Two Titles One Champion – Iain Barr’s Winning Tactics

Unstoppable fishing machine Iain Barr keeps on winning UK fly fishing competitions! He recently bagged the Bank National Champion title and then followed up this mean feat by winning the Bob Church Classic – for the third year running! In this blog post Iain shares the tactics that won him these two prestigious titles. Enter the mind of a champion fly fisher…

Competition pro Iain Barr in action

Competition pro Iain Barr in action

English National Small Water Championship – Farmoor

Farmoor reservoir hosted the English National Small Water Championships with a field of 48 strong anglers hoping to make the 7 man squad.

Hot sunny weather greeted us and this has a impact on the methods to use. This time of year sees plenty of warm weather and the fish behave differently. In these conditions you will often find two layers of fish and Farmoor was no exception. There was a layer in the top 3-4 feet and and another layer approx 12-15 foot down.

I deployed 3 rods, Airflo Di5 and new JELLY Blobs. Airflo Di3 with a mix of cats Blobs and damsels and a Super-dri floater with nymphs and buzzers.

I fished the Di3 first on each peg, switched to buzzers and nymphs before fishing the last 10 mins of the 45 minute pegs to search for bonus fish that were lying deeper.

The first peg yielded a cracking 6lb fish, the only 1 I landed. I had 2 off my next 2 and a blank off a tricky corner peg which didn’t produce all day although I did miss a take whilst applying more suncream!!

The afternoon saw more fish nearer the surface so I pulled the Di3 with a blob and a cat switching the cat to a damsel mid way through the 45 mins. The Airflo sixth sense Di3 is the perfect pulling line if the fish are high.  It cuts through quickly and can.be fished fast and high or slower and deeper if they drop.

I landed a 1, 2,2 off my first 3 afternoon session pegs with many coming on the ‘hang’ about 10 yards off on the infamous Farmoor ledge.

During the last peg a thunder storm circled in the distance and despite 2 quick fish high in the water they stopped taking. During this changes in air pressure many say the fish stop feeding when really all they tend to do is drop deeper to acclimatise to the change in pressure.

I let the Di3 and Tungsten beaded cat lure drop for 30 seconds before a slow retrieve and I landed my final 3 giving my maximum of 5 in a few casts.

Scores were calculated and the Bank National Champion title was mine.  The top 7 will not represent England at Garnffrwd Lake in Wales in November.

The national bank champion trophy being awarded - top angling!

The national bank champion trophy being awarded – top angling!

Bob Church Classic – Grafam water

June saw the 29th Bob Church Classic held at Grafham Water.  Having won it the previous 2 years the hatrick was on. I’d had a tough practice landing just 2 but that was above average! Grafham was sulking with high and low pressure dominating and mixing through the week. Late Saturday saw a steady change in pressure with some rain and wind which we hoped we would stir them and boy did it!!

I took an evening boat Friday just to motor round to see where fish were moving and this played a key part in my day. I tried a couple of areas briefly and went for a quick look to where I had seen a few moving late Friday before my plan to move to the open water.

I arrived at the dam with it to myself and the fish were there in droves almost smutting like on midge but I’m convinced they were gorging the clouds of daphnia.

I was using an original Airflo slow intermediate with a booby on the point,  2 nymphs and a cat on the top. With fish so high the booby pulled across the top will certainly draw the fish in and it did. Usually I’d catch more on the nymphs but they just kept engulfing the sparkler booby pulled across them on the top.

Soon I was spotted and the armada arrived which inevitably slowed the sport down. I stuck with the same method but just fished it almost static. The majority of my remaining fish took the nymphs. Many may have taken the booby off but it allows the flies to descend much slower and more naturally.

I soon had my 16 fish limit and it was now a waiting game to see if i had done enough to complete an incredible hatrick of wins. All anglers were still fishing around me but there was a splattering of boats dotted in other areas.

17:30 saw the competition end and I heard of 2 other limits and it proved incredibly close!!

With a slightly earlier finish then Gus Armor of Scotland I managed to complete an unbelievable hatrick in wins!  Next year sees a special 30th year of this prestigious event to be held at Rutland where I’ll be aiming to bring it home for a 6th time.

Iain Barr with Bob church classic cup

Iain Barr with Bob church classic cup.

This time of year you can be fishing the top with dry flies or deep with lures.  Try dries like Big Reds, Shipmans and CDC owls. For deep lures boobies on fast sinking Lines, or cats whiskers and blobs fished deep – these will always catch.

See Iain Barr Fly packs available from Fishtec, such as:

Essential Dries
Harry potters
Essential Boobies
Blobs
Damsels

Tight lines, Iain.

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Iain Barr

About Iain Barr

A name synonymous with competition fly fishing excellence, Iain Barr has fished for England over 28 times across World, European, Loch Style, Small Waters and Rivers, proving his flies the world over. Iain’s World Champions Choice offers a definitive range of the very patterns he’s used to catch literally thousands of trout. If it’s fly fishing know-how you’re after, Iain is your go-to source.