Over the winter fly fishing opportunities for trout can be a bit limited, so why not try for perch on the fly? Perch are eager takers, and once you find them you can have some great fun with your fly rod. So why not give them a go!
Where to find
Perch are abundant in the UK, and can be found in pretty much any lake, canal or coarse fishery – where the price of a ticket is often just a few pounds. Both large and small stillwater trout fisheries also hold specimen perch in big numbers, making for a pleasant diversion when trouting is slow.
Perch like to shoal up and hug close to structure, especially where there is a deep drop off. Perfect places to look for them would be near to jetties, piers, sunken timber, boat landings, harbors and channels.
Perch fly gear
A fly rod from 6 to 9 weight, 9 to 10 feet in length will be just fine for perch on the fly. Perch prefer to sit in mid-water, so pack your sinking lines! The Airflo forty plus range of sinkers are ideal lines to use, especially the Di5 and Di7.
Don’t worry about having a reel filled with backing – perch are not known for long runs, just dogged head shakes and dives.
For leader, use strong fluorocarbon from 10 to 15lb breaking strain. Airflo G3 or Fulling Mill flouro are both very tough stuff and withstand serious abuse.
Perch are predatory creatures, and the bigger they are the more protein they crave.
Larger trout fry patterns, minkies, boobie zonkers and snakes will all work well. The Fulling Mill fry pattern set is a great place to start for a collection of effective perch patterns.
When perching it pays to have at least two flies on your leader at once – you then have a great chance of getting a ‘double header’ – believe me it’s great fun!
How to fish
Perch like to huddle together in a pack. They often don’t like to move that far from the safety of the shoal to intercept a fly, so it is vital you get amongst them. This is where a fast sinking line comes into play.
Once your line is well down in the water, get the flies moving in aggressive strips. Perch like to ‘zone in’ on a moving fly on a horizontal plane, and a steady retrieve will often get them to attack.
When you feel a tap, never lift the rod in a knee jerk reaction. Strip-strike by pulling the fly line hard until everything locks up.
Once you find a few, keep on hammering the same area – you can often catch most of the shoal in quick succession.