Top Fly Fishing Christmas Gifts & Stocking Fillers for 2017

With frosty nights here and cheesy festive hits on the radio, you know Christmas is creeping up fast. While you’d rather be fishing, the family are getting their gift lists together. If we’re not careful, the result will be aftershave and socks. So instead, here are some perfect Christmas present ideas for fly fishermen and women, whether you’re dropping hints or looking to gift friends or family:

1. Turrall Bamboo Fly Boxes & Fly Selections (From £19.99)

Fly Fishing Gifts Turrall Selection Box

Game anglers tend to collect fly boxes like ladies accumulate handbags. Not all, however, are created equal. These split cane specials are not just practical but beautifully finished. Built to last a lifetime, they have been one of our bestsellers for years.

Find them in various sizes, or for a really special gift we also produce these ready-loaded with a selection of top quality flies, from deadly stillwater patterns to classic salmon, sea trout or grayling flies. Prices start at around £19.99 for the boxes, or £45.99 for the loaded presentation sets. See your local tackle shop, or order online from the likes of Fly-Fishing-Tackle.co.uk

2. Cortland Ultra Premium Flurocarbon Tippet (RRP: £17.99)

Cortland TippetEven the best fly needs a quality leader to present it properly, and from the first trials we gave this new product from Cortland we knew we had something special. At an RRP of £17.99 a spool, it isn’t the cheapest; but this is without a shadow of doubt the best tippet material we’ve ever used. Perfect for competition anglers and demanding situations in river or stillwater fly fishing. Ask your local stockist or buy online from www.troutcatchers.co.uk

3. Peter Cockwill Fly Selection Packs
(RRP: £6.99)

Peter Cockwill Fly Selections
Peter Cockwill needs little introduction when it comes to catching large trout on small stillwaters. We’re delighted to release these cracking patterns, from stalking bugs to damsels and dry flies, as designed and used by the man himself. Click here to order via www.fliesonline.co.uk

4. Peak Vice & Accessories

Peak ViceFor the avid home tyer, the best fly tying vices can cost an eye-watering price. This is where the Peak truly wins! A rotary vice with amazing build quality and a wide range of accessories, it’s brilliant value at an RRP of £169.99. Available from selected stockists, or try www.fly-fishing-tackle.co.uk who also stock the various accessories.

5. Turrall Fly Pod (RRP: £24.99)

Fly Pod by Turrall
Providing a whole selection of top patterns in a quality double sided box for well under £30, this has to be one of the best fly fishing stocking fillers of all time! Take your pick from a wide range of proven fly selections, whether you favour flies for lakes or rivers, loch style or salmon fishing. Click here to visit our friends at www.troutcatchers.co.uk for a great selection of Fly Pods.

6. Lucky Laker Fish Finder (Now under £100!)

Lucky Laker Smart phone fish finderFor those of you who fish large lakes and reservoirs, or try your hand at sea fishing, an easy to use fish-finder can save hours of guesswork. This handy model is not only user friendly, but creates its own WiFi signal to feed directly to your mobile phone. Shop around and you can find one for an amazing price too. Order yours from www.troutcatchers.co.uk for just £89.67!

7. Turrall Drop Shot Minnow Flies (RRP: £6.00)

Dropshot flies Whether you enjoy catching coarse fish on the fly, or like to dabble with lure fishing, here’s a neat solution from Turrall’s Dom Garnett. These are especially useful for drop shot presentations with perch and various other predators.
Click here to order yours from www.dgfishing.co.uk

8. Recommended fishing books

Best fishing books
When the inlaws have left and you finally get some peace and quiet, little beats a good book over Christmas. There are some excellent volumes around at the moment too. George Barron’s At The End of the Line (£25.00) is a fine work for anyone who enjoys wild waters and lough style fishing; while Freshwater Fishes of Britain (£14.99) by Jack Perks is a visual delight for any fish-spotter. Or for out-and-out entertainment value Dom Garnett’s Crooked Lines (£9.99) is a page turning collection of 24 cracking short stories and original artwork.

Catch more from the Turrall Flies Blog…

Action Fly fishing Devon Hollies
Talking of great reading, have you been following our regular blog lately? Providing fresh, lively content every month, it’s packed with great free fly fishing articles, with stunning photography and useful tips from the likes of Chris Ogborne, Gary Pearson and Dominic Garnett.

Take a look through our archives for a wealth of subject matter to read on your laptop, tablet or phone (click on the links for more):

Turrall fly fishing spiders
Finally, you can also get further news, tips and chances to win flies from our award winning range on the Turrall Flies Facebook Page.

 

When the going gets tough

Iffy, unsettled conditions can make the fishing hard for the best of us at times. So what can we do when the going gets difficult? Dom Garnett reports on a couple of tricky recent sessions for grayling and pike with the Turrall team, along with some fly fishing tips for hard days on the bank…

“Did you ever get the feeling you were up against it when out fishing? We all have those days when the conditions seem wrong or the fish just won’t play ball. This autumn has been especially tough so far, for whatever reason. Unsettled or unseasonable weather? Bright skies and low water? Or just bad timing?

In a funny way, I quite like the testing days. You could probably argue that they teach us more than the good times. And when the conditions do change and the fish are really back on it, those little lessons stay with you, making your successes even more satisfying.

Grayling Fly Fishing at Timsbury, River Test

River Test grayling fishing Timsbury winterOne of the great pleasures of winter fishing is the prospect of grayling on the fly, with several famous chalkstreams offering access at a more affordable rate than usual. £25 is great value for a day ticket at Timsbury (timsburyfishing.co.uk) , where I joined Simon Jefferies and Gary Pearson for a session.

From the off, I suspected it might be challenging. Low, clear water and sunny skies are often a tough combination, but if anyone could win a few takes it had to be Gary, who has international experience across plenty of hard waters. Hence I was keen to capture a few shots and see how he might overcome the odds.

The first thing you noticed was just how carefully he approached each spot. We hit the smaller carrier stream first, with Gary really ducking and creeping into each position. It’s no use standing bolt upright or getting too close to the fish when visibility is so high; you will simply spook the fish.

Fly rods for nymph fishing
Also in evidence was Gary’s use of two rods. Part of the reason for this was that he wanted to give the new 10ft 6″ 3wt Cortland Competition Series a run out, but he often sets up another rod where the fishing could be tough. On one he set up with a duo of heavier nymphs, with a size 12 on point, while the other rod used lighter nymphs. Indeed it was the lighter patterns, right down to PTNs and beaded bugs in an 18, that made the real difference in the low, painfully-clear water. Long leaders were also a must.

Turrall grayling nymphs in various sizes, including Pink Shrimp, Juicy Bugs and our off-weight nymphs (top row) to be released in early 2018.

What became especially apparent in the low flows was how much less the smaller nymphs spooked fish. It’s not even necessarily the size of flies in the water, but the splash as they enter (and we saw fish visibly spook at any pronounced plop). With rarely any more than three feet of water in the carrier stream, “point up” jig style nymphs also proved handy to trip the bottom without snagging, and Turrall will be selling these handy designs in early 2018.

The grayling weren’t big on average, but very welcome on a tough day. The best spots were anywhere with a little extra depth on the carrier stream, and often the first sign of a fish would be on the take. These fish are certainly tricky to spot when inactive, as the old English name of “Umbre” (meaning “shadow”) testifies.

Simon Jefferies Turrall Fly fishing
Not to be outdone, Simon was fishing New Zealand style in the shallow water and also keeping a low profile, both with small flies and a careful, crouched approach. After a few early nudges on the wet fly, however, the fish seemed to show more interest in the dry.

The higher the sun got, the more the grayling began to rise- and we were amazed at the amount of fly life coming off the water for late October. The real star of the show was a CDC Dark Dun Sedge in a size 18 (above): very simple, very subtle and convincing on the water.

I often find that sunny days are better for photography than for fishing. I certainly struggled to find a single pike with a couple of hours on the nine weight, while fellow predator angler Matt Healey fared little better. Hence I needed little invitation to rejoin the party on the main river as the afternoon encouraged a few smaller fish to rise.

Little CDC dries remained the way to go and we had a hilarious last hour, striking (and usually missing!) at a whole pack of mostly tiny grayling that were rising over the gravel to midges. They were lightning quick and every fumbled strike led to laughter and jeers as we took turns. Simon’s sardine-sized beastie here was fairly typical- not big, but a good sign for the future to see these in good numbers.

Pike fly fishing on the canal

If you thought catching rising fish on dries was a bridge too far by this time of year, surely pike should have been more obliging? Usually, yes, but they really hadn’t read the script for our earlier session on the canal, out in the sticks not too far from the Devon and Somerset border. Along with Simon, I met with Westcountry Angling Passport manager Bruno Vincent, who was keen to add to his pike tally.


The weed and bankside vegetation were still quite prolific, so I encouraged them to get stuck in, even in tight spots. A lot of anglers only fish the gaps, which I think is a bit of a mistake because the pike really like the awkward spots.

What a tough day it turned out to be though.  We saw several fish in the clear water, but few could be persuaded to follow and even fewer to actually bite. And even when they did so, the takes were very gentle, the fish just mouthing and not hooking themselves.

The moral of the story here is to strike low and hard if you are in any doubt! If you’ve spent the summer trout fishing, it’s against your instinct to give it some wellie on the take. You would obviously risk smashing light tippets with a heavy strike on light line- but with a pike set up (mine is 25lbs fluorocarbon to 20lbs wire) you can really give it some! Given their bony mouths and gentle takes on the day, this was essential.

It’s always great fun pike spotting on very clear waters, but could we fool them?

It was hardly electric then, but we eked out a few chances in the end. My usually successful pint-sized smaller flies got little interest for some reason, so we beefed up and used much bigger 2/0 or even 4/0 flies in shocking pink or yellow (patterns I’m perfecting for the Turrall range next year!). I think these annoy pike into striking at times, even when they’re not ravenously hungry. Whatever the logic, a change of size or colour can sometimes earn a take.


Every chance counts when it’s slow, and we eventually struck into some jacks to put a bend in our rods. We tried various tactics, but a slower retrieve with a few sudden twitches seemed best. I would always try a few casts with a vigorous retrieve just to test things, but when they’re not in the mood you can definitely fish a pike fly too fast. Bruno was first off the mark with a beautiful young fish of two pounds or so (above), but the best of them came in more bizarre circumstances.

I had seen a better fish on the walk back to the car for lunch, sitting right under the bank. It turned lazily and seemed to watch the fly for an age as I gently wafted it along. Cautiously and ever so slowly, the pike looked again,  finally opening wide and inhaling the fly as if to say “I really shouldn’t… oh, go on then.”

It was a skinny fish, with one of its eyes visibly clouded over. Could it be blind on one side? It didn’t seem to have any trouble finding the fly. Had it been plump and well-fed it could have been seven or eight pounds, but I would guestimate it at nearer to five. Very welcome nonetheless. I quickly released it and hoped it might find a good square meal soon.

Apart from one more jack and the odd follow, it was not much easier in the afternoon either. Like our grayling trip, that’s fishing I guess! You can fish well below your best on some days and catch a hatful, while the next trip will take all your skill and focus just to make one or two chances. Curiously, it’s not necessarily the big catches but this frustration and process of tinkering that makes fishing so fascinating.

One final tip to relay from both sessions is how important timing can be. If you have a choice of periods to fish, settled and overcast conditions tend to be easier. If it’s clear and bright, pike often feed best in the first hour or two of light, while grayling may only switch on a bit later, especially if the night has been cold.

I hope your next trip proves to be less testing than ours anyway. The pike were certainly livelier on another session as I fished a friendly fly vs lure head to head recently (and you can read a bit more about this and other recent adventures on my blog at DG Fishing HERE). Every day on the bank is certainly different and every session brings new hope. Here’s wishing you some good sport in the weeks ahead, regardless of what you’re fishing for.”

Further news, tips and more…

Don’t forget to keep an eye on the Turrall Facebook Page for current news, tips, catches and much more, including the chance to win exclusive prizes! This month we’ll be giving away some new fly patterns designed for us by Peter Cockwill, perfect for stalking big fish on stillwaters!

Peter Cockwill fly fishing Turrall

 

 

 

It’s not over yet: Making the most of the late season

The evenings may be drawing in and Autumn with us, but as Chris Ogborne expounds, the fishing season is far from over.

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” I feel a bit cheated this year.  My favourite month of September, normally one of the softest in terms of weather and the best in terms of fishing, was a bit of a washout.
I honestly can’t remember a year when Autumn arrived so emphatically. It seemed that in a period of just a few days we went from summer straight into the next season, with scarcely a pause for breath.  One minute the tourists were here in Cornwall and yet in the next the were all gone, seeming to take summer with them and leave behind only falling leaves.
 
It’s been grey, very damp, and not at all like the long Indian Summer days that we normally enjoy in September.  Half of the members of the boat club have taken their boats out of the water into winter lay-up and the last swallows and Martins have left for warmer climes.  The fishing community is bracing itself for what promises to be a long old winter
But it’s not all doom and gloom.  As I write this in the first week in October there is glorious sunshine outside, with enough warmth to get the thermometer in the garden up into the late teens, and the little trout in my stream are feeding avidly on something I’ve yet to identify.  It’s enough to get me thinking that I might take the fly rod down to the beach for a late Bass this afternoon – from a fishing point of view, the season is most definitely not over yet!
Whilst most trout rivers are closed from October 1st, there are still a host of reservoirs and small stillwaters open for business and after a season that can at best be described as ‘patchy’ the fishery managers will be only too pleased to see you.
Open all year: a cool day at Devon’s Bellbrook Valley Trout Fishery.
Most of the big reservoirs stay open at least till the end of the month, and whilst they don’t stock heavily at this time of year you’ll still have the chance of a top quality residential fish. These quality specimens that have survived the summer will be a real challenge, and in the cooling water they are best sought with subtle tactics.
Floating line and slow retrieves with a team of nymphs are the best way, making the most of the last two hours of the day as dusk draws in.  On warmer afternoon you can even get them to rise to a surface dry fly and a big hopper will rarely let you down.  The fish seem to know that winter is just around the corner and will often lose the caution and reserve they display in high summer.
On the coast, there are even more options.  I’m reminded that last year we had an absolute rock-hopping bonanza in November, which actually turned out to be our best month of the entire season. Using fly or LRF, I just love to go stalking individual Bass that come into the rocks in late afternoon, hunting the last of the sandeels or maybe punching through the kelp for prawns or small pollack.
Bass are still about, but you may need to go a bit deeper.
In recent years, another unexpected turn has been a fair run of Shad in the estuary and whether deliberate catches or otherwise, anglers fly fishing the sea later in the year from  are quite likely to be surprised. Harbour walls, boat pontoons or any rocky outcropwill give you access to the deeper water you may still find bass and pollack, and you never know, perhaps one of these beautiful, enigmatic fish.
Generally speaking then, you’re better off on the rocks rather than the beaches in October and November as you can access the deeper water.  The schoolie bass that give such great sport in warmer days have now gone looking for deeper water, so a bit of rock hopping is our preferred method on the estuaries.  Remember to take a line tray with you – nothing cuts through a fly line like mussel shells and the wave action has a nasty habit of washing the line all over the place if it’s not secured in a line tray
You may even be lucky enough to live near one of the rivers enjoying an Autumn salmon run, like my home river the Camel.  Here, we fish on till mid December and whilst the leaves in the water can be intensely frustrating it’s worth it when you latch on to a late run fish. The same is true in parts of Scotland, where there is still some “extra time” to catch that late season winner.
Running late: Can you spot the salmon in this picture, seen earlier this month?
So don’t give in to winter just yet.  We still have the glorious days of Autumn to enjoy and on the occasional balmy afternoon  when the sunlight sets the trees on fire with spectacular colour, the pull of the fishing rod is irresistible.
Grayling are another good reason not to hang up the rods as things cool.
Wherever you decide to fish, stay optimistic, get out there and you may be pleasantly surprised. Keep an eye on the Turrall Facebook page and blog too, as the team will be looking at flies and tips for various species over the cooler months, from grayling to pike. Frost and snow are just around the corner, so let’s get out and enjoy the countryside while we can.”
Chris Ogborne
October 2017

Autumn Fly Fishing

From late season trout to the coming pike season, autumn can be a great season for fly fishing. Dom Garnett sizes up some options for the coming weeks.

“Autumn has arrived quite suddenly, like a cool slap in the face this year. The falling leaves remind you that time is running short to catch on rivers that have been high and muddy for much of the season, while other species also come into play.

If you can find the time to get out, autumn can be the best fishing time in the whole year. There are still a few days left to catch wild trout, while the sea will stay warm enough to bring bass and other species or another month or so. And then we move on to freshwater predators like perch, pike and zander.

One last chance on for river trout

Fly fishing River Sid

For me, those last days of the trout season are as keenly anticipated as the first. You may only have a few precious hours to make the most of rivers that were unfishable in July or August; that’s the reality of the British climate.

So with the aim of one last crack at the traditional season, I took off to fish the River Sid, a little known stream with some pretty, modest sized trout. Planning can be everything on these short sessions. I’d seen the river in flood quite recently, but knowing it drains and clears quite quickly I knew it would be fine a couple of days later.

I think of autumn trout as hungry, less selective fish a lot of the time. They can feel that coldness coming on better than you can. It makes them greedy. With not quite as much hatching though, they can also be inactive, so I believe in getting their attention.

Bigger flies are worth a try for a late season binge.

There are some quite decent hatching flies on our rivers in September too. The hatches can be sporadic, but there are still some good sized sedge flies. I wouldn’t go too crazy on a small stream, but a fly like a size 14 Humpy or Elk Hair Caddis is perfect for fishing broken water. When fishing the boulder, fast bits, don’t be afraid to skate your fly a little either.

I had the best fish of the trip early, on a tumbling pool. It came up once, then again to look at the fly. On the next cast it looked again, so I gave the fly a twitch and that sealed it.

autumn trout dry fly fishing
Sadly that was about it for any hatches, although a couple of smaller fish threw themselves at the Humpy. After that, they just refused to rise so I tried the pools with a Universal Nymph, one of Chris Ogborne’s barbless flies for Turrall, which is a great pattern to tempt deeper lying fish.


Two more fish followed to the nymphs, before time called. Will I squeeze in one more session this month? Ultimately, the weather gods might have the last say. Otherwise, it’ll be time for something completely different…

Tackling up for pike on the fly

 
Of course, while some of lament the passing of summer, other freaks among us rub their hands together at the prospect of a new pike season. It’s devilishly exciting if you can find clear water and watch the fish, so I tend to launch my campaign on close-quarters venues such as the drains of the Somerset Levels.

Of course many of the best pike fishing waters are quite small here, so you needn’t use shark tackle. Something like an eight-weight is perfect, coupled with 20lb fluorocarbon leader and (always!) a strong wire trace.

Smaller pike flies are great fun for these waters, and smaller patterns like my purpose made bite-sized pike flies (below)  but you can also try for perch (Turrall sell patterns for both).


It’s a very different type of fly fishing, but addictively exciting. For further tips and inspiration, do check out my previous blog on pike fly fishing.

Autumn on the stillwaters

Of course, just because the trout streams might be out soon, it doesn’t mean other waters are done and dusted. If anything, the fishing tends to get better in the autumn, across stillwaters large and small.


We’re blessed with various places to try here in Devon, although there are not many fly fisheries near Exeter. Two well worth a drive for me are Bratton Water in North Devon, and Bellbrook Valley near Tiverton (above).

Bratton has a cracking head of brown trout and a good hatch of sedge flies as late as early November (yes, it sounds nuts but I’ve seen it), and will respond to flies like a CDC Sedge. Bellbrook Valley is always worth a go with small dries and emergers, even on mild winter days, and flies such as Griffith’s Gnat and Gary Pearson’s Two Tone Emerger (below). And if they refuse to come up, it’s always delightful to drift a buzzer or two.


Wherever you go fly fishing next, good luck and enjoy the outdoors this autumn. If you want to read more current news and features, do also check out our Facebook page and Total Flyfisher Magazine each month, where we run a special monthly fly tying challenge.

9 Deadly Spiders: Top fly patterns and fishing tips

Traditional, understated and so often underused, spider patterns are a must for any fly box. Turrall’s Dom Garnett provides a host of traditional and modern favourites and tips for river and stillwater fly fishing.


There are so many reasons to recommend spider patterns. They are simple to tie, yet so effective for various species. Thanks to their subtlety and excellent movement, they also work in tricky conditions and so even if I don’t start fishing with one, there are always a few ready in my box.

A small water rainbow is hooked on a spider fished just inches deep.

So what exactly is a spider? Traditionally, it is a fly consisting of little more than a thread body and a sparse, mobile hackle. In fact the Americans simply call them “soft hackles”. Flies that date back to the earliest fly fishing.

They are fished wet and tend to work well with very little retrieve. There is such natural movement in the “legs” made of hen, pheasant, starling or any various soft feathers, that they often need little manipulation from the angler. In fact they are a godsend in flat calm conditions, or where there is little movement in the current. I like them for days when the streams are running low and clear, and also for stillwater fishing when there is little wind.

Classic spider patterns

Traditional Spider fly patterns Turrall

For the ultimate in simplicity and traditional good looks, we should start with some of the basics. The Black and Peacock, Greenwell’s Spider and Black Spider (above) are three to have in any fly box. The Black and Peacock is probably my most used fly of all time, not just for wild trout for me, but large rudd, roach and even carp.

The Black Spider is another classic and about as simple as it gets: A black thread body, a hen hackle and that’s it! It remains an extremely versatile fly though. Fished in the top foot or two of water, it’s a great little fly during a buzzer hatch on lake or river.

Moving on to other spiders, some traditional patterns are more colourful and less realistic, such as the Partridge and Yellow (above L). These flies are useful in stained water or to ring the changes when drab flies won’t work.

Along with the traditionals, we also have some newer flies in the mix at Turrall, to target different species. Chris Ogborne’s Moorland Spider (above middle) is ideal for smaller streams, while my own Dace Ace is a tiny bead head to try for coarse species.

Spider fishing tips

River fly fishing Devon

-You don’t need to impart a lot of action into a spider. The movement is already there, so try fishing these flies with minimal retrieve. Fish at dead drift on the river, or as you’d fish a buzzer on stillwaters.

-Besides being fished wet, small spiders are also excellent fished in the surface film. Try applying some floatant and present a small dark spider on a fine leader; this can be a real frustration saver when fish are rising to tiny insects and bushy dry flies don’t work.

-You can fish them singly, but spiders also work well as part of a team. Try two or even three in different colours to see what the fish want. Because they are so light and sparse, they are not always suitable as a point fly.

– Don’t expect every take to be a line wrencher. Spiders are incredibly easy for fish to inhale and you may get quite subtle bites. Be ready to strike at anything suspicious.


Spiders are among the best patterns of all to try for different species. I love small dark spiders for roach, rudd and dace. That said, brighter colours are also great fly patterns for bluegills, crappies and other US “panfish”!

 

 

Three spiders to tie and try yourself…

Because they are so easy to tie, spiders are also fantastic to make and fill your fly boxes without spending weeks at the vice. That simplicity also makes the style of dressing hugely versatile, whether you tie large or small flies, or want to add your own twist. Here are three I’ve had great success with recently.


(
Three spiders to tie yourself. L to R: Spider sedge, JC Midge & Beaded Black and Peacock)

Spider Sedge

This is my ultimate wet fly for chub. Not what was originally intended though, because Spider Sedges are a very old pattern, originally tied in larger sizes and winged to be fished wet or just sub surface.

Hook: Nymph 10-12
Thread: Brown
Rib: Gold wire
Body: Olive Alpaca Dubbing
Thorax: Peacock
Wing: Woodcock slips
Hackle: Grizzle Hen

JC Midge

Adding a sparse hackle to your favourite buzzer patterns is a great trick for stillwater trout and this is a good fly when rainbows are feeding in the upper layers. Be sparing though; you just want a hint of legs so just one turn of hackle is usually more than enough. For coarse species or hatches of tiny midges, you can also try these right down in size 16 or 18.

Hook: Turrall Barbless Grub 12-16
Thread: Black
Rib: UV Multiflash
Body: Partially stripped peacock herl, fine.
Cheeks: Jungle cock
Hackle: Black cock (one turn only)

Beaded UV Black & Peacock

I just love this fly for coarse fish. Large rudd and roach are usually the target. The usual spiders also work, but for windy days, or when the bigger fish hold a little deeper and you have to get down to them, this is the daddy. It’s also the pattern responsible for my 2lbs 3oz PB rudd, caught this summer.

Hook: Turrall barbless grub
Bead: Metallic Red 2mm
Thread: Black
Tag: UV multiflash (pearl or red)
Body: 2 strands peacock herl
Hackle: Black hen (two turns max).


Spiders are fantastic for rudd; this canal fish took a beaded spider.

Fly tying tips for spider patterns

– Less is always more with spiders. This is especially the case with hackles. The old masters of river flies recommended two to two and a half turns of hackle, but modern feathers are so dense, one turn might be enough.

-Standard nymph hooks are ideal for spiders, but they also look great on short shank hooks- or even a curved pattern such as grub hook.

-A few basic feathers will set you in good stead. Whole capes are brilliant for getting a wide variety of fly sizes, but a few smaller packs of feathers makes a cheaper starting point. Hen is perhaps the easiest to find and use, closely followed by partridge. Traditional materials like woodcock and starling are also excellent and cheap if you can find them.

-The same is true with body materials. Keep dubbings sparse, so as not to lose that slim spider profile. That said, you can also add some special effects with just a hint of embellishment. A fine UV rib works well, while it’s no coincidence so many classic spiders have a touch of peacock.

– If you like to secure your materials with plenty of turns, a lighter thread is excellent for smaller spider patterns. It’s especially important to avoid bulk and not clog up the hook.

-To some extent, proportions are subject to taste. But spiders tend to have slightly short bodies (finish above hook point or barb), but if anything hackles tend to be slightly long.

– Try to tie your hackle feather so that the fibres point out at a lively angle, splayed out, like the spokes of an umbrella. Tied like this, they’ll really breathe, so avoid pinning them back or trapping with thread.

Further Reading

For anyone interested in tying the huge range of traditional patterns, or indeed the history of these classic flies, some other books are well worth a read:

A Guide to North Country Flies and How To Tie Them: 140 Flies with Step by Step Photographs (Mike Harding)

The North Country Fly: Yorkshire’s Soft Hackle Tradition
(Robert L. Smith)

Be sure to keep an eye on the Turrall Flies Facebook page for our latest news, tips and the latest fly patterns.

 

 

Holiday Flies from Stream to Coast

The summer holidays are here and with many anglers planning a day away from the monotony of the beach, Chris Ogborne looks at some of the options and fly patterns for your summer trip.
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“We are now entering what the locals here in Cornwall call the  ‘silly season’. For the next eight weeks the population of Devon and Cornwall will be swollen by a massive influx of visitors, all looking for the sunshine and the famous climate that we enjoy.
Most will be heading for the beaches, but not all.  There is a growing band of anglers who are getting the message that we have some fantastic fishing down here, much of which is under-used and available for very little money.  So as well as the swimming gear and wet suits, the thinking angler can squirrel a rod or two into the car boot, in the hope that they can leave the family on the beach and head off to enjoy the kind of peace and quiet that can only be found on our amazing waters.
Our river fishing is top of the list right now. It’s staggering how much quality you can get for no money at all.  The brilliant West Country Angling Passport scheme allows you to sample rivers as diverse as the Tamar, the Dart, the Fowey, the Camel and so many more.
The deal also involves many little-known tributaries of these great rivers and can be as near to ‘wilderness fishing’ that you can find in the UK.  Beats are generous in size and you simply use the voucher system, depending on the river you chose.  Many beats equate to six quid a day, whilst even some of the prime sections are barely £15.  As a great example, the latter sum will buy you a guest day ticket for Bodmin AA where you have upwards of ten miles of the beautiful R Camel at your disposal and many other clubs offer the same kind of deal. You also have affordable fly fishing on the upper Exe and Culm in Devon. Just order your tickets and get directions from www.westcountryangling.com and away you go.
For all the rivers, Turrall have some brilliant selections to get you into a fish, from classic dries, to small nymphs and my set of Barbless River flies.  Take a few of my barbless Hi Vis Black Gnats with you and you’ll have a great banker pattern for any river.  Or maybe a few spiders, for those truly wild stretches where casting in the conventional way is all but impossible.
The thin, peaty water flowing off the moors just begs to be fished with upstream nymph, as well the more obvious dry fly. My barbless Skinny Pheasant Tail (below) is my default choice, but you’ll also need patterns like  the Camel Nymph for the deeper pools.
The water may have peat stain but it’s generally crystal clear in high summer so remember to scale down leader diameters.  I reckon that there’s little you can’t do with 5lb.
Then of course there are the countless miles of shoreline where the enterprising angler can find amazing sport with a fly rod, or the rapidly developing  LRF spin and lure gear.
The beaches and the rocky drop offs are home to Bass, Pollack and Mackerel, all of which give fantastic sport on light fly gear.  Look for the obvious spots where the light blue water turns to deep blue in a few metres – these are the drop offs that always hold fish.
Turrall’s sand eels patterns are first choice here, especially the bootlace sand eels or the larger summer sand eels.  For general prospecting closer to the rocks, try the bait fish imitators.  In all cases, you can’t go wrong with any kind of retrieve rates and you’ll be pleased to hear that it’s impossible to retrieve them too fast!  Remember again that these flies are designed to be fished on heavier leaders and in fact they won’t swim well on lighter diameters. 8 to 10lb is fine, and you can scale up to 12lb around the rocks for extra security.
A good piece of advice is to consider one of the great truisms of sea fishing: bank anglers spend most of their time casting OUT to sea, whilst boat anglers are always casting IN towards the rocks.  This simple one-liner tells you where most of the fish are!
So remember that whilst the family are happily ensconced on the beach this year, us anglers have these wonderful options open to us.  Pack the boot of the car with a fly rod as well as the bucket and spade this year!”
Chris Ogborne
Chris offers guided fly fishing trips from river trout days to saltwater fishing for bass and other species. Visit the Kernow Game Fishing site for further details.
Stock up with Turrall
From barbless river flies to saltwater specials, we sell a huge range of flies for every type of fly fishing. Find our award-winning patterns at your local Turrall stockist and keep an eye on our Facebook page for the lastest news, competitions and more.
Our Fly Pods are especially good value for the travelling angler, featuring a great selection of flies in a double sided box, whether you want to stock up on loch style flies or sea trout specials.
Fly Pod by Turrall

Turrall to bring quality Cortland Fly Fishing products to the UK.

Turrall are thrilled to sign a deal with premier American fly fishing company Cortland, to distribute their market leading products in the UK. With their fly lines having something of a cult status already over here, there are a number of other exciting developments, from leaders and tools to accessories.

The Cortland range of rods should also cause a stir of excitement, with a well-defined range British anglers will love. From seriously affordable starter fly fishing outfits, through to top spec competition nymphing rods and perfect blanks for UK reservoir fly fishing, there is something for everyone.

Most of us already know about Cortland fly lines of course. An extensive range includes the classic 444 series, along with excellent stealth lines for trout and some really tough, high performance lines in the upper end for those of you who like fly fishing for pike, bonefish and bigger saltwater species. We can’t think of a better range to cast our flies to the fish!

The news follows a highly successful EFTTEX show in Budapest, where the distribution deal was agreed by Cortland President John Wilson and Turrall Director Dylan Pӧnisch. A delighted Simon Jefferies, Turrall Sales Manager, said: “The new arrangement with Cortland is a perfect fit for both companies. We already have an established relationship… and crucially we share a total commitment to quality above all else.”

We’re looking forward immensely to seeing Cortland’s range of tackle hit UK stores in the coming months. Do keep an eye out at your local Turrall stockist and watch this space for more on Cortland products.

Those in the tackle trade can contact us directly for all inquiries, while our Facebook page always has the latest news, fly patterns and more.

Catch 22 Flies: What would make your shortlist of essential fly patterns?

It’s a classic question: if you could only take a handful of flies fishing, which few would make your selection? Chris Ogborne has his own favourites, along with some interesting thoughts on those fly patterns we’d hate to be without.
 
“If there is a single paradox in fly fishing that provides the sport’s ultimate ‘catch 22’ it has to be fly selection. It’s an immutable fact of life that we all have our favourite flies and so our own circular logic develops.  The more we fish with those best-loved patterns, the more we catch; the more we catch, the more likely we are to keep fishing with them. The ultimate Catch 22 situation.
But within that inescapable sequence of reasoning, there is usually some really good advice. Those timeless, favourite flies of all time don’t attain that status without good reason, and with the fishing season now well and truly under way it’s worth taking a look at our fly boxes and stocking up with a good supply of banker patterns.
 
These are the flies you WILL need, come rain or shine, high water or low.  Whether it comes to a tough day on your local stream, or travelling to the ends of the earth, there are patterns you’d simply hate to be without. Most important of all, flies that inspire confidence and seldom let you down.
We all have our biases then. Picking can be hard, like trying to narrow down your music to a handful of albums or your bookshelf to just a few classic fishing books. But having fished and travelled between many rivers and stillwaters, the following would be my slimmed down shortlist.
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STILLWATERS
Catch 22 River Flies Turrall
BUZZERS
At this time of year my thoughts immediately turn to the large reservoirs, such as Blagdon. But the following patterns will catch on all stillwaters, natural and manmade. For just about any lake, I would start with buzzers, as these are present throughout the season.
There are so many variants, but it would be hard not to venture onto any reservoir without buzzers such as the classic Black Epoxy Buzzer (1) to fish at depth, as well as classic variants like the Shipman’s Buzzer (2). After all, some suitable flies to represent or suggest the number one food item in the trout’s diet simply cannot be ignored.
CRUNCHERS  are one of the newer breed of imitative/suggestive flies, but so versatile in appeal and already a solid standby.  Fish them as a nymph, instead of wets, pulled fast or slow and steady.  Crunchers are one of the must have stillwater fly patterns without a doubt, so I’m taking the basic Cruncher (3), plus at least one variant such as the  UV ThoraxCruncher (4).
HOPPERS  Probably one of the best all-round dries or semi-dries of its generation. I’ve caught fish on Hoppers on every continent, from the cold lakes of Iceland right through to gin clear ponds across Europe. Not species specific, but a deadly general impression of a whole range of terrestrials. Close to the ultimate ‘don’t leave home without it’ pattern in my book! I wouldn’t be without these in basic colours so lets add a Black Hopper (5) as a bare minimum.
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RIVERS
Top 5 River Flies Catch 22 flies
BLACK GNAT. Or more specifically for me, the HiVis Black Gnat (6).  This is probably my number one default choice and almost always the first fly that goes on the leader if there are no natural insects visible or there’s no hatch taking place.  On rivers large and small, moorland streams, chalk streams – the black gnat is an all time classic
ADAMS. An American fly with a massive following worldwide, and with good reason.  It looks like so many naturals, with those key trigger factors that have seen it in good stead for generations.  The classic Adams (7)very rarely fails, which is why it makes my shortlist.
EMERGERS are another must for any list of essential river flies. Parachutes style ties in the classic Klinkhamer mold are not just practical and easy to spot, but often taken in preference to conventional dries by hungry trout. For my list, I’ll pick a barbless version- my General Emerger (8), which works on just about any river you can name.

CLASSIC NYMPHS:
Is there any nymph, really and truly, that has caught more fish the the humble Pheasant Tail Nymph or PTN (9)?  I doubt it.  From these early days of Frank Sawyer, across generations of anglers and right up to the present day, the Pheasant Tail has been a top pattern.  There are hundreds of variations but the original, which is a study in simplicity, is still the best and makes my list every time.
HARE’S EAR:  No modern selection of river flies would be complete without a bead head or two in the mix. They don’t come much more simple, or useful, than the Gold Bead Hare’s Ear (10).
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Short lists are always a subjective matter, but those would be my ten flies.
Which patterns would make your shortlist?”
Chris Ogborne fly fishing Kernow
Chris Ogborne.  May 2017
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Pick your top 10 flies and win with Turrall!
If you could only pick ten flies to cover both stillwater and river fishing, which ones would you take? Give us your selection and join the debate on the Turrall Flies Facebook Page and we’ll give two winners an exclusive selection of our best fly patterns!
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Turrall are Britain’s longest running fly dressing company. Find all our award-winning flies in your nearest Turrall dealer or shop online for a huge range of proven patterns, from trout and salmon classics, to flies for coarse fish and saltwater species.
Turrall BFFI 2016
Catch Turrall Flies Blog
Keep an eye on our monthly blog for the latest tips, news and all things fly fishing. Our topics range from coarse fish on the fly, to catch reports and our latest tying tips.

Fly Fishing on Blagdon: Top tips and flies for tricky conditions

Chris Ogborne is a lifelong fan of Blagdon Lake, but encountered tricky conditions on a recent day of flat calm and high temperatures. Nevertheless, challenging sessions can often be the ones that teach us the most. Here are some of his recent reflections and top fly fishing tips for difficult days on the reservoirs.
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“The Turrall team had been planning their recent day out on Blagdon for some time. You know what happens: we day dream about perfect conditions and top class fly fishing. But you don’t always get what you ask for! A whole series of factors conspired against us on this occasion. Nevertheless, with spring turning very quickly into summer I couldn’t resist the pull of this wonderful place so I took myself up there to sample the colours and atmosphere, whilst everything was fresh and green
Blagdon Lake boat
The only problem was, the water had switched rapidly to sultry full summer mode!  As we motored out, it was clearly set to be one of those days when hardly a ripple troubled the water surface all day. The sun shone relentlessly, and temperatures soared to the high seventies.  Hardly the best conditions for fly fishing!
But Blagdon seldom disappoints even when it challenges the angler. And although there was no surface activity, it was obvious that fish were feeding a few feet down, with plenty of swirls and nervous water giving a sure sign of fish taking buzzer pupae in mid water.  There was only one place to go – there is only ever one place to go for me – and that’s Top End.  With an average depth of less than eight feet, the whole of this shallow end of the lake can always be relied upon to give sport, and so it was on our day.
Turrall Epoxy buzzer Blagdon flies
We used a combination of epoxy buzzers (above) and small damsel nymphs pretty much all day, and whilst I’d have loved to try the dries it just wasn’t that kind of fishing.  The simple rule at Blagdon is always to find the feeding depth as once you’ve done that then it’s just a matter of getting the fly right.
My partner took a stunning rainbow on a size 12 red epoxy buzzer, and then I took one on a black.  We tried larger flies through the day, but the fish wanted them small, as so often happens in a flat calm.  Long 5lb fluorocarbon leaders were essential, as was a stealthy approach with the boat.  Quite often we overlook this factor, but one of my essential fly fishing tips for the boat angler would be not to clunk about, because any careless noise or clatter might send the fish away for half an hour or more. This is never truer than when it’s calm and there are no waves or windy gusts to cover your presence!
It was almost a stalking day, just moving the boat quietly amongst the semi-submerged withies and keeping an eye out for any kind of sub-surface water movement.  Very calm and fairly tricky, but I absolutely loved it!  To my shame, I hadn’t been to Blagdon yet this season and it reminded me again, as it has so many times over the years, that this is still the very best Stillwater trout fishing in the land.  The natural beauty of the valley, the fact that the lake feels like a lake and not a man-made reservoir, and then the simple atmosphere of the place.  Nothing comes close and I honestly think nothing ever could
Blagdon brown trout fly fishing
We returned all our fish, including a lovely brown (above) that gave by far the best fight of the day.  It was absorbing fishing but I have to confess that I spent almost as much time just simply soaking up the unique Blagdon ‘feel’

For me, it’s England’s spiritual home of still water fly fishing without a doubt, but it’s also still the benchmark by which others are judged.  Blagdon fully deserves it’s place at the top and I suspect these images will stir happy memories in many angling hearts.  It has a very special place in mine, whether it’s a bite filled session, or one of those challenging sessions that really sharpen our skills.

Until next time, I wish you enjoyable fishing and urge you to get out there while you can.”

Further Information & Top Flies for Blagdon & Bristol Water Fisheries

Blagdon Lake is open right through the season and also into the winter for top quality fly fishing. Rod averages are excellent throughout the year, with a range of bank and boat tickets available, including discounted fishing for young anglers. See the official Bristol Water Fisheries site for further details.


For a great range of the best fly patterns for Blagdon and other stillwaters, you’ll find a terrific selection from Turrall stockists. For the best value of all, our boxed selections and Fly Pods are packed with proven fish catchers that are sure to put a bend in your rod this season! Current selections include patterns by the likes of Chris Ogborne and fellow competition angler Gary Pearson’s stillwater specials (above).

Don’t forget to keep an eye on the Turrall Flies Facebook page for the latest news, tips and special giveaways!

How to Tie a Quill Buzzer: Fly Tying Step by Step

Is there ever a bad time to have a few buzzers in your fly box? With a few variations in size and colour, there aren’t many days in the entire year you won’t catch stillwater trout on these favourites. We must have sold enough buzzers to fill a bathtub over the years! Not all of these patterns have to be black, or ribbed using tinsel or flexifloss. In fact, good old stripped quill makes a lovely natural looking body that will appeal to wild browns as much as stocked rainbows.


Here’s our quick guide to tying a simple Quill Buzzer, as recommended by Turrall tyer and competition fly angler Gary Pearson:

QUILL BUZZER

Hook: Turrall Grub Hook (size 10-14)
Thread: Black
Body: Stripped peacock herl
Cheeks: Yellow goose biots
Cover: Strand of UV Multiflash

STEP 1: Take your thread and run it onto the hook until it catches tight. Run down the shank in touching turns.
STEP 2: Continue the touching turns evenly, until you reach a little into the bend of the hook.

STEP 3: Prepare a strand of peacock herl by carefully scratching off the fuzz. A finger nail should work, but if you’re struggling try an eraser.

STEP 4: Tie in the strand as shown. For an even body, it’s best to tie the length of herl right along the hook, rather than just a short “stub”. Be sure to tie in via the thinner end of the quill (this will help create a slightly tapered body).

STEP 5: Using hackle pliers to grab the end of the quill and bring it up to the eye in even turns.

STEP 6: Now secure the quill with a few tight wraps of thread, leaving plenty of space to make the head end of the fly.

STEP 7: Now take a yellow-dyed biot and secure along one side of the head as shown. Secure with a couple of fairly firm turns of thread.

STEP 8: Pair up with another, setting this on the opposite side. Remember, if you are not totally happy, you can always undo a couple of turns and try again!

STEP 9: Bind in place with several even wraps of thread and trim with scissors as shown.

STEP 10: Now add a strand of UV tinsel on top of the fly. This will add just a hint of flash to the finished fly.


STEP 11
: Now trim any excess and bind all the materials tidily with a few more wraps of thread, like this.

STEP 12: Now bring forward the yellow “cheeks”, followed by the tinsel strip and bind in place with a couple of tight turns of thread.

STEP 13: Now do the same with the UV tinsel, binding it in place with a couple of turns of thread.

STEP 14: Now trim all the excess cheek and flash materials as tight as you can! A really sharp pair of scissors will help here.

STEP 15: Now use just a few sparing turns of thread to tidy up and whip finish. You can now take a needle and/or brush and apply a thin layer or two of varnish. Tip: If you find it tough to get a nice even finish, try a thinner varnish and make more layers.

STEP 16: The fly is now finished and ready to fish!

These flies work perfectly in sizes 10 through to 14. Remember, the heavier the hook and the more varnish, the deeper they will fish. You can also tie them on finer nymph and emerger hooks to create slower sinking buzzers for those days when the fish are up in the water. You could also replace the flash with a tuft of CDC to create a suspender buzzer.

Stock up on quality materials and buzzers with Turrall…

For a selection of the finest fly tying materials and tools, try your local Turrall stockist or one of our online retailers. The Fly Line at Amazon UK sell a range of materials, hooks and tools, while the likes of www.troutcatchers.co.uk offer individual and boxed selections of our best buzzers, including the great value Turrall Fly Pod.