Foam up your dries

Jonathan Tom­lin­son switches from small dries to large Pop­pers to tempt the fish up

Trout Fisherman (UK) - - Contents -

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.

Popper Hop­pers

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.

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