Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Bank Fishing The Blob

It is over the last decade or so that we have seen winter fly fishing becoming more prominent in Ireland. When I was growing up, the dreaded end of September meant the fly fishing gear was put away and I would spend the winter months tying flies that would have aspirations of emptying rivers come the following March. Thankfully the case these days is the river gear is packed away and we swap the light weight nymphing rods for our 6,7 and 8 weight bank rods. We have seen in recent years the emergence of plenty man-made fisheries that offer the angler great winter sport at reasonable costs. 
Also there is plenty of choice as the different fisheries present different fishing challenges, from natural environments that test our casting ability to well wintered fish that test our skill and nerves. The methods used generally in this field of fly fishing is ever evolving, there are new approaches and developments in materials regularly, each being hailed as the next best thing. Sometimes to be honest it is hard to keep up with it all.
As I have found over the last couple of winter seasons it sometimes is just as effective to stick to the basics and do the simple things right rather than get wrapped up in all the new developments, tackle and fly tying materials. So for the rest of this article I hope to give you some simple and still very effective methods and patterns to tempt the rainbows from their winter ponds. It is always important to check the fisheries rules when you arrive to see what is and is not allowed to be fished. While a few fisheries have rules regarding the fishing of Blobs in certain ways, it has to be said that they are the stable diet of the bank angler. Love them or hate them they are simple as simple gets to tie and fish correctly can be deadly.
There are a couple of ways you can fish the blob; firstly they can be presented through stripping or retrieving on sinking lines. Fished alone or as part of a team the trick here is to get the depths right and the retrieve, just the way the fish want it. So it is good practice once you cast out your flies to count down to a chosen depth, depending on the sink rate of your line and then begin stripping back the flies at various speeds until you get the depth rights and the speed. Another popular presentation method would be stagnant fishing the blob; this can be done either from the top down or the bottom up. Again the key here get your depth right. From the top down, can be achieved one way by using a floating line which will suspend the blob at the depth of your leader length, or the depth you allow it to sink to before beginning to figure of eight it back to you.
A contemporary practice of anglers is now to suspend the blob under what is called a bung, a this floating device can be made of plastic foam or a tied bung with buoyant materials used to support the fly often dipped in watershed to make it float endlessly. With this method you can now leave the blob or blobs at the required depth for longer until a fish takes it. Through bunging the fly will remain completely stagnant which is required sometimes by the fish before they will bite. The hi-visibility of the bung allows the angler to witness the takes quite easy on those dark wintery days. This presentation method can be used for several other patterns such as squrmies, buzzers, stalking bugs and the like. One key factor to fishing blobs under the bung I find important is to add a little flat lead to the under body of the fly and this allows it to reach its depth faster.

Fishing from the bottom up can be very effective during the colder days when fish are sitting deeper and feeding among the last of the summer vegetation on the lake bed. Here we would use fast sinking lines say a DI 3,5 or 7 sink rate depending on the depths of the lake you are fishing. We often add something to the blob for this method to be most productive; by putting some foam in the back of the fly we now have what is called a FAB (floating assed blob). This now allows us to sink the line to the lake bed and slowly retrieve the blob, which is suspended above the line path and the weeds or other snags that offer the fish food and protection. Again changing length of leaders from the fly line will allow your FAB to fish at different depths, and the most important aspect to catching fish in a stocked fishery is you must find the depth of the fish for any method to be effective.
There is a large variety of colours and textures to modern day blob materials, for the basic blob pattern use simple blob fritz, tie the core of the fritz on the hook above the bend and as you wind up the fritz in touching turns make sure and to pull back the fibres as you go so the finished fly has all the fibres leaning back away from the eye of the hook. I also find that using a nice bright thread for the head adds an extra hot spot for the fish to attack. You can also add in a second colour fritz to your fly, a tail of your choice or a pair of booby eyes, all giving you a variety of looks, shapes and colours that may attract feeding fish.
For me, the tackle generally I use is either 6,7 or 8 weight, ten foot rod by Syndicate, I find them great rods. The rod I choose at any time will depend on the wind, the line I wish to fish, the method I am fishing and even the size of tippet I need to use. Another aspect is how far out are the fish in the lake and how far do I need to cast. One piece of advice I give all bank anglers would be to get a lesson or two on casting, it will increase your catch rate, enjoyment of a day on the lake and save your arms from a lot of punishment, it is well worth it. Tippet wise, Grand max Soft Plus is a huge
favorite among bank anglers, expensive but as fluorocarbon goes it is good. Yet I have often seen the low cost monofilaments do the job also, my advice here is use what you are confident in using to begin with. A good pair of glasses to protect the eyes, warm clothes and a flask of tea and your all set. Oh a towel is a nice comfort, so when you have released a fish back into the water on cold days to dry your hands and save the cold setting into the bones.

I hope you enjoyed reading my blog and trying out some of these fly's and enjoy catching fish with it even more. If you have any questions please feel free to give me a shout on my contact details and if you are interested in Dohiku hooks, top quality tungsten beads, or Syndicate competition Fly Rods drop me a line or check them out on my website. Thanks for reading. 

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