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Thursday, 14 February 2019

Tying the Haslam Fly with Davie McPhail

Originally tied as a salmon fly, the Haslam has since achieved far greater fame as a highly effective sea-trout pattern, especially on the rivers of Wales, it's adopted home. In appearance the original Haslam is very similar to a Silver Invicta, the main difference being the lack of a body hackle plus the addition of a white wool butt and horns of blue and yellow Macaw.

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. Time to tie a Haslam Fly, with the guidance of Davie McPhail.

Materials Used:
Hook: Singles or Doubles size 8 or any size you like prefer
Threads: Uni-8/0 in White and finish with Black Tag: Oval Silver Tinsel Butt: White Wool or Seals Fur Tail: Golden Pheasant Crest Rib: Silver Wire Body: Silver Tinsel Throat: Blue Jay or sub Guinea Fowl and Teal Blue Hen Wing: Hen Pheasant Horns: Blue Yellow Macaw

Additional materials: Additionally, Davie made use of Fullingmill Glue and finally Varnish, which he applied to the thread after completing the fly.

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

Tuesday, 12 February 2019

A Box for Every Occasion

As the Season approaches, it's time to sort out all your fly fishing gear, ready to hopefully tackle lots lovely trout.

After a rummage through the garage or shed, you will probably be faced with a load of stuff that was put away in a hurry at the end of last season, so where to start? Firstly, check your flies for any rust, damaged points and ragged dressings and make a list of what needs to be bought or re-tied. Also look at the foam in your fly boxes, which may need to be replaced or new boxes purchased. This is also the time to organise the contents of your fly boxes and decide if you are going to have one large box, like the  Airflo Competitor - and carry all your flies with you - or go for a few small boxes like the Fulling Mill Clear Silicone and just take what you will need that day.
Next, have a look at your landing net and make sure any moving parts are functional and check there are no holes or rotten sections in the mesh.  With some nets, you can replace the mesh or you may need a new one altogether.  If so, the new rubber mesh nets are very good and cause minimal damage to the fish.

Next on the list would be your fly lines. Give them a good inspection and a clean - something like Loon Line speed should do the job.  If you don't clean your fly line, it can reduce the line's 'shootability.' It can also cause wear on your fly rod rings, which can cause further damage to the line.

Hopefully when you put everything away last year you properly cleaned and stored your rods and reels so they should be good to go after a quick check over. Last but not least, get all your prepared gear stowed in your waistcoat or pack where they will be easily accessible.  This will save any faffing about when you need to change your fly line, leaders and tippets, flies, or if you need to apply floatant or sinkant to your flies or leader. Tight Lines.

Saturday, 9 February 2019

Choosing The Right Colour Of Salmon Fly

When it comes to salmon flies, the choice is endless. You have to navigate a plethora of patterns, shapes and sizes. But what about colour? In fact, how important is it to fish the 'right' colour of fly? Do you choose a fly according to the colour of the water? And what are the most effective colours?

Ally's Shrimp Cascade
Colour is important, however, when we start making rules like what colour of fly to fish when and where, the salmon have a habit of proving the opposite. Indeed, there can be few sports that throw up as many exceptions to the rules as salmon.
Sunray Shadow
That aside, most salmon fishers accept the theory that we should fish a bright fly when the water is coloured and a more sombre pattern when the water is clear.  So, in coloured water, we might choose a fly with a yellow and orange wing over a gold body. Later, when the water is clearing - but not yet absolutely clear - or on rivers that are naturally peat-stained such as the Spey, we might tone this down with the addition of some black. For example, Willie Gunn’s hair wing is a blend of black, yellow and orange over a gold-ribbed black body. And later still, in clear water we might choose an all-black fly or a black fly with a dash of yellow such as the Tosh or Dee Monkey.

Check the Water Colour
The above are broad generalisations to point you in roughly the right direction. But nothing is written in stone. It is often confusing how gillie's beliefs about fly choice differ. For example, you could be fishing a beat on the Findhorn where the ghillie is absolutely determined that a Yellow Ally’s Shrimp is far more effective in clear water than the standard orange version – which is only used when the water is coloured. But a couple of days later you could be fishing the Tay where the colour of the water is practically identical, and the gillie might tell you the complete opposite. Also, for the Findhorn, a few strands of flash in the tail could be the most effective style, while the Tay gillie might suggest snipping those flashy tail strands off with scissors!
Stoats Tail
In a similar vein, in fairly recent times the Cascade has become one of our most popular flies. But a few successful salmon anglers won’t fish it unless it has a fluorescent green butt (making it an Aurora Cascade) and jungle cock cheeks of just the right size. Because there is a belief that these additions take a good fly and make it great. And of course, because these anglers rarely fish anything else, it may be a long time before they change their minds.
Flame Thrower Red
So yes, it is confusing when we talk about fly colour. Each river is different; beliefs about what patterns and colours work best differ, water colour fluctuates, and air pressure goes up and down like the water level itself. However, what we do know is that the majority of salmon in the UK are caught with patterns that are tied with black, yellow and/or orange materials, but the choice is yours.

Friday, 8 February 2019

Baiting Up for The Bite.

As the winter really starts to bite, so do the cod.  They are brought inshore after the winter storms to feed on the glut of food churned up by the rough seas, so this is the time to get yourself a tasty supper. The Cod season on the East Coast of Scotland has got off to a bit of a slow start, but the hardy breed of cod fishing specialists are still able to root out a few cod from the rock gullies. So how do you get into this elite band of fishermen who head out in the worst of the weather and return home with ultimate prize catch?

P.P.P.P.P (Proper Preparation Prevents Poor Performance)

Successful cod fishing (like most fishing) is almost always down the to above motto.

1. Timing You need to be prepared to fish when the cod are there, and feeding. If fishing in your shorts and t-shirt is not the game for you, the best time is after a big blow.  In the depths of winter, on a lot of marks, you need to fish through the night and at the right state of tide to give yourself the best chance. An old fashioned tide table like the QT International Quick Tide Chart is as good as the internet, and more portable.

2. Location This may be the most difficult thing to master.  There are lots of well known cod marks out there, but most will be very busy with other anglers at the best times - other anglers can be very 'cagey' about giving up their secret marks. But all is not lost.  A bit of knowledge of the rough areas, and the wealth of online resources such as Google Maps and Avionics, combined with at lot of footwork, should get you where you need to be.

3. Gear You have arrived at the right place at the right time, so now you will need the correct gear. Firstly, you are going to need a good stiff, rough ground rod to bully the cod through the heavy kelp that fills the gullies that they love to feed in. Something like the Century Eliminator T900 teamed up with a good quality multiplier reel such as the Penn Fathom 25 star drag or Daiwa Saltist Black Gold is ideal for the job. Make sure you fill the reel with a good mono line around the 18-30lb mark and you are good to go.

4. Bait This is the most important part of the whole operation. You can get everything else right but if the fish don't want to eat what you have on offer, you will go home empty handed. Cod fishing means big smelly baits. Black lug, Pealer crab and Squid are probably the most common, but depending where you are, Bluey, Rag, or Mackerel may be the preference. Most sea anglers will use a combination of some of these baits and make a cocktail bait. Bait presentation is also important, especially if you are using big cocktail baits, because it makes casting with them a lot easier.  This has been recently aided by the Gemini Spring Loader bait tool.

Hopefully these 4 tips will help put you on the cod this winter. However, one of the most important pieces of advice is to be careful out there and making sure you know the ground you are on and what the dangers are!  Also take your mobile phone and let someone know where you are going and when you expect to be back.  Lastly, wear some type of floatation device like the Spinlock Deckvest Lite Auto Life Jacket or a Floatation suit like the Fisheagle Expert 2pc Flotation Suit.

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

Thursday, 7 February 2019

Stillwater Trout - How to Catch Spooky Fish

We've all been there before. You arrive at your local Stillwater and see plenty of fish moving, tackle up, and try to cast your fly to every rise you see. In the back of your mind you are thinking "there's plenty of fish - I'm bound to catch one." However, what transpires is the opposite of what was expected: the rises stop, the fish go quite, or they start moving and feeding on the opposite bank. Worse still, they move out to an area mid-channel that can't be reached with a long cast with your fly rod.

Contrary to what some believe, fishing small Stillwaters is not always like 'shooting fish in a barrel.' Fish become wise to the turmoil created on the surface, whether that's from your casting or from playing and landing fish. On the bigger waters, it's all about finding the fish; on small stillwaters the fish are right in front of you so it's about finding the right approach.  What makes the challenge even more exciting is the prospect that you will stumble upon a tactic which everyone else fails to figure out.

The majority of fly anglers will opt for a floating fly line, a lure, and varying rates of retrieve depending on the conditions. The more thoughtful fly angler will try and tempt the fish with nymphs fished slowly on a figure of eight. But no matter how hard you try, the floating line can be the problem. Once it hits the surface, it doesn't take long for the fish to get spooked - who says small stillwater trout are stupid?

Cortland Medium Intermediate
To solve the problem, an intermediate fly line will negate the effects of the floating line (especially in calm water), decrease the splashing, and will present the flies with greater stealth. A sunken intermediate does not create a wake when you retrieve, and it will increase your chances of catching.

FAB Blobs Selection

In terms of tactics, when facing wary trout on a small stillwaters, going small and natural can be a deadly approach. However, not all fly anglers have the confidence to go smaller - especially if they are used to stripping lures the majority of the time. But it is worth persevering because wary trout are more likely to take a fly presented at the right depth, colour, size, and at the right speed. An excellent rig to consider when fishing an intermediate is to use a FAB on the point and an Apps Bloodworm about 8ft away on the dropper. The FAB keeps the flies up near the surface, so you can experiment with different patterns on the dropper.

Intermediate Setup
On milder winter days, you can still get a hatch of buzzers so don't overlook this period.  Remain vigilant and observe the way the fish are rising. Try a suspender buzzer on the point and a Diawl Bach or Cruncher on the dropper, cast out and give the line about 4 to 5 seconds to sink.  This lets the suspender buzzer sit just below the surface and the dropper fishing a couple of feet below. This covers any fish moving in the top couple of feet.  If you give the line intermittent pulls during the figure of eight, this will create movement in the flies and can trigger a response.

Figure of 8 or Static Retrieve
When fishing the intermediate, keep the rod tip down close to the surface and remain in contact with the line. Takes can be sudden and aggressive with the line shooting out away from you.  When you do get a take, and you are in contact with the line, you just need to lift the rod up firmly to hook the fish.  Conversely, if you have slack line, you might miss takes when striking.

Fulling Mill Diawl Bach
It's also a good idea to remain on the move so that you are covering new water and hopefully any unwise trout. Be thoughtful in your approach, and tactical in your fly placement. Don't go aiming for the mid-channel until you have covered the area right in front of you because a lot of the time when fishing a new area, the fish are undisturbed and are more likely to have a sniff at your fly if you've presented it gently.

Therefore, never underestimate the challenge that small stillwater fisheries can present. Yes, the stocking policy may be aligned with creating the highest possible chance of catching a fish or two, but fish can adapt to their environment very quickly. It doesn't take them long to notice 'anomalies' or to sense danger, which consequently makes fishing for them much more challenging.  Additionally, smaller stillwaters can have more fishing pressure as the number of anglers on the bank increase, but don't let that put you off.  You just might figure out how to catch them despite your contemporaries' lack of success.  The secret is to think outside the box.  It makes no sense to copy what everyone else is doing if they are not catching!

If you are a reservoir angler or a die-hard brown trout angler who fishes rivers and lochs during the season, support your local Stillwater this winter. They can be tougher than you think and can provide you with equal amounts of satisfaction and challenge that we all crave.

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

Wednesday, 6 February 2019

Tying a Micro Fritz Diawl-Bach with Davie McPhail

Translated from Welsh as "little devil", the Diawl Bach Nymph is a deadly Trout Fly Pattern. In Britain and some areas of Northern Europe, the Diawl Bach fly pattern has become one of the most popular Stillwater flies of recent times, amazing for such a drab, non-descript trout fly.

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. Time to tie a Micro Fritz Diawl-Bach, with the guidance of Davie McPhail.

Materials Used:
Hook: Fulling Mill Comp Heavyweight size 12 Thread: Uni-8/0 Fire Orange Tail: Natural Brown/Ginger Cock Fibres Rib: Fine Copper Wire Body: Peacock Herl Throat: Brown/Ginger Hen Fibres Head/Thorax: Dyed Flame/Hot Orange Micro UV and Silver Fritz or Lite-Brite / Glister Dubbing

Additional materials: Additionally, Davie made use of Varnish, which he applied to the thread after completing the fly.

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