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.

Farmoor-II fly fishing

When the rivers are flooded and there’s nothing to do but tie flies, what is an eager fisherman to do? The option of a small water doesn’t really appeal to myself, so another river or a reservoir was on the cards. I’d had a call earlier in the week of a good friend who wanted to do some fishing the weekend so it was a quick phone call to Dean and before I even suggested where to go, he said ‘I’ll pick you up 6.30am!’ Nothing better than another keep and chips angler!

Terry, Dean and myself turned up at Farmoor II at around 9am after a quick pit stop in McDonalds to fill up. Almost flat calm and bright sun, it was set to be  a good day until the ranger described the fishing at the lake as a ‘Drain’. With very low averages over the previous week due to water being pumped in.

Emptying the car of fishing rods and tackle, we head off around the lake to find a likely looking spot to fish for the first few hours of the day. There were many anglers on the east bank, sitting, more or less ledgering their boobies waiting for a take.

Now, this was Terrys first day on a lake in just under 30 years… he had no fishing tackle, no flies and a bit of a clue. ‘They live in the water’ he said with a smile on his face.

After running through the basic principals of fishing sinking fly lines and boobies with T, he couldn’t wait to get out there.

Terrys first cast into FarmoorII

We fished as a pack, 3 of us in a line waiting to ambush anything that was to swim past, if it missed the first guy, the second or third would be sure to get it! Well, that’s what we thought anyway. After half an hour or so Terry got his first pull and I saw Deans rod buckle over, landing a cracking Farmoor Rainbow trout. A few long range pictures and back to the fishing.

Dean landing a trout

By now, the wind had picked up making casting easier and fishing more pleasant. I’d cast out trying my luck after Deans fish and Terrys pull… It wasn’t long before the line went skittering out of my hand and I’d landed my first fish. Next cast, another!

The first few hours were hard, not many fish coming out anywhere. Nothing more to the Welsh trio either, other than a single lost fish.

The far bank was calling, the locals were there and the wind was light… a pleasurable area to fish, not exactly the Ideal location for fish, but it was worth a go.

Now, not everything we do pays off… but this one did, big time. first 6 casts between us, we landed5 fish and dropped 2. My first cast saw me take a double header, a fish of around 2.4lb on the dropper and a 5lb+ fish on the tail. Albeit a stocky, it gave a great account for itself and left me thinking it was much bigger until it was in the net.

I spent a few minutes sitting with Terry after this, mainly untangling his line! But also giving some hits and tips, taking a few pictures and talking to locals.

The stance of expectation

Returning back to fishing, I decided to move to some structure and look for a bigger, older fish with a minkie booby. Fishing the edges, the weedbeds and the structure from the boat moarings. It wasn’t long after I’d left Terry I could see him with a bent rod, playing his first trout. A few pictures revealed he’d hooked a double header! Not something he’s overly used to fishing the river!

Returning to my rod I worked my way around the jetty, casting long and short being sure to work the most likely areas. The fly was around 4 inches long! Anything that was going to eat it would have been of great mass! We’ll you’d expect. I hooked a fish on the hang after jigging the fly putting as much movement into it as humanly possible. A cracking well fed Rainbow which had obviously been in there a long time.

Towards the end of the day, the fishing calmed off – with around 14-16 fish on the bank we’d had a good day between us. Terry hooked and lost the last fish of the day after covering it whilst it was rising. The sunset hadn’t let us down either!

Written by Kieron Jenkins

Last boat trip of the season

The last weekend of the trout season is a sad time for everyone…

Knowing that you more than likely won’t visit your favourite fly fishing water for over 5 months puts anyone on a downer!

With a fellow team mate winning a competition the previous week, a free boat and ticket was issued, so it was only courtosy we use it by the end of the season as their not able to be carried over. Allen and I shared our last boat of the season.

Setting up our fly fishing tackle at the car, we talked tactics and discussed fly choices. It was inevitable that we both chose more or less the same cast, with a few colours being changed here and there.

With a warmish breeze and a light wind passing over the surface of the water the lake has never looked so enticing. It was perfect. Although the lake had gone up 4-5 feet during the week as Welsh Water had been pumping water into the lake… Not something the fish like; Fresh, cooler water than the average of the lake being pumped in.

Setting off from the jetty we stopped the boat and let drift free into the lake past the sailing club, fishing our way through and onto the most productive areas of the lake the week before. With just one tightening of the fly line, the only pull of the first 2 hours we decided to change location and drift along the gabiens wall. Within a few cast, Allen locked into a fish on a Cats Whisker booby. One of the top flies of all time let alone on Llandeg! A Welcomed fish in the boat.

Both anglers being on identical lines in the boat and only 2 takes between them sometimes means your doing something wrong.

Changing my Sixth Sense slow glass to a Fast glass 40+ fly line, my luck changed instantly. First 3 casts I’d hooked and landed a fish, missing another one.Sometimes the fishes feeding zones or crusing depths are so critical that an inch difference can change the day completely. Finishing that drift with 2 fish in the boat I was happy enough to say I’d clicked onto something!

A few hours passed, nothing more in the boat… but a few fish interested in the boobies and blobs we had offered ’em.

The wind started to die off and the clouds broke letting the sun peer through and warm the air up a little. This sudden rise in temperature would normally switch the fish on, especially at the end of the day. Although with the fresh water being pumped in the fish didn’t co-operate and remained slow. It wasn’t until the end of the day that Allen took 2 fish and missed a few when we run across a pod in open water. This was the only action we had all day apart from a few tugs and the one good drift I had earlier in the day.

We ended the day with a cracking sunset whetting our appetite already for next year. Bring on the Spring! But for now… onto the Grayling!

Written by Kieron Jenkins