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INSTRUCTION HOWARD’S WAY
Thanks to my pre-tied leaders I had my first cast in the water before Scott had finished getting set up.
the very far end of the bay. There it is quite shallow with a stream feeding into the lake, and with slightly warmer water coming in it’s a fishholding hotspot.
Scott went straight for the kill and set up with a clear intermediate fly line and a brace of Flexi-Floss Worms in hot pink and amber. I, however, took the moral high ground, opting for a full floater and a trio of sparse nymphs. Thanks to my pretied leaders, that I carry wrapped around cut-down pipe lagging, I had my first cast in the water before Scott had finished getting set up.
Right on cue, just after I’d tightened up to the flies, the tip of the floating line dipped under the surface, I lifted the rod and a well-hooked rainbow went somersaulting across the bay.
My confidence lifted, and with Scott not even ready yet I thought that maybe the nymphs would be the winning ticket after all?
Soon, though, Scott had tackled up and settled himself in a position that allowed him to cast into both the shallow bay and the deeper water of the main lake – a cunning move to hedge his bets and increase his options.
I continued to work my cast of an Epoxy Buzzer and Bloodworms gently through the cool depths, trying to hold the flies as long as possible over the deeper water that runs down the centre all the way along the length of the bay, a sure place for the trout to be holding.
A dozen fishless casts later, however, and I was worried.
Scott had hit five trout in a row on the Flexi Worm in the same general area as I had been fishing! Unable to bear such a hammering I switched over to the intermediate and replaced my point fly for a small olive Damsel; not that damsels were on the menu but more in the hope that the olive marabou tail would entice a few more fish – it still
Hanging Your Flies From The Bank
With around 20 feet of fly line still to be retrieved, start to lift the rod tip.
TOTAL FLYFISHER 50
As the rod tip starts to rise, pause for about 10 seconds; if you get no response, then commence a slow figure-of-eight retrieve, raising the rod higher all the time. I NSTRUCTION
At 8lb this fighting-fit rainbow is the best fish of the day.
Imitative looks imitative! It certainly wasn’t a bastardised Damsel with gold beads, Fritz body and 2in tail!
After the switch to the intermediate my catch rate increased on all three flies, indicating that the path of retrieve and the depth was more of a factor than the actual fly. However, frustratingly, I started to
Buzzers encounter savage takes that amounted to not very much at all. On almost every cast I had a bump, pull, twitch or a hooked fish but many failed to stick; luckily enough of these trout made it to the net for me to draw level with Scott – we had around eight fish each before we decided on a change.
Scott switched his leader over to a midge-tip line to allow him to fish his flies a little slower and hold them in the killing area longer. I went for a mix-and-match tactic, adding an Orange Blob to the point position with my Bloodworm and Buzzer on the droppers. These tactical changes resulted in us both having a take almost every cast for nearly half an hour and landing several more fish each – Scott on exaggerated fly patterns and me on the imitative, although my Blob
Keep the retrieve slow until the tippet is at the water’s surface, pause and let the flies sit for another 10 seconds. If there are still no takes, you’re ready to recast.
Top Tips 1 Work out the key to success on the day by mixing imitators and exaggerators on the same cast to see if the fish show any preference.
2 Always ensure you have the heaviest fly located on the point – some tactics call for the heavy fl y to be in a different position, but this is best avoided unless it’s absolutely necessary or you are a competent caster. It’s also worth bearing in mind that often a fish taking a small imitative pattern located below a large attractor can have been drawn into the small fly by the more visible one above; constantly experimenting will help you understand the relationship between different patterns and how they best work as a team.
3 If it’s not working, do something! Change depth, retrieve, fly patterns or position/angle of cast. Keep thinking about the situation in front of you; if you see other, more experienced anglers catching frequently ask them for advice… most will be more than happy to help.
4 Watch for the take. Most anglers simply wait for the line to pull tight – watch the loop of line under the rod tip or, even better, look down the fly line for any odd pulls or twitches; you can even do this with lighter-coloured sinking lines like intermediates. Any forewarning of an interested fish helps to convert more takes.
5 If fishing with a floating line, grease the tip to register takes clearly.
6 Set up the swing. In a light wind fishing across the breeze can help you cover many more fish as they will often be nosing upwind looking for food. Casting directly downwind helps with distance but is my least favourite angle for fishing. I often purposely throw a curve or angle into the line to cover more fish, or fish directly into the wind, particularly on hard-fished waters. This allows the wind to push my flies back towards me giving the impression of food drifting with the wind.
7 Be prepared. For stillwater fishing I often carry a number of pre-tied leaders/rigs on cut-down foam pipe insulation so that I can quickly switch methods or replace a damaged leader. They weigh nothing and can sit in your tackle bag or back of the waistcoat until needed. Trust me, they are a godsend when you’re surrounded by rising fish in fading light!
8 A simple trick to allow rapid line changes is to ensure when you construct your leader that enough length is allowed to pull the connection between line and leader to hand, allowing the top dropper to sit outside the tip ring of the rod when using three flies. This lets you cut the leader and retie to the new line and prevents having to rethread the rod every time.
9 Think tactically. Scott showed his competitive edge by selecting a point that allowed him to hit both shallow and deep water depending on his angle of cast, although I did tell him it was a hotspot as well!