Paul Arden | Monday, 19 June 2017

Last week was interesting and I fished with Flavio in the far south of Temenggor Lake. We re just coming into my favourite time to fish the dam, with "free-rising" Snakehead and "Stumping" Gourami. There is Jungle Perch fishing too, but I have a lot of work to do on these fish. I had a free-rising Snakehead - "free-rising" means that the fish is not an adult nursing and defending babies, but instead an adult that is simply surfacing alone (or living in a small community). These are the hardest Snakehead to catch because they a) live in the stumps b) are not tired from the rigours of spawning and living on a reduced diet while parenting and c) there is no warning as to when and where they will surface - consequently these are the most rewarding Snakehead to fly fish for me. Also they have more beautiful and darker colouration. Stumping Gourami is Gourami feeding on the stumps that are in many places of the lake - they feed on algae growths and sometimes lift themselves out the water to take something - not sure what that something is yet - but possibly insects of some sort - directly off the stumps. Flavio lost a very nice Gourami that was feeding on termites after a rain storm.

I'm back down in KL for a few days - it's Ashly's birthday - while Flavio is fishing solo. Very soon I plan to buy a second boat for multiple friends visiting and renting out to tourists as well.

There has been some interesting developments in the fishing side of things, and I'm now of the opinion that Snakehead rise to the surface during feeding times when the water temperature reaches very close to 34C. Around the lake there are areas where the water temp is currently less than this, but in areas where the water temp is very close to 34C we are seeing the first free-rising Snakehead of the year. If this is correct - and time will tell - then it's because when the water reaches this critical (currently approximate) temperature there is insufficient dissolved oxygen in the lake water for them to be active while not rising for additional air. I hope to have an exact temp soon - we have two thermometers that are 0.3C apart. I have one reading 33.4C on the sounder, Flavio's reads 33.7C.

I also need to get hold of a thermometer that I can use to discover the water temperature deeper in the lake - i.e. one that will not break under the pressure of depth - if you know of such a tool then please let me know. On UK stillwaters I always understood there to be a surface layer (epilimnion) and a lower layer (hypolimnion) and a zone of rapid temp change between them - the thermocline. The lower layer is meant to be very dense water of 4C. Whether this applies to Temenggor I do not know (I think it does) but at what temp it actually is I would like to know - I've read in the tropics that the temperature of the hypolimnion can be higher. If it applies, and if the thermocline at 30ft depth this would make some sense, because Snakehead territories are generally water depths of around 30 ft. The lake itself is very deep reaching depths in excess of 130m in many places. Another thought I've had, is if I can find cold water in the lake depths, then I can pump it up to chill the beer. Alternatively I can lower the beer down but that's a much more risky proposition and would depend on the brand.

Something else we did last week was to measure the force at the fly end through various rod angle pulls. At about 45 degrees (although I think Flavio was cheating and was closer to 30 degrees) he managed a 6lbs pull at the fly end. He was worried about his rod exploding (because he only as two) and was obviously struggling to apply this load as it was. At 90 degrees this dropped to 1.5lbs at the scales. On the other hand a straight line pull of the sort of force I use on Snakehead produced a 10KG+ pull. Once again confirming my previous suggestion that the purpose of angling the rod during the fight is to reduce pressure and not to increase pull on the fish. I will shoot some video of this later in the week - however it's something that you should all do anyway. All you need is a set of electronic fish scales and someone to hang on at the other end, shouting measurements. It is quite an eye-opener, so please try it; it will change the way you think about fighting fish.

I'm loving my time here at the moment and the days feel pretty endless. As fly fishers we are always learning, and it's particularly enjoyable to be learning a type of fly fishing that is in its infancy. I've put over a 1000 days now into fly fishing in Malaysia and so there is still a very long way to go (at least another 2000!). In the meantime I'm considering setting up a fly fishers club in my local town. I've never thought of fly fishing to be a secret and it would be great to have some more fly fishing friends on the lake.

Business-wise we are very busy. I have an HT10 video coming out this week maybe. This rod is a "machine" but also one with great feel. In the HTOC Andy Hathaway's entry No11 really sums up everything I feel about the HT4. What an amazing rod this one is and certainly my favourite. I'm working on various blanks, SHOOT vs2 and a fly line taper of my own. But mostly we are working on rods - niche, specialist, top-of-the-range fly rods.

Ronan is visiting next month - I'm really looking forward to that. I hope he's been working on his casting shots because I want to go fishing and not teach casting for two weeks! But if I know Ronan - and I do - he will be on the ball. Can't wait - it's going to be the highlight of the year.

Have a fantastic week all.

Cheers, Paul

Paul Arden is the fly rod designer for Sexyloops and has been fly fishing for over 35 years and teaching fly fishing and fly casting for more than 20 years. Paul has extensively fished for trout in Europe, New Zealand, Australia and North America and for the past 25 years has been fly fishing more than 300 days every year. He currently lives in the North Malaysian jungle, fly fishing and guiding for Giant Snakehead and Giant Gourami. A competition caster, he has reached the finals in the World Championships in 5-weight distance on three occasions, winning a Bronze medal last year. Paul has appeared on Discovery Channel in the USA co-hosting a fly fishing programme shot in New Zealand. He is full-time manager of the Sexyloops website and brand. Websites: and 

Paul's "Jungle Fishing Sponsors" are RIO fly lines:  PowerFilm Solar: Lawson Hammocks: and of course he fishes the incredible Sexyloops brand of fly rods; The Hot Torpedo.