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Friday, 17 August 2018

Time For Change In Salmon Management In Scotland

Ian Gordon is regarded as one of the world's leading salmon fishing guides, and casting instructors.  He runs one the country's top fishing/casting schools each spring on the Tulchan and Macallan beats of the River Spey.  Ian's view is that Salmon Management in Scotland is failing, and after 20 years there is nothing positive to show.  With the salmon population in our major rivers declining, this is a view shared by many ghillies, estate owners and salmon anglers.  In his article below, Ian contends that experts are pulling the wool over people's eyes and concealing the extent of their failings.  So he is looking for divers to gather information about what is actually happening in the river, and to get stakeholders increasingly vocal and engaged in this vital issue.


The 1980s saw the first fishery Biologists make an appearance on the big rivers of Scotland. Their remit or goal was to understand more and ensure the long-term sustainability of the fishery. As someone with a deep interest, personally, at the time, I thought this could and would be a good thing for the future of salmon fishing.

A.  What has happened in the meantime:
  • The species has depleted to levels never seen before.
  • After more than 30 years of scientific input, our/their overall understanding of stock levels are based around pure guesswork using catch stats as a base.
  • Biologists feel Juvenile numbers are generally in good health on most rivers. However, most living and working on the river say the opposite.
  • Numbers of Predators such as Seals, Dolphins, Goosanders and Cormorants have increased to levels never seen before.
  • The scientific community offers nothing but more of the same as they have over the past 20 years. Something which obviously has made no difference to the overall decline.
  • Catch and release. Unfortunately, this was only ever going to buy time. Rational/logical thinking would let anyone come to this conclusion. From the early 1960s and onward, we have continuously banned every effective method (drift nets, net and cobble, prawning, shrimping, spinning, worming etc, etc) for catching salmon, so how anyone can K&R do anything but slow the decline?  We’ll, just think about it?
  • The Scientific community base their stock assessment on a rod catch of between 10% and 15%. This is seriously dangerous, given that rivers in Canada and Iceland regularly catch 50% - 70% of all fish entering them with rod and line.
  • Whether Einstein said it or not, “The definition of insanity is doing something over and over again and expecting the same result”. 20 years or more of the same on all our rivers with nothing positive to show must mean time for a change! Especially given that the business of Salmon Fishing appears to be in free fall!!


Firstly, we must accept the problem! Unfortunately, this is something our managers are not willing to do. However, change has to come and the following will be a good starting point:
  • Accepting that we have been catching nearer 50% of what’s there will bring us much closer to the number of fish actually in the river, particularly in the last 10 years where the average catch will be nearer 8k than 10k. So, a year with 6k caught will be nearer a total of 12k in the river, well below Dr Butler’s critical figure of 20k. (see point v below).
  • Accept that C&R has distorted catch stats, and with this, our understanding of how many adults are actually present.. We know that a great many fish are recaptured suggesting the problem may be even worse than even the worst case scenario!
  • Use divers to count the fish in our rivers physically. This method is accepted by both the Norwegian and Canadian Government to evaluate the stock in a river system.
  • Once this is done and we finally have an accurate figure, compare this with what our experts have told us.
  • Take this “revised” figure and work back to find out whether we have enough juveniles or not. With regard to the Spey, former Director, Dr James Butler, maintained that juvenile output would be compromised should adult numbers dip below 20,000. My own belief is we have not seen 20,000 in the Spey since the nets were taken off in 1993. Possibly with the exception of the years 1995-6.
  • If we take this figure (The one we find via the divers) as worst case scenario then we will “know” both juvenile and adult fish are in trouble and we are way below the point Dr Butler and many others felt would be “critical” for the fishery.

Having established a major problem for the fishery, what options do we have?
    1. A restocking programme is an absolute must. For years now the run of adult fish to salmon rivers of Scotland, the Spey included, have declined to the extent they no longer produce sufficient juveniles to sustain a viable fishery.
    2. Like the river Jokla in Iceland, this gives the river a boost and will see the river once again producing, not just enough, but an abundance of juveniles. Only this will be enough to counter what may be going on at sea.
    3. Lobby government using historical data and video evidence to have predators, particularly fish eating birds, dealt with properly. Goosanders onto general licence for a period of time and have scientists monitor.
    4. Use the power of the media to bring the plight of the Salmon to the hearts and minds of more of the greater public.
    5. Video is a great tool here. Also, the “story” of the decline itself. As an emotive campaign, it must be led by passionate people, those involved day to day and whose lives are affected by the decline. The historical stereotype of salmon fishing being only for the wealthy and well-spoken is not only inaccurate, but divisive. Now, more than ever, we need salmon fishing to be seen for what it is, a sport enjoyed by people from every social background. Stereotyping it as "elitist” makes it too easy for the Scottish government to ignore the current problems, issues and local concerns. We must challenge this with facts. Interview local business owners, Ghillies and fishing clients to build a more realistic picture of what salmon fishing means and perhaps more importantly, what it could mean to 21st century Scotland.

The Spey Fishery Board recently declined the offer by a new Beat owner to help fund a restocking programme. The reason given was “on the Best scientific advice available”. The bottom line is, every one of those scientists giving advice is terrified to:

    1. Even try to properly count the fish in our river.
    2. Use the funds offered by the new owner to “prove” to everyone, myself and the millions of doubters, that in fact their theory is correct.
    3. Be proved wrong!

If Dr David Summers and Brian Shaw are so confident, the return of hatchery fish will be so small it won’t impact in the least on wild fish. I’d ask them this, put your reputation where your mouth is and use the money to “properly” answer the questions above. Resolve this once and for all, with a national case study funded by the new owner at Tulchan, other Spey proprietors, anglers and business owners.  They are willing to fund the project and have “wanted” in the past, but now are “demanding” those questions are properly answered.

The project would be overseen by independent experts with a track record in this field as our scientists focus on every negative they possibly can when dealing with the subject, painting as bleak a picture possible to the uneducated. It would seem our own scientists simply don’t want the questions properly answered. But why should this be? Well, in the first instance, it’s because they worry more about that old chestnut, genetic integrity because they know the return from the “properly run and managed hatchery” will be greater than the figures they feed the uneducated. They simply don’t want to know how many fish are in the river as it will prove the figure of 10-15% rod caught fish is total nonsense, again damaging their professional reputation. Personally, I’d love to be “proved” wrong in all of this, but, other than number 3, I know for a fact I wont be.

The Solution

The answer is to get the divers into the river ASAP. We desperately need this information.  It’s up to fishery owners, Ghillies and those with an interest to make this happen. Already I’ve had information back from a fishery owner who snorkelled his Beat and was flabbergasted at what he saw, or didn’t as the case may be. Given the water height right now (low water at the right time of year) we have never had a better chance to actually find out what’s there and have the information to set the ball of change rolling. Stop talking and get in there and gather the information. If anyone knows any Divers who would be willing to do this please get in touch with me here or simply get into your Beat and count.

Ian Gordon

If you are a diver, and would like to offer your support to this important study, please contact Ian Gordon:

Ian Gordon
11 Conval Street Dufftown,
Keith Banffshire

Wednesday, 15 August 2018

When To Strike When Fly Fishing

The sight of a fish taking your dry fly is what fly fishing is all about. However, there are days when you seem to hook everything and others, feel the hook point has disappeared. Success depends on the strike.

The term “strike” suggests a movement that is too vicious for hooking a rising trout, yet there are times when it is possible to react with a strike. For example, when too much slack has formed in your fly line as you scan the surface for a rising fish. For most rise forms, try to think that you are simply lifting into a fish that has your fly in its mouth.

For beginners, it is hard to reign in your instincts.  Consistently hooking fish depends on being able to identify the various rise forms, and by recognising their characteristics, you will be able to react with a controlled, methodical lift of the fly rod and floating fly line.
Airflo Super Dri Xceed Floating Fly Line
A splash at the fly
This usually happens when the fish is not totally convinced that your fly is what it thought it was, especially if it has risen from the depths.

The Splash
With the splash, the automatic response to “strike” is only natural but successful hooking is down to chance. If you do not hook the fish, immediately lifting off and re-casting to the same spot can sometimes result in a more confident and often unmissable take. On the other hand, the fish may have shot straight back down to the depths again. In this instance, try a smaller version of the same fly pattern and hopefully, the fish will take it with more confidence.

Of course, it may have been the size of the fly that brought up the fish in the first place – a splashy rise is often to a large Daddy Long-Legs or Sedge. If you are consistently lifting into nothing, pause for a few seconds, then figure-of-eight or take one long pull away from the rise. Trout often try to drown these big flies before turning around and mopping them up beneath the surface. It isn't uncommon to hook a feeding fish in the tail as it slaps down on your dry fly - particularly sedges.

The head-and-tail rise
If you are fully concentrating, you should not miss this fish. It has been totally fooled by your offering and a simple lift, rather than a strike, should set the hook. Your immediate thought process should be, “Yes, that’s mine”, and then lift into it.

Head And Tail Rise
The Sip
Again, the trout has taken your fly with confidence. These are often better fish that have learned to feed with minimum effort. Unfortunately, these are the rise forms where hooking success varies most. The most successful tactic is to think, “That was to me,” then gently feel for the fish with a draw of the line or slow lift of the rod.

The Sip
If the line shows signs of tightening, continue the lift to set the hook fully. If the fish has missed the fly or the sip was so gentle that your lift has drawn the fly out of its mouth, the draw away often results in a faster second rise – usually leading to a hooking. The smaller the fly, the more time you need to leave before lifting. A small hook simply needs longer to find a hook-hold.

So as highlighted, by recognising and understanding the various rise forms, you can react appropriately instead of 'striking' out of pure impulsivity. A methodical, controlled strike is what you are looking for, and with practice, it will result in more hook-ups. However, the key is to always be in contact with your flies!

This article was brought to you in association with Trout & Salmon Magazine.

Thursday, 2 August 2018

Hardy Rocket Series Shooting Heads and Tips Review

For the Salmon angler, today’s vast choice of sinking fly lines can be bewildering. Some offer better sink rate, and others claim to increase distance; however, Hardy has developed a line system that can be configured to cover all water conditions.

Hardy’s new Rocket Head Series is described as a “Modular Density Head System”. It comprises of a Rocket Head (from single-density floating to dual-density S3/S4) sold with a matching 12ft Spey Tip (dual-density Float/Hover to S4/S5). The density at the end of the head matches that at the end of the tip. The heads are sold in five weights: 6/7+ up to 11+.

Hardy Rocket Head Series
The tips are interchangeable, and extra tips are very reasonably priced.  For example you can get a Standard Scandi Spey Tip or a Light Scandi Spey Tip.  Alternatively, you can get a set of six tips in a pocket-sized wallet. Fully equipped, the angler has a comprehensive range of density configurations to cover all water conditions. Potentially, you could carry a selection of different heads to fish on large rivers where long casts with big flies are required. Alternatively, if you encounter low water or smaller rivers, there is a configuration to suit.

Scandal Spey Tips
After extensive testing in early Spring, Trout & Salmon magazine's first impressions were excellent. They found the loops, sleeved and welded at both ends of bodies and tips, "are as neat as you'll see." The colour-coded lines are smooth and supple. Weight, sink rate and length are laser-printed on the bodies and tips, so there is no confusion. The combination of colour coding and printed information "makes setting up pretty straightforward."

How Do They Perform
Trout Fisherman Magazine tested the Hardy Rocket Series on the river Tummel in late April. The water was reportedly running high, and they evaluated the Int/S2/S2/S3 and S3/S4/S4/S5 lines. Using a spring set-up, 15ft rod, 6ft heavy leader and conehead or tube, "casts up to 30 yards went out satisfactorily with excellent loop formation." Any attempt to push for greater distance had a slight effect on the turnover, however, once the lines were out, they fished well, biting down into the current. Thanks to the phased densities, "rolling to the surface before recasting was easy."

In late May, with low water in the Tummel, T&S also tested the Rocket 8/9 full floating head with its Flt/Hov tip. With a working length of 37ft and weighing 36g, the set-up comprised of a 12ft 6in Guideline LPXe 8/9 rod with a long, tapered leader and a small double. The line lived up to its name and flew out to 30 yards-plus. As with most short Scandi lines, these results are achieved using a compact casting stroke with lots of bottom hand.

Hardy Floating Running Line
T&S also test two new Hardy floating running lines (Standard, and Tapered). The Standard is bright yellow, 0.37in diameter. Quality was reportedly excellent with a nice 6in loop at the line end. "It was supple, easy to handle and shot out well." The Tapered running line had the same yellow 0.37in material but with a tapered 10ft blue section towards the mainline end. Again, it "performed well."

Wallet of Tips
Overall, Trout & Salmon say that the Rocket Heads are excellent value. They did find them a little short, but if you are into Scandi casting in tight spots with shorter rods, they are well worth considering. The wallet of dual-density tips is especially good value.

This article was brought to you in association with Trout & Salmon Magazine.

Friday, 20 July 2018

How To Tie A Munro's Killer With Feelers

The Munro's Killer is an excellent fly to have in your Salmon fly box. It comes in various colour variations and works well in mid to low water. It was invented by John Milne Morrison from Aberlour. He took a Thunder and Lightning body and added a long hair wing, which continues to prove a huge hit with Salmon anglers today.

This particular variation includes the addition of a Pig Bristle tail dyed yellow which gives the fly more movement in the water.

All of the materials needed to tie this fly are available from Glasgow Angling Centre as listed below, but as always if you need any help finding materials or substitutes then we'll be happy to help. But now it's time to learn from Davie McPhail. Time to learn how to tie the Munro's Killer with Feelers.

Materials Used:
Hook: Fulling Mill Magni Double
Thread: Uni Thread 8/0 - Black
Feelers: Pig Bristle dyed yellow
Tag/Rib Oval Gold Tinsel
Body: Black Floss
Throat: Dyed hot orange Hen Hackle and dyed blue Guinea Fowl
Wings: Bleached and dyed yellow and black Squirrel Tail
Additional materials: Additionally, Davie made use of some Varnish to finish the fly using a dubbing needle for a more accurate application.

Davie's preferred type of whip finish tool can be found HERE!

Saturday, 16 June 2018

Tying the RA Green Peter with Davie McPhail

The Green Peter is an old classic sedge pattern, and a deceiver which imitates the natural (Phryganea Varia). It works really well in Irish loughs & highland lochs for wild browns. This varient is called the RA Green Peter, (Red Arsed).

All of the materials needed to tie this fly are available from Glasgow Angling Centre as listed below, but as always if you need any help finding materials or substitutes then we'll be happy to help. But now it's time to learn from Davie McPhail. Time to learn how to tie the Black Midge Hopper.

Materials Used:
Hook: Kamasan B175 size 10
Thread: Uni Thread 8/0 - Black
Rib Oval Gold Tinsel
Tag Red SLF and Red Seals Fur Mixed
Body: Olive SLF and Olive Seals Fur mixed
Body Hackle: Natural Red Game Cock
Wings: Hen Pheasant Quill
Front Hackle: Natural Red Game Chinese Cock
Additional materials: Additionally, Davie made use of some Varnish to finish the fly using a dubbing needle for a more accurate application.

Davie's preferred type of whip finish tool can be found HERE!

Tying A Black Midge Hopper with Davie McPhail

The hopper is a very versatile pattern and can be used in a variety of situations: during a hatch of buzzers, as a searching pattern, or when you are not quite sure what the fish are feeding on. The hopper is also useful when the Daddy Long Legs is around as the legs will tempt Trout to strike.

Fish the hopper static on a floating line and periodically 'twitch' the line to impart some life into the fly. You can also fish a light buzzer or Diawl Bach New Zealand style, underneath the hopper.

All of the materials needed to tie this fly are available from Glasgow Angling Centre as listed below, but as always if you need any help finding materials or substitutes then we'll be happy to help. But now it's time to learn from Davie McPhail. Time to learn how to tie the Black Midge Hopper.

Materials Used:
Hook: Fulling Mill Short Shank Special size 12
Thread: Uni Thread 8/0 - Black
Rib Silver Wire
Body: Black Pheasant Tail Fibres
Legs: Knotted Pheasant Tail Fibres - Black
Hackles: Grey Hen Hackle and Dyed Black Cock
Additional materials: Additionally, Davie made use of some Varnish to finish the fly using a dubbing needle for a more accurate application.

Davie's preferred type of whip finish tool can be found HERE!

Tuesday, 12 June 2018

Scottish Government Pike Conservation Consultation 2018

The Scottish Government wish to consult on new potential pike conservation measures which would introduce a maximum size limit on individual Pike taken from inshore waters in Scotland, a bag limit of one Pike to be retained by each angler per day and include a provision making the sale of any rod-caught pike illegal.

The Scottish Government wishes to hear views and receive any further evidence associated with these potential measures which exists, especially from salmon and freshwater fisheries stakeholders, such as District Salmon Fishery Boards, Fisheries Trusts, game and coarse anglers, angling clubs, angling associations and riparian proprietors.

Once the consultation is closed Scottish Ministers will review the responses when considering whether they believe it is necessary or expedient to make regulations for the conservation of pike. If they consider it is, we would anticipate that a Scottish Statutory Instrument (SSI) could be introduced in 2019.

The online consultation will take you around 2 minutes to complete and is set up so it can be completely anonymous. If you you care at all about the future of recreational angling in Scotland it is very important that you have your say! In the past these consultations have had a very low response from the very anglers that ultimately these new laws will have the most effect on - there is no point complaining about them later if you haven't bothered to respond to the consultation in the first place! You only have until the 31st of August to complete the consultation - SO DO IT NOW!
Follow this link to go straight to the consultation page on the Scottish Governments website -
To follow the discussion on this topic on our Facebook page, click here - 

Wednesday, 6 June 2018

Tying an F-Fly Olive Hopper with Davie McPhail

Hoppers are a vital pattern for any Stillwater Trout angler, they're a hugely adaptable pattern that performs as a pulling wet or a dry fly.
Davie's F-Fly Variant of the Hopper pushes this adaptation one step further and it's a proper killer when the midge are hatching on Rivers or Lochs. Try a few in a variety of colours to keep you catching through the season.

All of the materials needed to tie this fly are available from Glasgow Angling Centre as listed below, but as always if you need any help finding materials or substitutes then we'll be happy to help.

Materials Used:
Hook: Fulling Mill All-Purpose Medium size 10
Thread: Uni-8/0 Chartreuse
Rib: Uni-Pearl No.14
Body: Olive Seals Fur or SLF Dubbing
Legs: Pre-Knotted Pheasant Tail Fibres
Wing: CDC Feathers
Thorax: Flu-Orange Seals Fur or SLF Dubbing
Head: Olive Seals Fur or SLF Dubbing

Additional materials: Additionally, Davie made use of  Varnish, which he applied to the thread before whip-finishing. Davie's preferred type of whip finish tool can be found HERE!

Tuesday, 22 May 2018

Tench Fishing Tactics and Tackle

With the weather warming considerably, a lot of coarse anglers turn their thoughts to Tench, writes Tim Ridge from Chapmans Angling. This enigmatic species was an early favourite of mine to the extent that I usually spent the entirety of my childhood summer holidays 'float gazing'.

Many of the places where I practiced my early Tench fishing have not fared well with time. Some have fallen victim to housing developers and their never-ending need to invade more countryside, one or two of the ponds that I used to fish have simply dried up, but by far the majority were stocked heavily with carp. Tench invariably fare poorly when they are forced to share their environment with vast numbers of Carp. My theory is that because the tench spawn slightly later than the carp, the newly emerged carp fry polish off most of the tench eggs before they get the chance to hatch. Whatever the reason, it is a fact that most of the venues where I used to catch numbers of tench have barely any Tench at all these days and the common ‘denominator’ is vast numbers of carp.

Thankfully there are still some fisheries around which support healthy and 'natural' populations of tench. I’m talking here about smallish venues where the average sized fish might be two to four pounds and the maximum size of the fish might not eclipse 6lb’s. These are venues where several such fish might be caught during a short morning session.

Specimen Tench waters tend to be the exact opposite of these places, crystal clear, large, sparsely inhabited and far from prolific. Of course, the windswept gravel pits and reservoirs that produce specimen tench, have their own charms; but nothing like those possessed by the smaller more ‘intimate’ tench venues of my youth.

So assuming you want to catch some Tench, any size of tench (let us not get ahead of ourselves here), what type of venue should you look for? Well in my locality I have reasonably productive tench fishing on a small farm pond and a couple of little brick pits, there is a shallow sand pit that often produces spectacular sport and there is also a narrow overgrown canal that fits the bill nicely. I also travel to a beautifully intimate gravel pit where the tench are slightly less numerous but also a little larger. So the simple answer to the question is, anywhere where the Tench are present in reasonable numbers.

Tench Baits - Basic but Effective
My favourite tench baits for float fishing with are maggots or casters. Used in multiples on a size 14 or 12 hook can be devastatingly effective. Unfortunately, Maggots have the disadvantage of being unselective and if your tench water has lots of small roach or rudd, the number of maggots/casters required to feed these ‘nuisance’ fish off can be prohibitive in terms of price.

A cost-effective alternative to using the maggots, is a combination of stewed wheat and hempseed. Both these baits are bought by the sack. To prepare wheat it should be simmered in a pan of boiling water until a large proportion of the grains have split to reveal the white (flour) inside. I tend to use two or three grains of wheat, presented on a size 12 or 10 hook.

Wheat is quite a dense bait and can be catapulted a good distance. I use the combination of wheat and hempseed loose feed for almost all my tench float fishing when maggots are impractical. I use so much wheat and hempseed that I tend to prepare both in large quantities, storing each separately in 1kg bags (cooked weight) in the freezer. 1kg of wheat and 1kg of hemp is about the most I would expect to use during a fairly hectic days sport. I would not feed this all at once of course. I tend to feed maybe half a dozen catapult pouches of bait initially, and from then on feed a couple of pouches of bait every ten minutes or every time I get a bite (which-ever is sooner).

Lobworms and Breadflake also make good hook baits. The lobs can be used whole on a size 8 hook or broken up into smaller pieces and nicked onto a size 12. Similarly, Breadflake can be used in a variety of sizes on whatever size of hook you deem appropriate. Smaller baits are better when it is necessary to cast any distance because the weight of a large hook-bait can contribute to tangles when float fishing.

“The learning and knowledge that we have, is, at the most, but little compared with that of which we are ignorant”: Plato

What might you ask has a quote from one of history’s most famous philosophers, to do with fishing and particularly with tench-fishing? Well, float fishing for tench involves the physical effort of watching for, interpreting and striking at the various indications. Any shortcomings in an angler’s technique are exposed (and believe me they will be). Consideration of fine detail should be afforded to any method, but this requirement is undoubtedly more ‘telling’ when float fishing. This is one of the real benefits of using a float because it teaches the angler to learn and adapt rather than just sitting there oblivious to the possibility that the mechanics of the technique are inefficient.

Float fishing for tench prompts constant evolution in technique and knowledge. There is no right way of doing it per se, it depends upon the whims of the Tench. On any given day I might change float or the position of the shots half a dozen times. Having said this it is well within everyone’s ability to catch a few tench so I will try to provide a basic description of some relevant tackle and tactics

Tench Float Tackle
I prefer quite long float rods for tench (by modern standards), 12ft would be my minimum length and I much prefer 13ft. A lot of tench fishing is close in work. Don’t be fooled into thinking a short rod is more suitable because of the distances involved. Line pick up is not so efficient with a 10 or 11ft rod and since tench bites can be quite fast, a short rod can culminate in them being missed. Fishing close to the rod tip is more accurate and less troublesome than if there were a few feet of line between rod tip and float so this also is better achieved with a long rod. Should the need arise, a long rod also casts much further, more accurately. Deep water is far easier to fish, with longer float rods. The advantages are many and varied.

If you are in the market for such a rod I would suggest the following models, all of which have the necessary attributes. Daiwa Powermesh Specialist Float 13ft, Greys TXL SL Float 13ft, Shakespeare Sigma Supra 13ft float and the Stillwater Matchstix 13ft float rod. All of these rods are more than up to the task and will not only deal with the medium sized fish being discussed but also very big tench.

Stillwater Matchstix Float Rod
With regard to reels, again there are lots of suitable models available. Top of my wishlist is the Daiwa Theory SP 3000 specialist. This has a large line capacity for float fishing purposes, but this is nothing that a little backing line won’t solve. The clutch is smooth and consistent once set, which is something highly desirable in a tench float reel. I also quite like some of the new Mitchell reels, in particular, the new Mitchell 300. The line guard or skirt around the spool of this reel looks to be of genuine benefit in preventing the line from getting trapped under the spool lip. The clutch is more than adequately smooth and the reel looks and feels robust enough to provide years of trouble-free service.

Daiwa Theory SP Reel
A compromise needs to be reached when choosing reel line for float fishing. Line needs to be robust enough to deal with the relevant ‘stresses’ yet sufficiently supple not to loop and tangle.

Using the float rods discussed it would be ‘impossible’ to break 4lb maxima by curving the rod around, using one hand to hold the rod as we do when playing fish. Slightly heavier, 5lb maxima, gives me the confidence to put the absolute maximum strain on a fish without even a remote chance of the line breaking. I’ve landed hundreds of carp to well over 25lb using such tackle so Tench should present no problem. Of course, this is reliant on your ability to tie good knots. Quite often I come across anglers who do get broken by fish, using such line and heavier. In almost every case they have been using a blood knot. If this is applicable to you then a change is necessary. The only three knots that I use are the overhand loop knot (for tying loops), the Palomar knot, and the Knotless knot for tying hooks to hook lengths.

I suspect that using a slightly finer (low diameter) hook length can produce more bites than would otherwise be the case, but I would always hesitate before doing this. You have to be a bit careful because I find those lines that are claimed to have almost ‘magical’ qualities in terms of stated breaking strain to diameter invariably have drawbacks. Certainly, they don’t possess the abrasion resistant qualities of most good mainline mono’s. My normal choice of L.D. hooklength material is Middy Low Vis fluorocrystal.
Middy Lo Vis Fluorocrystal
Having conducted tests on most of these hook-length lines with a micrometer and a set of scales, this stuff stood out. Being very thin it is still prone to damage when rubbed against weeds and the like, and its knot strength is not as high as that stated on the spool. However, this is something that applies to all of these L.D. hook length materials. I generally use the 0.16mm (5.2lb) strain.

I carry a selection of Kamasan B980 hooks in size 14 to 8 and I see no need to elaborate on this as they serve all my tench float fishing requirements. It is a pleasure to carry the bare minimum of tackle on these (often short) tench sessions. A fold up landing net is convenient to carry and takes up the minimum of space. I use the Korum Folding Triangle Net. If you are going to buy one of these you might as well buy the slightly bigger 28inch net. An 8ft net pole is usually long enough and telescopic models have the edge in terms of convenience.

You will also need something to sit on and there are lots of really good chairs available these days. I often cringe when I see anglers using a rod and reel, and sitting on a seat box. For pleasure fishing, a seat box is nothing less than heavy, cumbersome and uncomfortable. Do yourself a favour, get yourself a nice comfortable chair. The chair that I use most often is the Nash Indulgence Ultra-Lite Camo Chair. This as its name suggests, possesses all the necessary attributes to enable the angler to get to his chosen spot with the bare minimum of effort. The chair is high enough to enable me to get in and out of easily and I find the angle of the backrest perfect in terms of comfort. It doesn’t have armrests as these just get in the way when striking at bites.

Nash Indulgence Ultra-Lite Camo Chair
Most of my angling friends now own this chair, having seen how comfortable I am on the bank. At the same time that I sold them on the chair, I also recommended the Korum Ruckbag. These attach to the back of most chairs in transit, enabling almost the entirety of the tackle to be carried effortlessly on your back. I own both the standard and the compact version of the ruck bag but tend to favour the standard version for tench float fishing because it better accommodates the longer floats that I often carry. The rumor that I need the bigger ruckbag to get all my sandwiches in has some truth to it! Aside from the carrying convenience, I particularly like these rucksacks because the access to the contents is from the front, meaning you aren’t digging around for essential items that have become buried under everything else!

Terminal Tackle & Tactics.
The type of floats that are useful for tench fishing can be broadly categorised as wagglers. This name indicates that they are attached to the line at their base only, via a ring. There are two main ways of rigging such floats. Firstly they can be locked in place with split shot. This locking shot should comprise more than 50% of the floats capacity if the float is to cast without tangles. The remainder of the shot might be distributed in a number of ways which if I were to go into detail would require a lot more space than I am afforded in this piece, so I will restrict myself to a brief outline of its uses. The extra shot can be positioned in mid-water or below and utilised as a brake to prevent the float from being towed along by surface skim. The common term for shot used thus is 'bulk shot'.

Pellet Waggler Floats
The second use of this shot is as an anchor (self-explanatory) and also a trigger mechanism to indicate when a fish has moved off with the bait. To achieve this, a considerable amount of weight needs to be concentrated (usually just one big shot), set anything from a couple of inches to a foot or so over-depth, to lay well on the lake bed. Of course with a slack line between float and this shot laying on the lake bed, it will have no influence on the float. If you gently draw the float towards you then tighten the line between float and shot, pulling the float down so that only the tip is showing above the surface. When a tench picks up the hookbait and moves this anchor/trigger shot, the float will either rise or be submerged, depending on which direction the Tench moves.

The other way in which the float can be rigged is as a sliding float. This has benefits when fishing deep water and because it enables the entirety of the floats shot capacity to be positioned well below the floats depth setting, a sliding float arrangement has benefits in addressing the effects of severe surface skim.

The correct choice of Waggler is relevant to the circumstances in which you intend to fish. As a brief outline, the more difficult the conditions in terms of wind, surface skim, distance and depth, the longer the float will need to be. Similarly, the required buoyancy/thickness of the float's tip will need to increase as a means of overcoming surface skim and light flows such as those found on canals. Be aware that thicker/more buoyant float tips are harder for a fish to pull under. In some circumstances such as fishing very close in, more fish will be caught using a fine insert waggler, shotted down to the merest pimple on the surface.

Below is a diagram depicting two float rigs you might use in contrasting conditions. The left-hand rig will cope with fishing a long way out, it will cope with strong surface skim and being set up as a sliding float, it will be efficient in the deep water. Suggested float patterns for this rig include the Middy Bodied/SSG Wagglers and the Maver Bodied Wagglers with shot capacities as high as 6SSG.

Pellet Waggler Rigs

The rig on the right will not cope with any of the adverse conditions discussed but is far more efficient for fishing close in - in swims of moderate depth (2-6ft). I really like the middy loaded carp vis floats (with their interchangeable orange & yellow tips) for such work though I always remove the loading on such floats because I like the option of positioning more shot lower down the rig that would be possible with the loading in place.

One very useful item of tackle that I always incorporate into my float rigs, is the Middy Swivel Float Adaptor. This enables sliding floats to work (slide) more efficiently and perhaps, more importantly, it facilitates the quick and easy change of one float for another.

Middy Swivel Float Adaptor

And Finally If anyone reading this wants to learn more about tench, I would advocate joining the tenchfishers. This national organisation has an open membership with regular meetings and events. The members provide an endless stream of information. I myself was a member for several years. The only cautionary note I would add is that this flow of information is a two-way affair and if you want to take advantage of the many hundreds of hours experience contained within the group, you will be expected to contribute yourself.

This article was brought you in association with Chapmans Angling.  If you would like more information about Tench fishing techniques and tackle, you can contact us at Glasgow Angling Centre.  Alternatively, you can also call our expert Coarse Anglers at Chapmans Angling on 01482 639900.

Thursday, 17 May 2018

How to Tie the Palomar Knot

How to Tie the Palomar Knot
If you wish to hook and land seriously big fish, the Palomar knot is one knot that you should learn how to tie. It provides excellent grip upon both swivels and hooks, it retains masses of strength and it’s a very reliable knot to use too. If you are into LRF or Drop Shot Fishing, this is definitely a knot you want to master.

The reason why it is so strong is because two lengths of line pass through the hook or swivel so the load is spread out equally upon the line, as opposed to having just the one length of line wrapped through the eye of the hook or swivel.

What’s more, the more you pull this knot, the more secure it becomes.

Here is a breakdown of how to tie it…

Step 1: Fold your line over and thread it through the eye of the swivel or hook.

Step 2: Now loop the doubled-up line over and pass the tag end through the loop you have just formed.

Step 3: Pass the end of the doubled-up line over the swivel of the hook.

Step 4: Work the knot closed with your fingers and dampen it with saliva. Now gently pull the swivel or hook and the line away from each other to tighten.

Step 5: The finished knot should be compact and neat. Trim off the tag end and away you go!

It is a very simple knot to learn – anyone can tie this knot – and once mastered you will be sure that your link between line and fish is a strong one.

If you would like more information regarding knot and rig tying you can visit us in store at either the Glasgow Angling Centre or the Edinburgh Angling Centre. Or call us on 0141 212 8880 and our expert staff will be happy to help.

This article was brought to you in association with Sea Angler magazine.

How to Fish Czech Nymph Style

Maybe you've overheard other fly anglers talking about their annual trip to the Czech Republic, seen pictures of fly boxes stuffed to the gunnels with Czech style weighted nymphs, or even tried Czech Nymphing without much success.  Then it is no surprise to learn that this style of fly fishing is extremely productive, and fun.  Why? If you were to turn over a few stones on the river bottom, you will discover nymphs and larvae are in abundance and form an indispensable part of the Trout's diet.  Therefore, learning to master the Czech Nymph fishing will give you some unforgettable sport.In this article we offer clear and practical advice on how to fish in this style, as well as highlight the tackle and techniques you need to learn.

Whether it’s Czech nymphing, Polish-style nymphing, or any other interpretation of these fixed-line methods – they all share one common theme; that of presenting flies at short range where a controlled, natural drift of the terminal tackle is achieved.

Although the presentation is paramount, the concept of this technique is ultimately to exploit fast, boisterous flows, or the deeper parts of a river. This is something that’s nigh on impossible to realise with more traditional methods when copious amounts of fly line snake across the river.

The Basic Method
Generally speaking, short-line nymphing involves lobbing your flies, leader and a short section of fly-line upstream at about 30 degrees to your position (diagram 1 below). Fished close together, a team of three heavy flies will sink quickly.

Cast 30 Degrees Upstream
With approximately a foot of fly line extending outside the rod tip, hold this clear of the surface, so the nine-foot leader angles steeply into the water. As your flies progress towards you, they should be tracked using the rod tip. Remember now, to guide the rod at a slightly slower pace than that of surface currents, because deep down on the streambed, friction between water and substrate reduces flow rates.

Allow Flies to Drift To One Side
The flies should be allowed to drift to one side of you and downstream (diagram 2 above) until a tensioned line causes them to lift off the bottom. As this can be a critical moment, don’t be in any hurry to hurtle the flies back upstream. During any drift, takes are determined by the fly-line stabbing forward (upstream), in a very positive manner, or the line hesitating. With the latter in mind, it’s as well to maintain a slight dogleg between fly line and leader (diagram 3). Once the flies are on the dangle, using a long, lazy sweep of the fly rod, present your flies at a different place upstream once more.

Watch Out For Stabbing Takes

The Fly Set-Ups
Many consider a three-fly set-up the norm when short line, Czech-style nymphing because this provides increased weight and gives the angler many options with regards to fly choice. As a rule, the flies are arranged on short dropper legs no more than 20 inches apart. It’s customary too to attach the heaviest fly on the middle dropper (diagram 4 below). The idea is that all three flies are now presented closer to the stream bed while allowing a marginally lighter point fly some degree of freedom to waft about seductively (diagram 5 below).

Fly Set-up
Fly Set-Ups for Czech Nymphing
Where shallow runs, riffles with boulders, or weedy channels occur, a two-fly rig goes some way to avoiding constant snagging. Again these can be arranged on some nine feet of leader overall with the heaviest pattern occupying the dropper position (diagram 6 above).

Tackle Choice
Rods rated for 3-5wt lines that are 10-11ft in length are perfect for fixed-line nymphing. More lofty outfits provide a greater reach, which in turn allows for slightly longer casts/drifts and more control over terminal tackle. As casting in the true sense isn’t necessary and with only yards of leader protruding, a more forgiving, softer rod blank cushions the blows of large, or hard-fighting fish. Something along the lines of a Greys Streamflex is ideal.

Greys Streamflex Fly Rod
Regarding a suitable fly line for Czech Nymphing, the Airflo Euro Nymph Fly Line is hard to beat.  This super thin specialist nymph line is built on a non-stretch core for maximum feel and features Airflo's super -dri coating so it floats extremely high in the water.

Airflo Euro Nymph Fly Line
Granted, the reel merely stores line, but because fish are hooked literally at your feet and can hare off in fast currents then something dependable is required, which is why a disc drag model such as a Hardy FW DD Fly Reel is recommended.  Despite its incredibly low weight, it offers an exceptionally smooth drag, which is important when fishing lighter lines and leaders.
Hardy FW DD Fly Reel
A straight through (level) leader of some nine feet will suffice and because it’s more abrasion resistant, fluorocarbon is a suitable choice. The idea is that level monofilament possesses less surface area than a tapered leader and therefore cuts through water more readily to help achieve depth. As for turnover, the sheer weight of heavy bugs provides impetus here. Given normal river flows, 5lb breaking strain should suffice and gives you some hope of retrieving flies that snag bottom. Where heavy water or floods occur, then step this up to 6-7lb breaking strain.  If you opt for a French Leader, you can't go far wrong with a Hends Camou French Leader.

Hends Camou French Leader
Another popular choice for Czech Nymphing is Rio Two Tone Indicator Tippet which offers a hi-vis two-tone indicator for maximum strike detection.

Rio 2-Tone Indicator Tippet

Which Water to Target
When this method came to the fore, naturally the whole idea was to target fish which held in seemingly impenetrable pools. Generally, good results are expected in faster water from thigh to waist depth.
However, as invertebrate colonies populate all types of streamy water, then you should look to search a whole range of areas that include calf-depth riffles to deep, rocky channels. By tweaking leader set-ups coupled with the angle of approach, it’s possible to search any area with appreciable flows.

Boulders and pocket water are a natural draw to trout and sometimes grayling. Because of swirling currents, these can be notoriously difficult to master. However, as no fly line comes into contact with surface currents, short-line nymphing is well suited to these water types.

Something else that needs consideration is the time of year. High summer and low levels point to depleted oxygen when trout seek out fast, agitated currents for comfort. Conversely, come a raging flood in the depths of winter, Grayling will prefer spots where turbulent flows are deflected, or fall slack, like the inside corner of a sweeping bend for example (see diagram 7 below).

Seek Out Fast, Agitated Currents
Keep On The Move
For any form of subsurface fishing, searching tactics should be used to find our quarry. If you are using a fixed, short line, then remember to only make two casts from one position before taking a pace or two in your preferred direction. Better still, aim to grid reference the section of water you’re planning to fish and make a methodical blanket sweep of this (diagram 8 below). Furthermore, where fish are encountered, it’s important to make several probing casts from the same position, before moving on. This is especially important where grayling are concerned, which have a reputation for packing tightly together.

Cover The Water
Swapping Flies
As you progress through a pool, the depth will vary considerably and many anglers might feel the need to change flies in a bid to deal with these fluctuations. In many respects, this remains impractical simply because you will ultimately end up continually swapping nymphs rather than fishing.

Fulling Mill Sparkle Orange Czech Mate
Where water less than knee depth occurs, aim to pitch your flies more broadside on (see diagram 9 below). This subjects them and the entire leader to the effects of the flow. A tensioned line now prevents them from sinking too quickly, so they remain higher in the water.

Pitch Your Flies Broadside
Conversely, angling casts directly upstream (diagram 10 below) reduces any tell from currents on your leader system, allowing the flies to plunge deeper.

Angling Casts Directly Upstream
Naturally, casts placed at different angles between these two extremes will alter the speed at which your flies descend, thus allowing you to explore different water depths using the same weighted patterns.

Handy Box of Czech Nymphs
As highlighted, learning to master Czech Nymph style fishing will give you some unforgettable sport.  And because the focus is on presenting the flies at close quarters using a longer rod, it is also a very relaxing method with not a lot of casting involved.  So the next time you are Trout or Grayling fishing, and struggling to catch fish using traditional dry or wet fly methods, why not give Czech Nymphing a try and you might just surprise yourself how effective it is!

For more advice on the short-line method, don't forget you can visit us instore at Glasgow Angling Centre or Edinburgh Angling Centre where our friendly helpful staff can help you with any aspect of Czech Nymphing or Game Angling in general.

This article was brought to you in association with Trout Fisherman Magazine.

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