14 - Top Tips: 5 Alternative Species on the Fly

Top 5 alternative species to target on the fly this summer!

As much as we love catching trout, fly fishing isn’t just about chasing creatures with spots these days. In fact, there are stacks of other species also well worth a cast. Some of them are much more common and catchable than others, though. Here are five exciting fly targets to go for this summer, from carp to bass, along with recommended flies to catch them!

1. Carp

For so many anglers across Britain and beyond, carp are probably your best chance of catch and release fishing for a species that commonly grows to ten pounds plus. They give a silly fight on game tackle, too, and also have the advantage that they feed well in sunny weather, when trout fishing can be rock hard. Many coarse fisheries allow fly tackle these days, but do check first.

Best flies to try for carp:

   

The most reliable way to get a bend in that rod is to start with bait type imitations, however. Try peppering the water little and often with dog biscuits or floating pellets and then sneak in an artificial such as our Ginger Dog Biscuit. Natural flies can work, including terrestrials like a foam Kicking Beetle. You may not get instant results, but it’s challenging, exciting sport. 

You’ll also find loads of other ideas in our carp flies section!

Top tip: Don’t strike too rapidly for carp, but let them really engulf your fly properly. Don’t set the hook too hard, because these heavy fish can break your tippet if you are too eager;  go for at least 6lbs strength.

2. Rudd
  

Lots of manmade fisheries have rudd, from rural canals to commercial pools. Look out for them basking at the surface on sunny days, because the chances are that if you can see them, you can catch them! These are delightful fish on light gear, such as a 2 to 4 weight outfit. Getting takes isn’t rocket science, either. Just cast gently and avoid jerky, rapid retrieves- it’s usually better just to let the fly settle naturally and let the fish do the rest.

Best flies to try for rudd:  

   

Lots will work, but they can quickly blow out stiff, traditional flies, so soft hackled patterns are best. Try a Black and Peacock spider, Rudd Bug or any tiny dry fly. Go for sizes 14-16 for wet flies, or right down to 18s and 20s for dries. 

You’ll also find other great fly patterns for rudd in our Roach and Rudd Flies section!

Top Tip: Pack a pair of polarising glasses and be prepared to walk to find the best rudd spots. Weedy, clear lakes, drains and ponds are perfect.

3. Mackerel
 

When we get to the warmest part of the year, these ravenous fish will show up close to the shore everywhere from piers and breakwaters to shingle beaches and rock marks. The key is timing- so ask around to see if they’re present and try to fish on a rising tide. You might also need a sinking line to get down to them- unlessthey are busting into prey right under the surface. You’ll know when you hook one- they are incredibly strong for their size! 

Best flies to try for mackerel:

   

Anything shiny will work, period. Try a small Clouser Minnow, a Baitfish Minnow, or even one of your brighter trout lures. Mackerel are not especially fussy, but you’ll catch more on smaller hooks (sizes 2-8) rather than bigger flies.

Top tip: Count your fly down to different depths until you find the fish. Once you’ve caught one, more are sure to be nearby at the very same level!

4. Bass
 
The king of sea fish for so many UK sea anglers, the bass is a fabulous fly rod quarry. They’ll also come right in close to shore if you can find the right spot, making them ideal for the fly angler. They can be tricky to find, so it’s well worth doing your homework and trying different tides.

Perhaps the best starting place is any spot where an estuary meets the sea. Even a “school” bass of a pound or so will really bend your trout rod! However, if you can find a small charter boat skipper who offers inshore bass fishing, this is a great way to reach bigger fish.

Best flies to try for sea bass:

Lots can work, but perhaps the most important prey item of all for smaller bass is the sandeel, closely followed by fry of other species. You won’t often go wrong with a Bootlace Sandeel - natural colours are excellent, but then so is pink or chartreuse!

Or take a look in our saltwater flies section for lots of options, including saltwater Deceivers and various other baitfish.

Top tip: Bass are fast, powerful fish and their prey don’t hang around. Try a fast, energetic retrieve; you would struggle to move that fly too quickly for bass!  

5. Chub
Another common species that eats a wide variety of insect life and grows to a good size, the chub is a fantastic fish to catch on the fly. Any time during the coarse fishing season on rivers (16th June to 15 March) is worth a go, with dry flies fun in the summer and streamers and nymphs in the winter.
Best flies to try for chub:
   

We stock several purpose made chub flies that really get these big mouths going. There’s nothing more exciting than a big terrestrial such as a Chopper or even a really lurid fly like the Jasper. Or, if you try for them in the colder months, classics like a Hare’s Ear or Black Woolly Bugger will also work.  

Our Chub Flies section has further ideas, too. 


Top tip: If you see chub look at the fly but refuse it, try imparting a twitch or two. These fish are naturally inquisitive and often like a bit of extra movement.

Other species and ideas…

Of course, the species list doesn’t stop with these five targets- and there are a wide variety of fish you can try for on the fly. Most are catchable at some stage in the year, wherever you fish. Certain species are more seasonal or sensitive to hot or cold weather, however. Grayling cannot be targeted in the coarse fishing “close season” for example (March 16- June 15), while we also wouldn’t recommend pike fishing in hot summer weather, due to their fragility in warm water.

Wherever you live and whichever time of the year it is, however, there are sure to be options!

The main thing is to go for it and try something new; the possibilities are endless, the fishing is often cheap or even free, and you might be pleasantly surprised at what you can catch.