Start Loch Style Fly Fishing
Now that autumn has kicked in and the big waters have cooled down they now offer some of the best fishing of the year. Angling guide Ben Fox offers some top tips for those of you who fancy fly fishing from a boat for the first time.
Iadore Loch Style fishing; I’m lucky enough to fish on some of the largest, most beautiful and most impressive waters in the UK and loch style for me is the perfect way of doing it. Put simply, Loch Style is fishing from a boat drifting on the wind and casting in front of it. If you’ve thought about doing it, give this a read first as it can be a little daunting when you cast off from the boat dock for the first time.
Loch Style makes sense. One of the main things I’m asked by people who don’t fish or only fish smaller waters is how do you find fish in that massive piece of water? The answer – drifting. Covering water quickly and finding feeding fish is something that is best done from a drifting boat. The other alterative is to anchor but of course this limits the area you can fish. It makes more sense to me to drift covering more water and fish.
The Kit For Boat Fishing
Although your standard fly fishing gear will work there are definitely a few items to think about investing in before you venture out in a boat.
Not an essential bit of kit, but a useful back saving chair that can be attached to the gunnels is a good idea for a comfortable day afloat. There’s a few different styles so have a shop around to see what suits you best. Some venues hire seats but check in advance when you book your boat.
For those who don’t know what a drogue is or even looks like, imagine a parachute, in the water, behind the boat, attached with clamps or around the gunnels. The purpose of this being to steady the drift, keeping you straight with the wind and not drifting too fast.
Coach/ Guide/ Friend
If you want to get the most out of your first loch style session I would highly recommend, either find a friend with some experience or book a coach or guide to take you out and show you the ropes.
A rod rated somewhere between 6 and 8-wt, and in a length of 10ft is ideal, a cassette style reel is useful to carry the various lines you might need throughout a day. Lines…a floater, midge tip, intermediate (1-1.5inch per second), a DI3, DI5 and DI7 should cover you for every situation you’re likely to find yourself in.
Getting Into And Setting Up The Boat
Most fisheries will have life jackets and it is crucial to don one of these before walking onto the jetty. The boat will be clipped to the jetty so pull it close to the side before attempting to get aboard. If you’re with someone, hold the boat whilst they get in, then carefully pass your equipment to them. Avoid having any equipment on you when stepping onto the boat as this can cause you to lose balance and have an early bath! Once all the equipment is in, step carefully aboard.
There are two positions from which to fish, the engine and the point. Whoever is driving should fix their boat seat on the gunnel next to the engine and the person fishing on the point should fix their seat on the furthest gunnel from the engine. This allows the maximum room for a right handed caster fishing on engine and generally amounts to a more comfortable session. Attach the drogue using clamps or by attaching it to the gunnels make sure the ropes aren’t tangled and its ready to be deployed easily once you reach your fishing spot.
Starting the engine does vary depending on the type but most have a pull cord, pulling this starts the engine. Make sure it is in neutral when starting and the choke is out if the engine is struggling to start. The most important part that really shouldn’t be missing from any engine is the kill cord. The kill cord is attached to the button that turns the engine off, this is attached to the driver’s leg and means in the unlikely situation that they fell in while motoring the engine would cut out. There should be fishery staff around if you have any issues and they will be able to help you far more than I can in writing.
As the boat moves forward the cast out line will start to slacken so it’s important to keep up with your line by retrieving, the same retrieves you would use on a small water but adjusting the speed according to how you want to fish the flies. Static becomes a slow retrieve and so on. When you get to the end of your retrieve it’s important to pause and allow your flies to ‘hang’ static. We call this the hang and it is crucial, some days the fish will only take on the hang so don’t forget it! A simple roll cast into a couple of false casts will deliver your flies back out in front.
That’s the basics of getting into a boat and out fishing. Now comes the wide array of methods, flies and lines and how to use them! There’s plenty of information on this out there and as I mentioned earlier you can’t go wrong with a coach!
Getting To And Setting Up Your First Drift
Engaging reverse, unclip the boat and back slowly away from the jetty, then into forward and accelerate away. Upon reaching the spot position the boat parallel to the wind and use the reverse gear to bring the boat to a stop. Drop the drogue over the side of the boat making sure the ropes don’t get caught as it sets behind you. You’re now ready to start fishing.
Fly Guy Loch Style Starter Sessions
I offer a personalised, professional and affordable session on one of three northern waters. Carsington, Ladybower and Stocks. I’ll show you the basics and provide all the kit you could need! Visit my website for more details and to start your loch style journey! www.fly-guy.co.uk
Ben Fox is an Ex England Youth International, instructor with the charity Fishing4Schools, writer and professional angling guide and coach. His company, Fly Guy, operates in the north of England covering a selection of venues.