Pin fry feeders can leave many of us frustrated, as they are notoriously difficult to catch. However, I am going to share some tactics I use to catch them, as I have done this last week on Rutland.
On Monday Simon Robinson and I headed down to the South side of the dam,(150 yds out) and were greeted with many fish cruising through the surface, often at speed. This is an immediate tell tale sign they are chasing the minute pin fry through the surface.
The first thing to note is when these fish are on the pin fry, they are more often than not extremely high in the surface, so you need to make sure your flies are there too - fish cant look down, so if your flies are not in there shop window, they'll not see them!
My set up was a size 12 Tequila Booby on the point with a Tequila fab on the top dropper - two flies, fished on a fast glass line. This, pulled quickly will now keep the flies right in the fish zone. I advised Simon to fish the same tactics and it wasn't long until he struck into his first fish. This approach will often "knock the fish off balance" encouraging them to chase this bouncing object across the surface. Its when the booby finally sinks below the surface, dragged down by the line, that the fish will grab it. Simon followed the instruction and was soon rewarded with the first fish of the day.
Persistence will over come resistance, as you may need to cast at 10 fish, to get one to change its course to then chase you fly.
I too, was soon amongst the action, as I took a fish on the Tequila booby.
Pin fry feeders move in crazy directions when feeding, left right, backwards and forwards, so casting accuracy is often key, and once you land in its track, rip the flies fast across the surface immediately to grab its attention, then hold your breath as it bow waves behind your fly !
We all know diawl bachs, UV Crunchers, single hares ear shuttlecocks, and hares ear cubes are great flies for pin fry feeders - so why Tequila boobies? When fishing over deep water for pin fry feeders, a nymph set up approach, would allow the flies to drop below them in seconds, and the fish quite simply wont see them, therefore can soon become very frustrating. I am a great believer in getting your flies to where the fish want them and you'll be successful. It's not always a particular fly that catches, its more getting your fly to where the fish want it !
We tried dries on these fish and never got so much as a swirl, as the fish were not feeding off the surface, they were feeding just under it - it really can be that critical at times. The booby approach puts the fly, once it sinks, right in the fishes faces. The bounce across the surface gets the fish interested, then when it goes under the water, they seize it, which is exactly where they want it. We went on to land 12 fish between us, fishing Tequila Boobies on a fast glass line.
Simon is beginning to love this bow waving visual fishing, as another rainbow goes crackers after engulfing his fly after a 15' chase.
Day 2 this week, and its a whole new approach, again chasing pin fry feeders. This time we nail them in just 4-6' of water, with another deadly fly set up...carry on reading....
I was sharing a boat with father and son, Graham & Matt. This time we were faced with complete opposite conditions to Monday, as I had with Simon just 4 days earlier - 32 degrees, clear blue skies, and a brisk wind - one could argue, stay at home weather !
We started the day at the Old Hall flats,(in front of the bushes at K Buoy) fishing close to the shore in approx 6' of water. Both were set up with floating lines and diawl bachs, suspended by a Tequila fab.The fish have been close to the shores for months now, and I was certain this was out best approach today, given the conditions. Fish in deep water would surely dive deep in hot sun and wind, whereas any fish close to the shores, are there for one reason only - to feed, on the abundant pin fry, snails and shrimp. Pulling fast sinking lines was a no go in our boat for the day, so shorelines was the approach.
After 25 minutes, and no fish, though we spotted a fish moving, an increasing Westerly wind was enough to look for a change of scenery. I'm aware there are fish along Gibbets Gorse, and being sheltered, it seemed the ideal spot to take Graham & Matt.
We sat the boat just 25yds from the shore, and I instructed them both to cast at the shore, as I new the fish had again, been tight in. I switched Graham's cast around, and added a UV cruncher into the mix, a fly I had used to good success here myself a week earlier, a great pin fry catcher, as Graham very soon went on to prove.(below)
The swirling wind here, made 3 in a boat somewhat dodgy shall we say, so we again moved on, this time to the sailing club bay, a renowned fish holding area, especially when the pin fry are there - and it did not disappoint.
The water here was gin clear, though coloured else where. I new the fish had been holding tight to the shores here(on the right as you enter into the bay). Knowing this, a real stealth approach was needed, so I went in a big circle into the bay, and crept along the top bank, allowing my boat to be no where near where we intended to fish. We set the anchor, allowing us to fish just 10' off the left hand bank(now on our left as we sit facing out of the bay). I changed the casts on both rods, to a combination of red head, and plain UV crunchers. A great pin fry set up. Second cast and Graham was in - text book - UV Cruncher.
Son Matt was also soon in, as we enjoyed a pin fry bonanza of feeding fish in front of us.
The water was gin clear so a careful approach is critical. Crashing of lines onto the surface, clattering around in the boat, motoring over them would soon spook them - as I recently experienced in this bay with other angling boats about.
From Tequila Boobies to UV Crunchers - why? Its all about the depth of water. You would struggle to get a Tequila booby to duck under in 6' of water, and not only that, you'd be casting much more frequently thus spook the fish in such shallow conditions, let alone the gin clear water! In shallower water the fish will cruise deeper, as reaching the surface is seconds away, therefore your nymphs will not be missed. They are in this shallow water in blazing sunshine for one reason only - to feed. Feeding fish are catchable fish.
The UV Cruncher was the fly of the day(size 12). A brilliant pin fry representative. This would never be off my cast when pursuing pin fry feeding fish, when fishing nymphs for them - FACT !
Graham & Matt landed 7 fish between them, with a couple missed too, in what has to be very testing conditions indeed. Great angling guys, and I am already looking forward to our day in later in the year, when I introduce you the bigger specimens Rutland has to offer - the Big Browns.
Casting accuracy is often key when targeting these pin fry feeders. Often the trout will chase them in groups, and this is when they are vulnerable, as they are competing with each other. If a 'pod' of fish are maurauding after the pin fry in front of you, cast at them so your leader, and flies, lands on top of them(not your fly line), and just hold the line, don't move it for at least 5 seconds - the fish often literally swim in circles at this stage, and the fly that's landed behind them, very quickly, in a split second is suddenly in front of them. Its at this point I am convinced the fly is seized as a sinking dead fry.
(links for the UV Crunchers to catch pin fry feeders)
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