FAB’s On A Floater at Kilnsey Park Trout Fishery
Former England Youth International and angling guide Ben Fox shares a method to catch surface feeding trout that refuse to take a dry fly…
It was late winter at Kilnsey Park and the trout were rising everywhere across the lakes. After changing my dry fly for the umpteen time, I came to the conclusion that dries weren’t really working. The cold weather had stopped the hatches and I couldn’t for the life of me figure out what the trout were rising to, or for. These were stocked fish so I began to speculate that they might not be feeding on anything. Off went my size 16 Bobs Bits and on went a black Foam Arsed Blob (FAB), not your traditional dry fly by any stretch! The second it hit the surface it was smashed by a trout. It was quite incredible. Fish were bow waving from metres away as I pulled the fly through the surface to hit the now, slightly tired looking, FAB.
I was on to something here. I developed the method further this day and experimented with colours, lines and leader lengths until I was confident that I had cracked it. Since then I have put it to good use on the water, taking big bags and the odd competition win along the way. My set-up is simple; a 10ft 7-wt rod, floating line, 12-ft leader and a single FAB.
I couldn’t have picked a worse day; put it this way, my client for that day cancelled due to the weather! Wind, snow, hail, sleet, bright sunshine; freezing, miserable changeable weather. Not the conditions for the FAB method on the top, but if it was always easy it wouldn’t be fishing. The water was being whipped to frenzy by the wind and spotting rising fish proved difficult. It’s important to scan the water in front of you before actually casting. You could miss areas where fish are holding or spook fish with your line by over casting. I noticed movement on the far bank. Fish were holding all along the margins. The wind would have made fishing from that bank difficult and I would risk spooking fish with my movements. Then again, the strong wind made all casting difficult!
A tight loop back and a wide loop forward will produce the best results and distance with a strong back wind. The tight loop cuts through the wind and allows the line to load the rod fully, and the wide loop catching the wind and acting like a sail. I decided a brighter FAB would do better for both the fish and me; something we could both see! I didn’t fancy squinting to see a black spec bobbing around 30 yards away!
Sunburst is a favourite colour for me, and this was the one I started with. It didn’t take long before fish started to inspect the FAB; swirls, aborted takes and boils but nothing stuck. If fish are reluctant to take off the top it often pays to fish the FAB in the surface film. I do this by casting out and giving the line a few sharp pulls. This action pulls the FAB into the surface layer as well as catching the trout’s attention. It works and within a couple of seconds the first fish of the day swallows the FAB. I kept the rod tip low to avoid any interference on the line from the wind. The fish hit the surface and I slid the net under it.
I had instant interest and within two casts a fish was hooked. Another fine rainbow goes back to fight another day.
The Kilnsey Grand Slam
I wanted to catch on as many colours as possible and different materials as well. Daphnia Fritz from FNF is superb and the pink core Biscuit with a pink foam tail did nicely as my next fly. I applied some gink to aid the fly’s floatation as Daphnia Fritz tends to take on water and sink fast. I had instant interest and within two casts a fish was hooked. Another fine rainbow goes back to fight another day. The fly was soaked so a quick dunk and shake in Hunt’s Original Slime and Grime was required to bring it back up to the surface.
Magic stuff that I’m not sure I could fish without! I decided to have a change of lake and moved to the peninsular on the top lake. A change to black brought a stunning fish within minutes.
Kilnsey’s stock fish are superb and this brown trout was no exception; fin perfect, hard fighting and simply gorgeous. The day kept getting better with fish coming consistently to a variety of colours. I even managed to snare a blue trout at last knockings completing a Kilnsey Park Grand Slam, all on FABS, all on the surface.
I’m not going to say that this method is magic; a must fish, mythically brilliant, wonder set-up that will take your fishing by storm and leave you never needing to fish anything else. That’s simply not true. It is however, an excellent way of targeting rising fish and can be a useful tactic to employ when the trout wont take a dry.
Ben’s Top Tips For FAB’s On A Floater
- Keep casting. Move the fly from area to area so as to cover fresh fish.
- Keep moving. Change pegs regularly, especially when takes dry up.
- Speed is key with moving your fly. The fly works best in the first few seconds playing on a fish’s natural aggression as any lure does. Covering water fast will increase your numbers at the end of a day.
- In flat conditions it is important to reduce the amount of disturbance on the surface. Don’t rip the fly line off the water; employ a wiggle of the rod tip while you lift into your back cast. Try and land your fly and line as subtly as possible. Finesse over power.
- There are three ways you can change how the fly is presented: fish it as is, treat it with gink or fish it in the surface layer
Ben Fox is an Ex England Youth International, instructor with the charity Fishing4Schools, writer and professional angling guide and coach. His company, Fly Guy, operates in the north of England covering a selection of venues.