Midlands Fly Fishing — The Blog￼
If you dream about catching big brown trout or trophy rainbows, stop dreaming and make it a reality! Luck may see you land occasional big fish, doing it consistently takes skill. It is no coincidence that 90% of big fish are caught by 10% of anglers! Here you will learn skills and techniques to help you consistently catch truly trophy trout like this.
The first rule in pursuing big trout is your own mindset. You won’t catch as many fish and some days you will go blank simply because targeting big fish means ignoring the smaller trout. Secondly, decide what your target size is. Size is relative to waters and species you are fishing, however in my opinion a big trout is a fish in excess of 10lbs. Having decided this, you then need to regularly fish waters which produce fish of this size. It sounds obvious I know, however one of the greatest barriers to anglers not catching big trout is simply fishing regular waters hoping for a small miracle. Turn the odds in your favour and select venues carefully.
Where to Find Big Trout
While obvious differences exist between river and lake, trout the world over have 3 key requirements, which are oxygen, food and cover. Locating areas in any body of water providing all 3 key requirements is a priority as these will be hot spots. Identifying “hot spots” or “prime lies” brings you another step along the path to catching truly trophy trout. Big trout are dominant creatures, securing the best territory they can and will guard it against all invaders. So it goes without saying, by identifying a number of “hot spots” on your water, you will cast your fly into water more probable to hold trophy size trout.
- Examples of oxygen rich water are broken water, inlets, deep, shaded water, springs.
- Areas of rich feeding are marginal areas, drop offs in depth, weed & silt beds, current seams.
- Cover is provided by marginal vegetation, close proximity of deep water, broken water.
Techniques for Trophy Trout
Regardless of whether a trout is stocked or wild, is in a lake or river, fish which have little experience of anglers (for example where angling pressure is low) can be easy. Conversely, pressured fish are street wise and far more challenging to catch and this needs to be remembered.
Before deciding on techniques, we need to think of our approach to waters. Firstly is the water one where we can sight fish? If the answer is yes, then patiently stalking trophy trout in prime lies will provide the most consistently successful approach of catching big trout. Where stalking fish is not possible, a careful search strategy needs to be formulated, so you work a fly through a lie to maximum effect.
Having decided our approach, the areas of technique, time of year and day, conditions, trout and prey activity all need to be thought through carefully. Their are no rules here and brown trout react differently to rainbow trout, each species behaves in differing ways from water to water. You simply have to put the time in here, experimenting, observing and learning. Having said that we can propose a rough guide.
Large trout will often show a preference for either a large, highly mobile fly such as lures and big dries or a small fly for example nymphs & shrimp. As a very broad generalisation, spring and autumn are prime times for large mobile lures, summer fishing is most productive with small nymphs during daytime and big dries around dusk, while winter time is a mix between large lures and small nymphs. Flies need to be worked on appropriate fly lines and retrieves, again only by putting in time and effort will you find what works best for specific waters. The best advice here is to fish your fly at the level of a big trout and keep it in the fish’s face as long as possible!
Two misconceptions about fly fishing are that winter time is closed season or winter fishing is for the few brave/stupid enough to venture out!
This simply is not true. Firstly, a large number of trout lakes in Great Britain now remain open all year or at least operate an extended season for rainbow trout which broadly speaking do not breed in UK waters. In addition to this more and more anglers are waking up to fly fishing for alternative species and pike are a great winter target species on many of our larger waters.
On rivers grayling provide exciting dry fly and nymph fishing right through to spring when they spawn, while chub can be caught in most rivers and like grayling are in their very best condition during winter time.
With the advent of modern outdoor clothing and recent mild winter weather, their is no need to be cold while enjoying outdoor life. In fact, their is no such thing as bad weather, just bad gear! To make winter fly fishing even more attractive, the fish are often in better condition and fight far harder in the cold, oxygen rich water than at more traditional seasons of the fly fishers year. Add to this that some of the largest rainbow trout, chub, pike and grayling are caught at this time and you can see (as shown in the picture below) their is no reason to put those rods away!
Winter Trout Fishing
Given that rainbow trout thrive in cold, oxygen rich water environments, their is no better time to fish fish for them than winter. You won’t find lethargic fighting fish at this time of year, even 2lb fish will fight far more than their weight, so expect some real action! Many spring fed lakes will be crystal clear, often providing opportunities to sight fish. This is an extremely exciting way to fly fish, especially when you consider big trout to 20lbs plus will be active in some waters, providing the ultimate challenge instalking trout.
Grayling & Chub Fishing
Grayling apreciate cold, pure, water of our cleanest river reaches more than trout and are the ultimate indicator of a pristine environment. Despite being free rising especially the smaller fish, as they become older, wiser and larger, surface feeding deminishes and fish consume the majority of food from the river bed as suggested by it’s underslung mouth. Without doubt, casting weighted nymphs and bugs is the most productive way to target grayling and though most fish are likely to be less than 1lb, they fight very well on a light 4 weight outfit. A grayling of 2lbs is a big fish and anything around this size or above can be regarded as a very special catch. Check out our winter grayling fishing here!
For the angler looking for a target river species of consistently larger average size, the chub is in our opinion a fabulous sporting fish. While encounters during the summer months are sometimes sluggish in terms of the fight as the fish recover from spawning, a winter chub in top condition is another matter. Chub attain weights of 7lbs plus in UK waters, with many streams and rivers holding many 2-3lb fish. A good tip for big chub (fish of 4lbs plus) is to fish lies where you would expect a big brown trout to hold as they have very similar habits. Chub will tolerate less pure water than trout or grayling and thus are far more widely spread within river systems, readily accepting weighted nymphs and lures of the tadpole, wooly bugger and zonker styles.
Pike have a fearsome reputation which is undeserved. They are a perfect predator and have an awesome set of toothy hardware adorning their mouth which belies their fragility. Pike more than any other fish require very careful handling not as you might expect incase they bite you, rather to ensure you do not harm them. Pike are the ultimate big fish species for the winter fly fisher, with attainable weights of 50lb plus. However a big fish is considered 20lbs upward and is the target weight of many fly rodders now targeting them. Pike are widely available in both still and running water providing a real challenge and requiring heavier outfits than those used for the species discussed previously. An 8, 9 or even 10 weight outfit is required depending upon venue both to enable safe casting with big flies of up to 8 inches in length and to enable the angler to quickly land and return the pike without exhausting fish excessively. Please note when fly fishing for pike, your fly repressenting a bait fish species or an out and out attractor style MUST ALWAYS be attached to a wire tippet of at least 12 inches long. This is because pike will bite cleanly through monofilament nylons and flourocarbon.
For further details on our winter pike fishing, visit our pike on fly area.
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