Blog, news and reviews from Snowdonia Fly Fishing Guides
Even though the water was high and fast, there were still a few fish rising and willing to take a dry fly.
The weather has been cold, wet and windy and the water is thick with leaf litter as trees shed their leaves in readiness for winter. It never ceases to amaze me how, in amongst the general autumnal detritus, the fish can spot a size 16 or 18 Griffiths gnat and pluck it from the surface. However, the success rate was low, the fish missed 3 or 4 to every one caught, not surprising really given the speed of the river.
It's good to see a good range of grayling sizes. Some years ago there were many big fish on this stretch of water but few smaller ones, that was followed by a few lean years with very few grayling caught. So it's good to see this year has a healthy population of grayling throughout the age ranges.
Fishing in Snowdonia on a windy, wet autumnal day. But as the saying goes 'there's no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing'. Fortunately there's some excellent kit available to keep anglers warm and dry no matter the conditions.
I've recently returned from a short fishing trip to Slovenia on the rivers Lipnica and Sava Bohinjka. The scenery was amazing, the weather was good, our accommodation comfortable and the food very good. Most things are reasonably priced, including the rates for a guide, but the fishing permits were quite expensive at €40 - €60 per day and double that for the 'Trophy Waters'.
All in all I thoroughly enjoyed myself with a few days of excellent fishing. However the vast majority of fish caught were naturalised rainbow trout (introduced several years ago and allowed to breed) and these were caught by the barrel load! The rainbows were perfectly, and beautifully, coloured to blend in with the bleached white riverbed and gin clear waters. They were fighting fit and excellent sport. The disappointment was the almost complete lack of grayling and brown trout. I caught just 2 fingerling grayling and one small brownie.
Our guide said that a severe flood a few years ago washed most of the grayling out of the system and are struggling to re-establish themselves. I suspect the large numbers of predatory rainbows are a more significant factor.
There are also large rainbows stocked in the Sava Bohinjka , 600mm and over, and these seemed to be the fish that several anglers wanted to target. I was happy to let them get on with it preferring the smaller wild fish.
The weather here is amazing. After a long, very cold winter and cool wet spring we've had weeks of unbroken hot, sunny weather. The rivers and lakes are low but surprisingly productive with brown trout, sea trout, grayling regularly being caught along with the occasional smolt.
I love summer fishing, there's not a lot better than standing waist deep in a river, fishing a dry fly, with the sun beating down.
The last few weeks have seen spectacular hatches of aquatic and terrestrial flies and the sport has been excellent. Long may it continue.
Well the brown trout season is over for another year and here's a couple from my last day caught on a mini streamer pattern.
Snowdonia, a great place to fish for grayling. No special tackle is needed, if you fly fish for trout you probably have all you need to fish for grayling. If you've never done it give it a try, it's addictive!
After guiding a client in the morning I had a cracking few hours on Monday afternoon. Three fish in my first ten minutes fell for the charms of a pink and red spider. I was so impressed with it's catching abilities I tied a load more this morning. I've also tied a few as a dry fly variant and will give that a go over the next few days.
I really enjoy going fishing with a few mates but sometimes I really appreciate the solitude of fishing alone. Having time to switch off and enjoy the peace and quiet.
It was cold today, very cold! Rod guides icing up can be a problem when winter fishing and there are a few does and a don't when this happens.
Don't try to pick or snap the ice off, this can damage your line and even break the guides. There are a few things for can use to help prevent or slow down the buildup. Lip balm, Vaseline, or even cooking oil can be lightly applied to dry guides, So be prepared and even before you start fishing apply a thin film to each guide. Don't use too much, if you need to reapply soften the ice by dipping the guides in the water before gently removing it, dry them off and re-apply your ice retardant. I have two other solutions you can try - one is Silicone Mucilin, I always have this in my pack and it works well, alternatively just pack up, go home and wait for the weather to warm up!
A client fishing the tail of a pool on the river Dee on the 1st day of December. Unseasonably cold, dry, still sunny days have led to low river levels and some good fishing, long may it continue.
This time last year the river and surrounding areas had been in flood for weeks.
I've been tying a few dry flies that I've found to be exceptionally good for grayling, but also wild brown trout. I don't know if this fly has a name, I call it the NG (Nifty Gnat), apologies if anyone out there has already put a name to this pattern. If you have let me know and I'll credit you.
It's dead easy to tie and and very effective, it's a variant of a Shipman's buzzer and Griffith's gnat all rolled into one:
Hook size: I tie them on sizes 16 down to 20
Thread: Claret with diameter to suit hook size
Breathers: Poly yarn (I've also used foam)
Hackle: Purple (or grizzle) cape top
So just to be clear mono, copolymer and fluoro are all monofilament, in that it is all a single extrusion. However we anglers usually like to define them separately so for the purposes of this post that's what I'll do.
Mono & copolymer: Basically the same stuff. A relatively inexpensive nylon tippet material that has good stretching properties, now whilst this makes for good shock absorption and less risk of breaking it can reduce sensitivity and bite detection. It tends to be supple and not to have memory problems and lies straight. Diameter to strength can be excellent with better brands having surprisingly fine diameters for their breaking strain and good abrasion resistance. Mono and copolymer are not UV resistant and will eventually break down in sunlight.
Fluoro: I've got to say there are some claims made of fluoro that I don't believe and that do not stand up to scrutiny.
Take a length of each material of the same diameter and fluoro will be heavier than mono, however the claims that it sinks and so is better for sub surface fishing is a load of eyewash! If it doesn't break the surface tension of the water fluoro floats just like mono. If it breaks the surface tension fluoro and mono sinks, however fluoro does sink more quickly but if fishing a wet fly or nymph it doesn't help to sink the fly quicker.
I've read how fluoro is near invisible underwater due to its refractive index, mmmm, right!! Try this little experiment for yourself - Take a length of each material of the same diameter and place them in a glass of water, both are clearly visible. Now drop the same pieces on to the water, both will stick in the surface tension, finally poke them under the water and both will sink!
Fluoro is generally stiffer and less stretchy, this is good for bite detection but bad for snapping and memory retention. Some claim knot strength is not so good, but as long as appropriate knots are well tied I don't think there is a problem, but because it is stiffer and less flexible it may contribute to knot breaks.
Finally fluoro is UV resistant so does not break down in sunlight, this one fact is why I will not consider using it. If this stuff is left lying around it's there forever, it will not degrade!
Fluoro is a good deal more expensive than mono so you have to decide if it's worth the premium.
So to conclude: there are good and bad points with both materials, it's up to you to decide which is best for you. Personally I use and recommend good quality mono or copolymer.
I had the pleasure of fishing with the East Midlands Trout Fishing Association at Grafham Water last weekend.
Grafham is a huge reservoir (about 10 miles circumference) in Cambridgeshire that is renowned for it's rainbow trout fishing.
As the intrepid members of the EMTFA were getting suited and booted and taking to the boats the talk was around tactics and locations. Flies were exchanged, along with a few tales of the one that got away!
Now some may tell you that fishing a stillwater is easy, and it can be, but there are many occasions when it can be exceptionally tough and frustrating! Last Sunday was such a day, the weather was perfect, dry, overcast with a little sun and a pleasant breeze. There was plenty of insects hatching and fish were topping regularly, but could we catch 'em!!!!
Lunchtime saw us back on dry land for a BBQ and more talk and plenty of head scratching as we talked tactics for the afternoon session.
The day ended at 18:00 with all the club members gathered around the weighing room to talk about the catch.
My thanks to Bill Knight and all the members of the EMTFA for making me feel welcome. I look forward to meeting up with the very pleasant and hospitable members of this club again in the future.
A well known fly fishing guide and instructor John can often be found fishing or guiding on the Welsh Dee or passing his knowledge to others at game fairs and country shows.
guided fly fishing in North Wales
Guided fly fishing trips on rivers, streams and upland lakes in Snowdonia. and surrounding areas of North Wales.
Fishing for summer & winter grayling and wild brown trout.in the spectacular, tranquil countryside that is Snowdonia National Park.
Fly fishing lessons in North Wales
Fly fishing and casting lessons for beginners. Casting fault analysis, single handed spey, slack line and presentation casting tuition for more experienced fly fishers.
Develop your watercraft skills on freestone rivers and upland lakes.