Friday, 6 December 2013

2013 Review

With 2013 almost over and the Christmas festivities just around the corner, the chance of fishing will be rather limited unfortunately.  I have therefore decided to do a look back over the year and show some of the fish I have been lucky enough to catch.

River Wye

My year started off pretty well. An early season Nymphing session landed me a lovely wild OOS Brownie.  A fish that actually won me Total FlyFisher’s fish of the month.

River fishing was a bit hit and miss over the summer on the Wye, mainly due to the very hot weather we have had.  The cooler months have definitely seen the best fishing.  Despite a few good sessions with the dry fly, this year has been all about the nymphs.  The majority of fish I have caught on the river have been on small (size 14/16) gold head PTN’s using the Duo method – both Grayling and Trout, and the odd Dace, have taken a big liking to this pattern this year.  When the fish have been switched onto the dries, I've had luck with The Grey Duster (on of my favourite patterns), light brown sedges and the ever successful Para Adams.

There have been a couple of firsts on the Wye this year; the first Salmon I’ve ever seen landed, 18lb (However, if was with a plug lure whilst fishing for Pike); but more significantly, Mary Bradbury became the first woman (on record) to hook and land a Salmon on my club waters - a great achievement.

There were also a large number of Goosander, Cormorants and Otters around this year - more so than usual where the otters are concerned, they certainly made the most of the Shads yearly visit (see pic below).  You cannot fish for Shad but I hooked one whilst fishing the duo - they don't half run, put a serious bend in my 4wt.

Otter's lunch

River Irfon

Similar to the Wye, the Irfon suffered heavily with the hot weather.  As the river runs much shallower anyway, there were times you could almost step across it.  The shallow warmer water however did see large Chub move in. I offered them the odd nymph but I think ledgering luncheon meat would have been more successful.  The cold weather was again the best time to catch.  Nymphs again the ordered of the season, with shrimp patterns landing me some bigger fish this winter.

My biggest Grayling of the year - 2lb est

Llyngwyn Lake (Rhayader and Elan Valley Angling Association)

Having took up a summer permit at Llyngwyn I fish there a lot.  Hot weather pushed the fish down, and as the depths are up to 55ft, it was very difficult to catch on times.  I did enjoy some excellent sessions, with the pick of the bunch being myself and Dan Graham landing 30+ fish between us in one of the most hectic afternoons of fishing I have had.  I also managed a full house at the lake (Wild Brown, which was returned, Blue and Rainbow Trout).

I mainly caught on lures, Damsels, Montana’s and Cats Whiskers but on the last day on my permit I took a trip there and landed 7 fish, all on a Klinkhammer off the top including the biggest fish on the season for me a 4lb+ rainbow.

Garnffrwd Fly Fishery

A couple of trips to the excellent Garnffrwd saw some really nice fish caught, made even better by visiting Christine’s Café for a warm and some food.  But like everywhere else, the weather played a big part in the number fish being caught.


It was fishing a Garnffrwd where my mate Dan landed his PB Brown of 8lb.  I helped him net it and it was a lump!

Chirk Trout Fishery

One of the most fun days I had fishing this year was a Chirk Fishery.  Having never caught a Brook Trout before, I came from there having landing more than 20.  The aggression these fish showed was incredible.  Any lure that passed them by was attacked.  Not massive fish but I was very tired by the time I got from there!

I hope for much of the same when it comes to the actual fishing.  I intend on fishing all my usual haunts as well as some new places - River X on my uncles’ farm and hopefully an early season trip to Ellerdine.

The only thing in my diary for the remainder of the year is the annual 'Fur and Feathers' at Llyngwyn on 22nd December.  This will be my first timing fishing this comp and only my second ever competition.  From friends accounts, its a light hearted competition and just a bit of fun really - something I'm quite looking forward too.

I'll leave you with a few more pics from the year and wish you all tight lines and a very Merry Christmas!

Until next time...

One of my favourite pictures of the year - Red Kite in Flight

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Fishtec Blog

As well as this blog, I write an occaisional post for the Fishtec Blog.  Check out my posts and let me know what you think:

With Trout season over and Salmon season coming to an end were heading full tilt into freezing temeratures and fighting fit Grayling.  I wish you all the best and hope to have some new posts for you shortly.

Until next time...

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Minke Fishing Tool Review

The Minke Fishing Tool is probably the best looking piece of kit you will see this year and probably next!

So what is it? Minke is an innovative, pocket sized, multi tool by Scottish company Meso-Design.  The Minke allows the user to cut lines, clean hook eyes and probably most impressively allows you to thread hooks and tie clinch knots.

Hook Eye cleaner and Snips
I’m never one for buying products because I feel I should.  When my friends are there with their Hardy rods and reels I’m more than happy with my Greys.  If a products works for me then I’m happy, if it looks good at the same time then that is a bonus and this is exactly what you get from Meso Design’s new product.

I’ve fished with Minke both on the River and Stillwater and it has effortlessly cut Fluorocarbon from 2lb up to 10lb with easy.  I’ve used it to attach flies from size 10-16 and it hangs nicely from my lanyard due to the built in lanyard loop.  I also had many an interested look and inquisitive question all asking questions, each one commenting on how good it looked.

Lanyard loop
The Clinch knot I used when catching the 2 fish below was tied using the Minke Tool so i'm pretty confident the process is solid.

3lb Stillwater Rainbow
1lb + River Wye Brown

Now, you’re probably thinking how can it help tie a clinch knot? Well…it’s simple really.  You slot the hook into the rubber section on the front of the tool, which holds the hook eye in place. A funnel on the top of the tool allows the line to be past straight through the hook eye.  The clinch knot is formed by wrapping the line around two rings on the body of the product, and feeding the line back down a second funnel. Then by simply pulling the hook out of the device, the knot can be tightened and the hook secured.


When you consider the wet and windy conditions, people with poor eyesight or a disability, this product takes away potentially one of the most difficult (and frustrating) parts of fishing.  Who knows, by removing the ‘need’ to tie a clinch knot by hand, it may even get more people into fishing.

Czech Nymphing the rivers of Mid Wales in the depth of winter as you can imagine gets pretty cold.  The number of times i’ve tried to tie on that killer fly and my hands have been so cold I can hardly move, this year I will have the Minke tool to help.

Originally developed as a school project, Meso took this idea and went ahead with it.  Through numerous prototypes and rigorous development they came up with an incredible looking product.  I can’t see anyone not wanting one of these hanging from their jacket and I highly recommend you try it.

Plus the tool comes in a very attractive case, ideal for storing bits of tying gear!


Check out the sites below for more information.

Until next time…

Wednesday, 31 July 2013

All the Gear...Some Idea

It’s funny, whenever I buy new fishing gear I'm always quite nervous when I first use it.  Whether is because the majority of kit we buy is expensive and I don’t want it to be a waste of money!

Anyway, I recently got hold of a new Airflo Super-Dri line.  I had to wait longer than I hoped due but now I have it and it’s loaded onto my reel.

I went for the Elite line, WF5 in Lichen Green.  I choose this colour because of its understatedness, not sure that is even a word but you get the picture!  If felt it would be best when covering spooky WBT (especially given the waters around me are so low and clear at the moment).  Although highly visible, the line isn’t bright and that appealed to me.  I choose the WF5 to go with my Streamtec Nantec 4/5 wt, which I use on the river and also the Stillwater if needed.

Over the last few weeks it appears every man and his dog has reviewed these lines.  Therefore im not going to go into too much detail on the manufacturing but how it feels and how it fishes:

However for anyone who wants to know here (in blue to make it easier for you to skip) are the specifications and marketing spiel from Airflo  - :

Introducing the new Airflo super-DRI series, the Highest Floating and Slickest Fly Line Available!

Material advances from the science technicians at Airflo have given us the leg up in the floating fly line market. Once you feel, cast and fish one of the new super-DRI lines there's no going back.

Super-DRI Features & Benefits
  • Ultimate high floating PVC Free material
  • Repels water better than any other material
  • Repels dirt and surface scum with a vengeance
  • Slides through the guides better, adding distance to every cast
  • Permanently part of the line, not a coating that leaches out - migration is only good for birds!
  • Easily lifts off the waters surface, less disturbance adding stealth to every fishing situation
  • Easy mending capabilities due to higher floating, adding length to drag free drifts
  • Looped at both ends for easy leader changes
  • Ridged for greater shoot ability and less tangles
  • Power Core for ultra low stretch, extreme feel, and solid hook set

Zone Technology

With new production technology come new designs. Zone technology allows us to use a different material configuration in every part of a fly line. Imagine a line that has a super high floating tip zone, a supple belly zone that throws loops that are exceptionally tight. A haul zone strategically placed that incorporates harder material with less compression making double hauling effortless and extreme durability in a high wear area. And finally a slightly harder but friction free running line zone to make shooting and managing line more efficient. Also a colour change for quick zone reference. This future technology is available now on Airflo's new super-DRI series of fly lines.

The Elite features our go to trout taper, the extremely popular impact taper. A modest front taper and standard head length, this line will do it all, great for all aspects of trout fishing, boat or bank, river, lake or small water. Available in three ideal colours, Lichen Green in WF 2-7, Sunrise Yellow in WF 3-7 and Lichen Green/Sunrise Yellow in a DT 3-6.

Now that’s been covered the big question is; ‘is it any good?’

Well, in a word, Yes.

The first thing I noticed was the extra distance I immediately put on my casts with very little effort.  The line simply glided through my rod rings – for me, this is a good thing!

Observing the line as it drifted down river and I was amazed as to high the line actually sat on the water.  Rather than some of the lines I’ve used in the past, the line sat on top rather than in the surface film.  Because of this I found it so easy to lift off the water and re-cast to a rising fish.  There was very little disturbance on the top and hardly any drag/friction from the line pulling through the water.

The big test would be catching a fish!  I saw a fish rising; I cast over it, initially without luck.  I waited to see if the fish rose again and sure enough it did.  I cast over it and there was a take.  This is what impressed me most about the line, no sooner had the fish rose and I had struck into it the line was out of the water and I was hooked up.  I'm never one for believing ‘the hype’ but this was quite noticeable.  The fish (Grayling - pic below), wasn’t massive but any means, but the take had registered as soon as I struck.  I read somewhere about the line that ‘You'll know when a fish breathes anywhere near your fly’ and to be honest I can understand the comment even if its rather tongue in check!

Wye Grayling

With positives, there must also be negatives.  Given that these are the ‘Highest Floating Lines Available’ this is also where my only negative can be found.  Fishing a dry fly when there was a strong down river wind, saw  the line drift just a bit too fast (despite putting a mend in the line).  With a strong upriver wind, the line almost didn't drift at all.  Now I can’t see these negatives being a deal breaker and they are honestly the only flaws I’ve found so far.

Lets not be naïve here, these lines aren’t going to transform from an average angler into a great angler but I genuinely feel you will see a better hook up rate and fewer missed takes.  With my previously line I'm convinced it was because it was holding almost under the water that I couldn’t strike into the fish effectively.   Who knows, that increase in hook ups may well turn you into a great angler!

Overall I would highly recommend the lines, well this one at least.  Admittedly I have only tried the Elite, which is described as the 'go-to' trout line.  However, the technology looks solid and if Airflo have done such a good job with this then im sure the other lines are up to standard.  I am hoping to pick up and Xceed line soon so I will put a piece together for that too.

Airflo have been producing very technically advanced lines for years and with the Super-Dri they appear to have really raised their game with the floating lines.  Stubourness aside, they should even impress some of the older generation who experienced some of the less desirable floating lines made by Airflo in the 90's!

So now im set.  All the gear and no idea I hear you cry!  Who cares when the scenery is so nice?

Until next time…

Monday, 1 July 2013

What a Difference a Week Makes

So you go out fishing with much expectation, but you blank.  This happened to me last week, which was surprising given the conditions - warm weather, some cloud cover, river clear and level good.

What was the problem? Hard to say but it may have been the rain over the previous weekend, river did seem slightly colder and that must have been enough to slow the fish down. There was an abundance for fly life from Sedges to Olives but the fish weren't turned onto them. Even fishing a nymph proved fruitless!

But as the title suggests, it hasn't all been like that recently.

The week before, I was fortunate enough to have an afternoon free and went down the lower end of the clubs waters (Wye) on a nice glide above the 'Fly Run'. I managed to take a couple of fish on the top but observing the water there were lots of fish turning in the top of the water so I decided to tie on an extra length of flurocarbon to the bend of my dry hook and attach a nymph - fishing the duo, New Zeland style (possibly my favourite fishing method).

To start with I used a small size 16 Gold Head PTN. This is where the action really took off. In the next hour I took 8 fish, some small some over 1lb and all from the same place that I blanked recently.
I also visited this (sometimes) productive spot over the weekend when the wind and rain arrived and took 4 good size Grayling, again on a nymph - this time a pink body with red ribbing and a Silver Bead.

Brownie on the dry

Brownie on the nymph

Salmon Parr

Best of the day - Grayling of 1lb+

Grayling with the pink fly in its top lip
Yes fishing can be frustrating at times but just being out in the peace and quiet is often enough to relax the mind.  I took a break from the lashing wind and rain and found shelter under a couple of trees. As the wind subsided and rain eased I sat there watching as a gorgeous Kingfisher took flight along the far bank, up and down the river several times before disappearing back into the bank. To be honest I enjoyed seeing the Kingfisher more than catching the fish that day!

One thing I was told when I first started fishing again was:
Its called Fishing, if you caught a fish every time it would be called Catching.

A very simple statement but how true it is. Everyone loves to catch fish, it's why we fish. However, some people get hung up on catching and being better than everyone else (something which has resulted in a lot of discussion recently about Competition fishing - something I hope to talk about again). When these anglers realise there is much more pleasure to be taken from fishing than hooking a 6" 'monster', I think they will really see the benefits.

Until next time...

Wednesday, 12 June 2013


Is predation an issue for you?

This is a subject I've touched on with my newest Fishtec Blog post (  However its something I wanted to elaborate on a lot more.

Let me just summarise how this season is going:
  • On my private syndicate lake there were anything up to 6 Cormorants at one time and also Mink.
  • On the Rivers Wye and Irfon there are reports of a re-introduced family of five Otters. As well as Cormorants and Goosanders.
  • On my Angling Clubs (Builth Wells AC) newly redeveloped Coarse lake we have had to install electric fencing as the Otters (reintroduced to the river) had eaten the majority of fish - after significant loss and cost, the lake now restocked and we're preparing for opening soon.
  • Rhayader AC has a Cormorant/Goosander watch record sheet at Llyngwyn, which is regularly updated with sightings.
But what can be done?

I support the Angling Trusts campaign 'Action on Cormorants', which has called for Cormorants and Goosanders to be added to the General License (shoot/kill) making it legal to protect our fisheries. Currently you have to apply for a license, which isn't granted all that often - this takes time and money, something Angling Clubs and Fishery owners don't have.   Check out the campaign

Otters on the other hand are a protected species under UK and European Law.  Their conservation is paramount or they could be lost from the countryside, something that nearly happened in the early 1980's.

I don't support mindless culls of the birds but we need to be given an option. There are fine lines between conservation and control and you must look at them as one issue. Unfortunately if the Otters are there, there isn't much we can do. However, I was told recently it's better to have Otters than non-native inhabitants such as Mink. With native species, the 'circle of life' will settle down and the fish will thrive once more.  Lets hope that's true.

Our rivers have been quiet, we put this mainly down to the Otters as they had been seen on the banks and basking in the sun on some of the exposed stone islands. Recently, the Shad arrived for their yearly spawn run - 8 of them were found dead on one of my favourite fishing spots not 2 days after they were first spotted. To confirm if it was in fact Otter predation, I sent this picture to our club Secretary Lance:

 His response made me chuckle:

The prosecution would like to sum up :-
The slash along the side is consistent with an incision to gain access to the roe of the fish. I cannot think of any other animal other than an otter or a fish eagle which is capable of catching a Shad and inflicting such a wound. I believe that the presence of a fish eagle would have been noticed and commented upon and, in the absence of such observations, the weight of evidence supports the theory that an Otter, or Otters caused the mass fishicide. The little swines!

Despite the comical nature of his response, he was quite right!

But with fish stocks under threat and people's lively hood potentially under threat, it's doesn't look like there is anything 'legally' we can do.  With bird numbers booming and Otter reintroduction seemingly apparent, what is the next step? I'm at a loss.

Despite these issues, I have been catching plenty of juvenile fish. 

Could it be they are simply too small for the predators? Or are things not as bad as they seem? Only time will tell I think.

Until next time...

Sunday, 28 April 2013

The Airflo Story

Guest blog from Fishtec.

Take a look behind the scenes at Airflo. Be part of an 'on the water' and 'in the factory' tour explaining Airflo's patented materials and Fly line manufacturing process.

Its a very interesting video especially if you like to know what goes into making your favourite fishing gear.

Click to see The Airflo Story

Until next time...

Monday, 22 April 2013

If It's Not Broke

With the rivers not really satisfying my fishing hunger due to them being unusually quiet (due to the weather) and having picked up a summer permit at Llyngwyn I spent this past Sunday there.  Having netted 15 fish on my last visit I was optimistic, you can see my previous last post (

Tactics remained the same - Intermediate line, counted down 10 seconds, Cats Whisker , stripped back with a short sharp retrieve.  This lead to 16 fish to the net and at least half a dozen more on an off.  Plus I managed to catch a full compliment of trout species from the lake; Brown, Blue, Rainbow.

In this post I wont go into any more detail just give you some pictures, which hopefully you'll enjoy.

A panorama shot of the lake from the boat house bank
The bay - BIG Carp live here

The Boat House

Gorgeous Brownie - safely returned 


The Island - a view from The Bay

The Island - a view from the Boat House Bank

And it's goodbye from him
 Until next time...