Early Season Bank Fishing

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After the first lockdown there has been a huge increase in rod licence sales with more than 100,000 more licences recorded than the previous year. These extra sales saw a number of anglers arriving at all our waters to have casting lessons or “have a go sessions.” With the start of the season looming this blog is aimed at giving these new anglers some advice on how to best approach this new season to make the most of what can be prolific early season fishing.

Our group of three midland fisheries are due to open early spring, the lengthening March daylight hours providing excellent early season sport, visit our websites for specific opening dates

www.flyfishdraycote.co.uk     www.flyfishthornton.co.uk     www.flyfisheyebrook.co.uk

There are a number of reasons the start of the season is such a good time for beginners to get on the banks.

  1. After a long winter closed period the start of the season is always a popular time due to the fisheries being heavily stocked with thousands of trout for the angler to catch. These trout have been introduced in the weeks leading up to the fisheries opening day allowing them to spread around the lake, ready to intercept the visiting anglers fly!
  2. Early season is perfect for beginners & the more advanced angler as the trout, due to the cooler springtime water temperature move closer to the bank to feed. The advantage of this, you will not need to cast as far to have a chance of getting your fly in front of a feeding fish and no need for a boat. Perfect if your new to the sport and just getting to grips with the challenges that casting a fly rod can bring.

Now let us turn our attention at some points to think about when you start your search to locate the trout. As previously mentioned, the fish like to hug the banks, the main reason for this is their searching for food. The trout are looking for food in the shallow margins because they warm up first, resulting in more food hatching off in the shallows. This therefore draws the trout into the area. The trout will also often shoal at this time of year, resulting, in there often being more than one. Once they have been located and the correct feeding depth found, and one is caught it is likely there will be chances of more fish without having to move at all.

A key point, is to keep on the move as the fish maybe shoaled only patrolling a small bank area if they have found food, a comfortable depth and water temperature, they will be very reluctant to move. Spend about 10 mins to 20 min in a spot maybe make a fly change, and if you have no luck simply move up the bank a few yards.


Fishing Thornton is easier from the boats but early season February to April does produce good bank sport. The early season hotspot are the shallows of the Thornton arm opposite the lodge, corner of the wood and down past the Lonesome pine. The area opposite the lodge & corner of the wood has a shallow natural gradient for the first few yards before dropping off, a perfect place for the fish to cruise along patrolling for food, we recommend anglers fish the shallows outwards with bank anglers benefitting if they wear waders.


The Bank Opposite the lodge.

The Corner wood looking across to the Dam.

The Lonesome pine bank down the Markfield arm has deeper water closer to the bank, careful wading is required here. Early season cat’s whisker, black & green tadpole & boobies will take fish but as we move towards mid to late March the diawl bach, bloodworm and buzzer patterns will take fish. Always call the lodge for latest updates 01530 230807

The Lonesome Pine.


At Eyebrook the early season hotspots are the Casting Platforms, Hawthorns & Sam’s Dyke. However the fish can be caught along the entire length of the Leicester Bank from Dogwood Bay down to Sam’s Dyke. Again there is a nice shallow gradient bank with a drop off not far from the shore newly stocked trout to patrol and feed in. Eyebrook is full of natural food so the fish soon switch onto the natural food once stocked. Meaning that natural patterns such as buzzers, Hare’s ear nymphs and pheasant tail nymphs work well in size 12 -14 maybe a little earlier than at the other fisheries.

The Casting Platforms.

The Hawthorns


At Draycote a popular early season spot is Toft & The Cornfield, again with depths of about 8-10ft not far from the bank, with the fish cruising just on the drop offs.

The Swan’s Nest

The Cornfield

When it comes to tactics and tackle for early season fishing, it can be kept simple. A balanced outfit is key to good casting with a rod working nicely with a balanced fly line.

Everyone has an opinion on the best length of rod a beginner should use for Stillwater fishing.  A 10ft or 9ft 6in #7 is a perfect bank rod with a medium/fast action, which is more forgiving when learning. However, if you are struggling to get to grips with a longer rod a 9ft rated for a #7 is a great option and easier on the wrist and shoulders. There are plenty of rods Vision, Greys, Shakespeare in the £70 to £150 price bracket for you to choose from, at Draycote, Eyebrook & Thornton we offer you the opportunity to cast a rod to make sure that you can choose the correct length and line weight to suit you.

When this is teamed with an easy casting, reasonably prices fly line such as a RIO Mainstream #7 £39.99 or a Vision Attack £29.99, good casting distances can be achieved. To start with only a floating line should be needed , as you can fish deeper with a weighted fly using a slow retrieve if needed. Remember at this time of year you are expecting the fish to be in the shallow margins, meaning sinking line could just result in catching the bottom. Next you will need a fly reel to store your new fly line on, again like rods there is a wide range available. One of the most popular options is the Greys GTS 500 reel £54.99, a cassette system that comes with 3 spare spools perfect for later down the line when building up your range of fly lines later. With other good options being the Vision Fisu £79.99 and the Greys GX300 £39.99.

After a rod, reel and fly line you may need to purchase a small tackle bag to carry your your terminal tackle such as a leader sometimes referred to as tippet a 9ft to 12ft length of nylon, or fluorocarbon to which you tie your fly. flies, priest, forceps & bass bag. Carrying them in a bag allows you to keep all the small bits of gear you need close to hand and  remain mobile. Popular options are the Snowbee XS Bank Bag £76.99

Alternately the  Wychwood Bankman bag £99.99 are both extremely popular.

To successfully fish the bank waders will give you the option of getting further out into the water if needed, however, always start fishing from bank as you can often just push the fish out by wading straight in. Good options for waders are the Snowbee Granite PVC wader £49.99


Or the Vision Atom breathable waders £169.99.

Finally you will require a net  to help land your prize catch. The Snowbee Ranger starts from £27.99 is a great option, as it folds and can go on the back of a jacket and also extends to a longer reach if needed.

As previously mentioned, the fish are inquisitive at this time of year and are yet to fully get to grips with their new surroundings. This means fly patterns with flash, and movement will often trigger a response. Fly such as a hot head damsel, Humungous & other long tailed lures work very well (pictured below) The marabou tail imparts movement that the fish cannot resist. More nymph style patterns can also work if you are getting lots of pulls, such as a green pea or Montana.

The patterns pictured below are a great place to start early season with the patterns on the left being the long tailed lures that will interest the fish and trigger an aggressive response. With the small green pea to the right is a great early season colour combination that has just the right amount of movement with the small marabou tail while still imitating small food forms such as tadpoles.

In early season its best to keep the leader simple using a single fly on a 9-11ft leader. Which could either be  a tapered leader something like the RIO Powerflex 9-12ft tapered leaders starting at £5.99. This would aid with turnover and the transfer or energy in the cast.

Alternatively a length of standard fluorocarbon or monofilament, can be a good option if you are getting tangles as it works out cheaper per leader. As a spool of fluorocarbon start at around £9.99 or monofilament £4.99. The difference being fluorocarbon naturally sinks and in invisible in water, therefore making it the more popular choice for early season work. Mix the retrieve up from long pulls, figure of eights and short sharp pulls. Keep mixing it up as the fish will see a lot of flies and retrieves over this period. However my  advice, is if you find your getting in tangles frequently speak to the staff at the lodge they can check your casting and kit

I hope that these pointers on areas, flies, tackle and retrieves encourage you new anglers out on to the bank at the start of this coming season.

If you require any more advice on Draycote or would like some casting tuition, please give me, Tom Bird a call on 01788 812018. Alternatively call:-

Jim Wright a call at Eyebrook on 01536 770264

Ifor Jones a call at Thornton 01530 230807


Tightlines Tom Bird

Sweep Sinking Lines

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Currently, at the time of writing the fish are hard on the fry and most of the fish coming out are coughing up Perch into the net or showing great numbers in their stomach contents on gutting. An angler took 3 fish home for the pot last week, reported post gutting that he found 63 Perch inside them. With the fish hitting the fry so hard, the go to tactics has been to match the hatch with large snakes and other lures. As a result, the fish can often become pressured by seeing so many large lure and this is when maybe a subtle change in approach can prove deadly. Recently on Draycote simply swapping to a sweep line, rather than traditional sinking lines, has proven to be the deadly change.

A cracking fish taken on the Sweep!

But what is a ‘Sweep’ sinking line? Well, a Sweep sinking line is a line that the belly of the line (main section of the line) sinks quicker than then the tip. This gives a U shaped profile as it sinks through the water column. This makes it a fantastic line for searching the water, as the flies will be pulled in an elongated U shape through the water. Rather than a standard density compensated line that will stay on straight level profile all the way back meaning the flies will stay on the same level.

There are a number of reasons that these lines are currently so effective. Firstly, as previously mentioned the fish at this time of year can see a lot of large flies and angling pressure and can result in the fish often being interested in the fly but due to angling pressure they won’t “eat” the fly; resulting in number of follows. This is more than likely the case when they see a lot of flies presented in the same manner. This may be because 95% of the anglers are using a standard Di 5, retrieving in the same manner, therefore keeping the flies on roughly the same straight retrieve profile. This causes the fish to get used to the action and may ignore or just follow the flies…. Very frustrating. However, if you simply change to a sweep, giving the fly a slightly different retrieve profile and action, the results have been devastating; suddenly there is a lot more lock-ups rather than follows. Often as the flies gets about halfway back in the retrieve and it just sweeps down to its deepest point. Alternatively as it starts to sweep up towards the boat approaching the end of the retrieve this sudden whip as the angle of the line change means they cannot resist but grabbing a hold.

A cracking fish taken on the hang using a Di 5 Sweep.

The main manufacturer of “Sweep” lines are Airflo and have been so for a number of years. Additionally, new this year, RIO have introduced their range of sweep lines the Fathom Cleansweep. The most effective line that myself and the other fishery guides have found for the current conditions has been the Airflo Di 5 Sweep, with a belly that sinks at 5 inch per second and a tip that sinks at 3 inch per second.

I hope that by explaining how and why these sweep lines work so well it might make a few more anglers understand why and when to use them and give them a go in the coming weeks to help improve your catch rate.

Tom Bird

Understanding Tippet for Dry Flies.

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As we enter September with cooler days and nights, the water temperature begins to drop, and the trout once again start to feed high in the surface. Add the appearance of the Daddy Longlegs and large late season buzzers, September can offer some fantastic dry fly sport. Fish that have grown on over the summer months look to exploit the additional food items and encouraged by the cooler water temperatures, they go hard on the feed.

A common question we often get asked in the lodges of all 3 fisheries is what tippet do you use for dries or what would you recommend? So much so, I have decided to cover the choice of tippets and when we would use the different types in this blog.

Firstly, let us investigate the benefits of Fluorocarbon tippet material. Fluorocarbon is a denser material than tradition nylon and Co-polymers and therefore naturally sinks. Fluorocarbon also has nearly the same refraction index as water so in virtually invisible to the fish.

A spool of Fluoroflex Plus tippet in 8.5lb.

Therefore, this makes Fluorocarbon most people’s go to material when fishing dries, particularly when they are fished for a short time on the surface and fan casted around the boat. The leader sinks into the film disguising it from the fish and beds the flies nicely on the surface. However, one drawback to fluorocarbon is that it can cause small flies to be dragged under the surface either when recasting or when they have been left on the water’s surface too long. Personally I find that Fluorocarbon is perfect for large flies; daddies, hoppers and Big reds. Additionally, it can also be used with crippled midge type patterns if they are not left too long on the surface. My own personal choice for Fluorocarbon for dries is the RIO Fluoroflex Plus in either 8.5lb or 7lb depending on the size and style of flies I am using. With large daddies, hoppers & Midas, I will use the 8.5lb and for small flies such as crippled midge I will scale down to the 7lb. The lighter the tipper the thinner the diameter and therefore the less dense so will not drag the small flies under as easily.

A crippled midge sitting perfect in film using RIO 7lb Fluoroflex Plus.

However, there are occasions when Fluorocarbon is not suitable for fishing dry flies and can disadvantageous to your catch rate. When using CDC patterns I have found that Fluorocarbon is not suitable unless it is in very fine diameters such as 5lb 5X as the dense fluorocarbon of wider diameters, when lifted off the water to recast, can bed in so deep into the surface that the flies will dip under the surface causing the CDC to become water logged and therefore less buoyant. This is where Co-polymer is fantastic, as it is not as dense as Fluorocarbon so does not sink at the same rate. In fact, it is so light that it often floats suspended by the surface film. This makes it perfect for keeping light flies or CDC patterns afloat.

A pair of CDC’s sitting nice and high due to the Co-Polymer.

However, it does require a Mud degreaser to ensure it does not float on top of the surface film making it very visible to the trout. Fluorocarbon also benefits hugely from the use of a Mud degreaser as this will tone down the shiny surface that some Fluorocarbons have which often makes the difference when fishing dries in tough conditions. Personally, I feel the degreasing of tippet is one of the most overlooked aspects of dry fly fishing where such a simple thing can make such a difference to your catch rate.

A tub of Fulling Mill Mud used to degrease the tippet.

Another occasion when Co-polymer can be advantageous to Fluorocarbon is to minimise the effects of what is known as drag. Irrespective of weather and water they may be occasions when you seem to get are a lot of aborted offers or refusals to your flies. This may be due to the Fluorocarbon tippet causing the flies to drag, any river anglers know drag will result in refused takes. Drag is something that is very rarely thought about by lake anglers. Drag is when the flies move quicker or slower than the current on the river and can be tested by observing the speed of floating debris in relation to the speed of your flies; is your fly moving quicker than the debris..? If the answer is yes, the fly is being affected by drag and moving in an unnatural manner. On a lake drag can be caused by keeping your line too tight to the flies when drifting which holds them back against the waves; therefore dragging. Additionally, Fluorocarbon tippet can also cause drag by digging in so well into the surface that the flies become trapped in position in the surface film by the pull of the sinking fluorocarbon. Some days this is fantastic and just how the fish want it. However, on other days they do not, and you get fish rising to the flies only for them to realise that the flies are not acting naturally on the surface and turn away. On these days changing to Co-polymer can be like turning the lights on, suddenly you are getting head and tail rises over the top of the flies as they drift naturally around high in the surface film. To help even more a 5ft floating poly-leader can also be used to help keep the leader even higher. Next time you are out on the water, watch the natural insects on the water and see how the react to the waves and currents and make a note whether are your flies doing the same…?


Spool of RIO Powerflex Plus Co-polymer.

This idea of drag caused by fluorocarbon was something I had never thought of for years just sticking to Fluorocarbon. Until I shared a boat with dry fly expert Gareth Jones, where I rose a lot more fish but everyone Gareth rose, he caught. It was not until the next day when we had the usual talk to discuss the whys of the day, he mentioned that is was likely due to the leader. That the small amount of drag can cause a lot of interest to flies but not necessarily positive takes.

Fish taking a CDC postivily fished on Co-Polymer.

Another key advantage that co-polymer has over fluorocarbon is the strength to diameter ratio. Co-polymer is stronger for a similar diameter than fluorocarbon, so you can fish finer diameters which will help with the positive takes. When it comes to Co-polymer, I tend to go for diameters rather than breaking strain, preferring to look at the X rating which is a universal system for tippet diameters, the higher the number, the thinner the tippet. Personally, I tend to opt for around Co-polymer in 4X or 5X as its stronger than the fluorocarbon equivalent.

I hope you have found this blog interesting and it will give you a little more knowledge and tips on when you should use fluorocarbon and when to use Co-polymer.

To coincide with this blog we have done an offer for FREE SHIPPING on all RIO Fluorocarbon and RIO Powerflex Plus, along with the option of purchasing Fulling Mill Mud with the Tippet at 1/2 price. Please follow this link to the special offers page to take advantage of this great deal.



Tom Bird

Fishing Eyebrook during the height of summer.

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Due to its makeup, Eyebrook, with an average depth of only 17 ½ feet and no aerators which would bring cooler water towards the surface. It is a challenge in the height of summer, as the fish will drop down in the water column to locate some cooler water. Were they feel more comfortable, at the time of writing this blog the 7am water temperature for the last 2 days has been 23°C. Meaning the trout will not sit and fed in these temperatures for prolonged periods which will mean the fish will dropped deeper. Although, this does not mean you need to stop fishing! Just get the flies down to where the fish are, and the sport can be fantastic.

A sunny hot day at Eyebrook in August with temperatures over 30°C.

At Eyebrook the majority of the fish when the water temperature rises head, for the Main Basin with a depth of 37ft this area provides access for cool water for the trout to refuge in. However, the old riverbed in between the Island and Robbo’s Cabin also offers deep water for the trout to head into.

When the trout do head into the deeper water a lot of anglers first port of call is to reach for the fast sinkers such as a Di 7 (Sinking at 7 inch per second) or the popular Airflo Booby Basher with 55ft of 400 grain Di 8 that is cut back to suit the rod. Both of these lines will sink quickly and help to keep the flies pinned down in the zone the fish will be feeding for longer.

However, a very enjoyable method to try in the hottest summer months is deep buzzers fished on a floater but more effectively on a midge tip. This method works best on the calmer days when you can have greater control over the floating line and also the boat to ensure a static presentation. My normal set up is 8ft from the fly line to the first dropper and then 4ft between all my flies with 4 flies on the cast giving a leader length of 20ft. If you cannot handle a 4-fly cast, then 3 flies will sort just as well again I would go 8ft to the first fly and then 4ft between the next 2 to keep the weight towards the bottom of the cast. The key to this method is to fish the flies as close to static as possible with a very slowly drifting boat.

Keeping the line static in calm conditions on a very hot day at Eyebrook.

The key is to allow the flies to sink down to around 25-30ft, using a slow figure of eight retrieve to take up any slack in the line. Then the majority of the takes come at the end of the retrieve when the flies hanging under the rod tip and start to inch them back up. It is at this point be prepared for the rod to just arch over into a hard fighting fish.

Bingo! A hard fighting Eyebrook trout that took under the rod tip, just as the flies started to be inch up.

My fly selection for this would be to have 2 large size 8s on the point and the next dropper up to give the cast some weight to help pull the flies down. Then smaller buzzers on the next droppers normally size 12s.

The reward for trying keep in the hot conditions, a lovely rainbow coming across the surface ready for the net.

Next time you are thinking of heading out in the hot weather, try fishing a bit deeper with buzzers. Its very satisfying catching trout on days, when all the conditions go against you.

Tightlines Tom Bird



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Well, after what seems a lifetime of not being out on the water we are finally back and the fish have been feeding hard during our time away, resulting in them being in great condition and fighting hard. Now we are back, lots of anglers have reported good catches with fish coming to “The Hang”. The Hang can be a truly deadly method/technique which is often overlooked and not utterly understood by many anglers.

The hang can be fished from both the boat and the bank. However, it is most effective from the boat as the flies can be hung further away and over a greater depth. This often means the fish will not see the angler or the boat and often results in more positive takes.

In simple terms, “The Hang” is the act of presenting the flies static at the end of the retrieve before recasting. What the angler is unaware of is how much interest flies generate under the water; how  many times have we you lifted your flies out of the water to recast only to find the a swirl on the water’s surface as a fish follows & turns away from your flies ..? To convert these follows into hook ups the angler must firstly assume that there are fish interested in the flies during every single retrieve. Secondly, the angler must give the fish the opportunity to take the flies by presenting them static prior to recasting. The angler can also greatly increase the likelihood of a take by generating further interest by a sharp rapid movement of the flies immediately prior the static phase of the hang.

For us to hang our flies effectively, we must know where our flies are in the water and how far they are away from the rod tip. To do this we use what is called a hang marker, a visible mark on the fly line. Most modern sinking fly lines come with hang markers already marked, although there are a few exceptions. The Airflo 40+ lines are excellent lines for sunken work, but they are missing a visible hang marker. For these & other Sinking Lines that do not possess in built hang markers we can mark our own hang markers.

We have already established that the Hang is conducted at the end of the retrieve, so our hang marker needs to be towards the end of the fly line. The distance away from the end of the fly line is very much personal preference; between 10 – 13ft seems to be the optimal distance. One hang marker is sufficient and can be used to repeat the process; hang once when the marker is at the rod tip and then again when the marker is at the hands, increasing the likelihood of a take even further.

So how do we make our own hang marker…? Over the years I have known anglers use numerous methods to mark their fly lines; from the use of permanent marker pens to whipping fluorescent floss onto the fly and then coating it in a UV Resin to protect it. The method of whipping floss will also provide the angler with an additional physical reminder as it is felt entering the tip ring. Whichever method is used, the marker needs to clearly visible so the angler cannot miss it.


The hang is often associated with sunk line fishing and often this is when it is most effective as often the flies are fished deep and fast which causes the fish to follow often all the way to the boat. This is where the hang can be devastating as stopping the flies just before recasting can cause any following/unsure fish to grab hold.  However, it can be just as effective on a midge tip or floating line, with a team of nymphs where each fly is slowly drawn up to the surface.

When hanging flies, a lot of anglers simply hold the leader and flies in the water either in front of the boat or by the side of the boat for a couple of seconds. However, this is not the most effective. As previously mentioned, the hang works so well from the boat over deeper water when the fish do not see the boat or the angler. This therefore means on the boats hanging with some level of fly line still in the water can often yield the best results. Thankfully, fly line manufacturing companies have recognised the effectiveness of the hang and need for the process to be repeatable so have added hang markers on the lines. With both Airflo & RIO having their own different markers on the lines, so that the process can be replicated with accuracy on every cast.

The Airflo hang marker has several markers on the lines so that the hang can be done at various process along the cast. This can be deadly when the fish are coming a little short and following right up to the boat. This markers enable you to retrieve until half way back and then you can pause the fly to see if the stop induces a take, and then if not carry on until the next mark and so on until you find the stopping point the fish will want.

Here you can see the colour change of a Airflo Di3 coming to the rod tip indicating 10ft of line left. These subtle colour changes are all the way along the line to allow you to fish the hang at different points.

RIO have a very neat small section for a hang marker at 20ft, this enable you to stop at either 20ft and hang keeping the flies deep or drop them to 15ft with the marker halfway down the rod. Then also at 10ft and 5ft.

When it comes to the hang the best option is to experiment which depth, they would like the flies to be hung. Some days it will be 20ft other days it will be 5ft just as the flies come towards the surface. The best way is to hang to the first marker so lets us the RIO as an example, retrieve to 20ft then stop and hold the marker at the tip. Leave the flies hang dead stop for around 15 seconds

After the flies have been hung for 15 seconds do a slow figure of eight retrieve until 15ft and then repeat until either a fish has taken or you have found the depth the fish want the flies hung.  I often find that 15ft is a great depth for sunk line work. However, do not be too quick to recast this can be the best part of the cast on some days and where most of the fish will take.

Then Finally you can figure of eight the line all the way into your hand giving you the ability to then hang your flies 10ft from the boat.

The hang can also be deadly on midge tip lines and floaters, especially when fishing a washing line deep or on deep buzzers. The key with this is just to slowly draw the flies up and hang them normally with about a rod length of fly line and just hold the fly’s static. This slow raise of the flies can be deadly as its just a subtle change of angle the fish has not seen on the retrieve back to the boat.

Fishing the hang off using a midge tip long.

On your next trip try these “Hang” tips and see if they can convert more fish into the boat.

Tightlines Tom Bird

Tuition Covid-19 Update 27th June 2020

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We are please to say after carful monitoring of the updated government guidelines we are able to to resume our 1:1 casting tuition session. We shall then monitor our new working procedures, to ensure that both the clients and instructors feel safe and are happy. We will then look to restart our 1:1 guiding session and then the tuition days after that. Please find the new working protocol for lessons below, if you have any quires about the procedures or would like to book a lesson please call the lodge on 01788 812018.

Protocol for 1:1 Tuition Covid-19 Procedure.

  • The instructor is to carry a bottle of hand sanitizer with him during the duration of the lesson which the client is to use prior to starting at the end of the season. It will also be available for any time during the session should either the instructor or the participant feel the need to use it.
  • The instructor and participant are not to share equipment. There will be 2 rods set up one for the client to use and one for the instructor to demonstrate with.
  • The Instructor and client are to social distance 2m where possible but can be 1m (as long as PPE Face mask, face covering is in place to mitigate the risk,) as per the new guidelines from July 4th.
  • The kit will be fully wiped down with disinfectant after use, and allowed to dry before repacking the kit away.
  • Life Jackets worn while carrying out the session on the pontoon will be disinfected after use inline with our Covid-19 procedure.
  • If the participant or instructor has any  COVID symptoms lesson will be cancelled, and it will be rebooked at a later date.

Look forward to see you all soon.

Tight lines Tom Bird

Guiding/Tuition & Draycote Manager

Fishing the drop.

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During these very uncertain times, like no one has seen before. We have unfortunately seen the temporary pause of Fly Fishing on our much-loved reservoirs.

However, this doesn’t mean that we can’t spend our time inside reading, learning and thinking about fishing, as I know that’s what I am doing.

In this blog I am going to look at a key part of a cast that will land you more fish and it is often overlooked. It’s called “the drop” this is the time after your cast where the flies fall through the water column without being retrieved. The reason this is so effective is that the fly or flies are falling naturally through the water. Often with very little resistance giving the flies a very natural presentation.

“The drop” will get you more fish especially when waiting for the flies to get to a certain depth. For example, you have found the fish to be holding about 5ft down in 15ft of water and you have cast out and are waiting for your flies to get to the zone. However not all the fish will be at 5ft down, there is likely to be fish who are sitting just under the surface and your flies dropping in front of them will induce a take. So, you must be ready for when they do, firstly you need to make sure that you are in contact with the flies as they fall. This might mean a reduction in distance to ensure that the flies have turned over and you are in direct contact with them as soon as they hit the water. 

A good example of a lovely line meaning direct contact with the flies.

After this the next step is to watch that line like a hawk, like mentioned in the buzzer fishing blog (http://www.flyfishtuition.co.uk/latest-report/) watch that loop of line for any movement. As this will indicate if the fish has taken the fly, as its likely they will just take the fly without moving off as it falls in front of them. Almost like a carp sucking in bait, the only way you will know this has happened if you are in direct contact with a nice straight line and watching the loop and the change in tension of the fish taking the fly will cause the line to tighten, but not necessarily move away. This will cause the loop to lift and hold 45 degrees to the water, once you see this strike as there will be a fish on the end.  Perfect angle of the rod for watching the loop of line.

 Perfect angle of the rod for watching the loop of line.

Above is a picture of what will hapen to the line when you get a take, just before striking.

My personal favourite way of fishing the drop is to use a midge tip with 3 buzzers and a blob on the top dropper. The amount of takes you get in the blob as it descends through the water, being pulled down by the buzzers and the midge tip. However, the drop is also fantastically effective on sinkers with boobies as the sinker begins to pull the flies down, as you wait to get to the depth you want to fish.

This tactic is also fantastic for pressured fish who have seen a variety of moving flies.

Here is the proof, a fantastic Draycote rainbow taken on a cormorant near X Buoy fishing on the drop, using a sinking line during the hot summer months. This fish was taken while helping someone practice for a major match and the water had seen a lot of pressure. Yet the drop produced the goods for this amazing fish. 

Lets hope we are all back on the water soon to practice this deadly method.

Stay safe & Tightlines see you all soon.

Tom Bird Draycote Manager 




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/