Saturday, 18 January 2014

A Busy Day at Garnffrwd

Just before Christmas I was present  at one of the most badly organised competitions I have ever seen (I wont go into any more details, unless I get a very good bribe).  Since then I have been going crazy not getting the chance to fish.  With Christmas being such a busy time and every time I stepped foot outside, I immediately became wetter than an Otters pocket due to the constant torrential rain I haven't even been able to get on the river.

Having spoken to a friend who was arranging a trip to Garnffrwd, initially I was unable to go, leaving me in a very sour mood.  Thursday arrived, things changed and I had the time to go.  A quick phone around and the trip was set.  Myself and a good group of lads:
Lee, who got me back into fishing who along with Dan are the 2 people I constantly hassle for advice.  Also on the trip was Tom and Mark.  A good trip can usually be improved just with your company.

We agreed to meet early, 6:15 and I travelled down with Dan and Lee with the aim to be at the fishery by first light as the predicted weather conditions indicated it could get busy bankside.

Having arrived by about 7:30, there was already a couple of anglers there.  We made our way down to the lake and tackled up - very difficult to do this in the dark!  As the morning broke and the skies lightened, it got a little easier.  I tackled up 2 rods.  My 6wt Flextec rod was tackled up with matching Airflo Super-dri line and a Bloodworm suspended underneath a strike indicator.  This setup had been working well recently.  On my 6wt Greys GRXi+ i set up my Cortland floating line and one of my own Damsel patterns with a Kingfisher blue hackle, this would be my stripping rod for the day.

We met with Jamie (the fishery owner) and after a quick chat, purchased our tickets we went fishing.

Already by this time the lake was getting busy but I managed to find a decent spot (peg 10) where i had caught fish before. I always start by fishing a lure, I cast out my Damsel and searched the margins first.  Without any takes I started fan casting and covering the occasional fish that was turning in the surface.  After a half hour or so, I started to get some tail nips directly out in front of me.  The location was in the slightly shallower water near the far bank, which was beneath some good bankside trees and vegetation.  I carried on targeting this spot, changing my retrieve until I finally got a take on a very slow steady retrieve.  A feisty little Rainbow of 1 1/2lb graced the net after some acrobatics and a very spirited fight.

The sun by now was high in the sky and penetrating the clear water, I can only assume this is why I had no more action on my lure in the top few feet of the water.  Having changed a couple of time to a Cats Whisker and a Black Zonker (to name just two) I decided to cast out my bloodworm.  For quite a while I didn't have anything hit my fly with any seriousness.  A couple of times my indicator twitched but my strike met with nothing.  In the clearer water I could see the fish nosing the indicator itself.  The order of the day was very shy fish, not wiling to take anything readily.

Casting over a relatively shallow section of the lake, near a bridge my indicator twitched then shot under.  Initially, I was able to pull in plenty of line thinking the fish was small then it decided to turn and run and managed to take back all the line I had just taken.  The fish didn't jump or run constantly I just seemed to resist ever time I tried to bring in.  I finally got its head up and landed a lovely fat Rainbow estimated around the 3lb mark.

It was whilst fishing this spot that I noticed a big Rainbow just cruising the margins - unfortunately I could catch it!

The wind was cold and we were hungry, so we headed up to Christine's Cafe for a fantastic full breakfast about 10:30.  Looking back out on the lake we could clearly see how popular this lake is as practically every peg was occupied.  Luckily there were other anglers in need of sustenance and as they settled down to eat we all managed to slip into some good spots to carry on fishing - a few anglers left their kit on the pegs when they went for food.  Something which really riles me.  However, on discussion with Jamie before we left he clearly feels the same and said next time to move it out of the way and continue to fish.  Anyone with an issue on this can be directed back to him.  Always nice when there is an approachable owner, who has the same views as you do (obviously these views don't run true for all anglers but I think in this case we are right).

I was quite keen to try some stalking for the afternoon.  I stripped down my Flextec setup and tying on some  4lb G3 fluorocarbon and with various size 14/16 flies, spent a lot of time sight fishing off a small walkway.  I missed a few takes as the glare from the sun was making visibility difficult.  However, some welcome tips from Lee means next time I will be more prepared to catch - he obviously had to show me up by landing one of the fish I couldn't!

With a couple of hours fishing left I decided to have a walk about the fishery.  Having changed to an intermediate line on my GRXi+, I fished deep and slow hoping to tempted one of the bigger Brownies skulking on the bottom.  Casting out and counting down 10/15/20 seconds, I had almost constant follows on a Gold Head Damsel but I just couldn't get a fish to take.  On a couple of occasions the fish actually followed my braided loop in!  I changed fly to an unweighted Damsel and first cast I hit a small Rainbow, which turned out to be the last of the day for me.

It was on this last platform that I heard what can only be described as 'hoopin and a hollerin' from across the lake.  It was Dan, with a big Brownie.  Having not caught for most of the afternoon session he put on an experimental bright pink lure and managed this 7/8lb Brownie off the Dam! Think I must be Dan's lucky charm as last time we fished here together, he took an 8lb Brownie from the Inlet.

And here is the fly - shocking isn't it!  We tried to tell him the fish didn't count as any self respecting angler wouldn't even tie in on their cast.  He didn't listen.....and I'll be sure to have a couple in my box for next time!

Chatting with Jamie as we tackled down, we learnt quite how busy the day was.  31 anglers fishing with another 25 or so turned away!  This is even more incredible given that I only heard of 2 anglers who blanked.  Considering the amount of flies that the fish would have seen, its testament to the fishery that so many people could carry on catching quality fish throughout the day.

If you haven't been, you must -, we will be heading back very soon.

On the day, Lee managed 8 fish, Dan 5, Tom and myself 3 a piece.  Unfortunately Mark didn't catch, but he wants to go back so i think that speaks volumes.

In all, it was a great day at a great fishery and in great company.  Can you ask for more?  Wonder if Christine will delivery the breakfast to the pegs???

Until next time...

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…