Archive for February, 2012

I have recently purchased one of these flasks and there is a review on it in the ‘review’ section. Click on the link to view:

Aladdin Challenger Flask.

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I joined Geoff and Kevin on the banks of the river Kennet yesterday for an attempt at a barbel from a new stretch.  The forecast was for some mild weather approaching and this often stirs some life into the barbel population during the winter months.  The temperatures for Wednesday were into double figures with the previous couple of days seeing rising temperatures both day and night.  So it sounded like a good idea.

We arrived at the venue and had a quick recce, then grabbed the gear and wandered off down the bank.  The gear was dumped down and we decided to walk the length of the stretch.  Not a particularly long section but we found some interesting swims.  The river is down at least a foot but probably more like 18-24 inches, which dictated swim selection more so than normal.

Despite the forecast and the fact that the air temperature was a bout 10c, there was a very cold, strong wind and it was bloody freezing.  Thank God I bought the thermal underwear, as I almost didn’t bother.  We each found a likely looking swim and decided to stick it out all day and see what happens.  I started off with a boilie wrapped in paste.  During the first hour and a half I kept feeding maggots into the swim and then switched to a smaller hook and maggot hookbait.

Despite keeping the feed going in every few minutes I failed to pull in any fish.  It wasn’t a deep swim mind you, maybe 2ft 6in – 3ft but it did have lots of cover bankside and down stream.  It looked like it should have held a few fish but they failed to materialize.  I managed 1 or 2 knocks but that was all.

A call from Geoff informed me he had just caught a nice barbel of 6.8lb-7lb and later on Kevin struck gold with a beauty going 11.8lb. It was a short, stocky barbel that looked absolutely stunning.  So well done chaps.  Both of the fish were taken on maggots which are often a good winter bait in low and clear conditions.  We fished on until about 5.30 when the cold wind finally beat all three of us.   I’m sure we’ll be back soon if the mild weather holds.

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Another annual event in the angling World took place on Saturday; the Barbel Angler Grayling Day.  Organised as always by the Mad Hatter himself; Mr Jez Brown and given the green light by Micky, owner of the Barbel Angler website.

We descended on the Winchester services for the usual over-priced and over done breakfast.  After recovering from the bill, we engaged in the usual banter and p taking.  Then a fight broke out between the Fantastic Four; Jez, Luke, Danny and his son Callum.  Luckily it was only a water fight but who knew what might kick off later!

We arrived at the river and everyone shot off up to the top end.  As the day included the word ‘barbel’ I thought it only fitting to try and tempt an Itchen barbel, as I’d never caught one before.  So whilst the masses set up their float rods, I found a lovely deep swim with loads of cover.   I baited quite heavily with hemp and maggots and then rested the swim for about 40 minutes.  A real strong, cold wind sprung up and the forecast was for some heavy rain.

I had numerous baits but opted for a boilie wrapped in paste.  I used this in conjunction with a 2.8oz blockend feeder loaded with hemp and pellets.  I swung the bait out into the swim and about 20 minutes later the rod was almost dragged in.  Barbel on.  It gave me a great scrap in the flow and was a beautiful, plump, golden barbel.  On the scales it registered 7lb 4oz.  I hoped for another after such an early success.

Meanwhile reports were that the fishing was tough.  I guess the strong wind didn’t help.  A call from Dan informed me that he had just caught a salmon of around 4lbs and lost a much bigger one.  Later Kevin also reported a salmon, this time 4lb 11oz I think.  Geoff was managing a few grayling but that was it from the boys.  Little else came through to me.  Then a certain Northern ‘gentleman’ arrived somewhat later than expected after suffering from a pretty rough night in a noisy hotel.  The Association of Barbel Fishers very own Conrad Farlow.  Having just been co-opted onto the committee for the ABF myself,  it was great to meet the driving force behind the group at last.  We had a quick chat and off he went to catch a barbel.  I was pleased to have caught barbel from approximately 12 different rivers.  This pales into insignificance when compared to Conrad’s 37 rivers!  Sadly he didn’t make it 38 but his new target is 50, so good luck with that one!

Then that angling legend and Grisly Adams lookalike Keth Speer moved in just above me and did his thing with a stick float.  I knew I was in for a treat when almost the first cast led to a nice chub.  Numerous chub and roach followed in fairly quick succession.  Without doubt he is a master at this float technique and a pleasure to watch.  Later on he even hooked but sadly lost a decent barbel.  I also sadly lost a better barbel when the hook inexplicably pulled out.  I also managed a nice brownie and lost a chub.

Conrad wandered down with a fish in the net and called me up to Keith’s swim.  In the net was something quite unusual; an albino Orfe or a Blue Orfe (te he-blue orfe-school boy giggle) which won him the ‘Big Ook’ trophy.

The results were hard earned.  Many found it tough.  There were a few nice grayling out and reports of some near 2lb roach by the ‘right raving looney party’.  All in all another great day with the lads.  Lets hope there are many, many more to come.



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Had a call from rod builder extraordinaire Ian Tucker of Custom Fishing Rods, filling me in on his recent trip.  He was treated to a day on the Longford Estate in Hampshire fishing the beautiful Avon.  Longford is probably the place to fish on the Avon and has been for decades.

He had a great day taking 8 chub to over 5lbs and a 2lb 3oz grayling plus a few other bits.  He was then whisked away to fish the Test at Stockbridge where he caught plenty of grayling to 1.8lb and loads of trout to nearly 6lb.  Jammy git!

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Andy Frances kindly gave the green light to me arranging a grayling fish-in for the guys on BFW.  A good, central location was needed and so Britford on the Hampshire Avon at Salisbury was selected.  We just had to hope the weather was kind to us and that the river conditions would suit our target species.

Luckily the weather was good and river conditions were excellent.  Sadly on the day a very cold, strong wind made things a little tricky but certainly didn’t deter those that attended.

The idea was for me to arrive at Britford around 7am and prepare the teas and coffees for the attendees.  Of course these things always have to have some degree of disaster and so it was, through bad planning on my part, that we didn’t arrive until 8am!!  Still a few remained for a cuppa, whilst the others headed off to start their campaign.

We had a reasonable attendance, with around 15 of us.  The cream of the crop you might say.  Then again you might not!  It was good to see some familiar faces and meet a few new ones.  That’s the great thing with these sort of days.  You can put names to faces and create a much more friendly atmosphere on the forums.

Stuart Wilson was on hand to take our money, oh and give help and advice to those that wanted it.  He’s an absolute star and couldn’t have been more helpful and I’ve got a bottle of malt whisky to give him the next time we meet, well if I haven’t ‘enjoyed’ it by then.

So we all headed off to target the grayling or roach or chub or dace, whichever you wanted or ended up with.  Reports kept coming throughout the day from different sources.  It was proving to be tough, probably due to the cold, strong wind making float presentation difficult.

Before I’d even left the carp park young Mt Tucker (chubby to his friends, although I can’t think why) was into a pike on the dead bait gear.  It turned out to be a feisty jack of about 6lbs.  I headed off upstream to feeder fish the carrier, hoping for a few roach.  Sadly I gave up as the tip was just bouncing around all over the place and it was almost impossible to detect a bite.  So I headed off to the main river and started to catch pretty much straight away.  Wading does make a big difference here as you can target the runs that are difficult to fish from the bank.  So I ended up with 10 grayling to maybe 12/13 oz, 25-30 dace to maybe 8 or 9 ounces and a chub of around 2.8lbs.

On returning to the carp park we all gathered to share the successes and stories of the day.  Ian T ended the day with 4 pike to 11½lbs and Crooky a couple of jacks and some grayling and bits on the float.  It sounded like pretty much everyone had a good day with the likes of Medway Kev taking 13 trout to 4lbs (ish).  Perhaps the days top rod award should go to Graham Elliott who we all know is a barbel angling God and proved his angling skills by taking 5 good chub and a roach of  1½lbs.  Sadly though he lost a very big roach, which fell off the hook whilst heading to the net, as they have a habit of doing unfortunately.  He estimated it to be about 2½lbs.  I think it was Steve Sorrell that had over 90 dace including some very good fish too.

So we headed off to the Bull Inn at Downton for a pint (courtesy of Mark Nicholls, what a gent) and a bite to eat.  The usual fishing banter ensued, perhaps a little lighthearted mickey taking but above all a nice end to what was a really enjoyable day.

So a big thanks to all those that took part and in particular to Andy Frances of Barbel Fishing World.  Oh and to Keith Speer for proving he is human after all 🙂

Check out Barbel Fishing World for yourself:


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We had another three days fishing planned in Wales but sadly the weather cut our trip short on the Friday.  We had heavy rain, sleet and snow overnight Thursday and even during Friday morning and so we decided to head home early, after another hearty breakfast.  We were glad we did because when we saw the river, it was very high and very coloured and would have been a waste of time.

Three wise monkeys

Still the two days prior to this provided us with some decent conditions.  Sadly it was still bitterly cold with temperatures down to -6 to -8 overnight and barley above freezing during the day.  Wednesday and Thursday saw us on the same stretch.  The water was clear and had dropped a little since Monday.

The Upper Wye

We wandered along the whole length of this section, exploring every opportunity.  We found some cracking swims and over the 2 days caught quite a few decent grayling, topped off by a 2lb grayling for Geoff.  We lost a few and I know Kevin lost several decent grayling.  Most of the fish were around a pound and in lovely condition.  Sadly the sub zero conditions made the fishing very tough.  Still despite that, we caught  about 90 grayling over these last 2 days.

Geoff's 2lber

It will give us a few more ideas when we return in November.  I must say that the Welsh people are very warm and friendly.  You always get a wave and a hello from just about everyone.  A rare thing here in the south east.  So we know that wonderful and evocative song ‘we’ll keep a welcome in the hillside’ is quite heartfelt.

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Day two of the trip turned out to be even colder.  The overnight temperatures had plummeted and it was going to get even colder.  The biggest problem is the top half a dozen rings on the rod freezing.  You have two options; 1) WD40 or 2) Glycerin.  The later probably being the most effective.  They both work though and solve the icing up problem very well.

Today we headed to one of the tributaries.  After a long walk we each found a spot to fish.  I waded out and despite the cold fished in about 2 feet of water.  I lost a fish after a few trots and then eventually managed a small grayling.  I tried all of the usual tricks; holding back hard, changing baits, fishing different lines and fishing in the slacks, all to no avail.

The Wye

I opted to move and met up with Geoff and Kevin.  They had taken a couple of fish but again it was proving to be a tough day in the bitter conditions.  I waded out again and started to fish a nice run of about 3 feet.  It was now that I felt like my foot was wet.  It didn’t feel cold, just sort of squelchy.  I carried on for a while but it got worse.  I knew now that I must have a leak in the waders.  Well when you’ve got to go, you’ve got to go!  No, I clambered out and removed the waders only to find my left leg soaking wet all the way up to my buttocks.

Talking of brass monkeys

So for me the fishing was over today.  I had to head to Sportfish to buy a repair kit.  You can’t fish effectively here without chest waders, so it was a necessity to repair them, even though the shop was 25 miles away.  I left the boys to it at around 12pm.  I managed to get what I needed and then headed back to the cottage.  The guys arrived home earlier than I expected.  One reason was the fishing was very tough and the second reason was Dan doing an impression of Tom Daley or maybe he thought he was Tarzan, as he dived  into the river backwards!  He was a little bruised and battered but none the worse for his ordeal.  I think the shock of falling in was the bigger problem and he was glad to jump into a hot shower on his return.

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As I sit here eating my porridge, I am just about thawed out from the sub zero conditions of my last grayling trip to Wales. We had temperatures down to -10. I believe the term is brass monkeys.

The heavy snow that fell in Kent Saturday night was a bit of a shocker. I was driving back from a day on the Itchen and was caught in the ensuing blizzard. Most of the trip back was in heavy snow and it was becoming apparent the snow was laying quite quickly. By the time I arrived at Reigate, the motorway was covered. Luckily on reaching the Sevenoaks area, I had managed to get ahead of the snow and arrived home safely.

With a trip planned to Wales for 5 days on the Monday, things were looking a little tricky. On awakening Sunday morning, I found we had had maybe 4-6 inches of the white stuff. Lots of phone calls ensued. It seemed my roads were pretty good. The gritters and ploughs were out in force and the roads from about Swindon onwards looked clear. By the end of the day on Sunday, we had decided to go for it.

We headed over the Severn Bridge and cut across the Brecon Beacons. The Black Mountains were covered in snow but the roads were good and eventually we arrived at our destination. We managed to find a cafe in a small village and stuffed our faces with the local health food. You know the sort of stuff; eggs, bacon, sausages etc etc. Low cholesterol and fat free.

A big grayling

We arrived at the river and hoped it would be in good sorts. It was actually quite coloured and up about a foot from our last visit. Despite this it still looked fishable but it was bitterly cold, however at least snow free. We decided to give it a go and explore the section as best we could. I headed up stream with Dan, whilst Geoff and Kevin opted to go downstream.

It was a tough start. I started out fishing a deep pool. I lost a fish almost first cast and then despite numerous moves, I couldn’t muster a bite. I decided to leave Dan to it and move downstream. Bit by bit I worked my way down to the other two guys and ended up fishing in between them. Kevin had found a few fish and was doing reasonably well, considering the conditions. The area was just off of a bend and was smooth water with a reasonable depth. I think in really cold conditions you will struggle to find grayling in very deep water, they seem to prefer the shallower parts. This area was about 3 foot deep.

Dan does it again

I watched as Kevin landed a few fish but sadly lost several big fish. We couldn’t be certain what they were but he felt confident that they were big grayling. I fished the inside line and trickled in a constant supply of maggots. After a couple of runs through the float buried and I hooked into what felt like a bit of a zoo creature. It quite literally towed me all over the river. It was heavy and very powerful. I decided it must be a decent chub and this stretch does produce some clonkers. The fish broke surface and I caught a quick glimpse of it and it looked like a grayling but I couldn’t be sure. After another spell, again the fish broke surface and I saw that long, sail like dorsal rise out of the water.

It was indeed a big grayling and is why we come to this region. Eventually, after a touch of jelly legs syndrome, I managed to net the fish. It looked huge and as I called for the guys, I was convinced it would be close to 3lbs. I was a little ambitious and on the scales it went 2lb 11oz and 3/4. It was weighed in a small plastic bag and so I settled for 2lb 11oz. It equaled my PB and was a magnificent specimen. I was over the moon. It’s been a long time since I landed a grayling of these proportions and was worth the wait.

2lb 11oz Grayling

We carried on fishing. Kevin ended up with a good tally of fish but sadly lost several very big fish, one close to the net. He estimated the fish to be over 2 1/2 pounds and having seen mine, it’s likely to have been so.

The three of us ended up catching a few but not many, whilst Kevin made double figures I think. It was a tough start. Still we headed off to the cottage for a nice cuppa and some food. Our hosts Jane and Richard were there to welcome us and we booked in for a breakfast with them on the Wednesday morning. They are wonderful hosts and make our stay here all the more special.

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Catching Grayling using conventional methods with coarse fishing tackle can be fun. Although not a coarse fisherman myself I have always been intrigued as to the Trotting method. I’ve always liked the fact you can fish pools which are hardly fished by others, letting the float trot to your desired location perfectly presenting the bait at maximum range.

As all of my fishing is done using a fly rod, I set about ways to replicate this method using a fly rod on a short scale of course. Fly fishing for Grayling has really pick up over the last 5-6 years here in Wales, maybe it’s the cheap tickets that club waters offer or maybe it’s the sheer number of fish there to catch? Or the joy the lady of the stream brings upon netting. Who knows, but it’s a budding sport.

First plan of attack is to replicate the bait; the good ol’ pinky always seems to be a firm Grayling favourite amongst coarse anglers. I thought this may be the best place to start for my imitation bat.


I had many imitations patterns in my mind to tie in various colours. Different shade pinks, creams and whites to try and closely represent the offerings from coarse anglers. Small and large with veins and eyes, segmentations varied weights, some people said I may have gone too far with the fly experiment, nearly filling a small fly box with my maggot imitations. My firm favourite though was the ‘Shell Pink’ variant.


The bung, also known as the indicator was the only way to go. May fly fishermen think that using the bung in any of its states, river or lake is sacrilege, but to others it’s just another method we use to catch fish. The bung would be my float, something that is easy to cast and won’t become waterlogged and easily visible on long drifts. I devised a pattern out of a well know product called Aero dry – Something which is used widely in the fly tying world and has great floating properties. It’s a multi-stranded, hollow yarn for Japan. They have everything don’ they?

‘Depth & Control’

Controlling the depth is quite similar to how you would a float. In the same instance of moving the weights/float along the mainline, my indicator would be tied to a dropper which can be moved along the mainline to adjust the depth. Also by incorporating different amounts of lead underneath the dressing of the flies they can be swapped and changed depending on the water speed and depth.

A long gradually tapered leader is the ideal way to use this method, it allows the flies to be propelled upstream, into a run, crease or maybe just upstream into the glide. As with the trotting method the weights are what are used to take your bait to where you want it to go. Fly fishing, it’s the actually fly line but we use a tapered leader as its light and very controllable, something we use to our advantage. Imagine a slack the far side of a run, a depth of around 3/4 feet and you know there’s fish there. Tying to fish this with a fly line and controlling the indicator is nearly impossible, the line will get caught in the run and cause the flies to be dragged out of the slack. The long tapered leader lets us hold the rod high in the air keeping the line off the water and letting the flies/indicator travel dead drift through the pool. Perfect.

The indicator can be left to trundle downstream in glides or runs continuously recasting in different spots looking to locate the grayling. Once located, grayling can be caught in huge numbers, one thing ive found when catching a lot is once numbers start to dwindle, they’re still there, it’s just locating them again and also a colour change can prove deadly.

Hanging two of the above flies beneath a bung is the closest I’ve come to replicating the very impressive trotting method. Flies tied out of elastic band, floss and other ‘buggy’ looking materials can be used.

Has anyone tried flies for trotting?




Kieron Jenkins.

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I have received a call from a friend who is selling the Fox Bob James Signature Centrepin, on behalf of Bob James himself.  These are selling for the extraordinary price of just £140.00 plus £5.00 p&p, they normally retail at £299.00.

This is a genuine offer and my contact is a very close friend of Bob’s, so nothing underhand or dodgy here.

If you are interested, please email me for contact details.  The reels will be provided with a certificate of authenticty and signed by Bob himself.  He will also include any personal notes to the purchaser, if required.

This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to grab a fantastic bargain from a true angling legend.


Here’s a bit more detail on the reels in question:


Angling legend Bob James has been working with Fox’s team of in-house CAD-designers to engineer a centrepin that combines amazing performance with typically traditional good looks.

The Bob James Signature Centrepin was born, a reel that combines the latest engineering techniques, top quality materials and know-how from one of the UK’s best anglers to offer unrivalled performance.

There are only 1,000 of these reels in production, so make sure you get hold of a piece of history.

The reel works with two high quality, low friction bearings that produce super smooth performance. You can blow on the spool and watch it rotate indefinitely such is the amazing engineering! This means that when fishing the centrepin on a running water you can literally let the power of the water pull line from the reel, improving your rig presentation and ultimately leading to more fish in your net!

The handles are removable, it has an adjustable drag, quick release spool and a special no bump knot line fixing. It has a five inch lightweight, machined spool.

Key features include:
• 2 high quality, low friction bearings
• Removable handles
• Adjustable drag
• Quick release spool
• Lightweight machined aluminium backplate
• Lightweight machined aluminium 5” spool
• Fully vented spool and backplate
• Special no bump knot line fixing
• Gold laser etched graphics
• Neoprene storage pouch
• Individually numbered
• Fox authenticity certificate, signed and numbered by Bob James

Fox Bob James Signature Centrepin

These are £299.00 everywhere on the web so this is a real chance to own a genuine piece of centrepin history…


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