In the latest Behind the Lines, presented by Airflo Fishing we were lucky enough to catch up with Gareth Jones. Reigning from the UK, Gareth is an accomplished competitive angler, fly-casting wizard, and a very very fishy person.  For the past 30 years, Gareth has been behind the development and growth of Airflo fly lines. His small team has been responsible for many innovations that have changed how we use fly lines today. His dry sense of humor and passion for the sport always leave us eager to learn more about what fly line innovations Gareth and Airflo might have up their sleeve next. Check out the full interview below!


Where did you grow up and how did you get into fly fishing?

Gareth: I grew up in South Wales right next to the River Corrwg where I started to fish with worms & grasshoppers from about 8 years of age. My Dad was into fly fishing and I just stepped right into it from an early age.

Who was your angling idol when growing up?

Gareth: Bob Church was the face of stillwater fly fishing when I was growing up, Bob ran a tackle brand in the UK and my first stillwater fly rod was a ‘Bob Church Grafham’ carbon fiber model. I was lucky enough to fish with Bob on a couple of occasions, he was ultra-competitive and had won the World Fly Fishing championships with the England team on several occasions. I remember one day when he turned the last 30’ minutes of our day into a competition. I went flat out and caught 6 to his 2, but being so competitive, he trolled his line all the way back to the jetty to get another chance at a fish. He was a great guy, a great angler, and a great role model who not only encouraged me in fishing but was a great source of information on the UK trade in later years.

How did competition angling shape you as an angler?

Gareth: I started fishing competitions when I was around 14 years old and it certainly taught me that if I wanted to succeed then I’d need a deeper understanding of the situation around me. It also taught me to find my own ways to be successful, you can have success copying people, but if you want to really stand out you need to go further. Preparation is the key to success and that’s not just practicing your fishing techniques, tackle needs to be perfected, lines and leaders need to be balanced and all the things you can take care of away from the water shouldn’t be something you consider when you’re in the moment of catching fish.

Competition has also taught me to be adaptable, don’t come into any situation thinking you have it completely figured out, but look for the signs and clues the fish give you and follow those instincts.

What is your most memorable competitive win?

Gareth: As a team that’s easy, winning the UK’s top 6-man event, The Anglian Water Airflo as it was known at the time. As an individual, I would probably go back to my first big win, I won the Welsh national championship on my first attempt at the age of 19. My catch was almost double that of the runner up and I guess it was the springboard to give me the belief that I could compete against anyone.

How did you get a career in the fishing industry?

Gareth: When I was finishing University, I started to apply to a couple of companies within the tackle industry to see if they had any openings. Luckily I was offered two jobs, Hardy offered me a position in their Pall Mall store in London and Airflo offered me a job as a technical assistant here in Brecon. Brecon was only an hour’s drive from my parents and I didn’t see that there’d be much fishing in London. So the choice was relatively straightforward. In the early days, I just cast lines every day and gave feedback on performance, but that quickly moved on to running a small mail order company, Airflo Direct, and by the time I was 28 I was Director of Sales.

Over your 30-year career, what is the biggest change you’ve seen in the industry?

Gareth: Consolidation: When I started there were huge numbers of brands and my first visit to the IFTD show took me nearly all three days to look around. Today, like in all other industries, the strong get stronger, and the weak fall away.

Can you describe your casting style?

Gareth: Smooth & deceptively powerful. I’m not a particularly big guy like Steve Rajeff, who can power any size rod to the horizon. I rely a lot on line speed and I generate it through left-hand haul and the speed at which I can snap to a stop on the forward stroke. Distance casting was always a necessity of stillwater and whilst I’ve certainly tidied up the look of my cast over the years, it was always a need to catch more fish, rather than win a casting event that inspired me to cast further.

In your opinion, who is the most influential person in the industry?

Gareth: Wow that is a tough one, I’ll have to think about that and let you know. I have a few people who I think it could be, but I wouldn’t want to embarrass them.

Where is your favorite place in the world to fish and why?

Gareth: Easy, Lough Corrib on the West coast of Ireland. This is a 40,000 acre Limestone Lough with incredible water quality, superb hatches, and large smart brown trout. I think the best way you could describe it to the US angler is the Henry’s Fork of Stillwater fly fishing. It’s ultra-technical and due to its crystal clear water and constant wind direction changes, it really is a test for any angler. I have a good pal, Larry Mccarthy who is the top guide on Corrib and I will forever be indebted to him for turning me into a better angler.

In the US, it has to be the ‘Henry’s Fork’. I’m so glad that I get to fish this fabled piece of water with Rene’ Harrop, the guy is incredible and his knowledge and kindness are second to none. Not only is he an incredible angler, but his thirst for knowledge and technique from outside of his norm impresses me greatly.

What is the most memorable fish you’ve caught?

Gareth: Can’t remember! Honestly, the last 30 years have been a blur and I’ve been so lucky to catch fish in so many cool places with so many cool people that it would just be unfair to single out any single fish. Some would have been competition winners, some would have been species first, and others would have been just impossible situations when improvisation provided the key to success. Having said that I can still remember the first 8” trout I caught on a live grasshopper, 8” was the size limit back then and I remember taking that trout home on a stringer made of bulrushes for my mum to cook.

Airflo’s fly lines are made from polyurethane not PVC like many of the other fly lines on the market. What are some of the advantages of these polyurethane fly lines?

Gareth: OK so Polyurethane or TPU is very different from PVC, for a start it doesn’t contain any solvent that may leach out onto your hands and into the watershed. As a result, the lines are far more durable over a longer period of time. They are also far less susceptible to a lot of the things you encounter whilst fishing e.g. Sunscreen, gasoline, DEET, UV – all these have a negative effect on solvent based plastics like PVC, breaking down the coating. But PU, not having any solvent, does not get affected. PU is also more stable across a wider temperature range and as a base material can hold more additives, so in the case of sinking lines, we can hold more tungsten powder by volume than PVC and as a result our sinking lines are denser, thinner and will cut through the water column easier.

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It’s not easy to manufacture with TPU and we are still the only manufacturer using this for fly lines, but TPU being a modern plastic has more R&D happening for other industries, which puts us in a good position for future trickle-down technologies.

Current favorite Airflo Fly Line?

Gareth: Whichever one I’m catching on to. I fish a lot of stillwater and in that environment, depth is the key to success, so during the day I may change lines half a dozen times just to keep my flies in the zone. But if I had to pick just one, then it would be Ridge 2.0 Universal Taper, I love how that line casts at all ranges and the line speed the Ridges generate makes it a very user-friendly product.

Airflo’s new Ridge 2.0 Clear Tip Line is launching very soon, can you tell us what went into the development of this fly line and what makes it special?

Gareth: Yes, the Clear Floating has been a fun project to work on. We can all cast long leaders on calm days, but generally, on the flats, the wind is up and the ability to stay stealthy whilst still turning over the flies is crucial to success. Ridges have a lot of benefits, they improve line speed, and give a better grip on the hand, but more importantly, they help reduce tangles, something we can all benefit from. The coating itself was a real technical challenge, there aren’t many plastics that have positive buoyancy, and even less that you can maintain clarity for the clear tip section.

Tapers we relatively straightforward, we’d already done a heap of work on our Saltwater range and we decided to run with our Universal taper with a 9’ clear tip, which would give you an 18’ clear when you add a 9’ leader and had plenty of power to turn over flies into the wind. We also did a Tactical taper with a 12’ Clear tip. This has a much longer head, is true to weight, and is designed for more proficient casters on calmer days where they can lead well ahead of fish without the clear tip section dragging their flies below the fish’s level. The final testing was in Cuba, we had a lot of opportunities and the lines performed admirably.

Permit, tarpon, or bonefish? Pick one species and why.

Gareth: Permit, whilst I love catching Tarpon and Bonefish, if you’re a good caster and you can get on target quickly, you will generally have a decent level of success on these species. Permit on the other hand have that air of cockiness that lets you know it’s all on their terms.

Any new and exciting products you can share with us on the Airflo horizon in 2023?

Gareth: Always lots of projects on the horizon, but most of these are ‘TOP SECRET’. A new production line has just been installed at the factory, and the capabilities of this are still being explored, but early tests suggest an even greater level of control and consistency which allows us to produce some of our more crazy ideas. Needless to say, we have a lot going on, watch this space.

What is one casting tip/technique you would recommend to anglers looking to improve their fly casting?

Gareth: Don’t get too focused on Distance, learn to present well at a comfortable range, a good cast at 20’ will catch a lot more fish than a crumby cast at 40’. Regardless of how far you want to cast, practice your double haul, many years ago I taught my wife to double haul prior to her casting a fly line, and that way she’d learned that hard bit before she could develop any habits. Just string a couple of elastic bands together and loop them onto the eye nearest the rod handle. Then put your thumb into the elastic band and practice the double haul in an ‘ apart together, apart together’ sequence.

Anything else you want to add?

Gareth: I think I’ve said enough! Ok, I would like to thank all the people I’ve been fortunate to fish, cast, and work within the industry over the last 30 years. It’s been a super fun ride and I’m looking forward to what the next 30 years bring.

To get in touch with Gareth you can follow him on Instagram at @jonethefish or you can email him at gareth.jones@airflofishing.com.

Interview questions from Team Flylords Pat Perry and Airflo’s Kieron Jenkins.

For more information on finding the right Airflo fly line, check out https://airflousa.com/ or if you are outside of the United States, https://www.airflofishing.com/.

Be sure to follow them on Instagram at @airflofishing.

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