Top angler and all-round good guy, Airflo’s Gareth Jones points out how the smallest of changes to your retrieve can reap rewards when it comes to your catch rate.

Okay, so after fishing a recent match at Chew Valley, the one thing that struck home to me, more than any other, was how important the little things are. Not only getting the right depth is, but also getting the right angles of fly presentation were crucial.

Both need to be looked at in order to induce takes but as importantly, a solid hook up!

Fishing Day 1.

With the water still clearing, after the heat of late summer, most of the catchable fish were holding in the top 4 feet of water. So, let’s think of all the ways you that you can reach that exact level in order to catch them.

For some anglers on the fisrt day of the match, fishing was done with a floating line or slow intermediate tip lines cast out and slowly retrieved. In the relatively calm conditions of day one of the comp, I also felt that this was the most consistent method. For others though it was various 40+ intermediates, which with a mix of buoyant or standard patterns could be presented at the required dept, but fished a little faster.

Fly colour was obvious for me, in the tinged water black would stand out better than any other colour and give the flies profile against the surface light. Fishing was with a team of three flies, the calm conditions making it difficult to turn over my normal four fly cast.

A small Black FAB fly on the top dropper, followed by a Black Diawl in the middle dropper and size 12 Black Blob with JC cheeks on the point worked brilliantly in practice for me, the days previous to the comp, and I saw no need to change for match day.

Day one was eventful, with 12 good fish and lots of other action to me and my boat partner. I had a fish first cast and last cast of the day, I was really pleased with my performance, who wouldn’t be right?

Day 2.

However, on day two the wind picked up and the takes on the tip fly line were just a little tricky to hit, the extra movement of the boat meant that control wasn’t as easy. So, after very little action and only bumping a few fish but not proper lock ups, I changed. I put up a Fast Glass 40+ fly line as I felt the slow tip one wasn’t hitting the depth consistently enough due to the wind. My thoughts were that the trout had dropped slightly in the water column, due to the pressure of a several days of fishing. This combined with a large yacht race taking part that day had took the fish down deeper.

However, with the extra surface disturbance caused by a decent breeze and the yachts the trout were prepared to chase. And so a little and a slow steady roly-poly style retrieve started to get the responses I was after. Most of the action was coming on the hang and only when I could get the right angle of lift.



Taking fish, pressured fish out in open water, it’s awesome fishing when you get it right.

The Key!

This was key, by slowing the retrieve for the last 15feet before the lift, this was allowing me to get my flies a little deeper and creating a more vertical movement just before the hang. That meat I was pulling the flies up rather than along in the water – which worked a treat.

I was lucky to get another eight fish on the day, most of them coming on the vertical lift and I also ended up missing quite a few more as I was trying to fish with a sinking line on my dry fly rod!! Yes, I am getting old!!

In the calmer water, other anglers caught well on tip lines and a slow figure of eight retrive, butnot as well as I had. I also really enjoyed fishing a different line in the rougher open water where a lot of Chew’s better fish were being caught, weight was important in the overall results, biggetr fish beter ranking. but without that change in angle, albeit it slight, I feel it would have been a far tougher day on the water.

Get the angles sorted when you’re out in open water and you’ll have some rod-bending action.

Pay attention to what it is that you were doing when you actually hook a fish, the chances are if one fell for that method then others will too!