Blog, news and reviews from Snowdonia Fly Fishing Guides
I bought size 18 jig hooks as I wanted to tie some small bead headed patterns. Well that didn't work out as planned!
How difficult could it be to have uniform hook sizing? For the life of me I don't know why manufacturers make it so difficult. There is no convention other the smaller the number the bigger the hook but even that is only true until size 1 after which the rules change and a 1/0 is smaller than a 2/0 which is smaller than a 3/0 etc.
To make matters worse different brands have different sizes for the same hook number. So a size 14 or 16 from company X will be different to company Y. Some manufacturers don't even seem to have a sizing convention for their own hooks. the picture below shows hooks of the same brand but different models. Confused? You're not alone.
The BL154 size 14 is clearly bigger than the size 16, that's good, but the size 18's with a different code are bigger than the size 16, that's bonkers!
When will hook suppliers come up with a sensible sizing formula for all hooks? Answer, probably never.
Over the years I've tried many brands of sunglasses and a plethora of different coloured lenses. Without doubt the best shades I've ever used are Cost Del Mar. They are second to none when it comes to the quality of their lenses and have excellent build quality and a huge variety of styles and sizes.
I use copper coloured lenses on bright days and yellow lenses when the weather is dull or I'm fishing into the evening. The Silver Sunrise really are quite exceptional, with 30% light transmission 100% polarisation and mirrored lenses I don't believe these glasses have a rival. Some other high end brands only offer 12% - 14% light transmission and less polarisation.
A few months ago I lost my old pair of yellows and I've been putting off replacing in the hope they turned up, well they haven't and with the onset of winter I urgently needed to get a new pair. I've got the glass lenses this time around, I was reluctant as I'd heard they were heavier than the polycarbonate, but honestly - I can't tell the difference in weight over my polycarb coppers.
'Okay', I hear you say, 'but look at the price'! My response is 'yes, they are expensive, but what price your safety, eyesight and comfort'. A pair of Costa Del Mar shades could last you a lifetime and their styles and design are timeless so even when you look older your shades won't. Now I don't like to waste anything, especially money, but I'm happy to spend money on good gear that will last and Costas definitely do. I've got a drawer full of bust sunglasses but I've never had a pair of Costa shades break.
The Silver Sunrise lenses are not readily available in the UK but the good news is Coast2Coast sunglasses - https://www.coast2coastsunglasses.com not only offer a full range of styles and lens colours but also an excellent service. The staff are friendly and helpful and their deliveries are prompt. I'm reluctant to use offshore stores offering big discounts on branded stuff - you never know if it's genuine or fake. So if you are looking for a pair of genuine Costas I'd recommend Cost2Coast.
Well the new rod is nearly ready, just a couple of finishing touches before it gets an outing.
I've made no secret of the fact that I love fishing with fibreglass rods. They are tough, light, responsive and feel great when bending into a fish. What's not to like? If you think they are too soft to cast effectively you'd be wrong. Modern 'S' glass rods are powerful and can, if handled right cast a good long line. Glass rods are warm, tactile and wondrously translucent.
Martin, a good friend, fished with glass for the first time yesterday, using an 8' 4 wt rod I built last year and was an immediate convert after his catch rate out performed his favourite carbon rod.
For me fibreglass rods have more 'feel', I can detect takes more easily and when hooked the rod's softer action makes playing a fish a more pleasurable experience.
Using a glass rod isn't something that can be rushed, to get the best out of one needs a slow, gentle casting stroke that encourages the caster to relax. Using glass is a transcendental experience.
Well I finally made a decision on colours. I'm using an olive silk thread and silver trim. The silk will get darker and translucent when the resin is applied so will be muted and subtle with the silver adding a little bling. The ferrule wraps will be white silk which will become all but invisible through the finish.
I've recently received the components for my next fly rod. Over the last few years I've used fibreglass almost exclusively for my fishing and this new build will be a 7'6", 4 weight, 4 piece using an exclusive Taniwha Rodworks S-helix fibreglass blank.
At the moment I'm struggling to decide what colour whipping thread to use for the wraps on an olive blank and it's proving to be surprisingly difficult!
Lots of claims are made by manufacturers about tippet materials but how accurate are they?
Back in 2015 Yellowstone Angler performed a range of tests and a wide variety of lines. It was interesting reading then and it still is now. The article can be found by following this link
The best nylon in the test was Stroft GTM. This is an excellent tippet material, but my preference is Stroft ABR. In their review Yellowstone Angler said "The only downsides were their poor spool design and slightly higher average cost than other nylons". I disagree on the cost issue, I think this is really good value for money, especially the 100m spools, but totally agree that the spool design is poor.
The smaller 50m spools are more convenient and easier to carry than the much larger 100m spools but buying the 50m spools is way more expensive. Neigher spool systems interlock which is a pity as I prefer small 100m spools that lock together, but if you only carry one or two spools this may not be an issue.
The Tactical Pro 9' #5/6 has an anodised aluminium up locking reel seat, AAA cork reverse half wells grip and is built on a matt black blank, with Fuji SIC and REC Recoil TM titanium/nickel guides. Black whipping with a turn of red thread and white alignment dots pick out the joints and make for a no nonsense, professional finish.
The rod is light and responsive with a fast recovery but a smooth progressive action that allows for nice loops at low speed and elegant presentation casts. When a long line is aerialised the rod bends into the butt and delivers distance with ease.
It's non reflective finish and progressive action is perfect for rivers and stillwaters delivering a fly with delicate precision at close range and having enough grunt to effortlessly cast a whole flyline (if that's your thing).
I have only two negative points: 1) The grip is a little too thick for my liking, but 30 minutes with a fine sandpaper can sort that out. 2) The rod tube is square with a zipped flap, square tubes are more easily crushed and the zipped flap offers little protection at the end. For a rod of this price I'd expect a better tube to protect it. The retail price at time of writing is £500, You'll need to decide if this rod is good value for money.
Available from www.flytyingcompany.co.uk
Well I've been using the Redington Prowler boots for some weeks now and my first impressions are very favourable. They are well made, have a nice wide fit, are light and comfortable when worn all day and give good support and stability. They also dry fairly quickly which is important when using them in different catchments. I bought them one size bigger than my normal shoe size and they fit well. They retail at around £160, so not the cheapest out there but reasonably priced.
I enjoy wearing them and there is nothing I can be critical of. Great wading boots at a good price.
Well it was a cold, windy day on the river Dee and the fishing was slow. However I soon warmed up when a kelt (about 8lb) took a shine to my size 14 spider!
I was using a fibreglass rod I built myself on an Epic blank. The rod performed well and was bent in half for most of the time I was doing battle with my catch. Eventually, and fortunately, the kelt got off after straightening the hook on my fly.
The 'X' sizing of tippet was originally used for the cutting of catgut in to strips of uniform thickness.
The same sizing convention has since been adopted by many tippet manufacturers for nylon and fluorocarbon. The original sizing was done in fractions of an inch but has also been converted into metric measurements (**the metric diameters can vary slightly between manufacturers but as we're talking about small percentages of a millimeter the variation isn't big enough to lose sleep over).
Below is a simple sizing chart for the most popular sizes of fly fishing tippet. I've kept this basic and not confused it by including breaking strains or poundage as these vary significantly between brands and materials.
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!
I've had a few pairs of zip waders and like the versatility and comfort they offer. My previous pair disappointingly lasted less than a year before the zip broke and the neoprene socks started to leak, so I decided to try a different brand this time around.
Now I do use my waders a lot and am quite demanding of them so I need a pair that will be durable and reliable, but I refuse to pay £600 - £700 plus for a top end pair that I could ruin on barbed wire on their first outing!
I settled on a pair of Redington, Sonicdry Fly Waders. These do not have stitched seams, they are ultrasonic welded, and are very well made, thick, tough and with plenty of storage pockets and even fleece lined hand warming pockets, a real bonus for winter fishing. A very substantial belt is provided and the waterproof fly zip (manufactured by German company, TIZIP) is flexible and easy to use.
The waders are roomy and comfortable with plenty of room to bend and stretch. My one criticism is with the neoprene socks are somewhat snug and I would like them to be a boot size bigger.
So in conclusion: Redington Sonicdry waders are thoughtfully designed, well made and good value but the neoprene socks are too small.
One word of warning with zipped waders, from experience, always check that the zip is done up before getting in the water!!!!
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.
A well know 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 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 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.