Dry Fly Fishing Top Tips At Llyn BrenigWayne Jones
Llyn Brenig reservoir is located in Wales, in the heart of the Denbigh Moors, at a height of 1200 feet. Construction began in 1973 and was completed in 1976. It has a capacity of 60 million m³ and was first filled in 1979. With a surface area of around 920 acres, it is the fourth largest lake in Wales and has a perimeter of some 9 miles. Llyn Brenig Lake is now recognised as one of the best fisheries in the UK and It’s a highly respected venue for competition angling. The lake is stocked with rainbow trout which are reared onsite.
I have fished Brenig for over 30 years now and I still get the same excitement when I first catch a glimpse of the lake through the woods on the approach. The lake has changed a lot in its looks over the last few years due to a lot of the trees being harvested but it is still the same lake to fish. The main source of food for the trout is terrestrial insects that get blown onto the water. Once this happens the trout get focused on looking up. After a summer of ants and heather flies as well as other terrestrials being blown onto the water, the fish are now focused on the surface. This is the reason I think Brneig is one of the best dry fly lakes in the UK. I find this time of year to be some of the best dry fly fishing you can get as the fish are feeding ready for the winter and there are larger food sources being blown on the water such as daddy longlegs which give the trout a great meal. After a chat with Paul in the shop he gives me some ideas of where the fish have been feeding and advice on what is working. Its always good to have a chat with the rangers on arrival to find out how the lake has been fishing lately, to see where the hot spots are and what flies are currently working.
We are faced with a cold North easterly which is not the best direction for dry fly fishing but the wind is not strong which is a bonus and its nice and overcast. The lake is very low at the moment due to work being carried out on the tower which actually lets you see the features better than when its full.
My chosen set up for dry fly fishing in a 9 foot 6, 7 wt fast action rod. I have been using the Loop ST which has been a pleasure to use. It is important to use a light rod as you will be casting lots in the day. My Line choice is a Floating Rio Gold wf 7 and with this I use an 8-foot trout clear floating poly leader from Airflo, which I was introduced to a few years back by Airflo’s Garth Jones. The reason for this is it aids turn over with 3 flies in calm conditions and also helps when you are covering rising fish across the wind. It has a little give which helps on those explosive takes you sometimes get on dries. Leader material I use is Airflo G3 6-pound Fluro carbon. For a long time, I only used co polymer but for the last 7 years I have used G3 with great success after a recommendation from Russ Owen.
Leader length stays the same for me, I have 4 foot from poly leader to the first fly then a 5 foot to middle dropper and another 5 feet to the point fly. The dropper length I use about 6 inches which I find on my dry fly setup stops them twisting up and lets them sit proud of the main line
I always put my biggest dry on the top dropper so I can use this for quick location on the water and I always put my smallest in the middle. Today I have chosen a size 10 B170 heather fly. It is a Bibio style with red legs and a CDC wing. My middle dropper is a size 12 B170 fiery brown bob bits and the point fly is a size 12 b170 green butt quill shuttle cock. I only ever fish a shuttle cock on the point as they can spin and I have always found they spin my cast up when fished on the droppers. I don’t use degreasent as I find there is no need when using Fluro carbon. Fluro carbon breaks the surface film and sinks under. To start I don’t gink the flies up as the CDC flies float really well untreated. I also never gink the bob bits as I sometimes find it floats and other times it dips under the surface. In a full season you will be amazed how many fish you catch on the middle dropper sub surface, be ready though as these takes can be very hard.
Today I have decided to start at the top of the wind, this is for couple of reasons. Firstly, it is where the terrestrials will first get blown on to the water and secondly, it is the most sheltered part of the lake which helps feeding fish but more importantly it helps the insects hatch because it is slightly warmer. Over the last few seasons the fish have been in open water around the cages but this year seems to have gone back to the old days of Brenig where the fish have been hugging the edges in very shallow water sitting just on the drop off which I always spot by the colour change. As we take the short drive across the lake, I spot a few rising fish which bodes well. I chose to start the drift tight to the bank, half way up the woods, the wind is pushing the boat off the bank. As I am getting ready there are a few lovely head and tailing fish which really gets my adrenaline pumping. When I am fishing dries, I like to fan cast covering all the angles, really working my part of the boat. I only cast about 10 yards and leave the flies on the water for about 20 seconds at the end of each cast. I always give them a little twitch just to try and entice any fish that may be nearby.
Its very important to watch the rise carefully and work out which way they are going. The traditional thought, that the fish work up wind is not always the case and today they seem to be moving across the wind.
I have watched the fish coming towards me rising across the wind. It has moved 3 times now in a steady pattern, this behaviour is perfect for targeting. Accuracy and presentation are the key due to the fish being so high in the water. The fish only has a very narrow window to see your fly so you have to put it right in his path. I have a quick cast and the point Shuttle cock lands gently in the path of the fish. It carries on and only its nose breaks the surface to gently sip my fly down. For me there is no better sight in fishing. It is important not to rush the strike. Give the fish chance to turn before setting the hook. Once I set the hook the fish takes off and I have still never encountered harder fighting fish anywhere in the UK than Brenig. After a tense fight I slide the fish over the net. It is a gorgeous blue trout around the 1-and-a-half-pound mark, not large but in great condition. The fish is carefully returned to the water.
I give the fly a little wash, use Amadou to dry it then a couple of crisp false casts and you are back in business. Sometimes if needed I will apply a small bit of gink to the CDC. As we drift further out the rising fish stop so we decided to go back tight in. Following the same method, I manage to land another 5 fish all to the point fly before things start to slow.
I decide due to the wind dropping so much it might be worth a try at the visitor centre side of the dam. I start the drift just past the fishing boat pontoon. There are not many fish rising now so working the angles and fan casting every 20 seconds keeps you busy but makes sure you cover all the water in front of you. Just as I am passing the last moored boat the line rips from my fingers. No rise or disturbance, the fish has taken the middle dropper sunk. The fish pulls well and give a great account of itself before finding the net. Again, a quick wash of the fly and a dry with the Amadou patch, a couple of crisp false casts and we are back fishing. Just as we approach the dam wall a fish explodes at the top dropper a fast strike meets with nothing but by quickly putting your flies straight back at the fish you sometimes get a second chance and that proves the case with another splashy rise to the top dropper. With the bigger fly sitting higher you tend to get much more explosive rises than the smaller patterns that sit more in the surface.
One rule I try to follow is the slower the rise the slower the strike and the same for the faster the rise the faster the strike. I manage a couple more fish drifting onto the wall that all come blind. With time now pushing on I decide on one last move. With the lake being so low there is an old road that comes in at the sailing club and this feature goes right across the bay towards duck island. It has been a great fish holding spot all season with some older fish seeming to hold here. I start the drift about 50 yds back drifting toward the road, there is still very little moving fish and none within range to cover. In the corner of my eye I see a slight change in the wave. If there is anything, I am not sure on I always cover it just in case. As soon as the flies land a fish heads and tails over the middle dropper. This feels a better fish and fights deeper than the others. After a short fight I net the fish. It is a nice slivered up fish not huge but again, in great condition. During the fight the rain has come and this marks the end of the day. As we motor back to the lodge with the rain getting heavier, I cannot help but smile as I enjoy fishing this style so much and we have had a great day. I am sure if we had a southerly wind, we would have seen more fish moving, but by fishing the angles and regularly casting you can still bring the fish up blind. My approach is a simple one, I don’t change flies very often but there are two reasons I would. First reason would be if I was getting rises but I was missing them I would go smaller which I find normally leads to more confident takes on hard days. The other reason would be if the fish tune into a food source then I would match it.