Warm weather brings some exciting fly fishing prospects- although it might pay to cast into some different places this month. Dom Garnett has been investigating small pockets for trout and tackling coarse fishing lakes for rudd.
Of all the fishing seasons, a day in June can take you right back to the basics. The art of not being spotted by your quarry and of getting a fly where it counts. The small streams of Devon never looked more tempting than on a sunny afternoon in June. But on hot days the trout can be very suspicious in the smooth water. In such conditions it’s invariably the faster water, and the broken, tumbling corners where you have the best chance of getting a reaction from the fish without being seen yourself.
Not only do trout love the broken, well-oxygenated water here, but life gets simpler for the angler. Tumbling water helps to conceals fishing line or a clumsy cast. It also presents the trout with a simple “take it or leave it” decision to make.
Small Stream Fly Fishing in Pocket Water
Some of the most enjoyable fishing of all each summer is to be had in the tightest, smallest places on the river. It is eye-opening just how little water a trout sometimes needs to take station. Pockets of space around rocks and undercuts are ideal, and the smallest can be little bigger than a shoebox.
With a cautious approach, you can get very close to such areas. They are best fished fast and loose, at short range- because you will often only get two or three seconds of presentation on each cast. More than enough time for a trout to dash out, and the takes can be bold and aggressive.
The best flies for rough water and fishing the pockets tend to be bushy, visible and unfussy affairs. You can go a little bigger than you would normally (on the Devon streams, for example, I increase my fly from a 16 or 18, to a 12 or 14. A well-ginked Elk Hair Caddis is my favourite fly, but a Bivisible, Humpy or Balloon Caddis also fits the bill nicely.
The best advice I can give is not to fear the current. I do a lot of guiding on the streams each summer, and with those from a coarse fishing background, as I was, you’re used to seeking out slacks and slower water on rivers. Fly fishing for trout is the opposite, with fish holding up in tumbling currents and tiny spots you could easily walk right past.
The tumbling water is the ideal place to try if you’re a beginner too, because while short accurate casting is paramount, you don’t need the perfect delivery. If your fly spends a split second in the right place, it will be grabbed!
If you fail, of course, the beauty of a small stream is that there is always another spot a few yards on. How you approach each is critical, but when the water level is low, the decision of whether to wade or not to wade is critical. Where possible, it can be best to fish from the bank to create less disturbance.
Should you spook the fish or overstay your welcome in a spot though, it’s always worth having a closer look. The water you were casting into can be deceptive- it could be much deeper or shallower than you first thought, which is a lesson for next time! If there is good current along with some depth, you could be surprised by a larger trout than you expected.
Summer Fly Fishing for Rudd
Of course, rivers are not the only places to cast a fly this summer. When temperatures really soar, trout to not always fare well, let alone feed well. This is when I switch my attention to rudd. Clear, hot days are brilliant for this free rising fish, so I reach for a box of small dries and slow sinking nymphs, starting with flies in the 16-18 stamp.
Bank fishing can be highly successful, but little boat is a godsend if you have access to a pond or lake. You won’t have too much trouble finding fish- but spooking them can be an issue. I tend to place an unhooking mat on the bottom of the one I use to avoid banging about and spooking fish- paddling into position must be done cautiously, and it’s often better to hit a slightly longer cast rather than try and get right up to a shoal. I also stick with light tackle (a four weight) and a fairly fine leader, because lighter fly line has less impact on the water and won’t send them scattering with a less-than-perfect delivery.
If fish are rising, a tiny emerger buzzer or CDC Black Gnat takes plenty of fish, but the easiest way to catch rudd is with a slow sinking wet fly, such as a Black and Peacock or another spider (my own Rudd Bugs have soft hackles and a trace of CDC). Other than a gentle accurate cast, little else is usually needed to get the rudd to take- I barely ever employ a retreive, but just watch for a reaction and cast again fairly quickly if there is no response (most rudd will take within the first five or so seconds).
A really huge fish still eludes me this summer so far, but when you can confidently expect to catch several dozen in an afternoon, with plenty from half a pound to a pound and a half, this is excellent fly fishing.
Catch the latest news and patterns from Turrall Flies
Turrall produce top quality flies for just about every species of fish you could wish to target this season. Find them at all good fly stockists, as well as online retailers such as www.troutcatchers.co.uk and www.fly–fishing-tackle.co.uk
Meanwhile, you can also find further news, tips, fly patterns and giveaways at the Turrall Flies Facebook page.
Read more from Dom at www.dgfishing.co.uk where you’ll find his new book Crooked Lines (for just £10 or £5 E-book), fly patterns and guided fly fishing days in Devon and Somerset.