Airflo Stories River Adventure – Fly Fishing with Iain Barr on the Itchen

In this installment of ‘Airflo stories’ we join former world champion Iain Barr on the banks of the famous river Itchen, where he re-discovers his love of fly fishing with light tackle for trout and grayling.

Iain also reveals many useful tricks and tips for river fishing, including those that helped him become WFFC champion in 2009.

The Turkey Tail Nymph

It is my observation that nearly every fly tying innovation is inspired in some way by something that existed before. This is certainly the case with the Turkey Tail Nymph, which follows lines of construction similar to the venerated Pheasant Tail. Created in Europe many decades ago, the PT Nymph has become a staple for fly fishers worldwide, and its reputation as a reliable producer of trout is largely unchallenged. However, devising a viable alternative to any existing pattern is what keeps the creative juices of any fly tyer flowing, and no fly works all of the time.

Turkey Tail Nymph

Turkey Tail Nymph

Introduced to the tail feathers from wild turkeys by a hunter friend in the 1980’s, I studied their fly tying potential for several years before coming upon the idea of incorporating the splendid plumage into the construction of an experimental nymph pattern. The long fibers radiating from a stout center stem can be managed in a way similar to those from a pheasant tail in forming the body of a fly in a way that is quite pleasing to the eye of both angler and trout. Turkey tail fibers can also be incorporated into the tail, legs, and wing case in a manner nearly identical to the PT Nymph. Color is the primary difference between the tails of these two abundant game birds, and this is why the Turkey Tail Nymph has become an excellent companion pattern for the reddish brown PT Nymph.
The generally oak colored turkey feathers are mottled with a lighter shade of brown creating a lovely marbled effect when applied as herl on a hook shank. When wrapped with gold wire for ribbing and weight, the Turkey Tail Nymph takes on a distinct personality of its own when compared to the copper wire used for the PT.

Like its revered predecessor, the Turkey Tail Nymph is at home in both still and moving water, and it can be tied with or without a bead. The broad feathers from which it is formed provide adequate working fiber length to accommodate hooks up to size 10, and a single quill will usually yield at least two dozen flies.

I fish the Turkey Tail Nymph as specific imitation for several mayflies like Baetis, Flavs, and some varieties of PMD’s. This is often while sight nymphing to a known target in clear, shallow water. Fishing the same pattern in tandem with a PT Nymph is a technique I use in lakes or while fly fishing blind along the banks from a drift boat. Tied on a long shank hook, the turkey tail pattern serves as a credible imitation for Damsel flies and other insects that call for more length in the artificial.

Turkey Tail Nymph
Hook: TMC 3761 Size 10-20
Thread: Dark Brown 8/0
Tail: Tips of wild turkey tail fibers
Rib: Gold wire
Abdomen: Wild Turkey Tail fibers
Thorax: Same as abdomen
Wing Case: Wild Turkey Tail fibers
Legs: Tips of Wild Turkey Tail fibers

Essential Early Season Fly Lines

The clock is ticking down towards the UK fly fishing season opening days on many of the UK’s large reservoir fisheries. We are talking of famous and popular venues such as Rutland water, Grafham, Blagdon, Chew valley , Eyebrook, Stocks, Draycote and many more.

Thousands of fine rainbow trout are being stocked in readiness, and the fully finned overwintered residents are bound to be hungry and ready to rip that fly line out of your hands! (Check out their facebook pages for more information on stocking)

A rare calm opening day on Rutland water

A rare calm opening day on Rutland water

We tend to have a mental image of a balmy spring day as the perfect season opener, with the trout gently sipping buzzers off the top in mild and calm conditions… The reality however is almost always very different in mid March – its often way too wet, windy and cold for top water fly fishing to be successful. The trout will have a much slower metabolism due the very cold water temperatures, and will invariably be inactive and deep down in the water column or hugging the bottom.

Thankfully to make things much easier for us, the team at Airflo have come up with the ultimate early season fly lines, the Sixth Sense range! They are perfect for those dour cold windy days – when you really need that deep and slow presentation, or for fishing a booby static.

Gareth Jones, Airflo Sales Director describes the uses and benefits of the whole Airflo sixth sense range:

For us the Airflo Sixth Sense Di7 in particular is the ”must have” early season line

If you are a bank angler early season can be even more of a challenge than on the boat. Airflo’s answer to this is the 40 plus range of fly lines. Airflo have successfully updated the old fashioned ”shooting head” tradition. Long gone are the days of hearing that annoying rattle of the crude lumpy join going through your guides, and the frustrating hours spent unpicking your curly mono running line. With the latest generation of forty plus lines, Airflo have seamlessly integrated the head and running line into a smooth tapered join, with a continuous non stretch core for superb take detection. The result is much easier casting execution combined with superb longevity.

Here’s Gareth explaining more about the forty plus fly lines:

For early season bank fishing we’d recommend the Airflo Forty Plus Di 5 & Di 7.

Progress – Fly Fishing in the high country

Rene Harrop Fishtec Airflo

Beginning with winter solstice, the journey to spring in my part of the world is measured in pitifully small increments of advancement in temperature and daylight. While the improvements can seem barely noticeable through December and January, hope begins to appear with the arrival of February when average daily highs hover around the freezing mark and more than an hour of fishing light has begun since the shortest day of the year.

A fishing day for me is anytime I am not fighting ice encrusted guides or the risk of frostbitten fingers. And while winter conditions remain a constant throughout the month, a reduction of subzero nights and a northerly migrating sun bring a progressive increase to the number of hours I am willing to spend pursuing trout on the Henry’s Fork when winter’s worst lies in the rearview mirror.

Rene Harrop Airflo


Although the arrival of February brings a fairly significant increase in opportunity for casting to rising midge feeders, most who fish above the 5,000 foot level will spend more time probing the depths of deeper runs and pools for the larger residents who will remain disinterested in the exertion of surface feeding until emerging insects are larger and the water warms to above 40ᵒ F.

Whether fishing nymphs or streamers; deep and slow are the bywords for fishing water only a few degrees above freezing. And unlike juvenile trout which will occupy the shallow edges, adults are prone to the comfort and security of depth in their selection of winter habitat. With metabolism slowed by cold temperature, big trout do not seem to require a high volume of food nor are they often willing to expend energy or fat stores in pursuit of fast moving prey or food drifting outside a distinct comfort zone.

Rene Harrop Airflo

In cold water, mature trout seem inclined to hug the stream bottom where the water is generally warmer and most food sources are concentrated. Upward or lateral movement of more than a foot or two is the exception rather than the rule for winterized fish which feed opportunistically on organisms drifting close by rather than chasing down a meal.

Aside from midge larvae, which are about the only aquatic insects to be truly active in mid-winter, trout will not generally see a consistent food image during times when cold water dormancy limits the activity and availability of aquatic organisms. Therefore, acute selective feeding behavior associated with trout isolating their attention on a single insect species or other source of nutrition is seldom a problem through most of the winter months.

Since the opportunity to feed during this period is usually based on a random selection of nymphs, larvae, and other fish, I do not usually concern myself with precise imitation when selecting a fly pattern. A typical nymphing rig might include a heavy, black or brown stonefly pattern in size 6 or 8 and a smaller Pheasant Tail or Hare’s Ear nymph in size 14 or 16. The flies are tied to move naturally with the current by utilizing thin rubber legs or soft, flexible materials like marabou and Partridge hackle.

My winter streamers in size 6 and 8 are relatively small in comparison to what I would normally tie on in other seasons, but they seem to work just fine and represent much less work when fishing with chilled hands and a lighter fly rod. And like the nymphs, I want my streamers to display action without excessive manipulation with the rod or line. At times, I will also fish a nymph and streamer in tandem.

A 9 foot 6 weight rod allows me to switch back and forth between nymphs, streamers, and dries with relative ease, which is particularly helpful when changing rods can mean a considerable hike through knee deep snow.

My line is a double taper floater, which allows me to manage the drift with mending techniques that keep the fly moving slowly and close to the bottom. And I try to maintain a dead drift whether fishing nymphs or streamers when temperatures are at their lowest.

Rene Harrop Airflo elite-lichen

A 10 to 12 foot leader allows the fly to sink quickly to the proper depth, and I will add a small split shot or two in deeper or quicker currents. In the interest of controlling fly drift and detecting the always subtle take, I try to limit my cast to 30 feet or less.

In the high country, the rewards of winter fishing are not always defined by the size or number of the catch, especially on those welcome days in February when calm winds and a climbing sun can mask the reality that true spring weather can lay two or more months into the future. And at times like this when progress finally becomes noticeable, simply being outdoors and fishing can be reward enough.

Fly Fishing Coaching with International Anglers

Cwm Hedd Lakes Fundraiser

If you’re in the south Wales area and are looking for some fly fishing tuition, call along to Cwm Hedd Lakes on 21st February where a selection of top Welsh International anglers will be on hand for casting tuition, fly tying demonstrations and fly fishing talk.

All proceeds of the event will go towards raising funds for the 2015 Welsh Ladies International team. The Welsh Salmon and Trout Angling Association (WSTAA) is the governing body for game angling in Wales and Cwm Hedd is pleased to be supporting the WSTAA by hosting this fly fishing coaching event.

The event is ideal for anglers of all abilities – from complete beginners through to experienced anglers – who are looking to hone in a specific technique or learn the basics of fly fishing.

The cost of coaching will be £15 per hour for adults and £10 per hour for under 18s and students, with all proceeds from coaching going towards team funding.

There will also be fly tying in the lodge and instruction for beginners on how to set up a fly rod, tie a fly to your leader, and the opportunity to get advice on choosing fishing rods and reels (no charge for activities in the lodge).

To book a coaching session, download an entry form from the Cwm Hedd Events page

Cwm Hedd Event Coaches

Big Fish at Cwm Hedd!

I can’t say that fishing has been easy as Cwm Hedd has never been an easy lake, except on those occasional days when the fish hurl themselves onto hooks in droves whatever fly your using. I can say with certainty though that the lake is full of rainbows 2.25-3lbs with a decent number of bigger fish including the browns that have been putting in an appearance over the last few weeks as can be seen below. The range of flies and methods are as eclectic as the anglers at Cwm Hedd, which makes for very lively discussion and good natured debate in the lodge and on the bank, and part of the challenge and satisfaction is finding what works best for you.

After some shocking weather this week the weekend was a belter at Cwm Hedd Lakes – with three brilliant fish coming out in one day, all Troutmasters entries: Callum Russell with a 5lb rainbow, caught on his new Airflo Super Stik fly fishing rod which he had for his 12th birthday on Saturday.


Keith Higgins with a 6lb 10oz brown trout which put up an exceptional fight on just 6lb tippet, caught on a fast intermediate and a damsel pattern, a fly which has proved successful at Cwm Hedd for quite some time.


…And finally Kieron Jenkins with this great rainbow trout 1oz shy of 7lbs hooked at full range and taken on a hot head Sunburst blob fished 4 foot under an AirLock Strike Indicator on an Airflo Super Dri Lake Pro floating line. Kieron also took one and released five on Saturday as a warm up for Sunday.


Luke Thomas and Mark Southward took one and released three, Mark on a goldhead montana, Luke on a green blob with an apple green head, fishing three feet down around the back of the island.

David Davies took one and released one on a black and white buzzer and a floating line; also on a buzzer and a floating line. Over two visits, consistent angler Ken Pascoe took two and returned five. Aside from the beautiful brown taken by Keith Higgins on Sunday, Keith also took one and released three rainbows earlier in the week, on a damsel and intermediate.

Paul Elsworthy also took one and returned three on a small black nymph and ghost-tip, Mike Mckeown took two on a black and green fritz and an intermediate. Mike Collis, Matthew Russell, Barry Curtis, Graham Davies and Paul Collet all took fish, with Barrie taking a cracking 3lb 6 oz rainbow to the delight of his 6yr old son Cole who was on his first fishing trip with dad. John Belcher’s pink spider and floating line brought him a rainbow, while Terry Bromwell and Sion Lewis each took one, both on damsels and floating lines, Sion releasing another two and Terry another one.

Terry very patiently helped me to practice my casting and I have decided that I must put in far more effort and learn more instead of faffing about and moaning that I am cold, as I am wont to do. It will be thermal knickers for me from now on, as being a fair weather angler just won’t do. I have also turned over a new leaf in respect of doing more things for myself, such as setting up my rod and tying my own fly on for a change instead of pretending I’m helpless and asking someone else to do it – what a wimp! I have made a start by cleaning my line and getting it all back onto my rod – a minor triumph.

Ken Bowring is making a very good recovery and I hope to see him and Roger Martyn at the lodge this week for a cuppa. I hope Bob Mayers is also making good progress, as well as anyone else who is poorly or just feeling that January is getting them down. My best wishes to Gary from Big Well fishery who is recovering from a recent illness. Spring is around the corner, so there will be some good times to come it just doesn’t always seem like it when things get rough.

January – cheer-up ticket offer
On the subject of January blues, if you have fished at Cwm Hedd since October 2014, bring a new angler along and get your ticket on the day for half price (either a 5 hour or day ticket). The angler you bring to experience the delights of Cwm Hedd must not have fished here before and must be paying at least a £15 concession or £17.50 five hour ticket.

Leek and Potato Soup Saga
Sally Ann Iles challenged me to a leek and potato soup competition last weekend, then promptly forgot to bring hers. Sal is adamant that she is going to bring hers next weekend: too late Sal – I won! Gotta be in it to win it!

Bridge update
Hubs Chris and son Tom have decided that the old bridge suffered too much buffeting from its unexpected cruise across the lake last week and have been busy working on the construction of a new bridge. Their design is interesting to say the least – Brunel might have been impressed even though he would have recommended iron. The new bridge is being constructed on land and they have yet to work out how they are going to get it into the water. I will have my camera to hand and will be selling tickets for the event.

Events and competitions
Speaking of events, you can look forward to several events and competitions over the next year in addition to the British Legion Poppy fish and the Boxing Day comp. the line-up of events begins with the Welsh International Coaching Day, on Saturday 21st February. The fundraising event is being organised by Lisa Povey and Renee Carlsson, member of the Wales ladies fly fishing team and is for anglers of all abilities – from complete beginners through to experienced anglers. Book a session with one of Wales- international anglers: the cost will be £15 per hour for adults and £10 per hour for under 18s, with all proceeds going towards team funding.
There will also be fly tying in the lodge and instruction for beginners on how to set up a rod, tie a fly on, and advice on choosing rods and reels (no charge for activities in the lodge). Booking forms are available at the lodge and on the event facebook page , or contact Lisa Povey via e-mail:

Iain Barr Bank Masters – sponsored by Airflo I haven’t had the opportunity to confirm the details yet, but I’m very pleased that one of the heats for the above event is provisionally going to be held at Cwm Hedd on 22nd March 2015. In the meantime, for general information, visit

WSTAA 2nd Bank trial
The 2015 draft calendar is available for the WSTAA bank trials and I am again very pleased that Cwm Hedd is part of this, with the second trial to be held at Cwm Hedd in January 2016 – date to be confirmed.

Gwyn Williams Memorial competition
In memory of my lovely brother, the competition will be held in April or May this year, and I will confirm the date in the next week or two. As it will be a fundraiser I want to keep the entry cost down, so will probably go with the same format as the Boxing Day comp ie release up to ten fish and take one: the four anglers with the heaviest fish winning a day ticket each. If anyone would like to sponsor a further prize/prizes then please let me know, but the aim is for this to be an informal comp with the emphasis on having a good day with friends. Entry will be £20 plus sponsorship and I think the sponsorship will be donated to Help For Heroes as this is a charity that Gwyn supported and thought very highly of. I’ll sort the entry forms, details and date in the next week or two. | email: |

Tel: 01633 896854 (lodge during opening hours); 07813 143 034 (any time/day before 6pm)

Cwm Hedd Fly Fishing Report Jan 2015

Happy New Year everyone!

Remember to visit our facebook page to see the latest photographs!

Opening hours: Monday and Tuesday: closed; Wednesday – Sunday 8am-4pm; last admission 2pm. Gates closed at 4.15.


Brown trout – biggest fish for January (and probably for some time) goes to Graham Davies who was ecstatic to hook a resident brown trout at around 10lbs in weight. The fish took a green and black fritz and an Airflo intermediate fly line, off the small island and in front of the lodge. Big congratulations to Graham, who of course returned the fabulous brown that had put up a very good fight. Graham also took a rainbow and released another two rainbows so had a great few hours out.

Please remember to use barbless hooks at all times and to return all brownies. They are few and far between, but aside from the 5 browns between 5 and 6lbs stocked recently, there is a smattering of resident browns and rainbows of various sizes. The newly stocked browns have already put in an appearance with Luke Taylor being one of the lucky anglers to hook one last week, as did Phil cotton in the boxing day comp.

With a fair bit of rain and cold weather over the last week we’ve seen the water temperature drop a couple of degrees, seemingly forcing the fish to become somewhat slower, and trying to provoke a take with a fly fished quickly doesn’t seem to be the way forward, as a number of anglers have discovered, leaving with empty nets. The bung or indicator method has produced the best bags over the past week and presenting your fly dead static at a constant depth is possibly the way forward. Using this method Kieron Jenkins brought eight fish to the bank over two days using a sunburst blob fished just 3ft under the bung and Sally Ann Iles took one and released 6, deciding to try something different on New Year’s Day.


Roy Western on his first visit of the week took one and released 5 on various blobs, a floating and sink-tip line. Lee Ashcroft also took one and released 5 on a black hopper and a ghost-tip. Mike James and Brian Haynes each took one and released 3, Mike on an emerger, a black blob and a humungous switching between a floating and an intermediate line.   Brian’s fish were taken on a diawl bach and small buzzers on a floating line. On his first of two visits this week, Ken Pascoe also took one and released 3 on an emerger and a floating line. Dave Marshall took one on an orange and white dancer, while Phil Harper had success with a buzzer, Tom Pitchford took one and John Viggers took one on a mini-cat.

Stock delivery – tag fish included

Although there is an excellent head of fish in the lake, a further top-up of rainbows and a tag fish are on order from Exmoor Fisheries for delivery this week. I am also planning to stock more brownies some time in the next month so watch this space!

Opening hours: Monday and Tuesday: closed; Wednesday – Sunday 8am-4pm; last admission 2pm. Gates closed at 4.15. | email:

Tel: 01633 896854 (lodge during opening hours); 07813 143 034 (any time/day before 6pm) Happy New Year and tight lines everyone.


Cwm Hedd Lakes New Years Fly Fishing Report



Fishing report December 30th 2014

Good morning everyone – I hope it is as lovely where you are as it is in sunny Cwm Hedd this morning, where the lake looks very beautiful in the hard frost that descended last night. My walk this morning blew away a few cobwebs, and the frozen ground brought a welcome change from sloshing about in mud.

Opening hours:

Monday and Tuesday: closed; Wednesday – Sunday 8am-4pm; last admission 2pm. Gates closed at 4.15. There will be many cups of tea/coffee available on New Year’s Day for those who are feeling fragile. Please ensure that all mince pies are also consumed as I don’t want to see any more before next December!

Boxing Day competition results: Sixteen anglers turned out for the Boxing Day comp despite it being a freezing cold and wet day that tested the waterproof qualities of various items of fly fishing clothing. Four anglers won a day ticket each in a very tight competition where 6 and a quarter ounces was all that separated the first from the fourth fish.

Kieron Jenkins took the heaviest fish weighing 3lbs 3 and a half ounces fishing an orange blob under a bung. He used the Airflo 40+ super dri floating line and a 5ft floating trout polyleader to turn over the indicator and weighted blob at distance, killing his last fish and releasing another 9. In second place Gareth Neale’s fish taken on an orange blob weighed in at 3lbs one and a quarter ounces; Kristian Davies, showed us how to use the bung method, coming in third place with a fish weighing a fraction over 3lbs, releasing another 9 also on the blob and bung, with a couple on dries. In fourth place Mike James took a fish weighing 2lbs 13 and a quarter ounces, releasing another five on an emerging buzzer.

Inevitably, being able to take any one of 10 fish rather than the usual first fish tempted some anglers to wait for a bigger fish to come along, resulting in some running out of time and not taking a fish, such as Phil Cotton, who released 9, again on the blob under a bung. Phil was compensated by hooking one of the big brownies though, so every cloud has a silver lining. Luke Thomas took one and released 9 using the same method; Clive Murray took one on a black and green lure and Ken Pascoe took one on an emerging buzzer

The rest of the week was quiet in terms of anglers, but the majority of those who were released from Christmas festivities took and released fish. Bill Williams, Luke Taylor and Keith Higgins each took one and released three; Gareth West took one and released five; Adam Taylor, Mike Mckeown, Barry Powell and Paul Elsworthy each took one and released two; Callum Russell, Christian Jones, Ron Thomas each took one and released one; Luke Thomas and Matthew Russell each took one and released seven; Colin Cox took one and over two visits Roy Western took three fish and released seven. | email: |

Tel: 01633 896854 (lodge during opening hours); 07813 143 034 (any time/day before 6pm)

Croesheolydd Farm, Bassaleg, Newport, NP10 8RW. 5 mins J 28 M4

Wishing you all a great New Year.


Cwm Hedd Fly Fishing Report Decemeber

Cwm Hedd Fly Fishing Report December 2014

Opening hours:
Monday and Tuesday: closed
Christmas Eve 8am-2pm
Christmas Day: closed;
Boxing Day (comp), plus Saturday and Sunday 8am-4pm. Gates closed at 4.15

Merry Christmas everyone

Brown trout in the Christmas stocking!

Five beautiful brown trout 5-6lbs each were included with the quality rainbows delivered by Exmoor Fisheries on Friday. All brown trout must be returned so it is essential that anglers use only barbless hooks at all times.

Boxing Day comp: just a few places left for those who want to enter on the day, but it will be first come-first served. The Christmas raffle will also be drawn on Boxing Day at 2pm (£1 per ticket). Prizes include a fishing bag kindly donated by Mike James, a bottle of Vodka donated by Terry Griffiths, a Greys GX500 reel, flies, fly box, priest etc supplied by Garry Evans Tackle

Arrive for the comp any time between 8am and 11am. £20 entry includes bacon sandwich, tea/coffee/cake.   Release up to ten fish and take one out of the ten. The four anglers with the heaviest fish will each win a Cwm Hedd day ticket (one prize per entry).

How’s it fishing this week?

Some horrible weather kept all but the most determined away on a few days, with Thursday and Sunday being particularly unpleasant days. Over the week, on a variety of flies such as a black spider, muddler, damsel, white zonker, cats whisker, diawl bach, black and green, black and silver lure, Ron Shottle, Kevin Probert, Huw John, Justin Williams Gareth Neale, Graham Davies, Paul Elsworthy, Wayne Evans and John Russell all took a fish each.

Over two visits Mike James took two and returned five on a cruncher and a floating line; also over two visits Roger Martyn took two and returned 11 on a black hopper, a damsel and a white zonker; Gareth West took one and returned two on a damsel and a white zonker, Ken Bowring took one and returned eight on a black pennal and a damsel using an intermediate and a sink-tip line; Keith Higgins took one and returned two on a cats whisker and an intermediate. Christian Jones was one of the few who braved the weather on Sunday, taking one and releasing one on a white minky using an intermediate and a floating line.

On a midge tip line and a black nymph, Alan Powell took one and returned four, which he thought were all between 3 and four pounds; Matthew Russell took one and returned eight on a damsel and a blob using an Airflo Forty Plus Fly Line, while son Callum, also on an Airflo 40+ took one and returned one on a damsel and a sunburst blob. Lee Ashcroft and Steve Mogg each took one and returned seven. Luke Thomas took one and returned four. Tony Horrocks took a lovely brace on a cats whisker and an intermediate line.

Biggest fish of the week

Using a floating line, Ken Pascoe took a cracking fish weighing 5lbs 8 and half ounces, releasing another two on a grey hopper and an emerging buzzer.       email:

Tel: 01633 896854 (lodge during opening hours); 07813 143 034 (any time/day before 6pm)

Thank you for your support and good humour which are always appreciated. Have a great Christmas and New Year!