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Secrets of Success

Jessica and I have been talking recently about what it is we try to deliver through our monthly email newsletters and the conclusion is pure and simple – we want to do what we can to help you, our customers, be well prepared to enjoy your precious time on the water as much as possible. Catching fish isn’t the only factor in that enjoyment equation but most of us would accept that occasional success is a pretty big part!

So when we write about the flies we think you should be fishing right now it’s not because we want to shift excess stock or just think 'well, anything will do'. It is because the patterns and tactics we talk about really are the ones we believe will work their magic on the water and help bring more fish to your net (and apologies if that sometimes mean we sell out!) Practicing what we preach, here are a couple of recent examples of success factors (of which there are of course lots more) in action:

Keep believing

At the end of last month I spent a great day chasing mullet with Colin Macleod and super skipper Paul Jennings. We were also joined by Pete Tyjas who made a podcast of the day’s proceedings, which you can listen to here. On arrival at the chosen mark our fears were confirmed - the usual massed shoals of mullet appeared to have been somewhat upset by Storm Evert which rudely passed through the day before our trip - so it was a question of perseverance and searching for the odd pockets of fish that were still around. And persistence paid off - in the shape of Golden Grey mullet for everyone else, whilst I was handsomely rewarded with my first Thick Lipped mullet. Tactics were exactly as described in the 'How to' & 'Where to' advice section on our website, flagged up in our July newsletter and fly patterns were directly from Colin’s range - as is evident from the photo below. In fact I actually managed a first (for me) ‘Harbour Slam’ on the day – Mullet, Bass and a Sea-Trout, which ate one of our Jelly Shrimps!

Thank you Colin, for pretty much single handedly creating a new branch of fly fishing and getting us all into chasing these strong and elusive fish!

Romy's Red Tag Sand Shrimp strikes again!

Invest in the best flies

In last month’s newsletter I also told said (again) that I haven’t yet found a generalist bass fly to beat our own Hi-Viz Sandeel. Unsurprisingly, this was the fly I turned to on the two occasions during our ten day break in North Wales when the wind abated sufficiently for me to venture forth with the fly rod. Result – 40-50 bass, mostly schoolies with a few better ones thrown in, all on a single fly which still looked almost as good at the end as when I took it from the box. I actually tried three other patterns but the fish just didn’t seem to want them - and I didn’t pick flies I didn’t think would work! These fish came from a mark I know - and local knowledge is hard to beat – but finding the right place and the right time to be there (in terms of the state of the tide) isn’t so hard if you start to think like a bass looking for an easy meal!

What a lovely looking fish!

If Plan A isn't working try something else

Another key factor for success is to keep ringing the changes until you find out what’s working on the day. My brother and I had a great demonstration of this at Draycote last Thursday. Conditions looked good – good cloud cover, not too hot or cold, and a medium breeze from the South West. Perfect conditions for the dry fly I can hear you thinking – and so did we. The fish, however, didn’t! After a couple of hours with a few ‘lookers’ but only one actual taker it was time for a rethink in the shape of nymphs on a washing line set-up on Hover and Midge Tip lines. This wasn’t much better so, abandoning the imitative approach, it was on with a Humungus booby on the top dropper and a Slush Blob on the point. Two or three pulls to ‘pop’ the booby then a brisk retrieve as it submerged. End result - more than 20 fish released between us. Why they didn’t seem to be feeding I don’t know but they were up and about and happy to chase and sometimes take. Another odd thing was that we worked all around some lovely weed beds but the fish didn’t seem to be there – they preferred the open water, especially in the calm lanes when these developed. We were slightly sad to have missed out on our dry fly day but preferred catching fish to flogging away with what we wanted but the fish clearly didn’t.

So, what's in store on the fishing front for the next few weeks?

Come to Daddy

Yes, it’s Daddy Long Legs time again – we’ve suddenly started sending lots of these out. Trout can’t resist such big juicy mouthfuls and takes can be highly enthusiastic and visual! Top selling patterns include foam bodied patterns in natural brown, black and orange (yellow and blue too if you want to get more exotic!) as well as the hugely successful Daddyhog. If the fish don’t want to take them off the top goldhead versions can work wonders – we sell an awful lot of the Orange and the Green versions from Fulling Mill. Cover all the angles by investing in a pack of our Dancing Daddies – every fly is there on merit, based on the biggest sellers across all our ranges. Customers don’t keep coming back for flies that don’t work!

Frying Tonight

As we begin to move out of summer towards the cooler Autumn months so the trout’s attention often turns towards sizeable items of protein packed food in the shape of fry, which can gather in big shoals around any form of structure or shelter. Again, this can be a very exciting form of fishing – with big, aggressive fish smashing into flies – and again we have put together a great selection of flies to cover all the angles for tempting Mr Big!

Buy both selections – Fry Bashers and Dancing Daddies and from now until the end of September we’ll throw in the extra flies - worth £9.90 - shown below.

As the river trout season draws to a close (not forgetting that September can offer some of the best fishing of the year) so the attention of many river fishers turns to the beautiful and challenging Grayling. With the super effective and popular flies from Lubos Roza now joined by superb patterns from world champion Howard Croston there has never been such a great choice of ‘technical’ patterns that work their magic on both trout and grayling. Many of these patterns are available in various hook and tungsten bead size options to ensure that the correct choice is available to cover different water depths and speeds. 

September is normally a great month to be casting a fly in saltwater – it’s no coincidence that both the original St Mawes festival and the more recently introduced Orvis event take place in that month – so don’t miss out and let’s hope for some decent settled weather to enjoy paddling about in the briny! It’s also the month when salmon catches peak on most rivers as the water starts to cool and the fish become more active. At the risk of making a sweeping generalisation (always high risk when talking of salmon!) this time of year sees the silver and blue patterns from earlier in the season give way to orange and red offerings such as the ever faithful Ally’s Shrimp together with more recent creations such as Calvin’s Shrimp. Of course flies like the legendary Willie Gunn, the Cascade and the Silver Stoat never stop working from the first day of the season to the last! In the fading light at the end of the day I often choose a bigger and darker fly, this Black & Purple Shrimp is my favourite. One other tip for this time of year is the magical effect that a tiny dot of fluorescent Glo Brite No.4 incorporated into a fly can sometimes have – it’s a key feature on the Aurora Red Butt.

Planning a Trip to chase Bonefish and Permit on the Flats?

We know that many plans have been thwarted by travel restrictions and that they’re not over yet but, whether or not you have to wait a bit longer than you might have hoped, do take a look at all the new patterns that have become available since your last trip. Fulling Mill have some great looking new flies such as the all new range of Flexo Crabs and Sydney’s Shrimps and we’re delighted to be able to offer the flats smorgasbord shown below from our Pro Range

Clockwise from top left:

Alphlexo Crab, Tan

Spawning Shrimp

Strong Arm Merkin

Alphlexo Crab, Olive

Bonefish Bug, Tan

Bonefish Bug, Sand

See them all HERE

Whilst small to medium sized bonefish can be enthusiastic and unfussy the big fish are much harder to tempt and permit are just permit! These breakthrough patterns - from guides who are actually doing their development work out on the water with the fish as judges - can make a real difference to your chances of converting a shot into a hook-up rather than yet another inspection and rejection.

The UK and the EU

Finally, it’s moving towards a year now since the UK left the EU. We have never stopped shipping to our longstanding customers and friends in EU countries and, to date (with fingers firmly crossed as always!), haven’t experienced any major problems with delivery. The 20% UK VAT no longer charged has, to a large extent, offset any additional costs incurred in the destination country. We would love to make things even easier for customers based in the EU by setting up an IOSS (Import One Stop Shop) arrangement but at the moment the cost and workload make this unrealistic for a little business like ours. We will continue to keep things under review and, if and when a cheaper, simpler option (perhaps using the UK tax authority) becomes available we’ll use it.

Meanwhile, moving in the other direction, I recently bought another lovely Danielsson reel from Sweden. The whole process was highly efficient and the (literally!) next day delivery softened the cost of the shipping by DHL, who also collect the VAT. The icing on the cake was the customer service – a scratched spare spool was replaced instantly, without the need to return the damaged spool. Great Swedish engineering and service! 

Enjoy your late summer fishing!

Tight Lines and very best wishes from us both,

Jessica and Martin

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