The Beauty & The Beast Of Rutland Water

Posted by Craig Barr on

Having fished Rutland Water now for over 38 years, I sure know how moody the place can be, and how the slightest change in wind direction, cloud cover, and temperature change, can have you in heaven one minute, then what feels like hell the next ! 

On Wednesday, conditions were perfect, overcast, 21 degrees, and an 8mph wind, and as the book tells us, the fish were on song too, and plenty of them.

We started our drift, just down from X Buoy, with our set ups being pretty similar. I was using a Flash Attack Tequila booby, and Tequila Fab(both barbless), and Dom was using a Flash Attack Candy Fab, and Tequila fab(also barbless). We  both used di-3 lines. (3" per second sink rate) Within minutes, I was into a fish on the booby, only for it to fall off. Looking good !

Moments later, I had several fish tracking my booby as it bounced across the surface - how very exciting, and as normally the case, the second the booby is pulled under by the sinking line, the fish latch on, and they did just that all day long.

Dom hits into a fish on the Flash Attack Candy Fab.


We concentrated our drifts from X buoy down to W buoy, though we would set our drift 60yds off the bank, then drift for 15 minutes, then move out a further 60yds, then drift down again for another 15 minutes. 

At times it was really exciting as we discovered the fish were definitely in pods, and not shoaled up in huge numbers, so the constant drifting was the best way to come across them. As the Tequila Booby landed, the trick was to rip it quickly across the surface, to literally make it bounce across the surface. This brings the fish right in on it, and 'fish' was the case, as it wasn't just one, it was often 3,4,5, maybe even more than that at times, racing behind our flies, and with this many competing to get hold of it, the second the fly went under the surface, remain focussed, as its now one of them will almost certainly grab hold of it.

The barbless Tequila booby shown in the rainbows mouth.

The cloud cover remained, as did the gentle breeze, and the fish certainly obliged too. Dom had his best catch ever on Rutland, landing 5 fish, and dropping several others. We finished at 2.00pm, landing in excess of 20 trout.

Top tips - The fish on this particular day were very high in the water, and the conditions certainly helped with this. At this time of year, given the conditions, you would expect them to be somewhere near the surface. Popping a booby across the top with a di3 is a great way to see if the fish are near the surface, as its almost a certainty, if they are, one will be up and chasing your fly soon. This visual fishing, also helps you identify if there are many fish about, or whether a lone fish just had a look. Fish a reasonably long leader, 18', as this will keep the fly on the surface longer as you start to pull it back - pull it quick, very fast, literally get it bouncing across the surface, causing a commotion !

When, and if, you get a fish, or fish, chasing it, keep pulling it until the line eventually drags the fly under, and when this happens, remain very alert, as it normally seconds from now it will tighten up ! If you are fishing barbless hooks, simply keep a tight line, a slight angle on the rod at all times, then you should land most fish you hook. Dom had never used barbless hooks, but after using them on this day, I am pretty confident he'll be using barbless flies going forward - he was pleasantly surprised !

So, 48 hours on and I was on Rutland once more, this time with Luton based Gary. Having seen my catch some 48 hours earlier, Gary called to see if I could do a days fishing at short notice. You couldn't imagine it would change too much in 48 hours, or could you??

The wind had changed direction, from a westerly, to North East, veering North West throughout the day, and rather than cloud cover, we had long intermittent sunny spells, with a slight drop in temperature too.

We both started on Di3 lines, with a Tequila Booby on the point, and the trusted Tequila Fab on the top dropper. Just like I had 48 hours earlier, we started our drift just down wind of X buoy.

Well, lets just say there was no repeat of Wednesday's bonanza, far from it in fact. We found it very difficult indeed in the basin area. After several hours, and just one fish lost, we decided to have a go down the North Arm, in search of a big fish.

One of my favourite drop off spots is Armley Wood. It holds good weed beds, and has good depth too, the ideal spot for a resident fish.

By now we had both switched to floating lines, and fished with a Flash Attack polar popper fry. As we bounced our way along the bank, Gary was talking to me, and not looking at his fly. Yes you've guessed it, I looked up and saw a big boil around his popper fry, and said "Gary, there's a fish at your fly" as he turned to look he struck at the same time - fish on. We new straightaway it was a good fish, as the rod arced and the fish started heading out into the reservoir. It kept heading outwards as Gary struggled to stop it. It was now some 50 yds out and Gary was onto his backing line. As he steered the fish to its left, it managed to slip the hook - I won't write the conversation from here !!!

It was a day of frustration, as the fish in the basin were not playing, and when we managed to hook a Rutland "beauty" it slipped the hook.

As anglers these days if we don't catch fish we tend not to be too happy, however as Gary quoted "that's why its called fishing, and not catching". The fish don't always behave how we want them too, and a change of conditions can hamper what you're hoping would be a repeat bonanza from an earlier trip. It doesn't always go that way i'm afraid. It simply highlights how the slightest of changes can make a huge difference. There's always next time !

COMING SOON - I have had some of Rutland's specimen fish of late, both rainbows and browns over 7lb, and I want to share with you, the areas, the lines, the tactics and flies used to heighten your chances of catching a Rutland Specimen. Make sure you don't miss my in depth blog of how I go about catching the big ones. (Big fish guided days available in November & December - email for details)

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