What Bait for Coarse or Carp Fishing?

What bait to use

For a sustained baiting program I would only recommend using a high quality food bait, by this I mean a bait that actually offers the carp a nutritional reward for their efforts. Personally I always use one of the ‘Mainline’ range of freezer baits and I would not recommend a baiting campaign using any form of shelf-life baits as the breakdown rate of shelf-life baits is not suitable for a mass baiting program. Some of the bait is likely to fall into areas where it doesn’t get eaten and you do not want it turning rancid on the lake bed. A high quality freezer bait should either breakdown or float to the surface after a few days.

If you give the fish regular doses of a decent bait then they will start to recognize the label, or flavour, as being linked to the nutrition and ‘feel good’ factor that they are receiving from eating the bait in the first place. This of course is exactly what you are trying to achieve, to get the fish to eat your bait in preference to everybody else’s, and the only way you will ever achieve this is through a better quality bait with decent ingredient profile, one that the fish can actually break down into useable proteins. I know this can start to get technical but you do not have to personally worry about the actual profile and ingredients yourself, unless you are actually making your own bait. If you look on the leading manufactures websites and, more importantly look in the angling reports and articles to see what baits are working well and are recommended by leading anglers then you will get some idea of where to start.

I’d always avoid anything that is too highly flavoured for long term baiting, preferring to go with a bait that has it’s ‘flavour’ inherent to the mix rather than an added chemical label, particularly a strong one. If the fish are going to eat lots of it then they will recognise the taste and do not need a strong ‘label’ like you would find in single attractor baits for example.

What areas to target

Most pre-baiting is associated with a closed season or a period of inactivity from other anglers, this leaves you free to bait wherever you like on the lake, it all becomes a bit more tricky if other anglers are present because you do not want to ruin their fishing by heaving in a load of bait next door to them, or, you may not want other anglers to know what you are doing or where you are doing it. Let’s assume the lake is closed and you are allowed to pre-bait wherever you like. I would start nice and early, probably around April time, so not all the fish will necessarily be up on the shallows or visible all the time. This means starting in known feeding areas and places where the fish may feel safe, like snags etc. Once the weather starts to warm up and the fish are on the move they will quickly realise that there is no fishing pressure on the lake and they will come into areas very close to the bank, specifically for the free bait you are offering them. At this early stage you are just trying to get the carp to accept and recognise your bait, not certain areas, so it’s more important to feed them and watch them eat than it is to establish spots. You want the fish to find your bait everywhere they go to feed as this will help them to accept it as part of their natural diet, so keep it going in all around the lake. Once they start to really ‘get on it’ you will be amazed how much bait they can actually eat and how willing they are to throw caution to the wind and push right up against the bank to get every last dropped bait.

As you get closer towards the start of the season then you can begin to bait areas that you want to be fishing, remember that, once the lines start hitting the surface again, the fish will abandon the margin areas that you have fed because of the danger and disturbance levels. Bait as many areas as you can and try and return a bit later to check for signs of feeding fish, if your plan is working then you should pretty much be able to move the fish around the lake at will, just by drawing them with the bait that they now readily accept as a free meal.

The action of the carp feeding on your areas will also reduce weed growth in those spots as the fish grub about and uproot any stems from the silt, eventually displacing the silt as well, leaving nice big clean areas. You can use this to your advantage by baiting a spot out of sight range from the bank, in an area that is usually very weedy, this way you will know you have a fishable spot you can use when the time is right.

As you get closer towards the time when you going to fish then I would advise stopping the bait going into all the inaccessible areas, such as snags etc, make the fish use the feeding areas if they want to find the food they have become so used to, this will give you a huge advantage during the season.

I have pre-baited a lot in the past and seen first hand the devastating effect it can have, myself and friends have absolutely ‘slaughtered’ lakes by the correct application of bait, even to the extent that all the other anglers on the lake struggle to get a bite while we have caught fish every session, and lots of them!

What should you do if everyone on the lake is pre-baiting.

This is a totally different situation altogether, the advantage of pre-baiting has been negated by the amount of bait already going in. The first thing to establish is how many different baits are going in, if you have all sorts of groups of anglers baiting with different types of bait then, personally, I wouldn’t bother going into competition with them as the fish will not know what is going on anyway, they cannot keep a check list of everything they eat from day to day, they will just get to a stage where the whole lot are ‘boilies’ and accepted or rejected as such.

There is room for more than one baiting campaign, I have done very well in the past as one of two or three different lots but once the number gets up over three and all those factions are serious and regular with their baiting approach then I think it may be better to fish the best bait you can but limit it to feeding and fishing situations where you are sure it is being eaten, rather than just jump on the band wagon and hurl it willy nilly into the lake along with everybody else’s.

I remember when I first got together with Mainline and I baited Horton along with three mates. The first year we filled the place in and I caught an incredible amount of fish, far more than anyone else and, as such, the amount of guys baiting up the next close season went form just our little group to practically everyone, all thought that it would be the magic key to unlock the lake and they would all catch more fish the more bait they used. When the next season started I decided to fish single hookbaits only, for the whole year, avoiding any sort of beds of bait as it was the only thing different I could think of, once again that year I caught the most fish so I think you have to tailor the baiting strategy to the competition as well as the fish. I did however stick with the same bait as I knew the fish would recognise it as being extremely good for them.

Should you use the same bait as everyone else?

I am a firm believer that a bait becomes better the more the fish see of it, being on the same bait as everyone else is definitely an advantage rather than a disadvantage but, human nature makes this very difficult to achieve. We all would like the ultimate bait, or rig, and if we and it is very unlikely we would share it with everyone else. What happens is, you may all start on the same bait but then somebody will find something they think is better and swap, or add a little something, or dip the baits or anything to try and out catch the next guy. There will naturally be groups or individuals who have something they trust and this they will keep close to their chest in the hope that theirs is the best, this is why pre-baiting works but, in reality, if every angler on one lake used the same bait for one year I would predict that there would be more fish caught than in any other year before.

I remember back when everyone made their own baits, mainly fish-meals, good quality baits and secrecy was everywhere. People, me included, would spend fortunes on ingredients to out fish the next guy and pre-baiting was a way of life, we all did it. Then, along came the first ready made boilies, particularly the frozen Tutti-Frutti’s and they took lakes apart, absolutely destroyed them and we were all up in arms about it. At first it was considered cheating, not ‘real’ angling, a bit of a disgrace but of course it wasn’t, and it had just taught everyone a very valuable lesson. The Tutti was probably the first bait that had ever been introduced to everywhere in exactly the same format, it was ready rolled so nobody added to, or tweaked it; you just opened the bag and threw them in. Within no time at all there was hardly a lake in the country that was not ‘pre-baited’ with them and everyone was catching. I’m sure Ritchworth would not be offended if I said that Tutti’s were probably only half as nutritionally beneficial as the high quality fish meal baits they were competing with, but the combination of an awesome flavour and sheer weight of numbers of bait being introduced made them very special indeed, if you were struggling for a bite you just wound in, put a Tutti on the end and hey presto!

Nowadays we have a much greater fishing tackle choice. We can buy ready made bait at any quality and price level we so desire and yes, I do think that the more people fishing the same bait on a water then the better it will become. I do firmly believe though that a better quality bait, like the one’s from the Mainline stable, will catch far more fish over an extended period than a cheaper, less nutritious bait ever will.

Fishing Tackle

We at Fishtec aim to provide as much information for our customers as possible. Be it new fishing tackle products, fishery news or general news related to the sport. Our Fishing Tackle Category provides our customers with up to date information on Fly, Sea, Coarse and Carp fishing tackle on the market today.

Choosing the correct fishing tackle for your quarry can be daunting, with many different brands and options to choose from we strive to bring your the latest and best tackle news. With hints and tips from our expert anglers choosing the right fishing tackle will be easy from brands such as Airflo,  TFGear, Daiwa and Okuma.

TF Gear Trail Blazer Barrow and Bag

TFG Trail Blazer Barrow

I’ve tested out the new TF Gear Trail Blazer Barrow for some time now, and really put it through its paces. It caters for all my angling needs, from carting my excessive fishing tackle bundle around a 70 acre lake for 3 days fishing, to light loads for a day session. The barrow is lightweight and has adjustable front and side bars for larger loads with 2 adjustable back legs. When fully loaded, the barrow has a good centre balance and really impressed me by not tipping over – something which has happened to me on numerous previous occasions. The barrow comes with 2 bungee ropes that hook onto 4 rings which are built into the framework for better grip.

The frame is lightweight and has a removable wheel for ease of loading in your car, with screw-in hands making the barrow useable in a matter of seconds. The tyre has good tread that is nice and thin which helps when pushing over rough terrain. You can even place 2 buckets at the back of the barrow which will rest on the 2 bars perfectly when requiring more space.

Pit 1

Pit 2

TF Gear Force 8 Heavy Duty Barrow Bag

The barrow bag is the perfect accessory for the barrow, with a hard top and bottom and heavy duty material which will protects all your gear inside. The bag comes with 4 large pockets on the outside, and one large pocket in the lid with a heavy duty zip. Inside the bag there are pockets built into the back and sides for easy organisation of your tackle. For the best result, try 2 barrow bags –  this will take all your gear and fits on the barrow perfectly side by side.

Pit 3

Pit 4

First Carp on a New Venue

After almost 12 months travelling around, field testing my baits at different venues and having amazing results, I decided to sign up to a club water. This happened to be the Fendrod in Swansea. With the excitement to get fishing, I left the house without a kettle; luckily it was a pleasant night and the weather was fair.

I arrived at the lake and was amazed by the beauty of a local authority lake. As it was my first time fishing the venue, I had no knowledge of the place, so I decided to fish far enough away from the other anglers and found a peg I liked the look of and put my bivvy up.

I began with a few casts using my TF Gear X-Plus Marker rod, and found it was pretty flat and gravely in front of my swim; but it was also shallow which explained why all the anglers were to the right of me in the deeper water. So after a good hour of searching for a spot to fish, I decide to clip all three of my rods up to a spot of gravel at around 80 yards out.

My Rod set up at Fenrod

My Rod set up at Fenrod

My plan of attack was to spod 8mm and 4mm pellets maggots and some Beast Feast 20mm and 14mm boilies, then dust the whole mix off with Beast Feast stick-mix.

The reason there is a variety of sizes of bait and colours is for the visual attraction, and also because the carp are picking different weights of baits which keep them guessing.

Mixed bait

Mixed bait

The rig set up was kept as simple as possible with my own little twist. The components you will need to tie this rig are all available from Fishtec: a kurv shank hook of any size you choose to use (in this chase I’m using korda size 8 hooks), a korda flexi ring swivel pair of sharp scissors (ideally braid scissors), a puller tool to get the knots tight, medium sized rig rings, a slice of shrink tube, a needle , TFG putty, a spool of thread and – last but not least – 20lb soft gravel brown korda braid.

Items used to tie the rig

Items used to tie the rig

Once you have all the components, firstly take off about 9 inches of braid and then strip of two inches of the coating. Tie a rig ring on to the stripped bit using a half blood knot, then pull a bait over the rig ring so you can get you desired length of hair. Once it is to the length required, tie a knotless knot onto the hook. Slide a strip of shrink tube on to the hook to act as a blow back rig, then shrink it by placing it over steam (watch your fingers!). The final step is to tie a grinner knot onto the flexi ring swivel and as you tighten this knot make sure you moisten with a little saliva so it does not strip any of the coating off near the swivel and make sure it will not slip bye giving it a final tug with the puller tool. Place a little blob of putty on the non-stripped bit of braid and the rig is ready to go.

Completed rig - without bait

Completed rig - without bait

As you’ve probably noticed, there is only one thing missing from this rig: bait. I only use this rig when I want to fish a single boilie and maggots at the same time ,and this is where the needle and the thread come into play. Firstly place your chosen boilie on a gate latch needle and gently push it over the rig ring.

Placing the boilie onto the rig (1)

Placing the boilie onto the rig (1)

Boilie fixed to the rig ring

Boilie fixed to the rig ring

Grab a decent sized needle and some thread – cut off a 7 inch strand, then push through the needle eye. Slowly begin to put maggots on the needle and slide them down onto the thread (if you put the needle point through the bigger end of the maggot they will survive longer therefore being far more attractive under the water).

Sliding maggots down the needle onto the thread

Sliding maggots down the needle onto the thread

Once you have put maggots on the thread (10 to 15 is usually ample) slowly take the thread of the needle and then bunch all the maggots up as illustrated.

Maggots bunched up on the thread

Maggots bunched up on the thread

The final stage is to put one end of the thread through the rig ring, followed by two over-hand knots to secure the maggots in place. You’ll left with a presentation (illustrated below), and there’s no doubt you’ll soon be saying, “that’s a bite.”

Maggots secured to the rig ring

Maggots secured to the rig ring

The final presentation

The final presentation

And a bite it was! I topped up the swim later in the evening, as I had problems with ducks diving for the baits during daylight. At 5:30am the next morning I had a screaming take; after a long fight I managed to land this beautiful 20lb 4oz common. This made my day as it was the first fish I had caught on the Fenrod.

The end result - a 20lb 4oz Common Carp

The end result - a 20lb 4oz Common Carp

Carp fishing in the Margins

How many of us inspect the margins when we arrive at a lake?

You might want to, if you want to improve your catch rate. Fishing for carp in the margins can be extremely productive if you find the right places and apply good angling tactics. How many fishermen/fisherwomen ignore the margins when fishing? They see all that water out in front of them and think that the fish must be out there. I often see anglers using three fishing rods with all of them cast out to the far bank. With so many anglers casting out far it makes the margins a safe place for carp to hang out. In fact, the margins can even be the best places to target the bigger carp in the lake.

Fishing in the Margins

Fishing in the Margins

As long as you’re quiet when setting up your carp fishing tackle and actually fishing, you can take fish from the margins in most lakes. Carp have great hearing and will be able to pick up vibrations from the surrounding bank, so you do need to be as quiet as possible.

Centre Pin Fishing Reel

Centre Pin Fishing Reel

When it comes to margin fishing I tend to use a small 8ft rod and centre pin reel; this allows me to fish in-between trees, and other places where it would be hard to use a 12ft rod. It’s best to wear dark green or brown fishing clothing, or better still, use camouflage clothing, as you can blend into the surrounding. I like to find the more subtle features rather than the obvious ones such as overhanging trees, island banks, etc. I like to look for features like undercut banks, posts or trees sticking out of the water, small bulrushes, bushes, lily pads or inlet pipes all these can be ideal feeding spots for carp.

Carp taking bait

Carp taking bait

I like to use a small float, 8lb fluorocarbon line and a size 10 hook partnered with good quality bait. One of my best methods is to wrap paste around a small boilie, many fish have taken using this approach, as the carp are not wised up to these methods. So as the weather starts to warm up go out and have a go, this is a very rewarding way of catching carp guaranteed to provide a good fight whatever size fish you’ve hooked into.

Landing the Carp

Landing the Carp

All the best and good fishing!

Fantastic result!

Fantastic result!

What Types of PVA are available?

Tape

Tape can be used to form stringers or for tying off the tops of solid PVA bags. Tape also has several advantages over PVA string. It doesn’t shrink in water. Due to its thicker profile, the tape holds strung baits better, great for long-range casting. Also, this thicker profile opens a bigger hole in the free baits, allowing more scent to be released, enticing the Carp in.

PVA Tape

PVA Tape

Solid Bags

Flat, solid bags that can be filled with all manner of freebies, regardless of the size of bait used. Their disadvantages are that they are slow to form and tie, always pierce solid PVA bags with a baiting needle, as this will help the trapped air escape, preventing it from floating.

PVA Solid Bags

PVA Solid Bags

Mesh

Made from woven PVA thread, this stocking material having an open weave, doesn’t suffer from trapped air. Usually comes in long lengths allowing bags of any size to be made up. The other advantage of mesh is that they are much quicker to make than their solid counterparts.

PVA Mesh

PVA Mesh

Rig Foam

These buoyant nuggets are either hooked on to or folded over the hook before casting. Once in the water, they hold the hook off the bottom until the nugget dissolves. The hook will then gently settle on to the bottom of the lake. Rig foam is indispensable when fishing over silt or weed, getting your bait where you want it without the worry of loosing any fishing tackle. When the rig is cast in, the lead will either sink into the silt or dive into the weed and the rig foam will help stop your hook from being masked.

PVA Rig Foam

PVA Rig Foam

PVA Liquid Bags

Small stamp size PVA bags that are filled with liquid, such as flavours, slimes or dips. This is a great edge when you are fishing single hookbaits. The liquid puts out a strong level of attraction into the swim, but the only food item is your hookbait. It can be placed on to your hook or placed inside any PVA for a extra edge.

PVA Liquid Bags

PVA Liquid Bags

TFG Lok Down Bivvy

I’ve been using the TFG Lok Down bivvy for 6 months now and I’m more than satisfied with it. You can set it up in less than 5 minutes ready for a 24 hour session or spend a few more minutes and put the second skin in for longer sessions. The Lok Down bivvy has been built to a very high standard without any compromise, making it big enough to take all your kit and still have loads of room to spare.

Unpacking the Lok Down Bivvy

The Lok Down comes in a large carryall, which may seem obvious to most, but how many times have we struggled with fitting other bivvy’s into a bag that seems smaller than the bivvy that came out of it?

Lok Down Bivvy groundsheet

The ground sheet goes down first and initially struck me with how thick and strong it is. I am confident to put the bivvy up on rough ground without worrying about tearing it. I also found it to be quick drying whenever it got wet in the lovely British weather we choose to fish in.

Bivvy Support bars

I loved having all the support bars that come with the Lok Down; they’re adjustable and clip to the frame with ease. I had real confidence in the sturdiness of the bivvy right from the first time I put it up.

Inserting a bivvy peg

All pegs are screw threads which will go in to most hard grounds; here the peg goes into the ground sheet and the bivvy ring.

Erect Lok Down Bivvy

The Lok Down doesn’t just look the part beside a lake, but also provides great shelter from whatever the weather can throw at us. It is as solid and sturdy as any carp angler could hope for.

Lok Down Bivvy first skin

This is the first skin which can be used for any session. The Lok down has a clever second skin – most bivvys on the market have second skins that go on the outside; the Lok Down’s goes inside the first skin.

Fitting the Bivvy second skin

I must admit, the first time I put the bivvy up I was a little unsure as to how the inner skin was going to take shape. But, after a moment or two of clipping it to the rings, it soon became apparent to me what a clever idea it was. I’m constantly taking it out and putting it back in depending on the weather and the length of my session. I’m glad it is made of a breathable material that as of yet hasn’t shown any condensation even on the dampest of days.

The erect Bivvy - finished article!

All set up ready for a week’s session. I would seriously recommend this bivvy to any carper who wants the best at a price that won’t break the bank.

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:

Web: www.anglingworldwide.com
Phone: 07879 898 344
Mail: Angling-Worldwide, Crosslane, Dolgran, Pencader, Carmarthenshire, SA39 9BY

Sea-trout Fishing in Wales (Why, When, Where)

With sea-trout averaging 5 ½lbs in May on many rivers and still carrying an average weight of 4lbs by the middle of July, along with fish of over 20lbs recorded last year alone, you would be forgiven for thinking that we were talking about some far flung destination where ‘Cerveza’ and ‘Empanadas’ would reflect the local lingo! Not so! Welcome to one of Wales’ best kept secrets; the mystical and ever captivating sea-trout.

These silver tourists grace every corner of Wales; chances are where a large freshwater deposit meets saltwater sea-trout will be found. From the mighty Welsh Dee in North Wales right round to the Usk in South Wales, sea-trout make their presence and annual ascent. As they ascend, we, the anglers, embark on annual pilgrimages and traditions pursuing these illusive silver ghosts.

sea-trout wales

But what makes sea-trout so special? No other species captivates and drives an angler, sometimes to despair, like sea-trout. Sea-trout fishing becomes a lot more than just about the catch – it becomes an addiction, sometimes to unhealthy levels proportions! As the shadows loom and all colour is lost under the night-sky, the period of quiet contemplation and solitude soon transforms to expectation and anticipation as the once devoid pool comes alive with sea-trout marking their presence with their acrobatic display that is without equal.

The sea-trout are primarily targeted in the night due to their shy and retiring nature in the daytime during summer low-flows and clear waters. However, given a spate and daytime action can be nothing short of exhilarating, be that with a fly, spinner or worm. For the fly angler it is the night-time sport on a humid summer evening that holds the true attraction and tradition of sea-trout fishing. At first the mere thought of flailing a length of carbon around in the dark sounds nothing short of idiotic. As the flies find their way to the trees behind then the trees in front idiotic soon turns to demoralisation and a feeling of attempting an insurmountable goal. However, when one pull from a sea-trout is achieved these trepidations will soon be forgotten, the addiction will take hold, and the drug will drive you on for as long as you have a drive to fish. This really is the pinnacle of the fly anglers’ quarry in the UK.

Why Wales? Very little light pollution, rivers that produce the largest fish and largest catches in the UK, easy to get to, good accessibility on all rivers, relatively cheap, an abundance of wildlife, beautiful and unspoilt countryside and if this wasn’t enough; Wales is the country that holds the longest tradition of fishing for sea-trout, especially so at night. So why travel thousands of miles, spending thousands of pounds getting to a destination like Tierra-Del-Fuego, where the wind will drag the hair from your scalp and the countryside is a monotonous plane?

sea-trout wales 2

What about the usual ‘Where, When and How’? The ‘Where’ and ‘When’ are correlated, as the when you go where is of particular importance to a anadromous species such as the sea-trout, because they enter different river systems at different times, and different run sizes and fish sizes enter at different stages throughout the year. As a general rule; nothing can beat local knowledge when it comes to dictating an individual river’s run, as this is something that is monitored and cultivated not only yearly but through many generations, which has made timescales largely predictable. As such, the first step is to decide where you would like to target sea-trout, and then a little further research can pay dividends.

Rivers that have historically produced good runs and numbers of sea-trout include (from North to South); Mawddach, Dovey, Rheidol, Ystwyth, Teifi, Towy, Neath. This list is by no means exclusive or extensive, and as was previously mentioned; chances are where a large freshwater system meets saltwater sea-trout will be found to varying degrees. Indeed, many of the listed rivers have tributaries that are worthy of a mention in their own right, and many of these tributaries make for excellent starting points for newcomers to the sport, being less intimidating than the main systems.

With your river system now chosen we progress on our Welsh sea-trout journey through to the ‘how’. Firstly, and rather pertaining to the previous point regarding acquiring local knowledge, whenever possible do try and source a local guide to help you through the inevitable trepidations a newcomer faces. The benefits and guidance of a local and well rehearsed guide has never been as pertinent as when night-time sea-trout fishing is in question. Not only will the guide be there to assist you in overcoming well known obstacles that run in conjunction with night-time fishing, to which there will usually be well known antidotes, but they will also mature you into the art and get you accustomed to ‘things that go bump in the night’.

The tackle you bring will generally be dictated by the system you have chosen. For example, it would be a foolish angler that journeys to a river like the Nevern or the Cothi with a 13ft double hander, where a 9ft rod would be the order of the day. Again, a little research and obtaining some local knowledge would go a long way. However, as a general rule, and for the majority of the larger or well known Welsh sea-trout rivers a rod between 9-11ft rated for a #7-9 is ideal, with a 10ft #8 being a perfect ally – no need to splash out on a ‘sea-trout’ branded rod, any reservoir/lake rod will suffice, and crossover admirably. I would personally advise a middle or middle-tip action blank as fast rods and tight loops can spell disaster at night both from the fishing and the catching perspective, but the brand is totally your prerogative.

The technology and time invested in fly line development over recent years is significant, where we get to reap the rewards. However, the cost of these lines has not increased in correlation with this investment; indeed, lines are cheaper nowadays than they ever have been. As such, this is one aspect where I would say; be prepared! And don’t let a £30 investment be the shortfall of your success and failure of the trip. A floating line is paramount, and an essential addition to your fly fishing tackle. However, chances are you will need to search out those deeper lying fish at some stage, where even the heaviest of flies on your floating line will not suffice. As a rule I would advise you to carry at least three lines; a floater, intermediate and a medium/fast sinker. These should also be accompanied with a set of salmon/steelhead polyleaders in various densities, to allow you to explore other tangents and depths. The key here is to be prepared; better to have it with you and not use it, rather than found wanting.

The same advice is reiterated when flies are in question too. Bring everything and the kitchen sink! As you never know what will charm the bar of silver from the deeps – over the seasons I have heard of several sea-trout in excess of 10lbs falling to patterns such as; zulu, sparklers, and even a dry daddy long-legs skated as a surface lure in the dead of night! Most shops now hold an array of sea-trout patterns, many of which target the anglers equally as well as the sea-trout. However, in general these can provide inspiration as well as supplementary stocks to your armoury. There are several books as well as online articles on the Fishing-Wales website regarding tried and tested patterns for sea-trout, which would hold you in good stead when compiling an arsenal of fly fishing tackle.

sea-trout wales 3

With your fly fishing rods, lines and flies in order the other items on the checklist are straightforward yet paramount and essential. Firstly, personal safety should be covered at this juncture; no fish is worth your life. Always carry a life-vest, accidents can happen in the most unsuspecting of locations. Further to that, some safety glasses are a wise investment at around £5 a pair, and a wading staff can be of use when fishing unknown waters, as can a rescue whistle and a mobile phone in a waterproof bag. Secondly, always carry more torches than you need, with 2 being a minimum. A good headtorch with changeable settings that includes a red-light or red-filter is advisable, as the red light preserves your night vision. Further to that, some heavy nylon – we rarely revert to nylon strengths below 12lbs when night fishing, with good reason – a priest, disgorger, and some late night sustenance compiles the makings of a sea-trout tackle-bag. Always carry enough fishing clothing, as temperatures and weather fluctuates considerably during the night. It is, of course, advisable to carry a coat even though we all know it never rains in Wales…

Steffan’s Nightime setup and fly fishing bag contents:

  • Rods; I usually carry 2 rods set-up with different tactics; one usually holding a floater, the other a sinking line of some description. I currently use the Airflo Airlite 10ft for #7/8 rods.
  • Reels; don’t skimp on quality – quality doesn’t always equate to expensive! Make sure the drag is smooth, and that it can hold a decent amount of backing to cover all eventualities.
  • Lines; I use a lot of the Airflo 40+ Extreme fly lines in densities from floating through to di-5. These are great lines for medium and large river systems. The Sewincaster range of lines are also a firm favourite, and are specifically designed for this aspect of the sport.
  • Waders; waders of some description are usually essential, even though wading above your knees is rarely required.  I would advise felt and studded (combination) soles.
  • Nylon; Terry Eustace pro gold in 12lbs and 15lbs. Alternatively, Maxima Ultragreen. Also, a spool of 15-20lbs fluorocarbon for surface lure work, and a spool of 8lbs fluorocarbon for dusk and daylight fishing – I have faith in Airflo G3.

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:

Web: www.anglingworldwide.com
Phone: 07879 898 344
Mail: Angling-Worldwide, Crosslane, Dolgran, Pencader, Carmarthenshire, SA39 9BY

Fly Fishing For Pike

Catching Pike on the fly is one of the fastest growing branches of fly-fishing. Pike are a true sport fish which fight very hard on fishing tackle. They are one of the fastest fish that swim in our freshwaters, and in the spring and summer with warm water temperatures they will tail walk and leap just as readily as a Salmon or Trout. Whilst not making long screaming runs, they will rush and pull with bulldog tenacity with an almost unbelievable strength.

For the Fly fisherman they make a great alternative to Salmon, particularly with the state of the stocks at the moment, and they provide a similar ‘big fish’ thrill. They can often be caught in conditions that would normally be hopeless for Trout, in flat calms and hot bright sunshine. Pike fly-fishing also opens up many famous Trout reservoirs to the coarse angler in search of a specimen. Gigantic Pike have actually been caught on fishing tackle, for example the 40lb 8oz record fish from Chew caught in May.

The optimum fly rods would be a 9 foot #9 or #10 weight, the heavy line rating being needed to punch out and turnover outsized flies. 9 foot proves less tiring to use all day than a longer rod due to less leverage on the arm. To cast the big flies use a slower stroke than usual with an open loop.

14lb llangorse

The rod I normally use is the Airflo Bluetooth 9’ #8/9 which I use with a floater or intermediate WF9. The lines I use on this rod are the Airflo cold saltwater ridge floater and the cold saltwater ridge intermediate. Both have a low stretch core which helps set the hooks and detect the most delicate of takes. I also use a Bluetooth XT in the 9’ #10/11 which I use with fast sinking lines such as the Airflo depth finder 300 grain, for the occasions when the Pike are in deep open water in depths of over 20 foot.

As for reels any thing that will accommodate the line with about 50 yards of backing will be fine, your normal trout reel 6/9 size will do. You need not worry about too much backing, as the Pike will not run hundreds of yards when hooked. A great reel would be the Airflo switch cassette in 7/9, which comes with extra spools and has a decent drag system.

A wire trace is essential, there are several types on the market, the most satisfactory of which I find to be the Airflo titanium predator polyleader which incorporates a titanium trace with a snap link which makes changing the fly a simple businesses. They also never kink unlike some other types meaning that they last practically forever.

Flies need to be on the large size, I generally use from 2/0 to 6/0 wide gape chemically sharpened sea hooks, with a total dressing length of perhaps 6 inches. Flies as small as 3 inches will catch Pike, but the bigger stuff tends to attract a better stamp of fish. The fly needn’t be a perfect imitation of a prey fish; a hank of crystal flash tied to hook will and has caught good Pike. Surface wake lures can also be deadly which I tie with a big lump of plaztezote for a head. The takes to surface lures are often incredible in their ferocity and is without a doubt one of the most exhilarating things in fishing anywhere. The best and most consistent colour is yellow. Please see the Airflo Predator Ex-citer range of flies on the website, these are tried and tested lures and are based on my own patterns.

12lb 8oz Llangorse

The retrieve used is not normally a fast strip as you might think but rather a slow twitchy figure of eight interspersed with long pulls and pauses. This seems to be the most effective retrieve for them. The take to subsurface flies is usually a drawing away of the line much like a Trout taking a buzzer. Set the hook by strip striking, pull the fly home into the Pikes mouth – do not lift the rod straight away or you will miss the fish. If you do miss one cast for it again as they will usually come back for another go. I remember one instance where my boat partner actually hooked and lost the same Pike twice only for it to take my fly on the third attempt! Takes to surface lures are usually an explosive affair which may cause you to strike with a ‘knee jerk’ reaction – again what you must do is allow the fish to turn down with the fly before strip striking.

When hooked you can play the Pike as hard as you want, there is more chance of loosing them if you play them lightly as they will dive into cover, also by bullying them you will insure the hook is well and truly embedded into the hard jaw. The Airflo lines with low stretch cores will help the hook setting process greatly.

A good net I would recommend would be the McLean’s Salmon weigh net, which will comfortably swallow up monster fish. Its size and shape make it ideal for use on a boat. Long nosed forceps are a must for unhooking, such as the Dr Slick Cuda 8 ½ inch pliers.

Pike Head

Pike, despite the ferocious appearance and reputation are one of the most delicate fish when taken out of the water and need to be carefully revived until their strength returns before releasing them, particularly in warm summer water. The unhooking is a much easier job with a fly compared to lures and dead baits. Fly hooked Pike go back much better than fish hooked on a treble hook and they are very rarely deeply hooked.