Fly Fishing In Wales

These are some of my favourite home tied ‘killer’ patterns. These flies should cover many of the sporting opportunities you will encounter whilst exploring fly fishing in Wales. They should also bring you plenty of fish to the net too! I hope that you will have as much enjoyment tying and using these patterns as I have.

The Jambo

A night time surface lure for Sewin (Sea Trout), this pattern has resulted in many fine fish from our premier rivers including the Towy, Teifi, and Dovey.
It is fished on a floating line with a short strong leader to aid turnover, and cast under the trees on the far bank or across the pool tail. Retrieve with a slow figure of eight or just let it swing round, as long as it makes a wake! The Sewin will show his interest in spectacular fashion.
Surface lures are notoriously poor hookers; this one overcomes the problem by only having the rear treble hooks, the main hook being clipped off at the bend so the fly lies flat on the surface. This gives a much higher hooking ratio. They will work best from July to September when water temperatures are warm and river levels are low.

Photo - Steffan Jones

Hook –Size 2 to 6 long shank
Thread – Black
Body – Black silk
Tail Hook – Treble size 12 –14, attached with twisted 80 lb mono.
Head – Black deer hair
Wing – Sparse pinch of blue buck tail
Rib – Flat silver tinsel; add to treble for extra sparkle.

Tying tips – Use a strong Kevlar thread for the head, compact the deer hair tightly into a big bulbous ball so it will float well. When tying in the mono link superglue it to the hook shank.


A reservoir Trout pattern developed by the members of the Osprey Fly Fishing Association of Pontypridd for fishing Llyn Clywedog, where it has claimed many impressive bags of fish including several double figure Browns and Rainbows.
It can be used on any line from a floater down to a DI7, and creates an almost strobe like effect which pulls fish up from the deeps on dark peaty waters. Use with a fast strip retrieve with plenty of pauses. It is very effective on all of our large Trout reservoirs, particularly early and late in the season. The Goldie has certainly proven itself as a classic ‘when all else fails’ pattern to use when nothing else is producing the fish. Casting it could be described, as a ‘chuck and duck’ affair so be careful!

Hook – Size 4 or 6 Kamasan B940 Aberdeen short shank
Thread- Black
Head – Large Brass Cone head
Tail – Generous hank of gold & black ‘freckle flash’ tinsel

Tying tips – Rub the tinsel between your fingers to crinkle it to make it even more attractive and give it more volume. The sea hook is used because of its very wide gape.

Coch Bugger

This fly excels at catching Wild Brownies, especially the better quality fish. It’s a good imitation of the large leeches that are found in many of our mountain lakes as well as a general attractor.
Its best fished using a floating or intermediate line with a long leader, perhaps teamed with a traditional wet fly on the dropper. It is most effective on rough overcast days, or at dusk when the big Trout come into the shallows. Retrieve with a jerky figure of eight and expect savage strikes. On a river fish upstream on a dead drift or down and across, letting it swing around. It will take fish throughout the season.

Hook –Kamasan B175 size 8 or 10
Thread – Red
Body – Black lite brite
Underbody – Lead wire
Tail – Black marabou
Rib – Silver wire
Hackle – Coch y Bonddu cock
Head – Tiny pinch of peacock lite brite

Tying Tips – Make sure there is plenty of lead wire under the dubbing to get the fly down quickly. Wind the palmer hackle from the head to hook bend and tie in a new slightly larger feather for the head hackle.

Taff Special bug

A Grayling pattern that has its origins on the Taff, it has since proven its worth on all of the major Welsh Grayling Rivers.
It is very heavily weighted and is designed to reach the bottom very quickly. It works best in the top dropper position as part of a team of three, fished on a short line with a long soft rod – the infamous ‘bugging.’ method. Cast upstream at a 45-degree angle and let the flies drift down beside you a rods length out. Once you feel the flies touch the bottom, lift the and lower the rod tip gently to bounce the flies in a jigging fashion as they trundle down and across. Takes can be a gentle stop of the leader or an arm wrenching pull. This fly does best in very cold and clear water in the winter months.

Hook – Knapek barbless or Kamasan B110 size 8 to12
Thread – Black
Head – One or two gold 5 mm Tungsten beads
Underbody – Large diameter lead wire
Body – Peacock lite brite
Rib – Copper wire
Tail – Fluorescent red antron
Collar – Red SLF dubbing

Tying Tips – Squash the body of the finished fly with a blunt object such as your varnish bottle to give it a flat oval profile. Your fly will then cut through the flow even quicker to reach the bottom.

Yellow Devil

A lure for our biggest native fish, the Pike. The yellow colouration seems to work exceptionally well on our waters, such as Llangorse Lake near Brecon.
The fly is a good six inches in length, big enough to attract double figure specimens. A nine weight is the minimum requirement to cast one. Use with an intermediate line and a slow retrieve, casting tight to any weed beds or structure in the water. Use of a wire trace is mandatory! This lure works especially well from spring to mid summer when the Pike are in shallow water.

Hook- Sakuma Manta 540 5/0 or any similar sea hook
Body – Pearl Mylar tubing.
Thread- White ‘big fly’ thread.
Throat – Yellow buck tail
Wing – White slinky fiber and Fluorescent yellow ‘Vampire wing’ from Celtic fly craft, topped with a few strands of peacock crystal flash.
Head – Fluorescent red eyes, coated with epoxy resin.

Tying tips – When tying in each material add a drop of super glue. The fly will survive the Pikes teeth for a much greater length of time.

Ceri’s Bullhead

An imitation of the Bullhead or Millers Thumb, which is a common prey fish found in all of our large river systems. It works well for specimen Chub and Perch and of course big browns on rivers like the Usk. Cast tight to overhanging branches and snags, using a floating line and a sinking poly leader. Twitch occasionally as it swings around, it will be taken with gusto if a fish is there. It will work at any time of the year with the best times of day being dawn and dusk during the summer.

Hook – Kamasan B830 Long shank lure size 4 – 8
Underbody – Lead wire
Body – Pale ‘Haretron’ dubbing
Thread – Black Kevlar
Underwing – A few strands of krystal flash
Wing – Natural Rabbit zonker
Throat – Red SLF dubbing
Head – Natuaral Deer hair clipped to shape

Tying tips – Don’t make the muddler head too tight, the pattern needs to sink, not skate on the top! Keep the Zonker wing fairly short so it cannot twist around the hook bend and pick out the throat to create a hotspot.

Top Pop

This is a fantastic Bass lure for working back across the surface. Use with a floating shooting head and line basket. The retrieve should be on the quick side to induce an attack. A roly-poly retrieve is very successful with this pattern.
It is most effective when fishing a rising tide up from low water as the sea floods into gullies and channels. The Bass will come close in and can often be seen breaking the surface. Pick an overcast day if you can or choose a tide at dawn or dusk for the best sport.
Prime Bass months are from July to September on our coasts. Good marks for popper fishing include Worms Head at Rhossili, the Gwendraeth estuary at Kidwelly Caravan Park and Ynys Las on the Dyfi estuary.

Hook – Tiemco saltwater size 2/0
Body – Wapsi preformed popper body, colored with orange marker pen.
Tail – Mylar tube pearl, picked out
Eyes – Large flat gold holographic

Tying tips – Super glue the mylar to the back of popper body securely and varnish the fly heavily for extra durability. The popper body is secured on the hook with 5-minute epoxy.

Mullet Morsel

A fly for the most difficult of feeders – the Mullet. It resembles tiny crustaceans such as Sand hoppers or Copepods. Use with a floating line and a long fluorocarbon leader of about 5 lb for delicate presentation. A strike indicator is useful to spot subtle takes.
It is best used in tidal creeks and harbors, where the Mullet can be sight fished. Accurate casting is a must! It does help to ‘chum’ the water with bread to get them on the feed. Barry and Port Talbot docks, Aberthaw estuary and Three Cliffs Bay in the Gower are ideal venues for summertime Mullet stalking.

Hook – Kamasan B175 size 14 – 16
Tail – A tiny pinch of peach marabou
Body – Black thread coated in 5 min epoxy

Tying tips – Do not use too much epoxy. Let the fly dry hook point up on your table to give its back a flat profile.

Estuary Eel

A realistic Sand eel pattern, which has caught Bass, Mackerel, Pollack, Garfish and even Wrasse. Its dull natural colours seem to be very effective for our saltwater species over more gaudily tied commercial flies.
If fishing from the rocks adjacent to deep water use with a fast sinking line such as an Airflo depth finder to get it down through the tidal rip and strip back over the weeds. For flat sandy beaches an intermediate line is best. It also works on enclosed docks and breakwaters. Best used during the summer months early and late in the day.

Hook – Tiemco Saltwater size 2 or 4
Tail – 3 stacked layers of supreme hair, bottom layer white, mid layer smoke gray, top layer olive. Add a few stands of pearl Mylar to give a little sparkle.
Thread – Green
Head – 5 minute epoxy, colour with brown marker pen
Eye – Yellow/black model paint

Tying tip – Be careful when stacking the tail, do not let the different colors mix. This gives a great effect in the water.

Maggot Fly

A realistic maggot imitation suitable for catching Perch, Roach, Rudd, Dace, Chub, Tench and even Carp on both river and pond.
It is fished with a floating fly line and a strike indicator. Look for those telltale mounds of sawdust on the bank where the real thing has been used and cast your offering out. Takes will usually come on the drop. Fish around the margins in the summer months – you will have some great action!

Hook – Kamasan B110 size 10 to14
Thread- White big fly
Body – Translucent nymph skin
Head – 2mm gold bead

Tying tips – Build up a nice tapering underbody with the thick tying thread to produce a nice profile.