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Summer action on the fly - and an interview with Colin Macleod


The air is warm and the days are long - what better time to spend a few hours, or better still, a few days on the water? Take a picnic plus something cool and refreshing to drink and immerse yourself in our beautiful countryside. If it gets too hot for the traditional fly rod targets we can target carp or head for the coast to try to tempt a mullet. These two fish love hot weather and, as our sales of specialist flies show, fishing for both of them is hugely popular now.



Selectaflies on Tour


We always love to hear of your success with our flies and three recent stories from overseas stand out.


Firstly, Hector from Moonee Beach in Australia emailed us to say that not only was our delivery 'fast and reliable' but that Colin's flies had been successful in tempting an Aussie mullet on their very first outing down under!


Next, Daryl is recently back from Cuba after his first taste of flats fishing. With a little help from the selection of flies we helped him choose he caught Tarpon, Bonefish and a Permit! Do give us a call if you're heading somewhere similar and are not sure exactly what you might need - we're always happy to help. (last week we advised on flies for fishing for Arctic Char in Greenland - we haven't been ourselves but we 'know a chap who has'!) Like so many people Daryl combined a beach holiday at one of the Cayo Coco hotels with a few days fishing with one of the local guides. Do call if you would like to know more about the set-up out there.


Shrimps - both Cuban and Avalon - were working well!

Finally, old friend of Selectafly (and in fact the Greenland adviser noted above) Phil Cobham is just back from his latest trip to Iceland, where he fished with local friends . In his few days he caught a good number of fish in the 6-7lb bracket. What made his success noteworthy was that almost all the fish were caught on one of our Micro Black Damsels - not a typical Icelandic pattern but as Phil said 'there is just something about that fly' and the trout clearly agreed! So do our customers judging by how fast they sell!


Great looking fish from a beautiful wild place - Phil dressed for summer in Iceland!



Closer to home, a recent trip to the delightful river Dove, of Isaac Walton fame, reminded me why we stock a couple of patterns not easily available elsewhere. I headed upstream and found no rising fish but still tempted plenty with the Anato May nymph whilst my brother did find some risers further downstream. They were spooky and refused several normally successful offerings but succumbed to the charms of the drab looking but aptly named IOBO.




In place of our regular advice section this time we've picked the brains of Pro Team member Colin Macleod  and here it is - words of wisdom via a quick fire interview with the mullet master himself!

  1. OK, let's get stuck into the facts straight away. How many mullet have you caught so far this year? And an estimate of the total since you began fly fishing for the 'British bonefish'? - In three sessions this year I have caught sixteen mullet up to 5.5lb (and some nice bass to 3lb) on Red Tagged Romy's Sand Shrimps. In total over the years I have caught around 500 mullet. n.b. Colin's answer here is almost a month old - since then he's been in Spain chasing the mullet of the Med - with notable success, including his first ever Grand Slam of three different species of mullet in one day!
  2. What's the approximate split between the different species? - When I first began fly fishing for mullet the vast majority of fish caught were thick lipped mullet with a few golden greys as the season progressed and some thin lips towards the seasons end. The dynamic has completely changed now in the areas I fish, with thick lip numbers decimated by commercial netting. Thin lip numbers have grown substantially and the golden grey population has also increased. My last thick lip was caught in 2015. Presently the split would be 95% thin lips and 5% golden greys.

  3.  And your best fish of each? - Thick lip - 8lb 12oz, thin lip - 5lb 8oz and golden grey - 3lb 0oz.

  4. What has been this year's top fly so far? Unquestionably the Red Tagged Romy's Sand Shrimp. It produced eight thin lipped mullet and three bass on my second outing of the season.

  5. How have your patterns evolved since the early days of the Red Tagged Diawl Bach, the Corophium Volutator etc?- They have evolved in response to specific situations I have encountered during my mullet fishing. If conditions and fish behaviour remained the same then the flies you mentioned would probably represent the full stable. Conditions do change however, with each new season, and the development of new patterns has been necessary to see the net bulge. I have a monthly saltwater column with Fly Fishing and Fly Tying magazine which means pressure to deliver a catch each month. A little pressure is a good thing! The patterns I tie are invariably shrimp imitations, which shows how heavily these invertebrates feature in the mullet's diet. The Romy's Sand Shrimp was designed to imitate a golden olive coloured shrimp found in my wading boots after wading over light sand. It took around three years to source the materials to tie the pattern but was well worth the wait.

  6. Is there anything new in the pipeline? Yes, a new pattern called the Silica Shrimp, designed for mullet lying relatively deep in areas of current and for early season fish. It produced several fish at the end of last season and the first three fish of this season - when the standard patterns gained no response. Thanks to Colin keeping us in the loop on his new patterns this brand new fly is already in stock - you can find it HERE

  7. What's your favourite leader material these days? Grand Max Soft Plus fluorocarbon. I have probably tried every brand out there when fishing for mullet and GMSP is by far the most dependable in my experience (this answer is 100% unprompted by us, although we totally agree! - and by the way Colin normally uses the 10.4lb BS)

  8. When I fished with you last year(you might recall that the three of us caught 14 fish in a shortish day!) two things surprised me a little - firstly the leader length of 12-15 feet, which allowed us to put the team of flies right into the thick of the action without spooking fish on the fly line and secondly, the retrieve - a medium sort of speed when I had been expecting a 'dead drift' approach. What other tips do you have which might help us in our hunt for these enigmatic and elusive fish?  The 'dead drift' technique you mention is the most effective method when fishing for thick-lipped mullet in an estuary current, with a Flexi Worm particularly deadly. Our session was for thin lipped mullet, mainly in static water or a gentle current. Thin lips differ from thick lip in that they will rarely take a drifted fly and prefer the fly to be retrieved at medium pace in short strips. They like to chase. By all means drift a team of flies towards a shoal of thin lips but commence a retrieve once the flies are amongst the fish. Finding feeding fish is absolutely key to gain a response to our flies. Feeding mullet travel in tight groups of between six and several hundred fish. Fish which appear to be feeding but are loosely grouped with perhaps several metres between each other are rarely a viable target. The more tightly knit the better. Feeding fish dart about at speed , change direction, fin and tail on the surface and flash their sides. Even within such a group there is often a nucleus of noticeably more active fish. Always keep an eye on such behaviour. These fish rarely refuse a fly. Swans and mullet often feed from the same menu and at the same table. If you see a group of swans feeding in an area of current then chances are high that mullet will be present too. The majority of mullet feeding occurs in water between 3 and 12 inches deep so concentrate on this zone. Look for nervous water. A shoal of mullet on the move creates a surface disturbance almost identical to that of bonefish and can be detected fro several hundred metres distant. Look for gulls or egret flying low over the water and causing mass eruptions as they spook unseen shoals of mullet.
  9. Can you describe the perfect 'picture' you look for at the start of a session

    - Settled weather conditions, good water clarity and copious shrimp in the margins. Light winds and sunshine to facilitate fish spotting. Fish feeding in the current created by the ebbing tide. Warm sunshine, to bake the exposed sand and silt at low tide which rapidly heats the flooding tide. The shallows become incredibly warm, sending the food chain into overdrive. Mullet love warm water.
  10. Finally, we've all seen big mullet cruising around in marinas etc. Are these fish catchable? - they are not viable targets for imitative patterns.... unless your fly is imitating a piece of bread.

All Colin's patterns are available only here at Selectafly, including a Top Performer selection of 12 flies, which comes with a page of Colin's notes on how and when to fish them.


Tips for the Month ahead


Stillwater trout - dries and emergers can come into their own at this time of year. Favourite flies include Bill's Big Red, Bob's Bits, Hoppers of all colours and sizes - or why not grab one of our Stillwater Dries & Emergers selections.


15 Top Performers for £14.95


River trout - in the day time something small, maybe the IOBO mentioned above or perhaps turn to a terrestrial imitation such as this Hi Vis Beetle. In the (often highly productive) evenings Sedge patterns come to the fore - the new McPhail Bubble Wing patterns look great and the Stimulator is a big personal favourite.  


Salmon - advice frequently trotted out is 'it doesn't matter what fly you use - if they want it they'll have it' - here's two recent demonstrations of why this isn't so. Fish 1: refused a conventional double but first rose to, then 3 casts later engulfed a smallish, unhitched Sunray Shadow. Fish 2: showing regularly in a nice taking place, ignored two different regular patterns, then rose to a Sunray before finally confidently taking a small Red Frances (sadly not mine!). So, do ring the changes if Plan A isn't working. Incidentally, both of them were beautiful fresh spring fish just into double figures - not tired old timers that had seen it all before.


Proof of the pudding! - fish no. 2


In clear water summer conditions keeping it small is often the key to success and we have plenty of tiny salmon flies which don't only work in Iceland.  


As always, when the weather is warm and sunny pay particular attention to the low light level times of early morning and evening.  And don't forget it's prime time for sea-trout and saltwater fly-fishing!


Finally, with new packaging for these products coming soon, we're offering a fantastic deal on Grand Max Soft Plus and Seaguar fluorocarbon leader material, while stocks last. This is super quality stuff (and all came into our stock this year) but not cheap so soften the blow via our 20% saving. These prices won't last long and, even better, UK postage is free on orders over £15!  

Tight Lines and very best wishes from us both,
Martin and Jessica

Selectafly, 9 Dukes Ride, Gerrards Cross, Bucks SL9 7LD United Kingdom

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