Fly fishing for chub and trout with terrestrial patterns

As we approach the late summer holidays, there’s no better time to try a spot of fly fishing with larger terrestrial flies. Dom Garnett reports on some exciting recent sport.

“For any angler who doesn’t relish using tiny flies and the finest tippets, mid to late summer needn’t be all about the small stuff these days. In fact, some of the best days of all are to be had when things get really bushy and overgrown on the rivers, and land-borne insects are at their most prolific.

In the past, I would raid smaller trout streams with flies like the classic Coch-y-Bonddu or perhaps pick off a few fish with flying ants at this time of year. But these days, the real cream of the terrestrial season is on mixed waters as far as I’m concerned, and this means chub as much as trout.

Taking cover

River Tone Fishing Taunton Angling
An intimate, feature-packed summer river. Ideal habitat for terrestrials.

Find dense cover, or even riverbanks bordering on open meadowland, in July and August, and you will find a rich stock of “accidentals” that find their way into rivers. With the possible exception of flying ants, you are unlikely to find one particular “hatch” right now, but beetles, weevils, grasshoppers and other prey are all regular casualties. That said, it has been a very prolific year for wasps; which are more popular with chub than humans it must be said.

Our starting point, then, should be not so much to find the perfect insect to copy, but to find any suitable spot where the fish might expect to nab fallen insects. Trees, bushes and any overhangs are prime areas; but then again, even steep, open and earthy banks tend to be worth a shot.

Grasshoppers seem to be especially prolific this year, which remind me of a recent guiding client on a Devon trout river. We’d endured a slow afternoon trying to trick fish on small traditional flies, when we saw a huge swirl under a steep bank that bordered lush open meadows. I hadn’t seen what the fish had risen for, but recommended a grasshopper imitation from the fly box. Going from a size 18 to an 8 raised my guest’s eye-brows, but the fly was immediately  snaffled by a big mouth! The fish raised hell for perhaps thirty seconds before flipping off the hook. A little unlucky, but it proved a point.

Summer chubbing

river chub fishing
Trout might be fun to catch on terrestrial flies, but I have an equal regard for the chub and the fishing on my local rivers (usually the Culm and Tone) can be excellent.

The chub is a fish to break many of the usual fly fishing rules, making it a refreshing target. Given a choice, I would tend to start with a fly no smaller than a size 10-12, with trailing legs and good buoyancy. The Chopper is a point in case; black knotted legs and a floss body stand out a mile under the surface film, but a generous deer hair wing makes it very buoyant and easy to locate.

Even more fun though, not to mention useful for uneven currents and fish that need waking up, is my grasshopper pattern. Indeed, my normal first attempt at a sighted chub will be to drift a fly with the current and little interference. Sometimes this is enough!

However, where you have perhaps already hit or missed a fish, or they have rather too long to study the fly, you sometimes need to provoke these fish a little more. This is where a twitch or two come in. You can try twitching a fly like  my foam grasshopper several yards- but often the best way is to let an inquisitive fish approach and give the fly a little movement just as the gap is closed, to warn your quarry that dinner might escape.

Flies Fly Patterns for Chub

All these flies are available to order online, from the likes of Troutcatchers, Flies Online or my own website www.dgfishing.co.uk (where you can also order the book Flyfishing for Coarse Fish).

Tight spots and risk taking

Fly fishing for chubAt close quarters, it can be important to keep a low profile.

Successful fly fishing with terrestrial patterns is often about taking a gamble. Chub and trout are both at their most confident around cover, where we can’t get at them so easily. For this reason, you can’t always get the rewards by playing it safe! You’ll often find that chub sitting close to cover will hit a fly instantly, in fact, but only if you land it right in the mixer!

Of course, a few other rules also apply in these situations. One is not to risk an overly light leader. I don’t go much lighter than 5lbs around cover- and the thicker tipped also helps avoid twisting and weakening with a larger fly. I also insist on fully debarbing my fly. Should disaster then strike, and a big fish take you into sunken snags and break you, it is almost certain that the fish will soon lose the fly.

As for tackle, a short rod may be essential for wading, but I most often find a long rod to be best for bank fishing, along with an extra long landing net. One classic chub trick is to fight sluggishly at first, before plunging right under the near bank- and the longer the lever you have to keep it out, the better. These fish don’t fight as hard as trout, but they do fight dirty, so be ready.

Cheap, thrilling fly fishing

When you stop and consider just how cheap and accessible chub fishing is compared with the classic chalkstreams and other venues, it’s a little surprising these fish are not more popular. After all, if I told you there were rivers you could fish for a fiver a day where the typical catch averaged over a pound and a dozen in a session was possible, you might either think I’d been drinking or that such sport would cost a fortune. But this is normal chub fishing!

Chub on flyA typical small river chub. Net-sized fish like this are common.

Who cares if the fish don’t have spots? The smaller samples will provide lots of action, while a large, wily chub is a truly worthy adversary and much smarter than a stocked trout. In fact, many if not most of the same trout fishing rules of watercraft apply to these fish; approach with care, keep low and cast upstream.

Perhaps the major difference is the size of fly they like best and the greater success rate of the “induced take” when a dry fly is waked across the surface. It’s terrific fun, and two-pounders are not “fish of the season” material on most rivers but fairly common. Great summer sport in anyone’s book!

8 Top Tips for the Early Stillwater Trout Fishing Season

As the big chill recedes, Chris Ogborne allows himself to think about the start of the new season. Here are eight great ways to get ready and put more fish on the bank on stillwater opening day and the early season.
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“Well, the first day of Spring was hardly what we expect down here in Cornwall! We normally get birds singing and eggshell blue skies – instead we had a foot of snow and temperatures more like Siberia.
 chew early season fly fishing
But as usual with such extremes in the UK, it didn’t last long and with temperatures returning to seasonal norms I’m allowing myself to think that maybe Spring really IS just around the corner. The milestone markers for me are the Cheltenham Festival, the start of the F1 Grand Prix season – and opening day on the big stillwaters!
This has always been a ritual for me, with that glorious sense of expectation that you get ahead of a new seasons fishing.  Any moment now we will be happily wading in our favourite lake or river, with that spring in our step that a whole six months of sport stretches away ahead of us.
reservoir fly fishing trout action shot
So if you’re still suffering from the cold, here are a few early season fly fishing tips to help you get going.  There are also some nice little jobs to do that will take the mind away to warmer days and fish in the net.  Hopefully some of these will strike a chord with fellow anglers!

1. Get your fishing kit checked!

Take some time to steadily check through all your fishing gear.  Be ruthless about it, too. A bit like spring house cleaning, it’s time to say goodbye to any bits and pieces that aren’t up to it any more- and dust off and organise the rest.

If in any doubt, Club Cortland is a good scheme just starting up this year. The idea is that you can take your gear to selected tackle dealers who will give your stuff a free health check and MOT at the same time. There are some neat offers and events for members too, making it a great way to increase your fly fishing enjoyment this year. Click here to sign up!

2. Fly lines: keep or change?

When to change fly line
Be honest: how well do you look after your lines? If you clean them periodically and are careful, they can last a good few seasons. But everything has its limits. So when should you change a fly line? Cracks, discoloration and poor performance (like a floating line that won’t float) are all signs that time is approaching.

Don’t kid yourself that the line you bought six years ago is up to the job! It’s a simple fact of life that a new fly line adds massively to your angling pleasure, and in the overall scheme of things they cost little more than a days boat fishing.  It’s a false economy to hamper your efforts with poor gear, so treat yourself and replace it!

3. Flies and Fly Boxes: It’s substitution time!


It’s fairly obvious when a line has gone past its sell by date, or a rod needs repairing or binning, but what about your flies? How long do typical patterns last? And when does a fly need changing or replacing, exactly?

Go through your boxes with a keen eye, for starters, and remove any hooks that show even the tiniest sign of rust.  Few things are worse than losing a good fish because the hook has given out at the barb, due to rust.

Other flies can sometimes be rescued by means of a hook sharpener; if it’s seen even a couple of busy trips, the chances are that the point is no longer as keen as it should be.

Do sharpen up before you start missing fish.Get the flies into order in the box as well, with sections for dries, nymphs etc.  We all let our boxes get a bit chaotic at the end of the year, and I’d bet that yours will be less than ordered if you’re honest!

4. Waders: Should I repair or replace?

Always check your walkers properly – you truly don’t want a leak of icy water in March or April!  Few pairs seem to last for season after season these days, so a quick test might be in order. If it’s a single, slow leak, it might be a relatively simple and an easy DIY job ahead of the big day (most waders come with a basic puncture kit- or you could try some “Zap-a-Gap” or other fishing glue).
If it’s a more serious job though, should you bin the darned things? If it’s a posh pair of waders, the man to send them to is Diver Dave Wader Repairs. This chap lives in Scotland and not only uses his own testing pools to go over them from top to toe, but will redo the seams and other trouble spots to give them a new lease of life! Click here for Diver Dave’s services.

5. Think before you Wade!

Colliford lake fly fishing CornwallWaders can be handy, but do have a cast or two short before you plunge in!

Talking of waders, please DON’T wade straight up to the tops of your waders on opening day!  This not just a safety thing, but a case of watercraft. Always fish the margins first.  Find a spot away from the crowds and you’ll find un-spooked fish that have had five months of peace and quiet. They can be closer in than you think and are much more likely to take a fly than those in the hot spots, where every man and his dog are splashing about at maximum wade depth.

6. Best flies for stillwaters in early season?

Fab Cormorant, Turrall stillwater fly patterns
 The thinking angler these days will tend to look to the floating line first, before moving through the sinking line densities as the day progresses or the fish become more spooky.
Any large body of water can take a while to warm up, and the rule of thumb in cold water conditions is to fish SLOWLY. Try gentle retrieves at first, rather than over-fast pulling.  Trout are cold-blooded after all, and can be pretty lethargic at this time of year, meaning they’re less likely to chase a fly for any great distance.
Nymphs, epoxy buzzers, and darker colours are always in my first line of attack. Turrall’s heavier buzzers are spot on, while you could also try some classic lures, such as the Cat’s Whisker or the excellent Kennick Killer.

7. Stay mobile to find the best stillwater fishing spots


Avoid the temptation to plant your landing net in one place and fishing the same spot all day.  Have that first hour in your favourite place by all means, but come mid morning you’ll almost certainly be better off to move around. The only major reason to stay in any spot is if you’re regularly seeing or catching fish!
If you’re bank fishing, be sure to explore the shallows, especially if there’s been a bit of sunshine in recent days. The easy-fishing spots will probably have been taken, but the remote areas will still be un-disturbed and well worth investigation. Fly fishing is meant to be a mobile sport and the more you look, the more you’ll often find.
 

8. Pack something warming

Never mind trout spoons, gadgets and gizmos and he most important fly fishing accessory me on opening day is the coffee flask! My happiest memories of opening days are sitting on a bench on Blagdon’s North Shore, and sharing a flask of coffee with my Dad.  In his case, it would have been fortified with a small libation from the hip flask as well!
We’d take time to watch out for the first migrant birds too, and it would always be a bit competitive to see who could spot the first Sand Martin or Swallow.  There is more to fishing than catching fish as they say! So take a break from the fishing, admire the first trout in the bass bag, and relax in the feeling that the whole season lies ahead of us! Happy fishing.”

Read more on the Turrall Flies blog & Facebook page…

Blagdon reservoir fly fishing spring 2017
Are you new to the Turrall blog? If so, take a look through our listed archives (left) for a whole stack of great posts! There are tons of excellent tips and flies to learn about, whether you want to tie the brilliant Humungous lure, or take a look at spring options for saltwater fly fishing in the UK.

Meanwhile, you’ll find inspiring tips, catches, news and exclusive giveaways 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

 

 

 

Grayling Fly Fishing Tips and Tactics

As the trout season draws to an end, river fly anglers turn their eyes to the Grayling. Chris Ogborne offers some top tips on how to tackle this enigmatic and beautiful fish.
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“Grayling were probably designed to keep fanatical anglers like me sane in the winter months.  The trout season seems a fading memory as we head for winter, but with winter fly fishing for grayling available all over the UK there’s absolutely no need to put the river gear into mothballs just yet.

Grayling fin detail close upGrayling add a dash of beauty to the ugliest winter day.

Contrary to popular belief, the prolific grayling is also far from being confined to the aristocratic chalk-streams of Hampshire and Wiltshire. They abound in rivers as diverse as the Tamar in Cornwall, the Welsh Dee, and as far away as the most Northerly waters of Yorkshire and over the border into Scotland.  It’s also far from being expensive and it’s easy to find a days fishing at a good less than you’d pay for a bank ticket on many stillwaters.

So let’s dispel some more of the myth and mystique.  Here are my top tips on how to get started and for getting the best out of winter Grayling:

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1. Don’t write off dry flies

Start with dry flies for grayling, simply for the pleasure of it!  Grayling will respond to the sparsest of hatches and are always looking ‘up’ for their food.  They will rise even in appalling conditions and there are a host of stories of them coming up for snowflakes in mid winter.  If nothing is showing, try a bit of general prospecting with a Black Gnat, Red Tag or any dark up-wing pattern, but otherwise it’s a case of match the hatch with your nearest imitation.

Kilinkhamer Grayling fishing turrall

2. Try the deadly suspended nymph

This method is an absolute banker.  Use a big dry fly almost as a float, and suspend your nymph beneath it.  The leader length obviously depends on the depth of water you’re fishing, but  this method works even in very deep runs and holes. Crucially, it sharpens up your reaction time and turns plucks into takes!

3. Watch the water

It goes without saying that if you want to suss out how to catch grayling consistently, watercraft is as vital as with any fish. But it also pays to be aware of how and where they feed.  Grayling are shoal fish, so where you find one you’ll almost certainly find another  Walk the banks with caution and ALWAYS have your eyes on the water.  Polarising glasses are essential

wales_river_irfon Ben Garnett fishes the River Irfon, one of the UK’s best grayling waters.

4. Pecking order

Within the pools and runs you can usually find the bigger fish at the front of the shoal, at which point  they have first choice on food items brought down in the flow.  There’s a very obvious pecking order!  So make sure you have a good look in the pool rather than just casting blind, as this could give you a shot at a specimen fish

5. Weighted nymphs

Grayling will often hold in deep water so you’ll need some heavyweight nymphs to reach them.  In basic terms, you need to get the fly down to the fish so plenty of upstream ‘forward lead’ is called for.  A good tip to remember is that in clear water the fish are almost ALWAYS deeper than they look. If you’re struggling it can often pay to change the depth rather than changing your flies.

Beads, hooks graylingFor keen tyers, our range of brass and tungsten beads provide critical mass at great value.

6. Leader materials.

I use fluorocarbon for 90% of my grayling fishing. On occasion you may need to go fine if they’re being fussy, but for most of the time I’m happy on 5X for dries and most light nymph work, and maybe 4X for deep nymphs. In many of our smaller West Country rivers, you would struggle to work with much more than 10 feet of leader. On larger waters, however, French leaders are well worth trying in order to achieve greater depths and finer presentations.

7. Downstream spiders

For some strange reason, spider fishing seems to have gone out of fashion these days (although we have an exclusive blog on tying and fishing these classic flies on the way in the coming weeks!). This is a shame because it’s a fascinating and absorbing method.

Spiders for Grayling fishing

Downstream spider fishing is delicate, non-intrusive, and can help you reach pools that are unavailable with a more conventional cast.  Don’t be afraid to fish a team of spiders; it’s not uncommon for me to use three or even four on a cast, with the heaviest fly on point.

8. Wading is a must

As a general rule, I like to wade when I’m grayling fishing.  This avoids any skylining, because while not always the case they can be the ultimate in spooky fish on some days. But the real essence is that it puts you right down in the angling environment with them.

9. Don’t be a drag

Talking of wading, it can be hugely advantageous to position yourself so that flies track true and fairly straight between angler and fish. By this, we mean giving the flies a natural drift in the current, with plenty of time to sink to the optimum depth. The more awkward the cast and the more the flies are inclined to drag across the flow, the more reluctant the grayling will be to take.

10. Never fear the cold

Don’t let the weather put you off! Some of the best grayling fishing I’ve had has been on days when most sensible anglers have stayed at home!  They don’t mind the cold, they can positively relish rainy days, and I’ve taken loads of them when the snow has been lying on the ground.

River Itchen GraylingFortune favours the cold! This River Itchen fish took in spite of bitter easterly winds

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Turrall have a superb range of flies for all the methods outlined above, whether you pick and choose individual flies or go for a superb FlyPod or boxed collection of grayling specials (find them at quality fly stockists or order from one of our recommended online retailers)

bam02_grayling_selection

One last thing I’d stress is to take care of your catch, because grayling deserve respect. Crimping down your barbs and going barbless if at all possible makes total sense, as you’ll be releasing all the fish you catch.  Do also release them carefully, especially where they have fought hard. Support them in the water and be patient if they need a few seconds to recover and swim off. Do also note that while they provide great sport right through the winter, the grayling fishing season ends on March 16 in most areas; should you accidentally catch a fish in the spring when trout fishing, do release it quickly and carefully because it could be quite close to spawning.

For anyone who misses river fishing in the cooler months though, these fish are a godsend. If you haven’t yet been tempted to try the grayling, make a resolution to have a go this year.  Once you’ve caught one of theses lovely fish I guarantee that you’ll be hooked and it will re-define your thinking on what constitutes the closed season!”

Chris Ogborne
October 2016

(Additional images: Dominic Garnett)

Top Fishing Travel Tips

Taking the long haul trip to a new fishing destination brings excitement, but also fresh challenges from picking a guide to getting your rods and tackle safely through checkout. This month’s guest blogger Jon Clark, from No See Um Lodge, Alaska, is your guide to making the most from your next fishing adventure.

Female fly fisher rainbow trout

  • How to Travel with Fishing Rods – The Dos and Don’ts

    “There’s not much to packing a rod, but there’s a little more to landing in
    Alaska with your favorite fly fishing gear intact and ready to go. As long as you stay organized, get along with security and don’t lose any luggage, how hard can it be?

    Keep It Simple

    It’s always best to stick to trusted, simple tackle when travelling. Limit yourself to one or two at most if you can and do protect them. Your rod’s best traveling buddy doesn’t have to be expensive. High-end cases ring all the bells with very cool features, and they practically whistle while you pack. Reel dividers and spill proof pockets are always handy if you can afford luggage.

    That said, we’re still good with tubes. They’re easy to handle, bundle well and usually fit in the overheads.

    Fishing Rod Tube Tips and Tricks

    We like tubes because they give you grab-and-go access when you hit the lodge. They almost always get your fly fishing rods to your destination in the appropriate number of pieces too. With a little modification, they become pretty smart traveling accessories. With a few good tips, they re easier to haul around:

    -Wading socks in the top and bottom of your spey tubes help cushion the trip

    for big rods.

    -Tubes sporting waterproof fabric coverings often have an easier time through check points.

    -A compact rolling duffel packs plenty of tubes with minimum weight.

    -Snowboard bags offer padded protection for rods as well as fragile gear like

    fly boxes and reels.

    -Just let your rods wear their socks for the flight, but bind them together

    for collective strength.

    fishtec-journey_newMulti-section travel rods are a great shout for the travelling angler- but do be prepared to pay a little more to get good quality. (Image: Fishtec)

    Really Bad Ideas

    Dealing with customs and airport staff depends a lot on common sense and being prepared and polite. We find big differences in how airport staff deal with things like rod tubes and fishing equipment. By packing well and stowing any sharp or specialised items in your hold luggage, you will give them less to be wary about. But it should also go without saying that being courteous and helpful goes a long way. Here are some things not to do:

    -Never intentionally aggravate security folks, who are just trying to do a thankless job.

    -Pack forceps, pliers, knives, nippers and corkscrews in carry-ons, jackets or pant pockets (keep these in your main luggage!)

    -Ignore the idea that a gel flotant anywhere besides checked luggage will

    probably cause trouble.

    -Cram tons of stuff into a carry-on so that it explodes when unzipped for

    inspection.

    -Try jamming a Spey rod tube into the overhead while ignoring the fact that it fits in plane cabin’s closet.

    -Assume that all rod tubes deserve special attention from overworked
    attendants.

    How much fishing gear should I take?

    Travel fly fishing

    This is always a difficult question. The first thing is to consider the type or types of fishing you will be doing. It also depends on your destination: will it have tackle shops and other supplies? Dropping a line to the fishing lodge or guide is a great idea. Often guides can help with tackle and flies, so you can bring a little less gear. The chances are a good guide will have exactly the right gear.

    The two-rod rule is also a sensible one. Stick to one or two methods if you can and life gets a lot easier. You may however need accessories such as waders, a net and other gear that will get wet. Do make sure you’re covered for a reasonable weight of hold luggage- and include large, waterproof bags and outers for gear that is heavy or could get wet.

    Flies, lures and accessories are always another crucial point. What do you take and what do you leave behind? The best rule is always to have all the fundamentals (flies, leaders, forceps etc) but not bring the kitchen sink.

    Fly choices can be a particular headache, but two to three fly boxes containing hundreds of patterns take up very little space. Double-sided boxes are also well worth a look, as are cost-effective fly collections. The Turrall Flypod provides double the space of a regular fly box, along with a with a whole selection of proven fly patterns, whether you are after a holiday’s worth of Scottish Loch style flies, or fly patterns for salmon or Grayling.

    Fly Pod by Turrall

    Really Good Ideas

    We’d love to take credit for this next list, but honesty prevails up here at

    No See Um. We learn a heck of a lot from our guests, who come from all over the world. Here are some the best tips and ideas for any fishing journey:

    -Never be afraid to enlist in the services of a guide. They’ll know exactly where to get going and what to bring. Even if you’re an experienced angler, there’s no substitute for the local knowledge of a guide.

    -Always make a checklist before you start packing rods and gear, and yes,
    double-check it.
    -Airport security systems favor plastic tubes over metal and fiberglass, but
  • mileage can vary.
    -If you re traveling with a buddy, split up rods and gear between you in case

    something gets lost.

    -Print and carry any documents outlining allowed gear so that you can
    politely argue with security if necessary.
    -Call the different airlines that you ll be flying, and check their specs

    just to be sure.

    -If you have cameras or technology, take great care. Plain old bubble wrap is great for packing cameras and other delicate equipment, and stops small and fragile parts getting shaken or damaged.
    no_seeumred-salmon-fishing

    Saving You a Place on the Kvichak River

    Whether you navigate the skies with an upscale, double-layered waterproof rod
    case or wing it with a homemade PCV tube,  we welcome all anglers at the No See UM Alaska Fly Fising Lodge. We have some of the best fishing action and most spectacular scenery on the planet, with fantastic sport for many kinds of salmon, trout, grayling, pike and much more! If you’ve spent time with us here at No See Um, you know what we re talking about. Either way, we re saving you a place here on the banks of the Kvichak River.”

noseeum_gun_0093

How to tie a detached body mayfly

With the annual mayfly hatch imminent, it’s time to get ready for action with some suitable patterns. Dominic Garnett presents a step by step tying guide to his own super-durable mayfly for the thick of the action this month, followed by some handy fly fishing tips.

Blog_Mayflies001

“The term ‘hatch’ can be quite inadequate to describe the mayfly season on rivers and stillwaters. ‘Massacre’ would often come closer, in what can be one of the most exciting, if short-lived, times of the season for any fly angler.

Granted, it’s true that trout can be a little fussy when the hatch is not in full swing, or at the back end when they are well-gorged. But for those days when the takes are thick and fast, I’ve often found that the top priority was not so much presenting a carbon copy of ephemera danica,  as having a fly durable enough to withstand multiple casts, takes, and drownings.

Hence our fly this month is the Brawler, a detached bodied dry fly with a quality you wouldn’t normally associate with mayflies (longevity!). This is a buoyant, durable design that just keeps coming back for more! After all, there’s nothing more frustrating than having to stop fishing mid-hatch and keep changing your fly because it’s a beaten up wreck.

Turrall mayfly bodiesI used to make my own durable detached bodies with old sections of snipped fly line to tie this pattern. But ready made versions such as Turrall Mayfly Bodies  offer more buoyancy and less fiddle these days. Made of silicone, these are not only very durable, but trap a little pocket of air to stop the fly from sinking, even after a clobbering.

How to tie a detached body mayfly pattern

Detached body mayfly
The Brawler
Hook: Grub (size 10)
Thread: Brown
Body: Turrall natural mayfly body
Upper body: Cream seals fur sub
Wing: Pinch of deer hair
Hackle: Badger cock

Step 1: Take a grub hook and run some thread just behind the eye till it holds. This style of hook makes the detached body sit beautifully, while the wide gape also helps convert more rises to hooked fish.
Grub hook mayfly
Step 2: Once you’ve covered just under half the hook shank, double back and catch in your body. Use one light turn first (as shown), before adding more pressure with the next wraps to hold it in place.
Turrall Mayfly body
Step 3: Once you’re happy with the positioning, add more wraps to bind securely. If you’re not quite satisfied it’s straight, you can always unwrap a few turns and try again.
How to tie detached body mayfly

Step 4: Now add some cream dubbing to the tying thread and create a little upper body, using this to cover the thread wraps.
mayfly dubbing
Step 5: Now take a pinch of deer hair (about 1/3 of a pencil’s width is about right, with a length of material about 1.5 times as long as the hook). This material may not be as pretty as a lacy pair of wings, but is tough and very buoyant.
winging a mayfly with deer hairNow pinch this in place & tie in as a wing, ensuring you leave room for the head:
Deer Hair mayfly pattern
Step 6: Now cover the deer hair stubs and tie in your hackle feather:
Mayfly hackle
Step 7: Wind 4-5 turns of hackle, before securing with thread and trimming off as shown:
DSC_0572
Step 8: Sweep the hackle back with your fingers, like this, to keep the eye free, while adding another few turns of thread:

Dry Mayfly how to tie

Step 9: Now tie off neatly, before snipping the thread and adding a spot of varnish. The fly is now done. This is a very simple pattern, but highly effective and durable.
Detached body Mayfly step by step

Mayfly fishing tips

-Don’t feel the need to go too light with leader strengths. These are large flies that can spin and kink light line easily, while you have every chance of a bigger fish taking too! 5lbs is a sensible starting point for tippets.

-For an even more resolutely buoyant fly, try applying some floatant the day before you go fishing, besides on the bank. This can help avoid having to switch flies should the action be hectic and your artificial get drowned.

-With the big natural flies and full-blooded rises on offer, this is one of those times in the trout fishing season when you can actually strike too quickly. Hold your nerve and allow an extra split second for fish to engulf your artificial.

Devon Mayfly season fly fishing
-Hatch times can vary, but tend to kick in properly only in the latter part of the morning, from 10:30 towards noon. 4pm to tea time can be the best time of all however, so have your excuses ready with the other half!

-For fussier trout and variable conditions, it pays to have a selection of different mayfly variants in the box. Mayfly emerger patterns are especially useful and often overlooked. If you don’t tie your own, Turrall produce a fantastic variety of mayflies to set you in good stead, including classics such as the French Partridge, Yellow Drake and Spent Gnat. Find these at all good fly fishing shops or order online from any of our recommended retailers.

Mayfly patterns Turrall

-Last but not least, don’t assume that it’s just the rivers that come alive at this time of year! Small, stream-fed fisheries can also produce the goods. In our neck of the woods, for example, Devon’s Bellbrook Valley Fishery has an especially heavy hatch on it’s largest specimen pool.

Wherever you find yourself casting these next few weeks, make sure you get out and enjoy it because these are truly special times each year.”

 

Top 5 Fly Patterns for the New Reservoir Trout Season

That most eagerly anticipated time of the stillwater fly fishing season is already upon us. It might still feel a tad chilly, but fly anglers all over the UK are busily sorting out their gear and booking boat and bank tickets for an exciting start to the reservoir trout season. But which flies should you bank on to get those first pulls of the season? Turrall fly designer and top competition angler Gary Pearson has five proven patterns to put a bend in your rod in March and April. Here are his must-have reservoir flies and his own thoughts on successful presentations:

“I have two basic approaches for fishing this time of year. The first is a floating line with the Heavy Black Buzzer (size 10) on the point with the Quill Buzzer (size 12) on a 6 inch dropper 7ft above it with another 6 to 8ft of nylon to the fly line. 
Black buzzer fly
Simple but deadly: the Black Buzzer

 Given a good ripple and active fish in the upper layers, this is the nicest way of all to catch. As with all buzzer fishing, retrieve sparingly, just keeping in touch with the line and watching for pulls, which are not always dramatic.

Quill buzzer Turrall fly pattern
The Quill Buzzer- one of Gary’s favourite dropper flies for the early season.
In an ideal world, I could happily fish a floating line with buzzers all day- but on those early season sessions you might need to be pragmatic and try something louder and more obvious! Hence my other approach is to switch to lures and use a Di3 slow sink line with 10ft between two flies and a overall leader length of 18ft.  It’s vital to find the level the fish are cruising at, and with this set up I count the line down to different depths each cast until I locate the fish. I prefer to do this with the Di3 because the line is so versatile. 
Cats Whisker, reservoir fly patterns
The ever dependable Cat’s Whisker, ideal for the first few weeks of the season.

I start the season with a size 10 Cat’s Whisker on the point with a Blob on the dropper. The Cat’s Whisker is one of those classics that seems to work every new season. Being a competition angler though, I do quite like a slightly smaller fly in a size 10, which can lead to fewer tail pulls and more full-blooded takes.

Blob fly, Turrall
The deadly Blob- cracking as a dropper fly to draw fish with a dash of colour.

The infamous Blob, on the other hand, is a newer addition but too effective to ignore (my starting choice is a Hot Orange Blob, size 10). Even when you’re not catching on it, that dash of bright colour will draw fish to your other flies.

As with any fly fishing, however, you can’t always depend on the same fly or formula each trip. Stock fish get a little wiser and conditions change, so as March turns into April, the Cats Whisker tends to get replaced with the Fab Cormorant (size 10). This is my own variant on a proven pattern, which has scored very well on Blagdon Reservoir in particular. I would fish this pattern with confidence on any reservoir though, and if the fish are particularly fussy I will sometimes fish two Cormorants.

Fab Cormorant, Turrall stillwater fly patterns
Gary’s Fab Cormorant. Ideal for keeping the takes coming when the fish get more picky in April.

My other advice would be simply to get out there and fish, rather than waiting until the warmer spring days. With the introduction of new stocks and longer daylight hours, early season sport can be fantastic. Do keep an eye on the catch reports and keep active to find the fish, because the fresh stockies won’t always be evenly dispersed. You’ll often catch from the bank, but boat fishing can be even better and you can always compare notes and depths with a friend until you hit on the right formula.

Happy fishing and do share any great catches on the Turrall Flies Facebook page!”

Gary Pearson British Fly Fair Fly tying
Gary is an avid fly tyer and former England international angler with a keen eye for detail; his expertise can be found in many of Turrall’s range of stillwater fly patterns.

Stock up now for the 2016 fly fishing season

Our award-winning flies can be found at various fly fishing shops, or ordered at the click of a mouse through various online fly stockists. Besides individual flies, we also sell quality fly selections, including beautifully presented boxes of every type of fly from barbless river flies to stillwater classics. Unlike many cheap flies to order, our entire range uses tough, razor sharp Japanese hooks and top quality materials. Insist on the best and ask for Turrall by name!

Our range of top flies, materials and accessories is always growing, while our team of experts at Turrall aim to bring you tips, fresh ideas and more throughout the season. Keep an eye on the blog and our Facebook Page for the latest news.

Turrall BFFI 2016

Fly stockists and tackle shops can easily start an account at www.turrall.com where you’ll find all our bestselling flies, tools and accessories. We offer quality at a fair price- and larger fly selections also come with a free compact display unit, perfect to get your customers browsing without taking up acres of space. All enquiries: flies@turrall.com

 






Bass and Saltwater Fly Fishing Tips

This month our blogger is top angler & Turrall fly designer Chris Ogborne, who has some timely advice  for the exciting prospect of fly fishing for sea bass and other species this year.

Chris Ogborne, UK sea bass on the fly

The saltwater fly fishing scene around UK shores has developed fast in recent years and is still moving forward.  Whatever you read in the press about British bass stocks and the rather ineffectual (and mis-guided) regulations currently emerging from the EU, the truth is that sport fishing around our coasts is one of the few growth markets in the angling world.

In short, fly fishing in the sea is exciting, refreshingly different and here to stay. But while there are many great sport fishing opportunities and no end of species available, the fact is that most people aspire to catch a sea bass on the fly.  This species is arguably one of the greatest remaining challenges in the sport.  They’re enigmatic, fickle, unpredictable – but great fun when you get it right!

Best Flies for Sea Bass

My fly patterns for the sea are centred around the bass.  The good news is that these flies are also great for pollack, mackerel, garfish, bream and even the amazing golden grey mullet on occasions, even though the latter are technically vegetarian!

uk saltwater fly fishing tackle

All my UK saltwater flies are based on the premise that while bass will eat almost anything that moves, from crabs and prawns through to baby pollack and floating carrion, their favourite food is the sand eel.  So my philosophy is that if you can represent sand eels and bait fish with effective imitations then you’re 90% of the way there.

Within this you need to know that not all sand eels are the same, however.  We start the saltwater fly fishing season down here in Cornwall in May with what we term the ‘bootlace’ sand eels, the small ones around three inches long that look just like – you guessed it – bootlaces.

Sandeel flies for sea bass

These are then superseded in June by the main run of ‘summer sandeels’ and these are instantly recognisable.  Around 4 to 6 inches long, they are the staple diet not just of fish by also a host of sea birds as well.  Beyond this you have the giant sand eel or Launce, the largest of them all at 10inches plus .  Some of these get to well over a foot long and as thick as your middle finger, and are regarded by most anglers as the ultimate bait for a specimen bass.

Launce flies for bass
This is the premise upon which all the Turrall saltwater patterns are based.  The Imitative sand eels represent these varying sizes, along with the obvious limitation that a fly of 12 inches or more is behind the casting capabilities of most fly rods, let alone most anglers.  In this case we compromise with artificial launce patterns at around 8 inches.  Fortunately, the fish don’t seem to mind that they’re a tad short! We also make weighted bass flies, for those days when you need to get down to the fish quicker.

Saltwater Baitfish Flies

My saltwater baitfish patterns are smaller and tend to employ the ‘shimmer’ factor from the amazing new flash materials in the Turrall range. These are a great way to give your own patterns a real boost too, and the UV reflective materials such as Turrall UV Multiflash are brilliant:
fly tying Flash materials

Close copies of real food are usually unnecessary here. It’s a bit like using suggestive fly patterns on a lake and river – whilst they don’t look exactly like any particular species, they still ‘suggest’ a whole range of small baitfish. Nor is it just the bass that love them- and one of the most exciting parts of saltwater fly fishing is that the next bite could be one of many species.

Mackerel on the fly, saltwater fly fishing UK

Arguably the best thing about these flies is that you can take all kinds of liberties in the way they’re fished.  Retrieves can be fast, slow, staccato – the variations are limitless.  They can be fished at all depths and with all line densities, at all speeds and in all conditions.  As ever with fly fishing, it’s all about ‘life’ in the fly.  The art of flyfishing is about making the fish believe that your concoction of fur and feather is a real living thing.  If you can do that, then you’re on the way to being a proper angler!

Watercraft, Wading and Fly Fishing Tips

The final word is about watercraft, the one element of flyfishing that so many people get wrong by failing to understand that it’s the most important single factor in fishing.  I teach my clients that wet wading, getting right down there into the aquatic environment and proceeding with care and stealth, is the key.

One good fishing tip is to forget the heavy gear and waders, leave the kit bags behind and use a simple neck lanyard with the bare essentials.  Travel light, move with the tide and don’t forget your polarising glasses. Read the water, check the tide tables and above all use your eyes to interpret the signs.  Gulls and terns diving, shimmering water where fish are feeding, bait fish jumping clear of the water – these are all things that help you find fish.

Thinking like a fish, sub-surface vision as we call it, is what makes a successful angler.  The fly itself is vital, of course, but of equal importance is how and where you fish it.  Getting the mix right is the true essence of saltwater fly fishing. Good luck and enjoy your sport this year!

DSC_0665A fine brace of fly caught bass; do be warned that new EU directives mean that all bass caught from January 1st to June 30th must be released.

The Best UK Fly Patterns for Bass & Saltwater Species

For a full range of great flies produced by Chris and Turrall, see your local fly shop or order online from one of our recommended retailers. Tackle stores and fly stockists can order direct from us by starting an account at www.turrall.com

Don’t forget to keep an eye on the blog, as well as our Facebook page and Pinterest Galleries for more tips, news, photography and the latest and greatest flies for all your fishing needs. We have lots of great free content on the way from the likes of Chris, Dominic Garnett, Gary Pearson and Wes Ower.

Guided Saltwater Fly Fishing in Cornwall

For thrilling sport in some beautiful locations on the Cornish coast, Chris Ogborne runs friendly guided fishing trips. Tackle can be provided, along with all the knowhow you need to catch your first bass on the fly, or improve your existing skills. Find out more on his website: www.chris-ogborne.co.uk

Fly Fishing For Perch – Tips and Fly Patterns

This month, Turrall blogger and fly designer Dom Garnett provides timely advice, tips and fly patterns for perch.

They’re beautiful yet common as muck. They take a fly gamely and fight well on light tackle. So why isn’t every man and his dog fly fishing for perch this season? Across waters all over Britain and Europe, you’ll find perch an absorbing quarry. The smaller ones can be seriously greedy, while the big ones are a genuine challenge. Here are some handy perch fishing tips for your next trip:

perch fly fishing

  1. Key locations: Almost every angler in the UK will have perch within striking distance of where they live. And while the big reservoirs might hold large fish, smaller waters such as canals, drains and rivers are an easier place to start.

Perch are one of those reassuringly predictably fish when it comes to feature finding. Snags, overhangs, bridges and walls are all worth searching thoroughly. But also look out for any concentrations of fry or small fish. Any areas where you have a sudden drop off are less visible but can also be key.

  1. Tackle & Leaders: Perch don’t demand the heaviest tackle, but with bigger than average flies and often the risk of pike, it’s unwise to go too light. Some of my friends have fished with as light as three or four weight tackle on waters where there are no pike! A more common starting point would be a six or seven weight outfit on most waters, but go heavier if pike are common.

You can use a floating line on many shallower waters, along with a leader of 7-8 feet. But where greater depths exist, a fast intermediate or a full sinker will often serve you well too, with a shorter leader of as little as five feet.

Where pike are not an issue, fluorocarbon is fine to use as leader- but there’s no need to go lighter than about 8lbs. If there are pike, step up to at least 12lbs strength and add a wire trace. Small, unobtrusive snap links and fine, knottable wires are subtlest option- avoid thick wire and bulky swivels and hardware.

jack pike
Jack pike are also fond of perch flies- so on many venues you must be prepared and fish a bit heavier.

3. Flies for Perch: Various designs will work for perch, but my own have plenty of flash and movement, and are rather bigger than the lures you’d typically use for trout. The Perch Special and Drop Shot Minnow Flies are ideal for shallower water and useful where you want a slow sinking fly to keep above weed or cover.

Turrall perch flies- Dropshot Minnows and Perch Special

For a lot of structure fishing or deeper water however, weighted patterns such as my Perch Jig Flies will get down better. Flies that fish “point up” are also handy to lessen the risk of snagging.

jig flies for perch

If you tie your own, you can also have some fun. Typically, I would recommend hooks in sizes 1-4 and my absolute favourite colours for perch would be white and yellow, often with a hint of red in the mix, plus a few strands of pearl, silver or gold flash material (Krinkleflash or Multi Flash are both very good).

  1. The Right Retrieve
    Perch are not as quick or as willing to move several feet to grab a fly as pike, so the key is often in getting the fly close to the fish. My retrieve tends to be twitchy and “busy” but not overly fast, unless the fish are obviously scattering fry near the surface.

More often it’s a case of keeping your perch fly moving, but not stripping so fast that your artificial lifts up in the water, out of the strike zone. If it’s really cold or challenging though, another useful trick with the jig flies is to twitch or “hop” them across the bottom. 

Retrieve speed and keeping the fly at the right depth are crucial for perch.

Don’t always feel that you need to cast far for perch. The other advantage with weighted flies is that you can work them right under the rod tip along structures or around cover. 

  1. Striking and Playing Fish: Perch don’t always give the biggest bites and nor will they always hook themselves. Keep your rod tip low while retrieving and be alert for any little nips or picks on the line. Strike at any decisive movement, but do so with the line, only lifting if you feel contact. Quite often you will get a nip or two, but by continuing the retrieve or having another shot you will get a second or third chance and a solid hook up.

Perch fight well on light tackle, but can quite easily come adrift. A forgiving rod is ideal to play fish smoothly and cushion those head shakes that often betray a hooked perch. I like to use a nice through actioned 9ft 6/7 weight- although if pike  are a regular threat an eight might need to come out to play.

6. Change your clock and your mindset! The unwritten rule in so much of perch fishing is that it becomes a tough exercise at the wrong time or in the wrong conditions. Find the right time and local feeding spells and you will catch in a fraction of the time.

On big, deep waters or those that are murky, sunny weather can work. But more commonly, on small clear drains, rivers and canals, an overcast or downright grotty day will serve you much better (the specimen perch pictured at the top of this post was caught during a drizzly day with winds consistently over 20mph!) .

The first and last hours of light are very often peaks of activity- so do be prepared to make an early start or have your excuses ready for a late finish.

Perch of all sizes are fun to catch.

Further Information

For more on the subject of perch fishing on the fly, Dom Garnett’s book Flyfishing For Coarse Fish has more handy information, tips and fly patterns to try. You can order this, along with ideal fly patterns for perch at www.dgfishing.co.uk

DSC_0450

 Do also keep an eye on the special site for more news, tips and catches, plus an exciting annual competition judged by a panel including Matt Hayes and John Bailey. flyforcoarse.com

 

 

Fly fishing and tying tips: The Humungous

With the colder days of the fly fishing year ahead of us, lure style flies really come to the fore on small stillwater fisheries. Hence our fly of the month for November is one of those classic stillwater lure patterns that can be relied on to keep the takes coming.  This month’s blog provides some fly fishing tips and a handy step by step guide to tying one of the all time greats, the Humungous. 

Humungous and rainbow trout

Although it’s a regarded as something of a classic for rainbow trout in small, stocked fisheries, this design of the humungous fly pattern actually originates from the waters of Loch Leaven in Scotland. It was here that the fly gained infamy for catching big brown trout.

These days, however, the original has spawned a number of variants worthy of a place in any fly box. Our range includes classic olive coloured patterns, along with black and silver and viva style variants and even versions in hot orange and Cat’s Whisker hues.

Turrall_Lures_humungous02

Fishing the Humungous

Like other lures for trout, there is a lot more to catching fish than launching the thing out and stripping like a madman. You could indeed try a few quick retrieves high in the water to kick off, but should no early chases or takes commence, try counting down to different depths to find the fish.

A slower and steadier retrieve also keeps the fly deeper, holding it in the taking zone. A figure of eight, with regular twitches thrown in is ideal. You could fish it on a floating line with a longer leader between a rod’s length to twelve feet. There is little need to go any lighter than 8lb fluorocarbon.

Should you want to retrieve faster at depth, you could try a sinking fly line and a shorter leader of just six or seven feet. If you do bring it in quickly though, do be sure to throw at least one pause into the mix each cast. A little “break” in the retrieve can often be the trigger for a fish to hit the fly as it stutters and speeds up again.

Last but not least, try to make a mental note of how long you had let the fly sink when the bites come. If the action is hard and fast, or you use the same flies for more than one session, a hook sharpener is also an excellent idea to keep the point nice and sharp.

How to tie the Humungous
Colour choices are quite wide for this fly pattern and humungous variants are numerous. For extra attraction however, we would recommend a touch of extra flash in the tail and body materials (our UV Multiflash and UV Fritz are ideal for adding some extra sparkle!).

The other notable feature is the weighted head. Chain eyes do the job perfectly, but you could also try larger eyes, such as tungsten dumbbell eyes to create a fast sinking trout lure for really deep waters.

hourglasseyeblack_001

In this case, however, we have chosen classic Viva style colours, with a black marabou tail and green body.

Humungous (Viva variant)
Hook: Long Shank Lure Size 8-10
Thread: Standard Black
Eyes: Bead chain eyes
Tail: Black Marabou, with a hint of Turrall UV Multiflash
Body: Green Fritz Chenille
Hackle: Palmered grizzle cock

Step 1: Run some black thread just behind the eye of the hook, until it catches.

Turrall_Lures_humungous03

Step 2: Now pinch the chain eyes just above the hook, behind the eye. Carefully bind in place, using tight turns of thread in an X shape, as shown. Build up plenty of tight turns for security here- and you could also add a spot of varnish as you do so.
Turrall_Lures_humungous04

Step 3: Now run the thread towards the hook bend with a series of tight turns. Stop when you are above the hook point.
Turrall_Lures_humungous05

Step 4: Now for the tail. This is easiest to tie in two parts rather than one bunch of material. Start by snipping off a pinch of black marabou and measuring against the hook. A tail that protrudes about the same length as the hook itself is about right.
Turrall_Lures_humungous06

Step 5: Once you have bound the first pinch of marabou in place right along the back of the hook, you can then add a little sparkle. You needn’t go too crazy; 4 or 5 strands of flash is ample. As with the marabou, you will create a more secure, even body by tying right the way along the back of the hook, rather than securing just at the end.
Turrall_Lures_humungous07

Step 6: Now add another pinch of marabou of similar size to the first to complete the tail.
Turrall_Lures_humungous08

Step 7: Now take a grizzly cock hackle and tie securely along the hook as shown, so that you have plenty of feather to work with.

Turrall_Lures_humungous10

Step 8: Take a section of chenille and strip away the outer to reveal the core. Strip away enough so that you can tie this right the way along the back of the hook, as shown.
Turrall_Lures_humungous09
Turrall_Lures_humungous11

Step 9: Now make a body using even, touching turns of chenille, before tying off and trimming just behind the chain eyes.Turrall_Lures_humungous13

Step 10: Now wrap the feather around the hook in open, evenly spaced turns, like this. Make an extra couple of turns just behind the eyes to make the head a little bushier.
Turrall_Lures_humungous14

Step 11: Secure in place with 2-3 tight wraps of thread before trimming the hackle off.
Turrall_Lures_humungous15

Step 12: Now ring the thread so it sits just in front of the chain eyes. Here’s a useful fly tying tip for any pattern: Rather than only appealing varnish at the end, try applying a little directly to the thread before you whip finish, as shown. This way, the varnish will set right inside the knot, rather than just coating it.Turrall_Lures_humungous16

Step 13: Whip finish and trim to complete.
Turrall_Lures_humungous17

Last of all, do have some fun and try your own colour variants. Sometimes one colour scheme will outfish the rest. Bright colours can be deadly for stockies, while a predominantly olive or black version is also worth a cast for brown trout too.

Keep an eye on the Turrall Flies Facebook page and our Blog Archives for more step by step fly tying guides, tips, deadly new patterns and more.