Foam up your dries
Jonathan Tomlinson switches from small dries to large Poppers to tempt the fish up
SCALING down your leader streng th to get dr y f ly takes during late summer conditions is the norm. But you always run the risk of breakages or ‘pinging off ’ on the strike, particularly when f ishing at close range. There’s always a trade-off and this, I suppose, is when our angling skills are really put to the test. Hooking and play ing a strong f ish on light tippets is always diff icult – sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. Even the best anglers experience break-offs! This is exactly what happened to me on a recent session at Hay wards Farm fishery in Berkshire. The water was just cooling down after summer temperatures that reached 23 degrees! As is the case almost every where, the fishing had been tough, but with the water now on the turn and cooler temperatures in the offing I thought I’d tr y my luck. It’s still hot mind you!
A boat to search the water
Taking the boat out, conditions are calm. Occasional f ish rise in the clear water so I know they’re not too far down. Casts have to be accurate because a f ish ly ing quite shallow in the water has a narrow window of vision and you have to cast so that the f ly lands on its nose, other wise it won’t notice it. They’re sipping in small buzzers emerging through the surface film so I set up with a small Bob’s Bits on the point and an equally small Ethafoam Shipman’s on the dropper. Both these patterns sit low in the water. I’ve a nine-foot tapered leader to the dropper and then a further nine feet of 6 lb Frog Hair co polymer to the point fly. I cast out and impart just a very small amount of movement to give the impression of a small buzzer struggling to break free of the surface. Not too much movement because that will sink the fly. I want just enough to twitch the dr y ever so slightly so I apply a tiny pull on the fly-line… that’s all.
Remember, I’m f ishing a light tippet close to the boat. To my horror I hook and ping off on three f ish in succession – I’m kicking myself. It’s not that I’m too sharp on the rod lift, it’s because the f ish f ight so hard that a shake of the head is enough to break me off. I do manage some success though, hooking and landing a f ish that’s just shy of 3 .5lb and it too fought hard despite the warm water. Spoonings reveal ty pical late-summer feeding – a mixed bag of small buzzers and virtually any thing that was f loating on the surface, including feathers! But this f ish hasn’t been feeding on much because there’s not a hell of a lot about to be honest, which is t y pical in late summer!
The wind gets up
A slight increase in wind strength means it’s hard to see the small dries and given that takes have been ver y delicate indeed, takes are even harder to detect now in the breeze. I also think that the increase in wind strength has knocked the surface feeding off somewhat. I’ve a mind to change to larger surface f lies to create an attractive wake and tempt the f ish up, while increasing leader strength so that I don’t break off anymore.
With the fish lying not too far down, I opt for two Popper Hoppers – a decent mouthful for any fish and a pattern that’s ideal for creating an attractive surface wake. My intention is to annoy them up.
“I opt for two Popper Hoppers – a decent mouthful for any fish and a pattern that’s ideal for creating an attractive surface wake.”
Leader is stepped up to 8.2lb Rio Power flex with the same fly spacings as the previous set-up. The wind ripples the water and I cast the new set-up and retrieve it back so that the Poppers create that enticing ‘V’ wake on the surface. It’s not long before a lean but well-conditioned rainbow latches on, the bow wave bulges water behind the fly before the fish finally takes. Another fish brings my total to three for the day, which is not bad given the conditions. But it’s still tough going. I expect the weather to cool off pretty fast over the next few weeks, unless we get an Indian summer with soaring September temperatures.
Hay wards Farm now has two aerators and both are working today. They help to keep the water fresh and cool. When water temperatures are ver y high, say 23 degrees, there’s a debate over whether these machines actually increase ox ygen levels because water at 23 degrees has ver y little capacity to hold much ox ygen. But there’s no doubt that in temperatures lower than this they do seem to work.
Future stocking policy
As water temperatures fall, Hay wards Farm will introduce more browns, rainbows, blues and there’s even the occasional rogue golden trout! Expect plenty of near doubles and specimens possibly up to 20lb. There are many doubles still left of the 40 stocked earlier in the year.
“As water temperatures fall, Hayward’s Farm will introduce more browns, rainbows, blues and there’s even the occasional rogue golden trout!”
Popper Hopper Hook: Size 10-14 dry fly Thread: Black Tag & Rib: Pearl tinsel Body: Claret seal’s fur dubbing Legs: Knotted pheasant tail fibres Hackle: Dark furnace Collar: Claret or purple seal’s fur Popper: Booby cord
Jonathan Tomlinson scoops up a lively dry fly-caught rainbow. Keep your dries afloat and you should continue to get takes.
Brushing up a fly with floatant to make it ride high again. DON’TTIE? THENBUY...
This trout fed on anything that was on the surface. As the wind increased, Jonathan clipped the boat to a buoy.
Hayward’s Farm late summer rainbows are slender with full fins.
Below: The Ethafoam Shipman’s scored in a calm with the Popper Hopper (inset) doing well in the wind.