Jelly Beans By Rene’ Harrop December, 2018

Love them or loathe them ‘blob’ flies simply cannot be ignored!! Here American Author and fishing guide Rene’ Harrop dabbles with fishing the blob on the other side of the pond.

Fall of twenty eighteen has been a remarkable period of late season fishing on the lakes and rivers of Yellowstone country. Making it particularly special was the opportunity to share time on the water with friends from distant places, including Gareth Jones. Absent for a few years, Gareth’s visit in late September became instantly more memorable with the addition of his father, Ieuan.

Jelly Bean Brown

Jelly Bean Brown

With three days to catch up on four years of separation, I milked the opportunity of learning that always comes with this master of still waters and, as always, my Welsh friend had some new tricks up his sleeve.

From local Airflo rep Brandon Prince, I had heard of jelly flies tied with special emphasis toward overcoming the resistance of still water trout when conditions are less than ideal. Brandon had learned of an unusual tying material that can perhaps best be described as wildly colored flat chenille from conversation with Gareth at a recent trade show in Florida.

Greeted in late September by wind and off-color water, Gareth immediately began a demonstration of something so far off the scale of conventionality as to be considered bizarre. His score on Henry’s Lake dwarfed that of his companions, and this continued later on Sheridan Lake as well.

Cut-Bow On Jelly Bean

Cut-Bow On Jelly Bean

Imitating nothing, I have ever seen in nature, the fly he called the “Blob” did more damage over three days than all other patterns combined. Naturally, I fished the jelly flies left behind by Gareth to great advantage after his departure, but later on I learned that they are not limited to still water in their effectiveness.

From late October through most of November I am engaged in a quest for fall run browns on the lower Henry’s Fork. A Big streamer is my predominate fly of choice for this fishing but on impulse I decided to try Gareth’s jelly flies, both alone and as a dropper.

By conservative estimate, thirty percent of the noble browns landed over the past six weeks fell victim to Gareth’s new fly, along with a few bonus rainbows as well and though without his approval, it is now referred to as the jelly bean, simply because it is such a sweet concept.

Once again, thank you Gareth.

The Master

The Master

Airflo Airlite V2 9’6” #5 – Trout & Salmon Magazine Tackle Review

”A dry-fly dream”

Airflo’s Airlite V2 range is not new, but this 9ft 6in, 5wt is. The rod has been designed by Airflo’s sales director, the highly respected competition angler Gareth Jones, especially for delicate dry-fly fishing on stillwaters. It punches well above its price tag.

Airflo Airlite V2

Airflo Airlite V2 9’6 #5

What initially feels like quite a fast action oozes feel and depth when loaded and it delivers an incredibly stable casting loop. Casting with it becomes second nature, as does turning over a team of flies with pin-point precision. The progressive, smooth action is a delight.

We fished with it from the bank (with very little clearance behind and background snags) and it delivered a Lee Wulff Triangle Taper 5wt floater with ease, while on a boat the rod’s wand-like quality is unlocked: it effortlessly lifted a team of flies off the water, roll-casting
over both shoulders with fast, snappy changes of casting angle.

When playing a fish under the boat, with this rod you just know your tippet won’t break.
Give your cast some welly and you’ll be amazed how little, if any, fly-line is left on the reel. The rod’s that versatile.

The reason for adding this model to the V2 line-up was to meet the needs of specialist light-tippet fishing – a rod capable of absorbing a fit rainbow’s turn of pace on tippets down to 6X (3lb-3.5lb). We know it works on rainbow trout up to 5lb taken on a single dry-fly…

Gareth’s inspiration comes from his trips to Lough Corrib where light tippet fishing for big, wild brownies prompted the search for a suitable tool. If a rod is good enough for such technical lough fishing, then frankly, it’s as good a stillwater dry-fly rod as you will find.

Our only niggle is the lack of a keeper ring, which many anglers like. The green wooden reel seat, with a secure nut, was reliable on a day when the rod landed a bag limit of Eyebrook reservoir trout.

For the reservoir or loch/lough angler looking to discover the benefits of a lighter dry-fly outfit, this rod is all you need.

Airflo Airlite V2 fly rods are available here.

Airflo Airlite V2 9'6 #5

Airflo Airlite V2 9’6 #5

Article reproduced with kind permission of Trout & Salmon Magazine.

New Airflo Airtex 2 Wading Boots In Stock!

New Airflo Airtex 2 Wading Boots

New Airflo Airtex 2 Wading Boots

The new Airflo Airtex 2 wading boots (Vibram sole) are now in stock!!

Built to last, with a solid construction that is deceptively light in weight, these rugged boots feature a robust quick drying upper that is highly abrasion resistant. With superior ankle support, access and comfort is aided by a neoprene lining and looped heel pull.

Available in both traditional felt sole and genuine rubber Vibram, Airflo Airtex 2 boots allow for sure footed wading – whatever the conditions.

  • Protective rubberised outer for durability
  • Two sole options for grip in any conditions
  • Neoprene ankle padding for comfort
  • Rugged cordura lace eyelets
  • Strategic drain holes
  • Easily studded with wader studs
  • Sizes 7-13 (felt), 7-13 (Vibram)

Priced at £119.99, Airtex 2 boots are available here.

Airflo Airtex 2 boots

Airflo Airtex 2 boots

New Daiwa ProRex Predator Fishing Tackle

Late autumn is traditionally the time when predator fishing begins with a vengeance. Water temperatures have cooled down, bait fish are beginning to shoal up and pike, zander and perch are feeding hard in readiness for winter. To take advantage of this bonanza, all you need is a good set of predator fishing equipment.

For autumn 2018 and on Fishtec are stocking the new ProRex range of predator fishing tackle by Daiwa. We believe this range offers superb value for money, whether you are looking for a rod, reel, luggage or a complete set up. In this blog we take a closer look at the new ProRex items being stocked by Fishtec.

Daiwa ProRex spinning rods – From £54.99

At last, a versatile range of lure fishing rods for almost every predatory species you can think of; pike, perch, trout, zander, sea bass, salmon, saltwater species – you can catch them all. Available in 6, 7, 8 and 9 foot options, with various casting weights through the range from as little as 7 gram to a whopping 80 gram.

What does Daiwa say?

”This Prorex rod series offers very lightweight and at the same time fast action blanks. Each rod action has been particularly adopted to suit the requirements of casting all sizes of shads and plugs; hence their crisp and tensile feel. However the HVF fibre blank features an astonishing handling and loads over the whole tip section during casting – perfect for long distances. X45 bias construction reduces torque assisting higher accuracy a smooth bending curve is realised thanks to V-Joint. The Prorex rod series combines latest rod technology with a classical design at an exceptional price-performance ratio.”

What we like

The blanks are very slim, sensitive and transmit a lot of feel when fishing a shad or bouncing a heavyj jig back. Importantly, the handles are made of cork which gives them a really nice feel in cold and wet weather. Eyes, finish and reel fittings are all top class, making these rods brilliant value for money.

Daiwa ProRex XR lure rods – from £99.99

The big brother of the ProRex rod range, the XR offers even more performance with the latest technological innovations from Daiwa.

What does Daiwa say?

”The Prorex XR rods offer the very latest in blank construction thanks to exclusive DAIWA technology. Lightweight and extremely fast each features outrageously pleasant handling, enabling you to use for longer periods without fatigue. The sensitive tip action ensures an optimal lure presentation, perfectly buffering lunges and head shakes during the fight, reducing the risk of hook pulls. The use of HVF nanoplus carbon creates a more lightweight and at the same time tougher blank. The result is a quicker recovery enabling long distance casting, with large levels of power in reserve. X45 bias construction also reduces rod twisting during the cast, thus assisting accuracy and increasing power conversion. In addition the V-Joint spigot guarantees an even bending curve. The original Fuji TVS reel seat ensures a direct contact to the blank for optimal feel and lure control. Award winning Prorex XR rods offer an outstanding price-performance ratio”

What we like

The blanks are noticeably fine diameter, and the power to weight ratio is simply incredible. The reel seat is a top of the line Fuji, while the Fuji alconite line guides offer unparalleled line flow and protection from braided mainlines. Featuring Daiwas unique moveable hook holder, these rod are nicely finished and for the angler looking for a premium lure rod are a fantastic buy. A comprehensive range of lengths and casting weights means there is a model for everyone.

Daiwa ProRex spinning reels – £119.99

A good rod demands a quality reel and once again Daiwa (some would say the masters of the reel world) have come up trumps with a superb predator fishing reel range. We stock two sizes, 2500 and 3020.

What do Diawa say

”The Prorex reels are designed for hunting predators, particularly pike. They are a large capacity, quick ratio reel featuring an aluminium frame and an ATD carbon drag.”

What do we like

Solid, smooth with full aluminum construction throughout these are great reels. It’s best not to skimp on quality when selecting a reel for hard fishing predator fish and this one is built to last. The drag here is slick, firm, has no start up inertia and is easily adjustable. A total of 9 ball bearing make this reel a reel pleasure to bring in your line or a fish with. They are suitable for a wide range of species, as well as pike.

Daiwa ProRex lure bag – £49.99

The perfect piece of fishing luggage for carrying your lure collection, or end tackle and traces.

What do Diawa say

”This bag offers plenty of space for the storage of lures and supplies. The bag includes 3 big tackle boxes of the common size 36 x 33.5 x 5.5cm. The bags rubberized bottom prevents the intrusion of moisture from below. Both front pockets offer space for the transportation of smaller boxes for jig hooks, swivels etc. The padded shoulder strap ensures carrying comfort even if the bag is fully loaded and thus heavy. All of the bag’s outer material is water repellent and restrains short showers without soaking.”

What do we like

It’s fairly compact design means it is portable and not too heavy. The free tackle boxes are a nice touch, and there is plenty of room in the side pockets for all of your lure fishing tackle and accessories. The material is very heavy duty and looks like it could withstand the worst of the UK weather plus stand the test of time. A comfortable shoulder strap makes carrying it very easy.

Daiwa ProRex Landing net – £39.99

After all the hard work of getting your quarry to take your lure loosing that fish is simply not an option. To ensure your hook-up ends with a happy capture a decent landing net is a real boon. Enter the ProRex net.

What do Diawa say

”The Prorex nets feature an aluminum frame of 1.3 cm in diameter, light and strong. Their sleeve has grip EVA high density logo Prorex. Depending on the model, the frame snaps and / or withdrawal and the handle is telescopic or slides in the head to save space.

What do we like

Generously sized at 70cm x 50 cm these nets can accommodate good sized predator fish. The frame folds up, allowing for easy transportation. The extending net handle and rim is made of a super strong yet light weight aluminum material. Most importantly, the net mesh is made of a modern rubber composite, which is incredibly fish friendly and resistant to hooks, enabling you to get on with it without risk of snagging your gear up.


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.

New Airflo V2 Fly Fishing Reels In Stock

We recently had some exciting new fly reels land in our warehouse – the new Airflo V2’s. These reels are the follow up to Airflo’s successful V-Lite range of fly reels, which we sold in high volumes for many years.

Nicely finished in silver, red and black, they are a fully machined fly reel range, made out of a solid aluminum block that has been cut to exacting standards.

Airflo V2 fly eel full set

Airflo V2 fly reel full set

On first impression, they are a fantastic looking range of reels and appear to be incredibly well built with a solid disc drag. The drag itself is completely sealed, allowing them to be used in saltwater environments with no danger of failure. Construction wise, while a fraction heavier they are just as robust and well screwed together as the old V-Lite’s, and like their predecessor provide plenty of backing space thanks to the deep V shaped recess found on the spool.

Surprisingly, the prices are pitched lower than the V-Lite, offering a way into the premium quality reel market for anglers on a lesser budget.

Prices start at just £109.99 for the 3/4 size. Other models include the 5/6 at £119.99, the 7/8 at £129.99 plus a 9/10 and 10/11 for the double hand and switch fly rod users priced at £139.99 and £149.99 respectively.

The Airflo V2 fly reel has a fully sealed disc drag

The Airflo V2 fly reel has a fully sealed disc drag

As an introductory offer, they also come supplied with a FREE Airflo fly line – the Super Dri Elite in the case of the trout models and a Scandi head for the double handed sizes. This makes the package as a whole incredible value for money.

With a model for everyone, the Airflo V’2’s quite simply represent the best value fly reels we have seen for many years! Get yours today.

 Premium performance and good looks
 Fully machined aluminium construction
 V cut spool for extra backing capacity
 Strong, fully sealed saltwater proof drag
 Sizes: 3/4, 5/6, 7/8, 9/11 & 10/11
 Prices from £109.99 to £149.99
 FREE Airflo fly line included



Airflo V2 fly fishing reel

Airflo V2 fly fishing reels represent brilliant value for money

Small is beautiful: Why it’s time to hit your local trout fishery

They provide accessible sport in all weathers for young and old. Many of us will catch our first and our last fish at one of Britain’s many small fly fisheries. So why are these venues struggling? Across so many of our intimate, smaller trout waters, the message is “use it or lose it” says Dominic Garnett.

Autumn leaves or spring frost, your local day ticket trout fishery provides consistent sport.

Autumn leaves or spring frost, your local day ticket trout fishery provides consistent sport.
Image courtesy of Dom Garnett

Like many fly anglers, my first ever catch was at a small stillwater trout fishery. As a youngster, it represented a very different experience to the local coarse fisheries. The water was beautifully clear, for one thing. Spotting the fish and attempting to ambush them with what seemed a pathetically tiny fly was intoxicating stuff.

The casting was an uphill battle, but thankfully there was plenty of space to practise. Somehow or other I convinced a trout to grab my Hare’s Ear. The way the rod came alive was thrilling. I was a fly fisher from that day onwards – and the money I’ve spent on day tickets, fly fishing tackle and the rest since would reach well into the thousands of pounds (or hundreds, possibly, if my wife is reading this).

Sadly, the venue in question, Watercress Farm, has long since closed down. Like so many others across the UK, the owners called it a day. But this is nothing new; in fact, it’s happening right across the UK.

Small water survival

Action at Devon’s Bellbrook Valley, a typically intimate small fishery.

Action at Devon’s Bellbrook Valley, a typically intimate small fishery.
Image courtesy of Dom Garnett

If the fishing at small waters is incredibly consistent, the same cannot be said for the visiting anglers, or indeed the economy as a whole. Cost can be prohibitive for some, but obviously fisheries have to charge enough to maintain themselves. Many venues have closed as they’re simply not sustainable. Others went the way of the carp bug, the owners realising there was more money to be made with coarse fish.

Some anglers can be sniffy about fishing smaller stocked waters, too. This seems a little unfair, because many of them are special, intimate places that deliver reliable fishing through thick and thin. When the rivers are flooded, the season is over, or friends and family want a day out, these places are a godsend.

The best small waters aren’t crude fish factories – they balance natural habitat with fishing needs. With rich fly life and trickle stocking to allow fish to acclimatise, they can also provide more natural sport. From buzzer and sedge hatches, to margins heaving with sticklebacks and hog lice, there are lots of possibilities.

Coming into their own

Some fisheries offer limited catch and release, if you prefer not to have a fridge full of trout.

Some fisheries offer limited catch and release, if you prefer not to have a fridge full of trout.
Image courtesy of Dom Garnett

It’s right now, in the autumn and winter, that small waters are at their very best. This fact often seems lost on the summer crowds, who try their luck in the toughest, brightest conditions. Once the days are cooler, the trout are much more comfortable and hungry. You might be in a farmer’s back yard in Hampshire or Cornwall, but remember that the rainbow trout is a fish of northerly climes and countries like Canada and America. It can hardly get too cold to catch them here in the UK!

It’s as the weather cools that the venues need your support most, too. £20 might seem a fair pinch for a typical day of fishing, but it’s good value when you consider you could easily take home five kilos of fresh trout, or more. Even if you don’t eat them all (one fish is usually enough to feed me and the wife), nothing endears you more to neighbours and workmates than a fresh trout…

For the all round angler, perhaps the idea of bopping a trout on the head is too strange to contemplate. In which case, you might find catch and release options at some fisheries. The clever ones have managed to mix a limited amount of this alongside put and take, although trout can be brittle and not everyone is a fan.

Treat yourself this autumn and winter…

A typical “stockie”. While not wild, they’re certainly beautiful and quickly adapt to natural food.

A typical “stockie”. While not wild, they’re certainly beautiful and quickly adapt to natural food.
Image courtesy of Dom Garnett

Granted, we’ve never had it better in terms of variety in our fly fishing. I’ll spend this winter targeting everything from grayling to pike. But I’m not one to turn my nose up at a bit of day ticket trout fishing. On the contrary, when conditions are hard, or I simply fancy a straightforward day out with plenty of takes, a local stillwater is the place.

There’s nothing to say you have to fish it with lures or try and hit a limit in a couple of hours. The level of challenge is up to you. Quality, not quantity, is a good attitude to take here, whether that means trying small, natural flies, or stalking fish where clarity permits.

If it’s been a while since you went to your local trout fishery, now’s the time to make a return. You’re almost guaranteed some good sport. Chances are you can also try your favourite tactic, whether that means picking them off with emergers or pulling lures.

Last but not least, these fisheries are the perfect place to take friends and family, which is the single best thing you can do to help the sport you love. My father is a classic example. He doesn’t really do wading or tight swims these days. Which is fair enough, because he’s not as nimble as he once was. In fact, without small waters to cast a fly, his fishing season would be a lot more limited, full stop.

So, if you don’t want to lose these waters, the message is perfectly simple – support them! Get out there and have a great day. Better still, share it with a friend and please celebrate your local fishery, because like a favourite local pub, we always miss them when they close down.

Top tips for fly-fishing on small waters this winter:

Keeping active and locating hotspots is key to cold water fishing. At Simpson Valley (above) the fish were in the deep water around the stone “monk”.

Keeping active and locating hotspots is key to cold water fishing. At Simpson Valley (above) the fish were in the deep water around the stone “monk”.
Image courtesy of Dom Garnett

  1. Use light, balanced tackle. With typical small water trout averaging a couple of pounds, you don’t need to go crazy with tackle. A five weight fly rod is perfect for getting plenty of drama with “fun sized” trout. Leaders of less than 6lbs are not usually necessary, unless you want to try fishing dry flies.
  1. Go natural: Lures might bring quick results, but for more involved fishing, do take a look at what’s hatching. You’ll find creatures like buzzers, midges and corixa in just about any pond or lake.
  1. Watch closely: As most small waters are spring fed and colder nights help to clear the water, sight fishing can be capital. Rather than simply setting up and casting, have a sneak about and see what you can spot. With practice, this is also a great way to single out the bigger trout.
  1. Stay mobile: Just because the spot by the car park is available, it doesn’t hurt to have a wander. In fact, the only time to loiter in one place is if you’re regularly getting bites.
  1. Find the hotspots and follow the breeze: Even on man-made waters, there will be good spots and leaner spots. Look for springs and inlets, deeper dam areas and any corner the wind is blowing into. Trout will often follow the breeze.
  1. Two’s company: The best way to fish a small stillwater is with a mate. Whether it’s some friendly competition or a case of comparing notes, these venues are great for a social day out. You win bonus points for taking a complete beginner or someone who hasn’t been fishing in ages!


Young Welsh international fly angler Medi Treharne plays a lively fish at Garnffrwd Fishery.

Young Welsh international fly angler Medi Treharne plays a lively fish at Garnffrwd Fishery.
Image courtesy of Dom Garnett

We couldn’t hope to cover all the best day ticket fly fishing in this short blog, but here’s a dozen fantastic small waters to try over the coming months.


Bellbrook Valley Trout Fishery (Near Tiverton, Devon)

For those who like intimate fishing, this series of cute lakes provide a lovely setting to stalk fish at close quarters. The lakes have a nice natural feel, too, with flies like damsels and corixa working well.

Simpson Valley (North Devon)

There’s a great choice of tickets at this pleasant Devon fishery. These include catch and release options in the cooler months. The £10 two fish ticket on Skylark Lake is the best value you can get to take a beginner fly fishing!

Manningford Trout Fishery (Wiltshire)

Within a short drive of Swindon, Chippenham and Andover, Manningford is one of the best run fly fisheries I have ever visited, period. Two lakes offer quality fishing for prime rainbow and brown trout, whatever the weather. Also a great place for tuition, or to try river fishing on the Upper Avon, which the fishery also offers.

Duncton Mill Fishery (West Sussex)

Four sparkling, spring fed lakes make for superb fly fishing here on the South Downs. An onsite tackle shop and club room make this a civilised day out regardless of the season! It’s also an events venue at times, so do check the website before setting out.


Garnffrwd Fly Fishery (Near Llanelli)

You’d hesitate to call this a “small” stillwater. It’s a good size, with stacks of fishy features to explore. The size and quality of trout, along with an excellent and friendly onsite shop, make it one of the best day ticket trout fisheries in Wales.

Ringstead Grange Trout Fishery

Family run and open right into December, Ringstead offers lots of space and superb value (just £16 for three fish currently). At 36 acres, it’s a venue suited to the slightly more experienced angler perhaps, and an ideal place to try boat fishing. It also has good disabled access.

Woolaston Court Trout Lakes (Gloucestershire)

A great location within easy reach of Gloucester and South Wales, Woolaston has three lakes and trout that run well into double figures. Open every day except Tuesdays all winter.


Black Dyke Fishery (Norfolk)

Excellent fly fishing in the Norfolk countryside, with prices starting at just £18 for a 2 fish plus catch and release ticket.

Chigborough Farm (Maldon, nr Colchester)

Three trout lakes of differing sizes offer a suitable challenge from beginner to expert. There are also options for catch and release, too, once you’ve caught a fish or two.


Mere Beck (Lancashire)

Situated near Southport, but also within half an hour of Wigan and Preston, this attractive site offers productive year round fly fishing in Lancashire. With some flow to it, it’s also rather unique as a not-quite-stillwater! Cracking rainbow, brown and blue trout are all here to catch, with a good choice of tickets.

Roxholme Trout Fishery (Nottinghamshire)

Within easy reach of South Yorkshire, this family run fishery has rainbow, brown and blue trout in peaceful surroundings. Ideal whether you want that first bend in a beginner’s rod, or a shot at a real brute of a trout (they have been caught over 20lbs here!)

Danebridge Fisheries (Cheshire)

Fed by the River Dane, this venue’s rich fly hatches make it a favourite for the purist in need of a winter fly fix. The fish are superbly fit, too, thanks to the quality of the water. A special junior ticket at £6 per hour is also a useful addition for families.

If you’ve got a great small water fishery in your area that we haven’t mentioned, please give it a shout over on our Facebook page.

More from our blogger…
You can read more from Dom Garnett every week on the Angling Trust’s “Lines on the Water” blog, as well as his Angling Times column and various books, which include Flyfishing for Coarse Fish and Crooked Lines. See

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!

Fly Fishing Tackle New Gear – Airflo Super Stik II Rod Review

If you are looking for a mid-level fly rod that is ‘just right’ in terms of action, feel, cosmetics and performance then the Airflo Super Stik II’s could be a safe bet. Here Robbie Winram of Trout Fisherman magazine gives the range a comprehensive review – read on to find out more.

The Airflo Super Stik II fly rod

The Airflo Super Stik II fly rod

Airflo Super Stik II rods from £139.99

AIRFLO have relaunched their Super Stik rods in two ranges – the standard range consists of seven dual rated three-piece models, and the competition specials are four piece 10ft rods in 6wt, 7wt and 8wt.

The standard Super Stik II’s are: 9ft 5/6wt and 9ft 6/7wt at £139.99; 9ft 6in 6/7wt and 9ft 6in 7/8wt at £149.99; and 10ft 6/7wt, 10ft 6/7wt and 10ft 6in 7/8 at £159.99.

While the old Super Stik’s featured bright red blanks, the new ones are a subtle olive-green colour. The other difference is in the cork handle which now has a ‘flexible’ 1.5-inch section of composite and natural cork rings, aimed at reducing wear in this high-pressure area.

I had the 9ft 6in 6/7wt rod on test which I set up with a 6wt floating line. Even with a relatively short length of line on the water the rod loaded smoothly, all the flex coming from the top quarter. I was able to generate some good line speeds and nice tight loops. As I started to get a feel for the rod, working longer head lengths outside the tip, the blank flexed a little deeper, almost to the midway section, living up to its rating as a middle-to-tip action rod. But it handled these longer lengths competently.

My casting stroke was quite long and I found it a very relaxed affair with the rod doing the majority of the work. With overhead and double hauling taken care of I moved onto continuous motion casts such as the roll and switch. Here, the softer flex in the blank really paid dividends with some nice casts going out onto the water.

Fishing and casting with midge-tips through to fast intermediate lines also saw good results and nice turnover. Only when I tried out some medium to fast sinkers did I feel the rod working a good deal harder to perform at the same level. I just had to shorten the head lengths and watch my timings for those distance casts.


A great all-round rod for floating and sinking line work. The dual 6/7 rating means this rod will also take a 7wt line so I spent a good bit of time with the heavier floating and sinking density lines as well. The 6wt balanced the rod just right for my casting style but what the7wt gives you is a little bit more help with loading the rod, a real bonus if your casting isn’t quite up to scratch.

Airflo Super Stik II competition special rods £169.99

THE 10ft Super Stik II competition specials are available in 6wt, 7wt and 8wt, and are all four piece models so are easier to travel with and store out of the way in the boat.

Airflo say the rods have slightly more ‘steel’ in the butt section than the standard models, which not only helps to knock fish over so you can get them into the boat quickly, but also helps when striving for those distance casts to cover fish at range. This slightly different action really makes light work of sinking lines.

The 10ft 6wt that I tried out was also proficient with floating and intermediate lines, giving good turnover and presentation. When it came to roll and switch casts it was nowhere near as smooth as the standard 9ft 6in 6/7wt, but with overhead and double hauling it had a beautiful feel and I could aerialise very long casts with little effort.

Airflo Super Stik II Comp special

Airflo Super Stik II Comp special


This is not a difficult rod to cast so will find favour with anglers of all abilities. It does have a bit more steel than the standard Super Stik II model so is very good at pulling fish quickly to the boat and also fishing a range of dense sinking lines.

Airflo Super Stik II fly rods – ‘Tackle testers choice’

Fly Tying Gear – Hardwear Fly Tying Tool Range

With the winter months on the horizon many anglers now begin fly tying over the cold, dark months so their fly boxes are well stocked in time for the start of next season.

If you are thinking of starting, or need a budget conscious set of quality tying tools then the Hardwear range could be the answer. Here, Trout Fisherman magazine talk us through the range.

Fly-tying gear: Robbie Winram brings you news and reviews of the latest materials and tools to hit the market.

Tools to get you started

These ‘entry level’ Hardwear tools will get your fly-tying journey off to a good start without breaking the bank.

1 Rotary hackle pliers £3.49
The revolving feature of these pliers ensures the hackle doesn’t twist out of line when you wrap it around the hook shank. The sprung-metal jaws holds materials firmly and the knurled aluminium handle ensures a comfortable and reliable grip.

2 Dubbing brush £3.49
The wire brush is fairly stiff so when you are picking out dubbing and other fibres just tread carefully. It is set into a knurled aluminium handle which makes it easy to grip and comfortable to use.

3 Deluxe whip finish tool £2.99
While it is possible to create a whip finish with your fingers, if you’re not that nimble fingered or have rough skin you might find a whip finish tool an easier solution. Once you get used to how it works it is very easy to use and produces a neat and secure head (visit and search for ‘the whip finish’ for a demonstration).

4 Hackle pliers £2.50
These traditional English-style spring-loaded hackle pliers have a set of long jaws and two finger pads to depress for opening and closing. The inside face of the jaws are not ridged or raised so I would add a little bit of silicone rubber tubing on one jaw to give extra grip on slippery materials.

5 Bobbin holder £2.99
A traditional spring-arm design with a stainless steel tube and brass feet. It will take a range of small and large bobbins. While the thread tube is very smooth it is not ceramic lined so don’t overwork your thread in one place or you could weaken it.

6 Four-inch scissors £3.99
These have 1.25-inch blades and are non-serrated, giving a clean cut on a range of

7 Arrowpoint spring scissors £4.99
These are five inches long and being spring loaded are ideal for repetitive cutting strokes. Just depress the handles between thumb and forefinger to cut, then release the pressure to open the blades. The scissors have three quarter-inch long blades with extra fine points, ideal for close in, accurate cutting.

8 Fly-tying scissors £3.99
The same size as the four-inch scissors, but these have extra-large open finger loops. They would be a good choice if you have chunky fingers, but my personal preference is for the standard loops as I find them more comfortable. The fine point blades are super sharp for an excellent close cut.

Hardwear fly tying tools are available here.