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 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 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.

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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

Trout Galore on Eyebrook’s Tuition Day

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Earlier in the month, given the effects of the summer heatwave, if you have asked the Eyebrook tuition duo of Jobe Burnham and Lee Henfrey, what they thought the likelihood of four beginners catching on their upcoming boat tuition day would have been I am sure the question would properly have been met with a very downbeat negative response. Fast forward two weeks and it was a very different reply when I asked them what they thought of the conditions ahead of day last Sunday. Both Jobe & Lee were full of enthusiasm & optimism at the prospects. The cooler weather was having a positive impact in reducing the surface water temperatures, which had dipped to below the 20°C marker.

The guys played host to four eager participants in what was Eyebrook’s first boat tuition day of the year. An earlier date in July had been cancelled due to the hot weather. A mixed bag for Jobe & Lee, with three complete beginners and one experienced bank angler, who was attending the day to learn the art of boat craft. The day started, as with all our tuition days, in a classroom session, looking firstly at entomology and moving onto balanced tackle.  All were soon clearly enthused & enthralled as the full contents of England International Lee Henfrey’s fly box was displayed on the floor for inspection & envy. This ensured a great open discussion, looking at the names of different flies and learning how they imitate the natural insects so abundant at Eyebrook.

With all the questions and discussion flying around, the classroom hour flew by with heads filled with new and exciting fly fishing knowledge, not to mention an abundance of new jargon! After a five minute coffee break it was time to get out on the grass armed with the latest gear from Vision, Sage, Redington, and RIO. Jobe got the casting session underway by demonstrating the basic casts to the excited group. After 10 mins the 3 complete beginners where making good progress. However, this casting session wasn’t just intended to get them to a standard where they could effectively present a fly. Jobe & Lee also looking at improving the already existing skills of David, our experienced fly fishermen. Jobe decided that this would be the perfect time to teach him to double haul to help take his casting to the next level with added distance. Amazingly, once Jobe had broken the cast down into its key elements, David picked it up like a duck to water and very soon was hauling like he has been doing it for years. I would call that a fantastic feat in such a brief session. Also, under Lee’s watchful eye, all three novices were also shooting and casting a very presentable straight line. During lunch both Jobe and Lee told me that they felt confident that all had progressed so well that they had the skillset to land those first trout from the boat.

So, after lunch the two boats headed out onto the water with David & Nick under the watchful eye of Lee and the father and son team of Max & Tom aided by Jobe.

Both started with an explanation of the workings and how to start up & operate the petrol outboards. After this a short motor was made up the bank to Dogwood Bay & The Bell for a safe anchoring demonstration. Astonishingly, about 2 minutes after the anchor had set and fishing had commenced, Tom’s rod hooped over and he found himself excitedly playing his first lively Eyebrook rainbow! The fish took a liking to Tom’s orange foam daddy fished just off the Bell.

Having seen this, and not one to get beaten, Lee gave instruction for David to motor the boat just off the Valve Tower so they could try some drifting with a drogue. This proved to be a good call as no sooner had the drogue set than David was into his first ever trout from a boat too. The action did not stop as, after only another two minute or so, David was into yet another! Not to be left out of the action Jobe explained to Tom and Max that perhaps drifting was the best tactic in order to cover more water to seek out roving pods of fish.

Once again this proved to be the correct call as once the drift has begun it was Dad Max’s turn to hook into his first acrobatic rainbow. During the course of the afternoon great sport was enjoyed by all with everybody catching and learning new casting & boat handling skills. The final tally of fish to the net was a very creditable nine. This really was a great testament to the tuition & guidance provided by both Jobe and Lee who were pleased to have proudly watched the guys cast & fish successfully for those critically important first catches.

After the success of the day Jobe and Lee now eagerly anticipate the next tuition day, this time from Eyebrook’s banks on Saturday 8th September to book a please click here.

Tight Lines

Tom Bird

Guiding & Tuition Manager

A Busy Saturday for Draycote’s Guiding & Tuition Team

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The weather looked a tricky one for the Guiding & Tuition team as we prepared for a busy Saturday  of tuition at Draycote. With the water temperature sitting at 21°C for most of the week, and starting to creep up towards 25°C throughout the day, it was going to be a testing time for both Lee & myself.

As Guiding & Tuition Manager, I was hosting the first of the new tuition days aimed at the boat angler. Running to the same popular format as the bank tuition days, the principal difference being that the actual fishing portion of the day is done from a boat. This enables participants to be shown the correct way to safely drive, handle, anchor and drift a boat.

With it being the first such day I had limited the places to just two anglers. Both Maria & Ben had never fly fished following an introduction into entomology, trout and fly tackle both were eager to learn to cast. I armed Ben with a Redington Vice 9ft 6in #7 teamed with a RIO Single Hand Spey loaded onto a Redington Behemoth. Maria was kitted out with the slightly shorter 9ft #7 Vision Onki with matching Onki reel loaded with a RIO Grand #7.

After an hour-long casting session on the pontoon I was pleased to find myself watching both Ben and Maria casting lovely straight lines of sufficient proficiency to catch them fish, if not today then on subsequent trips. Ben wanted to leave in time for the football, so we re-scheduled for an early lunch break after which the pair couldn’t wait to get out onto the water.

Before the serious business of fishing began, I demonstrated the correct routine for starting the boat before Ben was given control and took us out onto the water. We headed out to the top dam wall where I then demonstrated the correct and safest anchoring procedure following which both Maria and Ben took it in turns to deploy the anchor by themselves.  They had been attentive, and it was nice to observe both mastering the operation confidently.  I then turned the attention to drifting tactics detailing the reasons behind drifting, with emphasis on drogue deployments. This incorporated the pros & cons of both single and double point drogue. So, with a drift set up & drogue set, it was time to get down to the serious business of fishing.

Whilst both Maria and Ben had really taken to the casting like ducks to water, I explained that due to the heat wave the water temperatures had risen to such an extent that all the fish had dropped down to the depths. As such, the best tactic to get down to present a fly at their level would be to fish a fast sinking line, back drifted behind the boat. My choice for the day on both rods was therefore a RIO Deep 7 which has a sink rate of 7/8 seconds. This would drop the flies down through the water column and keep them at the depths where I believed the fish would be holding. On heading out to the fishing with Ben at the helm I had noticed that the boils were switched off so over to B buoy it was. After the first drift and only one pull to the boat a change was needed. Luckily a quick glance in the direction of the boils showed that they had been switched back on. So, without hesitation I instructed Ben to motor over to boils.  However, it was disappointing that after an hour, and no fish to the boat, it was time for Ben to leave us.

Once Ben had been dropped off it was Maria’s turn to skipper the boat back over to the boils. After one more run down and with no signs of action, I decided that a change to drifts off the tower might prove productive. Indeed, this soon proved to be the correct call as on the very first drift Maria experienced a rod bending take which resulted in her being attached to a very angry rainbow! After a few anxious minutes her first fish was safely in the landing net. Not only was it a first but it was also a lovely overwintered, full tailed rainbow that had hammered into her olive snake booby. A little way down the second drift and it all happened again & a smiling Maria was admiring her second catch – another lovely silver fish.  Over the next hour the action continued, and Maria hooked but unfortunately lost a further 4 fish in play. Despite this, she was rightly proud of her achievements and is well and truly “hooked”.

A great start to the new boat tuition days and were looking forward to hosting more throughout the coming months across all sites. For more details please visit

While I had been out running the Tuition Day, In-House guide Lee was also on the water with a client who was looking for local knowledge and expert advice to hopefully help him while out competing in the forthcoming England Qualifier. As previously mentioned, with the hot weather all the fish had dropped deep. Lee was the perfect choice for this guided session as he is an absolute master of sunk line fishing and knows all Draycote’s deep water and drop offs like the back of his hand.

The client had expressed that he wanted Lee to fish alongside him, so they could both bounce ideas and try different methods. The fishing tactics were simply get deep quick and stay deep for as long as possible. Lee opted to go for the Airflo Booby Basher. This is a long-integrated shooting head with a 55ft 400grain level head that needs to be cut to suit the rod. As such, the head sinks very quickly, and due to the heavy head, casts like dream flies achieving great distance and keeps the flies in the zone.

The tactic worked a treat with both Lee and the client getting lots of action and fish, while targeting the deep water with boobies. The icing on the cake, however, was when half way back on the retrieve lee’s rod buckled over and he was attached to a large feeling trout, after a long battle. With the fish staying deep Lee boated a fantastic rainbow in the 6-7lb bracket a great testament to Lee’s ability to control a sinker and his knowledge of where the big fish live in the hot weather.

Tight Lines Tom Bird

Guiding & Tuition Manger


New Guiding & Tuition Blog

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Welcome to the new blog / news page for the Fishery Management (UK) ltd tuition and guiding page.

As a company we operate four sites, Draycote Water nr Rugby, Eyebrook Reservoir Nr Uppingham, Thornton Nr Leicester, Foremark Reservoir Nr Derby  each very different from the next, and as a result can require different techniques to unlocking the door to success.

We will update this blog / news page on a regular basis with news & up to date fishing advice especially as we move through the fishing season from our in-house guides working our fisheries.

If you require any information on our guiding / tuition, please contact me on 01788812018 or

Tight lines see you on the water


Guiding & Tuition Manager


Tuition Days

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We provide tuition days & guided sessions at Draycote, Foremark, Eyebrook & Thornton with all our guides and instructors working at our fisheries.

Our guides us SAGE, Vision & Redington rods with RIO & Vision fly lines