The Taff Demise? I think not.

Fly fishing on rivers has become vastly popular over the last eight to ten years, I remember days when we were the only anglers on the river. You could go anywhere, on any river and not see ten other anglers throughout the whole winter! There would seem to be just the few hardy grayling fishers, standing in the river with the water below 3 degrees and the air temperature even lower. Then, we had two techniques. Czech Nymphing and the Indicator.

Overtime, our flies and techniques have evolved, the Czech nymphing has more or less turned into french nymphing, using tapered leaders with short indicator pieces. The indicator, superbly impressive on its day – using a foam indicator (fish pimp.etc) has become the ‘Duo’ and ‘Trio’ fished with a dry fly as the indicator. All, very, very effective.

The lower Taff is designed to relieve the valley of water quickly. The steep banks and pools gather the water and lets the water flow  uninterrupted downstream in theory reducing the risk of flooding. Over the years, pools have changed and water flow has increased and subsided in some areas, obviously pushing the fish around into more comfortable areas.

Fish caught czech nymphing Mid winter 2009

But. There’s always a but. Especially on the Taff, the numbers of large grayling getting caught have dropped dramatically. Fish in access of 1.4lbs, which were very common in previous years. There is much speculation on what has caused the decrease of large grayling, angling pressure, cormorants and their life cycle.

I fished a tributary of the River Wye, the Irfon on the weekend with two friends last weekend, Tim Hughes and my usual fishing buddy, Jon. Tim has been around for some time, representing Wales at Rivers and Lake internationals and World-championships.

Tim had observed anglers from European countries fishing the Czech nymphing style whilst fishing the World Championship in Wales 1991 –  The Euporeans swept away the glory through fishing deep with heavyweight nymphs, something he wanted to master, and went on to qualify for river teams and take top welsh rod at one international on the Dee too.

We got talking at the bank about techniques, flies, fish, the usual stuff when on the bank and holding a rod. Tim had opted for a Czech nymph set-up, the way we used to do it, two heavily weighted, pretty large czech nymphs – Pink on the top dropper, a hotspot pink & hares ear in the middle, and a tungsten headed red tag hares ear on the point. Me and Jon, the usual, french leader setup.

Looking for a pool which the three of us could fish, we walked from the mouth of the Irfon upstream and eventually broke off the path into a long run. The kind which is only up to your knees, easy to wade and has plenty of pea gravel… The perfect grayling tertiary, right?

I pitched my fly into confluence of the slow & fast water on inside seam, and within a few seconds, I struck into a feisty browny on a pink bug… skill eh? Into the same crease, Jonathan made the same cast, and the indicator shot forward… it was a lady of around a pound. Again, third cast, I had another brown. A small shoal was located and as we move upstream it was obvious why, a small depression in the bottom with a dip of around 10 inches. Only if all pools where like this? We met up with Tim after he ‘bugged’ his way downstream to no apparent avail.

From there up, the water started to deepen, pools started to get larger and our catch rate seemed to go down, many trout but less grayling. This is how we usually fish the Taff, two nymphs.. change the weight and leader length accordingly to the depths. Tim on the other hand was ‘whacking ’em’ – Fishing these pools with heavy czech nymphs and double tungsten caddis patterns. I had heavy bugs on, 4mm tungys, I seemed to be fishing the bottom, but I couldn’t get them.. I quick change from the french leader to a braided fly line and three heavy bugs went on. A few casts in I was into a lovely grayling. We continued fishing picking off grayling and the odd trout in the fast and powerful water.

Talking to Tim later in the day we were discussing the lack of larger grayling in the Taff, their there, because their caught sometimes.. Usually when the waters low.. When we can reach them. It suddenly hit me, with the same situation happening that day, Jon and I would have had a pretty dower day for grayling if we hadn’t switched to the Czech style of nymphing. When fishing the Duo, Trio and the French Leader – Our flies are naturally lighter – Its our mind set. Dryflies can only suspend so much weight before being submerged, and two flies are never going to be as heavy as three.

Maybe we’re not catching any large grayling because were not fishing like we used to? Our flies may be too light, and not getting down to them. Trout don’t usually feed on the bottom unless grubbing, maybe that’s why trout and small grayling catches have increase.

Are we REALLY getting down there?

Written by Kieron Jenkins

Win an Airflo Ridge Clear Fly Line!

Fancy winning yourself an Airflo Ridge Clear fly line? Well here’s your chance.

Teaming up with Total Flyfisher magazine, we’ve been able to offer one lucky person an Airflo Ridge Clear fly line worth £59.99. All you have to do to be in with a chance of winning is go onto facebook and make a few clicks.

By offering this prize Fishtec and Total Flyfisher are hoping to increase Facebook followers, which will enable us to offer more gear and prizes.

As soon as both pages hit the 1000 members mark we’ll pick out a winner, so don’t be shy in spreading the word, tell your mates, tell you mate’s mates – the sooner we hit 1000, the sooner you might win.

Click here to visit and like the Fishtec Fly page.

Click here to visit and like the Total Flyfisher page.

Designed for fishing, clear venues with easily spooked inhabitance, the Airflo Ridge Clear Fly line will make a valuable addition to anyone’s arsenal. And the lucky Facebook fan will get to choose the weight and density of the line they win.

Check out the video below to see what you could be winning – and don’t forget to get liking over on Facebook. Good luck.

Written by Kieron Jenkins

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.

Total Fly Fishing

The Total Fly Fishing Company is an expert in advising specialist fly fishing and tackle information, and provides tuition in all disciplines.

total fly fishing

Total fly fishing instruction

Name: David Griffiths
Phone: 01747871695
Qualifications: APGAI, STANIC, GAIA
Instruction: River, Lake
Levels: Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced
Guided Fishing: Yes
Instruction for Corporate Groups: Yes
Onsite Shop: No
Fishing tackle provided: Yes
Accommodation: Yes

With expertly tailored trout and salmon casting instruction for individuals or groups, the total fishing company offer great tuition to improve the levels of anyone’s casting.

They offer salmon, trout, sea trout and other game species fishing, and also saltwater flyfishing at home and abroad. Tuition can be held on Lake or Chalk stream guided trout and river Grayling flyfishing in Wiltshire and Hampshire, England.

At Total fishing company there are always Speycasting and salmon fishing specialists on hand which also hold bespoke residential guided salmon fishing holidays. They hold trout chalkstream flyfishing corporate days on the Rivers Test,Itchen, Kennet, Nadder and Anton.
They can also offer advice on trout and salmon fishing tackle choice.

Chris Bright Flyfishing

Area of Operation: Stillwaters and rivers throughout Hampshire,Test Valley,Dorset

Chris Bright, fly fishing instructor

Chris Bright, fly fishing instructor

Fly fishing with Chris and Candy Bright

Fly fishing tuition (single handed rod) for complete beginners up to level 2 instructors.  Guided days for individuals or groups.  Full corporate days at selected venues.

Name: Chris Bright
Phone: 07762183583 / 01590671893
Qualifications: GAIA, L2CCA
Instruction: River, Lake
Levels: Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced
Guided Fishing: Yes
Instruction for Corporate Groups: Yes
Onsite Shop: No
Fishing tackle provided: Yes
Accommodation: No

Fly Fishing for brown trout on small streams

One of the most luring things about a blog is its design and how well maintained it is, here’s one which I found pretty interesting.

The blog consists of Richard Barrett writing a daily diary on his ventures to the small streams around England. Posting quality pictures and updates of his days on the bank, Richard lets in on some of his most successful dry fly patterns and techniques of how to catch those unsuspecting trout. His knowledge and understanding of the small streams provides a good read for the small stream addict or the hardened reservoir fisher. His tips on fishing the Dry fly could help you catch your personal best  trout or grayling!

Richards blog shows dedication and perseverance to the sport and willingness to share his ability and experiences with others. Keep an eye out on the blog for some tackle  reviews, the most recent being one of our own Airflo fly lines.

Here’s the link –


Written by Kieron Jenkins

Fly fishing coaches – John Stephens

Fly fishing with John Stephens

John Stephens fly fishing

Fly fishing with John Stephens

We can provide guides for lakes or rivers, we specialise in the chalk streams of Southern England. We can arrange fishing for you through tried and trusted organisations. This can be either for one person or a party.
Name: John Stephens
Phone: +44 (0)7971099446
Qualifications: Level 2 GAC (Game Angling Coaches)
Instruction: Single Handed Fly Fishing
Levels: Beginners to Advanced
Guided Fishing: Yes – River Test and around the South East
Instruction for Corporate Groups: Can be arranged
Onsite Shop: No
Fishing tackle provided: Yes – if required
Accommodation: Yes – if requested

We can arrange for you and or your friends to spend a day with one of our coaches on a river or lake. The coach will do more than give you casting tuition they will be your guide as well. You will learn to improve your casting as well as learning more about fishing. They will spend the day with you –  their goal is to make your day special. They will point out anything that they notice of interest, that could be a rare plant or an insect hatching. Your day will be filled with experiences.

Ten Pike Fly Fishing Tips

  1. Pike love drop-offs and ambush points; study contours and structure carefully.
  2. Although pike have an awesome turn of speed and acceleration don’t automatically think that you have to retrieve at a supersonic rate to tempt them. Quite often long and slow draws are the way to go.pike (1
  3. Pike will often follow you right back to the boat or bank. Always watch closely at such times, rather than just lifting quickly and recasting.
  4. It’s hard not to, but avoid too much lift-striking when a hit is felt. Pike will often just nudge or mouth a fly without taking it properly where a lift-strike would pull it away from them. Strip striking is often better, or just keep pulling until you feel the weight.
  5. Avoid too much natural material in your pike flies as these tend to absorb a lot of water making recasting difficult – especially in the longer patterns that are, at times, essential.pike (1 (2)
  6. Incorporating some extra weight around the head of your flies gives them a deadly jigging action in the water that pike find irresistible – you can even just roll some tungsten putty around the head, rather than tying specific patterns for the job.
  7. Do fish your flies on a loop knot such as a rapala knot or use some clips as this allows the fly to work better with a nicer and exaggerated action.
  8. If a pike is missed and won’t return try drastically altering the size and colour of the fly, this can often provoke and instant reaction.pike (1 (3)
  9. Do carry long-nosed pliers (essential) and a s/steel glove should you not be confident in handling pike. Please do also treat the big-girls with care and respect, as they do more good than damage to the waters keeping the smaller jacks at bay.
  10. Normal tapered trout lines may hinge quite badly with the larger pike flies, making casting frustrating. Pike tapered lines or lines with a short but thick belly are superb as they cope with the larger flies a lot easier. I tend to use the Airflo 40+ Extreme fly lines and they cope admirably.

Steffan runs Angling-Worldwide, a company that specialises in sea-trout fishing packages, courses, and guiding in Wales, with a history of doing so stemming back for over a decade. For further information contact:

Phone: 07879 898 344
Mail: Angling-Worldwide, Crosslane, Dolgran, Pencader, Carmarthenshire, SA39 9BY

Teifi Pools

From source to sea, very few prettier courses cut by a river can exist than that of the Teifi. Revered for its sea-trout, bestowed as the Queen of Welsh-rivers, making it a difficult context to set or etch objectively whilst doing it justice in written form – especially through biased eyes.

teifi (1)

Much has been written on the sea-trout fishing opportunities to be explored on the Teifi, yet, as with so many other rivers, the success of one species is often viewed to the detriment of another. Somewhat overshadowing, or repressing opportunities that would otherwise be highly sought. Such is the predicament of the trout of the upper Teifi, which will now be given their just deserves.

Viewed on a map or from a satellite image it becomes evident that Romans had no part to play in the design of the Teifi! The river that distinguishes the divide between two of Wales’ prime game fishing counties; Ceredigion and Carmarthenshire is as straight as the ‘Blue Oyster Bar’. Carving its path ever seaward towards its destination, Cardigan Bay. On the other end of the spectrum are the lakes where the Teifi forms its roots, and this is where this journey will take us.

At the headwaters of the Teifi set steeply within the Cambrian Mountains a series of lakes exist, some of which are natural with others being intensified by dam walls. Bleak, remote, windy, with changeable weather almost to the hour would best describe their setting. However, I think that this is its charm; angler vs. the elements, and nature in its rawest form. A day can be spent exploring the many inlets and bays in complete serenity, where the red kites soar freely once more. Oh yes, and did mention that the trout fishing isn’t bad too?

The controlling body for these lakes is Tregaron Angling Association, where for £10 a roving ticket exists that not only allows you access to four lakes but also prime trout, with salmon and sea-trout towards the latter months of the season, fishing on 22 miles of the upper Teifi. A rare bargain, as I’m sure you’ll agree. This allows the visiting angler to get a taste of both Worlds, perhaps a likely combination being; fishing the lakes by day before returning to an evening rise on the river.

The wind on Teifi lakes shows little empathy to the angler striving and wielding their line. However, take the wind out of the equation and the angler’s catch soon diminishes too. Food supply in these peat laden hill lakes are described as sparse from the most generous of optimists. As such, the fish become opportunists gorging at every available opportunity on terrestrials or other morsels that suffer the ill-fortune of taking an impromptu dip. With this being the case the trout rarely stray far from the bank, good news for the angler, especially in a stiff, uncompromising wind.


Certain banks indubitably fish better than others, and the windward shore often provides the best sport. However, this can, at times, become a misnomer. Especially since the terrestrials become airborne from the opposite side of the lake –be that by choice, or otherwise – either way they have little say in their journey direction or end.

The trout of Teifi Lakes indefinitely become territorial, highlighting the need to travel light and cover the water. Territorial fish usually lay the foundation for picky feeders and tough to fool, educated fish. Not to belittle the trout, but this doesn’t seem to be case on Teifi lakes where the sparse feeding has led to the abandonment of this trait. With this in mind, if an insect gets blown onto the water on a collision course with the windward shore then it is the trout nearest the leeward bank that will get the first and richest pickings. Why then is it that the best bags usually come from the windward shore? That I would account with the rougher and usually more discoloured water that is synonymous with windward shores, which disguise the angler’s presence and their cast, more than the carriage of food in this instance.

Fortunately, rarely would one be confronted with a windless day on such open waters. Whereas five weight rods would give the best sport on the trout that you are likely to catch – which range from a few ounces to fish of near a pound expected on most days – seven weights are more practical to help combat the wind.

Sport begins in earnest around the middle of March on these remote hill lakes. The hibernation period is prolonged due to its openness, exacerbated by cold, fleeting winds that benefit neither the brave nor the slumbering trout. However, ravenous from this lethargic state they awake ever obligingly. Such great fishing can be expected through to late September, weather permitting.

Fly patterns, as always, should rarely deviate from what is found naturally and therefore fed on naturally. A few minutes spent at the water’s edge and walking through the surrounding grass will be time well spent, and should pay dividends. Dependent on the time of year, the banquet bill would include; midges, beetles, spiders, daddies, with the great red sedge making sporadic appearances on warm summer evenings – which are a large food item for the trout and, as such, seem to lose all inhibitions when chasing these skittering morsels.

However, as noted, the trout are opportunists and general ‘loch-style’ patterns can and should be adopted – especially since a day may pass without seeing or finding and edible food source. Silhouette, size, and colour should hold precedence over exact imitations. Variables that I find to be directly applicable to most fishing situations, especially when fishing the wet-fly.


Gold serves well as a colour in nearly all peat based waters, be they flowing or still. As such, patterns like the dunkeld or golden olive bumble are two not to be overlooked. In addition, much of the food on offer to the trout is of a solemn hue. With this in mind, and since it gives the greatest silhouette, black should indefinitely be incorporated onto the cast. Classical patterns such as the black pennel, zulu, bibio or a black dabbler would be foolish to omit.

As with all un-stocked waters, the fish are a natural resource, sustainable only by prudence and a careful hand. Fish may be taken from the waters; however, I would implore the use of a respectful mind – as nowadays a mental or digital image should suffice as a trophy. Either way, take sparingly.

A place to seek refuge from the nagging ‘other-half’? Respite from a hard week at work? Or, just fancy a change from hauling out sea-trout from the river? Teifi Lakes, In my opinion, has it all.

Steffan runs Angling-Worldwide, a company that specialises in sea-trout fishing packages, courses, and guiding in Wales, with a history of doing so stemming back for over a decade. For further information contact:

Phone: 07879 898 344
Mail: Angling-Worldwide, Crosslane, Dolgran, Pencader, Carmarthenshire, SA39 9BY

Also check out:

Fishing the River Monnow

The Monnow had flirted with me months before I got to fish on her hallowed waters. On a journey from South Wales up to the Welsh Dee one cold, frosty February day the train clattered and meandered its way through border country, traversing many a fine river as it did so. Just south of Hereford the trainline teased its way enticingly past a fairytale stream – unbeknown to me at that time this was the Monnow, a river that I was to fall in love with.

Twice the train drew a parallel course with the Monnow and on both occasions I spotted rising fish, which amazed me due to the fleeting glimpses I was bestowed of the river and for the fact that it was February. Such an occurrence left me in awe of this seemingly magical river, and, as any red-blooded angler would, I vowed to return to see if the river could produce in correlation to my now exuberant expectations.


A few months had now passed yet the vivid image of those rising fish could still be conjured on a whim. It was time to lay the demons to rest and have a day on the Monnow. Prior research had helped me unclothe the Monnow, with most roads leading to the Monnow Project and its team of enthusiastic, knowledgeable operators.

Up until recently the Monnow had been rather a ‘closed shop’, with day-ticket water and access for the venturing angler being minimal. In addition, although it was once renowned throughout the UK for its Trout and Grayling, the river had been largely neglected in recent decades – allowed to fend for itself in light of increased farming pressures, especially in the upper catchment areas and its associated tributaries. The Monnow Project proposed to change this predicament, and change it they have. In fact, the Monnow Project has been heralded as exemplary for future projects, being; the largest river habitat restoration project motivated by improving the stocks of Brown-Trout and Grayling of its kind, achieving record funding by DEFRA for the project and, most recently, winning the Wild Trout Trust’ Classic Malt professional category conservation award.


Being in its evolving stage this seemed like a good time to pay the Monnow a visit and see what had been undertaken. Hearing that the river had a fantastic Mayfly hatch this seemed an apt a time as any to visit. I was to meet up with 2 gentlemen who had kindly offered to ‘show me the ropes’ on the river, both of which would give me a great insight not only into the fishing but also into what had been occurring and achieved on the river, since, one was an initiator of the Project, Robert Denny, with the other, David Smith, being an angler who has benefited from the Project, gaining access to the prime fishing.

Monnow (7)

Warm, sunny skies greeted us at our meeting point perched above the Monnow – ideal conditions for a hatch. Formalities over we ventured forth towards a rickety old bridge that perilously looms over the river near the village of Kentchurch – a quaint rural hamlet if there ever were one. Early morning fishing usually dictates sub-surface fishing before the sun starts to hit the water and initiate a late morning flurry. As such, a team of nymphs were set up with pocket water and tight runs targeted for the opportunist trout. Sport was almost instantaneous with the grayling making their presence known with an infectious regularity. The thing that instantly struck me was their size, with two of the first five grayling being over 40cm, a fine a fish as I had come across throughout the winter months. The trout really turned on a spectacle as the day progressed, chomping at the clumsy mayfly on their aerobatic strive.

I’m not sure what it is about grayling but for me they are a truly magical fish, one that commands respect whilst being ever obliging. What shone through on my first taste of the Monnow were the leviathan grayling, feeding avidly even in this seemingly unproductive time of the year.

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As the trout season drew to a close in September my attention returned to the Grayling, and, in particular, the large grayling of the Monnow. A phone call later and the date was set – now the grayling were going to be targeted in earnest. Robert Denny kindly agreed to join me once more. We decided to try the spots where the fish had been taken earlier that year and see whether we could entice the leviathans from their lairs. Robert opted for a New-Zealand setup with a klinkhammer on the top and a beaded hare’s ear suspended off the bend 3ft underneath. With the classical runs and pocket water you are confronted with on the Monnow I opted for a short-line-nymph setup, with 3 nymphs on an 8ft leader using Stream Tec XT fly rods. Robert put the first score on the board backed by “that’s 3 for me, and none for you, isn’t it?” and an accompanying wry smile, taking fish on both the dry and the nymph whilst I contently plumbed the depths. The pools on the Monnow change in character quickly, with a mixture of cascading pools, classical ‘head-body-tail’ pools, and long meandering glides. The two previous nights had seen the first of the winter’s frost, as such, I didn’t think that the grayling would be too tightly packed yet. Sure enough persistence paid off, and it wasn’t long before I started to find the grayling.

For the river the size of the Monnow – which I would describe as ideal water to introduce someone to river fishing on yet possessing enough character and intrigue to keep even the most weathered angler happy – I have never seen such high and concentrated shoals of grayling, especially with their accompanying size. One after another grayling of over 30cm drew up from the glassy depths, stimulating a healthy bend in my 5 weight rod, which was succumbing to the plunges and strive of the fighting-fit grayling. Robert continued to plunder the stocks, with an increased interest to his dry as the morning progressed. The day’s sport could be described as manic, enthralling, and captivating. A healthy number of grayling in the 15cm bracket were brought to hand, too, which was both encouraging for future years and highlighted the ‘health’ of the river, health that could be directly attributable to the work of the Monnow Project.

A good number of grayling in the 30-38cm were landed, yet the magical 40cm bracket, although coming perilously close to being broken, seemed a bridge too far. Large grayling are often nomadic creatures, and with so much grayling throughout the pools the wise old fish may have taken shelter, fully aware of our seemingly Neanderthal techniques. We had lost count of the grayling numbers we had brought to hand – such number counting becomes rather irrelevant when fishing for sport, or was that just my way of coping with a humble defeat by my fishing partner?

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We had taken grayling in almost every imaginable pot, nook, and cranny throughout the stretch at our disposal. Yet, one area had produced better than all other pools we had fished through, and, ironically, it was the first pool we had fished through. Making the best of what light was left in the sky as the winter days draw sport to a conclusion long before the angler would appreciate, we made our way back to the pool to see if we could induce a last minute conversion. Large grayling are often caught on dries, especially in slower glides where they get more of a chance to rise to an offering, however, I would advocate deeply fished nymphs as producing with greater regularity – especially in the colder winter months. My Airflo 6lbs G3 nylon was laced with 3 flies, all of which had varying levels of weight in order to fish them in a stringer fashion. A tungsten bead and leaded nymph took the point position, a smaller beaded nymph took the midfield, whilst a lighter fly took the top dropper, allowed to flutter enticingly as the bottom two dredged the depths.

Grayling settle very quickly and a rested pool can be re-fished with amazing regularity. The sport continued at the pace upon which it had commenced, with all three patterns scoring well. Large grayling can give the lightest of takes; almost a lethargic stopping of the line akin to that of a salmon and the old proverbial “hooking a rock”.

Steffan runs Angling-Worldwide, a company that specialises in sea-trout fishing packages, courses, and guiding in Wales, with a history of doing so stemming back for over a decade. For further information contact:

Phone: 07879 898 344
Mail: Angling-Worldwide, Crosslane, Dolgran, Pencader, Carmarthenshire, SA39 9BY