With flyfishing at Penshurst currently locked down I thought it would be good to note down some tips that may help some of the members new to fly fishing. It may also be a useful reminder of the bad habits that us experienced anglers get into.
False casts: We’re all guilty of making too many false casts, how many times have you shot the line thinking “I should have let it go on the previous cast”? Try to limit yourself to three false casts, this should adequately load the rod and shoot the line. At the very least you won’t be as tired from all the casting and your fly will be in the water for longer.
Casting length: Remember fish like to swim in the margins, especially in the colder months so make sure you fish all of the water, starting with the margins systematically increasing the angle in a fan-like pattern. If you haven’t seen any activity after completing the fan it maybe time to move on.
Take your time: Its important to let the rod do the work when fly casting. Keeping your shoulders square, elbow tucked inand leading foot forward will allow you to keep the rod moving backwards and forwards in a steady rhythm. Allow the line time to shoot out on your back cast, shooting it forward too early will result in the fly not going as far as you would like. If you’re rushing, take a deep breath and remember why you are fishing in the first place.
Be aware of your surroundings: There’s nothing more frustrating than getting all setup seeing a fish move then getting yourself tangled up in a tree. Take a good look where the surrounding snags are and consider how the wind might affect your line when casting.
Leader length: The lakes at Penshurst aren’t that deep and often the water quality is clear, add to the fact that trout are highly sensitive and easily spooked makes fishing a longer leader necessary to ensure your fly is being fished as naturally as possible. I’ve always found 12ft to be a good length, butremember to check your leader length regularly when changing fly and always check for wind knots when fishing in windy conditions.
Retrieve speed: There’s a time and place for stripping a lure to induce a take, however more often than not flies are fished too fast. Vary the speed and type of retrieve. Before the lockdown I was having a lot of success with an extremely slow figure of eight retrieve. On windy days you can move the fly across the water without retrieving at all. It takes a bit of getting used to, but once perfected this can be a deadly technique when fishing natural patterns. However, be warned the takes can be very slight so don’t take your eye of the end of your line.
Fly size: We all have that go-to fly that gives us the confidence to catch fish, but what do you do when it’s not working? Trying to match the natural fly life hatching off around you is the name of the game, but you need to be confident in what you’re doing. All too often our fly size increases when we’re not catching, it’s like we subconsciously think there’s more chance of the trout seeing a bigger fly. Trout have amazing eyesight and the flies they typically feed off are tiny, so next time you find your go-to flies not working try going smaller and fishing slower.
I hope this may be of some help to some of you and I look forward to sharing the bank once the world reaches a reasonable level of normality.