Techniques

In providing an all year round, and therefore all seasons, service the techniques that serve to put fish in the anglers hand are varied. From delicate float fishing to heavy duty spinning or sunk fly work Steve provides the client with high quality equipment with which to get the best out of the fishing on hand, and his years of experience form the basis of his enlightening tutorage. Below is a description of these various methods , some of which are rather traditional of course!

 

Freelining

It doesn’t get any simpler than this, as there is just the baited hook on the end of the line. Particularly useful for chub when they are shy, or on small streams and rivers when stealth is required and the angler can see the line. A very exciting, almost primitive, method as bites are often bold, and the tightening line can shoot off in stark contrast to its former slackness.

 

Trotting

This describes classic float fishing on a river as the float is wafted downstream on the current to the feeding fish. It is an active, very enjoyable form of fishing, especially from one of Steve’s boats, with the float always moving and the bite expected at any moment! The tackle requires retrieval from the end of the swim after every trot of the stream, and as it is drawn back up a constant trickle of bait entices the fish to await the next offering. This technique lends itself superbly to the use of a centrepin reel, and Steve will provide the perfect combination of rod and reel for you, even teaching you to cast with it – see the section on Wallis casting.

 

Ledgering

This was once known as bottom fishing, a somewhat derogatory term, but a technique known to all coarse fishermen. It involves having the bait tethered to the river bed where, of course, a lot of fish find their food. However, this technique can be expanded out to upstream ledgering (especially effective with a centrepin when they bait is nudged back downstream), touch ledgering (when the line is held in the fingertips to detect bites and the contours of the river bed), swim feedering (when free offerings of bait are sent down with the hookbait) and paternostering (when a bait is suspended just above the river bed but under a float – particularly effective when fishing for predators such as perch and pike).

 

Laying on

A lovely old technique that employs both a bait tethered to the river bed and a float set a little over depth. It’s very versatile when float fishing per se as the tackle can be quickly adjusted to change from a trotted, moving bait to one which is static on the bottom. A great autumn and winter technique for when the swims along the course of a days fishing are being actively searched, and especially so in those little pockets of quiet water in which good fish tend to hold up in close to the bank. To see a float that was lying flat on the surface flick up and slide away is a most thrilling prelude to a catch!

 

Spinning

This is a lure fishing technique for predators where an artificial bait fish is moved through the water to represent an unwary meal. There are many lures to choose from, from heavy metal spinners that have a vibrating vane that moves as the lure is reeled in, the vibrations stimulating an attack on the artificial fish, through a whole range of plugs (as they are called) that can either float or sink but have an enticing swimming motion when retrieved, to plastic or rubber imitations of bait fish that can be weighted and bounced along the bottom back to the anglers feet. All these methods are very effective, but require a little thought of what’s out there in front of the angler. Watercraft is key, and a take from a big pike under the rod tip will never be forgotten!

 

Dead bait

It might seem odd to present a dead fish to predators such as perch and pike but nature rather good at being tidy. Fish are opportunists and even sea fish such as sprats and herring are cleaned up as free meals, just as native fish are. However, there’s more to deadbaiting than waiting for that opportunist to come along, effective though it might be. The old technique of mounting a small fish on the hook and either letting it circulate around a weir pool under a float to search the water for you, or casting it and retrieving it past ambush points can be a most absorbing bit of sport. No chuck it and chance it here, the angler actively seeks out all those likely looking spots, and rivercraft (either directed by your guide or learnt the long way round through hard experience) will often pay off.

 

Live bait

Where permitted a live fish can be presented to predatory fish with great effect. Although Steve’s fishing is largely traditional, gone are the days, thankfully, of the instruments torture our forefathers had little conscience in employing – multiple treble hooks impaling a suffering bait fish. In our enlightened times effective predator fishing can still be enjoyed with only the same hooking that any fish is caught with, and for those uncomfortable with even this there is never any pressure to employ this method as pike and perch can be caught on many alternative offerings (see above).

 

Pike fly

A newly developed technique, but for eternity pike have attacked anglers passing baits and tackle, and even been caught out (literally) by a wisp of horse hair or silver foil hastily wrapped around a hook gleaned from a fence or lunch box! The fly fisherman has often had unwanted encounters with pike who’ve grabbed a wet fly, and Steve has had his share of pike take a big salmon fly before his intended quarry have made up their minds! Today dedicated flies have been developed for pike, and catching these ambush specialists in such an active and engaging way is always great fun!

 

Dry fly

The most quintessential form of fishing that conjures up the ghost of J. R. Hartley on the banks of some private stream flicking his fly in the sunset over the rising trout. Well, yes and no. Dry fly fishing for our quintessential trout is, gladly, more available today, but other avenues have opened up, such as chub, dace and roach, species widely distributed in our rivers. They are all quite used to feeding on insects that land on the water and, although preserved in our rivers in the springtime, dry fly fishing for coarse fish is an enlightening novelty that can become another facet of the angler’s art. A big chub that has sucked down a well presented fly can be as much a challenge to land as cherished memory.

 

Wet fly

Of equal importance to the angler as a fly presented on the surface is one presented below it. A substantial part of an insect’s life cycle may well be spent underwater, and all the while it is at risk from being a morcel for a fish! There are many subtle variations in the presentation of a wet, or sunken, fly, some even having weights built into them to take them down to where the fish are feeding, but the ability to cast a fly rod and employ a little rivercraft is just as necessary. The rewards, even in winter when trout fishing is unavailable, can be substantial when the beautiful grayling comes into condition and can be taken with a little imitation of an insect nymph.

© River Days 2015

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