Can One Fly Really Be All You Need On Anglian Waters At The Moment?

Posted by Craig Barr on

So, all the rumours are that the fish are very close to the shores on, Grafham, Rutland, and Pitsford. I am a realist, and appreciate not all fish will be hugging the shores, however for the past 7 weeks, I have barely fished in water deeper than 6', and had some scintillating sport, with browns up to 5.5lb, and rainbows up to 10lb !

So what's driving this? There is one obvious reason -fish food ! There has been unprecedented midge hatches in the margins this year, followed by 1000's, if not millions of daphnia flees, and now on top of this bounty, this years pin fry has now arrived on the menu. If you were a fish, wouldn't you be in the thick of it? One fly fits the bill, and that's the Hares Ear ! This fly has taken 80% of my fish over the last 4 weeks.

I spent the first 3 days of the week on Grafham, with Scotland's George Gilmour. Faced with a cool N/N/E wind, we headed for the North Shore to seek that little bit of shelter from the wind.. It wasn't long until we hit into fish, with many just yards from the shores.


We fished a combination of floating lines with hares ears, diawl bachs and fabs. The sport was consistent throughout the days, with as many fish lost as caught.

The hares ear shown, has been devastatingly good for me for last 8 weeks on Rutland, and when fished at Grafham, the results followed suit, with most fish picking this fly out in the cast.

A common question I get asked is, what nylon do I use? Well here it is - 

I find this line extremely reliable for all my fishing, from pulling lures, to nymphs, and even dries. A 3 turn water knot is all that is needed ! (Available a Flash Attack Flies)

Like I always would when trying to work the trout out, I did venture off the floating line a couple of times, trying the 12' fast tip, di-3 line, however, my catch rate subsided. Grafham's fish are behaving the same as Rutland's at the moment, hard in at the sides and in no mood to budge it seems. 

My leader is set up like no normal leader, and this applies to Rutland too! 12' and 4 flies)alternating between hares ears/dialw bachs and fab/booby on the point) - the fish are in very shallow water, and I have concluded my usual 18' casts simply places the flies too far apart and the fish can very easily swim past the flies. I do know in a recent competition on Grafham, an angler was told of my approach, having got one fish the day before, and then having told a friend "I fished Craig's tactics" on day two he caught 10 ! This short leader set up has caught me an average of 10+ fish on most of my days out for the last 7 weeks.

George displays a cracking fish caught out of Gaines Cove, taken of the hares ear.


Over the 3 days George and I landed in excess of 30 fish, despite cool winds and cloud, followed by one day of blistering sun ! That's not mentioning the bust ups we had, and lost fish. - Fantastic !

Top tips for Grafham - fish all the North Shore points. DO NOT under estimate how close to the shore the fish can actually be, they are at times in just inches of water!  At the moment, wind permitting, I wouldn't venture far away from a floating line all day, and lastly, I would keep my flies tight together on the cast.

George was hungry for more, and wanted a day at Pitsford after a 3 days stunt at Grafham.

We were once again faced with a cool Northerly wind, this time with good cloud cover - the perfect nymphing day - or so I thought.

George strode into the lead using a camo line, fab and diawl bachs, fishing along the Narrows, whereas my floating line set up was left in his back draft !!

I was determined to make it work, therefore switched to dries, as the odd fish was moving - all to no avail, as George now took a more commanding lead, still on his camo line.

A switch back to my floating line, fishing a combination of hares ears and diawl bachs, saw me make a bit of a comeback, netting 6 fish, though George had doubled that & more with his fast intermediate set up. I guess we can't have it our own way everyday !

The next 3 days saw me back on familiar territory, Rutland. This time I was fishing alongside Neil Heath. Neil simply wanted to know more about Rutland, and its hot spots, being a competition angler like myself.

Day 1 and we headed to the North Arm regions, starting along the Whitwell frontage. With the wind off our backs, I was soon explaining to Neil things didn't feel right, as I felt we needed to be close to the shore, and not being blown off it, as the fish were going to be close in. With this gut feeling getting the better of me, we soon shot across the lake to Armley Wood, and if by magic, the fish were there, and we soon got stuck into them, landing 14 between us within just 5 drifts, all alongside the trees, very tight in ! We were both using floating lines, with hares ears, and diawl bachs. I was again, on my pretty short leader with the 4 flies !

As we moved along to Carrot Creek, it was business as usual, and this time the fish were of better quality, with 4 rapid into the boat, all very tight into the shore


We then moved over to Normanton, a bank I guaranteed Neil we would catch fish. After 20 minutes and nothing to the boat, Neil asked how long my guarantee lasted - lol. Well, I was soon into a fish on the hares ear, followed by 3 or 4 more, as we made our way to the church. We then entered into Church Bay, where we caught a further 7 fish between us, taking our day 1 tally to approx 28 fish.

Day 2 and we were still hampered by a cool Easterly wind. We headed to the South Arm, and headed straight to the Green Bank, and area I knew was holding fish. Just like the day before, the wind was pushing us off the bank pretty quickly and we didn't touch a fish here -  I wasn't too surprised as I felt we need to be going along a shoreline or drifting onto it.

We headed straight onto the front of Lax Hill, and it was game on, as I hadn't fished here for the past year ! Armoured with my team of hares ears, I felt confident if the fish were there, we'd get some interest - 1 fish and 3 pulls later, in two short drifts, we had found some fish - though not in big numbers,

We shot across the water to the Manton bird hides, and as we fished we were getting pushed off the shoreline - not where we wanted to be.

We soon moved on, and fished just before gibbets gorse, right along the tree line. We found fish here, very close to the shore line. I had just hung the flies, and it all went tight. Not what I wanted or expected, this 11lb bream, taking a red diawl bach.

Just 5 minutes later, it all went tight again, but this time set off like a missile - this was no bream! A heroic, well into the backing battle, I landed this cracking 10lb(weighed) rainbow.

This was followed by another 6 rainbows. All taken on a floating line, 3 hares ears and a fab. Neil also took his fair share of fish here too.

We then moved over to a favourite spot of mine, K Buoy - I played my guarantee card once more, and this time it slightly quicker paid off with a fish straight away. I did hit another train here, however it slipped the hook before we got a good luck at it - we decided it was a huge pike, though there was still that element of uncertainty with what it was !

Day 3 was the brightest of the 3 days, and the windiest - not normally the best conditions for Rutland - We started our day at Fantasy Island, and just 15 minutes in we hadn't seen a fish, followed by another 15 minutes - where had the fish gone? It was noticeably cooler, and a noticeable lack of fly life - no food no fish- no brainer!

We got into Church Bay, where we were now sheltered from the wind, and here there was one or two fish moving. Still with my floating line, hares ears and fab, I was soon into fish, followed by 2 more.

We soon moved on once more, into the sailing club bay. With the bright skies and strengthening winds, we decided to drop deeper, so I switched to a fast glass, and Neil changed to a di-3. Neil struck first on a booby, followed by me on a hares ear( No shock there). With the water getting dirty by the minute, we moved on once more. Next stop New Zealand point - 

As we drifted from here to Gibbets Gorse, I took 4 on the fast glass, to Neil's 1 on a di-3. Dropping the flies in the water that little bit more with the bright skies above, paid dividends. As we headed beyond Gibbets, and into the bay, the winds were softer, sheltered by the trees, so an immediate swap to the floater followed. No more 10lb fish this time, however between Neil and I another 9 fish were landed on floating and 12' fast tip lines.


It was an interesting 7 days. The fishing was very similar on each water - fish close in, floating lines were key, and fished as static as you dared. As for flies, hares ears were top of the list, and small dialw bachs also scored well. With the warmer weather now upon us, I am not sure how much longer this shallow water fishing bonanza will last, as the fish will not like the warm shallows, so get out there quick and get a piece of this superb fishing.

If you would like a guided day/s out, then please email me at


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