Report by Alex Jardine
The chance of a return visit to Mongolia was not an opportunity I was going to pass up. Just 10 months on from my first taimen experience I found myself furiously tying horrifying surface flies and loading my bags with big rods and reels. This time the journey was to venture even further into the headwaters of the Delger River, a section referred to as ‘The Temple’ and which has only seen about 20 to 30 anglers…ever!
So why this trip? During one miserable damp and cold December evening my friend Adam Stafford (from Wet Your Knot) came to me to ask where to go for that trip of a lifetime to celebrate his 40th birthday. This is always one of the hardest questions to answer, everyone wants something different from a trip but knowing Adam I began to describe the trip I thought was for him. I described journeying into the Mongolian steppe, stunning scenery and big-fly-munching leviathans, then the addition of horse riding, local herders and ger camps. Before I knew it two bottles of red wine were empty and we had a week in the calendar!
Flying to Ulaanbaatar, the capital of Mongolia, is not the easiest task from the UK but our route through Germany on British Airways and MIAT was relatively stress free. On arrival the flight attendant welcomed us to Mongolia and joyfully announced that the temperature was already 29⁰C at 0700. After a slight wait at customs and immigration and a swift collection of our bags, we were greeted in the arrivals hall and transferred to the Bayangol Hotel in the centre of the capital.
A quick breakfast in the hotel and we were back to the airport for our short flight from Ulaanbaatar to the town of Muron, this is definitely more preferable than the 12 hour bus journey. On arrival in the small town airport the weather was still a glorious 30⁰C or so and we were met by the young head guide Tulga. Once all our bags and camp supplies had been collected we loaded up two Toyota Land Cruisers and began the long drive to Camp 1. As we reached the summit of the final hill the glistening waters caught the eye and was finally just an arm’s length away. The excitement reached its height at this moment, the flights, the drive they had all been for this moment. And just minutes later we hopped out of the cars, saying goodbye to motorised contraptions for nearly two weeks and crossed the river by inflatable raft.
We were welcomed by a delightful team of camp staff and our other guide, Bagi, and shown to our ger tents. Happy just to be back in this incredible place I dropped my bags and took in the sheer cliff faces, meadows of wild flowers and beautiful clean air. Adam and Julian, itching to open their Mongolian accounts, strung up 5 weights with large grasshopper patterns for lenok and grayling. In half an hour they both rose a few fish each but only Julian landed his very first lenok trout. Now that we had reached Camp 1 our journey was now to continue up river. With no roads or tracks, hiking taking too long and rafting upstream impractical our mode of transport was to be by horse and camel. This certainly is not a standard way to reach your fishing spot but for me it is now one of the best.
The guides cooked us up kebabs over an open fire whilst we set up our taimen outfits for the afternoon. Leaving little to chance we strung up 9ft 9/10# rods with matching floating lines and 9ft 20lb tapered leaders and surface gurglers. After food I headed down to the beautiful clear and shallow run, whilst not prime taimen water there were a couple of big boulders which could be spots for a passing taimen to sit in. Both Adam and Julian were still grilling Tulga for taimen information as I made my first few casts. After each swing I took a few steps down until I was in a prime position to cover the slack behind a big rock mid-river. I made the cast, the fly landing just past the rock. It first dragged up the current before zipping downstream through the slack. Without warning, the water erupted. A reddy-brown monster sprung from its lie and crashed through the surface. I watched as my gurgler disappeared from view. Just a second or so later I felt the line pull tight and all hell broke loose. I could hear the calls from the guys behind, even at over 100 yards away they had seen the fish hit the fly. The taimen now cartwheeling across the surface then stuck its nose down and went on a searing run to the far back. Backing now out of the rod I was forced to follow. Keeping the pressure on full there were two or three occasions when I was convinced I was wrapped round a rock, but to my amazement this dead stop was purely the fish’s own power.
Tulga by this point had joined me in the river with the net and was positioning himself to net the taimen. Each time the fish saw him it edged forward and a couple of times it made nerve-jangling head shakes on the surface. Tulga, a dab hand with a net, picked his moment and scooped the net under the fish and I watched as it folded safely into the net. Bringing the fish into the shallows I stood, unable to speak, hands trembling just looking at this immense fish. A true predator, it had a large head for swallowing big food, a thick wrist and large powerful tail capable of propelling the fish at an alarming rate.
We measured the fish quickly, keeping him in the water except for a quick couple of photos and slid him back into the water. Watching as the red shape faded into the clear riffled water. The taimen measured an incredible 48 inches (123 cm) and we estimated it to be between 40 – 45 lbs, the equal camp record. We had only been on the water for 5 minutes, what was this week going to be like?
The rest of the story with more images can be read at:
The Guideline equipment for this fishing was:
By Bob Sherwood, Guideline Power Team
Here’s Matt Ashley from the UK casting the EXP4 and 4-Cast line. Look at that loop. Hard to believe he’d never picked up a fly rod before, isn’t it?! Matt is an ex-British Army Serviceman who endured some brutal experiences in Afghanistan. Matt had an inkling that fly fishing might just be the peaceful but challenging pursuit he now needs in a quieter phase of his life. He clearly loves the outdoor life and was keen to learn as much as he could.
Is this the best beginners’ outfit yet?
With a little demonstration and some tuition, Matt was soon throwing some incredible loops for someone who had never touched a fly rod before. And that’s even though his rod hand lacks the top part of his thumb!
Ok, this guy was a particularly good student (and his girlfriend Michelle was no slouch with the rod, either!). But it was clear to see how the feel of the EXP4 and the versatility of the 4-cast line helped so much with the learning experience. It’s just so user-friendly.
New for this season, I’ve been teaching all my trout fishing clients in the UK with Guideline’s EXP4 series rods. Though it’s still early in the season, I’m already convinced I made the right choice.
As an AAPGAI master instructor and member of the Guideline Power team, I think it’s critical what gear I put in the hands of my clients – especially beginners who are often experiencing their first taste of fly fishing.
My kit has to look great and give my clients a quality feel from the off. It has to have excellent components and be robust. It has to be capable of all the casts I teach in a single-handed tuition session – from basic overheads to roll casts, double hauls and single-handed spey casts. It has to be able to produce tight loops, maintain line shape on long casts, minimize tip bounce that upsets the bottom leg of the loop and generate high line speeds. It needs to be able to deliver short casts and smoothly handle the power for longer casts. And it needs to have feel and suit a wide range of casters. That means a tip that recovers quickly and a progressive action that flexes more deeply as the line length increases.
That’s a lot to ask. And then there’s the tricky bit – it needs to be affordable so that novices are not put off or sent away feeling that they have to spend a small fortune to take up our sport. I insist on quality kit but I want to show novice anglers that they can produce great results with affordable kit if they choose carefully.
So, for stillwater trout fishing tuition here in the south of England, I’ve settled on the 9’ #6 EXP4 teamed up with a WF6 4-Cast floating line and a Reelmaster LA 46 reel. I thought it might be good – but it’s turned out to be the best beginners’ outfit I’ve used. Roll casts, feel on a short line, deeper flex for long casts, tip control – it’s all there. After a few sessions, I have complete confidence in it as my go-to tuition set-up.
And, more to the point, my students like Matt have complete confidence in it. And it turns out the EXP4 is also a joy to play fish on, flexing smoothly and consistently, cushioning the hookhold and giving great feedback during the fight. Just ask Matt. I didn’t think he was going to give it back!
Sit back and enjoy our new video from Iceland showcasing our FARIO WF floating flylines! It has a medium belly-length that performs excellent with all kinds of water born casts and in addition also has brilliant balance and accuracy for exact presentations in mid to long-range situations.
FARIO WF incorporates a handling line for greater flexibility of the amount of line you’d like to carry outside the rod tip. It has a looped front and laser line-ID mark. Color is Olive/Yellow with Sunrise handling- and running lines.
Words & Images by Alesso Falorni.
Thinking Salmon for Trout – The Ultralight Swing System. I have been addicted to salmon fishing since 2001. Sadly, I live in Italy, a country where this magnificent fish is not indigenous. Like many of you, I suspect, my fishing for salmon is consequently limited to three or four precious weeks of the year and most of my fly fishing is carried out targeting other species.
My discovery of the “ultralight swinging” way of fishing for salmon proved to be very useful while targeting some of the difficult trout that live in my local rivers. Indeed, since i started ‘salmon fishing for trout’ my tally of big, shy trout has increased dramatically. After learning how to fish for salmon, it seemed a natural extension to try the classic downstream and across swing so often associated with fishing for Salmo Salar for Salmo Trutta! Initially, I used a standard trout set-up, employing standard floating WF lines and therein I began to discover some great fishing but also some limitations. The floating line presented the flies very close to the surface and I found myself on regular occasions wanting to fish deeper. This was particularly the case with our “zebra” trout, a notoriously shy species that spend most of their time feeding on nymphs among the rocks and stones on the bottom of the river. These fish are very reluctant to ‘rise’ to the fly and i needed to find a way of getting my flies down into the feeding zone.
The initial solution was to use 20 grams shooting heads matched to a light 12’6” double hand Guideline LeCie. I didn’t want to ‘over-rod’ for trout fishing and the #6/7 was my rod of choice. It was a great combination but one that tended to excel in winter during in high water levels. On the lower stretches of our water, where bankside bushes make overhead casting almost impossible, it was the supreme combination during the colder months but the set-up lacked the versatility I required to fish in lower, clear water and where overhead casting might be possible. Delicate presentation was also an issue and I resolved to find a more versatile set-up to suit lower water conditions.
Enter the LPXE Switch 11’ #6/7. I used the rod with a DDC Connect line or Triple D cut back to weigh just 18 grams – a beautifully versatile set-up that excels in delivering delicate, accurate presentation. Nonetheless, in really low water, even this set-up lacked the finesse to present a small size 14 classic wet fly to a spooky fish.
Finally, after spending quite some time refining my approach, I came to the conclusion that shooting heads fished on a light single hand rod was where I needed to be. However, finding the right lines to use with my favourite class 3,4 and 5 single hand rods was now the key to what I was sure would be the optimum set-up for spooky fish in low water.
One solution to the problem is to take a traditional WF line that is two or three line weights up from the rating of the rod and cut it back to create a shooting head. Short Skagit lines also work well but instead of using the heavy tips that these lines are supplied with, the addition of a 10’ trout polyleader gives the required delicacy and balance with the ultralight rod.
Using these lines in combination with Compline as a shooting line has enabled me to present flies delicately and yet also fish them deep and slow, just the way the trout often like it. Casting square greatly speeds the fly up and covers those situations encountered on the days when the fish like to chase a fly that is moving at speed. The end result of my trails and experiments has been more fish in the net. I am catching more and bigger fish these days and if you fancy trying the technique yourself, here are my set-ups in detail:
Small river with bushy banks.
Fario CRS 8’9 # 3 wt, with Quadra 24, Compline 25 lbs and DDC connect tips 8/9 single hand (4,5 meters @ 7 grams) in float, int/S1, S1/S2 and S2/S3 with 10′ trout polyleaders of different densities, Or 4Cast WF cut at 98-9 grammes (6,5 meter circa)
Open wide river with normal water.
Fario Classic 10′ # 4 wt, with 46 Quadra, same Compline, and # 7 wt 4Cast wf lines (F, F-S1, F-S3 and F-S5) cut at 11 grames ( 6,8 metres circa) with or without polyleader ( depending condition).
All purpose outfit.
RSI 9′ # 5wt, with 46 Haze V2, 25 lbs Compline and DDC connect tips 10/11 DH (4,5 meters @ 12 grams) in float ( a skagit like line), I/S1, S1/S2, S2/S3 and S3/S4 with 10′ trout polyleader, Ultracompact 5/6 or Triple D 7/8 single hand cut at 14-15 grams.
Only in larger rivers during winter month I choose the LPXe switch 5/6, Quadra 4/6, Compline 25 lbs, matched with Ultra Compact 6/7 or 7/8 Triple D cut at 15-16 grams due the better speed control by a longer rod.
Before i finish, you might be interested in some of my favourite fly patterns. In low water or in reasonable water temperature I prefer March Brown Spiders in different sizes. In high cold water, my favourite fly and one that I use almost to the exclusion of anything else, is a Monkey Fly. One of the variants is called ” Biru Biru,” a minnow imitation with silver body, white hackle and black fox wing. Another variant is the “Sculpin Tube” (same shape as previous fly) but with gold body, partridge hackle and wing built from from a mix of tobacco, brown and black fox wing. Both tubes seem to work better with the addition of jungle cock cheeks.
Words & Images by Alesso Falorni – Guideline PowerTeam Italy
It didn’t seem like a year since our last visit to EMB, and we were greeted as we landed to at Rio Grande to a tremendous storm with huge winds and very heavy rain. I think we landed about four times before safely coming to rest. We were met by Federico our head guide and he said the river was very low and very clear and full of sea trout. He also commented that this was the first rain they had seen since November.
Both of these fish were hooked simultaneously on the last cast of the evening.
There is no fishing for us on Saturday so the afternoon and evening was used to get rods, reels and equipment ready before our evening meal, then a few large whiskies before a night of sleep dreaming hopefully about what was to come. My number one choice set up for fishing the Rio Grande is a Lxi 13ft 9in 7/8 wt rod coupled with a Quadra 7/9 HD reel, add to that a full multi tip spey line and Egor fluorocarbon tippet and the combination is complete.
Our first day was one of experimentation, we were fishing two great pools but with the usual tactics and flies not seemingly working, it was a day of working out how to catch these wonderful creatures. My first fish was taken at 11am and despite working hard for the rest of the session and the evening session only one more fish was taken as darkness fell. You can fish a big black fly with confidence in the last fifteen minutes and this time sometimes saves a blank session, It is a great pity that we are not allowed continue fishing into the night in Tierra del Fuego because as with our UK sea trout they lose all there inhibitions in the darkness and smash your flies with a vengeance. (TDF law states there will be NO fishing in the hours of darkness).
A 15lb fish leaves the water just after being hooked.
The following day I felt I had worked out how to tempt them and got four nice fish averaging just over 11lbs each. I fished a long leader about four metres long with an intermediate tip and size 8 and 10 flies with legs but cut back very short. The usual tactic of casting 45 degrees downstream and fishing a good drift didn’t work. I found that I needed to continually mend the line and keep it in the narrow channel hovering the fly right in front of their noses, this really annoyed them and the strikes were tremendous. As with all migratory fish they turned on and off and the following morning, fishing one of the middle pools using the above tactics had a great session as the fish turned on, landing six fish, losing a few and getting more pulls before the action again stopped. The same tactics worked well all week, having a few sessions like the one above. I also got a few fish casting upstream and fishing the nymphs dead drift downstream through the channel, This produced my biggest fish on the last evening at well over 20lbs, the take was savage and this fish spent more time out of the water than in it.
At over 20lbs it was my best fish of the week MAGIC !!!!!!!
Our week was all too soon over, unusually, like last year the clear, low water conditions made fishing difficult but not impossible and very rewarding. Our party of 12 rods caught 160 sea trout averaging over 10 lbs, the best sea trout fishing in the world.
Dave Parkes UK Power team
by Kieran Conlon – Guideline Powerteam Ireland
Another close season has drawn to an end. Many rivers are now open and a few with the first Spring Salmon already caught. The anticipation builds, rods, reels, lines & flies are ready to go. Thoughts turn to tactics for the coming season and a look back at last year is always a great place to start.
Time to remember the great experiences,locations,people and the tackle that helped to make it all possible. What rods worked best and the shooting heads that were most effective in various locations and conditions throughout the season. Knowledge based on previous experiences is a vital tool to any angler and used correctly will ensure the best chance of future successes. Its not just a case of remembering or checking one’s diary to see what line or fly caught what fish at a given time, but to question each experience be they good or bad and to challenge it. Would a slightly faster sinking head have worked better maybe a smaller fly ? Just because something has always worked does not mean it can not be improved upon. Speaking for myself a lot of the enjoyment in fly fishing for Atlantic Salmon comes from trying new ideas, tactics, flies,rods & lines and achieving success through experimentation.
Last year was very much the year of the switch rod for me, generally lower than average water levels for a lot of the middle part of the season meant that Switch gear reigned supreme. My Lxi T Pac 11’6 8/9 coupled with the Compact Switch heads caught fish even on the larger rivers that I wouldn’t have caught on the heavier gear, owing to the ability to achieve stealthy presentations with small flies in low flows. Its not just that the lighter gear doesn’t spook fish but the lighter lines ensure the flies swim enticingly in the lower flows.
Nature at it’s most beautiful
A lesson learned here though was that on our small to medium rivers even when water levels rose in many cases there was no need to revert back to the larger double handers. The switch rods and the short shooting heads are now so good we can continue to use them even high water conditions. The compact Switch heads are available right down to Intermediate/S5/S6 and well able to carry a large fly a long way. The introduction of the 9/10 T Pac Lxi Switch is going to be a great addition again increasing the range of conditions in which a switch rod can be used. Definitely the rod I am most looking forward to using in challenging conditions. Don’t think for a minute that these rods won’t handle large fish.
My best fish of 2015 came on the 8/9 T Pac Lxi Switch with out any issues. These rods have plenty of leverage to get the job done, but provide loads of feedback not only in casting but also in fishing allowing a great level of feel for what the line and fly are doing during the swing. Late Summer rains saw the rivers rise to high levels at times meaning the double handers best suited the conditions on the larger rivers. The longer rods just providing that little bit more control of the fly when covering far of lies in high water. Most effective combos were the ReactionFRS 13’7 8/9 and Scandi Intermediate/S2/S3 and the T-Pac Lxi 13’9 9/10 and Triple D S1/S3/S5. Not very deep you might think for high water but at this point in the season the water was warm enough that fish were traveling high in the water column and all I needed was to get the fly below the heavier surface currents.
Success in the face of adversity, A Grilse caught in conditions many deemed to high for the fly.
Most fish being met just either side of the heavier currents along the creases & seams.
My first trip of the year is now only two weeks away and I am already thinking about what rod/line combo to use in which pools and will the water levels hold up till then. Reports coming in are good with fish now being caught almost daily. Will I be successful ? I hope so but you can be sure I ‘ll enjoy trying to be. One aspect of Salmon fishing thats as important as any other is to be optimistic. Optimism leads to confidence which I think in turn leads to greater concentration and attention to details on the day. The ability to notice small details or subtle changes in the conditions are often vital to success.
A Cold Spring Morning, A sight that greets many a Fly Fisher on the first trip of the Season
The LXi series is developed for the salmon-, seatrout and steelhead angler. All these 5- and 6-piece rods are designed to offer highest possible performance packed into a transport-friendly format. For the travelling anglers it´s a great feature that all T-Pac rods fit nicely into our sturdy GL Roller Bag. Below is a video produced and filmed by Matt Hayes featuring skilld angler and Guideline sales rep in the UK – Jim Curry.
Features / The LXi T-Pac rods have grey/green metallic blanks and are fitted with hard anodized, black reel seats with flat sides incorporating LXi laser engraved logos. Cork Grips are fitted with nice trims in rubber cork and are slightly shorter to generate more reserve power. To add to the performance and reduce weight, we have fitted REC Recoil stripper guides and single leg guides on all rods. New, mesh rod bags keep things light and breathable. Together with new developed, extremely lightweight tubes, you are sure not to carry any unnecessary weight when checking in for your next fishing trip.
Read more about LXi T-Pac at the Guideline website >>>