Competition fly fishing may not be to everyone’s taste but we can hold the argument that the discipline itself is responsible for many new ideas, methods, and materials that soon filter down to the pleasure angler and become mainstream.
I was fortunate enough to have participated in the World Bank Masters at Farmoor Reservoir on March 12th and 13th organised by former World champion angler Iain Barr – an even that would attract the best anglers from all around Europe; including former world champions and members of the Spanish, Norwegian, Belgium and Polish world teams.
Day 1 was the individual event, with competitor’s rotating 12 pegs after every 35 minutes of fishing with a total number of 10 pegs over the course of the day; this ensured all anglers fished a variety of areas getting a fair chance on the fish if it turned out to be peggy. The match was fished to Catch & Release and a points system meaning that consistency would be rewarded.
It soon became apparent that lures on a variety of sinking lines from Di-3 – Di-7’s was the method of choice for most competitors. Initially, anglers fished brightly coloured patterns at the beginning of each session before switching to more somber natural patterns as the fish became pressured.
I opted to fish a Perch snake on a Di-5 with a slow roly-poly, dropping the lure through the top 20ft of the water. As the fly was sinking I would often get a slight ‘tap-tap’ on the lure but the continued steady roly-poly ensured the fish eventually locked up. I began picking 1 or 2 fish up from most pegs and was building a nice bag. I finished the day with 13 fish all to the Perch Snake; with the highlight of my day landing 3 overwintered rainbows all around 6lb from one peg (near the tower) that were clearly ‘fry-feeding‘.
My team-mate Matthew Griffiths produced an exceptional performance and banked 18 fish over the course of the day, blanking on just 1 peg. He also opted to fish a Snake pattern slowly at distance. It soon became clear that 7 or 8 fish was a good score, anything higher was realistically a top ten position so our expectations of success were high.
Matthew was crowned Individual Champion 2017, collecting a cheque for £2,900, a just reward for a consistent performance catching all-around the reservoir, when many anglers struggled. I was a credible 4th.
Day 2 was the Pairs Match fished to the same format. With Matthew and I paired together we had high expectations of a top 10 finish and thought we could replicate our performances from day 1 if we stuck to the same methods. However, conditions were slightly worse, a flat calm greeted us when we arrived and the temperature had dropped – it didn’t seem to deter the fish though and it was obvious that the reservoir was fishing better than ever. All around me I could see rods bending which is a great sign.
We ended the match with 21 fish as a pair, a good score but we felt not quite good enough to take top position, we already knew of several other good bags of 24+ fish.
Once again it was the time of our Nymphomaniac team-mates, this time in the form of Gareth Jones and Kieron Jenkins who put in a mind blowing performance and banked 35 fish during the day, with Kieron himself responsible for 25 fish and catching on every peg!
For me this was the performance of the weekend, on the second day of a high-profile match, to catch 25 fish when the fish have wised up and become wary was truly remarkable, they were clear winners from a highly distinguished field.
Competition fly fishing has taken a lot of criticism recently with numbers in almost every competition being down. It was refreshing to be part of something different, with tagged fish an excellent idea to give everyone a chance of a prize even if their day was not going very well. To conclude the World Bank Masters was well organised and well supported at a great fishery with some truly exceptional fish being caught. The fishery itself is undoubtedly the fairest venue for such an event as ‘hot spots’ are almost eliminated. I genuinely
The fishery itself is undoubtedly the fairest venue for competition fly fishing as hot spots are almost eliminated. I genuinely learned a lot and believe the event will grow and grow over the next few years as there was truly a ‘buzz’ around the whole weekend. competition fly fishin