Dry Fly Fishing on Draycote

Draycote water is one of the UK’s finest fisheries and after being closed from anglers for a few years, the opening this year was going to be hot! Reading a few of the forums and reports, fishing seemed have stayed steady over the year, with big Rainbow and Brown trout being taken on a regular basis. Fish of up to 9lb have been taken within the last week on Fry patterns.

After seeing the reports and drooling for the past season, I thought it was about time I had a trip there. Somewhere different towards the end of the season. I booked a boat Friday evening after hearing the whole fleet was out Thursday to assure we wouldn’t be disappointed!

With newly capped Welsh International, Lloyd Hopkins, we turned up to a flat calm Draycote water, with a cool westerly wind which was due to  pick up through the day.


After reading about some of the big fish that were about I needed a rod that would  give me good power and strength to cast heavy sinking lines with big flies. Not an easy task without the correct fishing tackle. I opted for my newly purchased Airflo Airlite Nan-tec Competition Special fishing rod. Pairing my rod up with a DI7 Sinking fly line, 15 feet of Flourocarbon and a Minky booby I was ready.

Feeding time

Tackling up on the boat I watched the fry, some in access of 4inches, close to the jetty start to get nervous, darting around and throwing themselves free of the water. It was obvious something was close. Just as I tied the fly on, there was a boil on the surface behind me and another in front – a few fish must have moved in and started to ambush the fry.

Lloyd had taken the car to the car park, so I had some time to spare. Pealing around 10 yards of fly line off my reel, I hauled the fly towards where the last fish boiled. 3 pulls into my retrieve, the line tightened and and the rod arched over. After a spectacular fight, jumping and speeding off like a train, taking 25+ yards of line in the shallow water I tamed the fish that would probably have made 3lb into the net. Haven’t left the jetty and we had one to the boat!

The fish had a small fry and a few Corixa in its stomach. Something which always sticks in my mind is one of my team members telling me that when fish are feeding on Corixa, Big red dry flies always seem to work, around the weed where the C’s live.

Fish hunting

Taking a look out around the lake before we set off we could see the majority of the boats were up the top end towards the Valve tower and aerators. Taking this as a bit of a omen we headed there first off. Most of the boats were lined up fishing along the line of aerators with bass bags hanging over the side, although not full they looked like they have had some sport earlier on in the morning.

Fishing our heavy sinking fly lines and big flies (same as what the other boats were doing) we twitched, jarred and stripped our flies at depth, close to the surface and mid level for over 2 hours for nothing but a sniff. Speaking to the other anglers in the boats they too said it was fishing pretty tough, taking just two to their boat earlier on in the day.

The ripple started to pick up wind coming from the west with a bitterly cold feel and overcast conditions, the lake actually looked perfect. Great light, no glare and a few fish started to stick their noses out. It wasn’t until 1 o’clock that we saw the first few black and olive buzzers hatching.

We both changed tactics I opted for an Airflo Supple floating line and Lloyd went for the Rio midge tip; washing line and a FAB on the point. I went for a team of nymphs and buzzers. Shortly after changing Lloyd hooked into a fish on the nymph in the middle of his cast, but unfortunately fell off and snagged itself on the FAB. A smallish fish compared, but a healthy fight, even though foul hooked!

After netting the fish, we decided for a change of scenery. Looking around the lake, there seemed to be a few bank anglers along Rainbow bay. In came the drogue and off we went. Upon arrival we saw one of the bankies netting a fish, things were looking up already!

After putting a small floating fry pattern on the point, we weaved and dodged our way between 3 anchored boats and came to the conclusion that there was too much traffic in rainbow bay to get a tidy drift. Working our way towards the sailing club I had a follow on the fry. Chasing the fly all the way into the boat only to turn off and scoff the FAB still on the point of Lloyd’s midge tip! So that was two fish for him by default! None of which I allowed him to count of course 😎

Unfortunately, as the fish was coming towards the net the hook worked free and the fish of about 4lb went on it’s way. I wasn’t giving any sympathy.

The moment the fish came off. Shame that. 

Going back around for another drift, there wasn’t much happening on the bank either. speaking to one of the guys who was having a sandwich he said they have been struggling too, with one guy taking 4 on a buzzer.

Motoring out across the lake towards the middle shallows it was obvious how low the lake was with Croft shoal exposed about 2-3 feet. The conditions were perfect, nothing was rising but it was screaming dries! Off with the flurocarbon and onto the Co-0polymer, I swiftly made a new leader and added 3 big, size 10 Orange, Red and Amber hoppers and Bobs Bits to the cast.

A few casts around the middle shallow and fish head and tailed one of the perfectly formed slicks, waiting patiently for it to make it’s way up the slick for a good cast, it rose again (assuming it was the same fish) just 10 feet from the boat… up it came for the amber hopper, sipping it in lovely – a stocky, but a nice fish for a tough day!

De-greasing my nylon and ginking the three flies the action kept coming. Within that drift i hook and lost a further 3 fish, pulling out of them on the strike (bad angling!) and netting another one. It’s very reassuring to see such great fish taking dries when there’s no fly about. Showing their up and looking. Proper feeding fish.

A few more drifts each side of the two islands provided us with a few more fish on the dries. Some crackers upwards of 2lb with great tails. Nearly all of the fish were taking line, some down to the backing – these were some of the best fighting fish I’ve had all year.

As the day wore on, the cloud started to break up and the sun putting in an appearance. The fishing seemed to slow down for the  best part of an hour until the cloud started to build up with the sun just peering through now and again. Moving another fish I switched to smaller dries, small black and red shipmans. Maybe the reason for missing a few was the flies being too big?

Switching to smaller dries paid off, taking another fish and convincing Lloyd to change too. He was astonished how quick the fishing can be when fishing dries, getting fish and takes every drift. A welcomed change from not having anything the start of the day.

With just an hour to go, we headed back to the Middle shallow and out into open water where we seen a few fish rise and jump clear of the water. The wind died, and the lake almost returned to flat calm with the sun setting it was a lovely way to end the day with Lloyd taking 2 fish on the dries and I taking another fry feeder around the Jetty on a Minky. This time a fish of 4lb plus.

Lloyd with a bar of silver on a dry fly

4lb + Rainbow to end the day

Written by Kieron Jenkins

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Kieron Jenkins

About Kieron Jenkins

Born and raised on the rivers and lakes of south Wales, Kieron Jenkins won his first cap at the age of nine, fishing for the Welsh Youth International team. He has gone on to prove himself as one of the leading competition anglers of his generation, both on the river and also the stillwater scene. Specialising in nymph and dry fly fishing in the small streams and larger, freestone rivers of South Wales, he’s also a highly respected and innovative fly tier. Kieron regularly contributes quality features to online and printed game fishing publications. When he’s not fly fishing, kieron is digital marketing manager at Fulling Mill.

4 thoughts on “Dry Fly Fishing on Draycote

  1. Enjoyed reading this Kieron sounds like you both made the most of a tough day.. well done lads

  2. Yes well done boys sounds like you enjoyed yourselfs. Think its time me and the boys had a day out up there???… Well done..

  3. Thanks for the kind words guys – It’s well worth a trip, especially with the possibility of something special! Even on a hard day like Sunday the fish that were caught were better than I’ve had all year, absolute Quality. Kieron

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