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The Airflo Invitational Fly Fishing Team Competition 2018

The Airflo Invitational Fly Fishing Team Competition At Rutland Water 2018

Kevin Porteous shares the tactics and flies that saw his team FNF Falcons take top spot in this years Airflo Invitational six-man team competition at Rutland Water.

Rewind the clock back to Autumn 2017 when I received a call from Airflo’s
 Gareth Jones wanting to have a little chat about an idea he had. Gareth,
 with Airflo’s backing, wanted to create a superb six-man team competition.

So how was this going to be achieved? Gareth recognised that competition 
anglers already have a busy calendar so he decided to make this an 
invitational match. Qualifying teams would be invited on merit from the
 Sportfish and Anglian Water team events and just to spice things up he
 added a few wild card team spaces. The match was to be held on Rutland in
 May giving anglers the opportunity to fish for buzzer feeding fish. It all
 sounded like a recipe for success.

I was ever so pleased when the FNF Falcons, of which I am a member, received
 an invitation. We were quick to accept. From that point on the work started
 to research Rutland as none of the team had any previous experience fishing 
the water in May. It was evident that the fishing was usually very good at
 this time of year on Rutland and this year was no exception.
 This competition boasted 21 of Europe’s top teams all desperate to get 
their hands on the new trophy.

The whole event was played out in a relaxed, friendly atmosphere, but there 
was no hiding the fact that everyone was there to win and a lot of practice
 was put in by the teams participating.

Practice Day One

With such a vast area of water to cover in only two practice days we had to be rather
 selective where we sent boats to practice. We used reports from friends and 
previous matches to highlight spots to concentrate our firepower on and 
just hoped we hadn’t missed anything crucial. Practice day one was breezy with 
bright sunshine and occasional cloud cover. It was quite evident that 
fish were not on the immediate surface and the best tactics would be on 
this day to drop down to get in the correct zone. On day one pulling a Di5 40+ was proving to be a great tactic however we all knew the weather was to 
change for practice day two and the two-day competition. We noted
 areas that fish were caught and decided to go back to these areas on the second day of 
practice to hone our tactics.

Anglers preparing for day two of practice where bright sun and calm conditions greeted them.
Anglers preparing for day two of practice where bright sun and calm conditions greeted them.
Practice showed that the fish were feeding on buzzers. This was one of the main tactics employed on match day by most anglers.
Practice showed that the fish were feeding on buzzers. This was one of the main tactics employed on match day by most anglers.

Practice Day Two

The weather was now to remain consistent for the next three days so we would 
have this day to get our tactics right. In the very calm and bright conditions we
 started to get an idea for the immense water clarity. It was like fishing 
in an aquarium. Never have I seen so many fish swim under my boat including
 large browns, shoals of rainbows, pike, huge eels and perch. I was
 fortunate to catch one of the large brown trout estimated about 7lb close 
to the hotel in the morning of the second practice day. The team also noted other
 areas where large brown trout were in abundance, which proved crucial to the
 competition.

Despite the change in weather the team proved that various methods were
 working on the fish and it was almost a case of area rather than tactic as
 fish could be taken on various methods, especially early in the day.

Kevin Porteous with a superb Rutland brown caught in practice.
Kevin Porteous with a superb Rutland brown caught in practice.

The Competition- Day One

The team ventured out with various tactics depending on what area they were
 wanting to fish. James Bews and Scott Reith headed up the North Arm, 
Campbell Morgan, Alan Porteous and Sean McCaffrey covered the Main Basin
 whilst I ventured over to Spud Bay and ended up staying there for the entire 
day. Spud Bay saw five boats head straight there which is quite a lot for such
 a small area. My boat partner for the day, Dale Burgess, assured me there
 were plenty fish in the area and he was right. The fishing was good 
for the initial hour but boat pressure on such a small area very quickly 
slowed things down to a point we were the only boat left in the bay.

However, we noticed the fish were coming and going into the bay. For a spell 
you would see nothing, then after a while, the fish would populate the bay 
again. You could see them swimming under the boat in numbers and with no
 apparent reason vanish again. In the morning the fish were hard on the deck
 but by lunch time the fish could be seen cruising about mid water. Dale and
 myself were very patient and made the most of our opportunities when the 
fish moved in.

After the first day weigh-in, our team the FNF Falcons, were in first place with a
 healthy 13lb advantage over second place Flash Attack Reservoir Dogs.

The Competition- Day Two

We knew there would be a number of very good teams snapping at 
our heels so we couldn’t afford to be at all complacent. Armed with all the 
information from the day before we decided to have a similar split in boats
 with team members heading back to the areas that had done well the previous
 day. Again the team had noted where the large brown trout were and we
 purposely covered these areas early in the chance of catching one. This 
proved to be a crucial tactic as Campbell Morgan and Sean McCaffrey did
 just that both landing large brown trout, which was to make a big difference
 to their bag weights. Rutland fished exceptionally well again but the rod 
average fell slightly on day two from 9.48 to 8.95.

After the weigh-in it was evident to see the chasing teams had done 
slightly better than us but nobody knew if it was enough to leapfrog us 
into first place.

The Results

After a tasty hog roast and many anxious minutes the individual results 
were read out first. FNF Falcons Sean McCaffrey secured the top 
individual over the two days. Everyone was on edge waiting for the final 
team standings. When FNF Falcons were called out in first place it was like 
having all your birthdays at once. A wave of emotion poured over the team
 quickly followed by smiles a mile wide.

Results

• 1st FNF Falcons

• 2nd Iain Barr Costa

• 3rd Flash Attack Reservoir Dogs

With only 6lb separating the top four teams this was a close run competition 
and very exciting.

The Airflo Slow-Tip and Di5 40+ plus were the lines used by FNF Falcons…
The Airflo Slow-Tip and Di5 40+ plus were the lines used by FNF Falcons…
…along with Fulling Mill Masterclass Fluorocarbon and Grand Max Soft Plus.
…along with Fulling Mill Masterclass Fluorocarbon and Grand Max Soft Plus.

Tactics

Over the four days fishing it was evident fish could be caught using various
 methods including the bung, straight line buzzers, pulling and washing 
line. Leader choice was critical in the clear water. It came down to a
confidence thing. I opted for the new Fulling Mill Masterclass while the 
rest of the team used Grand Max Soft Plus.
When pulling we used either a Di5 Sweep or Di5 40+ and a single Sunburst
 Block Jelly Booby on a 12ft leader. This was either used early in the day or
 out over open water.

When fishing the washing line the team either used a Fire Prawn/Blushing
 Sunburst Jelly FAB or Tequila Slush Jelly Blob if we wanted to get a bit
 deeper. Despite most of the field fishing Buzzers, Blobs accounted for a large
 percentage of our total bag. The Airflo 12ft Slow Tip, fished slowly, was 
achieving the perfect depth and presentation when fishing the washing line.

Buzzer patterns didn’t have to be to specific, getting them to the correct
 depth quickly felt more important, either using a bung or straight-lining 
to achieve the correct depth, baring in mind the fish were coming up in the 
water through the course of the day. Black and red buzzers seemed to be 
popular with the team and would occupy at least one dropper on everyone’s
 cast.

Sunburst Block Jelly Booby
Sunburst Block Jelly Booby
Fire Prawn and Blushing Sunburst Jelly FAB
Fire Prawn and Blushing Sunburst Jelly FAB
Tequila Slush Jelly Blob
Tequila Slush Jelly Blob
Black and Red Buzzer
Black and Red Buzzer

Conclusion

The new Airflo Invitational match turned out to be exactly what Gareth 
Jones had dreamed up all those months ago. Rutland Water proved an
 excellent venue married with an excellent field of anglers.
 A special thanks has to go out to sponsors FNF and particularly Airflo who 
have once again hugely supported competition fishing.
 I’d also like to give a special mention to the FNF Falcons, James Bews 
(captain), Alan Porteous, Campbell Morgan, Scott Reith, Sean McCaffrey and
 myself. Thanks lads for making a dream come true.

FNF Falcons Sean McCaffrey (left) was top rod over the two days, whilst Campbell Morgan was top rod on day two taking the biggest fish on that day too.
FNF Falcons Sean McCaffrey (left) was top rod over the two days, whilst Campbell Morgan was top rod on day two taking the biggest fish on that day too.

Kevin Porteous

Kevin Porteous is a multi-capped Scottish International angler having represented his country at both junior and senior level. He started fly fishing at the age of nine and spends most of his fishing time on still waters in pursuit of trout. He has recently developed many modern synthetic fly tying materials and is the man behind the Frozen North Fly Fishing brand.

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