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Devon School of Fly Fishing Team blog

Posts Tagged ‘Devon Fly Fishing Guide’

Devon Fly Fishing

Tuesday, May 3rd, 2011

Pheeeew! Well, it seems like we have been pretty non-stop with myself and members of the team out on our lake and river fly fishing with guests of our fly fishing school.

The really nice thing is the amount of people who like to come back and spend time with us. I think it is probably because we have so much water to show them that there isn’t always enough time to see it all on the first visit!

The timing of this post has been perfect as I have had a spell of returning guests who have wanted to get to grips with the trout of the Taw.

It was great to see Neil again after he joined us for a group course last year. He fished really well and with great skill to make sure he maximised his chances of success. It was great to see him back on the water!

Neil back on the Taw again

I guided Gordon last year and he was back to do battle with the trout of the Taw again. It was such a pleasure to see him get his fly in the hardest of spots and get the reward he deserved for it. I think the new Orvis rod helped, but that would sound biased coming from me!

Gordon with a brownie

I was with Gavin for two days. Gavin has been a great supporter of our little fishing school and I always enjoy guiding him. He is at the top of his game and fished just about the best I have seen him fish. We had a great time and I love that Gavin likes to fish a bit outside the box and always loves to be a part of my wild eyed plans. Last time it was sea trout on dries but this time we thought it would be fun to try and catch a fish on a mayfly on 1st Mayand after catching a few the day before we thought it was worth a try. He almost did it but the nice trout came adrift at the last moment…what are we going to do in June?!!

Gavin plays a fish

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Fly Fishing Devon

Friday, April 15th, 2011

Last weekend was my birthday. It is the sort of occassion that I get as excited about as I used to but I think this one was one of the best. Getting up early to a beautiful sunny morning I opened some great presents from Emma and Charlie and then sat down to a magnificent breakfast and some chill out time in the garden. We had some birthday cake for lunch and Emma suggested I hit the river to catch a few birthday trout. It sounded like a great idea and so I did just that.

The Taw

The river, although low, was looking good and I knew that grannom had been coming off just around lunchtime so I knew I was on the water at the right time.

Perfect timing!

I rigged up some bamboo and headed down stream to a favourite pool. It is really nice when you get there and the fish are just starting to rise.

A vintage Bannister rod

Judging by the rises they were at the early stage of the hatch and were taking the emerging pupa. I tied on one of my easy-tie balloon caddis and a really simple grannom pupa. I stuffed the first take but managed to get a few more out of the pool.

A Taw trout

I fished for a few hours and caught a few and had what was just about the perfect birthday!

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In the ring of the rise……..

Monday, March 28th, 2011

Thursday was a turning point for the change from early season fishing to the fish getting into the spots where you would expect, and hope, them to be. We’ve had some pretty good hatches of large dark olives, medium olives and some nice march browns too just to spice things up a bit.

MFD works his magic

The low, clear water along with good hatches has meant the fish have had more than half an eye on what is going on at the surface, but as ever the good old pheasant tailed bead head does the business when fishing deeper.

Rob covers a riser

I thoroughly enjoyed our casting day yesterday. I think it is better to call it a casting and fishing techniques dayas we packed loads in to the morning covering casts for the rivers and methods of fishing; both more modern along with traditional. We had 4 of us instructing and Emma taking some pictures as there was a good turnout. We then headed in for a well earned carvery and a team fishing session afterwards. Although I am on the water most days I didn’t fish a great deal last year so I am going to do my best to see if I can do a bit more. It was nice landing a good 11 incher though!

John covers the far bank

Fly Fishing Devon

New boots and rivers…

Monday, June 28th, 2010

I sincerely hope that I am known for my generosity, be it on the river or even at the bar but I always try and ensure that I squeeze the last few drops of life out of my fishing gear. It does get a fair battering and it is usually the case that gear gets put into the truck at the end of the day and is left there until it is used the next day. That having been said I have been really good with my waders of late and I have seen the results of hanging them up somewhere dry when I get home after a days guiding. My boots are more of a problem as they never seem to get dry at all but despite this they are probably the most comfortable pair of shoes that I own. I have made them last a while now but the are starting to get just a little too far gone for even me to use. Gravel gets in the gap between the sole and the upper of the boot where it is coming away and the laces are doing their best to hold everything else together. It was about time I put them out to grass and will probably bring them out every now and again just for old times sake so I am now busy breaking in the new pair and they seem to be perfect for the job!

Tough as old boots....

I’m just back from guiding Pam and Alan for 3 days on a chalkstream I hadn’t been on before. It is always exciting to visit a new water and even more so as where we were staying was right on the water and it was even more exciting as Emma was invited along too. The days were long and hot which meant we fished in two sessions. We’d start at 9 and fish until 3 or 4pm and then head back to the house and have something to eat and then head out again and fish the evening until 10pm on one night. The mornings were more productive that we thought but it was easy to detect when the fish started to switch off. Evenings were hardly surprisingly the cream of the fishing where we caught some great caddis hatches. It was great to see the guys throw their balloon caddis and elk and cdc’s to rising fish but just as exciting to twitch the fly over a fish sitting near the bottom and watch him hurtle up and slam the fly!

A nice brown for Alan

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Fly fishing, warm weather and getting ready

Monday, February 1st, 2010

I don’t know if you are the same but, for me, getting ready for a fishing trip works in 2 stages. I like to know I have everything that I am going to need and then I get excited in the last few days before I go and then pack everything at the last minute and spend the trip to the airport worrying I haven’t got everything I need or perhaps, if I do, is it enough?

I am pretty sure I have everything and am generally pretty well prepared. I have decided I don’t need too many clothes which means I have more room for gear…just in case!

The really funny thing is flies. This is especially the case with bonefish. I have hundreds that I will be taking but all I actually use is 6 or so that sit in my shirt pocket along with some nippers and spare tippet but its a good feeling to have the others with you just in case , right?


I was told that a particular pattern is working really well on permit right now but you can’t buy it in the UK at all. I’ve looked and it isn’t available but you can bet I’d have had a dozen of them just to be on the safe side. I wonder if the fish know?  Fly Fishing Lessons, Tuition and Fly Fishing Guide in Devon

NZ, Klinks and Speys

Monday, January 18th, 2010

The great thing about fly fishing, for me anyway, is there are so many different aspects to it that make you keep coming back for more. There are so many variables that mean nothing is ever quite the same and there is always a new challenge awaiting either a day on the river or lake. I am sure you are the same. At the end of the day you walk away thinking about what has unfolded during the time on the water and thought “I wonder if I tie a smaller fly would it have worked better” or perhaps if I tweek my leader a bit I might have got a better turnover. It is these sorts of things that keep the discovery, or perhaps a better word is learning, process never ending.

On that front I was talking to a good friend who is off to NZ in a few days time. I sent him a few local patterns that I had including cicadas, willow grubs and some of Stu Tripneys excellent foam patterns. He asked what I had used most and it turned out it was a klinkhammer. Not because I always tie one one (in fairness it is pretty much at the top of the list) The really interesting part is that I didn’t tie it on due to force of habit. It was for a couple of reasons. Firstly having watched the fish they looked to be on emergers and secondly I thought “I wonder if they have seen this fly much?” I hadn’t read or heard much about them down there and it seemed to work pretty well for me. The other time this happened was in Colorado and it was a similar case. Is it a fly that hasn’t had a lot of exposure away from Europe? I’d be interested to know.

I went out yesterday for a practice and wanted to play with some spey casting. It was a bright morning and I fancied some music and a drive too, so I headed over to Kennick. Kennick is a 50 acre lake right in the middle of Dartmoor and is one of the prettiest places you could fish. It is well managed, has a great club and some nice guys who fish there. I don’t get to go there as often as I should but I always enjoy it. A few friends teach there and it isn’t a bad place to catch your first fish!


Anyway, the lake was almost frozen over but I found a little section of  clear water and played for a bit. I loved it and pretty much had the place to myself .  Fly fishing tuition and guide service in Devon

Fly Fishing in Devon 2010

Wednesday, December 23rd, 2009

I was going to write this and suggest a list of things that would be cool to accomplish in 2010. There are certainly lots of things I really would like to do and to experience and will hopefully get the chance in some cases but is it always good to set yourself targets? I guess sometimes this is the case and can be rewarding to tick things off as they happen but I want to enjoy the ride and whatever is thrown at me. It can sometimes be the little things like that drag free drift to THAT trout that you would never have thought of listing but all the little things add up along with the big things too.

Sometimes it all comes together, a UK fish to remember….



I think that is why I like being a fly fishing guide. No two days are ever the same and all the fun and challenges that go with it are always different.

I think someone once said that “it’s an adventure” and I’m going to make sure I enjoy every moment I get on the water be it working, fishing alone or in the company of good friends.

Have a great festive period and I hope a fish filled 2010!

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Fly Fishing Guide

Tuesday, December 1st, 2009

There is nothing more rewarding that sitting down and dressing a few flies. Being a full time fly fishing guide the winter is a good time to do this. During the downtime I have been getting plenty ready for next season and I’ve been busy restocking the fly boxes with home tied flies.

The ever-present flies are there but I have tweeked a few things and am going to try some new patterns just to see if they work. It is nymphs that I have been tying most. I had been thinking that the usual and most consistent patterns have been bead head pheasant tailed nymphs and copper Johns. This is probably because I have great confidence in them and that they actually work really well. I am sure confidence is a large part of it but when I show my guests the underside of rocks these look like the stone clingers and the free swimmers too so we are also matching the bugs effectively.

I’ve also paid a lot more attention to caddis and have played with some hydropsyche and rhyacophila patterns that I have added to the flies I already use.  I try and tie them as generically (is that a word?) as possible so that they suggest not just a single food source but perhaps a little wider range and put the odds in my favour a little bit more. I try and knock out either a half dozen or dozen flies and my brief is simple. Tie them as close as you can to perfect but don’t lavish too much love on them. I would hate to slave over one fly for hours and then a stray cast lands the fly on the far bank of a juicy run without it ever getting wet. As an aside I always say to my guests that it is much better to lose a fly going for that far bank rather than throwing it in the tree behind you. One of the first lessons I try to instill in my guests is to have a quick look behind you before you make the cast. Sounds obvious but on our small streams in Devon it will pay dividends and save you a whole bunch of flies.


I have, along with a lot of help from Emma, tidied the wreckage that is my fly tying area and it is looking almost respectable. I have a radio up there and listen to Radio 5 so that I can keep up with news and sport. I find that working in fly fishing means that it is always on your mind but not everyone wants to always talk fishing ( I do).

It has felt like the weather has lifted a little here. It has been nowhere as bad as Cumbria but we have had wind and rain for what feels like 2 1/2 weeks solid and we have had our first frost of the year today. I will be out casting  and will try some of the new caddis patterns out on some grayling on Thursday. They might even work!

Winter Beard Watch- Day 6- Is this itching going to stop soon?

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The end of fly fishing in Devon?…..

Monday, October 5th, 2009

No, not really!  I sort of mean the end of the season. Sadly the Taw doesn’t have the extension to the season a lot of the other rivers of the South West enjoy but sometimes that’s the way it goes. I am sure things will change in time but we’ll see.

I always keep the 30th September to myself as I like to mark the open and close with some time on the river. It isn’t about numbers or even catching a fish but just about being there. As I advance in my years I have found that I have changed as an angler and become more relaxed. In Scotland recently I spent more time with a good buddy cheering him on as he hadn’t connected with a fish and was happy to watch from the sidelines and enjoyed watching him execute yet another beautiful spey cast.

Ray (The Dude) was down at the weekend and we talked about some of the fishing trips we had been on and we both agreed that eating comes much higher up the list of things that we need to do during a fishing day. We also discussed about the ultimate fishing mobile which I think I might just have found but that one will keep for the time being.

Anyway I was going to hit the Bray but decided to hit the Hotel water instead and bumped into some anglers that were staying there so I spoke to them for a while and then headed down to the river. The water was pretty low and I decided to find something just a little bit quicker to put the odds in my favour a bit. I picked up a small one just below the bridge (always a good spot!) and admired him for a bit and slid him back.

I walked a little further to a spot I like to take people to and popped a cast into the tail of the pool and worked my way up. It isn’t a big pool and I worked tight into the bank where the water had worn away a nice little hidey hole for a good fish but there was no one interested. As a result of the current hitting the bank there is also a small back eddy and although I thought a few well aimed casts might bring someone to have a look, it wasn’t to be.  At the head of the pool I decided to throw to the seam first and I struck as my dry dipped.

It turned out to be a nice fish. He knew the drill and I really had to give him some side strain to keep him out of the tree roots and there were a few moments where I thought he was going to win out. While playing the fish I managed to get out my camera, turn it on and hold it between my teeth while I played the fish in. I managed to lift him, take a quick shot and off he went.


Now it would be great to say that was the switch being turned to the “on” position and everything happened. It might have done but I wouldn’t have known as it seemed a really nice place to end things. I’d got everything (and more) that I wanted from the day and it just seemed right. So I snipped off and walked up to make sure the guys I had spoke to at breakfast were having a good time.

Devon Fly Fishing Guide

Sunday, August 30th, 2009

As a fly fishing guide the most important thing for me is that my guests have a great day and that they learn something along the way. Even if it is the tiniest thing it might just be something that helps get a great drag-free drift over a fish and is the thing that makes the fish decide to take. I also feel very strongly that I rarely touch my guest’s rod and if I do it might only be to illustrate a point and you can be sure it won’t be cast into the fishing area! I remember I showed Pam a cast when we were on The Test and a fish took. I was mortified and had the fish in and released before it even knew it was hooked!

Anyway, the other thing I try and be as honest as possible with is size of trout. As a guide it is easy to say the fish is bigger than it actually is but what’s the point? It is much better to be realistic and if it were a 12 incher and I said it were a 14 incher it is not doing the 12 incher the justice it deserves and lets face it, for our rivers a 12 incher is still a great fish.

Our guests have been catching a few nice fish of late. Ian has been a great supporter of our fly fishing school and this time he came back with his fishing buddy Phil. I had seen signs of salmon on one of the beats a few days before with Faure and so decided to have a quick look for them. The guys were doing a great job and throwing their flies expertly into position and it felt a really fishy morning! Phil had a grilse follow the fly right the way in and despite me quickly changing patterns this didn’t bring him out again but he later had a sea trout have a go at the fly. Ian fired off a cast at an 8lb salmon we saw too but it wasn’t to be. We decided to hit the trout as it felt as though the barometric pressure had dropped and it worked out a good plan. Below is a really nice fish Ian caught.


As you can see this was a fine fish, Ian and Phil were excellent anglers and no doubt will be terrorising trout in Devon again next year.

Sadly I didn’t get some photos of Guy and Roger who came down from Hertfordshire to fish with us. They were great and the saying I will remember from Guy was ” I am only 73″ it was agreat attitude and despite them both fishing some pretty nice chalkstreams and doing really well they wanted to leave their comfort zone and try something different so we went trouting and even went out for some sea trout. They were great company and really good fishermen!

I have just got in from a great day with Richard who is another great supporter of our school and has visited many times this year from Hampshire. He has just moved home and as soon as the dust settled he shot off down to us for a spot of fly fishing!

He had fished solo on Saturday and done really well catching plenty of trout and even skated a caddis pattern down stream and got bust by a great big sea trout. Today I wanted to show him some new water so headed up to the Top of Beat 5 and picked up a few fish there and then before we had lunch we headed to Beat 2 as he is fishing alone on Tuesday so I thought it would be good to show him. We headed down and came across a pool with a few fish rising, we couldn’t leave it…would you?! Richard fired out a shot and the dry dipped. I thought it was a peal but saw it was a really nice brown as it took to the air. Despite it knowing all the dirty tricks, Richard expertly got the fish to the net. We covered lots on the day as we decided it would be great to  analyse each fishing situation and how we would approach it to maximise the potential. It worked pretty well!