Get Knotted !

We received some feedback recently that our flies were excellent, but the angler kept losing them due to his knots giving way. Therefore, we thought we’d put together this article for everyone to improve their knots.

There are many, many knots that can be used when trout fishing. In reality though, it’s best to focus on using 1 or 2 of them all the time, simply because it’s easy to forget all the details of a knot if you’re tying several different types at once. Here’s a summary of knots commonly used in trout fishing.

ALBRIGHT KNOT

The purpose of this knot is to join two lines of different thickness, so it is ideal for joining the reel end of the fly line to a backing line. You can see from the diagram that this knot might cause quite a bump on your reel and if you’re using a thick fly line, there can been times when this might snag the rest of the backing line as it comes off the reel. This could be an issue in the event of this knot coming in to play when playing a fish, so keep the tag ends as close to the knot as possible.

ARBOUR KNOT

The arbor knot is used to secure the backing line to the spool, it is a simple and secure knot. It’s much better than the slip knot we’ve all been tying for years (come on admit it 🙂 )First tie a half hitch in the end of the backing line and ease the knot close to the end of the backing line. Now pass the line once round the spool of the reel and put a half hitch around the long end of the backing line, capturing the spool in the loop you’ve made. Pull gently on the long end of the backing and it will slip and tighten round the spool. It will be stopped from coming off the spool by the first half hitch you made at the end of the backing line. Two half hitches put on the spool as well will stop the line slipping round the spool.

BLOOD KNOT

This knot is used for joining two pieces of line together, when tied correctly this is a very strong knot. Lay the two tag ends against each other from opposite directions for about six inches. Wind one line around the other four times and bring that tag end back through where the turns start. Keeping a loop at that point now wind the other line four times around its counterpart and bring that tag end back through the loop. The tag ends should now be sticking out in opposite directions. Gently pull the knot tight and remember to lubricate the knot with a little spit before you tighten it all the way. After trimming off the tag ends this is a neat and efficient knot. It is ideal for joining two lengths of line of similar diameter, as when making up a leader and using progressively thinner line. However, a large difference in the thickness of the lines and this knot will fail to perform.

FIGURE OF 8 KNOT

The figure of 8 knot is used for making loop connections, tying dry fly leaders and for tying on droppers.

GRINNER, UNI OR UNIVERSAL KNOT

This multi-named knot has the advantage that it tightens against itself rather than the eye of the hook. This means that the fly is left loose in a small loop of line and so moves much more freely and naturally in the water. The downside is that the knot can be quite difficult to tie in adverse conditions. You can see from the diagram that the knot requires that the line is looped around itself and through a loop several times. It’s a very fiddly knot and requires a good deal of practice.

NAIL KNOT

The Nail Knot is a popular knot to join fly line to leader. The use of a small hollow tube instead of a nail is also effective if you don’t have a nail. The simplicity of this knot hides its inherent weakness. Under stress there is nothing to stop this knot simply sliding off the fly line, especially if the fly line is of the coated variety when the coating may part from the core. While no knot is perfect it is another reason why a collar and superglue are the best answer to this problem.

PERFECTION LOOP

A loop is only as good as the knot that makes it – and the perfection loop is made with a knot that has inherent strength because it spreads the pressure over its length and there are no pinch points. It is used to form the loop that attaches the tapered leader to the tippet.

SEAGUAR KNOT

This knot is named after the leading manufacturer of fluorocarbon line, which gives an indication of its use. It is a very simple knot and can be employed for tying two lengths of line of unequal thickness as well as tying up leaders. When used to make droppers the tag end pointing away from the rod tip is left long and used as the dropper. A lot of heat is generated when the ends are drawn together and tightened, so it essential that the knot is well lubricated – usually with spittle – before pulling everything tight. You must ensure that you hold all four ends and pull them all at the same time or the knot will fail to form properly and you will be left with a small loop at one end which will severely weaken the performance of this knot.

SURGEON’S KNOT

This is a simple knot and is primarily used to attach the short piece of line to your leader so that a dropper can be attached to the leader. Just put the two pieces of line together and tie in two half hitches. Pull the knot tight after applying a little spit to lubricate the lines. Cut off the tag end, which must be the end pointing up the line or else the fish will rip off the dropper when it grabs your fly. The danger with this knot is that it has reduced strength when compared to other knots such as the figure of 8 knot so use it with caution!

TUCKED BLOOD OR IMPROVED CLINCH KNOT

This knot can be used to attach the hook to the line. While it is a simple knot to tie, but there is one caveat that you should bear in mind. When a knot is pulled tight at the final stage, a great deal of heat is generated through the friction of the pieces of line coming together. This can have a disastrous consequence in that the line can become so hot that it is fatally weakened and will fail at the first sign of stress. The easiest way to solve this problem is to simply dab a little saliva onto the line immediately before it is pulled tight. Some people use the simple blood knot, which turns the tag end through the original loop and leaves the end pointing towards the hook. Some put a second tuck in the knot by carrying the tag end back up through the second loop that is formed. This is called a tucked blood knot and is much more secure. There is a chance that a fine or ultrasmooth line can slip with a simple blood knot, but that risk is eliminated with the extra turn in a tucked blood knot. When you have tied your knot and pulled it together with a spot of spit, give it a good strong pull to make sure it is correctly made. It’s better for the knot to fail when you test it rather than when a fish tests it!

Bungee Butts – What are they and how do you use them ?

Early season fishing has been incredible recently. The combination of 1000s of fish being stocked across the country, lockdown preventing fisherman getting near the fish and the weather gradually starting to warm up has resulted in some reports of huge catches.

I was recently fortunate enough to spend the day on the boat at Draycote Water and had an amazing day fishing buzzers with 18 fish reaching my net on the day. This number would have been much higher, had I not been snapped so often.

Despite the average stamp of fish coming in at around 3lbs on the day, my 10lb flourocarbon leader droppers were regularly smashed on the take. Buzzer takes can be vicious and if a line is too tight, or the rod too straight or not flexible enough, then the leader or dropper can be easily snapped.

Besides being frustrating to lose a fish, leaving a hook or even an entire leader in a trout’s mouth is not a good thing at all.

So what do we do to protect ourselves from losing fish and the trout from being left with unwanted and potentially deadly hardware ?

There are several answers to this, including:

  • Ensuring your rod is flexible enough to take a rapid buzzer pull
  • Using a flexible and durable fly line. One with a little give in it’s construction
  • Keeping the rod at an angle to the line, so the flexibility of the rod tip absorbs some of the impact of the pull
  • Leaving more slack line than necessary to give you time to react and lift the rod (although not so much you deep hook the fish)
  • Using stronger leader flourocarbon (although this may reduce the takes)
  • Reduce the number of droppers, so double and treble ups are avoided

However, I’d like to focus on a rather more unusual approach to this, which is the eponymously named Bungee Butt.

These were available from Drennan, but are no longer sold. However, it is relatively easy to make one. You’ll need 2 braided leaders and a 5 inch (approx) piece of 22lb power gum (or equivalent).

First, take one of the braided leaders and slide the

power gum up to 1 inch in to it, just as you would a fly line.

Secure the sleeve over the power gum with superglue.

Repeat the process with the other end of the power gum

Once you have the completed item, simply attach your leader to one end and your fly line to the other and you’re finished.

But how does it work in reducing breakages on savage buzzer takes ?

Well, the power gum is extremely flexible and stretches easily and durably. It will not snap, even under extreme and sudden pressure. The power gum will absorb the impact of a hard trout take and reduce the stress on all other areas of your buzzer set up, from leader to reel.

I’ve tried this system on Rutland recently and found it to be extremely successful, so why not give it a go and see if this method improves your buzzer catch rate.

Common Casting Issues Explained

We’re often asked about angler’s casting issues, so I thought I’d outlne the most common errors with casting a fly line, the cause of the issue and how to remedy the situation.

The Line Cracks like a Whip

If you find yourself sounding like Indiana Jones on occasion, it’s because you’re effectively doing exactly what he does, but with the fly line.

The crack sound is the result of the end of the line changing direction at high speed – just like a whip.

The key to resolving this is patience. You need let the line straighten out before you start the next part of your cast. Obviously, don’t wait too long or you’ll catch the ground behind or the water in front of you, but leave it a little longer than you have been doing for it to straighten before changing direction.

This issue may result in a fly being broken off if you don’t correct the problem. At the very least it will weaken the leader at the fly and risk line breakage when a fish takes.

Does your casting give Indiana Jones a run for his money ?

Difficulty In Picking Up The Line When Starting a Cast

If you’re using intermediate or sinking lines like di3 or di7, they’re likely to be underwater when you try to turn them over. This is going to cretae some heavy resistance from the water, including the added stress of water tension.

Dragging a line through the water with great gusto is likely to cause a lot of disturbance in the water and spook any fish which may be lurking around, as well as exhausting any poor angler who keeps trying to do this.

So what’s the answer ? The way to do it, is to use less force, not more, when using heavy lines or flies. Make a gentle roll cast to clear everything out of the water before starting

the next cast. This puts the line on top of the water and it will lift off more easily and cause far less water disturbance.

It’s good practice to incorporate a roll cast into the start of every cast, whatever line you use, as this makes things easier by straightening the line and leader, hugely reducing tangles and becoming a muscle memory.

Photo Credit : @brooksrice

The Line Hits Itself As It Passes In Mid-air

The reason the line crashes into itself is that the forward and back casts are in the same

plane. i.e. They get in each other’s way.

A slight twist of your forearm during the cast on the backcast will translate to a rotation movement at the rod tip of a foot or so. The effect of this rotation of the rod on the different strokes of the cast is to move the line going back further away from your body than the line coming forward. This movement then seperates the two parts of the line, stopping them clashing.

Photo Credit :, @glen_rushton

Knots in My Leader

These knots are called wind knots and it is important that you check for them after each cast, as they can weaken the line leading to lost fish.

It doesn’t matter how good you are at casting, you will always get the odd knot in your line and droppers, as they are waving around during each cast, so it is inevitable that they will get in a birds nest occasionally.

If this happens regularly, the cause is likely to be similar to the main fly line hitting itself, but this time with the leader. As with the previous tip, slightly twist your forearm during the backcast to seperate both the fly line and the leader from themselves.

Photo Credit : @vidarnm

How Do I Cast In To The Wind ?

On occasion, we find ourselves in a position where the only way we can fish is directly in to the wind. This might be due to only being able to fish one bank or maybe we’ve spotted a rising fish behind us on a boat and want to cover it.

The best way to achieve a reasonable cast in these circumstances is to effectively cast backwards. Now that sounds a little silly, but by twisting your body so that the cast is in the opposite direction to where you want to be and using the final backcast as effectively a forward cast, you can punch the line directly in to the face of the wind.

Obviously, this is going to be hard work and the flies may not land quite as nicely as you’d like, due to wind resistance. This is particularly the case if you’re using very light flies, but at least you’re getting further than you would have done casting forwards.

As ever, please ensure you wear eye protection at all times when fly fishing, especially casting in to the wind, as a sudden gust can easily change the direction of your line and whip a fly across your body or worse, your face.

Trout with Garlic Lemon Butter Herb Sauce

One of the best trout recipes we’ve tried is simply cooking trout in a skillet in olive oil, and then adding garlic, lemon juice, white wine, fresh parsley and butter. This dish is gluten free, healthy, easy-to-make and delicious! It is also a low-carb dinner, rich in lean protein and omega-3 fatty acids.

Ingredients (4 Portions)

1.5lb pounds of trout fillets (2 fillets)

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon Italian seasoning (dried thyme, oregano, parsley, combined together)

1/4 teaspoon salt to taste

4 garlic cloves diced

3 tablespoons lemon juice freshly squeezed

2 tablespoons white wine

2 tablespoons butter softened

2 tablespoons parsley chopped

Method

Season the top of the fillets with Italian herb seasoning and salt (generously)

In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil on medium heat until heated but not smoking.

Add the fish fillets, skin side up, to the hot skillet.

Cook the flesh side of the fish for about 3-5 minutes on medium heat, making sure the oil does not smoke, until lightly browned.

Flip the fillets over to the other side, skin side down (add more oil, if needed).

Cook for another 2-4 minutes on medium heat (to prevent oil from burning).

Remove the skillet from the heat, close with the lid, and let the fish sit for 5-10 minutes, covered, in the skillet, until flaky and cooked through completely.

After the fish is cooked through, carefully remove fillets with a fish slice and put them on a plate.

Carefully remove or scrape any fish skin off the bottom of the pan, making sure to leave all the cooking oils in the pan.

Add diced garlic, lemon juice, and white wine to the same pan with oil.

Cook on medium-low heat for about 1 minute, until the garlic softens.

Remove from the heat and add 1 tablespoon of chopped parsley, and 2 tablespoons of butter to the sauce, stirring, until the butter melts and forms a creamy mixture.

Add the fish back in to the pan and spoon the sauce over the fish for 1 minute.

Place the fillets on to a plate, pour on the sauce and top with a sprig of parsley, ready to serve.

An Incredible Day’s Fishing at Toft Newton

The day didn’t start well as I’d picked up a bout of food poisoning the night before and arrived an hour late at Toft Newton as a result. Add to that the atrocious weather I’d driven through and I decided to stay in my car for half an hour to wait for the rain to subside. It was not a pleasent view :

It didn’t take long before the lure of fishing was too much and I tackled up in mild drizzle. Andy Hutson was manning the office and as ever, he offered a friendly welcome and excellent advice.

I’d come to Toft as Andy was offering a free tuition day and I know just how good a fisherman he is, so I was keen to talk to him. I particularly wanted to ask about two things I’d been trying to do all year, which was to catch a brown and to catch anything on an apps bloodworm.

Andy suggested a yellow apps for the stockies and a red apps for the grown on fish. These were to be fished on floating line with an 18ft leader. Alternatively, a slow intermediate line with a single white lure on the point of a 15ft leader would also work, possibly for the brownies.

I set out to the water and was pleased to see Matt Nuttall fishing the South bank. Matt had already caught a nice brown and was soon in to another rainbow as we chatted.

Matt was using a floating line with a booby snake on the point, an apps on the top dropper and a hare’s ear on the middle dropper. Each fly was at least 6ft-8ft from the other. The set up was cast out, straighted with a sharp pull and fished completely static. Matt was keeping the flies static and avoiding a bow in the line, which would have moved the flies unnaturally, by walking down the bank, keeping up with the line. This method proved particularly effective as Matt was soon in to another fish.

Although fish were being caught, it was obvious from the movement on the surface that there were a lot of fish just out of casting range. To get to these fish, Matt and I decided to shared a boat and moored up around 70 yards off the bank in the same area.

There were a lot of fish movement around this area as fry chasers were hammering across the surface chasing hapless prey all around us.

We both started with the booby and apps method and once again, Matt was catching well. Although I wasn’t doing as well as Matt, it was a great experience to watch and learn from a very accomplished angler indeed. Matt was very open with his advice and suggestions on how to improve my fishing and this proved invaluable as I was soon in to a real lump of a fish.

The fight was incredible and I played it for several minutes before we both saw a huge fish surface. Matt immediately leapt in to action and kindly netted it for me and a 10lb rainbow was on the boat. This is a personal best for me and I was absolutely delighted. It had taken an orange blob fished on a floating line with a slow figure of eight.

After missing another bite straight afterwards, I was in again on the orange blob with a brownie of all things. This was the icing on the cake for me after the lump I’d just caught.

Meanwhile, Matt had switched to a fast glass with a white snake and was catching fish on a very regular basis indeed. After 15 minutes without a pull, I changed to a DI5 with a white snake on the point and a red apps bloodworm on the top dropper and was soon in to another lump ! This one tipped the scales at 7lb and fought just as well as the earlier fish.

The best news for me was what it took though :

Finally ! I’d caught on an apps bloodworm. My day was complete, I’d caught a brown and caught on an apps. This was already a fantastic day, but it was not yet over…

It was Matt’s turn to hook in to a big fish next and it was clearly fighting hard as his rod was bent over. However, it turned out not be a big fish, but two rainbows on a double hook up. This day was getting crazy !

A few minutes later Matt was in again and this time it was a big one. Caught on the white snake on the fast glass with a very fast roly poly retrieve, Matt hooked in to a 6lb rainbow of his own.

The action continued with us both catching more rainbows, until I managed another lump of 6lb, this time on a white snake.

Andy came down for a fish on the bank opposite us and caught a 7lb fish on his first cast on a pink apps bloodworm. The fishing was simply unbelievable for all three of us.

An hour later and after lots of fish caught, lots of not safe for work banter and lots of great laughs, we called it a day as the last of the daylight sank away.

With 25 to the boat and 4 fish over 6lb, the day was simply fantastic. The levels of stocking and the stamp of fish in Toft make it a must visit venue at the moment. You get a warm welcome, good advice and great fishing, so what’s not to like.

Our catch on the day, all of which was returned unharmed, bodes well for the Fur and Feather match at Toft on Sunday 6th December. There are still places available in that competition, so if you’d like to enter, check out the details here

Cheers all and tight lines !

White Snake : https://www.troutfliesdirect.com/product-page/white-humungous-snake-zonker

Hare’s Ear : https://www.troutfliesdirect.com/product-page/hares-ear-wet

Orange Apps : https://www.troutfliesdirect.com/product-page/orange-apps-bloodworm

Yellow Apps : https://www.troutfliesdirect.com/product-page/yellow-apps-bloodworm

Orange Blob : https://www.troutfliesdirect.com/product-page/orange-blob

Smoked Trout Chowder

As the winter draws in, why not use some of your hard earned catch to cook a delicious warming meal.

This is a recipe for smoked trout chowder, which was intended as a starter, but is so rich and tasty, it’s always a good idea to have it as a main course too.

Ingredients (4-6 main course portions)

• 2 tbsp butter or olive oil

• 2 medium carrots, chopped small

• 650g potatoes, cut into 1/2 inch cubes

• 1 med-large onion, chopped finely

• Garlic 3-6 cloves, crushed or fine sliced

• Squeeze of lemon juice

• Cornflour

• 1/2 cup dry white wine

• 2 vegetable stock cubes

• 1 litre milk

• 1 tsp herbes de Provence*

• 1/2 cup single cream

• 400g smoked trout fillet, chopped

• King prawns, scallops, mussels (optional)

• Can of sweetcorn without liquid

• Diced celery (optional)

• Saffron if available

• Seasoning

• Fresh dill chopped to garnish

Method

Melt butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add 2 or 3 twists of fresh ground black pepper. Fry off onions for a few mins add garlic, but do not brown.

Add carrots, potato, wine, stock cubes, squeeze of lemon, milk, 3-4 strands of Saffron and good pinch herbes de Provence.

Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer, very gently so as not to curdle the milk, until potatoes are tender but not mushy! (about 10 min). Try not stir too often as this breaks up the veg.

To thicken the chowder scoop out about 1/3 cup of soup without chunks and sprinkle in approx. 1 tablespoon of flour, mixing thoroughly with the flat of a spoon to make a thickish paste. Stir this in near the end of the boiling stage above.

Stir in cream and trout (plus other seafood), pinch of Saffron and sweetcorn.

Continue simmering on very low heat until the seafood is all opaque.

Season to taste, but the trout will already be salty, so don’t overdo it!

Add a sprinkle of paprika and chopped dill and serve with warm crusty bread.

Delicious and very filling!

*Note: If you don’t have herbe de Provence, use the following as an alternative:

  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 2 teaspoons dried savory
  • 1 teaspoon dried marjoram
  • 1 teaspoon dried lavender
  • ½ teaspoon dried rosemary
  • ½ teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1 crushed bay leaf

Tips for Winter Trout Fishing

Winter is upon us with a vengeance and we look forward (?) to some very cold days on the banks of our trout waters over the next few months.

How do we maximise our chances of hooking up an, often grown on, hard fighting winter trout ? Here’s a few tips we’ve put together to help you.

Match The Hatch

Although less prolific than in the Spring and Summer, there are still buzzer hatches in Winter and these should not be ignored when it comes to winter trout fishing. This is especially true when there is a warmer day following a prolonged cold spell, which can trigger a hatch.

Try starting with a floating line with at least a 12ft leader and size 10 Red Buzzer/Bloodworm on the point with a size 12 Black Buzzer on a dropper at 4ft.

The bloodworms will be hatching from the mud, so it’s important to get these flies nearest the bottom, as this is where the trout will be expecting to find them. The black buzzers obviously emulate any number of insect species in their emerger phase.

If you don’t get any success on this, after varying retrieve and depth, try dropping down the hook size. Winter trout are lethargic due to the cold water temperatures, which lowers their metabolism and a smaller fly might be just what they’re looking for.

Ensure that the heavier fly is on the point as this is the one you want to sink quickly. The lighter dropper can then drift down slowly at it’s own pace.

The simple red buzzer – Ideal as a Winter Point Fly

Luring Them In

Almost inevitably, winter fishing means using lures at some point.

Tradition would dictate that black and green should be the colours employed, often fished deep down in the warmer water. However, more brightly coloured lures should not be discounted. There may not be a natural prey sporting a pink, yellow and purple coat, but that doesn’t mean the trout won’t see it as prey. The most garish of lures, such as the Orange Zuddler (pictured below) can be a huge trigger for a passing trout.

Of course, lures have dual purpose, in that a bright, colourful point fly might not be taken, but it will be seen as an interesting thing to follow by a trout. Therefore, pairing a lure on the point with a buzzer or nymph on a dropper will often be the fly taken as it is the natural food the trout is expecting and it may not have seen it if it wasn’t for the attraction of the lure. In these scenarios, it is best to use a slow retrieve, as a stripping a nymph or buzzer would be seen as unnatural movement and the trout will avoid it.

The Orange Zuddler – A bright attractant point fly

Bung ‘Em Up

Although the purists wouldn’t agree, one of the best ways to catch a winter trout is the use of the indicator or bung.

Whether using a specific indicator designed for the job or simply using a booby or something similar sitting on the surface, this is a great way to find the fish.

Fishing a bung is effectively float fishing for trout. The bung sits on the surface with 2 or more flies hanging below it.

As with the buzzer fishing above, use a heavier fly on the point, perhaps an apps bloodworm or beaded diawl bach and add droppers of buzzers and nymphs or a squirmy wormy.

The movement of the bung on the water’s surface will cause the flies below it to move naturally and attract the trout. This is especially true of the apps bloodworms as the movement of the water can cause the flailing legs of the fly to move in a very enticing manner. This is why apps bloodworms are such a good winter fly.

Apps Bloodworm – Deadly under a bung

Double Up

Trout like cold weather, so in the winter, they could literally be feeding anywhere in the water column, from near the bottom to right at the surface. Sometimes, even off the top.

On small stillwaters a floating line could be perfect all day, but it pays to take two rods one with a floating line and one with an intermediate or even a sinking line. Not only will it save you re-rigging the rod with a different line, but you’ll also be able to cover more depths and use a greater variety of retrieve speeds.

Set Up Two Rods – Allowing you to cover more depths

Wrap Up Warm

This might seem like an odd tip to give on a fly fishing blog, but it is often said that there is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing. A comparatively warm winter’s day can turn in to a very cold winter’s afternoon/evening very quickly.

I’m reminded of a recent trip to Draycote Water where I decided I didn’t need my waterproof trousers for the boat as I was wearing my thermals under my jeans and it wasn’t forecast to rain.

It didn’t rain, but the wind really got up and this caused a lot of water to splash in to the boat, soaking my jeans and thermals through to the skin. The resulting cold from the howling wind on my wet clothes mean a very early return to the car and a lot of lost fishing hours. The simple addition of waterproof overtrousers would have enabled me to stay out all day.

It is critical to dress for the weather, whilst still allowing for mobility. There’s no point being warm if you can’t physically cast or get yourself out of trouble should the need arise.

Besides waterproof outer garments, layering up with thin layers will help trap warm air and enable your body to regulate it’s temperature more easily.

The key areas of heat loss will be your head and your hands so investing in a warm hat and gloves can make a huge difference to your enjoyment and how long you actually get to spend fishing.

As at all times when fly fishing, a good pair of polarised sun glasses is a must. Not just to enable you to see the fish more easily, but to protect your eyes from wayward flies caused by a wind gust ruining your cast.

Wear a warm woolly hat – Maybe not this one though 🙂

Acknowledgment : Many thanks to ,,@jmurrey for the image used as a cover photo for this entry.

Terrible Weather, Great Fishing

We greatly enjoyed an absolutely crazy day on Blithfield today. Pouring with rain all morning, windier than a windy thing in the afternoon, but the sport was great all day.

Starting on dries on the dam wall nearest the boat house, the first fish fell to a Griffith’s Gnat. Not much action after that on dries, so we tried lures.

Drifting between the row of green buoys and W buoy with a red hothead cats whisker stripped along the surface gave us fish after fish, with a white zuddler doing the same.

Later we found that di5 with three boobies (cats whisker, coral and long shank tequila) left dangling behind the boat was enough to induce multiple takes. I even managed a double hookup twice in two casts ! See the photo with my gormless expression

Fish came regularly throughout the day until we couldn’t take the cold wind anymore and headed in at 6pm.

Total to the boat for the day was 22. Cracking day, if freezing and very wet.

Thanks to Paul Hawkins for his excellent company.

How to Fish The Booby Hopper

On a big choppy reservoir or lake you want to put a fly on the surface that the trout will really notice and one fly which does that every time is the booby hopper.

Especially at this time of year, May/June, some of the larger flies are starting to get blown on to the water. This includes the likes of Daddy Long Legs which, although well catered for by their own specific flies, sometimes it’s useful to hold a fly on the surface permanently.

This is where booby hopper flies come in to their own. The large foam part of the fly will hold it on the surface perfectly, with no chance of sinking below. This leaves the point of the hook, shrouded in tempting leg and wing imitations sitting just below the surface, in full view of hungry trout.

There are a couple of ways they can be fished. Firstly, the hopper can be cast out and left to drift in the ripple, as you would a dry fly. This natural drift gives perfect presentation through the water.

Alternatively, try pulling the fly back through the water, the foam head will cause the water to pop and make the disturbance that will attract fish. The foam on these flies makes them unsinkable, so they can be treated very roughly in the water. Try to make a nice attractive bow wave with the fly. This will be a very visible attraction for hunting trout.

Being so bouyant, an effective way to fly fish with a popper hopper is to use it as an indicator fly. A few feet of fluorocarbon can be tied on to the shank of the hook and a small nymph (a small buzzer is ideal) attached to the end of the fluoro. If the popper hopper disappears then strike into the fish that will have taken the nymph!

However, you choose to fish the hopper, make sure you lift in to the fish when it takes, rather than full out striking. By the time a trout has taken this fly, it’s almost certainly already hooked. Striking hard will often cause the fly to come out and the fish escape.

A Poor Day’s Fishing, Why ? and Does it Matter….

Kerry and I had a disappointing day at a major stillwater last week, which resulted in 1 trout netted and 2 lost between us all day ! Thank goodness for the silver and black humungous booby, the fly that always saves a blank

This would be a disappointing total on most waters, so I checked the book when I registered our catch returns and noticed that the top rod was 3 for the day and only 1 other boat had caught 2. There were a couple of 1’s, but most had blanked.

This seemed very poor as the fishing report from the previous week had talked about several people catching between 10 and 15 fish each. Indeed, the fishery manager told me that someone had caught 20 the previous day to a foam damsel drifted in the wind on the surface. The rod average for the week was put at 3, so this boded well.

Why then would the catch returns for us and others on the water be so poor? Surely we can’t all be rubbish fishermen/fisherwomen ?

Well, I think the main reason would be the sudden change in weather conditions.

The weather was certainly warmer and more sunny than recent days and the wind direction made fishing in to the areas recommended by the fishery team very difficult, even with a boat.

The sun had certainly pushed the fish down as we only caught or had takes on a di 5 and nothing whatsoever on floating lines. Last week’s South Westerly wind had been replaced with a North Westerly and this will have driven the fish in the opposite direction to last week. These would certainly be major factors and we tried to take them in to account by fishing the opposite banks to last week’s catches and dropping the flies a little lower down, but to no avail.

The sad fact is that the weekly reports are a historical record and by definition, out of date. The reports of best spots or flies to use are meaningless if the conditions have changed, such a 180 degree swing in the wind direction and the sun popping his hat on.

In my humble opinion, it’s useful to read the reports if the conditions are identical to last week and this should form plan A for the day. If conditions have changed, then Plan B should be employed, with Plan A as a backup.

Rod average is also an interesting one. Personally I find it can be very misleading. For example, to give a simplified view, if 100 people visit a venue and 20 of them catch 15 each, but 80 of them blank, the rod average is 3, despite the fact that 80% of people caught nothing.

I understand that waters have to give some indication of what’s coming out each week, but surely it wouldn’t be too difficult to display catches something like this :

  • 20+: 5%
  • 10+ : 15%
  • 5+ : 30%
  • 1-4 : 25%
  • Blank : 50%

This, at least, gives an indication of how the water is actually performing week by week. Admittedly this gives the fishery managers a bit more work, but I think it helps give a better picture.

Rod averages are generally hugely boosted by season ticket holders or professionals practicing on the waters for competitions. There’s nothing shady about this and fishery managers are simply dividing the number of fish caught by the number of anglers. It can’t be ignored that this is a great marketing tool for fisheries of course.

It’s also worth noting that fish returns rely on fisherman accurately registering their catches. I always try to fill in my returns, even when blanking, but I must admit that dreadful days have made me less inclined to do so and more inclined to get home and drown my sorrows with a brandy !

Returns not filled in result in a blanket (no pun intended) score of zero, thus potentially pulling the rod average unnecessarily lower. This also makes it more diffcult for the fisheries to manage the stock levels and it is therefore essential that we all try to fill them in when possible.

The one thing I took away from this trip was that we both had a fantastic day, despite a poor catch. The weather was warm, the wind wasn’t too strong, the venue was beautful and company wasn’t bad either ! There were damsel flies everywhere and we found them often landing on our clothes. The image at the top of the page was taken by Kerry of a damsel resting on the boat.

I guess rod average vs actual catches on the day became completely irrelevant, given how lucky we were to be in the position of being able to fish for the day.