I have always wanted to compete at the Anglian Water Airflo International as I see it as one of the most prestigious events on the Fly Fisherman's calendar. The FNF Falcons of which I'm a part of gained qualification to the final through a heat fished at Lake of Menteith in June. Since then the preparation got underway for the final which was to be competed on Rutland 2nd + 3rd October.
The Anglian Water Airflo International final boasted 24 of Europe's top 6 man teams all battling to become the 2018 champions. Qualification spots were contested on a number of venues, to make it to the final was an achievement in itself.
The FNF Falcons decided to have 3 practice days on Rutland, this time would be crucial as four of our members had never fished Rutland at this time of year. However we had plenty of experience at this time of year through Sean McCaffrey and James Bews who have plenty of Anglian Water finals under their belts.
The 3 practice days were used to fine tune tactics and try to work out fish holding areas. Before we started our practice there was a lot of chat about the Main Basin being the place to be however we noted it wasn't holding quantities of fish needed to win the event. Instead areas like Yellowstone, Sailing Club and Normanton Church were standing out. In reflection the top of the arms were also holding fish however they were more of a gamble as they appeared to come on and go off through the course of a day.
This competition is fished over 2 days and on day 1 the field of anglers were met with a strengthening North West wind that was to build as the day went on. The FNF Falcons decided not to put all our eggs in one basket with Scott Reith and myself tasked with covering the Main Basin initially with orders to bounce if nothing is happening. Alan Porteous, Campbell Morgan, Sean McCaffrey and James Bews were tasked with the area from Normanton Church to Yellowstone. The strong wind made for challenging conditions but all our team are well used to fishing in similar weather and after day 1 the FNF Falcons were sitting in 3rd position just behind the BRFFA Team Cortland and Welsh Hawks.
There is always a huge transfer of information from day 1 and sometimes the teams that digest that information are able to kick on second day so there are often teams shuffling about on the leader board. Our team decided to have a similar split day 2 if possible, this time with myself and Campbell Morgan covering the North Arm and Main Basin. The weather had slightly improved for day 2 so we all decided to come up in the water a bit from the previous windy day. The Welsh Hawks had started day 2 6ib ahead of us so we knew the margins were very tight.
At the end of day 2 the FNF Falcons had another strong day however the talk at the weigh inn was the Welsh Hawks also had a strong day and this was confirmed at the prize giving ceremony held at Greetham Valley Resort. Welsh Hawks had pulled out a 12ib lead and were crowned the Anglian Water Airflo International 2018 champions. Huge congratulations to them. The FNF Falcons had managed to climb into second spot and the Northern Drifters took 3rd.
Top rod over the 2 days was James Bews (FNF Falcons) recording very quick bag-ups each day. James used a 4 fly cast on both competition days with an Atomic Yellow/Raspberry Milkshake FAB point fly, cruncher and hopper in the middle 2 droppers and a UV Marshmallow Pink/Raspberry Milkshake FAB top dropper. Well done James.
All in all another hugely enjoyable team fishing competition right from the heats in June to the prize giving in October. Practice days proved challenging however on competition days Rutland produced the goods with a 4.58 rod average. A big thanks has to go to all the supporting venues and especially Anglian Water/Rutland. A special mention has to go to Airflo who once again supported this tournament and really do seem to be behind competition fly fishing.