Low Water and Light Fishing Tackle


Like the weather, a river is changed by the seasons. In October the Henry’s Fork flows are at about 25% of peak summer levels and the resulting changes in the fishery are multiple. This essentially applies to the slow water sections beginning at Last Chance Run and extending through Harriman to the water below Pine Haven.

This is mostly wadeable water even when downstream agricultural demands push release of water from Island Park Reservoir to 1,000 cfs and above. Storing water for the coming year begins in early Fall when flows are reduced to around 300 cfs and often lower. Responding to a rather radical and abrupt change in their environment, trout begin to concentrate in winter habitat that features greater security in terms of water depth and structure. What this means is that even though big trout may be found feeding in surprisingly thin flows of a foot or even less, they are seldom far from the sanctuary of deeper water. Awareness of this behavior will assist a visiting angler who might deal with finding fish when previously occupied water becomes seasonably devoid of opportunity.

While low water provides advantages in access and wading comfort fall fishing produces complications that are not nearly as pronounced at other times of the year.

Aquatic vegetation, a necessity in the welfare of trout and insects, grows densely in the higher flows of summer. Losing a good fish in the weed becomes an increasingly familiar disappointment as the season progresses.


In the fall, vast expanses of exposed vegetation reduce the amount of open water in some sections and the tendrils are always close enough to the surface to disrupt the current and complicate fly presentation.

With only minor exception, fall hatches are small in physical size but their numbers can be astounding. Mahogany Duns in size 16 or 18 are a bonus through mid-October; otherwise you will be dealing with Baetis and midges if dry fly fishing is your objective. A size 18 is at the large end of the scale, and they range much smaller.

A high quality tippet of 6X or 7X is needed to accommodate imitations that probably average size 22. And while futility with regard to landing a big fish may instantly come to mind, bringing a 20 inch trout to net is not impossible even with such a delicate connection.


As a matter of practicality, tackle adjustments based on seasonal requirements will determine a particular rod, fishing reels, and fly line to accommodate the extensive variety of opportunity available during a year of fishing in Henry’s Fork country.

Fishing streamers and other large subsurface flies on still and moving water will call for a 7 weight to handle a long cast and truly big trout. I like a 6 weight for float fishing or wading during Salmon Fly time and the Golden Stone hatch. Both insects require patterns as large as size 4, and most are quite air resistant. The size 10 and 12 Green, Brown, and Gray Drakes are best handled by a 5 weight, especially when making a long cast to cruising trout on the flats of the Ranch. A 9 foot 4 weight is the rod I carry on most days when a fly larger than size 14 is not likely to be necessary and a cast beyond 50 feet is a rarity. Fishing the small dries and nymphs that typify fishing the shallow flows of October is, for me, best accomplished with a 3 weight rod.

Low, clear water, tiny flies, and easily alarmed trout combine for some of the most challenging fishing of the year, especially when weed altered currents enter the picture. In a game of enhanced precision and delicacy, the light weight and small diameter of a 3 weight line permit a more subtle and controlled presentation that will put the fly where it needs to be and with a reduced tendency to alert a wary trout.

Relying upon stealth to minimize casting distance, I rely primarily on a crisp action, 8 foot 3 weight rod for fishing the small hatches of fall. A lighter line and shorter rod can be efficiently coupled with a 12 foot leader, which is considerably shorter than what I would typically use with a heavier line and longer rod.

Keeping the distance to a target fish at 30 feet or less plays strongly into the accuracy of the cast and management of the drift. And of course, seeing a small fly is entirely dependent upon fishing at relatively close range.

An upstream cast from behind the fish is the most efficient method of approaching shy trout in thin water. Quite often, however, surface feeding trout are found tucked tightly against the bank, edge of an exposed weed bed or other locations where a different presentation angle is called for. A reach or curve cast from the side in these situations is less likely to disturb the fish than approaching from upstream where you will be far more likely to come into a trout’s window of vision before ever getting within reasonable casting range.

Controlling a big rampaging rainbow is never an easy proposition, regardless of the tackle being employed. However, lighter action fishing rods will do a better job of cushioning a fine tippet and precarious connection to a miniature hook. A smooth functioning fly reel with a reliable, adjustable drag system is also an asset when playing large trout on very light tackle. Firm, relentless pressure can quickly tire a trout but you must concentrate on its every move and be prepared to release line the instant forceful movement away from you is indicated. And while luck is likely to ultimately determine the outcome, elevated skill in the techniques of playing and landing big trout can result in a very satisfying accomplishment.

Fishing small flies on light tackle is a fitting end to the dry fly season where thin, gentle currents and big, wary trout combine to demand our best. We are carried into the long winter by those fresh memories of crisp, fall days and rising trout. And as fly fishers, we survive until spring largely on the strength of those memories.


Barbel success, with the new Fishing Rod!

Cliff Hatton Barbel

At the beginning of this year I wrote of my enthusiasm for the TF Gear Classic Nan-Tec Barbel rods I’d bought for the coming season, would I “…christen them with a double?” I asked. Well, as it happened, I was unable to get out in June and July as much as I’d have liked but early August saw me doing regular after-work sessions on my local stretch of river. As a rule I use the finer, very sensitive top section for my barbel fishing despite the disconcerting bend it adopts on hurling 4oz of bait-packed feeder to the far bank; but I’ve taken to using the standard tops which are sufficiently tactile to show me when a fish is interested.

And so it was a couple of Mondays ago. Fishing alongside His Wyeness, Geoffrey Maynard of Hay, and sharing a recently acquired Korum Rod River Tripod, my unblinking attention to my rod-tip was rewarded by two or three slow pulls; there was nothing rhythmic about them so I discarded any suspicion that my rig had merely rolled in the current or had picked up a twig or something. My right talon poised for action, I watched the rod-tip bow a fourth time and on this occasion it went over just a fraction further and stayed there! The classic barbel fishing rod was swept back with some enthusiasm, (I assure you!) taking on a pleasing bend just past the perpendicular. At this stage the fish might have been of any size but only a few seconds passed before I was able to state – and I did – that “This is a good fish, Geoff – a big one”

His Wyeness – it must be said – was a little nonchalant and reluctant to look up from his PVA activities. “Tell me if you need the net” he said; his head down in concentration, apparently uninterested in my increasingly lively barbel-battle.

“Well…I’m pretty sure this is a double” I replied as the fish yanked-down the rod and tore ten yards of 8lb mono off the Shimano, but Geoff had seen too many five and six pound ‘doubles’ to stir his complacency.

“Ok…give us a moment”

Normally I would net the fish myself but the bank at this point necessitated the assistance of an extra pair of hands. Not before time, His Wyeness stood and took in the scene: 2lb test curve barbel fishing rod arced and repeatedly stabbing at the water, Shimano issuing short, staccato bursts of complaint, great patches of flattened water and one very excited angler…the penny dropped and he was soon in serious mode, net poised for the job.

Before long, a bulging, glistening net was placed on the grass and parted to reveal what was clearly the best fish of the season from this stretch. On the scales the needle settled at just 2oz short of 12lb – a fine fish indeed.


Festive fish feasts

In Britain this Christmas, between us we will eat around ten million turkeys. In the USA, over Thanksgiving, the yanks consume 60 million birds.

If the thought of slaughter on such an epic scale turn turns your stomach, here we have an alternative.

Fish. It’s an underrated festive flavour. But don’t get your carp rod in a quiver because we’re not about to suggest you plunder your local lake. For our fishy feast, we’re heading North for a delicious Nordic Christmas.



A Nordic alternative to smoked salmon
Source: Salty Squid Blog

Whether or not meat is on the menu this Christmas, a dish of gravadlax makes for a great side and is a good alternative to smoked salmon too. In the middle ages, Swedish fishermen would bury some of their catch on the beach. It’s thought the salt in the sand and the fermentation of the fish stopped it going off. These days, you won’t need sand to make gravadlax, just salt, sugar, dill and a fridge freezer.

You need: a fillet of fresh salmon, salt, castor sugar, black peppercorns, dill. Cling film.

How to make it. Mix even quantities of crushed sea salt and castor sugar. You need enough to liberally coat the whole flesh side of the fillet. Crush your black peppercorns – use as many as you like. Chop the dill.

Coat the flesh side of the fillet with the salt, sugar, pepper mixture. Cut it in half across the middle put the dill on top. Slap the two sides together like a salt sandwich. Wrap tightly in cling film. Put it in a bowl the fridge. Turn the package every 12 hours or so. Your gravadlax is ready to eat in 48 hours.

Give the fish a rinse, slice thinly. Eat.



The gelatinous texture may not be for everyone
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Lutefisk is a traditional Norse food. It’s prepared from dried white fish, or dried salt cod. First the fish is steeped in cold water for a couple of days, then it’s steeped in water mixed with lye – a powerful alkali derived from potash. This eats away at the protein in the fish, changing its consistency to something akin to jelly. After two days of this, the fish is now too caustic for consumption so it’s soaked for a further five or six days in fresh water, before being cooked briefly and served.

In particular, lutefisk made from cod is renowned for smelling utterly revolting. This combined with its gelatinous texture and the potential for it to taste of soap makes lutefisk something of an acquired taste. But for something different to serve your Christmas guests this season, you might like to give it a try. Then again, you might not.

Janssons frestelse

janssons frestelse

A hearty winter warmer
Source: Kardemummagumman

The translation of the name of this popular Swedish Christmas dish is Jansson’s temptation. Jansson was a famous Scandinavian opera singer during the early part of the 20th century – and what was he was tempted by? Sprats.

To make yourself a tasty sprat casserole, you need: potatoes, an onion, several sprat fillets (tinned are fine), cream, salt and pepper, butter, and breadcrumbs.

Chop your onion, then fry gently in butter. Chop the spuds into thin strips, put them with the onion and fry until semi-cooked. Take an oven dish. Use half the onion, potato mixture to make a layer. Season. Place a layer of sprats on top. Repeat. Cover in cream. Sprinkle with bread crumbs. Bake at 200C until the potatoes are cooked – about 45 mins. Eat.

Salt herrings

salted herring

You’ll need to make these a few months in advance
Source: Wikipedia

A favourite with the Finns, salt herrings are in fact a 14th century Dutch invention. Fresh herrings are gutted leaving the liver and pancreas in. Next the fish are oak barrelled in brine for a few months. Enzymes in the remaining fish innards help to give the steeping fish a distinctive flavour.

Before consuming salt herrings, you first need to soak them in fresh water. Thats because after six months in the barrel, the salt content of the fish can be as high as 12 – 14%. Lightly salted versions are available though, with a typical salt content of 6 – 7%.

Roe and milt

Roe and milt

We’re not 100% convinced of this one
Source: Tenderloin

Never ones to waste a tasty part of the fish, roe and milt are popular additions to the Nordic Yuletide repast. Caviar is king of fish roes but there are many more affordable fish eggs you can spread on your toast. Try Finland’s ‘golden caviar’, made from the roe of the Vendace – a member of the salmon family. To make it go further mix with creme fraiche and finely chopped onion.

Fish roe we like – milt we’re not convinced about. While we’re sure its creamy texture and mild flavour make it a joy to spread over a cracker, the thought of eating cooked, chilled fish semen is a little more than we can bear.  Anyone for roast turkey?

Banshee Tri-tip boat rod tames Irish Blue Sharks

Kevin Murphy of the Bellavista Hotel in Cobh and Jim Clohessy report on some excellent shark fishing at the moment…

It is not just the Dutch and German customers that are keen to tackle our blue sharks. Last weekend we had a party of Dublin based anglers that arrived to have some general fishing and also a day on the sharks, all done from our self-drive fleet. They were lucky with the conditions and although they did not travel to our normal area they still managed a respectable tally of decent sharks.

There is no doubt that we have had a superb year of shark fishing. Customers from all over Europe as well as all around the country have sampled the excellent Blue shark fishing off Cork this year, using some of the best sea fishing gear from UK suppliers.  The question remains though how long will the blues hang around for. We think we will be fishing for them well into November.

Stunning Blue Shark

Stunning Blue Shark

Normally the problem with fishing so late was the hassle of catching enough mackerel for rubby dubby. This is no problem for Bellavista customers – Kevin has a ready supply of frozen rubby dubby available. The frozen dubby takes the pain out of shark fishing and the results from using “Murphy’s Mush” are superb. Many customers are experiencing double figure numbers on their shark safari.

You can take advantage of the weather windows and get some shark fishing before the winter closes in – Contact: Kevin Murphy 086-6029168, www.bellavistahotel.ie

Blue Shark Des

An October Shark For Des

Report from http://fishinginireland.info/news/sea-reports

TF Gear BlueStrike Fishing Rod Review

Tf gear blue strike

Review by Total Sea Fishing Magazine of the TF Gear BlueStrike 8ft 15g to 40g Lure Rod 

The fast-taper, responsive blank on this 8ft light spinning rod is designed for working plugs and soft-plastic lures with its soft tip and progressive action.

The blue blank on the TF Gear Bluestrike is finished off with single-leg SiC guides to reduce weight and the chance of flat spots, with the rings being suitable for both braid and mono.

There is an Aluminium reel seat ahead of the innovative extended butt. With the butt retracted, these sea fishing rods can be cast single-handed. With the Butt extended, both hands can be used to punch out further.

Total Sea Fishing Magazines Comment :- A light spinning rod, handy for those tight situations with its retractable butt.

See what our resident Sea Fishing expert thinks…

Upgrading dated Coarse Fishing Tackle

Much water has rushed beneath my personal bridge these past few months: I turned a certain age for a start; then I upped my Essex sticks and started afresh less than two hundred yards from a river blessed with barbel and chav’s – not to mention the odd migrant and some hefty pike. The icing on this idyllic cake is employment within a well-organized jungle of fishing gear – TF Gear to be precise – and my new role has kindly compelled me to re-think my lot as an angler: it’s brought me up to date. Fishing is a field in which I might be described as conservative – not averse to change but reluctant to dump the learning of decades. I still enjoy watching a bobbin and deciding for myself when the hook should go in, but some species and methods don’t lend themselves to such niceties and I ain’t arguing – long may those Whiskered Ones continue to wallop the carbon!

What’s changed is my will to experiment with new coarse fishing tackle, while they’re still new – not two years down the line when everyone’s had their fill of fish and the novelty’s worn off. I do, however, have some catching-up to do so, this season, I’ll be swapping the PVA bags for in-line mesh-sticks: better for casting, better for baiting-up – and you can use the dispenser to splint a broken finger if necessary! I shall stock-pile my sticks before fishing to keep the faff-factor to a minimum; I’ll deliver them more comfortably too, thanks to my nice new Nan-Tec Classic 2lb barbel rods. These beauties have full cork handles and dependable, well made screw-fittings…I wonder if I’ll christen them with a double?

Another thing I’ll be using for the first time this season is a feeder mould – something I’ve always passed off as unnecessary because, well…it is! You really don’t need one to fish effectively, but how much simpler and neater it is to push out a nice firm cake containing your hook-bait? It’s got to be done, eh? And anti-tangle rubbers! I’ll never present an untidy rig again, I promise. For the sake of a near-weightless piece of rubber we can all now streamline our rigs – be they light or heavy – and fish with that bit more confidence.  It’s the semi-rigid nature of the anti-tangle sleeves that I like; it converts the rubber into a very effective miniature boom that prevents squabbles between end-tackle components (and there’s another good argument for in-line stick-fishing…)

I’ll be using my own very successful tench bait in the early weeks of the season, but for barbus…will it be as effective? An old pal took at least two doubles on it from the Hampshire Avon and I was with him for the first capture made from the Sandy Balls stretch in mid-November. Talk about the madness of anglers! Mick would pick me up in Chelmsford, Essex at around 2pm and we’d arrive in the New Forest shortly before dark; by the time we’d settled in and got a fishing rod out it was pitch black down there in the wooded gorge and after just six or seven hours of serious fishing in total darkness we’d pack up and make our way back to Essex, arriving home at 04.30 – 05.00hrs. I still think that was crazy, but then mild insanity was fairly normal within the angling fraternity at that time.

So, the capture of two barbel on my concoction proved nothing about its efficacy as a river-bait and Mick doesn’t live close enough to a decent river where he might test it out – but the signs are good. For tench it’s a superb bait so let’s hope their whiskered cousins have similar tastes.

So…June 16th will see the smartest, best-equipped dude in the West sitting in his Dave Lane Hardcore chair and tending to his Nan-Tec Classics. Bait will be my precious creation – plus a nice, firmly packed mesh-stick to draw them in..

Cliff Hatton tench 9lb

Cliff Hatton tench 9lb


Airflo Streamtec Nantec Rod 10ft 4/5#

As I write this snowed under my uni work, nothing is more desirable than summer evenings fishing the local rivers of South Wales. Good weather and free time allowed quite a few of these pleasant short trips last season. However despite the wistful tone, one such trip does not provoke such fond memories. Anyone who fishes or has fished the rivers of South Wales can empathise with anglers who have to overcome the myriad of obstacles that hinder the approach to the river. During one session on my local River Taff, a stumble down a steep embankment resulted in a small but unwelcome tear near the knee of my chest waders. Despite this, the urge to fish persisted. After around one hour of fishing however a slip, on what seemed to be a section of AstroTurf in the river resulted in yet another comedic fall and the dreaded “snap” that anglers immediately recognise as the sound of a broken fly rod.

The next day saw the rather mournful drive to Fishtec’s Brecon outlet and the search for a new fishing rod. After contemplating the choices that were available, I eventually settled on the purchase of an Airflo Streamtec Nantec 10ft AFTM 4/5 rod.  The low price of Airflo’s Streamtec range seemed to provide a neat “quick fix” solution to the absence of a 10ft rod in my river armoury. Being a self-confessed “tackle tart” I can admit to being somewhat sceptical at the capabilities of the Streamtec at such a low price (£109.99); how wrong I was. At this price, the Streamtec Nantec is an absolute steal, compared to other fly rods of the same specification from the likes of Greys, Guideline, G Loomis and Hanak, which while requiring substantially more investment that the Streamtec, yet in my experience, offer minimal advantages in performance.

Airflo Streamtec Nantec Fly Rod

The ideal all round river rod!

For the river angler, the Streamtec offers superb versatility being equally adept to handling various European nymphing techniques, the popular New Zealand-style method and presenting dry flies. It is often the case that during a session on the river, I will carry two rods each set up differently in order to minimise time alternating methods. As a result the 10ft Streamtec has primarily been used as a nymphing rod, particularly “French nymphing”. For this, the Streamtec has excelled, as it has in other methods such as light weight nymphs in the “Spanish style” and for using heavier bugs and nymphs in the Czech fashion targeting grayling hugging the bottom; as has recently been the case through the winter and the rather adverse weather conditions.  When playing trout and grayling the Streamtec offers a fine hook hold and is capable of managing even the most savage of takes of a trout in fast runs and the slow monotonous lunges of a grayling in the deeper runs of the river.

The Nano technology that Airflo incorporates into their range of fly fishing rods allows the weight of the rod to be kept at a minimum, while not compromising strength. This weight reduction certainly helps alleviate the strains of fishing at a full arm’s length in order keep control over the indicator.

The alignment spots that the Streamtec has on each of its sections are a particular feature that is worth drawing attention to. This is a seemingly small and for some perhaps an insignificant addition, yet any change that helps minimise time spent tackling up in favour of even the smallest increase of time on the water is one to be appreciated. Since its purchase the rod has survived the stress of many river sessions. Not only has it remained a rather attractive piece of kit despite the treks through brambles and woodland encountered on the approach to many rivers in the area, but the cork handle and the finish of the blank have survived quite a few more Charlie Chaplin like falls in and out of the water.

The one feature that does seem missing however is the lack of a fighting butt. This is a feature that I usually look for in many of the rods over 9ft that I use on both rivers and lakes in order to make the use of a rod, and playing a fish more comfortable.

That said however, there is very little to dislike about the 10ft Streamtec. At £109.99 it can be considered a bargain for what it offers and a significant advantage over many other rods of the same type.  Most importantly is the fact that the Streamtec is capable of handling the vast majority of situations that a river angler is likely to encounter throughout the year.

With Airflo offering three other lengths and line ratings of the Streamtec Nantec, there will certainly be more additions to my collection of river rods ready for the opening the trout season while my 10ft 4/5 Streamtec Nantec remains my preferred choice of rod for my river fishing.

See the range of Airflo Streamtec Nantec Rods here

Alan Yates Sea Fishing Diary – April

I’m just back from a fortnight in Gambia fishing the West African Beach Championships organised by Bernard Westgarth and his wife Barbara. I finished fourth with a last day draw finishing my hopes of winning, although my son, Richard took the Championship’s first place with three zone wins and a third which would have been virtually impossible to beat anyway. Second place went to Nick Westgarth, another youngster with a consistent performance included an end peg on the final day, which he used to perfection. Third was Sheerness pensioner and great friend, Roger Weeks who landed a 9lb butterfish on the last day to also win that days biggest fish prize.

During the trip I landed a number of big fish with a 13lb cassava and a 15lb sand shark amongst my best, not in the matches though, whilst Richard topped the 20lb mark in the match with a 23lb captain fish and then added a near thirty sand shark from a freelance mark close to the border of Senegal. Some say the fishing is not as good in Gambia as it once was, which may be true to an extent, but going on what I saw there are plenty of speedy giants to catch, especial at this time of year (April).

13lb cassava Fishtec Alan Yates

13lb cassava

Alan Yates 15lb sand shark Fishtec

15lb sand shark

What was particularly pleasing for me was to see Richard catch his best two fish using a 15ft Force Eight beachcaster. He was a fan of the old Fox Matrix I designed way back, but I persuaded him to try the TF Gear version and it was a hit straight away, especially in terms of the distances he achieved with it. Like everywhere around the world long range is the get out of jail card when the going is tough, especially in match fishing conditions with those vital extra yards the bonus that so often win. One of the great things about a hot country like Gambia is that casting distances are dramatically increased by the hot air and the warmer oil in your reels – The skies the limit and there is nothing more pleasing to a shore angler than to see the lead and bait vanish over the distant surf line.
For details of Gambian fishing contact Bernard Westgarth at: www.fishthegambia.com E Mail: Bernard@fishthegambia.com

After from the Gambia the foreign currency is now directed at Portugal where I have the World Club champs at Granola in a matter of days. I am fishing for the Dover Sea Angling team and hopes are high despite two pensioners being in our team. After that there is the small matter of the Magrini Championships in Sardinia – Italians know how to put on an angling event and its hard to really get into the fishing because the organisation, HQ, food, banter and wine is so enjoyable. The three hour weigh in after midnight is a feature most fear if they blank because it’s read out load!
In both events I will use the TFGear Delta All Rounder with fixed spools and light mono line. Species are small with small hooks required and a delicate hook length (5lb), which has to be protected by a softer actioned rod. I also use a very light continental quiver tip because most of the fishing is at medium range. Yes the advert is true the Delta is my favourite sea rod, but I would add that I don’t use just one fishing rod all the time. The Delta is for match and snatching, the Force 8 for long range and doggie hauling and that apart there is spinning, LRF, mullet and boat fishing which all require a different action, length and rating.
Between the two Continental matches I have a DVD to make at my home venues in Kent for Sea Angler Magazine and TF Gear. It’s an instructional video – all you need to know about sea angling from the shore. Something of a challenge in an hour, but I am sure we can manage with the help of Sea Angler, feature writer Paul Fenech.

Here at home it looks like the winter has finally ending with some blossom on the cherries and the first peeler crabs likely to appear as I write. Spring codling, thornback rays and plaice are amongst the species turning up on the Kent shores, although most anglers will now be looking towards the smoothhounds arriving. Their presence on a host of summer venues really do make the summer the best time to fish for big fish nowadays. Forget about winter cod that are almost impossible to catch from the shore and head for a smoothhound venue in June. They are now all around the British Isles. Here are a few to try. The Lincs. Coast is a smoothhound boom area with Chapel St Leonards and Ingoldmells amongst the many hot spots. Into Suffolk and Orford Ness is the venue to head for there, whilst on the Kent coast there is Sheppey, Reculver, Sandown and the Dover piers. In Hants the Solent is smoothhound central with Selsey, Pagham, Bracklesham red hot. Into Dorset there is Chesil beach, whilst the Bristol Channel on both the England and Welsh side boasts a host of venue from Minehead to Barry. Over the Irish Sea check out Rosslare Point and Courtown in Wexford. Next on the Welsh side is Anglesey, whilst the species are now commonly found in Lancs (Gynn Wall). and Cumbria and they are staring to show north of the Solway too. Good luck and remember not to leave your rod unattended and to loosen the drag!

You can catch me on Facebook from time to time – I am afraid I am a bit of a wind up merchant and like to see if I can get a “bite” with my posts. Indeed if you need to contact me for a question or something important its best to e mail me direct on: alankyates@aol.com rather than use Facebook because I only check it when the mood takes me, whilst I work all the time on the computer.

Tight lines,

Alan Yates