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Get Stuck In!

Yes, you really should be out fishing now. I know that recent weather conditions could have been a bit more benign but we wouldn’t get out very often if we only did so when things are 100% perfect – and as one of our regular customers told me this morning ‘the weather hasn’t been great – but the fishing has – I need more flies!’

What’s happening on the water?

Sadly, I don’t do enough fishing to cover all of this bit from the results of my own efforts on the water so a bit of quick internet research is required and to be honest I was surprised how good it all looks!

A regular check-in point is what’s going on at the Anglian Water reservoirs and Draycote. And the answer is lots! Rod averages are in the 6-9 fish range, sometimes more. When I think back a few years a limit of 8 eight fish was the exception rather than the rule. The sport on offer these days is fantastic – and with substantially bigger ‘cormorant proof’ fish too!

However, it was when I turned to the Bristol Waters Facebook pages that I really started to sit up, pay attention and start thinking ‘when can I get down there?!’

Look at this superb rainbow

8lbs 2ozs, from the bank.

What a tail!

Or, if toothy predators are more your thing, how about this beast?

28lbs 15ozs

on a Fulling Mill Flashtail Whistler

And, to put icing on the cake, John Horsey reports that he’s already catching fish on dries in spite of the cool conditions.

Smaller stillwaters are also fishing superbly, benefitting hugely from the cold water conditions. The next week or two could be the best of the season with the water still cold but – hopefully! – the air a little warmer.

We always love to hear of our customers' success, especially when they're new to fly-fishing. PD rang last week and asked us to put him together a selection of flies to use on his weekend trip to Loynton in Staffordshire.

Looks like he got the hang of it pretty quickly!

What about the salmon fishing? Well, after a slowish start I see that the Tweed reported 108 fish last week so things seem to be picking up. And just yesterday afternoon I had a plaintive call from a great friend up the Tyne who had just lost three fish on the trot! So the fish are there, even if they don't all end up in the net (and, in case you’re wondering, yes – he does know what he’s doing! – it’s just one of those things - see below)

Flies to Fish Now

This section is taken from the website page with the same name that we updated two days ago. No major apology for that – it would be a bit odd if the advice was different! Click HERE to read the page on our website with all the flies shown on one page or read on below....

We’re now in to the absolute cream of the fly fishing season so do ensure that you make the most of it and get to the water as often as possible (this cold weather can’t last forever)

Many stillwater fly fishers will be reaching for their floating line and box of buzzers – me amongst them! Not only is it a calm and relaxing way to tempt fish with imitative patterns, it’s also absolutely deadly. Whether or not you choose to use a bung/indicator is up to you but either way do make sure you’re fishing with the best possible imitations. We have some crackers, including Traffic Lights, 3D Glass, SBD, McPhail Mirage etc. Do remember that it often pays to switch to more drab patterns when the water’s clear or you’re targeting bigger, over-wintered etc fish. If you just want a quick stop top up of the current pick of the crop look no further than our Deadly Dozen selection. A nice long leader of top quality fluorocarbon helps enormously too – we never use anything but Soft Plus, usually the 10.4lbs, dropping to 8.2lbs in very clear water. Sounds heavy I know but compare its diameter to other leader materials.

If the buzzers aren’t doing their trick and especially on smaller waters give the tried and tested Blue Flash Damsel a swim. If the action dries up try a smaller version of a similar fly. Our little Red Eyed Damsel has been working wonders and our Micro Nomads were introduced for just these occasions. (And apologies that our Micro Blue Flash Damsels are so slow to be restocked. Our tyers in Sri Lanka are trying hard to catch up from closures enforced during the worst of the pandemic. We will let you know just as soon as they arrive!)

On the warmer days when there are rising fish give the Midas a try or – if they’re taking something just sub surface – this Hare’s Ear Suspender. Another approach which can be used to deadly effect on so many days is the 'washing line'. Find out more about this set-up HERE in our 'How to and Where to' section.

Now really is the perfect time to be on the rivers. Fly life at the moment might include any or all of the following – Hawthorns, Grannom, Iron Blues, BWOs and other olives including the large Dark Olive, on warmer evenings there will be Sedges about and the scene is set for the entry of the biggest and juiciest of them all - Ephemera Vulgata, the majestic Mayfly. You will find specific patterns for all of these fly species on the website but all round ‘generalist’ patterns you shouldn’t be without include the ever reliable Parachute Adams (we also love the Klinkhamer version of this fly), the Grey Wulff, the Deer Hair Emerger and a big favourite of mine at sedge time – the Stimulator.

The salmon fishers will be starting to put away the faster sinking tips and fishing a little higher in the water. Given good conditions it’s time to tie on an old favourite like the ever dependable Cascade, a Posh Tosh or maybe a Willie Gunn tube. Often a size 8 will be the right choice but don’t be afraid to move up and down the size range and it’s always a good idea to occasionally show the fish a fly that they won’t have seen before. A hitched Sunray Shadow delivers on that thinking 100% and it’s a hugely exciting way to fish too.

It’s still a bit early for the saltwater fly fishing scene in this part of the world but the mullet master himself – pro team member Colin Macleod – has been getting amongst them already, catching no less than 6 of these fish once believed impossible to catch on the fly, in just one session last Friday, including a very early Golden Grey mullet. I have a day with him planned later in the year and I’m looking forward to it enormously. I’ve also heard mouthwatering reports of big bass on the fly from East Anglia, a coastline I’m not yet familiar with – but will be soon! With summer holidays overseas still very much in a state of flux we’ve never sold so many bass and mullet selections. Why not pick up a pack for yourself and join the fun? 

Caption Competition

A Top Performer Selection of your choice to whoever, in Jessica’s opinion, comes up with the best caption for this post lunch photo of my fishing companion and kind host from a couple of weeks ago. (I've assured him that he can't be recognised from the photo so I'm hoping he might ask me again next year!)

Send your entry to

Fishing Philosophy

I was thinking recently about what it is that makes fishing so absorbing and at the heart of it is probably the fact that few, if any, other activities are dependent on quite such a huge number of variables, many of which are outside our control. When thinking about fishing, you can be right about some things all of the time and you can be right about everything some of the time – but you can never be right about everything all of the time (on the other hand it might just be possible to be wrong about everything all of the time!)

(with due respect and maybe also apologies to Abraham Lincoln)

This month's newsletter is out slightly earlier than usual - it's because I'm away fishing next week - and I can't wait! (Don't worry, Jessica and her team will have everything under control)

Tight Lines and very best wishes from us both,

Jessica and Martin

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