Fly fishing with the LDO’s

Over the past few weeks the Large Dark Olives (Baetis Rhodani) have made their appearance on the River Taff in what can only be described as plague numbers. LDO’s have been the main diet of the Taff trout for the last couple of weeks with the odd Brook Dunn (Heptagenid) thrown in. Each insect  provides a mouthful for any trout and soon each and every fish in the river will latch onto them.

The unseasonable weather has brought some species of fly on early, such as the Brook Dunn’s which were popping up in early March! Spring has certainly made a stern impression over the last couple of weeks with greenery and white buds blossoming on the trees around the river. The morning and evenings are still cold, with temperatures dropping drastically around 4pm. The wind has been making things difficult, not only for presentation when casting but physically as the biting wind really get hold of your hands when wet.

The cold and clear nights usually produce a fair amount of ground frost, expectedly killing fly life early morning. The brisk winds also delay insect activity until later in the day and the sun rises high producing sufficient heat.

My last few trips to the Taff have produced some exciting and memorable fishing, with many fish two pounds and bigger being netted. The last section of river I fished gave up some exceptional fish on the last two occasions I’ve been there. The middle section of the river holds a lot of water, with many streams and the River Rhondda joining in Pontypridd, the volume of water is drastically increased and pools are wider, deeper and more powerful. Perfect big fish territory.

At around 2pm, the whole river switches on and the LDO’s and Brook Dunns start to hatch, producing waves upon waves of activity, and the fish, they know it’s coming, their on the feeding stations within seconds of the first few minutes of the hatch starting. As the hatch starts to increase more and more fish start to rise and you can really see the potential that the river Taff holds.

I was sitting in one pool watching a couple of fish rise to the mass of dunns on the water, picking which one to target wasn’t easy as the fish weren’t settled on one area, they were moving back and fore the pool picking off a dunn hear and there. Casting at fish rising when their unsettled isn’t easy as most cast usually miss them. There seemed to be ‘to many’ flies on the water for them to pick yours out. The ideal time to target these fish is when the hatch is dying off, the fish are still feeding and active but with less numbers of actual dunns on the surface you can target these fish much more confidently. But their not impossible.

Something I noticed when these fish were feeding was they were sitting just a foot below the surface and moving around the run. I managed to pick  the four that were rising off using a Klink and Dink method. The reason I chose this was to suspend the fly in the feeding or resting zone of the fish.  I chose to use 8inches on nylon between my dry and nymph, which I had connected both the mainline and the dropper from the eye of an olive dun pattern. The nymph proved successful and took each out of the four fish within minutes of putting it on. Two of the fish were over 2lb in weight and measured 35cm+.

As the hatch was slowing down I noticed a fish dimpling on the far bank. Between a run and a big stone, this fish wasn’t in an easy lay. The bulge from the rock was pushing the duns upstream and out into the main flow, out of sight to the fish. The cast had to be in the crease between the slack and fast water otherwise the fish would have no chance of intercepting the fly. The dimples were created by the fish laying so close to the surface, supping in each fly which successfully made it into its path.

Leader greased and fly ginked I set about fishing, my first few cast were short to give me a picture of where the fastest currents are and ones which I needed to avoid to get the fly to drift naturally. The main current was making things hard, swiftly taking control over the fly line and pulling my fly our of the area. I waded further into the run so I could raise the rod and line off the current and keep the leader in the slack above the fish whilst the fly travels down first.

First proper run down over the fish, it looked but spooked, the nylon may have been showing or maybe it started to drag just over the fish, but it had spooked and didn’t return for another 20 minutes. This fish was a weary one, with the slightest of breeze on the surface it would stop rising, and leave all succulent morsels pass only when the conditions were perfect it would rise.

Half an hour passed and it rose a few more times, first cast over and it took! The line started to pour from the reel, shooting upstream into a deep hole, it stayed deep and dogged around indicating it was a good fish. It rose to the surface and showed it sheer size, a fish I estimated to be around 4lb! It wallowed about in the run for a few minutes, with my Airflo Streamtec Nantec fly fishing rod holding the strain of the fish and flow impressively. The trout jumped once and seemed to give up only to be netted by my fishing buddy Jonathan. The biggest river trout he’s ever seen, which measured 58cm and an estimated weight of 4.4lbs.

Otter attack to the tail?

Written by Kieron Jenkins

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