Iain Barr New Fly Set Selections

I’m proud to announce a new selection of fly sets available at Fishtec. My aim has always been to supply all my latest innovative patterns to the fishing world. Almost 40 years of experience from around the globe goes into every fly with experience to the highest level going into the designs.

Precise detail goes into every fly ensuring you have the best flies available to you from record breaking double world champion Iain Barr. Here at Iain Barr Fly Fishing World Champions Choice we live, sleep and breathe fishing and our dedication and commitment goes into our products ensuring you have the best chance of catching more fish.

Success for Iain Barr fishing flies!!

Success for Iain Barr fishing flies

New packs, new edges!!

The first new pack now available is aimed at the small water angler – The Indicator Selection. A great way to get into fly fishing is starting with an ‘indicator’ with flies suspended below it. It’s also used by the very best anglers in the country too to great effect. It contains 3 different coloured indicators for different light conditions with 9 natural nymphs/buzzers which you tit to suspend static below it. Simply cast them out and watch the indicator shoot away! Fish static for best results but occasionally do a short twitch of the line to make the suspended flies move. Typically you should suspend your flies at 3 foot and 6 foot. 9 foot if you fish a team of 3 flies below the indicator.

Iain Barr indicator fly set

Iain Barr indicator fly set

Next is my new Natural Booby nymph selection – This great pack consists of all the natural nymphs but tied with booby eyes. It allows you to fish them on the surface or on sinking lines. They come into their own when fishing over weed beds and are commonly used in the washing line method where you fish a natural booby on the point with nymphs up the line. The pack consists of Midas Boobies, Hopper Boobies and nymphs such as Cruncher Boobies. Ideal for fishing as dries as no gink is needed!

Iain Barr natural boobies

Iain Barr natural boobies

Buzzers form 90% of a trout’s staple diet and many of these are micro buzzers, especially through the middle and end of the year. We have now increased our buzzer selections to include size 14’s in my favourite 6 buzzers. Dropping to a smaller size can bring huge dividends especially if you’re getting aggressive ‘intrigued’ takes from the fish as opposed to a ‘slide away’ take. On all small waters, especially where catch and release is practiced, I always fish size 14 buzzers. Very rarely do I fish a team of these without a Candy Blob or Candy FAB on the point. SSSSHHHHHH, this is a deadly method, try it! Or try with a natural booby on the point to suspend them. ALWAYS FISH BUZZERS STATIC FOR BEST RESULTS.

Iain Barr Micro Buzzers

Iain Barr Micro Buzzers

A revelation in recent years is the very popular CDC Owls. We have included all the favourite colours in our new CDC Owl Selection including the very popular yellow owl. Quality CDC with sufficient feathers ensure these sit right in the film, often where the fish want them most. If the fish are not breaking the surface but you see a flattening spot or the slightest of tiny rises it’s time for the owls! They are a must for buzzer feeders but also excel when fishing for Snail and Corixa feeders. They are available in size 12 and 14.

Iain Barr Rutland CDC owls

Iain Barr Rutland CDC owls

Crunchers are my all time favourite nymphs and I have created a new Rutland Cruncher Set. All my favourite Rutland Crunchers in one pack. Tied with small cheeks, these are great for buzzer and corixa feeders. When the fish are feeding high in the water or fish are in the shallows and epoxy buzzers would just fish too deep this is your answer. Great for fishing Rutland South and North arm around the shallows and weed beds. Available in natural brown, black and olive you have all colours required.  Fish static for best results or try with our natural booby set or between two Boobies or blobs when pulling but don’t forget to hang your flies! Available in size 10/12.

Iain Barr New Crunchers

Iain Barr New Crunchers

Our Rutland Muskin Buzzer selection is a must have for the avid buzzer angler. It’s an exciting time of year when the line is ripped from your fingers and these are very effective! Designed to imitate the pupae in the higher layers of the water these should be used when the fish are higher in the water column or feeding in the shallows.  Deadly on Rutland Water but in my armoury for every venue and all small waters! The UV Thorax Muskins are also used for corixa feeders and should be twitched accordingly other wise fish static for best results. Available in size 10/12

Iain Barr Rutland Muskins Buzzers

Iain Barr Rutland Muskins Buzzers

The North Arm Dry Fly selection is all you need for fishing Rutland’s North Arm. It has all the essentials to catch some of the large fish that cruise up here in the shallows. It includes my all time favourite dry fly, the Big Red along with CDC Owls, Hoppers and the deadly Midas! Larger fish will always come to dry flies and fish static for best results. Avoid casting long lines when fishing dries and aim to cast no more than 7-8 yards at most!

Iain Barr Rutland North Arm Dries

Iain Barr Rutland North Arm Dries

The Midas Magic pack consists of this very popular dry fly in several colours. This over dressed dry fly just sucks the fish up to take it. The takes can be from a gentle sip to an aggressive explosion. They are very effective for the Grafham Shrimp Feeders to Reservoir Buzzer feeders. Many people still think fish have to be rising to use a dry fly, this is simply not true. If conditions are right, preferably mild with cloud and a gentle breeze, cast out a Midas, you will be surprised. If a gentle ripple, gink the top of the fly and top of the hackle so it sits lower in the surface. In a big wind I smother the fly so it rides high in the wave! Fish freely over open water or across the shallows. Fish static for best results. Available in size 10/12

Iain Barr Midas Magic

Iain Barr Midas Magic

For the small water angler and winter bank angler we have come up with our Winter Bank Selection. It consists of all the favourites in white and green, back and green and the trigger orange! Fish with varied retrieves from a slow figure of 8 to a long fast pulls. Keep changing the colours regularly to keep the fish coming and enjoy the excitement as they nip the tails before grabbing hold!

Iain Barr Winter Banker Selection

Iain Barr Winter Banker Selection

FNF Jelly Fritz has taken the market by storm and our new Rutland Jelly Blobs are taken the UK by storm too! All the bight colours and new combinations of colours tried and tested by Iain Barr. The pack includes the Iain Barr original Candy Blob and is a favourite fished static with nymphs. Although many believe these flies should be pulled at break neck speed, and at times they should, I catch more fish with these fished static with nymphs or buzzers up the line.

Iain Barr Rutland Jelly Blobs

Iain Barr Rutland Jelly Blobs

Our new Jelly FAB pack is also among our favourites. These are ideal for fishing the washing line with nymphs or buzzers up the line. They are Blobs with a small piece of foam tied in the rear to help suspend them near the surface. With a team of nymphs or buzzers, they help slow the descent to drop through the water layers slower. They can be ripped on floating to sinking lines but do try static with buzzers and nymphs on floating or tip lines.

Iain Barr Jelly Magic Fab

Iain Barr Jelly Magic Fab’s

Unique to Iain Barr, these Milky ‘Barr’ Jellies are ties using the FNF Milk Fritz with an array of bright colours in the middle. This pack offers Blobs, Fabs and Boobies in one and are proven on all Midlands Reservoirs. Rip them, twitch them or fish them static with nymphs for explosive action! These are perfect for daphnia feeders covering the array of daphnia colours that exist in our waters. On small waters fish one of these on the point with Micro Buzzers on the droppers but static.

Iain Barr Milky Barr Jellies

Iain Barr Milky Barr Jellies

The full selection of Iain Barr fly sets can be found here.

Top Tips for Fry Feeders

For many fly-fishers, the arrival of autumn means grayling, salmon, or even hanging up their rods until spring. But, according to Theo Pike, there’s an alternative, and those in the know claim it’s some of the most electrifying sport of the year…

Imagine the scene: you’re walking the banks of your favourite stillwater in the crisp sunlight of a late October day. The sky is blue, and a brisk little breeze sends showers of golden leaves flurrying out over the water. It’s as pretty as a picture. But under that rippled, leaf-strewn surface, you know there’s a savage drama of life and death in progress.

A perfect October day for targeting fry feeders!!
Image: Ceri Thomas

All summer long, juvenile perch and roach have been growing from tiny see-through pin fry to miniature fish, maybe half the length of your finger at most. While the buzzer and caddis hatches were at their height, the predators haven’t bothered with them.

But now, winter is coming, and it’s time to pack on the protein. Big trout herd the fry into shallow areas, or pin them up against the surface, before slicing into the bait-balls with carnivorous urgency. With shocking suddenness, right in front of you, the water’s meniscus explodes as hundreds of fry take to the air, desperately trying to escape from the carnage below.

So how can you take full advantage of this seasonal feeding frenzy? Here are four tips for targeting fry feeders..

1. Search for the structure

Search for structures that offer fish fry safe haven
Image source: Ceri Thomas

Coarse fish fry clearly see the benefit of safety in numbers, but they also feel more secure near structure of some kind. Dam walls, bridge pilings, drowned trees, reed beds and even gradually shallowing water can all feel like home to nervous shoals of pin fry.Even the edges of boat pontoons can be worth a careful look. I still remember my first introduction to this kind of fishing on Barnsfold – detecting a very subtle disturbance in the water beside a row of boats, dropping a fly over the edge, and hanging on desperately as the biggest trout of the day smashed my little streamer on the surface!

Then again, some of the best fish-holding structures may not be so obvious. By late autumn, the luxuriant summer weedbeds will have died back below the surface, but what’s left of the weeds should still attract fry in good numbers. Sharp drop-offs, where shallow water deepens suddenly, also provide habitat for prey and predators alike, in close proximity to one another.

It’s worth remembering that many of our reservoirs were formed by flooding farmland, so sunken lanes can provide good examples of this kind of structure – along with old walls and fences. In short, time spent in reconnaissance is never wasted, and visiting your favourite fisheries in super low water can reveal lots of useful secrets for successful future campaigns.

  1. Shake up your tactics

Unlike some other stillwater strategies, trout feeding on fry, minnows or sticklebacks can require different methods every day, and the situation isn’t always as obvious as the frenzy I’ve described at the start of this article. Simply chucking-and-chancing it rarely works, and it pays to stay alert.

A juvenile roach – a perfect meal for a fry feeder!
Image: Ceri Thomas

First of all, don’t stay in one place for too long if you’re not seeing significant action. Be observant, and prepared to move to alternative locations. Wind direction can concentrate shoals of fry into definite areas of a reservoir, or even individual inlets, and gulls will sometimes betray the presence of vulnerable prey.

When you’ve found the fry, floating or intermediate lines are favoured by most anglers, with a weight-forward profile to help propel wind-resistant flies. Although the periods of obvious activity can seem worryingly brief and intense, don’t be afraid to experiment with different kinds of retrieve until you find the one that really works.

Dedicated lure fishers will know that it’s often the pause, hang or change of direction that finally triggers a positive attack after a non-committal follow, and you can accentuate these moments, especially as your fly comes up to meet you in the shallower margins, by twitching your rod tip up and down, or from side to side. It’s hair-raising stuff, especially if you can see it all playing out in front of you in low, clear water.

Having said all this, my personal favourite approach is probably still the fry-hunter’s equivalent of the dry fly: a foam or suspender-style imitation, hanging half-submerged in the surface film, quietly waiting to ambush marauding trout that are mopping up stunned or injured fry after the mayhem of the main assault.

  1. Tie for flash and movement

Deadly flies like these snakes have lots of movement to entice aggressive strikes.

Deadly flies like these snakes have lots of movement to entice aggressive strikes.
Featured product: Caledonia Company Rabbit Snake Lure from Fishtec

Tying your own flies isn’t essential (in fact, with more and more well-tied barbless and ‘tactical’ competition-derived patterns now on the market) it’s arguably less necessary than even two or three years ago. But being able to concoct your own dressings means that you can customise your flies to the individual demands of the waters you fish.

As ever, knowing your local patch is important, because fry can vary significantly in size and colours as the season develops, even within dominant prey species like roach and perch. Using a fine-meshed net to trap some samples for detailed examination can be a good idea.

Once you’re back at your vice, tying for subtle movement and translucency (or at least the impression of it) are the important points to remember. By comparison to modern creations like Popper Minkies and pale-coloured Cormorants, old-school Mylar, foam and even spun deer hair Muddler Minnow patterns can seem quite wooden and dead – so it makes sense to exploit the subtle, natural impression of fluttering life that marabou, rabbit strips and a touch of UV flash can convey.

Snake flies take this theory to the extreme, and it’s clear that they’ve proved very successful in many situations over the past couple of seasons. But don’t assume bigger and bulkier is always better… smaller flies are easier to cast, and may even look like a more vulnerable target for trout on the prowl.

A fry feeder captured on a snake pattern
Image: Matt Russell

  1. Tackle up for the job

Even if you’d normally fish a modern 10-foot 4-weight rod on your favourite stillwaters (like me or Brian Harris), fry-bashing season is probably the time to think about arming yourself with a heavier rig.

For the purposes of relative subtlety, I still try to go no heavier than a 5 or 6-weight rod, though many others would choose 7 or 8 as their optimum for propelling big, wind-resistant flies and taking the fight to aggressive, fired-up fish.

Long rods are traditional for loch-style fishing, and I’m equally addicted to them for bank work, helping me to control and manipulate my flies in enticing ways right into the shallows. Under these circumstances, I always feel safest with one fly rather than two or more, dangerously waving around on droppers to snag on obstacles or even draw other fish into the fight, but boat anglers can safely give the fish more of a choice of patterns.

Especially if you fish rivers as much as stillwaters, this may be one of the few times of the year when you’ll risk seeing your backing, so a reel with a decent brake will come into its own (and checking the knot between backing and floating or intermediate fly line won’t hurt either). Eight-pound tippet feels about right, but I’d have no hesitation in going heavier on truly huge-fish waters like Grantham, where the power of the grown-on beasts you’ll encounter might suddenly make you think you’ve been transported to the shores of the legendary Lago Strobel.

Yes… hunting large fry-feeding trout really is one of the biggest thrills of the fly-fishing year, and a very good reason not to hang up your rod too early this autumn and winter!

Back End Boat Fishing on Reservoirs – What Lines and Flies are best?

Autumn must be one of the best times of the season to get out and fish! Here Kieron Jenkins of Fulling Mill takes a closer look at ‘back end’ fishing on our reservoirs and reveals how you can make the most of this brilliant time of year whilst afloat.

When it comes to reservoir fishing the end of the season is one of my absolute favourite times to fish. The fish are high in the water and extremely active, the winds are often strong and rejuvenate depleted oxygen levels from the summer, giving the fish a new lease of life. As the temperatures drop to a more comfortable 15-18 degrees insect life increases with daddies and sedges appearing in abundance, along with daphnia blooms flourishing.

The end of the season is one of my absolute favourite times to fish!!

The end of the season is one of my absolute favourite times to fish!!

Fishing wise, you very rarely have to go below 3ft in depth to find the fish, and keeping your flies high in the water is key to getting more takes. Airflo’s range of ‘tip lines’ are tremendous for presenting your flies in the feeding zone for longer – and keeping them there – as opposed to the straight sinkers of any densities which continue to fall through the water column, however slow they sink.

What method to use?

One style of fishing which has taken the reservoir scene by storm is the washing line method. In short, the washing line features a buoyant fly on the point of a three or four fly cast, which holds your leader up on the far end, while the flies on the droppers and your sink tip line gently falls and holds through the taking zone. Without a doubt, it’s one of the most effective ways to fish a reservoir.

A victim of the deadly washing line method

A victim of the deadly washing line method

The washing line is particularly good for fishing imitative patterns such as nymphs and buzzers, allowing them to effectively ‘hang’ in the surface at a mostly uniform depth. The buoyant fly on the point either consists of a FAB or a Booby depending on the amount of buoyancy needed – If you’d prefer your flies to gently fall, a FAB is great because of the minimal amount of foam in the fly, but if you’d prefer your flies to skate across the surface creating a wake for attraction, a booby is second to none.

What Fly Lines do I need and how do they work?

The trick behind fishing the washing line effectively is using the correct fly lines, and the Airflo tip lines are without doubt the best on the market. With a range of 5 different lengths and densities -with another being added to the range watch this space – every eventuality is covered.

Airflo Super-Dri tip fly lines ready for action

Airflo Super-Dri tip fly lines ready for action

Airflo 3ft Mini Tip

The 3ft mini tip is the ideal fly line for anchoring your flies below the surface, and quickly. It features a fast intermediate tip which sinks at 1.5 inches per second, this allows you to fish extremely slow and keep them at the exact depth almost all the way through your cast. This line is more suited to straight line nymph or buzzer fishing, but can be super effective when fishing the washing line if the fish are within the top 2 ft. Personally, I prefer this line for fishing in near flat calm conditions.

Click here to check out the 3ft Mini tip fly lines

Airflo 6ft Slow Tip

The 6ft slow tip is THE best line on the market for fishing sub surface, the slow intermediate tip sinks at a rate of 0.5 inches per second and gently falls allowing you to present your flies perfectly to around 1ft in depth. Being just 6ft long the tip doesn’t hinge when sinking, keeping you in full control and in contact with your flies – if anything, it fishes more like your old floater that gets dragged down at the end. I like this like particularly for fishing sub surface and minimising any wake off the flies, a deadly line on Llyn Brenig and Llandegfedd reservoir.

Airflo 6ft Fast Tip

The 6ft fast tip is an exceptionally good line when the fish are around 2-3ft deep. The fast tip which sinks at 1.5 inches per second beds in quickly and is perfect for hanging your flies at a constant depth, it’s one of my all-time favourite fly lines for fishing the washing line as it’s so versatile. A four fly cast with two small boobies will create enough disturbance to grab the attention of any fish in the area, but quickly drop and present the flies in the feeding zone, it can also be brought back up quickly with a few good pulls. It’s a perfect alternative to the costly Rio Midge Tip.

Click here to check out the 6ft Mini tip fly lines

Airflo 12ft Slow Tip

In my opinion, the 12ft slow tip is a must have line for fishing washing line style. The tip sinks at just 0.5 inches per second and keeps you in direct control of your flies. It allows you to fish anywhere from 6 inches to 2ft in depth with ease depending on the speed of your retrieve. As much as it’s a great line for fishing the washing line, it’s all extremely effective for pulling wet flies for wild brown trout, allowing you to fish your flies just below the surface and keeping the wake to a minimum not to spook weary nearby fish.

Airflo 12ft Fast Tip

The 12ft fast tip lets you fish much deeper than the other mini tip lines in the range, the length of the tip which sinks at 1.5 inches per second allows you to really drop your flies down if you fish slow. It’s a great line for early summer fishing when trout tend to drop. Earlier on in the year I done extremely well fishing a team of 4 buzzers on this line at Rutland water, the water was as clear as I’ve ever seen it and the fish were hard on the buzzer 20ft down. The only line I could present my flies at this depth was with this 12ft fast tip, once the flies hit the depth it was a case of holding on for the take.

Click here to check out the 12ft Mini tip fly lines                

One thing that sets these lines off against any other on the market is the use of Super-Dri technology in the floating section. It’s extremely buoyant and doesn’t get dragged down by the weight of the tips and sits super high on the surface, allowing you to fish in exactly the same depth as the previous cast, as well as keeping you in as much control as possible. When the fish are high in the water you often see fish rise or bulge in the ripple, the SD technology also allows you to peal your line off the water quickly to cover them with ease, simply covering more fish = more takes.

This nice autumn trout took a liking to a FAB

This nice autumn trout took a liking to a FAB

Recommended Fly Patterns

Fishing at the end of the season means one thing, you must keep your flies high in the water, and there are 3 styles of fly which allow you to fish the washing line effectively. The FAB, Blob booby and a Mini Booby – each give different ways of fishing the method and present your flies slightly different.

The FAB allows your flies to cut through the wave quickly and settle at a pretty uniform depth throughout – My favourite has to be the Biscuit FAB as it offers a subtle, but attractive colour combination which will work for recently stocked and resident fish alike.

The Mini Cat Booby is particularly effective when it comes to nymphing on the washing line. It gives off a lot of movement with the marabou tail and straggle fritz body – but still maintaining the slim profile that may imitate anything from a small clump of daphnia, fry or a damsel nymph if tied in appropriate colours.

When there are an abundance of stockies around you simply cannot beat the Tequila Booby – If this is the case, a four fly cast with two nymphs or cormorants on the middle droppers, and two tequila boobies on the point and top dropper can be deadly. The two blob type boobies are irresistible to stocked fish.

For the dropper flies, I tend to vary them depending on how deep I want to fish. I usually have a selection of Diawl Bachs, Cormorants and Hoppers. Here’s a quick insight into fishing what flies and when.

  • Nymphs – Use them when the trout are educated and feeding naturally – They also sink quickly so great for fishing in windy conditions.
  • Cormorants – Ideal for stocked fish because of the movement. Great middle dropper patterns when fish may chase boobies or blobs and turn away last minute. These smaller more mobile patterns often result in takes when the fish have gone off the colour.
  • Hoppers – Most effective when the fish are extremely high in the surface, they imitate emerging buzzers or corixa and allow you to keep everything fishing high in the water without dropping too quickly.

    Back end fly fishing success on Chew valley lake

    Back end fly fishing success on Chew valley lake

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.

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

5 Top Early Season Trout Flies

Spring is finally here – or is it winter? The fishing at the moment on stillwater fisheries and our trout reservoirs has been difficult, to say the least.

When it comes to fly choice, the right patterns can make all the difference in challenging early season conditions. Here we have picked our 5 top attractor flies to help you beat the spring chill, with a few tips on how to fish them.

A selection of early season trout fishing flies

A selection of early season trout fishing flies

1. Orange Booby – Size 10

What early season fly box would be complete without the booby? Orange is a dead cert colour that will attract freshly stocked fish. This version by Caledonia fly has a lot of extra movement in the marabou wing and straggle fritz body. Fish on a Di7 sinking fly line for best results either singularly or part of a team. A slow and twitchy figure of eight retrieve will often bring best success.

2. Silver Humongous – Size 10 Long Shank

A deadly early season lure pattern that will trigger the aggressive interest of the most lethargic fish, even in extreme cold water temperatures. As well as stocked trout, It also appeals to resident and overwintered fish, especially fry eating browns. Use on a Di3 or Di5 sinker with long strips and regular pauses. Expect arm wrenching takes!

3. Pink Diver Nymph – Size 10

A deadly ‘nymph’ that is perfect for fishing static under a strike indicator (Check out our guide). For cold water set the fly at a good depth to start, and simply let the wind do the work. The wind and wave action will make the rubber legs twitch enticingly, making the fly hard to refuse.

4. Marabou Montana – Size 10

Black and green is a lethal combination for the early part of the season. This take on the classic Montana nymph adds a heavy bead and some marabou to create a winning blend. Fish on a floating line with a very long leader (15 to 20 foot) let it sink right to the bottom and then literally crawl it back with a slow figure of eight.

5. Hotty Dancer – Size 10

Yellow and white has been proven as a brilliant choice for coloured, cold water – for example snow melt conditions. The addition of a hot head bead enhances the patterns appeal and works as a trigger point. Fish on a fast intermediate fly line and retrieve with a slow, but steady strip after allowing the fly to sink a few feet down.

An ealry season prize on the orange booby

An early season prize on the orange booby!

Count down to opening day: UK reservoir fisheries dates 2018

The count down to the season has started! Image source: Fishtec

The count down to the season has started! Image source: Llyn Clywedog fishery

With the days becoming longer and lighter, it’s hard to ignore the excitement of a new trout fishing season just around the corner.

To help you get your plans for 2018 off to a flying start, here’s the Fishtec pick of our top 10 UK reservoir fisheries as the new season begins, including those all-important opening dates for your diary.

So, whether you’re an expert stillwater trout hunter, or completely new to this aspect of the sport, why not try exploring somewhere different this year?

• Stocks Reservoir (Forest of Bowland, Lancashire)

Stocks sits 600 feet above sea level in the hills at the top of the Hodder Valley, so you’ll need to wrap up warm to begin your season here. But all those extra layers will be worth it – Stocks is widely regarded as ‘the best reservoir fishery in the north’. To start your season at Stocks, try imitative buzzers, or black and white, green or orange lures, fished from the bank on a slow-sinking line in the clear, slightly peaty water.
Season opens: 24 February 2018
More information: www.stocksreservoir.com/

• Rutland Water (near Oakham, Rutland)

Seeming to float above the surface of Rutland Water when levels are high in early season, Normanton Church makes one of the greatest backdrops of British stillwater fly-fishing. A session close to this iconic building should be on every angler’s early-season bucket list. Trout grow to 15lbs in Rutland’s rich waters, and the U-shaped reservoir’s sinuous points and bays will provide you with miles and miles of bank to explore. If you’re looking for a midge hatch, the shallow South Arm is reputed to be one of the best and biggest buzzer fishing spots in the country.
Season opens: 9 March 2018
More information: http://www.anglianwater.co.uk/leisure/water-parks/rutland/fishing/

• Draycote (near Rugby, Warwickshire)

Surrounded by rolling countryside, yet within easy distance of several motorways, Draycote boasts the finest buzzer fishing in the Midlands – a very good reason to mark your diary for early season. You’ll need to hire a boat to drift the hotspots over Draycote’s famous shallow island ‘shoals’, but all the natural banks offer superb fishing too, and browns and rainbows grow on to sizes of 10lbs or more.
Season opens: 2 March 2018
More information: www.flyfishdraycote.co.uk/

• Grafham Water (near Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire)

With its internationally-famous stocks of overwintered brown and rainbow trout, Grafham Water is one of Britain’s premier early-season fisheries. Loch-style fishing from boats for these turbo-charged fish is always popular, but taking a roving approach on foot can also be very productive, and even better access to the banks is planned in 2018. (Don’t forget, Grafham has become a stronghold for invasive ‘killer shrimp’ in recent years, so it’s vital to take careful biosecurity precautions when you’re fishing here).
Season opens: 2 March 2018
More information: http://www.anglianwater.co.uk/leisure/water-parks/grafham/fishing/

• Llyn Brenig (Denbigh Moors, north Wales)

If you’re craving top-of-the-water sport at the end of a long winter, the fourth largest lake in Wales may be your chance to catch a buzzer hatch. At a height of 1,200 feet in the Welsh mountains, booking a boat is often the best option to help you cover the water and take advantage of the prevailing wind. Llyn Brenig rainbows are famous for their fierce fighting qualities, and good early season flies include buzzers, cats’ whiskers, cormorants, blobs and boobies.
Season opens: 10 March 2018
More information: www.llyn-brenig.co.uk/fishing

• Llyn Clywedog (near Llanidloes, mid Wales)

Many reservoir fisheries are operated by water companies, so it’s refreshing to find one that’s run by a local fishing club for members and visitors. Llanidloes and District AA puts all its proceeds straight back into the fishery: the club stocks around 35,000 rainbow trout each season, and provides 29 boats including a wheelie boat. For 2018, they’ve also added 4hp petrol motors to all the boats. Local anglers put most of their faith in black buzzers, up to a size 12, for the months of March to May.
Season opens: 8 March 2018
More information: www.clywedogtroutfishing.co.uk

• Llandegfedd (near Pontypool, south Wales)

Easily accessible from Newport, Cwmbran and Pontypool, this is a Welsh fishery that’s run by Welsh Water. Llandegfedd is generously stocked with rainbow trout, but it also holds browns, as well as perch, roach-bream hybrids and big pike. Early season tactics are split between traditional floating lines and weighted nymphs, or fast sinkers with short lures or boobies. On their day, both can catch just as many fish! Llandegfedd has recently been threatened with closure, so please show your support for the fishery in 2018.
Season opens: 1 March (rainbow trout), 20 March (brown trout)
More information: www.llandegfedd.co.uk/fishing-llandegfedd

• Chew Valley Lake (Mendip Hills, near Bristol)

After hitting the headlines last year (when Bristol Water threatened to wind it down as a fishery) it’s testament to Chew Valley’s popularity that anglers’ protests persuaded them to rethink. The fishery has now won a reprieve, but it’s in all our interests to continue fishing it enthusiastically for grown-on browns up to 22lbs and rainbows up to 14lbs. Early season can produce epic midge hatches from the lake’s shallow waters, and a stealthy approach with imitative nymphs, emergers and dry flies on floating lines comes recommended by regular bank and boat fishermen alike.
Season opens: 6 March (season tickets), 8 March (non-season tickets)
More information: www.bristolwaterfisheries.co.uk/lakes/chew-valley-lake/

• Blagdon Lake (Mendip Hills, near Bristol)

Nestling at the foot of the scenic Mendip Hills, Blagdon has a legendary reputation for the varied sport it provides with its deep basins, shallow bays, and long narrow shape that makes it ideal for both bank and boat fishing. Five rowing boats and 15 petrol-driven boats (with low power output to reduce disturbance and wash) are available to book. Very much like nearby Chew, imitative tactics with small flies, especially black buzzers, are popular from the start of the season.
Season opens: 13 March (season tickets), 15 March (non-season tickets)
More information: www.bristolwaterfisheries.co.uk/lakes/blagdon-lake/

• Hawkridge (near Bridgewater, Somerset)

Wessex Water also runs other fly fisheries at Clatworthy and Sutton Bingham, but sharp-eyed social media buffs may already have noticed something new at Hawkridge in addition to the usual rainbows, browns, char, tiger, golden and blue trout this season: ‘sparctic’ trout, a cross between brook trout and Arctic char. Stocked at up to about 5lbs, with full fins and large pale spots on silver-grey sides, they’re stunningly beautiful fish. We can’t think of a better way to spice up your Facebook, Twitter or Instagram feed this spring!
Season opens: 28 February 2018
More information: www.wessexwater.co.uk/fishing/

 

Countdown to open season: at a glance

Fishery

Open season

More information

Stocks Reservoir

(Forest of Bowland, Lancs)

24 February 2018 www.stocksreservoir.com/
Rutland Water

(Oakham, Rutland)

9 March 2018 http://www.anglianwater.co.uk/leisure/water-parks/rutland/fishing/
Draycote

(Rugby, Warwickshire)

2 March 2018 www.flyfishdraycote.co.uk/
Grafham Water

(Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire)

2 March 2018 http://www.anglianwater.co.uk/leisure/water-parks/grafham/fishing/
Llyn Brenig

(Denbigh Moors, north Wales)

10 March 2018 www.llyn-brenig.co.uk/fishing
Llyn Clywedog

(Llanidloes, mid Wales)

8 March 2018 www.clywedogtroutfishing.co.uk
Llandegfedd

(Pontypool, south Wales)

1 March (rainbow trout),

20 March (brown trout)

www.llandegfedd.co.uk/fishing-llandegfedd
Chew Valley Lake

(Mendip Hills, near Bristol)

6 March (season tickets),

8 March (non-season tickets)

www.bristolwaterfisheries.co.uk/lakes/chew-valley-lake/
Blagdon Lake

(Mendip Hills, near Bristol)

13 March (season tickets),

15 March (non-season tickets)

www.bristolwaterfisheries.co.uk/lakes/blagdon-lake/
Hawkridge

(Bridgewater, Somerset)

28 February 2018 www.wessexwater.co.uk/fishing/

 

UK Stillwater fly fisheries opening 2018

Click to download your free handy guide

Five End Of Season Stillwater Fly Fishing Tips

The days are getting shorter, mornings misty and with a chill in the evening air we are now moving into autumn with a vengeance. Such conditions can mean only one thing – we are now heading into the ‘back end’, a time on the trout fishers calendar where brilliant sport can be expected. These stillwater fly fishing tips should help you make the most of this productive time of year!

Brilliant back end bank fishing

A brilliant back end bank fishing spot – an old river channel

1. On the bank – Once water temperatures cool off, the margins become the place to concentrate on during the autumn. Natural food accumulates and terrestrial life is blown onto the water here – so bank fishing really comes into it’s own. Look for bays, points, dying weed beds, old river channels and any in-flow of running water. Grown on resident fish won’t be far away!

2. Dig out the big flies – Colder temps tend to bring out the aggression in resident fish, especially brown trout. Combine that with the abundance of coarse fish fry on our reservoirs and you can use larger flies with full confidence – booby zonkers, snakes, humongous and various fry patterns will often catch the biggest and best quality fish.

Fish large flies with confidence

Fish large flies with confidence at this time of year

3. Afternoons are best – Very early and late tend to be times to avoid when air temperatures plummet, resulting in fish sulking out of reach in deep water. That brief spell of mid afternoon warmth can trigger fly hatches and feeding activity, so concentrate your efforts for when the water is alive and the fishing at it’s peak.

4. Slime lines = good times – Intermediates fly lines are perfect for fishing at this time of year. They are so versatile and cover the top layers down to mid water comfortably. The Airflo camo clear is a great line to start with for the bank angler fishing among decaying weedbeds or looking for a stealth option. It’s a joy to cast and lovely to handle even with cold hands.

On the fast intermediate....

A brownie on the fast intermediate….

5. Brave the wind – Autumn winds can be strong and unpleasant to fish in, BUT they can also concentrate the fish within easy reach. It is well worth casting right into the teeth of the wind, or fishing a bay where the wind is blowing in and funneling terrestrial food, such as daddy long legs. In windy conditions don’t worry about distance (the fish could be just a few yards out!) try your best to get turnover. Make your leader shorter and your casting loop tighter, in order to punch your cast under the wind.

Modern Stillwater Flyfishing Tactics Volume 3

It is every anglers dream to catch more fish and this feature length DVD produced by Airflo and Trout Fisherman magazine will help you achieve this!

Originally available with the May 2017 issue of Trout Fisherman, the UK’s leading competitive anglers Gareth Jones and Iain Barr turn their attention to bank fishing on Graham water for killer shrimp feeders and then enjoy a productive session on the small stillwater paradise of Ellerdine lakes.

This MUST WATCH feature is stuffed full of invaluable fly fishing tips, tackle and techniques. And it’s totally free to view on our YouTube channel!