Buzzer Fishing Tactics
Fishing buzzers can product some of the best sport of the season. Simply holding on to a team of flies when the fish often ‘rocket’ off with your line is extremely exciting, and to be consistent on any water you really only have to follow a few basic steps. The principle and patterns nearly always stay the same when buzzer fishing, but for those of you who are interested, here are my favoured tactics.
The best area on the lake are usually the band of water 20 – 50m off the bank, which is usually the drop off or shelf on most water. The ideal depth is 12-18ft deep where the water will be warm enough for the buzzers to hatch.
The buzzer and the bloodworm will begin life at the bottom of the reservoir in the silt and mud, they will then rise in the water as the weather warms and eventually hatch on the surface.
Depending on the temperature of the water, underwater currents and the surface tension the buzzers will be at a variety of depths throughout the day… this is why the trout will be at a variety of depths and why you catch on all the droppers during the day.
By fishing three flies you can effectively cover all the top 12 – 15ft of water, meaning that your flies are never more than 4ft away from any fish – as an angler you are in effect increasing your options by having flies at different depths.
Your set up and tackle will vary depending on how deep you intend to fish, but accurate measurements are essential.
The three most common buzzer fishing tactics:
- The Bung
- Straight line buzzer fishing
- Washing line method
1 – The Bung
The Bung is basically an indicator that suspends your flies perfectly at distinct depths, with the biggest and heaviest fly, such as an epoxy buzzer, on the point. When the fish want flies fished static the bung can be absolutely deadly.
The length of your leader will vary but a standard bung set up will have 5ft to the Bung then 3.5ft to top dropper. Another 3.5ft to middle dropper then 3ft to the point. A total leader length of 15ft. The big advantage of having 5ft to the bung is that if you feel the fish are deeper, and are only catching on your point fly then you can simply take the bung off and replace it with another buzzer so allowing your whole cast to get deeper – straight line buzzer fishing.
Simply make a cast and leave everything static for 15 – 20 seconds, watch your line in case it suddenly straightens indicating a fish has taken your flies “on the drop” once the flies have all sunk and are vertical, slowly figure of eight 2ft of line into the boat, then stop for 10secs just keeping in contact with your flies this does 2 things first it raises all of the flies in the water – then lets them fall again – just as the natural nymph does, also if fishing the bung it will cause a big disturbance on the surface, this again can attract the trout to your flies.
Often the bung will dip just like a float allowing you to see any takes a split second before you feel them, it’s then just a simple case of lifting into the fish.
2 – Straight line buzzer fishing
Fishing this style is ideal for when you want to fish deeper than 12ft (without the bung) a typical set up would be 6ft to the top dropper, 5ft to the middle dropper and 4ft to the point fly. (Total leader length 15ft – or 4 flies each at 4ft so a 16ft leader) to fish deeper simply use a midge tip instead of a floating line.
Again the heaviest epoxy buzzer is fished on the point, this set up will actually drag the tip of the floating line down 2 or 3 ft, don’t worry – this is normal!
Just fish with an ultra-slow figure of 8 (occasionally a little faster) but before you recast remember the hang and drop back… fish will follow buzzers, or on occasion will suddenly rush to take when there is movement.
Use the leader and braided loop as an indicator… if you see any movement STRIKE HARD… Do not just lift into the fish or you will lose it, the rod will absorb the take and you won’t set the hook so well.
TOP TIP: Buzzer fishing can be explosive, so use strong leader where possible.
3 – Washing Line Method
The “washing line” method is a generic term used to describe a floating point fly (usually a booby or popper hopper) with nymphs or buzzer on the droppers; it allows the angler to fish multiple flies in the killing zone.
Usually the method is used when fishing a floating, midge tip or Intermediate line when the fish are in the top 6ft of water but it can be equally effective on sinking lines.
It’s fairly obvious that the larger the booby eyes (or the foam in the popper hopper) then the higher the point fly will hold in the water.
However the type and diameter of leader material will play a huge part as to how your flies will fish in the water. I tend to use co-polymer when the fish are high in the water, and then fluorocarbon when the fish are below 2ft. The co-polymer tippet doesn’t sink as fast as fluorocarbon, so will hold higher in the water. Fluorocarbon is heavy compared, so will drag the flies down somewhat.
The length of leader and spacing’s of flies will also drastically effect how deep your set up fishes. For example a fluorocarbon leader with 7 – 10ft to the top dropper then 2 further droppers spaced 3.5ft apart with a size 12 small eyed booby on the point and size 10 buzzers on the droppers will allow the angler to fish deeper than most anglers imagine, depths of 20ft are achievable with a slow retrieve in calm conditions.
The size and type of fly will have a huge effect on how the leader fishes – epoxy buzzers will sink fast and skinny, seals fur or pheasant tail buzzer will sink slower. A size 10 fly tied on heavy wire hooks will drag the cast down, including the point fly so allowing you to fish the drop.
How to fish buzzers?
Make a long cast, then make 2 pulls and strip the flies; this will straighten the leader and ensure that you are in direct contact with your cast, allowing you to feel the slightest of takes. It will also cause the floating point fly to “pop” across the surface this will draw fish to your flies, they will investigate the disturbance if fishing a washing line style.
All that’s needed then is an ultra-slow figure of 8, basically keeping in contact with your flies (if fishing on the drop) or retrieving them at a slow pace, all your flies will be held at the correct depth for longer, so increasing your chances.
I find that buzzer fishing in this way is most successful once the water has warmed up, and the fish are on the move; on overcast days I consider it the most consistent method for catching Stillwater trout. The slow retrieve allows you to essentially fish a lure (the booby) and buzzers on the same cast; it increases your options as it allows you to fish two different styles of fly at the same time. The flies complement each other perfectly all you have to do is fine-tuning the method and get the depth right.
A simple range of flies is all that’s needed to be successful when fishing buzzers but in a range of sizes so allowing you to fish a variety of depths depending upon conditions.
My favourite patterns when fishing with buzzers are:
The Two Tone Buzzer has been sensational for me over the past 2 seasons and has accounted for some stunning bags of fish on Rutland and Grafham the ‘2-tone’ idea was taken from our blobs that work so well, and producing the already winning contrast on the wing buds of a buzzer was a natural progression. The simple idea adds to a standard stripped quill buzzer and provides a much more positive response – takes are simply unmissable.