Shrimps at Draycote.

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After the summer, we now enter the glory days of Autumn for the bank anglers, with the catch returns from the bank all featuring good catches on Shrimps. In the blog I will talk you through how to best approach the banks to get the most out of the bounty of shrimps.

Around 3 years ago we at Draycote discovered we have a population of the highly invasive Demon Shrimp (Dikerogammarus haemobaphes). This shrimp is in the same family genes as the Killer Shrimp from Grafham, but, is a different subspecies. These shrimps have a high production rate and turn over offspring very quickly, resulting in a wide size range. However, the adults are large and typically range from 7-17mm in length but can grow to a massive 21mm. With the summer now behind us and most of the buzzers and sedge already hatched and gone for the year. The trout turn their attention onto the shrimps, the Demon Shrimps favourite substrate to live over is Mussel beds, which there is plenty at Draycote.

These are normally found anywhere there are larger rocks that the mussels can attract too. As a result, Dunn’s Bay, Biggin Bay, The Old Pipe & Swan’s nest in Toft are all firm favourites and hotspots for the shrimps.

The shrimps are free swimming are quite active at this time of year feeding on a variety of fallen debris such as leave, wood and other invertebrates. However, this is also their downfall as the trout can easily intercept them as they move around the rocks and mussel beds. The trout can often be seen feeding like bonefish with their heads down in the rocks and the tails in the air as they hunt for this protein rich invertebrate.

The trout will often close to the banks in order to feed onto the shallow water just over the rocks. So, the best method is to fish for the shrimp feeder from the bank, with no need to wade. A floating line is often the best tactic is often a team of Fulling Mill, Killer Shrimps or a Killer Shrimp on the point and then scruffy Hares Ears on the droppers. The other tactic that works well for the shrimps is to use a midge tip just to bite the flies in and then again, the Fulling Mill shrimp patterns on the cast as the foam back on the flies helps to hold up the patterns.

The leader set up for the team of flies is quite simple a team of 3 with 5ft between the flies. With the tippet as always being 8.5lb RIO Fluoroflex Plus, however, there may be a need to up this 12lb the takes can be savage on the shrimps. When it comes to the retrieve, no retrieve or a very slow figure of eight is best. As while these shrimps are highly mobile, this can also be there downfall. As they can easily get taken by the current and the wind and blown along. Meaning when the flies are fished static or slowly close to the shore, the artificial are imitating the naturals caught in the current. Casting the flies from the bank and then just allowing them to swing around is often the best option. Then when the line gets to a 45° angle from the bank employ a slow figure of eight retrieve to keep the flies off the shallow rocks and imitate the shrimps free swimming over the rocks.

With such an abundance of food around the fish are really in top condition and will really give a fantastic account of themselves.

Check out our online store www.flyfishstore.co.uk for Tom Bird’s Draycote Shrimp Selection to go along with this latest blog.

Tight Lines

Tom Bird

Guiding & Tuition Manager.

Dry Fly Fishing

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With the water now cooling from the hot summer temperatures. The trout have risen into the surface layers of the water column, as a result dries have become the standout at both Draycote & Eyebrook. However, when it comes to fishing the dries there is a marked difference in the success rate. To help get the most out of fishing dries this blog will outline some of the key areas that will maximise catch rates.

At Draycote with the clouds of black buzzers behind us. The larger more colourful buzzers come out to play with large claret, red, brown and olive buzzers hatching. This teaming with the fish sitting higher in the water. Means a well-presented dry fly can often be the best way to land good quality grown on fish. It’s at this time of year where your big reds, crippled midge along with hoppers and daddies can’t be overlooked. Eyebrook offer the same high-quality sport for grown on fish in September. With the main food item on the Trout’s radar is Daddy Longlegs, along with other terrestrial insects such as beetle and ants.

When it comes to fishing dries, a drifting boat is best. When fish are feeding on the surface, they tend to cover large areas looking for the next adult buzzer or terrestrial. Therefore, drifting to cover the water produces the best results as you will cover the water more effectively and therefore cover more feeding fish during the day.

In conjunction with a drifting boat, you also want to make sure to cast short to cover the most water and therefore fish. But what is a short cast? Well its normally about 3 rod lengths of line. Personally I use a mid-tip softish rod (SAGE Pulse) and on this rod the first 30ft of the 47ft head of a RIO Gold floating line loads the rod perfectly. The reason short casting works so well is that when the fish are so high in the water, they will normally eat the flies within the first 30 seconds of the cast. So, you can short cast recasting the flies every 30 seconds meaning you won’t have to retrieve the flies. This ensures the flies are sat there static not producing drag, just like a natural insect would.

Below is a picture of a demonstration RIO Gold being fished at the correct distance for dries.

When fishing dries think of the water in front of the boat like a clock face with 12 O’clock straight out in front with 9 & 3 as the two sides (either off the bow or off the engine). You want to make sure that your flies are being worked around the clock face to cover all the angles and feeding lines of the fish. I always start at 12 O’clock of the clock face I will then cast my way round to 9 O’clock (as I am normally on the motor) and then work my way back. With every new cast I could be covering a new fish. If you were to cast longer you wouldn’t cover as many fish as effectively, because by the time you have got to the point of recasting you may have drifted the line over fish that may never have actually seen the flies. Another perfect reason for casting short and using a line that loads the rod at about 30ft is that if a fish moves a little further out that may not be coming towards the boat so moving 40ft around going right to left. Then you pick up to re-cast the rod is loaded and the extra line can easily be cast with no false casts.

When it comes down to fly selection and leader set up some general observation can help make an informed decision. Early in the morning, buzzer maybe be hatching off so CDC shuttlecocks can provide great results as they imitate a fly in the process of hatching out of its shuck.

 

As the day progresses and takes dry up or refusals start in the shuttlecock style it maybe be time to try my personal favourite the crippled midge. For me this pattern is the perfect pattern to use when buzzers are n the menu as it imitates a wide range of the life cycle of the hatching buzzer and just looks great on the water.

However, if it’s a day with a good ripple the profile of a foam daddy or a hopper may produce, the better results.

Leader choice and spacings will very much depend on the conditions and the day. When fishing CDC’s I will use Co-polymer as it doesn’t sink the same as fluorocarbon. As a result, the CDC flies doesn’t get pulled under the water when re-casting. Which causes the CDC to become waterlogged and requires the fly to be changing more often. My personal choice in Co-polymer is RIO Powerflex Plus 7.5lb rated at 4X. If I am fishing with standard dries such as big reds, crippled midge or hoppers in 10s & 12s, I will use RIO Fluoroflex plus 8.5lb rated 3X fluorocarbon. If I am getting swirls and need to drop down to smaller flies, then I will drop the diameters down to 4X or if they are being fussy a small size 16 single fly fished on 5X Fluoroflex Plus 5lb.

 

 

The spacings for the leader will normally depend on the rise types of the fish, if they are coming from deep in bright conditions and taking flies then the flies set a good distance apart 5-8ft depending if fishing 3 or 2 is best. However, if they are feeing high in the water then the flies want to be about 5ft apart no more as the fish have a very narrow field of view and they can easily swim between two flies’ spaces far apart.

The key for dries is to try and note the fish’s movements. By fishing the flies close to the boat you will be able to see any action to the dries with easy as well as distinguishing if the fish has eaten the fly or simply swirl at it, which is impossible at distance. As a result, the flies can easily be picked out with a quick glance back allowing you more time to scout for moving fish. I personally like to try and spot the fish moving at about 30 yards and try and monitor which way they move on there next rise. Do they come straight up the wind? Or are the moving right to left etc. If you can judge there feeding pattern, then with a short accurate cast when in range of the boat you can make sure you get your fly in front on the feeding fish. Then as long as your fly is roughly right and the leader is sunk the fly should be eaten, as I am a firm believer that it is getting the fly in front of the fish is the important bit.

My Final top tip is to make sure that you regularly degrees your leader to reduce the flash and het it to cut through the surface film. THIS WILL GET YOU MORE TAKES.

Tight Lines Tom Bird

Guiding & Tuition Manager

 

 

 

 

 

Daddy Time at Eyebrook

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As the water cools toward the late summer days of September, Eyebrook surrounded by grazing land comes alive with fish eating Crane Flies (Daddy Longlegs) as they get blown onto the water. Daddies are most active and on the wing towards late summer, feeding on plants stems, roots and grass. With all the farmland and long grass at Eyebrook, it makes it the perfect habitat to get large populations. So, with all the daddies in the air along the banks and neighbouring farmland all it needs is a bit of wind to blow these unstable fliers onto the water. Where after the dog days of summer the trout are waiting to make the most of this bounty.

(Picture: John Nowell)

On days where the daddies are being blown out on the water, the fishery can almost boil with surface activity with the trout in great competition for these protein rich flies. This can often result in some of the best fishing off the year with some great catches being recorded. When it comes to fishing the daddies at this time of year, there are a couple of tips that will help to maximise your catch rate.
Firstly, fish them on Fluorocarbon, as the daddies are quite a large pattern the fish can swirl at them. However, just because they haven’t eaten them straight off the top doesn’t mean that the chance of catching that fish has gone. Try giving them a twiddle when this is done on the sinking Fluorocarbon leader the fly will be pulled under the surface and the fish can, and normally does lock onto the moved fly and BINGO fish on.

My favourite fluorocarbon for this type of fishing is 8.5lb RIO FluroFlex Plus, the reason for this is that it naturally sinks so the flies and the leader bed in straight away. Then the flies can be twiddled back under the surface if you get a swirl. While still having a thin diameter means the flies aren’t dragged under straight away.

The second key bit is to not cast too far, there is no need to fish them as close as conventional dries. But casting nearly a full line will mean that you can’t work out if a fish has fully taken the fly or just swirled at it. If you cast around 20 yards, then you will still be able to see the flies and then work out if you need to strike for a positive dry fly take or give the fly a bit of movement to induce a take.

Giving the fly a little movement can also be great when casting at moving fish, if they haven’t taken within the first few seconds then give the fly a little twiddle to grab the fish’s attention.

With regards to the flies, the Fulling Mill daddies are our Guides favourite choice. The standard set up for Tom, Lee & Andy Miller is to use an orange foam daddy on the top dropper 8ft from the fly line with a natural foam daddy 8ft behind it. The orange daddy is great as a as a visual fly and can easily be seen if anything moves behind it, you know you need to act. Also, this colour contrast amongst the other flies can pull fish up with them either taking that or turning and taking the natural Tan pattern. On the days of a big wind, using a Fulling Mill DaddyHog can often produce the takes as the large fly with its big footprint pulls the fish up, this can either be fished on the top dropper or the visual pattern on the point.

Finally keep on the move long drifts over open water is the best way to make the most of this bumper time of year, as the fish will move over the open water looking to locate the next wind blown daddy, so by casting short and keeping on the move you will cover more water and therefore more fish in the process.

Available on the website Tuition & Guiding Manager Tom Bird has put together 6 of the Guides choice daddies with a special free postage offer https://www.flyfishstore.co.uk/offers/

Washing Line Blog Post

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As the water temperature starts to rise at this time of year, to a very Trout friendly 15/16°C. The Trout also rise, in the water column looking for food. As it this temperature the trout really start to feed hard and pack on the weight becoming very active in the search for food. Often moving from the banks in search of food over the open water. It’s now when we experience the large buzzers in red, olives and browns start to make an appearance. This change in the type and size of Buzzers normally mean that Diawl Bach’s really start to come into their own often with a little bit of flash or hotspots to pull the fish in while they feed and move over the open water.

The washing line method so named as the leader looks like a ‘U’ shaped washing line with the dropper or droppers hanging down or “pegged out on the washing line”. This effect is created by suspending the dropper/ droppers with a floating fly from the point or both the point and top dropper. Making it the perfect method for fishing on the top feet of the water. However, it can be done on a variety of midge tip lines to fish further down in the water if the fish drop due to wind or sun for example.

The most common set up for washing line on reservoir is to fish a Foam Arsed Blob (FAB) on the point or a booby, then 2 nymphs on the droppers, my personal preference is to fish a hothead or flashback on the top dropper with a drabber fly in the middle. This gives the fish two targets to draw them into the cast as they will be feeding over a wide area at this time of year, while still having the drab fly which will often take the more wary fish. The spacings for this is easy 5ft from the fly line to the first fly and then 5ft between the others, giving an overall leader length of 15ft. With the leader of choice normally being 8.5lb Fluoroflex Plus tippet from RIO as its low diameter and good knot strength.

While guiding clients often say “oh that long a leader I don’t think I can cast that”. I always say you will be able to, it fine, just remember to wait for the leader to unroll on the back-cast. The issues normally occur with tangles on the washing line when the flies are hung at the boat and its time to re-cast. As the weight of the nymphs will have pulled the buoyant fly under the surface and it will not want to come out. Then suddenly it does sticks in the surface and causes the flies to wrap around the rod. The important bit to avoid this is to roll cast the flies until they are all out the water and lying straight and then the overcast can begin. Remember this tip and you will soon be fishing four fly casts on 24ft leaders with no problem!

First off when fishing the washing line is once the cast is made give it one or two good pulls to make some disturbance to attract the fish to flies before starting the main retrieve. This can often result in the fish bow waving after the fly when pulled. You will see from the picture below a fish chasing a pulled fly.

When this occurs keep going until the fish “locks up” on the line, and then strip strike to set the hook in order to keep the fly near the fish if missed. Then when it all goes right you will have a cracking fish coming over the net with the FAB in its mouth.

This tactics of pulling the washing line is also fantastically effective when covering moving fish to grab their attention.

When it comes to fishing the washing line, remember the swing tip from the previous buzzer article? Well now is another perfect time to bring it into play. As this allows the retrieve to be easily monitored to make sure the nymphs are being fish static of very slowly.

This allows for the flies to fish static and act natural in the water. Slowly descending with the buoyant fly slowing down the descent speed of the nymphs. This slow descent of the flies with the attractor on the point can often prove irresistible to the fish and the takes can nearly rip the rod out of your hand.

One top tip to stop those leader snapping takes is to figure of eight with your hand off the rod allowing a little of a cushion with slack from the rod to your hand with also having the ability to just drop the line with savage takes.

Hopefully these tips on how to get the most out of this deadly method will help to result in more fish in the boat. Like this lovely Rainbow taken from the open water at Draycote on a day the washing line proved deadly.

 To coincide with this blog and good washing lining sport currently on offer please see the website www.flyfishstore.co.uk for this weeks special off of Fishery Management (UK) guides top flies for washing lining. 

Tight Lines

Tom Bird

 

CDC Floatant Blog

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With the water temperature rising in May and early summer the trout become more active in their feeding habits. This results in the fish moving up in the water column into the warmer water so they can feed hard and metabolise the food more effectively. As a result of this shift up in the water column the fish start to feed on the buzzers more in the surface layers as they hatch. Its now that the CDC shuttlecock style dries come into their own as the trout cruise lazily taking the hatching buzzers. CDC stands for Cul De Canard French for Ducks Bottom are the waterproof feathers from around the preening glad of the duck. Due to their proximity to the glad they are very buoyant due to being full of preening oil. This results in them naturally floating; this can be slightly improved by adding a small amount of floatant to aid the natural oils. However, to much can have a negative effect and cause the fibres to become clogged stopping the natural oils from working.

When they are hard on emerging buzzers the sport can be fantastic, and great catches can be had. However, once lots of fish get caught on a CDC, the feathers can become waterlogged and covered in fish slime.

This normally results in the flies not floating and thus becoming in effective. You can just change flies but if the fishing is really going well them; you will need lots of the me pattern! Luckily there are products on the market that can bring these water logged flies back to life. These are in the form of two powers the Vision Brush & Float & Loon Top Ride

Both floatant’s are a powdered form of silicone, this silicone desiccant powder helps to remove water from fibres and due to its waterproof nature aid floating. The brush and float are perfect for brushing into water clogged slimy CDC fibres to remove all the slime and water. The brush allows you to really work the power into the middle of the middle of the CDC feather. This is the main area that will hold water and cause them to sink due to the dense nature of the centre of the feather.

Top Ride is also a powder based floatant with the added benefit of moisture wicking beads that help to dry the fly by taking all the water and moisture out of the fibres. This type of floatant is fantastic for really slimmed up drowned flies as it gets a lot of the power floatant on the fly while the beads help to draw out the moisture. Very easy to use just pop the fly in the powder still attached close the lid and give it a shake.

This can then be used in conjunction with the brush on floatant, as it’s a great way of getting lots of floatant power on the fly that can then be worked in with the brush.

Hope this blog has been useful and you can get some tips to helping keeping your CDC floating for longer. We currently have a special offer on both floatant’s if purchased together which can be seen over on the online shop www.flyfishstore.co.uk

Buzzer Fishing Blog

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Following on from the Blog about the different types of Bungs and their advantages and disadvantages. This week I will look at the buzzers and the best way to fish them.

A buzzer is the angler’s terminology for the aquatic non-biting Chironomidae or midge larvae, they come in a wide range of colours and sizes and depending on the time or year and water temperature will depend on the type that will hatch. They spend the first section of their life as Bloodworm living in the silt, after around a year they pupate. This is when they start their ascent to the surface in order to hatch into the adult buzzer we see by the millions along the waters edge in the warm days of May.

It’s at this pupa stage the trout gorge themselves on them as start their very slow swim to the surface. They become an easy protein rich meal for the hungry trout.

When it comes to fishing buzzers static is often the best. As the naturals swim very slow to static, they in fact do short burst kicking up a couple of times form a small bend, and then falling back straight as they tire. Therefore, buzzers come in straight and curved patterns to imitate the different points of their swimming action.

One of the most popular ways to fish buzzers is to straight line them, this means having a team of 3 or 4 on a cast with no buoyant fly to hold them in the water. As they sink in the water you get a straight leader with them sinking towards the bottom. This method can be fished on a floater all the way down to fast sinkers depending on how deep the fish are sitting. On a floater it allows you to cover depths from 18-5 feet as you evenly space out the buzzers. My leader set up is to have 8ft from fly line to first fly and then 5ft to middle and 5ft to the point. However, if 18ft of leader is a worrying prospect this can easily become 5/5/5ft or even 5/4/4ft. When fishing buzzers as previously mentioned static is best hence why anchoring can be great. As its just a case of cast out and allow to sit there as a trap for the fish. However, static buzzers can be easily achieved from a drifting boat. The key is if you hold the line slightly above the water you will get a loop as picture. If this loop is just holding as pictured then you are fishing dead static, if its lifting on the retrieve or bowing under the rod tip then you are either moving it or not keeping up with the speed of the retrieve. This technique is also perfect for detecting takes, as if the line lifts and holds there is a fish who has taken the flies but not moved enough for you to feel it down the line and in your hand While static is great some days giving the line, a long slow draw will be the key to great sport.

 Not only does this allow the flies to be draw up from the bottom so not get snagged. It presents them in a very natural manner, as a natural buzzer will give sudden burst of movement and then fall back.

However, for the technique of fishing the buzzers static and watching the loop to work, a straight line to the flies is key. If the boat is crabbing and causes the line to become bowed as pictured.

Then the method, won’t work as there is to much slack in the line and takes won’t register on the loop. It’s therefore the use of a small mend it crucial to keep the line straight. The small mend can also induce a take as it gives a sudden small movement on the buzzers like the natural. Once this small mend has been achieved the line should look this this.

The final key section to the static buzzer is at the end of the retrieve the hang, with a team of buzzers on either a midge tip or a floater is the hang. After working down the line on the drift keeping them static a small section of the floater or the midge tip will have been pulled under with the weight of the buzzers as pictured.

When this angle of the line occurs, on the hang the results can be deadly. The key is to figure of eight the line, keeping everything static right down to where the line goes into the water. Then once the tip is nearly touching the water slowly raise the line vertically hold and wait for the rod to buckle over as the trout grabs the buzzers before they leave the water.

Some days though static is the absolute order of the day at a very specific depth this is then the Bung comes into its own as mentioned the last blog LINK TO LAST BLOG is the Bung and its lethal for buzzers at this time of year.

While a variety of buzzers do work its important to keep on eye of what colour and size is hatching around you to make sure you imitate match the conditions of the day. Although this week we have done a special offer on the 10 best buzzers the Guiding & Tuition Team have found across the waters. Pictures below please follow the link to our online store to purchase your set today www.flyfishstore.co.uk/offers

Tightlines

Tom Bird

Guiding & Tuition Manager

 

The BUNG

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The Bung

No matter anyone opinions, and they do vary, on fishing the bung. There can be no denying its effectiveness.

Its currently the time of year where the method really comes into its own. As the buzzers really start to hatch, and the fish become more active in there feeding habits. The reason the bung is such an effective method is that it allows specific depths to be fished. On a bright day when buzzers are hatching but the fish don’t want to venture off the bottom due to the sun or water temperature the bung is perfect for presenting them just off the bottom. Another key point that makes the bung so effective is the fact the buzzers can be presented perfectly static, often key when buzzer fishing.

On the market there are lots of types of Bungs, in this short Blog I will go through the different types of Bungs we use ourselves and the advantages and disadvantages to each of them.

The first one that will shall look at it the fly type Bung, basically a piece of polystyrene or wood painted with fluorescent paint in order to be highly visible.

The advantage for the Fario Bung fly is that its competition legal as its able of catching a fish due to the hook. The fact it has a hook also means that any inquisitive fish that takes it has the chance of being hooked. They are highly visible and come in a range of colours The FARIO Fly ones in Yellow, Orange, Two Tone & White (Glo in the dark). The only drawback to this bung as its tied onto a dropper you cannot easily adjust it, if the fish suddenly come up in the water or they move slightly deeper.

The next type of bung is the Fish Pimp Strike Indictor, these come in a handy tube with 5 in a pack.

In a very vivid orange colour. They sit a little lower than other options, which is good for wary fish in clear water, and mean they detect subtle takes that the more buoyant ones may miss. Due to the lighter slimmer profile they are also very easy to cast cutting into the wind.

However, due to their slim profile and nature of sitting low they can be a little difficult to see in certain light conditions. One main advantage to these indictors is there versatility on depth. Once the bung is attached to the line a simple section of silicone tubing is put in the grove and then twisted around to tighten the bung onto the line. If the fish, then move shallow or deeper its just a case of taking the tubing out and sliding the silicone back in place. Only down side is it a very tight fit and can be a little fiddly with cold hands.

The final Bung we will look at is the AIR-LOCK bobber type.

These come in a pack of three different colour indicators with spare screw on lockers for the bottom. The variety of colours make them great for visibility in a variety of lights. They are highly buoyant, resulting in large buzzers and goldheads being able to be suspended with no danger of pulling the bung under. They look a little like a balloon in design and as a result are very visible.

They are fitted to the line by sliding the nylon into the grove on the bottom and being tightened with a small plastic ring that screws down to hold them in place. Like the Fish Pimp ones this makes them easy adjustable should the fish move in depth. However, the one drawback to such a large indicator is that it can be difficult to cast as it holds in the wind a little like a sale.

As you can see from the pictures all these Bungs are effective, and all have their advantages and disadvantages. With the buzzer fishing really starting to take off don’t be without Bungs, it will boost your catch rate and is perfect not only for beginners but any angler who want to add another successful method to their reservoir trout fishing. As a result we are running a special offer on the Bungs please visit www.flyfishstore.co.uk/offers to see them. Then you can catch cracking fish like the one taken at Eyebrook at Stoke Dry in the shallow water on the Bung.

Tightlines

Tom Bird

Guiding & Tuition Manager.

 

 

 

 

Getting ready for the start of the season.

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With the start of the 2019 season fast approaching now’s the time to turn your attention to your forgotten about tackle, packed away since the end of November when the last of the Fishery Management (UK) Ltd water closed.

In this blog I am going to take you through a bit of check list and preparation, to make sure your kit is up to the test of the hard fighting Rainbow’s this upcoming season.

Firstly, lets look at the most important aspect of preparation for the start of the season your fly lines, paying special attention to the floating line. Often the most expensive line in the kit and the one of the most significant investments, it’s important you look after your “floater” to keep it preforming at its best and make it last if possible. Top quality fly lines like the ones made by “RIO” are made with tiny holes in the coating of the fly line. Within these microscopic holes a balance of a number, of lubricants that essentially act as moisturizers. These lubricants keep the plastic coating supple and strong and prevent it from drying out, or de-plasticising.  Therefore, it’s important to clean your lines, a great product we would recommend for a quick wipe after every third trip, are RIO’s Fly Line Cleaning Towelette, at 85p these inexpensive items will add months onto the life of a line.

These one use cloths are coating in special RIO cleaning agent to help remove dirt and grit.

They are very simple to use its just a matter of pulling the line through your hands while holding the cloth, as you do you will feel the cleaning solution starting to get to work on the line. Just remember to change the area of the cloth you are pulling the line through.
Once you have finished you will be amazed how much dirt comes out from the line even if done regularly like our RIO DEMO line’s.

While this technique is very quick, a line that hasn’t been cleaned in a while or maybe never, may call for deep cleaning techniques. Over the winter your expensive lines may now have the dirt ingrained into the those pours, or worse depending where they have been stored, they may also have some surface mildew that will need to come off.

The first step to a deep clean is to get some lukewarm water with a small amount of detergent in a washing up basin or bucket and allow the line to sit for 5 minutes, allowing the water and detergent to get into those pours and remove the dirt.

Once it has been sat in the water for 5 minutes, its then time to run the line through a cloth. The perfect product for this is the RIO Wonder Cloth as its micro abrasive pad really helps to remove that ingrained dirt.

Again, you will be amazed how much dirt this cloth removes, even on the line I previously cleaned with the quick towelette. Just shows how much dirt has built up over the season. Helping to show how important this pre-season MOT is.

The final step of the process is to treat the line with RIO AGENTX (please note Agent X is only recommended for floating lines), and is specially formulated to enhance the performance of modern floating fly lines with RIO’s patented lubricant and high floating dressing. Just simply apply to a cloth and run the line back through it while winding onto the reel.

Now we have looked at lines and making sure they are in the best order they can be, lets turn out attention to the rest of the kit in the bag. First thing that will need looking at is the tippet material in the bag, give it a little test, tie a knot and make sure it hasn’t deteriorated over the winter. Although the main reason for checking is to check see how much is left on the spool. There is nothing more frustrating than getting up early for opening day, running down to the boat or bank in anticipation of that first fish of the new year. Only to find out you have enough tippet. With this in mind why not visit the online shop  https://www.flyfishstore.co.uk/shop/category/leader-tippets-and-accessories/ and get the tippet ready for the new season before the price increase on the 1st March.

The next step in the tackle bag is to make sure that all the other accessories are still there and hasn’t gone walk about during the closed season. Things such as snips, forceps, priest, gink, mud, zinger essential items. Once this has been done its time to check on the all important flies and fly boxes. The closed season is the perfect time to get all the flies in order. Maybe now is the best time to reorganise in a new fly box? Whether its slimming down the collection into a small pocket sized box or upgrading he box for a larger one? The Vision Slimline boxes certainly have the full range covered https://www.flyfishstore.co.uk/shop/vision-slim-fly-box/ I myself opted for the large slimline boxes and organised reorganised my flies ready for a busy season of tuition & guiding.

It’s important when doing this that any flies that have rusty hooks or have been chewed excessively are discarded. During the season and with the help of my tuition team we will be putting together selections of top patterns for all our waters at certain times of year. So be sure to keep checking back my blog for the upcoming early season selection.

Tight Lines

Tom Bird

Guiding & Tuition Manager

Making the most of the back end.

Posted by & filed under News.

Back End Big Fish

Towards the end of the season, usually around October/November, the resident overwintered fish who had been in feeding over the deeper water on buzzers and terrestrials, start to move to the shallows. As the water out over the deeper water cools quicker the fry tend to migrate to the warmer water of the margins. At this of year, the buzzer hatches also start to slow due to the cooling temperatures and the fish start to look for alternative food forms whether this be fry, shrimps or snails.

As such the colder months are the perfect time to try and land these quality specimens that are like “silver bars” with full spade-like tails. With lower water temperatures and days getting shorter, the fish become more aggressive in their feeding, rounding up fry and trying to pack on the weight before the long cold winter arrives. This aggression often means that the usually shy allusive “residents” can let down their guard and be tempted to take a well presented artificial.

Due to their aggressive nature towards the back end it is often large fry imitations that account for the capture of these larger fish. Snakes, Tubes, Minkies and Humungus all feature heavily on the catch reports at this time of the year.

Fish on tube

When it comes to fishing these patterns there is no better angler then our very own in house guide Lee Henfrey. Lee is a master of fishing the “dark side” as he likes to call it. Earlier in the week I shared a boat with him and we headed out looking to target some of Draycote’s residents. While we have not had the hard frosts and cold mornings that really get the big fish hard on the feed, the water temperature was dropping nicely, and the days are growing shorter in length. Before the really cold days of the late autumn/early winter the fish head up the shallows and this was where Lee and I would concentrate our efforts. Favourite areas for this time of year are Croft Shoal, Middle Shoal & along the Farnborough Dam.

We decided that we would start fishing Farborough Spit, Lee’s favourite spot at this time of year as it offers deep water either side, with an area of shallow water which the fish move onto when feeding. It always holds fish towards the back end and is a prime location for fry to hold. As we had not had many hard frosts, we started by drifting just off the spit over the slightly deeper water working towards the shallows. Lee worked an olive snake on a di 5 Forty Plus. The reason for him choosing the forty plus was because it has an intermediate running which means the line holds slightly higher in the water before the head digs in. This then causes the fly to sweep quickly off the surface. It’s often this sweeping action down through the water column that triggers the take. And sure enough, it wasn’t long before Lee hit the first fish of the day just as we got to the shallow water, half way back through the retrieve. From the speed of Lee’s retrieve, and the length of the cast, we guessed that the fish had taken just as the fly had gone down the drop off at the edge of the spit.

Soon after this I had my first bit of interest. Using a di 5 sweep line and a perch fry pattern I had a follow from a big brown – very exciting. A repeat cast straight back out to see if I could tempt him to follow again, as browns are normally very territorial and after following will often return to the same spot. However, this time the brown didn’t follow but was instead replaced by a big rainbow. Despite covering the lies of these large fish with numerous casts, they failed to re-appear. After the drift we decided to anchor in the spot where I had risen the big fish to the boat, so we could work the depths and flies to try and tempt them into making a mistake. Once the anchor had set I landed 2two rainbows in quick succession on the flashy perch fry imitation. This prompted Lee to change to a tube and no sooner had he cast it out into the shallows, a lovely rainbow was on.

During the next 30 mins the sport was excellent, with Lee casting his favourite tube into the shallows and getting a lovely sweep into the drop off where eager fish were clearly waiting. This was a great example of the sport that can be experienced, and the quality of the fish caught, when the angler gets all the variables right. Lee was working the fly perfectly to get the sweep of the tube just at the edge of the drop off and causing the fly to pull right in front of the fishes’ nose. This perfect combination was soon re-warded with another quality fish for Lee taken on the tube:

However, after about another five rainbows the sport just dropped off and so we found ourselves back to the drawing board. We realised that we had been in the same spot for a while and the fish had been subjected to a lot of pressure. We therefore opted to move the boat over to slightly deeper water to the left of the spit and change our lines to a RIO Intouch Deep 7 with a pair of Humungus Boobies. These were spaced at 10ft apart which gave us 20ft of leader to ensure the flies where propped off the end of the line. The thinking behind this set up was that the fish that had been under pressure and maybe wanted a slower fly presentation. Also, due to that angling pressure, they appeared to have taken refuge deeper in the water column. The wind had also increased leading to a decline in surface temperatures to further induce them to drop off into deeper water. This change in tactics seemed to do the trick as straight away rod tips started to get pulled down with yet more frantic action from fit, silver, grown on bars like this one:-

At the end of play the pair of us had netted over thirty rainbows, with around ten of those over the 3lbs mark and a couple of larger 4lbs specimens. It just shows that towards the end of the season the fish follow the same routines each year and that if you work to get the tactics right, and understand what the fly is doing sub-surface, you can enjoy exceptionally good sport.

To book a guided session with Lee looking at late season tactics to land these large reservoir residents then call the lodge on 01788 812018.

RIO Single Handed Spey Review

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The RIO Single Hand Spey Floating Line is now in its third season, during which time it has become a firm favourite with the whole of the Draycote & Eyebrook Guiding and Tuition team.

It was originally designed to help US anglers perform tight roll and single hand spey casts in close quarters. However, after just a single cast at a company demo day three years ago it became clear that this was going to be perfect for UK reservoir work. The weight distribution towards the back of the head loads our fast action reservoir rods with ease.

England International & Fishery Management (UK)Ltd Guide, Lee Henfrey, has enjoyed spectacular success recently at Eyebrook adopting a long distance approach to tackle feeding fish moving at range from the boat. He attributes much of his success to his use of the Single Hand Spey as it enables him to cast the full line with only two false casts whilst still turning over up to a four fly leader tangle free.

Teamed with a fast actioned rod, such as the Sage “X” or Redington Vice, he has been able to reach spooky fish which would otherwise be out of range.

I experienced this first hand recently when sharing a boat with Lee who was casting the full 90ft line in two casts, covering and hooking fish I was pointing out for us to target later in the drift. On more than one occasion he would land his foam bodied daddy patterns in front of such fish with the comment “was this the one you meant?” as he tightened into yet another angry rainbow

The line is constructed on what RIO call their “ConnectCore”, which they rightly describe as providing groundbreaking levels of sensitivity & performance. It enables those fish to be hooked at long range as, unlike the stretch of normal fly lines the InTouch “ConnectCore” is ultra-low stretch giving the angler the ability to feel even subtle takes at such distances and successfully set the hook.

Personally, I love this line for tuition. It’s profile, and weight in the 8’ Handling Section behind the rear taper, make it perfect for beginners to quickly feel the loading of the rod – especially on the medium fast action Vision Onki which I most frequently teach with. This instant feel, combined with the short heavy head section, enables newcomers to soon be shooting greater distances with ease. Resulting in more fish in the boat line the perfectly finned Eyebrook Rainbow below.

To purchase a single handed spey please visit the online shop by clicking here and take advantage of our special offer of 10 foam daddies with every line purchased.

Hope you enjoyed the review.

Tight Lines Tom Bird

Guiding & Tuition Manager