Mill Run

Introduction

Mill Run is my favourite pool on the Ddol-isaf beat, which I find fishes well for grayling and trout.  I have caught a few sea trout in this pool but no salmon to-date; my son lost a salmon in the tail of the pool in 2014.

Access to Ddol-Isaf is via the A5 between Forncysyllte and Llangollen Golf Club (see map).  You must take a tag from the sign-in box on the gate at entrance to the track that takes you down to the farm. Parking is limited to the marked area before the farm; you must follow club rules about parking here. The gate on your right, when facing the car park, leads you down to the river to Mill Run; following the signs on the track through the wood.  Walk down river until you can see the converted mill on the far bank (photo above); the riffle above this is the start of Mill Run.

Trout and Grayling

I tend to fish the full length of the pool, from the riffle at its head to the tail, which is lovely fly water for trout and grayling. I normally fish it throughout the year from water levels of 0.6m and lower (Corwen gauge); generally having most success from 0.45m (summer level) to 0.55m.  Wading down the first half of the pool, under the trees, is quite difficult because the river bed is mainly composed of large bounders; not for the faint hearted.  After this section the bounders get smaller making the wade a little better but you still need to take a lot of care. The topography of the pool showing its key features is shown in the following sketch.

The distribution of trout and grayling within in this pool depends strongly on the river height.  At about 0.5m (Corwen gauge), I find fish tend to be located in the drop-off zone the slight bend after the riffle and then from mid-stream to the trees on the far bank to the tail. At higher levels they tend to get pushed into the slacker sections of the pool closer to the right bank.  My approach to fishing this pool, as with many other pools on the Welsh Dee, depends strongly on the time of the year, river and weather conditions.

Oct to April:

In the mornings from late autumn to spring I usually start with a spot of Czech nymphing. I typically start fishing just in the riffle, above the drop-off zone before the bend, and work my way down the pool.  At this time of year I more often than not put the heavy fly on the middle dropper and flank it with two smaller patters (size 16 and smaller); so that all three flies fish close to the river bed.

A typical Czech nymph setup for clear water conditions
A typical Czech nymph setup for coloured water conditions

As the day progresses, keep an eye out for flies emerging because this usually is the prompt to start fishing higher in the water column with either wet or dry flies; especially if you catch rate drops off on the Czech nymphs.  In autumn to spring, I my starting wet fly setup would normally be a Pheasant Tail nymph on the point (size 16 to 12), black hopper (size 14) on the middle dropper and on the top dropper a, size 16 to 14, spider pattern (e.g. March brown etc).  If after 20 minutes you have not had any takes then it’s time to start substituting the flies by varying size and/or general colour until success comes.

A typical wet-fly setup (Pheasant tail, Black Hopper, March Brown Spider)

If the wets don’t produce any success, which is rare or you prefer to try the dry fly, then I normally try a double dry setup.  Typically starting with a large caddis pattern as the sight fly and a small (size 18 or 16) point dry fly (e.g. f-fly, Griffith’s Gnat etc.).

Left - size 18 Griffith Gnat; Right - size 12 Cream tag, Elk Hair Caddis

May to Sept:

As year progress and the temperatures warm up, my preferred approach becomes more dependent on the river height, cloud cover and time of day.   If it is a warm overcast day I quite often find that a team of wet flies or spiders works well.  Casting them as close to the trees on the far bank as possible, then let them swing round in the current to the dangle, followed by retrieving them very slowly.   Trout and grayling are normally taken in the region of the drop-off zone as the river starts to bend to the right slightly and in the slacker water under the overhanging trees on the right bank.

“Using this approach I have caught sea-trout, especially in the early evening when the light starts to fail.”

When fish are rising freely to a hatch then the dry fishing is generally your best approach; using a fly selection that matches the hatch. If your fly doesn’t result in any offers within 10 minutes then its time to change the fly for another pattern and repeat until you get success.

If the river is running off after a spate and is still carrying some colour then I find Czech nymphs generally work best. With this approach I usually find that the drop-off zone after the riffle is the area that produces the better quality fish but you generally have to get your flies right down to the river bed.

1lb Brown Trout caught on a March Brown Spider, from Mill Run

Technique Round-up:

Oct to April

Largely my approach depends on water/air temperature.

On cold days Czech nymphs work well, particularly when there is little or no fly activity on the surface.

When flies are observed coming off the water dry fishing can yield good results.

However, I find wet flies, spiders and nymphs fished close to the usually out fish dries.

May to Sept

My approach is governed by the time of day and cloud cover.

Early morning wet flies, spiders & nymphing techniques work well followed by dry flies.

On bright sunny days, by mid-day onwards focus on searching the bottom of well oxygenated, shady runs with Czech nymphs.

In the evening dry flies and wet flies fished close to the surface usually pay dividends.

Sea Trout

Mill Run is not a pool I fish for sea trout in the dark because there are just too many obstacle to contend with.  However, in the evening when the light is starting to fail I have managed to catch fish to 1.5lbs on small wet flies (size 14 to 12) on 3lb line.  The technique that works is to cast them under the trees on the far bank and then retrieve them with a quick figure-of-eight to stimulate a take.  Flies that work well include: March Brown Spider, Black Pennell, brown sedge patterns, Black Cormorant etc. In addition, I have caught a few sea trout in the tail of the pool, while fishing for salmon after a spate.

1lb Sea Trout caught on a Black Pennell, from Mill Run

Directions and Parking

Access to Ddol-Isaf is via the A5 between Forncysyllte and Llangollen Golf Club (see map).  You must take a tag from the sign-in box on the gate at entrance to the track that takes you down to the farm. Parking is limited to the marked area before the farm; you must follow club rules about parking here. 

The gate on your right, when facing the car park, leads you down to the river to Mill Run; following the signs on the track through the wood.  Walk down river until you can see the converted mill on the far bank; the riffle above this is the start of Mill Run.

[Disclaimer – like most outdoor sports, fishing is not without its hazards. Therefore, you MUST do your own RISK ASSESSMENT before starting to fish; especially if you decide to wade and/or fish at night. In addition, you must follow the club rules when fishing this water.]

Welsh Dee Fishing Information Source & Blog for the Welsh Dee

This website is primarily dedicated to fly fishing for grayling, trout & salmon. It provides helpful & interesting information on fishing the Welsh Dee, augmented with photographs and videos.  In addition, I will be writing about the techniques, tactics, and flies that prove successful on the various beats & pools throughout the year.