Flyfishing for catfish is something we, a small group of like-minded people, have been try to crack for nearly 5 years now. These mysterious monsters lurking in our UK lakes have opened up a whole new section to Uk fly fishing. Trying to find a UK freshwater fish that can fight as hard as these beasts is difficult. But on our latest outing I think it is fair to say we cracked it with 15 Catfish caught!
Trying to understand the Cats is something I’ve been doing for a few years now and learning to target these incredible creatures on the fly rod, is a goal I have set myself and wish to introduce to more like-minded people. Might be slightly mad / crazy, as not only can you catch these creatures in the day but also stalking them through the night. There is nothing more exciting than hearing a big catfish hitting bait fish on the surface in the middle of the night. Then imagine being able to cast to ripples in the moonlight. This is something else, you are just left wondering just what is going to happen when that fly hits the water.
Cat fishing is heart beating stuff and sends the pulse racing as you gently pull your fly-line through the surface layers. Senses are on high alert now every sound is magnified, the slightest tug felt through your fingertips is met with a half strike but calm down - it’s just a piece of weed. Then a 20 lb + carp decides to crash out the water right next to you. What a feeling, take time and gather your thoughts and try to calmly carry on stripping your line. When it feels like you’ve just had a electric shock up the end of your line you know your on. These Cats can really hit and it scares me every time. Strip strikes are a must. Hit them hard and then hold on tight. This is where all the planning pays off. Getting the fly line back on the reel is a must as you don’t want to play them by hand like you do with trout. A good quality fly reel is essential with a good drag as these cats will test everything to the max.
So now it’s time to turn things up a bit as if it’s not crazy enough catching Catfish at night on the fly. We have gone and tried it in float tubes. Hooking big Cats on the water is something really different and playing a 6ft monster underneath you in the dark is pretty special, it’s like you have hooked the bottom for a split second then it comes alive and you can feel there real power.
These cats give a real good account of themselves and having to paddle backwards fighting these fish until they start playing you and pulling you around the lake is something I’ve not experienced before. As I said earlier it’s all about planning and when this all comes together teamwork is paramount. With your wing-man at the ready with the landing net and head torches ready to reveal your prize.
When landing larger Cats we do take them to the bank but use the normal extra large unhooking mats and proper weigh slings. Cats are then rested in the slings before photos are taken, a quick few snaps and they are returned.
If this wets your appetite then welcome to the dark side of Catfish on the fly.