowned game fishery attracts fishermen worldwide.

The 5 year catch record for 3 out of the 6 main beats is an incredible 565 Sea Trout and 51 Salmon. The same 3 beats have produced 25 Sea Trout over 10lbs on the 5 year average.

As well as 10.5 miles of exclusive double bank game fishing for salmon and sea trout (locally know as sewin), the estate includes 649 acres of land, including the ruins of the ancient Dryslwyn Castle.

The quality of Sea Trout the Golden Grove regularly produces

The quality of Sea Trout the Golden Grove regularly produces.

Owned by the well-known sportsman, Sir Edward Dashwood, with a fishing partner, the Golden Grove Estate offers a unique opportunity to acquire a high class sporting estate which is also a total haven for wildlife of many varieties. The video below shows the estate in all it’s glory.

The Golden Grove Estate from Skyvantage on Vimeo.

As well as the superb fishing, there are sporting rights to a further 3,366 acres of farmland and woodland with numerous ponds, splashes, oxbows and small areas of back water and small coppices, in addition to the main river. This attracts a diverse range of wildfowl over the winter months, including Geese, Teal, Mallard, Widgeon and Snipe making it a sportman’s paradise. In addition to the wildfowl, the estate is also a haven for many Fallow Deer.

Golden grove upper beats

Golden grove upper fishing beats.

Included within the estate is a 3 bedroom farmhouse with adjoining outbuildings which have great potential for conversion to provide a perfect fishing lodge. There is also a tenanted cottage and a redundant farmhouse and farm buildings which also offer great potential to create a second fishing lodge.

How much?

Estate agent Knight Frank (London and Cirencester) are giving a guide price of £5,000,000 for the property as a whole. For further information, please contact: Hollie Byrne or Atty Beor Roberts on 01285 659771

Sunrise on the River Towy

Sunrise on the River Towy at the Golden Grove estate.

Fly Rod Eyes Explained

Ever wondered why your fly rod rings are set up the way they are? Does it really matter what sort of guides you have? Our blog explains all!

Fly rod guides can have real effect on casting and fish playing performance. Most anglers never pay attention to the eyes when making a rod purchase, but they should – because eye configuration and quality can make a big difference to your fishing.

Fly rod guide types

You will find three main types of rod rings on a fly rod.

At the butt end you will always find a stripping guide. This is the largest eye, with a wide diameter to allow line to shoot through it easily on the cast. They tend to be manufactured with a ceramic insert to reduce friction. They are built to handle the energy from the power generated in a stiff rod butt section. On higher line rated rods designed for distance or throwing large flies, you will often find two stripping guides. If you intend to do a lot of distance casting, then a rod with two of these guides is a must.

Stripper guides

Typical stripper guides

Snake eyes are the most commonly found guides on a fly rod blank. Basically these are simply twisted pieces of wire; designed to help your rod flex and your fly line flow through them unhindered. Made of chrome, stainless steel or even titanium, the standard double snake guide is very lightweight and a favourite the world over.

Double leg snakes

A double leg snake eye

Theses guides will be spaced at an optimum distance apart to allow for smooth flexing of the rod and for good line flow. The diameter of snake guides vary, according to what the rod builder had in mind for the performance of the rod.

If large diameter guides are used, this helps with shooting line for extreme distance; however some line control is lost in the process which can affect presentation and accuracy. Narrow eyes allow for precise control of the cast and better loop formation, but distance is harder to achieve. Most fly rods are built with their guide diameters as a nice balance between distance and line control.

Single leg snakes are also very popular on UK fly rods. These reduce the weight further by having just one leg that requires whipping to the rod blank – thus reducing the quantity of rod epoxy and thread needed to attach them.

In the UK most fly rods sold feature either standard double or single leg snakes, bucking the trend from heavy, narrow, lined ceramic eyes that were very popular a decade or two ago.

Single leg snake

Single leg snake

The tip eye (or tip top) is a vital guide that is fitted to the end of your fly rod. They are especially important as they are the most prone to wear, and need to transfer casting energy at the thinnest part of your rod. So they need to be of superior quality and just the right size for best performance.

Hayfork tip eyes

Hayfork tip eyes

Hayfork tip eyes are the most common, but there are also round tip tops available. These reduce friction because there is nowhere for the fly line to catch or get slowed down in. They are used by some of the top manufactures such as Sage.

In addition to the three main rod eyes described above, keeper rings are generally found just above the rod handle. These are usually just a simple looped piece of wire, placed to accommodate your fly.

The addition of a keeper eye on a fly rod is for convenience – it will help you resist the temptation to plant your fly into the cork handle, or onto the stripper eye and risk damaging the lining. Several modern fly rod manufactures have taken to leaving the keeper eye off their rods –  a trend that some may find annoying, or may not be bothered by. But, it’s something worth considering and checking when making a purchase.

Keeper eye - with or without?

Keeper eye – with or without?

Remember the more you pay for a fly fishing rod, the better the guide quality and overall thought to rod ring size and their placement is likely to be. These little differences can make a rod massively easier to fish and cast with. Be warned that on cheaper rods chrome snake eyes of poor quality can get grooved, or even corrode within a season or two. The old saying ‘buy cheap buy twice’ certainly rings true when it comes to fly rods and their guides.

Airflo Stormbox Competition Tackle Boxes

The Stormbox by Airflo is the ultimate fly and tackle storage system for the boat angler.

Fully waterproof, durable and shock resistant the Stormboxes have rapidly become a firm favourite of boat based competition and pleasure anglers throughout the UK and Ireland.

A large central compartment swallows up multiple fly lines, spools, fly boxes and leader material with ease, whilst the strong bash resistant ABS plastic construction will keep your gear safe and sound in the boat, car and on the jetty whatever the conditions.

The Airflo Stormbox is available in two sizes:

Large (55.5 x 42.8 x 21.1 cm)
XL (59.4 x 47.3 x 21.1 cm)

The larger XL model has wheels and an extendable handle.

Many Stormbox owners are turning to the services of Andrew Barrowman, who is providing high quality custom ‘Foamtex’ interiors built to whatever specification the customer requires. Some examples below show Andrew’s excellent handiwork.

Airflo Storm boxes with custom inserts

Airflo Storm boxes with custom inserts.

Customise your Airflo Stormbox interior!

Customise your Airflo Stormbox interior!

For more details on obtaining a customised interior for you Airflo Stormbox, visit Andew’s new Foamtex Facebook page here

6 Summer River Fly Fishing Tips

At this time of year fly fishing rivers becomes increasingly difficult; with low water conditions and increased daytime temperatures mainly to blame. Throw in high angler pressure throughout the spring months, and you have some truly challenging fishing by mid summer.

With that said, it is still possible to make some decent catches even when the river fishing is rock hard. The following river tips should help you keep on catching all summer…..

Stealth will bring you results....

Stealth will bring you results….

1. Stealth. A common sense tip, but often overlooked. Trout are wary creatures at best and with a river lacking in flow they are even more attuned to the presence of predators. A clumsy slip of the wader boot on a slimy rock will often spook a whole pool. So really take your time when approaching the water and if possible avoid unnecessary wading.

2. Walk the river. It really pays to go looking for fish when the going is tough. Walk the banks quietly and look for signs of fish rather than charge straight it. When river temperatures are warm in summer fish tend to be much more clustered together in refuse areas that offer extra cover. A tell tale rise or splash can give a tightly packed pod of fish away, saving you wasting time fishing empty water.

Walk the river to find fish

Walk the river to find fish – a trout that gave itself away with a splashy rise

3. Fish the faster water. In low summer flows fast water offers fish cover and oxygen, as well as helping mask the sound and vibration emitted by the angler. So It can pay to solely concentrate your efforts in rapids, pocket water and necks of pools when the river is fishing poorly during hot weather. Such areas can be fished effectively with a french leader, a method very much suited to spooky fish.

Look for fast, oxygenated water

Look for fast, oxygenated water when temperatures are high

4. Minimise your false casting. I often see too many anglers making false casts that they simply don’t need to. Less false casts equal less shadows and line flash that will alert spooky low water trout. A short head weight forward fly line such as the Airflo Super Dri Xceed is designed for quick rod loading, and will help reduce false casting. Also try and make your false casts lower down, at a side angle where your cast will intrude less into the cone of the trouts vision.

5. Use a long leader and scale down. The lower the water the longer the leader. Don’t be afraid to fish a 20 foot leader length on a low river. The further away from your fly line the fly is, the better! A clear floating Airflo light trout polyleader combined with a supple, thin diameter co-polymer such as the superb Airflo tactical allows you to achieve great turnover and subtle presentation at range.

6. Make the switch to low light conditions. Early or late can be the answer during heatwave conditions. From Mid Summer onwards trout in warm water tend to switch to surface feeding at last knockings and through into the night, when water temperatures fall and food sources are more abundant. Likewise crack of dawn fishing can produce good fishing, especially on nymphs, where trout remain in the faster shallows briefly before the sun rises.

A fish captured at last knockings...

A fish captured at last knockings…

Does Fly Colour Matter?

Fishtec fly colour header

Fly colour can make a difference

Do fish respond differently to different fly colours, or is it all in the eye of the angler? Dominic Garnett applies modern logic to that age-old question: fly-colour.

“They want something with a hint of green in it today!”

How many times have you heard anglers at your local fishery make such a claim about the flies that catch on any given day? It happens too often to be pure coincidence, but how much of this is down to the anglers as opposed to the fish?

I’ve fished with a great variety of people. Many of them swear by certain colours, others are skeptics who claim that colour is not terribly important. But who is correct? And if it really does matter, which are the best colours for fishing flies? With a little science and plenty of my own trial and error, I hope I can provide some useful tips in this blog post.

How do fish see the world?

Fly Colour - Fish Shadows

When fish look up, they often see shadows and shapes rather than distinct colours.Photo credit: Dom Garnett

Don’t assume that fish share your opinions on what’s attractive or edible-looking! Perhaps the easiest trap for anglers to fall into, is to see the world through their own, all too human, eyes. But how do fish see things? This varies massively according to factors like light levels, depth and water clarity.

As humans looking down into watery worlds, it’s fair to say we get a very different view to that of our quarry. Fish, especially those like trout, which feed on insects, tend to look up for food. They probably don’t see a wide array of colours but instead see prey silhouetted against the light of the sky. Perhaps this is why black remains one of the most effective of fly colours.

Fly tying has always used colour to play on the natural curiosity and aggression of fish. By contrast, natural prey like freshwater shrimps and various nymphs tend to be dull-coloured greens and browns. Whether it’s a subtle, shiny rib or a bright red tag on a fly, there’s value in creating interest and grabbing the attention of your quarry; nature has the opposite objective!

As a good general rule, I tend to pick dull colours and subtle flies for wild fish, and go with brighter colours and larger patterns for more aggressive stocked trout. There are also times when I turn the rules on their head. Where stock fish have been peppered with bright lures, a dark fly can bring the bites back, just as a bright, gaudy lure might produce a sudden aggressive reaction from a wild fish that has refused more natural-coloured flies.

A question of depth

Fly colour guide - depth

Fly colours become dull over depth and distance

The visibility of our flies can change quickly no matter where we’re fishing, but it’s especially true for anyone who fishes in deeper or larger waters with sinking lines.

Fish can indeed see a range of colours (their world isn’t black and white). However, scientific studies show that the colours in their visual spectrum change as depths increase. Below 40 ft, all colours appear dull or greyish. Reds and oranges are the first colours to “disappear”, followed by yellows and greens, while blue and black flies and lures tend to retain their colour best at greater depths.

The “bottom line” is, while we might confidently use flies with a little or a lot of red or yellow in the upper water layers, black and blue flies might be better choices for fishing at great depths, or when the fish have to home in on our flies from distance.

Water Clarity

Fly colours - clarity

A hint of contrast is a classic ploy to make flies stand out; this fish was fooled by a drab Cruncher enhanced with a brighter thorax.Photo credit: Dom Garnett

Depth isn’t the only consideration, water clarity matters too, which is why red and orange flies can be a bit of a lifesaver in some circumstances.

A classic example of this is when otherwise clear lakes go greenish in hot weather, due to algal blooms. One of the best tips I ever got for fishing these waters came from Steve Cullen, whose thoughts on the subject really grabbed my interest as I struggled on a real peasoup of a lake. At first I wondered whether the fish would accept the bright red and orange versions of standard flies he recommended. However, my local brown trout found them very appealing indeed. You would think that the loud colours would spook wild fish, but perhaps where clarity is poor they’re less cautious.

Another common scenario is water which, often due to acidity, looks peaty or even black. These waters are common in places like Scotland or even my favourite Dartmoor lakes. The fish will still pick out a range of flies, but one thing you notice about so many of the classic loch-style patterns is the way in which they use two contrasting tones, or even three or four colours. This is not purely decorative, but helps fish pick them out in the “stained” or blackish water.

Light Levels

Fly Colours - Light levels

Waves, cloud and the position of the sun will all affect light levels.Photo credit: Dom Garnett

Light levels vary according to the time of day, the position of the sun in the sky, weather conditions and the effect of wind and waves. As light penetration changes, so does fishes’ colour perception and visibility, making flies that combine two or more colours easier to pick out than monotone patterns.

As a general rule, black and dark flies with perhaps just a touch of brighter contrast or sparkle, tend to be universally useful. At times it can seem counterintuitive, but even when it’s dark, black works; sea trout anglers fishing the silly hours of the night still catch on jet black lures. Equally, on bright sunny days when the conditions have looked all wrong, I’ve found pike flies in black to be blank savers.

Another consideration we’ve not discussed so far is reflective materials. Using flies with a bit of flash in sunny conditions can certainly work to provoke fish, particularly with predatory species, but perhaps the biggest revelation for me, has been the use of ultraviolet (UV) reflective materials in low light conditions.

Special modern tinsels and dubbings will reflect UV light even on a dull morning or at last light. I once considered these special flash materials to be a gimmick, but these days I use them with great confidence in any low-light or depth-fishing situation, whether it is a UV rib on a nymph or a dose of UV tinsel in my predator streamers. Give it a try!

For a quick, simple and visual guide to fly colours use our infographic below:
Fishtec fly colour guide

For a full choice of Caledonia Flies as shown in this guide, visit our fly fishing tackle shop online.

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