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400 species of Chironomid. What to use? Winter Fly Fishing & Midges

It always amazes me how few fly fishers fish with tiny Midge imitations, particularly in winter when Midges are generally the only flies to hatch. There is not a single day in the year that some Midges do not hatch on our lakes & rivers.

Fly Fishing in Montana, my Nirvana...

On the spring creeks, tributaries of the Yellowstone River at Livingston, (Armstrong & De Puys) we encountered hot, sunny weather with a brisk wind during the middle of the day. Surface activity was mainly confined to the mornings & late evenings with massive hatches of tiny chironomid midges plus a few very small Blue Winged Olive duns & spinners.

Japan on the ZERO #0 10'6

Fly fishing in Japan with a zero weight rod and small dry flies for Cherry Salmon.

My Fly Fishing & People

My Fly Fishing & People

Fly fishing for David Southall is about people. Fly Fishing is less about the catching and it is, for David, about who he meets. Fly fishing in the UK especially has a special meaning for people.

Close range fishing

Close range fishing

Tenkara fishing with its short, fixed line has taught me a lot about the advantages of fishing at close range. Even before my introductory forays into Tenkara I was aware of many of the advantages of fishing a short line but often tended to fish at too great a distance due to my fear of scaring the fish that I was targeting.

Coping with Drought & Heat

Coping with Drought & Heat

To effectively fish tiny flies to spooky fish in low, clear, slow-flowing water requires extreme stealth both in the angler’s approach & his or her presentation of the fly, plus, of course, in most cases a drag-free drift & super accurate casting.

The Delightful Duo

The Delightful Duo

Small nymphs tantalisingly suspended under a well ginked dry is often kryptonite for unsuspecting fish in any river around the world. 

F Flies, Simple & Very Effective (If Well Presented)

With all my CdC dry flies I use Roman Moser Miracle Float, a brilliant floatant recommended to me by Stuart Wardle & available from him at the Durham Fly Fishing Company. When my fly has become drowned & covered with fish slime I use the following procedure to rejuvenate it:

Review of ZERO 10'6

The design of the rod is radical, being based on Quiver Tip technology taken from coarse fishing ledger rods. It comes in 6 pieces (4 lower hollow sections & 2 solid carbon tips that slot into the top of the hollow part). The aim of this rod was to fill the gap between Tenkara with it fixed-line limitations & conventional ‘Western’ fly rod & reel.

The Induced Take & Dry Flies

The Induced Take & Dry Flies

We all know about the ‘induced take’ when fishing with nymphs thanks to Frank Sawyer & Oliver Kite. It is also obvious that streamers must have movement applied in order to imitate small fish. However, many fly fishers seem to either be unaware of or to ignore the application of movement to dry flies in order to induce the fish to take. 

Urban Stream with the Sunray ZERO and Sunray California

Fishing for wild trout with the World's lightest fly rod.

Heavy Metal Nymphs & Buzzers

Heavy Metal Nymphs & Buzzers

Whilst I much prefer the visual appeal of dry fly, it is sometimes necessary to get a fly down deep, particularly when winter grayling fishing or early season trouting. Also when sight fishing,

Where is my mind?

Where is my mind?

After all these years. You put in a few casts with the duo, but you keep them short, off the rise line, because, really, you want to waste this? Oh please. Another rise, and another. Out there, hard in against the bank. Impossible position, Perfect position, right where the black gnats are caught momentarily, before being whisked away into the river’s spill, if not intercepted by this trout. 

Hyper Light & Super Sensitive Setups for Fussy Small Still Water Trout

Presentation is the main problem when fishing imitations of these micro-flies. If fishing ‘on the drop’ the flies must sink vertically (not swing in an arc, tethered by a tensioned tippet): to achieve this dump casts are essential to provide enough slack in the tippet. 

Catching Highly Pressured Fish

Catching Highly Pressured Fish

Over my nearly 60 years of fishing I’ve come across many situations where the fish have been very challenging to catch because they have become highly educated by heavy fishing pressure & frequent recapture. 

My Winter Grayling Setup

My Winter Grayling Setup

Although I prefer the dry fly there are many times, particularly in the depth of winter, when the only logical option is to fish with subsurface flies.

The Number 1 Fly Casting Fault I see.

This is the number 1 fly casting fault that I see daily. The Overhang Fault!

What they can give - Reflections on being the England River Manager

As river team manager, I have been privileged to interact with competitors at a personal, fundamental level, and then with the collective of the team, driving towards a single goal. 

Fluorocarbon is heavier and sinks in water. Yes, this is true! However, will it make a difference? Will it actually bring a nymph to the bottom more quickly than nylon?

Fluorocarbon is heavier and sinks in water. Yes, this is true! However, will it make a difference? Will it actually bring a nymph to the bottom more quickly than nylon?

Episode 13 - Dries in a flat calm

Tom uploads a new Vlog to the official Sunray YouTube channel every Tuesday at 7pm UK time. New products are first launched on the Vlog....

Episide 12 - Nymphin'

Episide 12 - Nymphin'

Tom shows us his nymphing line / indicator / tippet / fly rig and tells us what makes a fly line sensitive.

How to handle the fish you catch

How to handle fish properly. Thanks to advances in techniques including Euro nymphing/Czech nymphing & Micro Thin lines, plus the resurgence of the ancient technique of Tenkara, we are catching more fish.

Barbel on Streamers

Barbel on Streamers

I must confess to be a dry fly addict, generally only turning to subsurface tactics as a last resort. I am also a light-line, delicate presentation addict so rarely fish with lines over 3 weight...

Willow Grubbers in New Zealand

Willow Grubbers in New Zealand

"One very hot, frustrating, day I noticed a couple of good fish sipping deep under some overhanging willow trees. Crawling behind cover to within a few feet of them I could clearly see they were feeding on tiny yellow Sawfly caterpillars (Willow Grubs.)"

Ants, my favourite patterns

Ants, my favourite patterns

When fishing the dry fly most of my fish come to 4 very basic patterns; a variant of Jack Tucker’s CdC IOBO Humpy, a simple CdC Shuttlecock, Marjan Fratnick’s F Fly & a basic Elk Hair Caddis tied with no hackle.

Gammarus / Shrimps

Gammarus / Shrimps

Gammarus imitations will catch fish throughout the year. However, I much prefer to fish the dry fly, but particularly when winter grayling fishing a shrimp pattern is often on my cast.

Driffield Beck - A piece of fly fishing history.

Driffield Beck and its smaller sister, Foston or Kelk Beck are the most northerly chalk streams of any significant size in the UK. The fishing on the Beck is famous worldwide.

Fishing Micro-Brooks

Fishing Micro-Brooks

I love fishing tiny brooks, so small & often so overgrown that virtually nobody else considers them to be worth fishing.

Italian Casting, Jungle Fishing, Wind & Spooky Trout

Let’s start by looking at the basic principles of the Italian Casting Style as taught by Massimo Magliocco, one of Italy’s top casters. 

Episode 11 - Flies

Episode 11 - Flies

Tom walks us through his most used flies.

Beetles

Beetles

It’s summer & ‘Beetle Time’! It was in the late 1960s that I first came across a beetle imitation being used for trout.

Episode 10 - Amphibious Pedalo

Episode 10 - Amphibious Pedalo - Warning. Contains Clowns.

Episode 9 - 5' One Piece 0 weight Cane Rod

Tom takes his bespoke Rawson & Perrin built one piece 5' 0 weight cane rod to his local fishery.

Episode 8 - Best rod on the planet.

The Voltion 10' #7 arives and Tom goes mental! Some hardcore single hand spey action.

Episode 6 - Trout under a motorway

Wild trout under the M6 motorway using nymphs and dries.

Episode 5 - Time for dries & a kick ass headspin

Tom uses a 2 weight rod on his local stillwater and cleans up.

It all makes perfect sense

It all makes perfect sense

Jeremy Lucas fishes the French chalk and English limestone river in early season using, what he calls, the ultimate refinement.

Episode 4 - How to cast for distance & how to mow your rods.

Tom teaches you how to distance cast with a fly rod and he mowes some rods in episode 4 of this weeks Sunray video.

Episode 2 - Streamers in your underwear

Casting stupid big streamers on silly little glass fly rods with no pants on, to large resident brown trout on a quaint and pleasant English chalkstream. Tom Bell from Sunray & Will Robins from Mulberry Whin in Episode 2 of our weekly Vlog, posted every Tuesday night at 7pm UK Time.

Episode 1 - El Guapo

Episode 1 - El Guapo

*** RIO OUTBOUND VERSUS SUNRAY EL GUAPO. *** ROLL CAST PICK UP / SALTWATER QUICK CAST / INTO SWITCH DIRECTION REVERSE CAST TUTORIAL.

Agapetus Pupae - The Stuart Crofts Imitation

Don’t think it is just small fish that get focused on Agapetus pupae: the biggest fish in the river will come out for this feast. 

Addicted to light line fly fishing

Why fish light fly fishing tackle? David Southall digs deeper into the reasons.

Changes I’ve Seen in Over 50 Years of Fly Fishing

David Southall takes us through innovations & changes in fly fishing over 50 years. From fly fishing in Canada to the Italian style of casting & Tenkara.

Fishing for big browns in New Zealand.

John Tyzack chases big brown trout in New Zealand.

Camouflage & Stealth

Camouflage & Stealth

A stealthy approach is vital when fishing for wild fish, particularly those in waters that are not heavily fished. David Southall 

The Face of the Waters

The Face of the Waters

Jeremy Lucas talks us through his local water fishing and how he uses level tippet instead of tapered leaders on Sunray micro thin lines.

There is a feeling I get

There is a feeling I get

Jeremy Lucas visits his personal mecca. The River San in Poland. Jeremy takes us through his simple process of observation, approach and fly management.

Late season grayling

Late season grayling

David Southall discusses late season tactics for grayling fishing in the UK.

My Favourite Winter Grayling Flies

David Southall takes us through his favourite grayling patterns for Winter fishing. From squirmy worms to micro nymphs, some are imitative, some are suggestive.

Tackling Alpine Pocket Water with Big Dry Flies by David Southall

The first time my fishing buddy Steve & I visited the high alpine streams of Austria, in July of 2007, we were overawed by the speed & turbulence of the flows. How does one fish a maelstrom of white water?