Friday, 13 January 2012

Winter grayling so far

Fishing on my Taffy club waters has been limited for the last few weeks. The EA river levels graph for Pontypridd resembles the Himalayas and last week was definitely near Everest. The river was, for only a few hours, 4.1m above its usual winter level. By anyone’s standards that is dangerous wading and grayling fishing has been a no no. The only winter grayling fishing I have squeezed in has meant long trips down to Hampshire to fish the chalk where the levels are alarmingly low. This is almost certainly due to the massive amount of abstraction from their near dry water table to provide baths for the over populated region. In spite of low levels the French leader has claimed a good number of the finicky stressed residents. The only down side to fishing these rivers is the large stocked trout, these fish are seriously suicidal and smash the 0.08mm tippets I use for clear water grayling.

Taken by Edd of FTAC not myself, what a force!

Back on the Taff and a few days without rain from Friday had the river drop to a normal level once more and I could finally leave the fly tying and give some of the new bugs a swim. The river was magical, good flow and crystal clear with olives and midge hatching all day including a few meaty mouthfuls amongst them. The cold water seemed to have the fish stuck squarely to the bottom though and no rises were seen during my trip.
I started fishing a favourite run of mine behind a factory where the tops of boulders are just visible. A 3.5mm jig (will post the dressing of this as it is slaying grayling and trout where ever I fish it at the moment) on the point with a 2mm size 20 hares ear on a dropper was lobbed behind the boulders in the hope of some fish from the slacks. I know leader to hand fishing is not everyone’s cup of tea but I know of no more sensitive nymphing tactics, you can feel everything as the jig bounces along the bottom at close range and still lob a decent line with no worries of drag.
The morning was slow with no fish caught, not even a touch and so after an hour I decided to move on to pastures new. The flow was still pretty strong so I figured if I was a fish I would be a lazy bastard and be lying in a slack somewhere. The inside of a bend about 200yds above the previous run offered slack water and cover, it was worth a look.
Hugging the banks and moving slowly I eventually made my way to the edge of the slacks and drifted my nymphs through the crease. The 3.5mm was far too heavy for this slow water and was changed down to a 2.5mm which bounced bottom once or twice each drift, perfect. It was not long before the coloured mono shot down and I lifted into the first fish of the day. This fish seemed to think it was safer in the air and virtually jumped in to my arms, an OOS brown was soon returned none the worse for its antics. A couple of steps further up the crease and the indicator was wrenched sideways and line stripped from the reel as another trout made a bid for the bay. On a 3# rod this fish took a bit of stopping but eventually slipped over the net and a nice 2lber was unhooked and slipped back.
The crease produced a few more trout and half a dozen grayling before the light faded and I headed for home to warm my frozen ice blocks of feet. Has anyone else noted that climbing panel fences with frozen feet and numb legs is not easy, especially in waders? I very nearly face planted the concrete trying to short cut back to the car, face first from a 4 foot fence is not the way to end a fishing trip!
Hopefully the weather will hold and I will be back to the Taff soon, family and work commitments mean this will not be till the end of the January at least now though. Also running out of spaces in my fly boxes, need to get some new ones, bigger ones.



  1. Been a while since your last blog entry! Good to hear that you've managed to get out a bit. Seems like the Taff's large Grayling are rather elusive this year. Looking forward to seeing this dressing for your killer fly!

  2. Beautiful reading about something that I've seriously considered (leader-to-hand). I'd love to read more about the technique! Wouldn't mind getting some suggestions of flies either.
    Have fun fly tying and fly fishing,

  3. Nick - nice to hear from you mate how are things on your surely record breaking commute? Will send you an email this week to try and sort some fishing out.

    Jassid - I would strongly encourage you to try the leader to hand method. You do need a long fine rod, 10-11' 2-3# seem the most popular. the presentation is spot on and would be brilliant for your tiny little dries and casting is not as hard as one might imagine with no fly line, just speed up everything.

    There are people far more qualified than myself to explain the technique but I will do a post explaining how I fish it and the gear I use.


  4. Wish we had some of the water buddy, still too dry here?