5 Nautilus years on Zen2
Jul10

5 Nautilus years on Zen2

Over the years I have had plenty of clients ask me about how well my fly reels have performed and it seems that over the last few trips everyone has been asking me . So I decided it certainly deserves a mention on my blog . Over the last 12 years I have used and abused so many reels in the saltwater . Vosslers are dead and drags seized , greys rotted out , Abels are solid workhorses but rather heavy and too expensive  . The original Nautilus CCF reels had drag issues , I have trashed my hatch reels with salt build ups and sticky drags . I have a Tibor Pacific that sounds like a tractor . I dread to think how much money I have blown away over the years through a mixture of hard fishing and periods of neglect ?   The Nautilus FWX reels are by no means at the top of the range . Actually the drags were never designed to stop a GT but they do us fine here in the Uk , well thats mostly true , a big Pollock has astonishing power when it takes a dive back down and if and when I hook into double figure Pollock on the fly I do have to palm the FWX , that said I actually quite enjoy that feeling of loss of control , it adds to the excitement in a way . The maintenance schedule on my nautilus reels has been non existent , they will often get a hose over when I get home but thats it . I cringe when I think of how many rods and reels I have worn through , broken ,even lost overboard ( That leads into a good story to tell later ) So 5 years later I find myself considering an upgrade to the latest equivalent , the X frame , but if I am honest it would just be a flight of fancy all the while my reels are working 100 % and my bank balance remains somewhat sticky . So that concludes my 5 year review of the Nautilus reels on Zen2 10 out 0f 10 . I wish I could say the same for so many other bits of kit that just could not take the constant abuse .   Fly rod overboard  One day a few  years ago I shared the boat with a client , we were both fly fishing . I decided to give the fly rod a rest . so I wound all the line and some of the leader into the rings . I just had 3 foot of leader dangling outside the rod tip ....

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Garmin Panoptix ( Sight fishing at 70 feet)
Nov24

Garmin Panoptix ( Sight fishing at 70 feet)

There’s nothing more exquisite than watching a fish intercept your fly or lure , rejections are almost as exciting as takes from fish , perhaps more so ? . Im lucky enough to have spent quite some time tropical flats fishing over the years and the sight fishing aspect is the major pull , you just cant beat watching a fish eat your bait   . These days Im far more focused on my domestic bass fishing and the pursuit finds me fishing all manner of depths and locations. Once I find fish in more than 50 foot of water I tend to focus almost exclusively on vertical fishing with metal jigs or Fiiish lures  . I often fish heavy ground with all manner of nasty pinnacles and snaggy lure munchers , snagging the bottom has become par for the course when the tides ripping hard and the fish are hugging the bottom or tight in behind the lumps . I have lost upto 20 lures and leaders  in a session between myself and my clients . If the fish are hard on the ground you have to get that lure right in amongst them , somedays they wont budge from the sea bed  . In the old days  I would have to intercept the information the fish finder displays and then try to fish the ground accordingly  with a huge element of guesswork  or even worse try to convey that information to my clients quickly . The problem with traditional sonar is all the data is historical . With Panoptix you get a live feed , its like watching your lure on a TV screen . I can track the bottom and constantly adjust the lure to suit . That in itself is already revolutionising my vertical jigging , theres nothing  more exciting is watching the fish , swimming back and forth below the boat . I can see a fish 30 feet to port or starboard accelerate towards the lure , whats quite shocking is just how many fish will come along and inspect my offering before turning away . It has to be seen to be believed just how many fish are sniffing your baits without you ever knowing . its almost depressing to see so many rejections take place down there. Mackerel shoals are fascinating to watch , they take the form of tornado as they swim around in circles and flutter from one side of the boat to the other . Sharks are big blobs on the screen that just linger or circle slowly . As time goes by I can actually see the different rhythms and formations fish of down there .  ...

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Garmin Panoptix — Shark fishing Cornwall
Jul08

Garmin Panoptix — Shark fishing Cornwall

Changing your whole marine electrons system over is quite a big thing  and even more so when you depend on the kit day in and day out . I remember when I switched from a PC to a Mac it was a big jump into the unknown . Like wise switching from my previous system to  Garmin Panoptix does take a little time to adjust too . Old dogs and new tricks springs to mind ! Two days ago I headed out too sea with the newly installed Panoptix Down transducer . I did have a quick play with the system the day before and I figured  that based on what I was seeing on screen when pollock fishing , shark fishing with the system could be rather exciting. I was right !   With the Panoptix we could clearly watch our baits descend down through the water column to the required depths and then set them accordingly . We had one bait set at 30 foot and another at 60 , as is often the way with shark fishing the next thing to do is wait . Three hours later the first shark showed up . I was busy  relaxing on the bow of the boat soaking up some rays , Sam changed his bait and as he dropped it down the first shark grabbed hold of it . I ran back to the consul and yes there was the shark clearly circling on screen as Sam tussled . Much to our surprise it turned out to be a Porbeagle , first shark of the year and its a Porby !! An amazing start to my sharking year .   It was the capture of the next shark that really did bring home the capabilities of Panoptix , as this time we saw the fish circling below prior to the hook up. Its pretty exciting watching your bait drop down onto the nose of a fish , at first I dropped too deep I could clearly see my bait below the fish , I reeled  up the bait perhaps 5 winds of the reel to get it at the correct height and then we were hooked up again .   Two sharks landed and one lost would not be what I would call a great days fishing but the fact that Sam  had a Porbeagle and I had an amazing new toy to play with certainly made up for it. This is the beginning of my time with Panoptix . For slow jigging  or working heavy lures over nasty ground its going to be mind blowing,  as we will be able to watch the jigs...

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Zen2 Bass Fishing May  & June 2015
Jun29

Zen2 Bass Fishing May & June 2015

May The anual pilgrimage to the Eddystone marks the beginning of my ” True Bass fishing season .  This year was a game of cat and mouse with the constantly changing weather , Days were lost to high winds but we did strike Gold on a number of occasions ,we managed to get out there most of the time  . Most seats were taken by zen2 regulars  and those that I now regard as friends . The locals were not surprised to see us out there and were quite friendly . Fishing the ”Stone ”can be quite 2 dimensional at this time of the year , 10 days of doing the same short drift is enough to drive any man insane and by the time were done Im aching to get back to my hidden coves and reefs of West Cornwall  . When you look at the fish finder you have to rub your eyes and make sure your not dreaming. These fish are not there to feed , if they were we would land 200 a day , if they were they would be decimated in no time . We play a long game , not disimilar  to a carp angler in his bivvy , we wait for the green light when the fish feed and endure the hours in between . The lake is crowded with other Carp anglers too ! Its a very different game to my normal mode. The water is busy with boats , both commercial and recreational . One thing that I did find rather disturbing was the number of Bass being retained by so called recreational anglers  . The new 3 fish limit wash being openly ignored , we kept a tiny number of fish . I think the local commercials are quite cool with Zen2 for that reason . I tread carefully and treat the fishery with respect and understand the way the place works  . I always take the long route up tide to start the next drift . I do what I can to avoid spooking the shoal (even if some the other guys just steam over the top of the fish and fry them with 800 Hz fish finders ) Theres always the potential for something special to happen on the Eddystone , it has a an allure an mystique quite unique and for that reason I will no doubt be back next May . Nick C fishes the Eddystone commercially and knows every boil and contour after so many years out there both above and below the water surface . He has a generous nature and warm smile and has a lifetime...

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Used and Abused  # 2 – Braids and Tapered leaders
Apr23

Used and Abused # 2 – Braids and Tapered leaders

There has been a lot of talk of the FG Knot recently or call it the FC knot ? Its been around a good few years , we used it for GT fishing , it was fiddly and I lazily relied on our guide to do the dirty work and re tie our leaders .Here is a good video with the latest simplified version Its tricky on a boat when we are sloshing back and forth on a tidal rip. My drifts are short and often close to jaggedy rocks so burying my head in complicated knots is not an option at times . We fish the Fiiish Minnows almost exclusively once we get into 30 foot or more . We fish them around all kinds of nasty snags . Lure loses are par for the course Im afraid , fortune favours the brave and sometimes you have to get that lure right into the the bears cave if you want to hook that big one.   After several seasons fishing with the Minnows and re tying an average of 10 leaders a day . I would guess  that somedays I have even retied 20 leaders for customers . I knew I had to find a better system . The first change was the braided lines. I switched from 20 pound to 35 Pound breaking strain . I use Sunline Castaway. Its not cheap, its not even the smoothest 8 strand on the market, It almost feels half way between 4 and 8 strand , think of it as 6 strand . It just doesn’t seem to fatigue the same way other 8 strands do. Talking of which I remember fishing with Ben Field a couple of years ago , we had a slow day for Bass. I hooked what was very obviously a very good Bass , my 8 strand line parted in the middle . That was my last time using that particular brand of silky smooth braid. For any lure over 12 g I would say 35 lb Castaway is fine . We can still cast far enough. The next upgrade was my Flurocarbon leader . As time has gone by my fear of using heavy Flurocarbon line has reduced . I went from 15 to 19 and then from 25 to 35 Lb . I always use Seguar . Its not cheap and I get through around 10 spools a year . So we now have 35 lb Braid ,30 to 35 lb Leader at around 3 foot long .The next step in the leader is the stainless steel leader ring . I have used the seguar 3 mm leader rings for years now....

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Something old , Something new
Mar11

Something old , Something new

This time every year I find myself sitting at the vice tying flies . The vast majority of which will be used on the boat over the season , after years of pontification I finally got my act together , clamped my vice onto the table , tied my arse in the chair and tied up dozens of new patterns, many of which have been trapped in my head for years . Something old something , new , something borrowed and yes there are a few Blue ones awaiting release from the kitchen  . I have been obsessed and completely absorbed in the process. It hasn’t been easy , there is a big difference between bashing out 20 clousers and crafting  dozens of Tarpon  flies . Last time I tied a fly in public was 2010 in Galway . As I sit here tying these flies , all that data from the trips around the globe is manifesting itself in front of me . Its been great fun scraping the rust away . I should have around 20 patterns online soon . I have 10 or 12 here ready to go . I just need to try and get a half decent stock of these flies before I release all of my puppies .`I hate owing people flies . The first time I released the Livebait fly online I sold 350 in 2 days . It was a disaster . I only had 36 in stock , some people had to wait months !!   My traditional fly tying heroes . Tim Bosrski , Enrico Puglisi and Bob Popovics need a mention and I can see its influence over my tastes  . Florida Keys guide Don Gable introduced me Pete Smiths Fox Fur Tarpon fly and his luscious toads in 2009 . I have had a great deal of respect for his efficient tying methods . I now tie toads ”V Style” This is a direct  SS Flies influence ,  thanks ! Mobility and resistance are high on my list so expect to see a few  synthetic muddler style flies , on the subject of which Johnny King deserves a mention, that guy amazes me with highly polished perfection  . Jono Makim has emerged from the shadows over the last few years . I admire his deceivers and this has influenced my approach to finishing off the head of a fly. That one was one of the toughest challenges and still work in progress !!   First out of the closet is the Black Death Tarpon Crab . Ive never seen one out there but no doubt some bright spark will take great pleasure in showing me one someone...

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First Decade
Feb18

First Decade

It has only this week suddenly dawned on me that I have managed to pull this off for 10 years ! I have just had a quick scroll back through some images from various chapters within the last decade , some of which seem like 20 years ago. I guess that means I have been keeping busy . Ten years ago I launched uksaltwaterflies.com from the spare bedroom at our old house overlooking Porthleven harbour . I had run out of options in Cornwall as every other avenue had back fired on me so I decided to follow my heart  . In the early days Cally went to work and I looked after our baby boy 3 days a week . (He’s not a baby now , he’s talking too his mate on his mobile phone !!) It was hard work juggling a website and a baby . The business grew 2 fold year on year from 2005 to 2009 it was an exciting chapter and I worked my nuts off .  Then the recession found its way to my door. The fishing trips seemed to balance on a knife edge as more and more people put a stop to the exotic holidays in the salt. I had a great run of luck but I knew that that chapter was drawing to a close. 6 or 8 weeks a year out of the country was starting take a toll on my heart. I just seemed to miss my family more with each new trip. . 7 years of fishing 2 – 3 weeks on Cape Cod was starting to wear thin too. Ive landed every Striped Bass I ever need too . I had a deal with the landlady of my base camp on the Cape. It was simple . I said the day she solicted  my customers was the day it ended , she let me down  , it broke my heart to be let down by someone I had come to treat as family.  Cape Cod was over . I said goodbye to that lady knowing I would never return .     I think the greatest pinnacle of my travels was the second trip to St Josephs Atol in the Seychelles, Everything about that trip was epic. We had great bone fishing in the flats , we fished for GT’s with Popping gear, we drank ice cold beers at lunchtime . I slept out on deck under the stars and listened to music on my first generation i Pod staring up into space every night .Cally was heavily pregnant with our  daughter and holding the fort at home .  It was the great company...

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”Inanity ”
Sep06

”Inanity ”

It quite funny really how we can all get sucked into all the hype and commercially driven excitement in  magazines or ” Blogs ”. I can be just as easily led up the garden path as anyone else and take the odd look at a blog to see which  latest ” must have ”  lure is being heralded . I can easily forget that I have a load of great unfashionable lures jammed into the archtrave of the door to my fishing warehouse, come stock , room come disaster zone . All this talk of lures and tackle is inane . What if I  wrote about the sunrise across Mounts bay , the porpoises and the reflections on the water and the community of cranky, weird  , crusty old gits I often share the water with?  What about Nigel Hill eh ? Who’s Nigel anyone reading may ask. Well Nigel is one in 10 million  . The real deal , as Cornish as they get . He lives for that reef and to be on the water . Saltwater runs through his veins , and it seems to leave him with a permanent smile on his face . At certain times of the year I may meet this fisherman every day ,its is  ritual that I cherish . We were recently out of sync. He was fishing early doors and I was fishing PM shifts . After 3 weeks I start to worry about the old goat  . I actually made calls to people to check that he was ok !  Suffice to say he was fine . I would miss Nigel out there . I used to have a complete and utter disregard for bass commercials , its hard to hate people when they are so nice to you !  The deep West  is far less friendly . Proper Pirate country down there , Penzance is rough tough town , Newlyn is a serious fishing port . I updated my lifeboat training this week . I shared the class with two , 50 year old career trawler men , those guys are hard men ! 10 days at sea  and 2 days off, 2 hours on and one hours kip . Imagine that ? We came different worlds . I would not dare question their philosophy towards marine management or the environment for fear of a verbal kicking , regardless I had a great deal of respect for these guys , they were both very polite and had a strong moral code . Band of brothers stuff , proper men that work the sea . Back to the Penzance fishermen...

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Go Big !! Fiiish Minnow finesse Part 2
Aug22

Go Big !! Fiiish Minnow finesse Part 2

Here we are now getting towards the end of August . Its been a great summer. A zillion Tons of Whitebait and Mackerel are drifting back and forth on the tides. Its great to see so much life in the water but it can cause problems at times, theres so much food around that the Bass are just feeding in short intense bursts then laying up in between . It can be hard to tempt a 15 year old fish to eat some plasterzole when it has a bounty full supply of real food all around it . A great bass angler and friend who I suspect would rather not be named told me that the larger Fiiish Minnows have a profound effect on larger Bass . Not being the brightest pin it took about 6 weeks for this important information to sink in . First cast of a 160 mm /30 g Fiish Minnow produced this huge Bass . What more can I say !!   WhatI love about the 160/30 g Combo is the way it flutters in the tide .These days I prefer to fish a big bait up above the fish rather than fish a smaller bait down amongst the shoal. The bulky 160 body almost offsets the lead jig head adding buoyancy . This means the lure sinks slower than say a 25 g /120 body or my traditional go to Fiiish Minnow the 140 m / 40 g combo. By dropping the bulk to weight ratio we can fish the lures slower  MUCH SLOWER ! This slow larger approach seems to be the catalyst for great things . It also means we are snagging far fewer lures these days . So the added expense of the 160 Minnows is counter balanced by the reduced fatalities. Also by fishing big lures we pick up far fewer ” crap fish” . I hate ripping my baits on baby wrasse and Juvenile Pollock . The 160 bodies are lasting far longer than the 120 bodies without a shadow of a doubt . ”BIG BASS DONT LIKE  BOATS”  If my boat is drifting at 1.5 knots (wind and tide together ) I will make a very long cast across and up tide and slowly retrieve the lure . Fluttering the bait mid water . Obviously there are times when a short cast may be required depending on the structure around us and whereI think the fish may be laying . Once that lure (Or Fly ) is close to the boat I ditch it and re cast . Every day I say the same things over and over , one phrase...

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