When I first started fly fishing all those years ago there was no such thing as barbless hooks for trout fishing, well not that I noticed anyway.
Most of your catches were kept back then however as time has progressed things have changed.
It is now more the norm to release your catch back into the ecosystem you caught it so future anglers will hopefully have the pleasure of partaking in the sport.
The only thing that wasn’t kept back thirty years ago was small undersized fish that were deemed by the fishing agencies to be returned.
When I think about it, some of the small trout I caught back then went back bleeding and probably swam off to die.
Well, I was only starting out back then and didn’t know anything about barbless trout flies.
All the flies I tied were on fully barbed hooks as this was the norm. So my question is; barbless hooks are they good for fly fishing? Let discuss to see the differences.
Many tackle changes over the last thirty years!
Fly fishing in general has undergone many changes over the last thirty years.
Tackle improves every year. Fly rods are much stronger and lighter, same with fly fishing reels. Fly lines are now made with poly-coated layers with braided cores and the terminal tackle, the flies, are now made with chemically sharpened points hooks. To top this off barbless trout flies now are more common.
The barb when first conceived was to hold the fish in place so it could not fall off the hook and escape. This was very important back when things got started as fishing was more of a necessity for feeding the family than a sport as it is today. (more…)
Each fly fishing season is beautiful in its own way. However, winter is proving to be a favorite for fly anglers who love to take challenges by their horns.
The winter angling world is different in that besides the extreme atmospheric conditions, an angler has to make other smart preparations to ensure that they make the best out of winter.
You will not need new skills to fish during this time. Just the same techniques but a different attitude.
New anglers might find it very unbearable to fish in the cold winter weather that could ice their reels and guides, but a steel mind remains as it is a fervent angler who will proceed regardless.
First, put aside the anxiety that comes with your first winter experience. Other crucial basics will determine whether you will last a few minutes outside or spend the entire day.
Your Gear is your Arsenal
Every angler needs some adjusting to extremely low weather conditions. And if you will be out for long hours, you need the right coverings to protect yourself from these weather elements.
Most trout anglers love to adventure the tailwaters in winter because they are the coldest regions and fish love to camp there.
You need to adjust to fly fishing in more layers and with fly fishing gloves. Fishing in gloves gives the angler a lesser feel of the line but why would your fingers freeze when you can compromise the feel and maintain dexterity? We have an entire section on winter clothing tips that you can check out.
Another trick is to get dull-don’t sulk. We mean, your gear should be in dull colors. And if possible, it should apply to all your gear from your clothes, combo, and the flies you would want to throw.
Black, brown, tan, and green flies will work well. When using weighted flies, glass and black beads are the real deal.
Aspects of Mother Nature are beautiful in their forms. Humans will however complain when some changes are a little extreme. Since the evolution of fly fishing clothing, gear, and apparel, most anglers are beginning to enjoy the weather extremities even more.
Winter and the rains that come with it are one of those forms of nature that can quickly escalate from mild to severe with a snap of a finger. As winter fly fishers, we move regardless.
Winter comes with so many calm periods. Some are a bit cloudy without wind and others are rainy with a little sun-it is a mix of almost anything you don’t expect. However, this makes one of the best times to fish.
There are those wet days when the heavens are generous and the wind is enough to help with casting. This is bearable and not a hindrance when you are wearing the correct clothing.
On some days, the downpours are heavier and the gusts above average but everything settles as fast as it came up so gear up and enjoy the peace that comes every now and again.
Photo by Jeremy Bishop on Unsplash
Without a doubt, fishing sunglasses are a necessity for every fisherman. It doesn’t matter if you have eagle-sharp eyesight or squint and strain like some of us.
We have highlighted more in the guide but lens color is a MUST consideration.
The lens color should be right for your fly fishing environment. We all love to enjoy the sun while fly fishing. However, the scorching rays can be very dangerous if you don’t have the right protection.
Yes, an SPF 50 or 60+ is such a defender. An overhead hat or cap will also help. But for your eyes where none of these can be of much help, sunglasses come in handy.
There is no precise answer to what color lens is the best for polarized fishing sunglasses as different colors suit different situations. We will try to guide you to make a better choice for your particular needs.
I have had loads of fun days chasing rainbows at my local still water fisheries. Rainbow trout are mostly stocked fish from local fish farms and are feed on pellets etcetera, to bring them up to a decent fighting trout weight. The average weight would be 1.5 pounds at this point.
Although these trout can grow to twenty-pound plus, trout this size can be slightly lazy and a one that has grown to 10-12 lbs would be considered a prime fighting specimen. When introduced to the fishery the new trout scurry around looking to explore their new habitat and will snatch at anything that lands on the water and so it is times like this when I enjoy rainbow trout fly fishing and these tips should help you catch them too.
How to put a smile on a newbies face!
If you are new to rainbow trout fly fishing it is these days that really entice you to stay in the sport as it can be a lot of fun. Some would argue that it’s too easy to catch trout when they are newly added but if you are introducing someone to fly fishing and trying to encourage them into performing casts correctly it is the icing on the cake when they can actually land one or two trout.
The smile on their face is more than enough to make the experience remember-able for both of you. I have contacts at my local fisheries and if I am bringing a guest newbie I will ring ahead asking for the restocking days. This may seem like offsetting the rules somewhat but where is the harm if your new prodigy is happy catching a few trout.
The real test of the fly fisher comes on the days when there is no activity but remembering the feeling of a trout hitting your fly drives you on to master the craft for the next hit. (more…)
Well, winter is now over and its time to get the tackle out from its winter hibernation for a good cleaning in preparation for the new trout fishing season.
There are a few things that should be done each spring to ensure you tackle is on tip top condition before going out on your first fishing trip.
- Check fly lines for cracks
- Clean reel and apply lubrication
- Wax rod furrels
- Re-new knots for the line connections
- Check rods for any cracks or chips.
- Inspect cork handle
- Check waders for leaks
- Check fly selection
- Inspect leader material
- Renew all licenses and permits
These are some of the main items that need sorting before a new season begins. Of these, I would suggest checking the fly line and rod as the most important.
Checking the fly line for cracks
When you put away your gear at the end of the previous season you would have probably left one or two fly lines still on their reels and depending on the place or storage there will no doubt be some coil memory left on the line from being stored so long in that position.
My suggestion to you before going to fish is you unspool the line onto a bucket of soapy water then after about half an hours soak slowly pull the line through a soft cloth squeezed in your other hand. While doing this check for any cracks or chips along the line and assess them for integrity.
If there are a lot then it would be better to purchase a new line than risk losing some trout to breakages. Working this process you will take any grime or dirt away as well as slowly get the line straight. Here is a couple of RIO products videos on how to do that and apply a dressing to the fly line to keep it fishing well for years. (more…)
What is matching the hatch? If you are new to fly fishing you may be unaware of the insects that fish eat along the rivers and lakes. Each season of the year produces new species of insect that the trout have become used to and will feed upon when they are in season.
As new insects become available the older insects will die away. Trout that are a few years old will be savvy to the food available and so it becomes increasing difficult to entice them to take an artificial fly.
This is where matching the hatch techniques come into play as the angler needs to learn to get as close as he can to the natural insect life when presenting his fly.
So how do we go about matching the hatch?
First thing we do when approaching a fishing venue is to take a few minutes to scan the surroundings to see if there is anything naturally hatching. You need to check the grass beside the river the trees and if nothing is showing then check the insect life at the edge of the river or lake.
Be careful not to disturb the water too much as you will spook any close trout away and it may take some time for them to return and spoil your chances of success. When checking for the insects it is good to have a fine mesh net with you so you can catch some and get a closer look as flying insects can be very hard to imitate.
OK if you have read my last post on matching the hatch techniques you may have wondered what happens when I have tried every fly in the box that looks close to the insects hatching but I am still not getting any takes. Well then that is when you change tactics and try un matching the hatch techniques.
When you are an accomplished angler you will have an array of items with you when fishing that cover all sorts of situations and in that arsenal, you will probably have different types of tippet or leader materials and you will be considering changing line colors. You may try floating your flies with floatants or trying to sink them further with different poly leaders and trying to get that all illusive trout to take your fly. It is times like this when you have gone through your usual changes that you are thinking it’s time to pack up and go home. However, rather than doing that there is one more thing to try.
So what is un matching the hatch techniques?
Just as before when we tried to match the hatch as closely as possible, this is when we now try to go the other direction and get something completely opposite to the hatching insects. This sounds easy but a bit of thought is required. You have a few things to consider the color, the size and the shape of the insect that is hatching. All these things need to be reversed or changed considerably to invoke a response from the trout.
Over the past number of years I have done just about everything you can do to improve a day’s fly fishing. So I have compiled this list of do’s and don’ts of fly fishing that should make for a better trout fishing trip.
- Do not try to cast too far. A common mistake by many is trying to push the line out in great distances. This will make for a lot of tangles and bad casting. Keep it short and neat the trout will usually come to you if you don’t make too many splashes.
- Don’t use too heavy leader line for the flies you are fishing. I have seen guys put on 15lb mono to fish size 12 flies for trout. This is far too heavy much better to go for 4-5 lb line you will catch more fish. Gauge the trout size your after if they are big, 10lb plus then you may need to adjust but there is no need to fish 15lb leader if the average trout size is 2lb.
- Do bring a plastic bag for your catch if killed, there is nothing worse than the dead fish smell in the car on a long journey home. A simple plastic bag can make all the difference. They can also be used to put on your feet if you spring a leak or your head if a downpour threatens to drown you.
- Don’t be fooled into buying an expensive rod if you can’t afford it there are many cheaper rods that will cast just as far as the most expensive and catch as many fish. (more…)
On my previous post on mending the fly line to control speed I thought it necessary to include a post on the presentation of the fly when Salmon fishing. Salmon do not feed when in the river to spawn so a fly presented to them is more to annoy them into a reaction than them eating your lure whereas trout are there to feed and are usually hungry.
Having been a salmon angler for many years one of the main things I have picked up is you are always learning. On my travels it amazes me on how different fly anglers fish their flies. When I find anglers who are more experienced on their local rivers I will do my best to watch and learn as best I can on how they are fishing the pools. One thing that stands out is the best anglers out there know exactly how their salmon flies are fishing at any particular time.
There are a few factors to consider to know how a fly is fishing including the fly type, the leader material, the fly line style and density, cast distance, length of rod and how the line is mended and retrieved. These elements you can control another one you can not is the natural condition of the pool however with line presentation you can make some changes to the natural condition of the pool and fish it better.
(c) Can Stock Photo / urbanlight (more…)
As mentioned in a previous article Stillwater winter fly fishing can prove to be challenging. To help assist us in getting more takes from trout that are feeding we need to incorporate some flies that are better suited to winter fly fishing. In this post, we find out about those patterns that prove to be better during the winter months.
Winter Stillwater flies how to present them.
In winter fly fishing trout will normally be swimming very slowly and not inclined to chase after lures or flies very well. In this instance we have to slow down the retrieve and how we present the flies to the fish. If you can see trout feeding or cruising try to cast in front of them and draw the fly past their path. This way you will induce more takes. Half the battle is getting the fly within a close distance to a cruising trout. Next, we look at the best patterns to use. (more…)
Fishing from a kayak brings many advantages over traditional boats. Kayaks are small, very maneuverable, and can float in even the shallowest waters. Additionally, collapsing kayaks can be separated and carried by hand or even in a backpack, enabling fishermen to easily travel overland in quest for the best fishing spot. In any case, kayaks are not known for having the capacity to accommodate a great deal of extras.
The restricted on board space, not to mention the single body and closeness to the water, mean that attaching any accessories is somewhere close to difficult and unimaginable. Be that as it may, that doesn’t mean that a fisherman should abandon utilizing a fish finder to enhance his fishing knowledge, only that he should pick a fish finder suitable for the job.
benefit from any of its more advanced features.
Mounting a fish finder permanently, or even semi-permanently, on a kayak is difficult at best. While the absolute modern kayaks do incorporate a mounting point, most don’t. Additionally, most fish finders require an external power source, usually a 12V battery – something that doesn’t exist on a kayak. Along these lines, before considering the installation of a fish finder, it is important to discover one that is suitable for mounting on a kayak. (more…)
Stillwater trout fly fishing in winter can prove to be difficult. Not only is the air and water cold and you will need to wear appropriate clothing to protect you from the elements. As the water is colder fish mainly trout are moving a lot slower and tend to keep to a certain depth. (more…)
So what would save the day I have to ask? I’m not talking about a special selection of flies although I do think there are some you should always carry. I’m more concerned with items that will help fix broken or damaged tackle or items to keep you fishing rather than having to wind up and go home.
We have all been there out fishing and have fallen down a banking or slipped and fell in the river and damaged our gear or our selves so I have put together this fly fishing emergency kit of items that may help to keep you going.
There are many option to consider in this list so I will work through them for you. Your main piece of equipment is your fly rod and if disaster strikes and you fall and break it into several pieces there is not a whole lot you can do about it. However if you have travelled far the thought of having to turn homeward is not good.
The only real thing you can prepare for here with is a cheap replacement. I always try to keep a second rod with me when going further than a few miles when fly fishing. That way you can at least keep fishing even if your best and lucky rod lies in piece on the bankside. You may be sad but at least your fishing. (more…)
You are probably well aware that neoprene wellington boots are not cheap. In fact you can pay in excess of £200 for some of the top brands. With a price ticket like that you want to get the most wear out of them as you can. In the top brands wearing them out can take some time which is good news. For instance I have a pair of Toggi Wanderer Plus and have been wearing them for 5 years now.
I go fishing and walking my two dogs in them and haven’t had any problems up until this last year when I cut a small crack in the upper foot on one and a small crease in the gusset flap on the buckle section on the other. Although I am fairly careful in the wearing of my wellington boots but it’s not always easy to keep them un-scathed when chasing your dog out of a river or over rocks and the like.
Rather than throw them out as the tread is still good I decided to do a repair on them instead. Afterall £90 for a new pair is a lot more than I want to pay right now and a tube of stormsure aquasure is only £6. OK so onto the repair.
The first step in repairing the neoprene wellington boot was to make sure they were reasonably clean as the sealant I was going to use needs a clean footprint to cure properly. I simple got a cloth and washed the boots all around the damaged area and rinsed off several times.
I then let them dry off to ensure no water remains to upset the sealant curing. Next I opened the sealant and run a small drop along the crack in the wellington boot opening up the crack to ensure the sealant got right in there. I rubbed this with my finger which was covered with the plastic bag glove that came in the stormsure sealant pack.
Once happy it was well covered I left to cure laying flat so the sealant wouldn’t run too much. On the pack it states it takes 2 hours to be touch dry and 10-12 hours to be cured completely depending on atmospheric conditions. I left it for a couple of hours then put another layer on over the hole and pushed in around the edge leaving a good border around the crack. This was also left to cure.
On the other boot which had the leak in the gusset I put in a piece of wood to wedge it open and got to work rubbing in the sealant into the cracks. Again leaving to dry for a few hours before adding another layer. The both boots were left to cure overnight before using.
To test I took them to the beach where I normally go to walk the dogs. I stepped into the water and gave it a few minutes to test if there was a leak. Happily the sealant was holding and no water got it. Another pair of boots saved from recycling and will hopefully give me another few years happy walking and fishing.
The benefits of this flexible sealant is it moves and flexes with your foot and doesn’t crack like other glues or patches. I find stomesure great for these holes and also for loads of other applications including when putting on braided loops onto my fly line. Fixing my breathable chest waders along with other useful patching work like camping tents, waterproof clothing, groundsheets, leaky seams, wetsuits, inflatable toys, airbeds, and loads of other materials.
After using your stormsure make sure to put on the lid tightly place in a plastic bag and put into your freezer, that way it will not cure in the tube and spoil. You can simply bring out let un freeze and re-use for another time. It will keep this way for quite some time.
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Can Stock Photo
River fly fishing is completely different from lake, lough or other Stillwater fly fishing. The main difference is the fact that in river fishing you have to deal with the flow of the river as Stillwater as its name dictates is pretty motionless. There is the possibility of underwater currents and wind can make things interesting but for the most part, lakes are motionless.
Rivers on the other hand have many features which make them more interesting (to me anyway) with the speed and flow of the river being the main one. To fish rivers properly takes a bit of working out. You need to look at the river flow what speed, direction and depths of the pools etc. All these factors will affect where the fish tend to lie. Water depth will also affect the prospective lies for fish entering a system like Salmon, Sea Trout and Steelhead entering from the Sea again. When conditions are dry and the water is low the fishing will be completely different from when the river is in spate and fish are moving through the system. (more…)
Polyleaders were developed originally by Airflo UK to help with casting turnover. Before they were developed hand made tapered leaders was probably the best way to get the energy from the cast to slow down to present the fly gently on the water.
However homemade tied tapered leaders don’t start with the same profile as the end of the fly line and can hinge when casting which is disastrous to your cast. That and the addition of extra knots into the fly leader setup makes for more problems that can occur. For a cast to be presented well you want it to unfold in the air and straighten out into a nice line as it lands on the water so the fly normally at the end of the leader lands with a gentle plop and not a smash as most often happens. With this you are presenting your fly in a way that will not spook timid trout and will increase your catch rate which is what we all want.
Polyleaders were designed on the same principle as fly lines consisting of a poly outer layer and a nylon core. They then measure at the thick end the same size diameter as the end of your fly line so the transfer of energy is smooth and the addition of ready attached loops makes the job of switching them a breeze. (more…)
I came across a fly pattern a while back that I hadn’t seen for some time and it got me wondering. How many fly patterns have dipped below the radar because of new arrivals and new materials?
I mean those patterns used to work and would be instrumental for many a caught trout or fish so why are they not around today? Easy answer flies are set to catch the fishing anglers and not the fish.
When working in the tackle shop we would see arrivals of thousands of new different patterns and the fly fishing anglers coming in to purchase would have their favorites among them.
However you always had the twinkle in their eye looking at the new patterns and wondering if they would work. The answer is yes probably as feeding fish will attack anything really if they thinks its food.
As these new patterns arrived in the store the older ones were phased out or not tied by the suppliers anymore and it was only the old die hard anglers who would even look for some of them. When we did get requests we could always rustle up a few flies for them as there were plenty of good fly tyers around and if not I could step up the vice if needed.
How good of a fishing angler are you? You have the gear, the rod, the reel, the flies the lures, and the rest of the tackle to complete your setup. You are able to setup your fly line and attach the leader or can you? This is where so many anglers fail.
The process of tying knots becomes difficult and when tested under proper fishing conditions the gear fails and you loose fish. Not a great thing to happen especially if its a fish of a lifetime. This is where fishing knots illustrated comes in. Here we have a simple waterproof card system with the most important knots included.
Well you have bought the fly fishing gear you have the rod, reel, line and flies. You have gone out fishing and now have caught your trout, well done to you. Now you bring it home and wonder how do I cook this trout. Well search no further I have compiled a few recipes for how to cook trout fillets. Any of these are delicious and well worth a try.
Recipe 1 – Baked trout in foil parcel
This is the basic trout fillet recipe. It is plain and simple but tastes great.
1) Take your trout and after gutting and washing place on a sheet of foil and a sheet of baking paper and place on a baking try.
2) Apply seasoning to taste salt and pepper.
3) Add a knob of butter and rub all over the skin and flesh.
4) Squeeze some lemon juice into the middle if using full trout
5) Wrap up the foil to form a pouch and place in a hot oven 200 deg centigrade for 10-12 mins.
If using full trout increase time by about 10 mins. You can open the pouch half way to check fish is cooking through. The flesh should start to look more crumbly and opaque in colour.
Recipe 2 – Grilled whole trout parsley and lemon
1) Take two trout 300-400 gms and slash about ten times 0.5 cm deep on both sides.
2) Rub the trout with olive oil and season with the sea salt and pepper.
3) Stuff the belly of the trout with cut parsley and lemon slices.
4) Place the trout on an oven rack over a tray on a lower shelf to catch the juices.
5) Put some lemon zest on top of the trout lemon wedges in the tray.
6) Put some butter drops on top of the trout and place the rack about 2-3 inches from the grill.
7) Cook on both sides for 5-6 mins until nice and crispy.
8) When ready squeeze the roasted lemon wedges over the trout and serve with rice or salad. (more…)